RESPECT DUE: R.I.P. Dr. Maya Angelou

Word are my tools, my instruments, my friends, even.

I find comfort and joy, wonder even in the God-given ability to employ them to express my feelings, thoughts and desires, sometimes with clarion clarity and others to work my way through whatever is happening or going on in my life and the world we live in that I sometimes can’t quite decipher.

But sometimes, nothing I say, nothing that could or can be said will ever quite capture the ephemeral essence of the moment, the event.

This is one of those times.

So, instead of reaching, trying, grasping and wrestling in an attempt to convey our collective loss, I’m going to put them away now.

Instead, I will let the words of others and most importantly, more significantly the words of Dr. Maya Angelou herself speak in this time of great and immeasurable loss.

R.I.P. Dr. Maya Angelou.

For the example and the gifts that will keep on giving, living maybe, perhaps even when this world is windswept cosmic dust and displaced energy seeking some new place, planet or plane to be, I humbly Thank You.

Love.

Eternally.

Master Class: Show ‘Em How To Do This, Sons! Music-Loving Dad Creates Classic LP Cover Remixes Starring His Sons

Classic Album Cover Remixes Created By a Music-Loving Dad, Starring His Adorable Sons

 Lance Underwood, father of two sons uses his tumblr page to share his remixed photoshopped versions of classic lp covers from across musical genres – Rock, Soul, R&B, Country, Jazz, Spoken Word, Comedy, Hip Hop – to amazing results.

Check the technique below:

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1397725373-2Image credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance Underwood

His kids also have a few of their own offerings – original music coupled with original visuals  – and there’s also examples of dad’s work for some other folks and the coffee table book he did compiling the work he and his little men have done together.

I don’t know if I’ve seen a better way to actively teach your kids about culture and the proper utilization of tech tools. He’s teaching history, technology and respect for icons and their creations while inspiring them to create their own art and showing them how.

If that’s not providing a living example tell me what is.

Please.

A lot of dads get a bad rap – sometimes deserved, sometimes not.  Nice to see one of the club getting recognized for providing knowledge, culture and Love as his son’s foundation for the future.

Salute, Lance Underwood & sons!

Master Class: Show ‘Em How To Do This, Sons! Music-Loving Dad Creates Classic LP Cover Remixes Starring His Sons

Classic Album Cover Remixes Created By a Music-Loving Dad, Starring His Adorable Sons

 Lance Underwood, father of two sons uses his tumblr page to share his remixed photoshopped versions of classic lp covers from across musical genres – Rock, Soul, R&B, Country, Jazz, Spoken Word, Comedy, Hip Hop – to amazing results.

Check the technique below:

 tumblr_myipqlQCAj1sv1bfuo1_500-1 tumblr_myg1v5u97N1sv1bfuo1_500 tumblr_myg1snb80T1sv1bfuo1_500 tumblr_myg1qa7ZkC1sv1bfuo1_500

 

1397725373-2Image credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance UnderwoodImage credit: Lance Underwood

His kids also have a few of their own offerings – original music coupled with original visuals  – and there’s also examples of dad’s work for some other folks and the coffee table book he did compiling the work he and his little men have done together.

I don’t know if I’ve seen a better way to actively teach your kids about culture and the proper utilization of tech tools. He’s teaching history, technology and respect for icons and their creations while inspiring them to create their own art and showing them how.

If that’s not providing a living example tell me what is.

Please.

A lot of dads get a bad rap – sometimes deserved, sometimes not.  Nice to see one of the club getting recognized for providing knowledge, culture and Love as his son’s foundation for the future.

Salute, Lance Underwood & sons!

Flavorwire

Take heed Lunchbox dads and fathers of cute Internet dogs: classic album cover remixes starring your two adorable sons are the new thing. Dad Lance Underwood recreates famous album covers and casts his sons Taj and Amar in the roles of musicians such as Bob Dylan, Nat King Cole, Marvin Gaye, and more. Judging by the amount of old-school hip hop, jazz, funk, and soul on his Tumblr, we’d say that Underwood’s sons are getting a fine education in music history. See more of Underwood’s fun album cover remakes, starring his extremely photogenic kids, below.

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Master Class: Black Milk – Rhythm Roulette, Mass Appeal

Video

The Mass Appeal crew take us through the beat crafting process with               Detroit’s Black Milk.

I like the Rhythm Roulette series because it shows  – in an encapsulated, condensed, time-lapsed format – how painstaking the path to a hot beat can be. It also shows how crafting something from nothing – warped, scratched-up records for source material  – is a beautiful thing.

It’s like explaining how shit begets fertilizer to a kid, which I did recently.

For my beatmaking brethren. I respect your grind … and your dedication.

Enjoy!

Master Class – Gil Scott-Heron “Pieces of A Man”

Gil-Scott-Heron-Pieces-of-a-ManThis song was another one that haunted me when I was a kid.

I knew it meant something.

Something deep, something real and resounding.

I knew it was powerful. I just didn’t know why.

The melody is beautiful. Musically it’s just a simple series of piano chords but when coupled with the lyrics it becomes an amazing piece of work.

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You can’t simply call Gil Scott-Heron a poet, or a singer or even the forefather of Rap: he’s all those things but his ability to capture and reflect the pain, the plight and inner turmoil of a people, of a time and to present it in a voice plainfully and not maliciously is the kind of artistic gift that still amazes more than 40 years after first emerging.

The anger and contempt are there but it doesn’t drip, it doesn’t burn; it doesn’t even singe. It pricks, it prods … it begs introspection and reflection

When I was a kid I knew I was listening to something heavy, but I didn’t know why.

But even then I saw the men in my life in the song, felt their struggles were being depicted in the words and played out before me … but I just didn’t know why.

I couldn’t put it into words because I didn’t have them yet. I hadn’t experienced “it” yet.

Life was young and so was I.

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Now that I’m grown and have children of my own, have experienced and continue to experience the rising and falling of life and what it means to be a man, a Black man in this world I more than understand.

Though inevitable, this living, this seeing, this understanding, it still saddens me.

The third verse, “I saw the thunder and heard the lightning!/And felt the burden of his shame/And for some unknown reason/He never turned my way”, so powerfully conveys the powerless feeling of letting your Loved ones, your family, your children down it makes me tear up.

I know that feeling.

I didn’t when I was a child, but as a man, knowing how hard you’re trying and how you can’t seem to get a good grip on life, that the things you want, that your family need are just beyond your grasp … that they seem to slip through your fingers like sand or water, leaving granules in their wake or wetness, their residue confirming that you actually held them – had them! – for a moment however long, however fleeting, is the kind of pain that confirms that you are alive.

I hate that feeling.

Not a lot has changed since Gil Scott made this song.

It makes me sad. But at least I understand the men that were and are in my world, now that I am one.

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I met him once – twice, really. The first time in the living room of one of the men of my life, chilling, smoking, talking with Kwame Toure’. After saying hello and nonchalantly walking through the living room I came back in – awestruck – to greet two men who weren’t yet really my heroes, but magnificent, majestic monoliths all the same.

He was as cool as the shade on a hot southern summer day. With an easy smile, easygoing manner and his gravelly voice he made me feel more at home in the place that I was staying – just passing through, really – than I had my entire freshman year, there in a place I felt anything but at home.

Years later I’d see him in passing, but I don’t really think he remembered me or the time we’d met and he gave an young aspiring artist some encouraging words.

It didn’t matter.

I remembered him. His words. His smile. His warmth.

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I’ve been listening to GIl Scott, to this album and this song in particular a lot lately. I guess I’m just trying to put the pieces (back?) together again.

“I saw him go to pieces …
He was always such a good man
… always such a strong man
Yeah, I saw him go to pieces
I saw him go to pieces

Thanks, Gil.

“Pieces Of A Man”

“Pieces Of A Man”

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Jagged jigsaw pieces
Tossed about the room
I saw my grandma sweeping
With her old straw broom
She didn’t know what she was doing
She could hardly understand
That she was really sweeping up..
Pieces of a man

I saw my daddy greet the mailman
And I heard the mailman say
“Now don’t you take this letter to heart now Jimmy
Cause they’ve laid off nine others today”
He didn’t know what he was saying
He could hardly understand
That he was only talking to
Pieces of a man

I saw the thunder and heard the lightning!
And felt the burden of his shame
And for some unknown reason
He never turned my way

Pieces of that letter
Were tossed about that room
And now I hear the sound of sirens
Come knifing through the gloom
They don’t know what they are doing
They could hardly understand
That they’re only arresting
Pieces of a man

I saw him go to pieces
I saw him go to pieces
He was always such a good man
He was always such a strong man
Yeah, I saw him go to pieces
I saw him go to pieces

Master Class: The Jackson 5, “Lookin’ Through The Window”

One of my favorite J5 joints … short, simple, melodic, crazy vocal performances by both young Mike and his brothers with the backgrounds.

That youthful exuberance and hope despite not knowing what love is about? The essence of Michael and The J5.

“Lookin’ through the windows, the window to your heart, oh baby, yeah
I can see it’s cloudy, the rain’s about to start
Lookin’ through the windows it seems I caused your fears, yeah, yeah, yeah
And that little doubt girl. and now it’s bringing tears …”

The Jackson 5 – “Lookin’ Through The Window”

RESPECT DUE – GEORGE DUKE, dead at 67.

George Duke, musician, keyboardist, composer, mentor, innovator, professor and trailblazer has passed away. He was 67.

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Besides being a collaborator with some of the biggest and most important names in the history of music he also released more than 30 solo albums.

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He was well known as a Jazz & fusion musician and R&B artist when he recorded his biggest hits “Reach For It” & “Dukey Stick” in 1977.

“Dukey Stick” – George Duke

“Reach For It” – George Duke

He also scored a hit collaborating with Stanley Clarke.

“Sweet Baby” – The Clarke/Duke Project

I didn’t know George Duke but I have a gang of friends and associates who did. I never heard a single person say a negative word about him. I met him a few times during my BET tenure and every single time I saw him I swear he was smiling.

A big Teddy Bear of a man, he was a mentor to a few generations of musicians and played just about anything he wanted from Jazz to Funk to R&B to Fusion.

He collaborated with too many artists to list but here’s a smattering: Frank Zappa, Jean-Luc Ponty, Miles Davis, Stanley Clarke, Michael Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, Al Jarreau, Deniece Williams, Sheila E, Patrice Rushen, Billy Cobham, Edwin Hawkins, Regina Belle, Angela Bofil, Anita Baker, Joe Sample, Phil Collins, George Clinton, Cannonball Adderley, Mike Mainieri, Flora Purim, Milton Nascimento, Rachelle Ferrell, Marcus Miller, Teena Marie, Ndugu Chancler, Jill Scott and his cousin Dianne Reeves.

He was also liberally sampled by producers and rappers such as Kanye West, Daft Punk, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, MF Doom, Mylo, Ice Cube and many, many others.

George and Billy Cobham “Live At Montreux” – Full concert                       

He had recently released his last project, Dreamweaver, dedicated to his wife Carine who passed away last year after a battle with cancer.

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Here’s a short on the process behind the recording of the project.

George Duke – Dreamweaver                      

I remember a time in my life that 67 seemed old, now it seems that your 60’s might be when things become clearer and easier, if you’re lucky to have lived that long and have the good health to enjoy that period of calm & clarity

He passed from heart complications as a result from being treated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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RIP, George Duke. You will be missed.