Celebrities, Events, Important People, New York City

MUSIC REVIEW – Class is Now in Session! Apollo Music Cafe Presents “The New Class”

Likwuid commanding the stage.

Apollo Music Café’s The New Class concert featured Likwuid along with fresh young underground talent served up in a classy speak-easy setting. It has a VIP environment with a black backdrop, similar to a small black box theatre. Some of my favorite performers for the night were: Cuzimdope, which were the skate boarding-attired duo that reminded me of the backpacker crowd that would pepper the audience back in the day when Likwuid and I would perform at the Bowery Poetry Club. One of the performers from the group donned an afro and looked like a young MJ. They performed three fun and highly energetic new cuts, “The Cable,” “We Get High,” and “Cold Cut Gyoza.” On stage they look like two kids on the playroom floor beating sticks on pots and pans, creating music for the first time. Their music harkened back to simplicity of the bass, kick and snare of early hip hop. The Cranberry Show was another duo that brought out the carefree youngster in all of us, having us bounce around the floor during their Indian influenced “Slumdog Millionaire Bollywood Flow.” This stream of consciousness came from Milwaukee from all places, where apparently black men sound like white boys when they talk. A real mind opener it was. That’s the not the only taste of internationality we got that night, Rich P was a lone rapper who was very nicely dressed in Denim from Paris. It was radio ready music that would fit right in with the harder production of say, someone like Rick Ross’ music. I liked it because it was current. The true throwback of the night was Justine Sky. Her lithe 17 year old frame was clothed a basketball player embossed t-shirt and yellow biker shorts with tall socks and sneakers. Her pressed and curled hair swung about as she goofily introduced herself. But when the music came on, she reminded me of Brandy, music that I grew up on. I was immediately proud. She had that naivety about her that made you want to protect her but the potential that made you want to sell her out to the highest bidder because you know you’d make a killing off of this double threat. (She wasn’t much of a dancer, but who is these days?) I don’t remember ever feeling as vivrant as her though; blending the perfect mix of innocence and sexuality may be something reserved for younger souls, but I’ve got an old one. She explodes with attitude when singing and her voice is solid enough. She takes it as serious as a heart attack but when the music is off she’s back to being a teen girl, reminding us to keep at least a bit of ourselves young forever.

The part of the night I was most excited for because it was why I had come was Likwuid commanding the stage. With her androgynous swag and trademark afro I screamed until my voice cracked for fellow South Carolinian. The first song she performed, “Queendom Anthem,” spoke of the struggle for women to regain their original power. It was fitting, because Likwuid strikes me as a feminist even while having a boyish flavor. Her conscious flow is sick, the beat was hard, and her lyrics are spiritual…and relatable. On the second song she performed with more heart than I had ever seen, and why wouldn’t she… “Give the Drummer Some” was her sliver of the story of her journey to being committed to being a music artist.  As she stood up on the shakey table with one leg, I could imagine the house manager cringing, but all I could do was smile inside and squint my eyes in disbelief. My mouth was agape. I was proud more than anything else, because Likwuid has been in this game for a while, and I’ve seen from the outside looking in her many hustles to be free of the chains of the “man.” It worked. She now flourishes as a DJ and lyricist in New York City, one of the toughest cities to make it in.

There was one more group that started out with a doo-wop acapella type of vibe. As soon as I heard it I liked it. It’s worth mentioning because of it’s Sweet Home Alabama/rock n roll tinge along with a healthy heaping spoonful of hip hop. As a  bonus, the girl on the guitar looked like me and I wanted to kiss her– I’m in love with myself like that.

As the cherry on top, Amanda Seale was the hilarious host for the concert, or should I say “class.” She spoke of preserving hip hop and talking about it intellectually in order to raise it to the level of Jazz, where it could be studied in Universities and such. It truly is a national treasure that we should take more seriously as a possible catalyst for change rather than just a way to make money and an excuse to make a fool of ourselves. But we should still have fun. Yes, I think Amanda Seale is right about that PSA she made that night. I’ve got my pen and pad ready to take notes. I hope I see someone from the New Class there. They’re sure to bring a new level of understanding to hip hop to the world once they graduate.

Culture, Events, International Relations, Life, Nature, New York City, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Sprituality

Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Grounded in Mother Nature

I went out into the forest today. It’s a place I often end up when I’m lucid dreaming. Today, I went there in real life. After Hurricane Sandy, I wanted to see the damage that was done, if any. I was really oblivious to the storm. I was cozy in my room, only knowing that the MTA was down, so I wouldn’t be going to work. (My sister and her wife too. Major cause for celebration in this house.)

I expressed these sentiments on Facebook, and most people were concerned for the practical issues: will you get paid while you’re out? My response “Not in money, but in happiness and orgasms.”

The storm brought deep personal shifts for me. I became orgasmic with someone that I wasn’t able to cross that threshold with in the past. Something truly opened up. They say Oya brings winds of change.

To give thanks for being spared anything but more rest, more time to myself, and deep relaxation and all the other blessings the storm brought, I decided to go to the park and commune with Nature. When I got there I found some trees lying about the ground. They looked like they were resting. As you read in my last post centering around the wonders of Nature, “Nature is the New “Church”, trees talk to me. And this is what they had to say this time:

This  part of the tree was laid to rest

That tree in the distance was completely supine.

We are one with the events of Nature. We are not upset or phased when a tree is broken or uprooted because of the storm. What we say to humans is Use Us! There is still good wood here. We understand that we are here as resource to humans that you have taken for granted, but this storm is not a bad thing. Things change. Nature is change. God is change.”

Now, maybe you’ll think about that the next time you decide to count the death toll instead of your blessings. If even the trees who have been snapped off their base or maybe even ripped from the ground are not phased…why should you be?

I thank God that I was spared. For every storm, even since Hurricane Hugo I was spared. I slept through it, curled up like a baby at 6 years old on the living room couch. Maybe that’s why I feel that there’s nothing better than falling asleep on the couch, to this day. That little house built from brick and that little girl inside was kept safe from the wind and rain. It brought my family closer, and I was thankful even then. So, I don’t too much get caught up in the monsoons of life for others. I have work to do here, and although I’m compassionate…I know there’s a reason for every season, every tragedy, every disaster. For my family, even though I am the biggest cryer, I am also the one to take a detached emotional approach to death when someone transitions…since even a pre-teen, saying, “Don’t cry Mom, there is no death…they’re in a better place.”

I don’t take anyone else’s suffering lightly but I also know what to take in and what to block out. That’s why I never watch the news. To each his own. That flooding in the streets became my own when my orgasm flooded out of me, this is how I make the storm personal for me…I won’t take on more hardship than was given to me, not now. I’m OK and believe that everything will BE OK. This is what it means to have peace in the midst of the storm. Thank you, Sandy.