Thursday, June 25, 2009


You know, I used to hate when I was in the record store and someone would die and not but thirty minutes later, cats would be coming in and buying that ish like all of the sudden that ish was nice. Like it wasn't a bad record until dude died. Like it went from garbage to classic because you burried a cat. Well, tonight I fell into that trap. I fell into it hawd.

Let's be real here. Thriller is the undisputed greatest selling record ever with some g'zillion records sold. Like everyone owned this piece. I remember we had it on cassette. My brother really owned it. He jammed it all the time. My brother was two years older than me so the rhythms, the melodies, the content made, well, about two years more sense to him. But that record blew my mind. You gotta understand that, up to that point, the only thing my ears had really been fed was heavy classical music and church hymns. I wasn't really knowing what was going on with popular music in 1982. But this thing was unavoidable. It was so ill and it was everywhere. It permiated everything around you. It was my first rock record, it was my first dance record, it was my R&B record and kid would col' shake his ass off to it, no doubt.

I'm listening to it right now on the picture disc you see above. It sounds so damn nice. Quincy on the boards and Mike on the mic. It was the first funk I've ever heard. It was the first time I've ever heard Paul McCartney. I didn't even know who the Beatles were. And Vincent Price scared the crap outta me, f'real.

I'll be honest: it sounds so much better now that he's gone. I mean, I could always jam Thriller, but I have no problem coming clean, it just got too freaky there for some time that it really overshadowed the music. I could put it on and listen to it, but enjoying it was sometimes a struggle. Tonight with a col' St. Arnold, this record never sounded better. Now, those who respected him as an artist (and likewise denounced him as a freak) can finally let it go and just let that record play. It's all over now and we don't have to defend ourselves, defend our tastes. We can just say that Thriller was one helluva recording and be done with it. I listened to Off the Wall earlier and the same thing could be said for it. It was just so tight.

I look on TV and I see all this footage of fat little kids screaming for Michael, you know, the fans that were left. That's not the pandamonium that I remember. I remember having a freaking spiral with the image with him and tiger on it and I thought I was the slickest thing at school. When Michael was damn near untouchable. Watching him age was painful enough, but then all of the trials, the pajamas, the skin disorder, the "sharing a bed" was just too painful. Everyone from about thirty to thirty-five would just sit there and shake their head like, "whatta shame" because he was the hero of about everyone who still wore Keds and occasionally crapped their drawers.

I can't chose when I was born. I didn't have Elvis or James Brown, I had Michael. That's just how it was and I ain't got no problem saying that Off the Wall and Thriller are uncontestable, infallible and damn near perfect recordings respectively. Listen to them tonight or tomorrow with a cold one. You'll hear it.

That's it. I woke up at 2:30 this morning and it's now 11:00PM. MJ died and Red Sox lost. I'm closing out "Thriller" right now. There's Vincent. Holla.


You gotta love my grandmother. She emails me with nothing in the subject line. It reads:

Dear J3 [yes, she calls me j3],

Had your nice newsy letter, but I want to remind you that [your brother] ruined his knees running those two long races he ran! for sure. I do hope that you will reconsider yuor idea to train for and run a marathan!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are surely other things you can do that would bring that much satisfaction - I wondered, why not golf? Andy othr sport. Have you told your brother what you are planining to do?

I remember that I "prayed without ceasing" the first time Todd ran - I found out you can pray only if you are not doing things that you have to think about-can duset the furniture, etc. I skipped church that first Sunday to pray.

Have you asked Todd what he thinks abut this?

End of sermon, but this grandmother hopes that you will surely reconsider your new thoughts about training for a marathon and direct your efforts in another direction. Love, [grandmother]

I determined that my long-jog shirt will have the text from the above email on the front and then the Team Root Down logo on the back (which I've yet to concept out--you know, training, working, getting the house ready for a garage sale, etc). I've started keeping a journal for my weekly training. Getting everything in order. We'll be jogging Monday, Wednesday morning, Thursday morning and Saturday morning. Saturday's will be the long-jog. Sundays and Tuesday's will be used at the gym for weight training with a focus on upper body and core. We'll start getting our paths coursed out. I want to do residentials primarily, but by experience, I run better on busy streets. Guess I like the audience, but it's not really safe. Journal will also help track the different shoes I'm wearing. I need to hone in one pair and, unfortunately, it might not be one I own. A pair of shoes should be able to go 500 miles. Why don't they make any dope running shoes? All the pairs I see are blinding white with silver accents. What about a red shoe with yellow and black accents. Something ill type. Journal will also track any specific dietary changes. Right now, it's the same ol'...eggs with cheese, orange, apple (sometimes with peanut butter), spinach and chicken at lunch and then a reasonable dinner (a pound burrito if I can squirrel one in). I hate protein bars and bananas, but might have to eventually break down. I had peanuts before my jog the other day and think it might have effected me positively. Must write that one down.

My ankle is a growing concern to my lovely wife. She just doesn't want it to fall off. Of course, neither do I. Official training begins the week of August 23rd so must get it looked at in July to ensure that I have the go from an official. I ice it at night, but honestly, it's felt pretty decent to this point.

Texas lost the College World Series. Oh well. I'd tell them the same thing I tell OU fans. Guess you can't win every championship in college sports. I love how my next door neighbors are such huge Longhorn fans however it was oddly pretty quiet during the CWS. Oh yeah, that's because they only root for the football team because they didn't actually go there. In fact, they didn't even go to college. In fact, they probably didn't even get their high school diploma. Man, I'm a little fiery this morning. Must have been the 2:30 heartburn.

Red Sox continue their onslaught of the National League either proving the NL's inferiority or the Sox's supremacy. Actually, it's not that lopsided, but they are 9-5 against the NL. And, it's just the Braves, Marlins and Nationals. But we did sweep the Phillies on the road. But, it's not like we're squaring up against the Dodgers. Papi's heating up, though. Up to a meaty .219 average. But he's hitting the longball in the right places. He knocked a 3-run jack last night and the Sox won 6-4...the difference. I'll take it.

Hip hop sucks. But what's new? Oh yeah, that Mos Def record is actually quite decent. But overall, people are abandoning the genre like it was a sinking ship. Everybody's up on this Gnarls Barkley tip. Everybody wants the iPod commercial. No one wants to make the ill ish anymore. They just want to blow up and get out. I need this De La show so bad. Help calibrate me again. I honestly haven't given a serious listen to probably more than three hip hop records this year. I mean, from beginning to end. I usually end up ejecting the disc and throwing across the desk and letting it land where it will. The new Meth and Red, the new Grand Puba, the new Black Eyed Peas (yeah right), the new Busta take the best from each and it's still hardly listenable. I need to time to think as to why. Why can't anyone make decent hip hop in 2009? I need to dig deeper. I need recommendations. I'll ask around. Someone's gotta be making dope music in 2009, right?

The Beatlemania mix has been downloaded 500 times. I'm happy with that. Time to start scouting out the Halloween mix. I got mad material, but throw on top of it that I'll be training and will need material for those jogs, I'm gonna be busy. Will postpone the second volume of the Christmas mix another year. Will have to get out the Valentines' mix as well. Geez, I'm planning 2010, what'chu doin?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This last weekend, I sat down with a man who mentored my brother as he trained for OKC and, among a number of topics, I asked him, "Are you still running?" He said, "j3, I can't. Not with my back. It's in such bad shape." I came clean with him saying that I had considered running a marathon. I guess I just threw it out there to see if it was met with laughs or with a studious headnod. Sam told me, "The human body is not meant to run 26 miles. It's not." Well, that was my starting point.

If you asked me two nights ago, I would say that the human body isn't meant to run two miles either. Leaving work promptly at 5:15 and on the trail at 5:30 (with 95-degree heat), I officially began my training. I tell you, 32 years of not treating my body like I should hit me like a ton of bricks that night. I struggled as I got to the third mile and my legs just stopped working. So I walked. I rounded a corner and started again. I probably completed 2.25 miles in a run and .75 in a walk. I guess walking to work almost everyday for the last four years did very little for endurance. Makes me wonder what it did achieve. Maybe nothing. It certainly didn't benefit me in long-run training. I wouldn't dramatize it to say it was the hardest thing I've ever done. I mean, I've done two miles before, but maybe I was just picking the best and coolest hour to do it. Maybe I was a tad lighter. Maybe I was just having a good day.

The goal is to get to a steady three miles on each run at which point I can start the training under the close guidance of what will become my running bible for the next 20+ weeks, The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer. Once you make it to a steady three, the training plan will begin adding miles each week for 16 weeks until, ultimately, you find yourself at the starting line of a 26-mile trek which it requires you to go ahead and pick now and mark on the calendar. My marathon of choice? Well, it came down to Tulsa and Dallas White Rock. I suppose because I'm a Texas boy, I chose White Rock in Dallas. My D-Day is December 13th.

As word made it through Facebook, I had a few people come up to me with both words of encouragement and some with disbelief as they scanned my frame from top to bottom simply asking, "You?" Mo mentioned that she, too, was training for a marathon. Cherie just finished a marathon. Kristi told me she was a runner in high school and had completed a triathalon and would never do it again. Kool Aid said he used to run for a team in college and would like to train with me. It's like I stepped into a counter culture of runners. Me, the new kid.

It really feels like I don't know what I'm doing. I imagine it's like riding a bike. Each day you go a little further until you can do it (relatively) effortlessly. Is my posture right? Is my stride adequate? How much water should I drink? Is there anyway around eating bananas? Do I need to go get another pair of shoes or will my Newbies suffice? Lots of questions that I'll answer in my quest for the steady three.

Kool Aid said he's in for training, but gave me a half-ass answer on the actual marathon stating that he would like to get running again and this would give him a chance to do that and get back in shape. I figure if we train up to 18 miles, you might as well commit to a marathon. I can't think of any other reason to run 18 miles except to eventually run 26. But Kool Aid's an athlete. He plays soccer and likes lacrosse--two sports that require quite a bit of running. I like skiing which really just requires you to put long planks on your feet and let gravity do the rest.

Either way, this is the announcement. I'm doing a marathon. Team Root Down with a team of one.

Entertain yourself today and watch these "Republican rappers." They're mad hot. Oh, and Huckabee, Russell Simmons is not a rapper. He's black, yes, but not a rapper. Maybe the distinction that all black people don't rap is tough for the conservative mind to make. Not sure.

Don't do drugs and stay in school.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I don't believe in Kobe. My mind just resists him. I don't even know if it's truly hate as just a stubborn resistence to him. It's like when I watch him play, I don't even really see him drive the lane, nail those threes. I don't see him at the free throw line. I just see Laker points rack up, but it could be anyone on the floor shooting them. I don't believe it's Kobe. He's more like a video game character to me. A puppet. He's a stand-in in a commercial. He's a CG'd sports star who just paints on a smile during the hard times and muscles out the Jeter-ish, "They're tough competitors and we'll get 'em tomorrow night" drivel. And while his numbers are extraordinary, at times, his game lacks a grit, a grime. It lacks personality. It lacks character. I mean, I'm not a big fan of Lebron, but at least he has some character. It doesn't have to be good character necessarily. I mean, he calls him team his "supporting cast," but at least that's an honest expression. He'll get blasted in the press for not carefully picking his words, but maybe that's what I like about him. He's got this naivity, that stupidity. Kobe just tries to be above the game and it's players. He reacts to the press with such a coolness and suave. He always likes to look dashing. He pities fans. He likes to appear to float above the court. He rarely passes. He likes to pose for the cameras. He "loves the game" like Jeter. He carries around this smug smile. He's so LA. But I don't believe in him. He's Santa Claus to me. He's the tooth fairy. The Easter bunny.

There's a lot of people that hate Kobe. There's my grandmother who thinks he's a rapist although we have to remind her that he was never convicted so, technically, he's not quite that. There's others that just hate him because he's good. There's others who might hate him because he so badly wants to be Jordan and so clearly still is not. Then there's other who hate him only because of the team he plays for. I just don't believe in him.

Maybe I do kinda hate him because of who he plays for. I mean, it's the Lakers and I root for green. I think my brother's hardest on me for my sports allegiance because I often root with complete blinders, but if you don't stand for something, you'll end up rooting for Kobe, the Longhorns and the Yankees.

Paul Pierce is a player's player. He plays with not only a passion for the game, but a unapologetic and reckless abandon. His pace is both panicked and patient. Sometimes he heroically carries the team on his shoulders and other times he just drags them clumsily through the finish line. I've seen Paulie pull off more greatest comebacks in the history of the game than historians could even count on hands and feet. There was the Nets game when Paul led them back from a 21-point deficit going into the 4th quarter. Or the Nets game when he just col' killed 'em with a that 3 down by five and 16 seconds on the clock to drive it to overtime where he tore them apart. How about this black mamba action? Then, last year, when he took ova and annihilated the Lakers in Game 4 in LA. It ain't always pretty, but the guy is a born winner.

I remember watching this dude just run circles around those great Tech teams of the early to mid 90s. Paul was as sick as they come. Then when he came to the NBA, the guy was stabbed eleven times in the face and back and returned to score 25.8 points per game that season. His nickname, "The Truth," was given to him that season by Shaq who grabbed a Boston reporter after a Celtic loss to the Lakers and said, "Take this down: My name is Shaquille O'Neal and Paul Pierce is the truth. Quote me on that. Don't take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn't know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth." To Kobe, Paul's a warrior who swings a big sword and he takes out entire teams with one mighty swing. Kobe fences. Kobe's game is delicate. It's intricate. Paul is Charles Bronson breaking through doors and knocking all the life out of one room with one rusty six-shooter. Black mamba's have a 50% kill rate in humans. "Black Mamba" is also a song off of Jethro Tull's worst record. It's also commonly the name given to a large black sex toy. That's according to Wikipedia.

To Paul, Kobe is a ficticious baller who plays late at night on the West Coast in front of Donald Sutherland and Jack Nicholson. He puts up video game numbers and has lived under Shaq's shadow ever since Shaq left, what, six seasons ago? Either that's a big shadow or Kobe's really that small. I don't believe in this guy. Kobe's like a superhero. He's like Spiderman. A fabrication of the pop culture whose sole purpose is to entertain. Paul was born to play basketball. I believe in Paul Pierce.

Peep the new look. I'm heading down to the Hub today and it's a monsoon out there. It's not only wet by West Texas standards, it's wet by Carolina standards.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


That is until I get sued to high heaven for it...

You know, I feel personally that you should be proud of where you're from. That's what hip hop is all about. And, aside from Mr. Coop and some cat that used to sling promos out of the back of an ice cream truck, nothing that great has come out of Lubbock. Oh yeah, there's Buddy Holly, but let's be real, you don't really get to chose where you're born and I, myself, was born in a cultural vaccuum that was as geographically isolated as any city in the United States. Given that, you have a perspective politically, socially, artistically, spiritually that very few can identify with. So, for those that, like me, represent West Texas and the LBK to the fullest, I offer up this design. Don't know what moron would be dumb enough to print it up, but you never know, maybe someone won't see the similarities. Wil, know anyone that would just do a quick run of 50 shirts no questions asked? Yeah, you bet you do. Hook it up. I think it's a pretty clean design, myself.

Well, let's play a bit of catch up, shall we? Spent last week down in San Diego listening to a million ideas of how to save the music industry, but none of them included releasing better music. Sorry folks who keep complaining about how music sucks. It's still gonna suck and you're gonna have to listen to the old stuff. When you're ready, let me know. I'll give you a list of albums a mile long to get you started. While I was down there, my boys Hall and Oates were receiving an award for Sustained Creative Excellence. I came in a close second. What can you do? Anyhow, they graciously awarded us with three songs in gratitude...all acoustic. It was hella dope. They started out with "Out of Touch" followed by "She's Gone" (head explodes) and then ended their brief, but impactful three-song blessing with "Maneater." Dude, I gotta tell you, Daryl Hall still got it. Don't listen to the streets: dude still brings it. Afterwards, because I'm absolutely psycho and can't help myself after a few beers, I dash up to the "backstage" area which isn't really that. I mean, I wasn't trespassing. I wait patiently for them to appear. Me and apparently about twenty other superfans, but I was there early, close and ready for my photo opp. I wait with my hands in my pockets as my palms became alarmingly clammy. The door in front of me kept opening very slightly...only enough for me to capture a glimpse of the boys backstage ready to come out and make an appearance for their diehards.

Seconds later they dash out and begin shaking hands. They were only about six feet in front of me. I had to do everything in my power from going into the chorus of "She's Gone" eerily in their presence. It was either that or "Method of Modern Love." I swayed and smiled half-heartedly just trying to squeeze myself a little closer. A cluster of (I'll just say it) prostitutes flew toward them which was met with mixed responses from Hall and John Oates. They awkwardly posed for a few pictures as I stood by waiting for my turn to meet Santa Hall.

"Thanks guys, we gotta go."

As soon as it started, it was over. They left. Gone. Split. Nada. All I managed to get was a video on my phone of Daryl Hall posing nervously between a couple of strippers. Yep, so close, but so not a picture of me with the boys. Awesome stuff. That was my chance.

I was playing ball the other night by myself as a stormed rolled in. The cat playing next to me quickly invited me over. "Hey, bro! A little one-on-one?" He stood there in a black denim shorts, red black and green Nikes and some black undershirt. I declined. "Man, I ain't played in about a year and a half. Nah, man."

"C'mon, bro. I've only been playing three years."

Okay, Slim Shady, I ain't your "bro" and I ain't gonna be hustled. Leave me alone. Believe it or not, I'm content shooting by myself. If I wanted to play, I'm grown enough to initiate the game. If I don't ask right off the bat, I probably don't want to play. I continue take a little shoot-around. He goes back to shooting on his goal just about thirty feet away.

Minutes later, two cars pull up and out jump these two dudes who want to play some ball. Of course, Stan is willing and ready. He jumps to it and they begin playing a game of 21. Now, I don't know what era of basketball I grew up in, but 1) you didn't wear denim to the court, 2) you laced up your shoes and 3) you didn't foul with your forearm. These dudes were playing prison yard ball. Slim Shady got popped in the freaking head and he just bounced up and clumsily threw up a prayer. I would've called a cat if he hit me that hard. I think the dude was just scared that if he called anything, he'd get his ass whooped. Then I saw him dealing it back.

Call me a purist, but I defend without using anything more than my fingertips (and sometimes a my belly) and I work hard on that turnaround jumper so when you see it, respect it. My game ain't great, but at least it's studied. Dude's these days watched too much of that And1 garbage and think every game is a dribbling exhibition. This ain't no video game. Points aren't awarded for passing behind the back. You don't get points for a crossover. The only thing you're awarded with points for is putting the ball in the bucket. Dude's just want to show off. Their game ain't go no substance.

Also, dude's need to know when someone's waiting on the raquetball court. F'real. I'm not sitting there in awe watching you play. I want the court that I had reserved. Hit the showers, old man. I gotta 7:30 date with my lovely wife.

And seriously, if you're bumping bass at 7:30 in the morning with no one else in the car, you're sorely desperate for attention. No bass before 1:00PM. You're just playing yourself and going deaf in the process. I'm going to start a treble trend. I want to see how absent of a low end I can get my car's stereo to go and then I'm going to pull up at an intersection and make everyone in my vicinity go numb from the screeching guitars of early Megadeth. And it'll be completely void of bass and twenty times louder than the acceptable volume. That's tough, bro. They can't touch my steez. Don't forget to grab that Beatles mix (see below). 400 downloads and counting. Thanks for the positive response. I got my eyes on a Blue Note mix next. More on that later.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Wil asked me in an email, "Where do you find time to do all the sh*t you're doing?" I don't know. I guess sometime between when I get home from work and when I go back. I finished this mix at approximately 9:20 this morning after working on it for close to four hours to that point after crawling out of bed...on a Saturday. Altogether, it took about 14 days to complete and that was with being out for five of them. So really it took about nine days. And, all that talk about how you're not ready and you have no idea, well, you're not and you don't. I'd say that to do a Beatlemania piece without the Beatles is pretty difficult. I even just wanted to loop "Flyin'" for about two minutes to lay a bed for excerpts from a John Lennon interview, but I thought, "I told myself no Beatles so no Beatles." So what you'll hear is completely Beatle-free. And it's not a celebration as much as it is a protest. It's not love and appreciation as much as it is disdain and disappointment. The short of it is that as much as I love the Beatles, I have such a hard time understanding how their material is so much greater and so far superior to that of anyone else that no one can download it, buy it for under $10, buy it on vinyl, put it on an iPod, play it on Guitar Hero or hear it digitally remastered without stopping the earth's rotation to announce that some unheard recording of John farting was pulled from the vaults and will be delivered to you at the suggested retail of $18.98. They've halted the progression of their legacy by gouging their remaining fans and locking out potential new fans. That's the short of it.

So I've assembled my favorite covers of Beatle or solo Beatle material for you. Actually, 37 covers to be precise. What you'll hear is "an infinitely ill collection of funk, reggae, jazz, blues and otherwise undefinable covers of Beatle favorites." And all of it seamlessly mixed together for you're longplaying enjoyment. This thing tops two hours and ten minutes so grab a six pack and head for the patio out back. It shakes, twists, jumps, soothes, sways, sprints, boogies, breaks, jams, jives and damn near dies if it weren't for the third "Hey Jude" (third of seven that I considered available and, more importantly, tasteful) as provided by the Temptations. I won't tout it as a the single greatest achievement in popular music, but it's near it. And considering that I kept about forty other Beatle covers for a possible second installment, there's enough for a second run.

It's not even close to the single greatest achievement in popular music. Not even close. That would be Fear of a Black Planet. But I do find it a rewarding listen in the way that it serves as a irreplaceable reminder of how widespread the Beatles' influence was. You listen to it and you'll hear reggae, soul, ghostly avant-garde, Motown, blues, jazz, bop, country. I mean, it's not of question of what to include, but where to stop. In fact, I had a separate collection of about ten songs that sample Beatles covers. So, not only were the original tracks so highly revered, but the covers were so dope that hip hop sampled them as well. On another note, Brad presented a jigsaw puzzle of the White Album. If that's not dope...

Listening to Bunny Sigler's soul-crushing adaptation of "Yesterday" right now. Man, this thing is insane. Then it goes right into Junior Parker's "Tomorrow Never Knows." The madness continues from there. I don't record them, I just assemble them. Hopefully you find it a rewarding listen. I'll go ahead and tell you what's not on the mix so if you wanna turn back now, you can. Eddie Vedder is not on the mix. Neither is the Breeders, Rufus Wainwright, Bono or any of that garbage from Across the Universe or Love. There's no Cirque de Soleil dancers flying through the air. Jimi Hendrix is not doing "Day Tripper" even though I really like that version too. No Oasis or Joe Cocker. Yep, no Joe Cocker (met with a thousand gasps). If you're expecting something from the I am Sam then you're a sucka. None of that either. But it does represent my very favorite Beatles covers. And, yes, it features three "Judes" so deal with it. For a two-plus hour mix, that's actually not a bad ratio. Discussions are welcome. Even criticisms. Why not? I do it for fun. Here it is: the Beatles mix. Tracklistling below. Next up, either Halloween or De La Vol. 3. Speaking of De La Soul is hitting up Dallas. Wil? You down? Zack?


Bill Cosby "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
Bud Shank "I Am the Walrus"
Ramsey Lewis "Everybody's Got Something to Hide (Except for Me and My Monkey)"
Nina Simone "Revolution"
Overton Berry Trio "Hey Jude"
Wilson Pickett "Hey Jude"
Dillard and Clark "Don't Let Me Down"
Jimmy James "Good Day Sunshine"
The Mar-Keys "Let It Be"
Kashmere Stage Band "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"
Wes Montgomery "A Day in the Life"
Joyce Bond "Ob La Di, Ob La Da"
Al Green "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
Bunny Sigler "Yesterday"
Junior Parker "Tomorrow Never Knows"
Five Stairsteps "Dear Prudence"
Jazz Crusaders "Golden Slumbers"
Peter Tosh "Here Comes the Sun"
El Chicano "Eleanor Rigby"
Ramsey Lewis "Rocky Raccoon"
Eddie Hazel "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
Stevie Wonder "We Can Work It Out"
Bobby Bryant "Happiness is a Warm Gun"
Otis Redding "Day Tripper"
Booker T and the MGs "Lady Madonna"
Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 "Fool on the Hill"
Soulful Strings "Hello Goodbye"
Jimmy Ponder "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
Shirley Scott "Get Back"
Gene Ammons "Something"
Willie Bobo "Michelle"
Esther Phillips "And I Love Him"
Charles Lloyd "Here There and Everywhere"
Ramsey Lewis "Cry Baby Cry"
Groove Holmes "Come Together"
Junior Parker "Taxman"
Temptations "Hey Jude"

You should've stayed in school, punk.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


Last night, before I left town, my lovely wife went out for dessert and my worst fears, most paralyzing anxieties were delivered to me in a paper sack...a brown paper bag to be exact. We come around the bend on a Sonic north of town and there in front of me...a PT Cruiser rally. Before me was a sea of tricked-out PT Cruisers. One even had Lamborghini flip-action doors. Another had flames covering the entire car. I look down the wrap-around and under the lights of Sonic are the shiny humps nearly fifty of these God-forsaken wastes of metal and American ingenuity. We pull through the parking lot so I can face my fears and what was especially horrific was that the owners of these garbage automobiles were excitedly prancing around and taking pictures and even handing out prizes, I would guess, for "most tricked-out," "most honorable to the brand," "best innovation of what is otherwise an huge setback for American automotives." They truly do exist: PT Cruiser enthusiasists.

In all of their pride, they absolutely took over that Sonic like, "Here we are." I felt like calling the cops to break it up. In fact, I thought it might be more suitable to call the Armed Forces to use their artillery on the place and just obliterate it in the way I used to stomp out ten roaches under one stomp in my second apartment just across from the lake. I saw chrome, neon lights, glossed hoods, woodies, Nascar logoing and more white trash than a thousand episodes of C.O.P.S. It was absolutely terrifying.

I'm looking for the next rally so I can catch them in the action. This is more dangerous than a Klan rally. In fact, this might be a Klan rally. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I'm planning a 2004 Honda Civic get-together unfortunately most of our members are busy channelling Vin Diesel like freaking teenagers as they top 80 on residential streets while listening to lousy hip hop and tilting their hats to the side. We probably wouldn't have much in common anyway.

Okay, now I'm really out until Thursday.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


From the upcoming Beatlemania project which is "an infinitely ill collection of funk, reggae, jazz, blues and otherwise undefinable covers of Beatle favorites" and courtesy of yours truly. After breaking this stupid thing down, scrapping it and then starting over, I'm ten minutes in and thought I'd share this little treat with you.

Heading to San Diego for four days to listen to industry executives and label heads complain about how bad things are yet not suggest anything that'll fix it. Oh, did I say that out loud? I'm sorry. Keep rockin' and trust me this Beatles thing is coming. I finished the cover art this morning over a mug of coffee before I even began again. That's like buying the rims before you buy the car.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009



There are moments in everyone's musical profile that are those defining, path-changing moments. Like you don't forget the time and place. For some, it's the first time they heard "Careless Whisper" or "Eternal Flame." For me, it's the first time I heard Co Flow and "End to End Burners" was that song. To understand it fully, the popular landscape of hip hop in 1998 was dominated by the likes of DMX and No Limit. Juvenile and Cash Money were on the come-up and Big Pun was everywhere. To one who was in a constant state of reminiscence, there was very little to appreciate. Depending on what mood I'm in, I might still insist that 1997 was hip hop's last truly great year and it's been in a constant diminishing state ever since. If this is true, it was 1998 that started it. There was an almost complete exodus from LA and New York hip hop and it was largely replaced by the sparse and sometimes underwhelming sounds that would come to represent the "dirty south" sound. For all my criticisms, however, 1998 also brought us Outkast's third record--their breakthrough Aquemini--and Lauryn Hill's g'zillion-Grammy winner, Miseducation, an album she still hasn't managed to follow up.

I had just started slinging CDs at that point and my musical snobbery was beginning to develop. I broadened my scope. Began listening heavily to blues, jazz, funk, Black Sabbath, old Public Enemy records and denounced anything that was popular. And when I had all but abandoned hip hop's modern era, enter Co Flow's "End to End Burners." I remember the video blazing itself into my mind as it made it's single run on BET. I would never see it again, but that chance run-in led to a fandom that has been largely absent otherwise. I ordered everything in our system on Co Flow including the single for "End to End" and their only legitimate full length, Funcrusher Plus.

"End to End Burners" represents an almost kaleidoscopic perspective of hip hop and its affiliated cultures. An "end to end burner" is the term given to a graffiti piece that stretches from one end of a train car to the other end and, like the very composition of Co Flow's masterpiece, it stretches from one end of hip hop to the next. Echoing (or almost hailing) that signature Bomb Squad soundclashing, anchored by Rev Run's "dance to the rhythm, the rhyme of col' flow," then the head-splitting delivery of a young El-P and partner Big Juss as well as Len's phenomenal turntable work, "End to End" is like some freakish space funk or intercepted transmission from galaxy to galaxy. The best part, however, is that it's infinitely delicious. It's a ferocious composition and complicated beyond what words are capable of describing. I remember sitting and listening to it repeatedly thinking, "Geez, who makes music like this?!" Listen to the instrumental at the beat-skipping, the sequencing, the morphing of sounds. I sit marvelling at how anyone could accomplish lyric over such sounds still. Take five Tylenols and bob your head to that, fool. You should've stayed in school.

For all of those that push the boundaries of an artform so insistently beyond what it is intended to be, their careers rarely last long. And, for Co Flow as a group, this was absolutely true, however, as solo artists, both emcees have staked their claim led by El's two classics (I have no problem throwing that word around, trust me) and, of course, his continued contributions through his label Definitive Jux.

Recently, I was digging in Dallas and I found "End to End" on 12" for a buck at one of these hot spots. Dude didn't even know what he had right under him. That's when you lost, sucka.