Monday, December 31, 2007

End of the year.... (Or, 2007 is leaving the bulding....)

Ok, so I'm not really into doing lists.... that are of normal ideas.

But this year, I wanted to throw my hat into the pile.

So, if you care.... here's my Top Ten 'Top Ten Lists'.

Top Ten Songs of 2007 (No particular order...)

1. Fallin' by Jay-Z (American Gangster): I have had this song in HEAVY rotation every since I heard it on November 6th. It was between this and 'Say Hello' but Fallin' wins simply because it reminds me of Regrets. Can't place why, it just does.

2. International Player's Anthem by UGK feat. OutKast (Underground Kings): R.I.P. Pimp C. Top notch verses from everybody, and with DJ Paul on the beat, it was an incredible song. Got me through the summer, fall, and even now. 2008 is the year of the 'Kast. Yeah, I said it.

3. Hot Thing by Talib Kweli (Ear Drum): Simply incredible. I vibed to this for a while, and regardless of what people say about, I thought he put his thing down for this beat. Of course, the BK MC does his thing on the lyrics.

4. Nostaligia by Marco Polo feat. Masta Ace (Port Authority): Man, this song takes me back to when I was first listening to hip-hop in 1991. If I close my eyes and listen to this, I feel like I'm chilling in NYC during a block party. Masta Ace is an incredible MC, don't sleep.

5. Dreams by Little Brother (Get Back): "Something ain't the same." Tay told you, nigga that's the point. I LOVE this song. The producer, Rashid Hadee, put his FOOT in this beat, both Pooh and Tiggalo did their thing as usual, and this song just makes me think about '07 as a whole, and where I'm headed to in '08. And that's what music is supposed to do, put you in a zone. This song accomplished its job wholeheartedly.

6. I Wonder by KanYe West (Graduation): Out of almost every song on this album, I can relate to this one the most. KanYe really made you feel his pain, and his impending glory, even if in the eyes of most, he has it already. The only other 2 songs I could possibly put in this spot is Flashing Lights and Big Brother, but this had a bigger impact on me.

7. Yolanda's House by Ghostface Killah feat. Method Man and Raekwon (The Big Doe Rehab): If you don't think that these three can spin some incredible stories, you're not listening to them correctly. Ghost is solidifying himself as one of the premiere story tellers along side his "brother" Rae and as usual, Meth comes in and smashes his verse.

8. What A Job by Devin The Dude feat. Snoop Dogg and Andre' 3000 (Waitin' To Inhale): This song puts all the pressure hip-hop artists go through in a nice 5 and half minute package. I couldn't stop listening to this song and thinking about everybody I know that goes through this (both my brothers Sonday and Cleph Knotes, my boy Embassy The Hitmaker, Carlitta Durand) and know what they sacrifice for our listening pleasure. Having a song with 3 smooth rappers on it makes it even better.

9. I Want You by Common feat. (Finding Forever): Ok, so, maybe some people don't like this song, but I thought it was great. Common made you really think about love lost, and how that love is still residing inside of you. Again, came through and just wrecked shop.

10. I Get Money (Forbes Remix) by 50 Cent feat. Diddy and Jay-Z (Curtis): I don't like 50. Let's get that out of the way right now. With that, however, I can't hate on the ULTIMATE SWAG that was in this song. Diddy (whether he penned his verse or not) delivered one of his BEST verses of all time supersonically, and of course, Jay-Z came, wrecked shop, and left the building in flames.

Top Ten Albums (Again, no particular order)

1. The Big Doe Rehab (Ghostface Killah)
2. American Gangster (Jay-Z)
3. Graduation (KanYe West)
4. Made (Scarface)
5. Waitin' To Inhale (Devin The Dude)
6. Jesus Price Superstar (Sean Price)
7. Get Back (Little Brother)
8. Desire (Pharoahe Monch)
9. Talib Kweli (Ear Drum)
10. Port Authority (Marco Polo)

And, yes, for my own personal reasons, The Cool got ignored. Sorry, I don't care how much you hype it up. No, I won't listen to it. Kthxbai.

Top Ten Producers (No order, complete chaos)

1. J. Dilla (Say something offensive, and I'll beat you to death)
2. KanYe West
3. DJ Toomp
4. DanjaHandz/Timbaland (Can't really split the two.... or can I?)
5. Khrysis
6. Illmind
7. Swizz Beatz (Sorry, he did have me jamming at the club, can't front on that)
8. Just Blaze
9. 9th Wonder (Somewhere, somebody is complaining.... but I did like the production on Dream Merchant 2)
10. DJ Paul

Top Ten Movies (You already know.... no order)

1. I Am Legend
2. Smoking Aces
3. Superbad
4. Knocked Up
5. American Gangster
6. The Simpsons Movie
7. Spiderman 3 (Please, save the hate for someone else, I enjoyed it....)
8. The Bourne Ultimatum
9. Why Did I Get Married
10. 300

Top Ten Books (N.O.)

1. Sleeping With Strangers (Eric Jerome Dickey)
2. Waking With Enemies (Eric Jerome Dickey)
3. The Good Guy (Dean Koontz)
4. The Darkest Evening Of The Year (Dean Koontz)
5. Obsession (Jonathan Kellerman)
6. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows (J. K. Rowling)
7. Sixty Days And Counting (Kim Stanley Robinson)
8. Tomorrow (Graham Smith)
9. The Castle In The Forest (Norman Mailer)
10. Friday At The Nobody Inn (Mark Hayhurst)

Yeah, I read a lot. That's what I do.

Top Ten Video Games (I do this, too.... and of course..... no order)

1. Portal (The Orange Box)
2. Mass Effect
3. Bioshock
4. Rock Band
5. Call Of Duty 4
6. Super Mario Galaxy
7. God Of War 2
8. The Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
9. Chain Factor (Flash Game)
10. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

"Waaah, no Halo 3!" Who cares?!? Halo 3 was great.... when it was simply called Halo. Deal with it.

Top Ten Television Shows (This coming from someone who doesn't really watch T.V.)

1. The Boondocks
2. The Wire (Best show HBO has, fuck The Sopranos)
3. Everybody Hates Chris (Great writing, and great characters)
4. Mythbusters (I can't help it, the geek in me likes this show)
5. Heroes (Yes, the hype is real)
6. Psych (Dule Hill is doing great things, don't get fooled)
7. The Office (If you work in a office, this is for you. Trust me)
8. Family Guy (Yeah, they are getting better as time goes on, but....)
9. The Simpsons (...still rules FOX)
10. The Daily Show (Jon Steward is still killing the comp on Comedy Central)

Top Ten People To Disappear in 2008

1. MIMS (You sold a million alright.... ringtones. Now please, follow your own advice and say nothing.... for a very long time)
2. Tiffany "New York" Pollard (I mean, really. Besides, I think she's a he.)
3. Paris Hilton/Lindsey Lohan/Brittany Spears/Jessica Simpson (Lumping you 4 together makes my list that much longer, besides, who cares about you or your younger/older siblings?)
4. Rev. Al Sharpton (Listen, I know I'm gonna catch flack for this, but is it just me, or does the man only show up when the situation benefits him in the end?)
5. Ann Coulter (Nigger {yes, I called her a nigger, she's ignorant}, please sit your ass down. Thank you.)
6. Don Imus (But wishing won't make him go away, the man makes money....)
7. R. Kelly (Personally, while his music does makes you move, he's going to jail.... for a long time...)
8. LL Cool J (Jay is no longer president. So when Exit 13 flops, who will you blame?)
9. Bill O'Reily (Guy, listen, stop trying to have your mouth on everything that DOESN'T concern you. And stop blaming Hip-Hop for everything. Hip-Hop didn't cause the VT shootings, it didn't cause Alison Kunhardt and Tessa Trachant to get killed in a accident with illegal alien Alfredo Ramos, it didn't cause Michael Vick to kill dogs, it didn't cause the death of Sean Taylor, the mine collapse in Huntington, Utah, or the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Please understand this. Question, did black people call you out on your extra marital affairs? Or was one of the mistresses you was with black and she scorned you? I'm just saying...)
10. George W. Bush, Jr. (Enough said)

Top Ten reasons why I can't wait for 2008

1. Iron Man (This movie is going to be GREAT)
2. The Dark Knight (Same with this one)
3. I can finally get rid of all this dead weight.... not that long to go!
4. I got some things I need to handle with my immediate family.... and it'll get there, and we'll all be ok.
5. Grand Theft Auto IV... sorry, I need this.
6. The Wire Final Season
7. The Simpsons 20th Season
8. This year I found my voice.... next year, it WILL be heard.
9. Finally saving the Princess.
10. It's just a new year, with new experiences. I'm excited.

And finally.....

Top Ten Reasons Why I'm Done With This List

1. I really can't think of anything else.
2. So, I guess I'll end this now.
3 Through 10. Thank You For Reading.

I've had a good year this year.... and I had a bad year this year. But I played the hand I was dealt and I broke even, so, no complaints. Thank you to everyone who has been in my life over the years, and all the new people I've met and gotten to know better. I love you guys, seriously.

See you in 2008. Be safe, and have a Happy New Year's! I know I will.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Holidays (Or, Happy Christmas)

Real quick, because it's Christmas and my family is begging me to be the big drummer man (instead of a little drummer boy, get it? Oh, never mind...) for our Rock Band.

If you gave a gift today, feel good.

If you received a gift today, feel good.

If you're just alive, feel good.

Whether Christmas is for you, or any other celebratory holiday, be excited, joyful, happy.

Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Penny For Your Thoughts (Or, a nickel for your Soul...)

I tried to be as tasteful as possible.

Last Friday night, I was out with friends. We were at my cousin's house, listening to music, drinking some fire water, having a good time. After while, my cousin decides that he wants to go out. He asks me if I want to roll with him. I roll out, wondering where he was headed. We end up at Magic City.

Yeah, THAT Magic City.

As we walk in, I noticed dozens of men; older, younger, married, and even some WITH THEIR WIVES. It tripped me out how many men were standing around, dollars in one hand, drinks in another, waiting on the next young woman to come out and "shake what her momma gave her" (DJ's words, not mine).

The announcement came on. The woman that was coming to the stage was named "Soul For Real". As I was thinking to myself why she would name herself such a thing, the DJ answered my question for me: "Because she candy coats your raindrops!"


I see her, slender woman, about 5'7", wearing heels that make her look almost Amazonian. She's wearing a little black dress, and when I say little, I mean, little. She's writhing on the pole, dancing with it, snaking her long legs around it, twirling around the pole as if she was going down a fireman's pole. She strips off the dress and the crowd goes wild. She has on tear drop pasties, and a G-String. She bends over, her read end gyrating to the crowd of men (and women) throwing the money at her. I see one girl walk up front, right to the stage, and smack Soul's ass. Soul responds by looking at the girl seductively, and taking the 10 spot the woman has, and... well, to not be so graphic, candy coats her rain drop.

Use your imagination.

The crowd goes nuts. She finishes her set, picks up her money (which I estimate had to have been well over $750 dollars for a 5 minute set) and leaves. Three other strippers come back on stage and resume their posts, dancing for their patrons, talking with the customers, trying to entice them out of their last dollar.

My cousin has retreated to the bar, and while he is purchasing drinks, I look to the left and I see Soul come from out of the dressing room. She looks different now, almost as if she's on her way to class. She has the rolling luggage, and she is talking and laughing with a couple of people on her way out. I stop her. At first, she looks at me as if I wasn't human enough to even speak to her, until she looks in my face. We then realize that we knew each other, she was one of the aspiring girls I went to high school with. She smiles, gives me a hug, asks how I'm doing. Then, the question I knew she was gonna ask next.

"What are you doing here?!?"

I smile then tell her I could ask her the same thing. She blushes for a sec, and then tells me a story about wanting to go to college, becoming pregnant on Grad night with a guy she barely knew, working a couple of jobs that didn't make sense for her, and finally being approached by her suite mate (she made it to Old Dominion University) about possibly becoming a stripper. She said at first it seemed so cliche' because she didn't want to end up the butt of people jokes, or be looked down upon simply because she was trying to get money. Besides, she had a 7 year old daughter to take care of, and if stripping for a couple of nights out of the week can take care of home AND allow her to handle school, then so be it. She told me she's been doing this for 2 years now, and once the Spring semester is over with, she can stop, because she'll be getting her degree.

I walk with her to her car, talking along the way. She told me while it's not right for her to keep the stereotype going of "sex sells", it was either this, or end up not doing anything with her life, and she didn't want to end up like so many other females we've seen in our time. I told her, I could understand why she would feel that way, it was just a shocking thing to know that it was her that was on stage, doing things I wouldn't have expected her to do. I told her I felt bad, because I saw parts of her I would have NEVER seen otherwise, and I wanted to do something, ANYTHING, to make sure she was ok. She smiled, told me that I was always noble and kindhearted, but that she'll be fine, it wasn't like she was selling her soul.

Our conversation ended there, and over the weekend, I thought long and hard about what she said and what I saw. She might not have been selling her soul, but I kinda feel like she was selling everything else but her soul, and honestly, how much more would it take for her to finally come up off that last piece of her.

What does it take for a woman to do such a thing? Is it just a college education? I'm not saying every stripper is in college, but I'm not buying into the myth that every stripper that talks about college is lying about college either. It takes a lot for a woman (and in some cities, a man) to come on stage or in a party or even in your home (!) and bare all, including their soul. Forget the point that they're either half naked or fully naked in front of a bunch of leering men (and women), it's the fact that in some social circles, the preconceived notion that they are doing this because they like the easy money, that they aren't competent enough to get a "real job", or they are looking for the "golden ticket", you know, that one guy (or girl) who'll come along and treat them like a queen (or king), waiting on them hand and foot (and wallet) is just enough to make ME want to scream, and I'm not even a stripper.

So what is it, strippers? Are you just selling a fantasy? Are you selling "sex"? Are you letting people who, in a normal situation, would never even get a hello out of you, see you naked because you want money? (Let's not even get into lap dancing) Is all of this for the almighty dollar?

For what it's worth, your soul is worth much, much more than a nickel.


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