Sunday, December 6, 2009

"When the East is in the house...DANGER"

Put out the word Coppa Stone has emerged, surged, most prefered from the verbs and words I finesse...


Boston. The City of Neighborhoods. The Unofficial capital of New England. Home to the Kennedys, Paul Pierce & the Celtics, the Red Sox, Damon & Affleck, baked beans, and that guy Benzino. The city of Firsts, the first public school, the first subway system, but more importantly, my first appearance in the Boston area.

I was scheduled to perform at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, just outside of Boston, alongside the Jeff Robinson Trio for the weekly Poetry Jam on Sundays. With only one show scheduled, I had a lot of extra down time to explore. During that time, I was able to visit a couple different food spots: a Jamaican restaurant called Lorenz Island Cuisine in Dorchester, a Chinese spot in Quincy Market in Faneuil Marketplace, and a Haitian restaurant called El Rancho Cafe in Hyde Park. Big respect to my breddren Haitian Jonas and his fiance, Rochelle for the guided tours within the Caribbean side of Boston, and providing a place for us to lay our heads. I was also able to check out Harvard Square, and the surrounding Harvard University campus, the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, establised in 1636; Barack Obama's alma mater.



So there I was, between Harvard and Porter Square, Good Will Hunting like Robin Williams, the little Jamaican bwoy made it to the Ivy League, we gone clear breddren. We arrived at the Lizard Lounge with nuff time to spare. The trio was in full swing...before the music portion, there was the poetry slam. There was one particular poet who had apparently spent a little too much time at the bar, I forget his name, but he provided endless entertainment for the evening, trust that. The funny thing is the MC for the night, Mr. Jeff Robinson himself, called him out in front of everybody, but he would soon switch places with him.

My slot was the last, so I would close out the night. The poetry was good for the most part, and the live jazz the trio provided as the backdrop was wicked still. By the time I got to the mic, everybody was extra twisted, blame it on the A-Ah-Ah-Ah-Alcohol...

By this time, I was worried about how my reggae stylings would mix with the jazz trio, because as always, this was live and direct, on the spot, no rehearsal, so you dun kno, we jus haffi do the work. A couple people had left because it was a long night, but there was a good crowd left still. Mr. Jeff Robinson gave me a brief intro, I added my own introduction, and started off acapella, so the trio could follow my lead, but when they started playing, they went in a whole different direction, so I had to flip it like Us3, Flip Fantasia...at first it was rough, but it got smoother as we got deeper in to the set...by the end, the trio was on some Pliers, "This man, never trouble no man, but if you trouble this man..." or maybe Chaka Demus and Pliers, "Murder she wrote..." the jazz remix...



Apparently, Mr.Jeff Robinson had spent a little too much time at the bar as well, because when he took the mic to close out the night, he broke out in to a long "Jah Rastafari" chant, repeating that several times, and then began licking shots and jumping up with his saxophone...and the trio just started getting mad...and then just like Dorothy's house in Kansas, BAM, "what a bam bam," the Jeff Robinson Trio came to a crashing end...and scene.



Respect due to the Jeff Robinso Trio, dem bredda deh can play...intoxicated or not, Mr. Robinson is bad pon the sax, so respect due indeed...is a done deal...PEACE to Boston...we out...

Who gets fired on their day off?

There are seven days in a week, but yuh dun kno that the sexiest day is Friday, because whenever she shows her face, you know that her girlfriend Saturday is not too far behind her, and those two always make for a nice threesome. Don't get me wrong now, Sunday is cute, but my only problem with her is that she always brings that guy Monday with her, so me and her caan really par too hard.

Miami, FL, 12/4/09 – Friday and I had once again decided to meet for our weekly rendezvous. Before we went out, I went to her house, and we watched Friday, the movie, naturally, and right when Smokey asked Craig, "Who gets fired on their day off?" I yawned and tried to slip my hand around Friday's shoulder, but she wasn't having it, and shoved my arm away. Doesn't she know that resistance is futile?

After the movie, we headed out to SPEAK @ INNER LOOK for some diverse open mic action, with my breddren Rob Lee, who's been eyeballing my girl Friday, but it's all good though. For those who don't know, SPEAK @ INNER LOOK is one of those diamonds in the rough, a spot for the artistically inclined to share their guilty pleasures, so to speak, on any given Friday night. A good place off the beaten path, to hear some good spoken word and music. Tonight's feature, the main act for the night, is George Tandy Jr. Next week, I will be the "main feature," so I figured I would bring my girl Friday out, and tek in some vibes before my night.



As always, the vibe was nice. The poetry was inspiring and the music was invigorating, you like those words, don't you, go ahead, admit it, don't worry, I won't tell a soul.





Even Friday was getting into it, she was snapping her fingers and everything, like she was on the set of "Love Jones." Rob was his usual irreverent–host–type self. See, SPEAK is like a weird mix of Love Jones, Showtime at the Apollo, VH1 Storytellers, MTV Unplugged, Oprah, with a hint of Jerry Springer. I'm not even going to get in to details, you just have to go for yourself, to see what I mean (Rob, you can mail me the check later).



Needless to say, George Tandy's set was straight fire, wicked indeed, that bredda can play, and the female vocalist that accompanied him, (remember, I have a bad memory, so I forget her name) she was definitely on point. Tandy is like Alicia Keys' ex–boyfriend, or Nina Simone's son, or maybe he's like Ray Charles' brother, or John Legend's cousin, in other words, he does the whole vocal/piano thing well.



After the show, Friday and I left the premises, and met up with her homegirl Saturday, and that's when the night got interesting, but I'm a gentleman, so it's "FIN" for my people in Paris, and "THE END" for everybody else, the "whole a unu too fas'."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

No Sleep Till Brooklyn...

It was just another cold Friday night in Brooklyn...Bushwick was quiet, except for the occasional police or ambulance siren, accompanied by the sound of the subway train passing on the tracks above...It felt good to be back in Brooklyn, my home away from home. Is Brooklyn in the house, without a doubt...


On this particular night, I found myself at Good Bye Blue Monday, a somewhat off in the cut establishment, with a very non–traditional decor, apparently one man's garbage is another man's treasure, indeed. The place was decorated with a random collection(or maybe only random to the eye of the beholder) of vinyl, books, umbrellas, vintage bicycles, typewriters, I guess a better word would be an "eclectic" collection, I was diggin' the spot, but then again, I've always dug the obscure.

When I arrived inside, the very last act before me was on, and there was a moderately good size crowd in the place. One of the reasons why I booked the show was to try and expand my fan base in NYC, which, as of now, was a very moderate size, like the crowd inside. As soon as the last act ended, I keep calling them the "last act," because I have a really bad memory, and unfortunately, I forgot the name of the band that played right before me, but they were good peoples, they stayed around for my set, so I did appreciate that, just can't remember their names, damn, I guess blame it on age, among other things.

So, the last act ended their set, and I started preparing for mine, but slowly, one by one, I watched people get up and leave. That's when I kicked into infomercial mode, and started selling my show like a $19.99 Juicer that also doubles as a flashlight, and that's not all you get, if you stick around for my show, you'll get a second juicer absolutely free of charge, now imagine what your life was like before you had two juicers, empty, right? So, in other words, I tried to convince them to stay with that million dollar smile, but apparently it was only worth five dollars, because some of them still left, but a few stayed around. I did what I could, so I returned to preparing for my set and checking off my checklist.

My "Usual Suspects" Crew in NYC, P and Saran in place, CHECK.




Locate sound guy, CHECK.



Once I got everything where it should be, I began my set, and started it off with a spoken word piece.



One girl in the audience was married, so I dedicated it to her and all the committed people in the room.


The overall set was good, but the crowd was a little smaller than I expected, but yuh dun kno, I and I play anywhere music play, could be one person, or five thousand...I still jam zed way, yu zi mi, a so I stay, me nuh business, regardless of the situation, I will always play, COMMITMENT. Big respect to the Good Bye Blue Monday management, they made sure things were smooth, and allowed me to play on very short notice, so respect due.

As far as Brooklyn, I must bid you adieu, but like Arnold, "I'll be back..."
GOD BLESS and GOOD NIGHT...Next stop, Boston.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Great Expectations...Mos Def & Jay Electronica Live in Miami (Part 2)...



So Jay finished his set, and was about to exit the stage, when he got the "whisper in the ear move." You know the move, the one that leaves the person on the receiving end of the whisper looking real nervous, and the whisperer walking off saying, "Damn, I'm glad I'm not the one letting them know." This usually takes place right before the flying bottles, sometimes after the booing, right before the "bearer of bad news" proclaims, "Don't kill the messenger, calm down," usually accompanied by something like, "the star isn't performing tonight, but we do have a special..." In come the bottles.

Lucky for Jay, he was told to stall, so he called up some local B-boys on stage to break for a few. But here's my thing, at a show of this caliber, should an artist really be stalling, using people from the crowd as fillers, just a question.

This all seemed to be pointless, because after everything was said and done, the B-boys came off the stage, Jay exited the stage, took his dj with him, and the crowd was once again left to the mercy of dead silence, no music, the Arts Center transformed from a concert to happy hour, because there was nothing else for entertainment. So here is my question: What was the point of stalling, if nothing happens on stage after the said stalling, once again, just a question, that's all.

While everybody was still talking about the week that just passed and catching up on old news, in walks a non-descriptive-type-dude onto the stage, and the unrecognizable figure sits down by the drums, while two non-descriptive-type djs set up shop.

All of sudden, the lights dim, and the non-descriptive-type-dude starts playing the drum set. At first there is a delayed reaction by the audience, before they realize it is the man thsy came to see, it was Mos Def, the Wizard of Oz had arrived.

He started off singing and spitting over the drums while he played, which was cool. Then he got in to his show set, and ran through the usuals, "Ms. Fat Booty," "Definition," which would of been dope if Talib came out, "Umi Says" and so on and so forth. He also performed his new joint, "Auditorium," minus Slick Rick, which once again, would have been dope if he showed up as well. Overall, his catologue set was good, it just felt rushed though, because he ran through them like Adrian Peterson. The last part of his show was basically the djs playing diffrent records, classics, a reggae set, and a Michael Jackson semi-tribute. When the reggae tunes were playing, the djs were the selectors, and he played the role of the "Mic Man" or MC, singing over some of the tunes, as if we were at a session...

Ofcourse, the highlight of the night was when he did the moonwalk to one of MJ's tracks, I forget which one it was...but overall, it was a good show, it just left a lot more to be desired from the cult-classic emcee/actor...especially in Miami, a city which often gets left out on most underground hip hop tours, i.e. Rock the Bells, but that's a whole other story...

video

Great Expectations...Mos Def & Jay Electronica Live in Miami...

video

I had Great Expectations like Charles Dickens...but instead I got the refix, The Great Disapointment. Here's how the story goes. The time was August 15th, 2009. The setting was The Arsht Center in downtown Miami. The plot is an artist and his girl walking down the grey brick road, like Dorothy and the Scarecrow, or Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, on the way to see the Wonderful Wizard of OZ, otherwise known as The Mighty Mos Def in some circles...



We got there early, got our seats in the Arsht Center, which by the way is a dope venue, the acoustics in that place is ridiculous...nice spot. The place was packed and looked like it was close to sold out. On the stage, there was a drum kit, and two dj sets, four turntables on a raised platform...and that was it...Tickets were between $30-$60 a pop. So needless to say, well, I think it would be safe to say that in addition to myself, all the patrons had great expectations.

The show began with the opening act, whose name I can't remember right now, but when he came out, I thought he was the MC for the night. He asked how the crowd was doing, check, welcomed everybody to the show, check, but then started rhyming...I was like, alright, cool, maybe the MC for the night will come up after him...

After his set, he walked off the stage, and the lights came on and there was silence, no music was playing, no MC came to talk to the crowd, his dj walked off, and that was it...First Disappointment...

The time kept passing, and then another dj walked on the stage and went straight to his turn tables...he never said anything to anybody, he just started plugging up. (What ever happened to hyping up the crowd before the show like Fatman Scoop, or Jam Master Jay..RIP, or Stone Love, or Renaissance) Then Jay Electronica came on the stage...and he started talking to the crowd, check, did a couple of his tracks...some of them he did acappella, which was good, since his material was new to some people, and his lyrics were on point. He interacted with the crowd in between tracks.



Before he performed a J-Dilla...RIP...produced track, one of the patrons held up his J-Dilla t-shirt, and he asked him to bring it up so he could wear it on his shoulders while he performed the song. He made jokes with the crowd, check, and told everybody to remain positive and stay far from the negative people in life, check, overall, he had a good set...seemed a lot more comfortable on stage than his other shows which I read about in other online reviews...





Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Love is my religion....

So there I was, sitting in front of the television, or "tell–lies vision" as some like to call it, watching these crazy people shouting at town hall meetings about health care, and socialism, and what the founding fathers wanted...And I say to myself, "Self, dem people really going mad over health care, like for real for real..."

I mean where were these people when money was cut from the education and housing budgets....Where were these people when the evidence came out that were no weapons of mass destruction...Where were these people when attorney generals were being fired for not falling in line...Where were these people when there were no bids being made for contracts...and if they are so angry about it, then what is their solution, because more and more people are loosing their health care coverage, and call it a hunch, but I have this funny feeling that none of these people are without health care coverage...

Which brings me to Obama and his first few months in office...The other day, I got in to an open discussion on Facebook about the new presidency and I wrote the following comment:

"I think people were under the common misconception that Obama as one man could reverse the momentum of this gigantic machine that has been continuously in motion...as Billy Joel said: "We didn't start the fire...It was always burning...Since the world's been turning..." It is a lot bigger than Obama, and one cannot imagine the tremendous pressure he is under, to make wine out of water...I wouldn't want his job...But I genuinely hope he succeeds, not just because of who he is, but because America & the world, is in dire need of solutions right now...

Too many times, we expect people to deliver "the change" to us in a "nicely wrapped package," but if you don't "git up, get out, and get something" like Outkast and Goodie Mob said, then the change just might pass you by...

But like Ziggy said, "Love is my religion..." and the world needs more of it...
"



So to sum everything up, people, unu need to stop shouting for the sake of shouting, and if you not saying something, it's better to just say nothing...because memba me tell yuh...Love is always the solution...RIDDIM UP...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ask Skip Gates if he Got Silk? (Part 2)



So the Tribe launch was a big event, and the "Skip" Gates arrest was also a big event in the States, because it sparked a nationwide discussion on race relations. Now, granted, my experiences with law enforcement have not always been positive, and I can testify to unfair treatment, but in the same breath, I don't think that all police officers are racist, and it doesn't mean that this particular cop was racist, because that would be a broad generalization. I won't really get into it further, because I think history speaks for itself, when looking at race relations in America between African-Americans, or just black people in general, or any other minorities and Law Enforcement.

I also find it very funny, when some people say that "race isn't a factor," but the whole thing started with a white officer responding to a call that two black men were breaking into a home, which happened to be Skip Gates and his driver. After that, the first black female mayor of Cambridge apologized to Gates, but the white police officer refuses to apologize, because he felt he was following procedure. Then the first black president, Barack Obama, said in a press conference that the officers acted "stupidly" in arresting him. Then to counteract his comment, four white presidents of four separate police unions, hold their own press conference to support the white arresting officer, Sergeant James Crowley, and demand that the president apologize to all law enforcement officials for his comments.

I'm not going to say much more on the subject, but forgive me if I don't believe the four white union president's statement that racism and racial profiling doesn't exist in the Cambridge Police Department. What I will say, is that I'm glad it has people revisiting the whole issue of race relations, because believe it or not, some people in America really genuinely believe that racism no longer exists, and often use President-elect Barack Obama as an example, right...

There is always two sides to every story…
(just like the whole incident with Luciano and Freckles in Kingston, google it breddren, google it...)
…so I'm not going to act like I was there, but this is my version of what happened.

When the police officer asked Professor Gates for proof that he lived there, he felt like Allison Hinds in her song, Roll it gal, that moment:

When dem fly up in yuh face Gates
Mek dem know dem place
Numba 1 inna di race yah
Could neva replace...




When Professor Gates followed the police officer, James Crowley outside to the door, demanding his name and badge number, Crowley probably felt like Destra in her song I Dare You, at that moment:

Tonight I'm not in de mood, (so you can gwaan shout and behave rude)
So anyting yu want to do, I dare you, I dare you.




When really what they both need to do, is accept that "things will never be the same, that's just the way it is," like a Tupac remix...



...and so how are the two incidents related, I think the first is the remedy for the latter, or in other words Gates and Crowley should go down to Trinidad for Carnival 2010. Carnival will solve everything, because after Jouvert morning, jumping carnival, and waving dem flag for a week straight, the whole incident would seem less important.

We Jamaicans have reggae, but I have to give it to the Trinis, they definitely have Carnival. When it's carnival time, you forget about all your problems, all your worries, all your fears, and if you don't like somebody, you too busy jumping up and wining, to even remember why you don't like the person. Just enjoying life, even the most hardcore yaad man forgets that he's been listening to Soca 120 hours straight, and might even shout out "Pull-up" once or twice, and bang on the wall at a fete. How do I know all this, well let's just say that I left Piarco International Airport with a big "Quench-Aid" or "Kool-Aid" smile back in 2007, but that's a whole other story...



So my advice to Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley is simply this, go to Carnival and feel like Machel Montano in his song with Beenie Man back in 1999, Outta Space (UFOs), and at that moment, both of you should just:

Jump around like yuh gone insane
Dis is PORT-OF-SPAIN




RIDDIM UP...