i heart steven meisel

this week i am going to drop +15$ bucks on the july issue of vogue italia, the first all black model issue. here are some sneak peaks.

photographer steven meisel is superb; last year he produced models enter rehab for the same mag (worth clicking to view.)

for the record, black models are nice, but black women are beautiful.

living in toronto i've come to appreciate a certain shape most - that of the voluptuous east african woman. respect - you ladies got body and your figures, all curves and contours, all shimmers and softness, are most beautiful in my opinion.

applause for mos def and gill scott-heron

mos def and gill scott-heron on the stage at carnegie hall backed by a classical orchestra - wawawawow.

listen to mos here

check out okayplayer coverage and clips here

and here's jay electronica's act I - you must listen to this, the intense beauty and timelessness of this peice is heartbreaking. truly.

new tchune, new kicks, new work out, wha?

reader, you may find this an out of place entry but i am in a new dancehall tchune dizzy and would like to share with anyone inclined to explicit lyrics set to heavy bass.

mavado is an interesting cat. i quite like his ugly mean mug and i love almost every track he's dropped in 2008. following the vybz-mavado beef that produced some hit tracks in '07 mavado continues to chatpurelyrics without making as specific threats, including, "money nah change we, we a money changer; if you diss we, ah danger" or "me nah bleach wit cream, me bleach wit me M16, shotta nah bleach in team, me alone create mi crime scene" or "thank jah, i'm so special, i'm so special, so special, so special, that why me strapped wit me 45special..."

each new tchune has a new dance, see Nah Bleach here and I'm So Special here, but do not try this at home kids.... the day break riddim is frightful, rockets takin off, clappin, chain links clinkin - nutty - if you don't bounce, something might be wrong with you - a neuron in your left brain ccould be misfiring or something because the sound is too hype, you might need to see a doctor.

if dancehall turns you on, but changes too fast to keep track, check out Federation Invasion's wicked weekly pod casts

now, as you can see I'm a fan of the music, but currently there is one crazy crossover i find confusing -

Nike recently came out with a Mavado shoe - see pic here - and now that Asafa Powell, a Jamaican, is the world's fastest man, Mavado released a tribute track entitled On The Go - watch here - somehow the crossover has culmintated in all 3 collaborating to produce a 35 minute workout set to reggae/dancehall - see press release here.

I'm sorry, what? A few questions:

1) what will mavado rhyme about for 35 minutes that is work out appropriate?

2) will the workout gear be a yellow and green mess of spandex?

3) will the exercises be a series of dances created by jamaica's own all star dance crews?

i don't know who it will be marketed to or how but i am buying a copy! or more likely copping a bootleg up on eglinton... and you'd better believe i ain't exercising to it at all - pure entertainment collectible value, star, big ting a gwaan, big tings.


music genres

all musical genres or labels or categories have accomplished is squarely defining sound parameters to stretch, musical boundaries to cross and the institutional rules to be broken by real talented artists -

there are some exceptional acts that are doing so with serious flair;

one such duo is J*Davey. or check out brooklyn duo The Blak Experiment . one more duo is He Say She Say. if you dig these, you'll heart Rozzi Daime and Sa-Ra.

a trio by the name SugaRush dropped their debut album in June.

a fine lady is NNeka. a fearsome one is Terry Lynn.

a spectacularly fantastically absurdly talented young man is
Jay Electronica.

careful - the ish is hot.

oluseun anikapulo kuti aka seun (kills-the-stage) kuti

we in toronto are extremely lucky to be bombarded by high quality live music all summer long-

last night Seun Kuti performed at the Harbourfront for the second time - he is sexy, black and built in rhythm - always opens with something from his papa and always ends with his shirt off.

mind you, man can dress; Seun's green & white spiral print shirt with a wide lapel and butter cup, high-waisted, tailored slacks made me think Fela's closet is in good hands or the Kuti men have an afrofunkrebel pattern in their y chromosome...

but the real quandary is why do the Egypt 80 stick with Seun, the youngest son, as opposed to travelling with the much celebrated, more established older son Femi? it could be that Seun has been performing with the veteran 18+ piece band since he was nine years old. or it could be that the Kutis are Yoruba, descendants of demi-god Oduduwa - a king left his throne to the last son, the most clever son. or it could be that Seun embodies the hardline, satirical, revolutionary lyrical style of his father. or because when Fela died in '97 and Seun was 15, it only seemed right to push him from the back-up vocals section with his mother to center stage solo. I do not know, but I feel this was the right choice. Seun is animated, funny and commanding. At 25 years old, the man is a stellar live musician who brings a touch his own personality to illuminate his father's spirit and traditions. On stage it's clear Seun strives to give as much to the band as they give him - and do they give boy, they give.

the Egypt 80 are afrobeat history - 2/3rds of the band are original members of the (Africa 70 renamed) Egypt 80 band who traveled with Fela in the seventies. when you hear big band, you may think Duke or Bassie jazz orchestra or even brazilian style samba drum groups or perhaps seventy strong steel pan sets but the original BIG BAND is the african band. and historically the biggest baddest bestest big band on the continent is the Egypt 80. they are live. Egypt 80 are afrobeat originators, innovators, instigators. these men tell its story every night. make me tell you bout endurance: one soldier member transitioned from sax to keys at the age of 70 only because the brass became to heavy for his old bones. but them old bones have been playing twelve hour sets of 45 minute songs for the past forty years - do not mess, these are musician soldiers, artist renegades; if there was an afrobeat war, these guys would never have need for a white flag - rather they would play the funkiest version of the funeral song you ever heard while their beleaguered opponents were carried off the battlefield.

a word about how real african men dance - word. (sigh.)

no, but truly, it is spectacular: the stance is wide, bampsy pushed out, chest puffed up, shoulders wide and strong, head cocked, all muscles at alert and GO!

hips switch, back snakes, shoulders shift, rise and lower while pelvis goes whinewhinewhine and thrustthrustthrust... in concert Seun turns his back to the audience often to make them see precisely how it is done and sends his shoulders flying as he wails on his sax to the band or he turns to the side and folds his torso at ninety degrees and sings down into the mic with his backside raised, gyrating with his free hand held out in front of him fingers spread wide. finally, to further demonstrate, he removes his shirt to ensure the crowd catches every last quiver and movement, his back black and bulging with musical muscles, glistening - sigh. let me stop there.

there are great bands still making new sounds in afrofunk style -

hot tip: few people caught the February 2008 release by Dj Mike Love of Nigerian Gangster - check it on his myspace - i'm not sure of the conception of this crazy mix, but Love takes Jay Z's lyrical film score and mixes Hova's ryhmes with Fela's funk; throughout there is historical reference to Fela with wicked soundbytes and because i love Jay's flow, i really enjoy this album.

thank you Oluseun Anikulapo Kuti for a brilliant concert, an amazing show. we torontonians are luckier than we know - the orchestra baobob is at the Harbourfront tonight... i'll tell you how it goes tomorrow!


a lesson in reggae music

my ex's bredren ras bagl said once, "di white man a hate di rastaman cos di rastaman hav di key!" he shook his locks in protest, but then grinned madly and winked as he whispered, "di key ah di reggae muuuzik."

here's a great clip that breaks down the roots of reggae - reggae is revolution music. reggae is a roots movement, a rebel movement, a rasta movement. rastafari is love. rasta wear him hair so fi mek people know him nah business with babylon society ways.... i could go on and on... my mother loved reggae music and peter tosh and so i do it seems... i suggest any music lover familiarise themselves with the music - from studio one fahwad ...rocksteady, dub, ska, reggae, dancehall...

Lee Scratch Perry - 72 years young and badass.

Lee Scratch Perry strutted back and forth on stage, strollin, too cool, his hat smokin (literally) and shining gold - AMAZIN' - dub poet, master mix man, mad genius, dropping precious flecks of wisdom into the audience. He sang "sun is shining" into the cool night air and i believed him.

After burning down his Black Ark Studio in 1979 (following enormous commercial success,) critics began to question his sanity. After some bizarre live performances in the nineties, critics bgan to question his talent. Some may say he is mad, sick, head no good but me know say Perry is the truth, the undiluted truth. here are some of the gems i kept from the show, but also check out the clip below -

lighting flash...
bless your name...
bless your brain...
shake your head...
write your name...
bless your name...

i am confused...

i am not confused...

cannabis, cannabis, cannabis...

i am a bug...
give me a hug...
i am not a thug...
give me a hug...
i am a thug...
but i am in love...
i am a bug...
give me a hug...


did you ever know someone who

did you ever know someone
who turned hater when intoxicated?
someone you thought was your friend
but the alcohol made you know
it is not so -
like you turned your back and instead of mix,
she poured haterade in her drink?

define "liveable"

i often find
i choose to live
in places you might not

in canada
i seek shelter
and not much more than that

i rent and move
i move and rent
i do not seek someplace

i select by feeling
i don't look at the ceilings
i never check against building codes

cracked windows, no bother
faulty element, no matter
yellow tap water, just wait one moment

it will pass

faulty fixtures don't upset me
aging wires will not distress me
peeling trims could never offend me


i do not care for
new appliances and fresh paint
i do not care to
purchase furniture to fill space

i keep it

for this is not my home
i seek shelter alone
and not first class residence

don't you call it ghetto
don't dare turn up your nose
don't tell me the futon is hard and lumpy
all i do is sleep here -
this country is not my home

i prefer a reminder
our life is much kinder
and so i choose a shitbox

until the day
i make my way
and build myself a home

africa or south america
archipelago or coast
somewhere with water for my bamboo

a second floor with
a wrap around veranda
and an inner courtyard too

Neg Marrons feat. Cesaria Evora

Petit pays
Je t'aime beaucoup
Petit petit
Je l'aime beaucoup


'old talk'

i spoke to my mother this morning and she lamented,
"what a shame, jammie, you know old talk is dying out."
"old talk?" I ask and she continued with an explanation (slightly flabbergasted,)
"this business of old talk is a set of west indians sitting around, it's an easy kind of atmosphere, we catching up on news, piconging -"
"wait, what is picong?"
"oh gosh chile', look it up - everybody has gotten so uptight, so focused on their own agenda, if you say something nobody takes it as you say it, they're looking to hear what they want..."
and true to my mother's character (a teacher) she referred me to a book to further understand the concept - 'the housing lark' by sam selvon.

today is sunday, so we should all be out and about enjoying the sunshine. i say summertime is made for loitering, so let's; let's take a moment today for old talk, to sit around and catch up with friends and enjoy their company - give it a try and maybe we can resurrect this valuable tradition...for my mother.

jose james - jazz '08

here's the thing about jazz - jazz is complicated.

i mean that it's inextricably tied to time, place and people in our minds -
think rare recordings in crowded smokey bars
think bird, miles, coltraine, chet, herbie, dizzy, monk...
think blues, swing, bebop,
basically, think back -

but jose james thinks back and brings it forward in a way that blasts most other styles of contemporary jazz - you know the kind that wafts around waiting rooms and elevators?

well, the fella strolled on stage in a white t shirt, jeans and a NY baseball cap, grabbed the mic and...
it was clear that scatting is the archetype freestyle and
lyrical content added the here-and-now to the way-back-then sounds of the jazz quartet and
his hands moved like an emcee in a cipher...
and it was authentic and live and now and then - wicked.

respect to jose james; let's hope ears out there are attuned to his oldnewthennow style... he proves that we can make current what we revere and speak about with nostalgia... we can bring forward our musical roots, hug them tight and cloak them in today... lest we forget; then where will we go?