Friday, September 30

Acid Jazz Tubbies -- Emphasis on the "Jazzed"

Acid Jazz Tubbies
I always felt these lovey-dovey chubbies mighty shady. All that surreal floating -- not that I watch 'em. But the once or twice I stopped to observe out of curiosity, I was certain they (or their production parents) were just... crack-ish.

Now the truth shall set a them free: The Teletubbies are definitely -- and literally -- "on" something! This just in from

Teletubbies In Cocaine Bust
PBS darlings image adorns packages seized in drug cartel arrests

"While we knew that Tinky Winky was gay, TSG was unaware of the Teletubbies cocaine connection. When federal officials in New York yesterday announced the arrest of 22 members of an international drug cartel, they revealed that cocaine shipments seized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were labeled with a sweet portrait of the colorful cartoon quartet. The photos, snapped by ICE investigators, show the ring's distinctive branding of its product. Frankly, we always suspected that degenerate Laa-Laa was hoovering-up her residual checks. This, of course, is not the first time an iconic image has been appropriated by drug dealers. Remember the
Harry Potter bust? Or the time they got bin Laden?"

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

This book club's a biotch

The Naked Truth - click here for CD reviews or to purchase
I got a kick out of the Petite Bee's spokesman saying he'd recently created a reading list for her. Given her something more to ruminate while a victim of The Wicked System. Then, after seemingly being pressed for titles, he cited these hotties:

The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Get the Autobiography of Malcolm X here, just click

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Buy Maya Angelou's classic here

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
Click for book reviews - The Four Agreements

Nice list, right? I'm thinking Kimmie could wind up with both a Martha and an Oprah moment. This could be the accidental jumpoff of an influential new book club. You know, the Queen B. reads them while on lock, then gives the world a thumbs up or down. Everybody's still connected and more enlightened. Yes-yes, y'all. From Sing-Sing.

I like this! If I learn of any further Royal Reading Selections, will let you know.

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Thursday, September 29

New book: Fela Anikulapo-Kuti

The first concert I ever attended starred James Brown -- splits, cape tossing, doing the Camel Walk and all. Few live performances I've experienced could touch that of the Godfather of Soul's, which registered a 10 on my Richter Scale of music events...

That is, until I saw Fela and his stellar Afrobeat orchestra live in Philly, accompanied by about a dozen of his twirling/dancing/harmonizing wives! (Not shown in that word picture: the rest of Fela's 27 wives, who may have been home in Lagos, nor his bikini briefs and gold chain attire.)

What can I say? The man was loved. Not just by the ladies, the slamming percusionists, and JB-ish horn masters storming the concert stage around him, but by people the world over.
Which is why, almost eight years after his death, another tome about this Nigerian visionary has been published.

Clasically trained in London and influenced by Miles Davis, James Brown, and Malcolm X, Fela Kuti became a champion for the people. He was arrested more than 200 times and savagely beaten for his political outspokeness. Here's a bit about the latest, must-read book deconstructing this legendary figure and his whirl:

Get Arrest the Music here via
"Arrest the Music! is a lively study of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, one of Africa's most popular and controversial musicians. The flamboyant originator of the "Afrobeat" sound and self-proclaimed voice of the voiceless, Fela used music, sharp-tongued lyrics, and derisive humor to challenge the shortcomings of the Nigerian and postcolonial African states.

Looking at the social context, instrumentation, lyrics, visual art, and people through which Fela produced his music, author Tejumola Olaniyan offers a wider, more suggestive perspective on Fela and his impact on listeners in all parts of the world. With Fela front and center, Olaniyan underscores important social issues such as authenticity, racial and cultural identity, the relationship of popular culture to radical politics, and the meaning of postcolonialism, nationalism, and globalism in contemporary Africa.

About the Author: Tejumola Olaniyan is Professor of English and African Languages and Literatures at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is author of Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African-American, and Caribbean Drama and co-editor (with John Conteh-Morgan) of African Drama and Performance (Indiana University Press, 2004)."

For more book info log on to:

To hear Fela Kuti's music, click in the sidebar section, on the cover art titled, BEST Best of Fela.

And please do not sleep the CD Red, Hot + Riot. This musical tribute to Fela features his son Femi Kuti, who's joined by a super-tight line up of artists: Bilal, Macy Gray, Roy Hargrove, Nile Rodgers, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Common, Baaba Maal, Kelis, D'Angelo, Talib Kweli. Proceeds from sales support AIDS awareness.

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Wednesday, September 28

Happy Birthday to Modern Music

Imagine our world without the various music styles we know and love today. Would we be liftin' every voice to sing Vivaldi? Hazin' on purple Haydn? Maybe bangin' Bach on the block? Sounds bananas, right? Well, this is precisely why a worldwide shout-out goes today to brother William Christopher Handy, who on this day in 1912 published the sheet music that started it all: The Memphis Blues! He single-handedly changed the music game beyond compare.

Unfortunately, W.C. Handy was hoodwinked back then, barely made any money from the new-fangled song triggering the music revolution that birthed every genre from Jazz to R&B to Rock. But this genius composer is probably tickling the big ivories in the sky today if he's listening to all that His Ye-Ness -- the Kan man -- has sparked with a bluesy collabo featuring Jamie Foxx, titled Gold Digger.

Peep this rendition of Gold Digger to understand just how far the Memphis Blues has taken us:
George Bush Doesn't Like Black People.

George Bush song at Viqi French Fever - The Hot Nu Music Blog
Way to go, Cool Papa Handy - Father of The Blues! We still singin' your praises, and the type of songs you knew so well:
"I ain't sayin' Bush a gold digger. But he ain't messin' with no broke-broke!"

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Tuesday, September 27

Speaking of D'Angelo: Good news...?

As an aside to yesterday's post mentioning D'Angelo, here's new news from about the Neo Soul icon...

D'ANGELO IS HOME AND RECOVERING FOLLOWING CRASH: Singer says he's ready to get back into the studio.

"D'Angelo is home and doing well," read a statement released from the singer's lawyer Monday afternoon following news that the singer was critically injured last week during an automobile accident in his native Virginia. The Grammy-winning artist is now "anxious to finish the recording of his soul masterpiece that the world has patiently awaited," read the statement from his attorney and business advisor, L. Londell McMillan. "His spirit is very positive and he is blessed that the accident was not fatal."

According to authorities, the single-car crash occurred just before 8 p.m. on Sept. 19 as D'Angelo and another person, Lynee Sellers, were traveling east on Route 711. Their 2003 Hummer ran off the road and slammed into a fence before overturning. D'Angelo, 31, was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle. Sellers and D'Angelo, a.k.a. Michael Eugene Archer, were both taken to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in nearby Richmond, where they were treated for injuries. It is unclear whether D'Angelo or Sellers was behind the wheel at the time of the crash. Police would not provide additional information on the accident, as it's still under investigation.

A week before the accident, D'Angelo appeared in Chesterfield Circuit Court to plead no contest to one count of felony cocaine possession. He was given a three-year suspended sentence for the charge, which stems from the discovery of marijuana and cocaine inside of his vehicle during a routine traffic stop back in January.

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Monday, September 26

What Is "Neo Soul"? - Pt. 1

D'Angelo, the Neo Soul artist credited with putting the genre on the map.  Check out D'Angelo at
There are more Soul music tributaries today than Aretha Franklin would shake her R-E-S-P-E-C-T stick at, but only Neo Soul aspires to stay rooted firmly in the past, maintaining integrity across generational lines. The best known of these music acts include Maxwell, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Musiq, Floetry, D'Angelo, Angie Stone, Bilal, India.Arie -- even Lauryn Hill and Joss Stone. But what exactly is Neo Soul?

Neo Soul is a raw, non-conformist musical cocoon of yesteryear -- the 1970s and earlier -- brilliantly interpreted by contemporary talent. The resulting sound has the power to sooth, heal and excite in butterfly kisses. Like the boldest, hippest poetry, Neo Soul expresses pure, unabashed emotion and informs the listener long after the song's final notes dissipate.

Neo Soul represents a spiritual revival of decades old underground funk, sometimes with jazz, rock or folk elements. Like funk music, Neo Soul pledges deep allegiance to a bluesy, gospelized essence popularized by greats like Aretha Franklin and Curtis Mayfield... So much so that, sometimes, if played between "real" oldies, a "neo" track sounds like a tune from long ago -- but blissfully without the hisses and scratches associated with vinyl records!

Simply said: Neo Soul is a continuum of legends such as Donny Hathaway, Prince, Minnie Ripperton, Ann Peebles, Al Green, Donald Byrd & The Blackbyrds, Marvin Gaye, Parliament-Funkadelic, Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes, Betty Wright, and Sly & The Family Stone given a fresh, new millenium edge.
Neo Soul originators Zhane. Read reviews of this classic CD at
Perhaps the first American vocal act to redux this powerful sound was
Zhane (pronounced Jah-NAY). This Philadelphia duo's 1994 CD included the radio hit "Hey Mr. D.J.", which sampled synth chords from "Haven't You Heard" -- an R&B tune by jazz crossover composer Patrice Rushen. Zhane used Rushen's springy melody to create a mega party anthem, one embraced by young and old alike. However, most of Zhane's album cuts took the neo sound steps further, skillfully stepping into light jazz territory, making the CD a diverse, enduring classic.

The next significant Neo Soul entree was perhaps the 1995 CD Words by The Tony Rich Project. Produced by L.A. Reid, Tony Rich broke the sound barrier with a laid back blues and folk-rock sound embedded in a Nu-drum rhythm. A multi-instrumentalist with a smooth voice a la Baby Face's, Tony Rich indeed helped rebirth a missing sound in soul music, with a few tunes (surprisingly) still in rotation today on Easy Listening radio.

But it took
D'Angelo, the Virginia-born son of a Pentecostal minister, to perfectly define the sound of Neo Soul. D'Angelo created a mass yearning for more of this dark, sexy, moody stuff with his seminal 1995 hit "Brown Sugar" (and CD of the same title). He crooned sultry love songs with heavy down beats in a manner that harkened Prince and Marvin Gaye at once. D'Angelo is considered the artist who opened the flood gates and put Neo Soul on the map, solidifying a well-deserved place in music history.

All the while, the Neo Soul movement was joined by other immensely talented and impassioned vocalists such as Joi, Carleen Anderson of the Young Disciples, and Laurnea -- all taking wonderfully different tangents. Some leaned heavily toward rock, others incorporated a spoken word poetry style and political rants. (Check out the
Top 20 ListMania of the Blazingest Neo Soul Sistaz!)

But it wasn't until 1997 when
Erykah Badu rocked the industry with a haunting voice reminiscent of Billie Holliday's that Neo Soul seemed to blossom into the full bouquet it is today. Executive produced at Motown by Kedar Massenburg, the same visionary who produced D'Angelo, Badu was so fresh in her throw-back styling that she garnered a succession of chart-topping hits and gained a die-hard cult following. With beats by The Roots and masterful jazz bass contributions by Ron Carter, Baduizm is an essential CD for any serious music collector.

Amidst the onslaught of new jack R&B, these Neo Soul pioneers proved the seasoned sound of Soul was not only still viable, but a life's spice in great cross-generational demand. Today, the Neo Soul scene is robust with a full menu of innovators paying homage to black music roots -- yet keeping it progressive and next-level.

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Tuesday, September 20

Kim's new Queendom

Where's a Ninja Honda when Kimberly Jones needs one? Today marks the first full day of incarceration for the 4' 11" fashionista. For the next (now) 365 days, this self-proclaimed biotch takes a "time out" for having perjured herself in the trial surrounding a shooting incident she had knowledge of outside of NYC's Hot 97-fm.

"It's been nonstop since the day I found out," the Busy B. told a Newseek reporter. "I knew when the verdict came down, and then the sentencing, that I didn't have any time to play around. I had to get the album done, and all the other things in my life settled quickly. I'd never done an album so fast before, and in a way it was a good thing. The music just kind of rolled out."

Kim's album The Naked Truth will be in stores Sept. 27. But while imprisoned, the Little Queen needn't worry about album sales -- nor her infamous "drag." Now is the time for a ghetto fabo to plan a new look, take her stunting to the next level.

Here's a little advice for this lovely lady while in search of a way back from set-back when a throw-back becomes a jumpoff. In other words, Kim, take this precious time to do in six steps what less fierce divas require twelve to accomplish:

Kim at Source Awards, but no kudos for prison sentence which started today Step 1: You'll first want to re-think that fashion statement. You know, tame it down to a Betsy Johnson-type roar. Betsy probably wouldn't hesitate to cover up with an orange jumpsuit. Now you can adopt said modest decorum, too.

Step 2: Hair curdling self-reflection for those suffering maggot brain is tough, but holding on to the past is worse. Be BIG, KIM. Get a bottle of M.C. Conditioner and wash those old worms right outta ya brain, for reinvention is the key to freedom.

Step 3: With a new attitude, grab an Magic 8-ball Toy and shake it like it's hot to settle on a new way of presenting self. If the cameras are running, don't spazz out. Remain calm, as The Roots would say, and this too shall pass. Because if you don't keep it all together...

Step 4: You're fired! People in high places will be watching, Kim, and you never know what opportunities your good behavior may inspire. It's all about the Benjamins, baby, so make like another famous Lady (Jail) Bird and...

Step 5: Let this filthy rich woman be your role model. You needn't participate in the Xmas Tree Decorating Contest, if that's not your thing. Go deep within, Kimmie, and share your talent for verbalism. Jump off a creative writing class for the next 365 days, do something constructive and stay strong!

Step 6: The Look of Recovery?! A jumpoff, for real... Viqi French Fever - The Hot Nu Music Blog

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Thursday, September 15

N'Dambi: Black Star from Planet Badu

Die-hard Erykah Badu fans know that one of her former back-up singers and Dallas friends -- N'Dambi -- is an equally bad chick. As in awesome. Period.

Neo Soul diva N'Dambi from Erykah Badu's band

Perhaps more original than the quite original Erykah, N'Dambi is arguably the ultimate Neo Soul artist for '70's Jazz-Funk fans. As in this sister's style is so intricate, she's sort of not even Neo Soul. She feels like the real deal from back in the day. From many different, better days. Crossing well into Acid Jazz land here and there.

True to the meaning of her Muslim name, this sister's work is "most beautiful." These are The Six Degrees of N'Dambi, based on her superb, essential double-CD set from 2002,

Tunin Up & Cosignin...

First Degree: Her raw emotion and adeptness with classic funk rhythms is as finely tuned as Bilal's. In fact, in some way, I consider N'Dambi the female answer to Bilal and wish these two would get together in a studio sometime. But where Bilal takes powerful hip-hop turns, N'Dambi masterfully dives into pure jazz, deftly scatting when in the mood.

Second Degree: That laid-back sound that put Erykah on the map? N'Dambi has this gift, too. They both exude a talent for breeziness that says, "I'm way too busy telling you what's up here, pouring out my heart -- and having fun doing it -- to fret singing within the commercial norm." N'Dambi doesn't have a pretentious atom in her voice. Au natural and earthy.

Third Degree: Heavy (and these days rare) use of live studio musicians that jam in the style of Chaka Khan's killer band, Rufus. However, N'Dambi's band throws down serious jazz, too. There's consistently flawless bass work going on, at times reminding me of Ron Carter (the genius behind Badu's Certainly) or the spirited Marcus Miller. (Check out producer Kenneth Crouch's bananas bass in Black Star, with it's Chaka-esqe hook!!!)
The musicanship on this double-CD is simply off the chain.

Fourth Degree: N'Dambi sometimes triggers a double-take with her pared down, plain-truth sound, "neo reincarnating" Nina Simone. (Check out Ode 2 Nina and Crazy World.) I'll even say that her unique way is to purposely venture into tricky pitches at times. And it's cool as all get-out! Somewhat like Cassandra Wilson, N'Dambi is fearless about doing her own distinctive styling (but alternately a delicate soprano and unapologetic alto).

Fifth Degree: About that smoking band again... They take to the stratosphere two songs with a jazzy House music beat: Day Dreamer (with it's fierce, Bar-Kays like groove) and Call Me. In both songs, the singer gets to the bottom of things. In one, getting deep inside your head to get up and get yours in life; in the other, basically asking, like Roberta Flack, Where Is the Love, baby?

Sixth Degree: With all of the above said, N'Dambi sounds precisely like... no one. Which is exactly why we dig her vibe.

Author's update: I have it on good authority that N'Dambi's new CD -- A Weird Kind of Wonderful -- drops very soon! In fact, there may be a CD release party for her long- and eagerly-awaited new set in NYC on October 13th at S.O.B.'s. For confirmation and other N'Dambi updates, frequent Viqi French Fever. The artist herself says this to her fans:

"It has taken a good amount of time to get this particular record together. I guess it's fitting because as I was working on the record, I had to take some time out to work on me. I must say that this particular album is probably the most introspective to date. So, if you thought you knew me, well, you will know me better after listening to this collective. I must say I am the most proud of it." N'Dambi Blue

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Wednesday, September 14

HVW8: Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a B-boy

If you like a groove with a view, HVW8 will let you have it Chris Tucker-style: just knock you the f*** out!

Pronounced heavyweight, HVW8 is a next-level collective of visual and music artists on a mission to give Party People what they want, and then some. How so? Well, it's like this y'all: HVW8's various DJs and producers and lyricists give you a funky beat down from one corner of a venue. In another, the original crew of three thrash upon a canvas -- live painting fine art like this bad thriller hear:

Earlier this year, the more aurally-driven part of this Montreal-bred clique released the electro-soul album Music Is My Art on the Ubiquity label. Many of the tracks feature a cross-section of worldwide talent, proving these cats aim to turn fans every which way but loose.

All together, HVW8 has toured/exhibited throughout Canada, the United States, England, Puerto Rico and Japan, creating live art pieces in concert with heavy-hitter musicians and DJs such as Jazzanova, Afrika Bambaataa, Gilles Peterson, The Herbaliser, Roots Manuva and Osunlade.

Currently with mixed-use studios in Montreal and L.A., HVW8 originally focused on star-studded works. However, last year's "Political Minded" exhibition tour marked the unveiling of more conscientious pieces. And it seems the deeper they've dug, the more fertile their fusion fruit, with a list of commercial art credits now boasting these big bruiser brands:

* Absolut Vodka (Sweden, agency: ChiatDay - USA)

* Aesthetic Skatebaords (USA)

* And 1 basketball (USA, agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky)

* Beams International (Japan)

* Diesel Jeans (Italy)

* Giant Step (USA)

* Interscope Records (USA)

* Levi Strauss (USA)

* Ninja Tune Recordings (UK/Canada)

* Sony music (USA/Japan)

* Virgin Records (UK)

Want more of HVW8's multi-media performance smack-down? Just grab a shot of vodka and trip this way:

HVW8 Production House

Straight No Chaser UK

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Monday, September 12

From Tribe Called Quest to Sweet Honey In the Rock: Steve Biko's story lives

On this day in 1977, one of South Africa's greatest anti-apartheid champions mysteriously died in police custody, but he'll never be forgotten. That's because many of the most prolific jazz, hip-hop, and reggae artists of our time have helped immortalize Stephen "Steve" Biko over the years.

Today, we give props to the diverse array of musicians who have been moved by Steve Biko, and as such, have moved millions with his powerful story worldwide... So much so that eventually, one of the greatest actors of our time, Denzel Washington, brought Biko's story to life in the critically acclaimed film, Cry Freedom.

Some of the timeless music saluting Steve Biko:

* Alto sax man Noah Howard's album Patterns/Message to South Africa was conceived in Paris the week that Biko was killed. The music was recorded two years later with several great South African jazz exiles.

* Reggae legends Steel Pulse released the song "Biko's Kindred Lament" on their 1979 album Tribute to the Martyrs.

Peter Gabriel tells the tale of Biko in the song of the same name on his 3rd self titled album Peter Gabriel (III) (alternatively known as Melt for the cover art) released in 1980. Gabriel sings: "You can blow out a candle / But you can't blow out a fire / Once the flames begin to catch / The wind will blow it higher."

* Sweet Honey in the Rock's 1981 album Good News contains tracks titled "Biko" and "Chile Your Waters Run Red Through Soweto."

* In 1986 Lester Bowie brought his eight-piece Brass Fantasy band to the South Bronx in New York for the first Biko Fest, an all-day music festival. When Bowie took the stage, he announced, "The first song we're gonna do is dedicated to P.W. Botha, president of South Africa. It's entitled `Piss Water, Kiss My Motherfuckin' Ass, Bald-faced Motherfucker.'"

* Simple Minds covered Peter Gabriel's "Biko" in their 1989 album Street Fighting Years.

* A Tribe Called Quest's 1993 album Midnight Marauders includes the song "Steve Biko (Stir It Up)."

Beenie Man's 1998 album Many Moods of Moses contains a track named after Biko.

* In 2000, Dead Prez referenced Biko in a track titled "I'm an African" on the album Let's Get Free.

Steve Biko's contribution to the fight against apartheid is as exalted as former President Nelson Mandela's. So large is this legend that Star Trek: The Next Generation even christened a starship in his honor, the USS Biko (NCC-50331)!

His funeral was attended by more than 15,000 mourners, with thousands more barred from the rites by security forces. Twelve Western countries sent representatives to the service, which was conducted by the Reverend Desmond Tutu.

As we remember Stephen Biko this day, we also reflect on this noble quote of his: "It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die."

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Saturday, September 10

New Orleans musicians found, JazzFest, Zulu Parade

Free Image Hosting at
According to, it's official: The show will go on, regarding the 2006 New Orleans JazzFest! The site's owner, author Chuck Taggert, is also serving as one heck of a clearinghouse, ensuring that members of the New Orleans music community know who's been found safe and sound.

It's tough to imagine that any other music community in any other American city could have such a tightly knit family. Just check out this incredible list of all those who've checked in with Taggert (or vice versa) from God knows where:

And if there's never another
Zulu Parade in the 'hood, hearts worldwide will break. For many Black culture vultures, the idea of no more Zulu Parade is as numbing as no more World Trade Towers! If you've never experienced the Zulu Parade or Ball during Mardi Gras, follow these links to get a taste of what is arguably New Orleans's most distinctive tradition:

Official Zulu Krewe Site
Fan Photo Gallery 1
Fan Photo Gallery 2

Once things are back on track in NOLA, it'll be well worth the trip to hit the Big Easy, to enjoy the city's unique heritage of Jazz, Blues, R&B and Zydeco music. And if you go during Mardi Gras, your trip's not the most fun unless you catch the Zulu Parade. As sung by Zulu's most legendary King -- jazz great Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong -- It's a Wonderful World!

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Friday, September 9

BET Telethon: Hip-hop taking on another Bush?

Uh-oh... I feel an OutKast moment ticking toward the political front... Some mad, bad hip-hopper rhyming, "Me and you (Bush), yo' mama and your cu-zin, too!"
I'm talking about the First Mama, former First Lady Barbara Bush, and this injudicious remark she made Wednesday during a radio interview, after touring the Astrodome:

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

This is working very well for them?! Like the affected people are grinning widely because the same government that didn't even show up with drinking water has now put them up in the Trump Tower.

Nor, will the government likely show up down the line with fabulous prizes, like Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right."

Sure, there are people in this crisis who may be a little better off. It's great to be alive, dry, and not thirsty. As a next step, maybe America will even live up to its promise to these citizens, and give them a fair chance. For example, a decent shot at getting a decent job with benefits and the like. One could even consider this reparations forced by nature.

But it doesn't appear the vast majority of Gulf Coast residents will be better off. Many probably will never recoup half of their financial losses. Too many apartment dwellers just don't buy renters' insurance, in some cases because they're struggling to afford a bus pass to get to a low-wage job. And most homeowners' policies don't cover floods. People are waiting with baited breath to learn if the industry will have a heart, or go strictly by the contract.

Chances are, Mrs. Bush, that most of the residents of the decimated areas will not be doing very well, at all. Please don't get survival mode gratitude twisted. Happy that a few food stamps for Pampers and Tampax, cash for an appropriate outfit for a new job search, and a security deposit toward a warm/dry place to live do not a region of long-term heel-clickers make. This is just a little water...

So tonight, for the televised BET Fundraiser, some people are taking bets on who might verbally knuckle up the First Mama at the M-I-C for her indecent exposure. Seems like folks are snatching off their white sheets faster than Twista could spit K-K-K! Now that's what's "scary."

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Friends with benefits: Star-studded fundraisers besiege airwaves

Got money? Well Marg Badu -- Oops! "Erykah" Badu -- along with Chris Rock, Robert DeNiro, Lenny Kravitz, and the Iron Chef are just a few of the entertainment heavy-hitters gearing up to take a little of that dough off your hands. All weekend, we'll hear a cacophony of celebs on-stage, urging our support for Hurricane Katrina victims. And as is the American way, we'll be totally entertained while they do.

Whether your idea of fun is sitting at a table making a poker face, lazing in front of a TV watching a reknowned chef stuff his face, or partying in Da Club giving gansta face, pop icons will pop up everywhere this weekend (and beyond) to separate you from your cash. But it's all good, right?!

• BET will host the "S.O.S. (Saving OurSelves) Relief Telethon" on Friday (7:30 p.m. EDT). Participants will include Jay-Z, Diddy, Erykah Badu, Master P, Pharrell Williams,
Chris Rock and Stevie Wonder.

• Poker Web site will host a celebrity tournament Friday with participants including Hilary Duff, Hank Azaria, Shannon Elizabeth and Jennifer Tilly to compete for a $100,000 donation to the Red Cross.

• "ReAct Now: Music & Relief" will air Saturday on MTV, VH1 and CMT (8 p.m. EDT) with artists including the Rolling Stones,
Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, Alan Jackson, Kelly Clarkson, the Neville Brothers and Kanye West.

• The "American Idols Live!" tour will hold a benefit show Sunday in Syracuse, N.Y.

• From Sept. 11-18, jazz musicians in New York will raise money for the Red Cross with shows in clubs throughout the city.

• Chefs for Humanity, an organization created by the Food Network's "Iron Chef" Cat Cora, will hold an eBay auction Sept. 12-21 to raise money for
UNICEF's Katrina relief fund.

• David Banner, through his Heal The Hood foundation, will hold a Sept. 17 benefit concert in Atlanta with guest appearances/performances by T.I., Nelly and Twista.

• Jazz at Lincoln Center's Sept. 17 benefit concert in New York will air live on PBS. Participants will include Wynton Marsalis,
Bill Cosby, Elvis Costello, Robert De Niro, Paul Simon and Bette Midler.

• Madison Square Garden will host a Sept. 20 benefit concert in New York. The lineup includes
Elton John, Rod Stewart, Jimmy Buffett, Bette Midler, Lenny Kravitz and Fats Domino.

• "Gospel Angels," a live concert from Atlanta, will air Sept. 22 (8 p.m. EDT) on the Gospel Music Channel and Paxson Communications' i network. The show also will include performances from hurricane victims' shelters.

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Wednesday, September 7

Jay-Z tells Billboard about Blueprint for a Takeover

Whatever blueprint
jacked from the vault behind this portrait of founding father
George Washington
has landed him in the ultimate architecht's seat. Did Shawn Carter suspect that America would be this ripe for change, given the window of opportunity that another curious George (Bush, that is) has left wide open for a hostile take-over? First, no WMD. Then, no capture of Osama bin Laden. Now Homeland Security joins the ranks of 9-1-1: a joke in every town?

"It's really numbing," the rap impressario told Billboard magazine, when saying he stands 100% behind his Bush-bashing artist,
Kanye West.

"You can't believe it's happening in America," Hov added. "You wonder, what's going on? Why were people so slow to react? I don't understand it."

The Roc-a-Fella rapper-turned-label-president at Def Jam says he wants to speak with Diddy about starting a fund that would benefit African Americans during times of crisis. "Just in case anything like this happens in the future, we can do what the elder Bush and [former President Bill] Clinton are doing for our people specifically," Jay added.

Jigga "who?" Jigga "what?" How sweet is this presidential thinking?

Talk about getting your "grown man" on? I'm already envisioning Hov heading the NAACP or Congressional Black Caucus in a decade. (At least!) Please believe, there will come a day when a rapper runs his or her rap ish on a higher, political plane.

Now, no less than GQ magazine has named S. Dot its International Man of the Year, an honor presented to him last night by an equally blinged-out and giddy Jade Jagger, daughter of Mick. So this famous photo of Jay may be more telling than even we fans know. Without a (reasonable) doubt, a razor-sharp hustla like the Jigga Man would move the crowd a lot more quickly in a crisis than the current leadership.

How's this for an "Encore": President Carter sounds so nice, America's 'bout to choose one twice?!

Hova! Hova! Hova! Hova!

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like

Saturday, September 3

Kanye West: Stand Up for Hurricane Victims

One of my closest friends is unaccounted for in New Orleans, is not yet even being searched for in the deadly aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Luckily, we finally learned Wednesday that she is alive -- for now. You see, my very decent, hard-working, Jaguar-driving friend Dee Dee is eerily trapped inside her powerless house in Orleans Parrish and close to starving to death. The car had been troublesome, had broken down a month ago on the very highway-bridge that was destroyed by the hurricane. So she was "stuck" in New Orleans to weather the storm, alone.

At some point, she ventured out of her flooded home and into the waist-high "slop" -- the sewage, remains of the deceased, and wildlife feeding on them -- with intentions of wading to the Superdome.

But somewhere along the way, a sheriff stuck a gun in her model-lovely, mocha face and threatened to shoot it off. And then at the Superdome, when she realized there was no way in hell she'd be able to board a bus to Houston, she decided it was too risky to stay overnight in the pitch blackness with the crowd, which was likely more irritated and anxious than she. So she waded back home. And there she sits and waits...

I imagine what she waits for. For help that she sadly doesn't know may not arrive for another week? Is she sitting there journaling apologies and "I love yous" to those of us who are having omelettes and coffee and typing away at our computers this morning? Or possibly, she is awaiting her death, a way out of the hell-on-Earth her beloved town has become. Despite her patriotic lifetime of tax-paying.

While she waits, she takes cat naps, I imagine. But at some point, she may be too hungry and too tired and too defeated to awaken from what must be nightmarish sleep. Somewhere inside, she may figure that death would be better, her only relief.

But this post isn't really about Dee Dee, who we may never see again, at least not alive. This post is about how a most unlikely person, a remarkably talented producer-rapper, has spoken up about the plight of my friend and tens of thousands of others in New Orleans who are in the same predicament and dying.

The musician I speak of is Kanye West, whose "controversial" remarks last night on NBC's Hurricane Relief Fundraiser sent heads spinning across America. For the record, my head spun as my hands clapped loudly together and I realized my mouth had gone on auto-pilot, with me screaming "Kanye! Kanye! You go, boy!" at my television. Same way some folks unabashedly shout "Amen" when the preacher hits a nerve.

What led me to such an emotional outburst were words for which Kanye, the son of a former Black Panther and a Chicago State U. administrator, will go down in history: "President Bush doesn't care about Black people." There. He said it.

And if it isn't true, prove it. Because from where Black America sits, this insanely slow response to the plight of those drowning and starving and dying in New Orleans is yet another painful case in an oft-made point.

So it's taken a Chicago hip-hopper, Kanye, to break through the clutter of the annoying, yakking heads who've hi-jacked the news casts (and therefore, "popular" opinion), to make people pay closer attention to the personal affront that many feel in the disaster coverage.

Clearly, many of us share Kanye's pain. Just yesterday morning, I submitted an editorial to a major online newsletter which frequently publishes my thoughts. In that letter, I voiced utter frustration with the mainstream media's constant harping on "the looting" that's taking place in New Orleans. Who the hell cares?! It is simply a blaring sign that all of the systems that these good taxpayers have paid into, to come to their aid in time of dire need, have failed miserably. At this point, the police should be helping people get into these various, inoperable stores, to help themselves to sustenance, Pampers for their babies, and a fresh change of clothes.

I am sickened, and I am hardly alone, in imploring the mainstream media to curb the racist histrionics. To mature, to realize a paradigm shift in the face of this disaster. The media has exponentially worsened this crisis. If you're going to talk about people trying to keep themselves and their families alive in this situation, do not scare off the bus drivers and others there to aid the suddenly homeless by terming these survivors as simple, criminal-minded "looters."

Trying to feed your family knows no color, no class. If this disaster had happened in Palm Beach, Florida or Beverly Hills or Park Avenue, the spin on the story would be so astonishingly different: the media would be blasting the government in ungodly ways for allowing so many wealthy Whites to perish, for reducing them to eating garbage. Even Republicans would be yelling "Impeach!" over this ineptitude.

But alas, my convertible Jaguar-driving, tax-paying African American friend, Dee Dee, is nobody. The only people yelling "Impeach!" on her behalf may be Kanye and me... and a growing number of restless others who feel slapped in the face. Again. Because to us, Dee's import is unequivocal. Because, but for the grace of God, she is us.

But that said, those who are in Palm Beach or Beverly Hills ought to wake up on this failed response, too. Because it is frighteningly clear that everyone -- regardless of color -- is potentially "Dee Dee." And I can prove it: think "Terror Attack."

In the event of a "man-made" disaster, the only thing different from the story pervading our TVs today will be a diversity of skin tones. As we approach the fourth anniversary of September 11th, you'd think all the money that's been poured into protecting the homeland would have us in stellar shape.

Obviously, Homeland Security is a joke. Hurricane Katrina is an example of the emergency management we're getting for our money. It is time to tell the I.R.S. we demand a refund, particularly if you're paying loads into the federal system. Your tax bracket -- none of that -- will matter. If you're lucky, you'll live to "loot." And if your children are equally lucky, they'll be around to see someone pointing a gun in your face for grabbing an orange from an abandoned, but well insured, store.

If you haven't yet pledged support for victims of the Gulf Coast disaster, they very much need you, and sadly, it will never be too late. Here's a link to Fly Jock Tom Joyner's Hurricane Relief Fund, for your convenience... Please click: Black America Web Relief Fund

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like