Michael Jackson and Notorious B.I.G do duet(s), my head explodes

Although this is a (phenomenal) video of Michael Jackson dancing, the real treat here is the song, “Unbreakable,” on which the Notorious B.I.G. spits (I dunno, several?) bars.

I had never heard this song before, and apparently neither had my buddy Bill, who saw this video this morning and responded by doing this:

1. Texting me: “Are you by a computer”

2. Texting me: “Get on facebook I have something that will blow your mind”

3. Sending me this link, and waiting for my reaction, which was to, 1) get goosebumps, 2) yell things into the facebook chat.

This song is off MJ’s album, “Invincible” from 2001, which calls into question how Biggie’s lyrics got on the track. I’m guessing it’s the same way Tupac keeps releasing albums, which is that he’s actually still alive, getting high on spare ribs in a cave with Elvis and Chris Farley. At least that’s what I choose to believe.

“Invincible” was Jackson’s last album and, as far as I can tell, the last album on which Biggie appears, which makes it doubly spooky and awesome.

Anyway, a few minutes of Googling has revealed the following:

From a site called last.fm:

… in 1995, (Biggie) was featured in Michael Jackson’s song “This Time Around”, which can be found on Jackson’s HIStory album. This was not the only Michael Jackson song in which Wallace featured in. In 2001, Jackson included a rap verse sung by Wallace in his song “Unbreakable”, which is found on Jackson’s “Invincible” album.

From a site called michael-jackson-trader:

“The latest issue of Vibe Magazine features a special on late rapper Notorious B.I.G. In the article, B.I.G.’s best friend Damion Butler is quoted with the following:
“I remember one time we were going to the Billboard Awards or something and we were gonna meet Michael Jackson. On the ride over Big kept sayin’, What can I do to Michael Jackson that’s not bad, but will make him remember me? So we got to the meeting and Mike stuck out his hand. Big grabbed his hand, pulled him into a close hug and then flung him back out, like Wassup? He roughed Mike up with a real, old-fashioned, ghetto love hug. Mike was fucked up by that one.”

So, Biggie was obviously a Michael Jackson fan, evidenced by him referring to MJ as “my n*gga Mike,” which is probably something a white guy shouldn’t even comment on.

I’ve got to say, I’m feeling a little embarrassed that I never knew about either of these songs, despite loving both Michael Jackson and Biggie. You’d think somebody would have told me at some point, which I guess Bill did, but about eight years too late.

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Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Kanye West: An argument

The following is a discussion I had with my friend, Andrew Trim, a jazz musician who performs in the Denver/Boulder, Colorado area. Trim is a thoughtful guy. You can have an interesting conversation with him about almost anything.

But, without question, the topic he’s most qualified to discuss is music. He can knowledgeably describe music according to its “texture.” I’m guessing not more than two percent of the population could do that.  So I found his thoughts on Michael Jackson and Kanye West especially interesting.

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I think what’s clear, here, is that this is a conversation between a musician and some hoser who listens to music. Trim takes a purists view, which isn’t surprising considering he plays jazz music and rarely even listens to anything with lyrics. And I can’t argue with his basic argument, which is that the quality of Kanye West’s music is inferior to that of Michael Jackson, and that this is because Kanye is not as talented.

But I can argue that this might not matter.

At this point, it seems likely that Kanye will produce excellent albums for the forseeable future. Let’s say this future lasts 10 more years and five more albums. We can reasonably expect that Kanye’s 8th album will not sound like “College Dropout.” This isn’t necessarily good or bad, but if it turns out to be good, we’re talking about a guy who has probably either re-created hip hop in his own image (the best possible outcome), or successfully reinvented himself in a new genre (a largely irrelevant outcome).

If it turns out to be the former, and if all of these albums turn out to be commerically successful, it’s hard to imagine any other currently known artist coming closer to the musical relevance of Michael Jackson.

Now, that’s a lof of ifs, which is why I still contend that there will never be another Michael Jackson, but that Britney Spears might approach the craziness and Kanye might approach the musicianship.

DJ Jazzy Jeff vs. Power & Light

To the shock of everyone within sniffing distance of Kansas City, the Power & Light district has managed to make a fool of itself once  more.

It’s like Ron Prince and Donald Rumsfeld got together and decided to create a downtown hangout district, then hired Andy Rooney to run it. It’s just one mismanaged night after another down there.

Whats with all this hippy hop music, anyway?

"What's with all this hipping and hopping these days, anyhow?"

The latest is a spat with DJ Jazzy Jeff, widely known as the guy who used to hang out with Will Smith in the 90s, but known to himself as “a 25-year legend.”

Parents just dont understand.

Parents just don't understand.

The facts: Jazzy Jeff’s show at the P&L was cut short.

Jazzy Jeff’s explanation: The P&L management didn’t like the music he was playing (hip hop), and booted him off stage.

P&L’s explanation: He was playing the music so loud, he was about to blow the speakers. He declined to turn it down. Show over.

The general reaction:

Of course, that’s going to be the reaction to anything that happens involving a black person at the P&L, because the P&L used to have a blatantly discriminatory dress code that disallowed, among other things, baggy pants, jerseys and oversized jewelry, which is code for “black people clothing.”*

*My opinions on this are complex, but let’s get a couple of points out of the way. It is impossible to be “racist” toward clothing, since we are born unclothed. I doubt the dress code policy had anything to do with race. I think it had to do with people who wear baggy jeans, jerseys and oversized jewelry.

Granted, those tend to be black people, but as you may have noticed, an awful lot of white people dress this way, as well as Hispanics and (rarely) Asians. What unifies these baggy-pants-and-jewelry-people is not their race, it is something else, and that something is what the P&L didn’t want.

But with that context, you can see why this Jazzy Jeff show — a show, by the way, that nobody even seemed to care about. One guy who was there told the KC Star that some people “booed briefly, but otherwise the incident was uneventful.” — has turned into a controversy, even though it’s obvious that DJ Jazzy Jeff is an idiot. He expects us to believe that a hip hop artist was hired to do a show, and then booted from the stage for playing hip hop. Clearly, these P&L people aren’t PR geniuses, but, as The Star’s Mike Hendricks wrote, “Nobody is that stupid.”

But here’s the question I haven’t seen asked yet: Why is the P&L trying to host concerts with equipment that can’t handle concerts? It has reportedly (and without incident) asked other acts to turn down the sound, which means this is a regular problem, which means it’s just a matter of time before someone blows these inferior speakers.

How about this P&L, how about you buy some speakers suited for concerts, then start booking concerts.

There is no analogy for Dr. Dre’s “Detox”

And there it is. “Detox.” Almost finally.

I don’t know who it is or who it has been for other people. I imagine some people have been waiting and waiting for the new Guns N’ Roses album, “Chinese Democracy” to arrive. It has been 17 years. Bruce Springsteen fans probably felt like it was an eternity between “The Ghost of Tom Joad” (1995) and “The Rising” (2002). Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” (2008) was even described as “long awaited,” even though the band had released an album in 2005.

I don’t care about any of them.

My Guns N’ Roses, my Springsteen, my Coldplay is Dr. Dre, and I’ve been waiting and listening to “The Chronic” (1992) and “2001” (1999) for the last 10 years, during most of which Dre was peppering us with hints at an album called “Detox,” which, if the past can predict the future, will be one of the best rap albums of all time.

The beat in the Dr. Pepper commercial is supposedly a beat off the new album, which is supposedly being released some time soon. With Dr. Dre, everything is supposedly. You never really know until it hits the shelves. First, “Detox” was going to come out in 2004, then 2006, then 2008.

I haven’t exactly been on the edge of my seat this whole time. But I’ll put it to you like this: Whatever they decide to charge for this think, people will pay. I don’t think $30 would drive away many customers, and it would probably still go platinum at $40. If you like rap music, you’re going to buy it.

I can’t even think of a logical analogy in the rock world. I was going to say it was the rap equivalent of The Beatles releasing “Let it Be” (1970) and telling you it was their final album, but that doesn’t work because “Let it Be” was their 13th album. It’s the same with the Rolling Stones. The body of work preceding what might be considered their iconic albums is so large, and the time between those albums’ releases is so small, that there isn’t a good comparison.

I’m sure you could come up with something. Some (pretty) good rock band that made only a handful of albums and made you wait for them, but Dr. Dre isn’t just a (pretty) good rapper. He’s the most important rap producer ever, and most would say the best. His first album, N.W.A.’s  “Straight Outta Compton,” made rap mainstream and his first solo album, “The Chronic,” is one of the five best rap albums ever. He’s an icon.

And he says he’s done after “Detox.” Rapping, he says, is a “young man’s game,” which is true.

“I think it’s time to move on,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

Yeah, maybe. But I doubt it.

(Just for kicks, Dre in a Coors Light commerical from 2002):

How not to wear a 59/50

We have a problem in this country. I think it began with the boy bands in the late 1990s and has been perpetuated by rappers and people like rappers. And also college baseball players.

The problem is this: Nobody knows how to wear their 59/50 hats.

A 59/50, right off the rack (hint: right off the rack is not the way to wear it.)

A 59/50, right off the rack (hint: "right off the rack" is not the way to wear it.)

The biggest problem is that people all too often think they can just pull the hat off the rack and throw it on their head.

Note how stupid this guy looks, even despite a handful of $20s and a jersey from his high school. His first problem is that the hat doesn’t fit him. It’s at least two sizes too big.

The hat should hug your head, not tight enough to leave a red mark on your forehead, but definitely not loose enough you can fit your ears inside it. With good wear, a properly fitted hat can be spun around atop your head, but will not fly off in a gust of wind.

His second sin is that he did not remove the stickers from the bill. Do you walk around school with the tags still stuck on your Roca Wear jeans? Same rules apply. You look like a moron.

Third problem: The hat is neither forward nor backward. It is just floating atop his head in no man’s land. Pick something. Be a man.

Fourth problem: He’s white. Black people can do whatever they want with their hats. They just can. But doing whatever you want with your hat does not make you black, or cool.

I found this interesting blog post on “The Wigger Fallacy.” I agree with his general point, that black culture is an outgrowth of being black and that a white person, therefore, cannot really experience black culture. But I disagree that a so-called wigger* is immune to whatever discrimination a similarly styled black person would encounter. In general, speaking poor English and having neck tattoos tend to make you undesirable as an employee (for example). That might be discrimination, but it isn’t racism.

*For our purposes, let’s define this term as a white person who adorns himself like T.I., or most any rapper other than Common or Kanye West.

Another common offender is the college baseball player.

Again, note how stupid this guy looks. College baseball players tend to share a few unifying traits:

  • A sense of entitlement born of their upper-middle class background.
  • An overinflated sense of their attractiveness, born of being constantly chased by women.
  • A predisposition toward ironic behavior, such as wearing a mustache, but only fraternal behavior, such as growing mustaches, but only as a team.

I suspect that these traits somehow have combined to produce a generation of college baseball players who wear their hats like idiots and make stupid faces in mug shots, although I can’t fully explain it.

For the most part, though, at least baseball players don’t wear custom-made hats.

If you’ve never seen a Major League team wearing the hat you’re about to put on, then neither should you.

Come on.

Being Russell Simmons doesn't automatically make you look cool in a hat.

This, people, is how it is done. Meet Kevin Youkilis, professional 59/50 wearer. Note the hat is facing directly forward and is settled onto his forehead, above the eyebrows and below the hairline. Note the slight bend in the bill. Note that it is pulled snugly around his head.