Sarah Vaughan, My Favorite Vocalist of All Time.

The Divine, Sublime, “Sassy” Sarah Vaughn.

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Today marks what would have been the 89th B’Earthday of the one and only Sarah Vaughan.Without a doubt, she is my favorite vocalist of all time.

My love for Vaughan is easily explained: before her, I never really felt the lyrics that I heard other singers proffer. Not on any real depth. But as a child, when Sarah sang, everything made sense to me. The arrangement, the tempo, the evocative message in the music. When she sang, I felt the words where as before I’d only heard them. After Sarah, the feeling of the songs she and others were trying to convey became clearer, the emotion easily discerned and internalized, almost immediately identified as real or not. When she sang, the lyrics had temperature, color, shading, depth and resonance, a tangible texture, a feel. For me, she set the standard of what a singer should bring to a song, the underlying commitment and inherent personal responsibility to make it his or her own any vocalist serious about their craft should bring to the gig.

Born on March 27, 1924, “Sassy”, as she was known, was one of the most incredible vocalists American music has ever produced. Some call her the preeminent Jazz singer of all time, a title Vaughan herself bristled at, finding “Jazz singer” far too limiting. Over the span of a career that touched nearly six decades, Sarah Vaughan established herself as simply the singer’s singer because she sang everything – Jazz, Blues, Be-Bop, Brazilian, Pop and all manner of Broadway show tunes and standards – the whole spectrum, in her own wondrous way like no one had or has since. Her imprint is indelible: we are still hearing, feeling and seeing her artistic and stylistic echoes over two decades after her death.

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Born and raised in Newark, NJ, Vaughan was primarily a pianist in her early days but she would go on to cut her teeth as a singer working with the budding stars of her time – Earl “Fatha” Hines, Billy Eckstine, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker among them – who would all go on to be titled as titans, most owing their status largely but not exclusively to their primary association with Jazz.

“Body & Soul/Dedicated To You” – Sarah Vaughan & Billy Eckstine, Live 

Sarah started her singing career in 1942, after winning an amateur night competition at the famed Apollo Theater singing “Body & Soul”, opening for Ella Fitzgerald for a week at the Apollo and then playing and singing in Earl Hines’ band. Legend says Eckstine discovered the ingénue. Her bond with Eckstine – mentor, brother, father figure, friend – would last for the remainder of their lives. In 1943 she left Hines’ group, joining Eckstine’s’ new band as the featured vocalist, beginning her nova-like brilliance.

“Broken Hearted Melody” – Sarah Vaughan, Live

From her early days as a featured vocalist to her eventual solo stardom, “The Divine One” crafted a style that emphasized her virtuosic employment of an amazing instrument, her voice. From the mezzo-soprano heights of her earlier years to the (female) baritone she’d employ pretty much exclusively later on, she would create an impact very few would mirror and a discography unmatched in its breadth and variety.

“Tenderly”  – Sarah Vaughan, Live 1958

Most singers are lucky to have a single song associated with them; Ms. Vaughan had two (at least). Early on, “Tenderly” was the standard she was most closely associated with. “Send In The Clowns”, a Stephen Sondheim penned Broadway song taken from her sessions with conductor Michel Legrand in the 70’s, would supplant “Tenderly”,  becoming her signature song during the latter part of her career, almost 30 years later.

sarah vaughanThe 40’s & 50’s were her heyday. She recorded for the Musicraft, Columbia and Mercury labels. At Columbia through 1953, Vaughan was marketed almost exclusively via pop ballads, a number of which had chart success. She would cut sides at Columbia with label mates Miles Davis and Benny Green and Jimmy Jones which proved she could sing Jazz with the best of her peers, fully incorporating Be-Bop into her singing. Her hits during this stretch include “Everything I Have Is Yours”  “It’s Magic”,  “Nature Boy”, “Black Coffee”, “Make Believe (You Are Glad When You’re Sorry)”, “I’m Crazy to Love You”,  “I Love the Guy”, “Thinking of You”, “I Cried for You”, “These Things I Offer You”, “Vanity”, “Saint or Sinner”, “My Tormented Heart”, and “Time”,  “My Funny Valentine” and “Linger Awhile” among numerous others. She became a star.

 “These Things I Offer You” – Sarah Vaughan, Live 

At Mercury, she enjoyed a unique contractual arrangement which stipulated she was to be marketed as both a pop and Jazz singer recording for Mercury proper and its EmArcy Jazz imprint. It was at EmArcy that she crafted her project Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown in 1954 which was said to be one of her personal favorites (I know it’s mine).

“He’s My Guy” – Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown [

Vaughan signed with Roulette Records in the 60’s, making a string of well received large ensemble albums arranged and/or conducted by Quincy Jones, Benny Carter and Lalo Schifrin among others. She also had pop success with “Serenata”, “Eternally” and “You’re My Baby” (leftover tracks from her Mercury days) and released 2 albums of Jazz standards: After Hours (1961) and Sarah + 2 (1962).

Vaughan returned to Mercury Records in 1963 recording Sassy Swings the Tivoli in Denmark, recorded over four days of live performances with her trio under the auspices of Quincy Jones. But soon, due to the changing taste of the times, Vaughan, like many Jazz stalwarts found themselves out of favor and with no recording home. Vaughan was lucky to have a dedicated fan base that allowed her to tour extensively. Still, between Roulette and Mercury, Vaughan released a prolific 23 albums during the decade.

“Misty” – Sarah Vaughan, Live 1964

Vaughan experienced a rebirth in 1971 when Bob Shad, who had produced her at Mercury Records, signed her to his new label, Mainstream Records. The results were the albums A Time in My Life, Sarah Vaughan with Michel Legrand (“Send in the Clowns” came from these sessions), Feelin’ Good and a live album in Tokyo, Live in Japan, recorded with her trio in1973.

“Send In The Clowns” – Sarah Vaughan, Live 1971

In 1974 she collaborated with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas in his all-Gershwin show with a guest appearance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. They would go on to replicate the performance with concerts in Buffalo, New York with Thomas’ home orchestra and with symphony orchestras across the country in 1975 and 1976.

“Gershwin Live (Medley)”  – Sarah Vaughan, Live With Los Angeles Philharmonic

In 1977 when Vaughn signed with Pablo Records label, she hadn’t had a recording contract for three years (though she recorded an album of Beatles songs with contemporary pop arrangements for Atlantic Records that was eventually released in 1981). Vaughan’s first Pablo release was the Grammy nominated I Love Brazil! recorded with an all-star cast of Brazilian musicians in Rio de Janeiro in the fall of 1977. In total, she recorded seven Pablo albums Copacabana, also recorded in Rio (1979), How Long Has This Been Going On? (1978), two Duke Ellington Songbook albums (1979), Send in the Clowns (1981) with the Count Basie Orchestra and Crazy and Mixed Up (1982).

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In the 80’s Ms. Vaughan began receiving recognition for her contributions to modern music and feted in a manner befitting her status. She won an Emmy Award for a PBS broadcast of her performance of the Gershwin program with the New Jersey Symphony and another Emmy in 1981 for “Individual Achievement – Special Class”. Her CBS Records reunion with Michael Tilson Thomas & Gershwin Live! with the Los Angeles Philharmonic won Vaughan the 1983 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female. 1985 saw Vaughan receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame in 1988.

Vaughan recorded just a few times in the 80’s. In 1984 on Barry Manilow’s 2:00 AM Paradise Cafe and The Planet is Alive, Let It Live, based on Italian translations of Polish poems by Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II. Vaughan’s final complete album was Brazilian Romance, produced and composed by Sérgio Mendes and recorded primarily in the early part of 1988. Vaughan contributed vocals to an album of Christmas carols recorded by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with the Utah Symphony Orchestra and sold in Hallmark Cards stores.

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Fittingly, her final recorded performance was a duet with Ella Fitzgerald (the only one ever for a recording session) on “Birdland” from Quincy Jones’ Back On The Block in 1989. It was Vaughan’s only formal studio recording with Fitzgerald in a career that had begun 46 years earlier opening for Ella at the Apollo (the two performed together often on television shows and on stage over their storied careers). She also sang on “Setembro (Brazilian Wedding Song)” with Take 6 on BOTB.

Ms. Vaughan died April 3, 1990.

She left a legacy of influence that can be heard in singers across the spectrum. From Anita Baker, Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Liz Scott, Regina Belle, Chrisette Michelle, Aretha Franklin, Rachelle Ferell, Teena Marie, Faith Evans, Stevie Wonder and even Bilal, all echo the indelible stylistic stamp of Sassy Sarah Vaughan.

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We could be here all day citing favorite recordings by Vaughan, but mine has always been the sessions she did with trumpeter Clifford Brown. Here’s “Lullaby of Birdland” & a 12 minute performance from 1951 featuring “You’re Not The Kind”, which would appear later with a different arrangement from the lp with Clifford Brown, sandwiched in with other jewels.

“Lullaby of Birdland” – Sarah Vaughan & Clifford Brown, 1954

Sarah Vaughan “You’re Not The Kind”, Live, 1951

Legendary Status: Jimi Hendrix’s last “New” Project, Ernie Isley, Miriam Makeba, Teena Marie and Bobby Womack.

Last week I got the headaches of life.

A migraine and then subsequent smaller ones that hit a brother when the climate changes.

Not that I’m interested in sharing my sickness situs with you; this ain’t no pity party, people. It just threw me off the schedule that I had set for myself. But that’s life; you take the, uh, stuff it gives you, toss it together and make some kind of salad and smother it with your favorite dressing, right? Handle that.

I missed a milestone and the born days of four important people in Soul, R&B and Pop music but their impact on the musical and cultural landscape compelled me to write about them. It’s an incredible group.

First up, Jimi Hendrix & Ernie Isley.

With People, Hell and Angels, the last of  his (mostly) original posthumous recordings, Hendrix takes his final bow.

On Tuesday, March 5th, the estate of Jimi Hendrix released People, Hell & Angels,  reportedly the last release of original studio recordings left behind by the legendary guitarist when he tragically died at the far too young age of 27.

The 12 track project was recorded from 1968-69, after The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Mitch Mitchell, Noel Redding) had broken up. Recorded at his Electric Ladyland studios, this set is purported to be intended as a follow-up to the trio’s final release (which his studio drew its name from) a collection of blues/rock cuts that shows the legendary axeman’s fingerings would influence future

According to Hendrix’s longtime engineer Ed Kramer, who also serves as producer for the posthumous releases, Hendrix used the studio as a laboratory, to flesh out ideas, mixing and matching musicians and sonic concepts to achieve the sound he was hearing in his head. He experimented with percussion, horns, a second guitar and other The revolving roster included Buddy Miles and Billy Cox (who briefly formed The Band of Gypsies), saxman Lonnie Youngman, percussionists Jerry Velez and Juma Sultan and Jerry Lee on guitar. Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield, CSNY) is credited as bassist on one track.

The project is a confluence of styles, soul, rock, r&b and isn’t a primer for someone just getting into Hendrix. With its’ different arrangements and versions of some earlier cuts, People … is more of an addition to a collector’s vault.

Though this is the final release of original recordings there is a trove of filmed Hendrix performances set to be released as live concerts and docs in the coming years making sure music fans will continue to be experienced for generations to come.

Soul & Pop Legends Ernie Isley, Miriam Makeba, Teena Marie & Bobby Womack celebrated B’Earthdays last week.

Ernie Isley, Hendrix’s former band mate, fast friend and fellow fret phenom celebrated a b’earthday this week, turning 61 on March 7th.

Isley and Hendrix were actually in the Isley Brothers group together in the early 60’s before the Isleys forged their ridiculous blend of funk, soul and rock that would result in their historic Hall of Fame career. Hendrix didn’t do bad for himself after leaving, ultimately becoming  – arguably – the most influential if not famous musician of all time.

Long before The Black Rock Coalition, Fishbone, Living Colour or even Lenny Kravitz, The Isley Brothers were my and many others first introduction to what would be later classified as “Black” Rock (we’ll vivisect that historically ignorant oxymoron at a later date … trust me).

Take their memory searing melodies, sinfully superlative songwriting and lyrics, a muscled musicality for your ass and combine those eternally essential elements in a cacophonic cauldron with the twin tridents of Ron’s angel-falling-from-heaven-tenor/falsetto and the soaring cries of Ernie’s six strings and you have the stuff of legends, begetting the hybrid Rock & Soul.

The Isleys had blown my prepubescent mind the first time I heard them, like some musical microdot and Ernie played a pivotal role in the process: he was the group’s psychedelic pusherman. For decades following Jimi’s death, Ernie has continued their shared aural assault on that thing that ties your ears to your soul, clad in a head scarf, mirrored shades and tight ass leather or denim. His guitar playing is one of the main reasons an Isleys’ show felt like a blend of a pentecostal revival and back alley brawl.

I’ve been on an Isley Brothers bender for a while, lately. Here: get you a taste:

Miriam Makeba, Mama Africa                                                     

South African singer, Apartheid activist and cultural icon Miriam Makeba was born on March 4th, 1932. Most famous for the songs “Click Song” & “Pata Pata” in the 60’s, she rose out of the racist oppression of her homeland to become the first singer to take African music to the masses before the genre Afro Pop was even a thought.

After becoming an international superstar she endured exile from her native Johannesburg that would last for more than three decades after her passport and her citizenship were revoked. Despite this and other trials and tribulations (she suffered a commercial blacklisting after marrying Black Panther and militant activist Stokely Charmichael, nee Kwame Ture in 1968; her concerts were cancelled and her recording contract torn up) she recorded and toured for the next forty years with such musical luminaries as (her former husband) Hugh Masekela, Harry Belafonte, Nina Simone and experienced a renaissance when Paul Simon invited her to tour and record with him on his Graceland project. She also touts an impressive filmography, starring in Sarafina! and a host of other starring roles and docs, some centering specifically on her life.

In a tribute to her cultural importance not only to her native South Africa and her fight against Apartheid and also human rights on a global scale, Google released a doodle by artist Mike Dutton on what would have been Ms. Makeba’s 81st B’Earthday. It was lovingly fitting to the woman they called “Mama Africa”. She passed on November 9, 2008.

Teena Marie, The Ivory Queen of Soul  

Soul & R&B singer Teena Marie was born on March 5, 1956. She was a torchbearer for Motown in the 70’s and early 80’s continuing the tradition set in the 60’s when the hit factory set the standard as the powerhouse that produced the soundtrack for an American era.

The diminutive diva was atypical as far as her physical presence was concerned: barely over 5 feet tall with blonde highlighted brown  ringlets, the doe eyed singer gave new depth and definition to the term “blue eyed soul”, famously attributed to white soul-singers. But still, Motown released her debut album Wild & Peaceful in a shroud of mystery with no pictures accompanying the album art, a somewhat stunning reversal of record company standards employed when they tried to cross a Black act over to the mainstream in the 50’s & 60’s.

With Rick James as her auteur (for a period) and Motown behind her (again, for a period) she would release a string of successful albums – Lady T, Irons In The Fire and Square Biz. Hit singles “Behind The Groove”, “I Need Your Lovin'” and “Square Biz”, which featured Teena rapping, kept her on the charts. But it was and remains her ballads that would cement her place in the annals of soul singers and in the hearts of African American fans. “Fire & Desire” & “Portuguese Love” (both with James), “Out On A Limb”, “My Dear Mr. Gaye” and “Casanova Brown” are just a few examples of her seminal slow songs.

She left Motown (citing the catch-all “creative differences” explanation, filing a lawsuit that would result in landmark legislation) and signed with Epic, releasing a rack of hits. After her major label run ended, her recording career stalled, but Ms. Marie never stopped singing, writing and performing from her soul. She released several albums over the last decade of the new millennium, becoming an Adult Urban radio staple, and scored a Gold album with La’ Dona, the most successful release of her career, chart-wise. She passed away on December 26, 2010, but she left a legacy and a trove of classic hits, as well as a new album, Beautiful.

Bobby Womack, The Last of the Great Soul Singers              

Simply put, Bobby Womack has put his stamp on a ridiculous number of musical genres: soul, r&b, gospel, doo wop and country, among them.

A singer/songwriter nonpareil, Womack has been recording for parts of 6 decades. Starting out as a singer in the Sam Cooke-led gospel outfit, The Soul Stirrers, he became a force in music as a solo singer and songwriter scoring such hit as “Harry Hippee”, “Across 110th Street” ,”A Woman’s Gotta Have It”, “I Wish He Wouldn’t Trust Me So Much”, “No Matter How High I Get”, “Love Has Finally Come At Last” and, perhaps most famously “If You Think You’re Lonely Now”. His combination of blues, soul and country sung with his distinctive gravelly alto has made everything he’s sung always seem profoundly personal.

I had the pleasure of talking to Mr. Womack on a cross country flight back in the 90’s coming back from the West Coast. He was extremely gracious, surprised and unbelieving that I not only knew who he was but also knew his music. We talked for more than an hour before I excused myself and went back to my seat. I was convinced he would’ve talked to me for as long as I wanted, but I excused myself having already taken up so much of his time and not wanting to get on his nerves.

In 2010 & 2012, he was introduced to a new audience with appearances on The Gorillaz‘ singles “Stylo”, “Cloud of Unknowing” and “Bobby in Phoenix”  from the albums Plastic Beach & The Fall, respectively.

Last year, Mr. Womack released his 29th album, The Bravest Man In The Universe, his first collection of new material in more than 13 years. Not long after the album was released it was announced that he had prostate cancer which he beat. Early this year, after he complained of having trouble remembering song lyrics and people’s names it was announced that Mr. Womack was diagnosed as suffering from the early stages of  Alzheimer’s disease.

To hear his long list of hits you should tap into a streaming service or YouTube for some of his live performances. TV One’s Unsung did a great job telling his story. You should be able to find it via your local cable provider’s on demand services. His influence is undeniable.

Wu-Tang Thangs: Wu-Nuts, Ironman Box

Wu-Nuts: The Wu-Tang/Peanuts & Classic Hip Hop art mash-up.

I first saw this last week. After a little diggin’ I found that this art mash-up comes from artist Mark Drew who re-constructs the Peanuts with lines from classic Wu, Biggie, Nas, Digital Underground, N.W.A, Gang Starr and others. It’s part of an exhibit called Deez Nuts, first seen in an ezine of the same name

Nice, but let’s not forget the where the inspiration probably came from … respect the architects:

Da Mystery of Trophy Boxing: Almost two decades later, Ghostface Kkillah’s Ironman is still living life and it’s Golden.
Last up is Ghostface’s trophy box edition of his debut disc, Ironman, nearly 17 years after its initial release put out by Boston-based reissue boutique label, Get On Down.
It includes a 24 karat gold disc for enhanced audio quality, a gold plaque, a jigsaw puzzle of the cover artwork and, if you order through their website, Get On Down will include two gold foil stickers, to boot.
This isn’t the first time they’ve given the Wu tha bizness. They’ve released some pretty ridiculous classic Clan stuff in the past – The Chess Box, the re-purposing of The Gza’s classic Liquid Swords disc, a wallet box version of Ol’ Dirty’s Return To The 36 Chambers, and Raekwon’s Only Built For Cuban Linx Deluxe Purple Tape Box – and are currently working with the Rza’s Soul Temple label on several upcoming projects. Look out for a Supreme Clientele (my personal favorite Ghostface project) in the future, as well
Check their site for a cultural cornucopia of classics from the crates across numerous genres.  Hopefully in the future I can do an in-depth piece with them. Until then, you can check for Get On Down’s doings daily at their blog. 

Fascinating Photos of Famous Musicians in Their Studios – Flavorwire

The good folks over at Flavorwire posted this entry of some visuals of the personal production spaces for some pretty famous faces, Dr. Dre, Sly Stone, J Dilla, Lenny Kravitz, Flying Lotus. Lee “Scratch” Perry, King Tubby and Jimi Hendrix among them.

Fascinating Photos of Famous Musicians in Their Studios – Flavorwire.

Taco Bell: No Se Entiende

This is the first entry of my Commercial Wrap blog column.

This is a resurrection of sorts of my column I did back in the early aughts in the pages of The Source magazine. In this column I will examine, critique, praise and castigate commercials paying specific attention to the ways that Madison Avenue incorporates urban culture into their campaigns, for better or worse. 

Taco Bell’s “Live Mas” campaign, created by Deutsch LA and Draftfcb Orange County is an embarrassing attempt at humor and cross cultural cool. It fails so splendidly it could serve as the blueprint of what not to do.

The Taco Bell people have both pissed me off and perplexed me at the same time.

Vexed me to the point of pulling the race card on these misguided media folks.

Almost.

Quick media lesson: Every commercial you see has been scripted, cast, scored and even tested before it hits the air for your viewing and consumer pleasure (and my critique): A commercial is supposed to entice you to buy the product being advertised. The show you love exists almost explicitly so they can sell you shit.

So, when the folks at Deutsch and DraftFCB, the agencies of record for Taco Bell gave us this fuckrey I really struggled to comprehend it.

Dig, if you will, these moving pictures:

“Grande Papi”                                                                                    

It’s bad enough that you ripped off Biggie’s seminal joint for a fast food commercial and recast it en español (fail) for the sake of the spot, but the clip’s whole posture is just so wrong.

The nerdy, nebbish dude gets recognition (and cred/swag?) from dudes on the street and attention from the ladies (check his bewildered, unaccustomed, self-impressed facial expression) because he’s got his infant strapped to his chest (the new urban male machismo ornament) as he struts into TB to get the Grande Burrito, which he chomps on while walking spilling bits of food on his kid’s head? When the wife sees rice and quac in the kid’s hair you’s thru, fool.

Again, bad, but then we got this:

“Hola”                                                                                                        

What’s with the even worse Spanish version of Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello”? Like Mr. Ritchie needs that check.

But what makes it even more ridiculous – to me at least – was that no one in the ad even looked remotely Latin.

Yeah, I know, they’re not selling their version of comida Latino to Latinos, I get it. But then when you look at the other spots in their new “Live Mas” campaign there’s only one other Spanish-language joint, which, truth be told might be the funniest of them all, and the least offensive.

“Viva Young”                                                                                      

The augmented reality spots aren’t culturally offensive at all (though I do question some people’s palates).

Maybe I was just being overly sensitive, I thought. I mean, I’m not Latino, though I grew up with too many Latin families to count (and I know my history and some of theirs; our shared journeys and mixed bloodlines via middle passage and miscegenation, so separating their plight from mine never seemed something to argue about to me at all). I”m just a humble Black Man trying to make sense outta nonsense in 2013 America.

So, I chopped it up with some media savvy gente’ I know and respect.

“At first peep? Sheeeeit… if I were [ahem!] the sensitive type, I’d say Taco Bell and its ad agencies, Deutsch and DraftFCB, were some straight-out racist suckas, simple and plain. But I’m not. So I don’t,” says my man Carlito Rodriguez, veteran scribe, producer, content creator and self-described closet nerd. “Ads that use pop songs sung in Spanish – mangled the fk up Spanish, to be clear – do not require they use Latino actors, really. Not in the good ol’ U.S. of A. in 2013,” he qualifies. “El español, much to the dismay of the Spanish-speaking Marco Rubio, among others of his ilk, is as ubiquitous as salsa. And ESPECIALLY not when they’re for a company who once slang’d (its version of) Tex/Mex fare with a fkn chihuahua* [see below].”

Rapper DaForeigna and I go back like front seats in Fleetwoods, corner store quarter waters and old head Pro-Keds. He takes aim at the spots from an mc’s perspective: “The first time I saw the  “Big Poppa” spot, my thoughts were, “who are they trying to target? I thought, who ever the mc is made the song too literal as far as the lyrics,” he notes. “Trying to bunch up words gave the song no flow at all. Maybe they meant to make it that wack”? A few weeks later I saw the “Hello” commercial and I was convinced that this is basically not gonna get any better”.

Carlito cosigns, completely. “Because the Spanish in the songs is so horribly disfigured, it’s a good thing they don’t feature Latino (or Latino-looking) actors,” he confirms. “The self-referential sense of this “look how cool we are” campaign only adds to the ongoing novela that has become Taco Bell’s relationship with Latino America. Bottom line: They know they fkd up. They know they have a lot to make up for. So they greenlight these ads with the hopes that the message is clear: “See, amigos? Even we don’t spic as cool as you do!”.

Writer, pop culture Blatina feminista Letisha Marrero lets them have it as well, completing the harmony. “They’ve jacked both Black and Latin culture just to create this salsa that serves only them, especially in the Biggie commercial,” she says. “The “Hola” one is the same thing, appropriating both cultures and spinning it to serve their white hipster agenda. There’s not one person of color in either spot. [There is an elderly African American dude in the “Viva Young” spot] I’m offended.”

So, once again, in a dubious attempt to show us how cool they are while selling something, Madison Avenue and its billion-dollar client co-opted the cultures of the cooler peoples – historically creators of cool –  for profit and got it wrong. But we POCs are so used to getting disrespected our feelings didn’t get hurt beyond the (low) standards they’ve already set.

Though they failed, horribly, they did manage something of a coup: They picked the proverbial carcasses of two cultures of color for the cost of one.

A mistake, muy grande.

*Remember, it all started with this:

“Yo Quiero Taco Bell (1997)”