Oct 31, 2008

The Blue Bloods and The Brothas

When I was 15, it was a very good year. Or at least a good summer. The summer of 1979 was the summer of my first real gig. I was a busboy at the venerable Motor City institution The Detroit Club. At the time this club represented the epitome of WASP male privilege. Women ate in a separate dining room and the only black people around were the waiters, cooks, and other busboys. This joint was about as blue blood and old school as it could be.

Nonetheless, it is in this joint that I got my first taste of the game, as it were. The opportunity to see these rich and powerful men in their element for a whole summer gave me a first hand encounter with the way the proverbial other half lives, literally. On the other hand, working with a bunch of grown-ass black men in this racially segregated environment exposed me to some other life lessons, the same kind of lessons that you typically learn in the street. By the end of the summer, you couldn't tell me nothin' as I freely moved between the blue bloods and the brothas with relative ease. I saw things that summer that most will never see and the lessons learned are with me to this day; good, bad, and ugly.

So it was a bit weird to read that like everything else in Detroit these days, The Detroit Club is in a financial cramp. The declining membership tells it all; "Hard times/spreadin' just like the flu/watch out homeboy/it just might get you." Even blue bloods are hurtin'.

Yet the strongest evidence of The Detroit Club's decline can be found in the section of the story where former mayor K2 walks out on his bill without paying. See what happens when you open up your admissions policies! You know how they do.....

Hey Mr. Carter

It amazes me that people want to compare Lil' Wayne and Jay-Z. Weezy has some serious skills, no doubt, but at this point his body of work is lacking. It's far too early to be comparing him to someone like Jay, whose extensive body of work places him in rarefied company.

Weezy's Tha Carter III is one of the biggest sellers of this year, a feat even more impressive when you consider the overall dip in record sells across the board. There's something to be said for his ability to tap into that internet music-buying audience in the way that he has, which speaks to his relevance as a contemporary artist. Yet whenever I listen to Weezy, I'm reminded of that Chuck D line, "I don't rhyme for the sake of riddlin'." Dude has the ability to adapt to a variety of different styles and flow accordingly, but the substance is often lacking. Besides, I liked Tha Carter II better anyway.

Jay, on the other hand, is a legend who has dominated every aspect of the game. He is Jordan to Wayne's Kobe. Though many people want to elevate Kobe to Jordan's level, Kobe, like Wayne, lacks the accomplishments to properly compare. In many ways the comparison is an insult.

You can't just name someone the best at their craft if they don't have the stats to back it up. Some people are so caught up in what's happening right now that they've lost sight of history. Wayne is promising, but he's no Jay. In the immortal words of Bishop Don 'Magic' Juan, "You gon' have to work some to reach this static, Baby! See you at the top."

Oct 28, 2008

When Keepin' It Real Goes Wrong

Kwame Kilpatrick, disgraced former mayor of my hometown, The D, was finally sent to the jailhouse today and must serve his full 120 day sentence. Kwame, ever the antagonist, and his lawyers stayed combative until the end. This is the same posture that K2 has assumed throughout this whole ordeal. I'm sure he thinks he's keepin' it real. What he has done though is anything but real, unless, of course, you are talking about keeping it real stupid.

There's a point when it's time to accept your fate and get on with it. All of Kwame's problems can be attributed to his own misguided ego. He suffers from what Ali once called "the intoxication of so-called greatness." Four years ago, K2 stood on the stage at the Democratic Convention with all the party shot callers. This year he was so tainted that he was asked to stay away from the convention. Should Barack Obama close the deal next Tuesday, K2 will have to watch it from his cell. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

K2 thought he was a balla. He was more interested in acting like a boss than he was in being the mayor. At some point though, you have to square up Playboy. Get someone else besides your woman to be your chief of staff, cut your homies off, drop all the eight-button suits, don't have bachelor parties at the Mayor's mansion, and stay out of the club. Had he done all this some years ago and re-conditioned his mind, he might still be in office. Hell, he might even be looking at an important appointment in an Obama administration. But instead, he'll be, as Lil' Wayne says, "in the pen/sharin' showers." Damn Dog, it didn't have to be this way.

To Sir With Love

Simple and plain/give me the lane/I'll throw it down your throat like Barkley
"Rebel Without a Pause," Public Enemy

Tonight is the night; the start of a new NBA season. It seems like only yesterday that Kevin Garnett was screaming "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!" at the top of his lungs in celebration of the Celtics' first championship in 21 years.

While the Celtics try to fend off the challenge of my newly energized Pistons in the East, CP3's New Orleans squad and the impressive-on-paper Houston Rockets look to put a frown on Kobe's face in the West. The NBA's next big thing, Greg Oden, finally takes the court in a delayed rookie season postponed by injury and my former student, OJ Mayo, begins his own quest for ROY honors in Memphis.

Of course, the real competition right now remains the one between Barack Obama and John McCain. With this in mind, I thought that a few words from the NBA's reigning politician, Charles Barkley, would be a most appropriate tie-in for tonight's new season.

Will Sir Charles finally decide to run for governor of his home state, Alabama? If you think that Sarah P. has bought a down home vibe to the political proceedings, just imagine Sir Charles on the stump.

Oct 27, 2008

No Room For Squares

Over time I have done a number of media interviews in which I have been asked to explain the meaning of "street cred." Well, it's one of those things where if you have to ask you obviously don't have it. More to the point, I've often been asked specifically why Kobe Bryant is viewed as someone who lacks street cred. After watching this new commercial for "Guitar Hero" featuring "Wack Mamba," the answer to the question is self evident; as if this wasn't the case already.

Oct 26, 2008

The Laying On of Hands

Barack Obama was forced to spend a great deal of time earlier this year defending his association with Rev. J. Wright and his membership in Wright's church, before finally denouncing his pastor of 20 years. There are members of McCain's camp who have wanted to bring up the Wright issue again and supposedly Sarah P. has been more than willingly to go there, if you will.

My question is this, why hasn't more been made of Sarah P's connection to one Pastor Thomas Muthee, a self described "spiritual warrior" who also doubles as a witch doctor. Well, if you, like me, thought that former Attorney General John Ashcroft anointing himself with Crisco--yes, Crisco--was a bit strange, dig this....

"Wassup" (The Return)

Remember the widely popular Charles Stone III "Wassup" Budweiser commercials that ran from 1999-2002? Well, the crew is back, though a few things have changed since the commercials originally aired.

The irony of Cindy McCain's Anheuser-Busch connection notwithstanding, Obama, that's wassup!

Oct 25, 2008

Play Your Position

So, word on the street is that Sarah P. has become a "rogue" candidate. In order words, she is being accused of breaking away from the advice of McCain's handlers and instead choosing to go her own way. The implication is that she is looking ahead to the future where, assuming a McCain-Palin defeat on Nov. 4, she will be the reigning star of the Republican party, set to run for the presidency in 2012.

Well, if Sarah P. is going her own way while the McCain ship is sinking, then there is no one to blame other than McCain himself. When you put a not-ready-for-prime-time player from the end of the bench into the game at crunch time what do you expect? Sarah Barracuda hit a few lucky shots at her roll out in the Buckeye State and at the GOP convention and then the next thing you know she can't stop shooting, in spite of the fact that she's been shooting bricks every since. Sarah embraces the concept of "do for self." Though her team seems destined to lose, she appears to be padding her stats in anticipation of a new free agent contract once this political season is over.

Oct 23, 2008

Dress Code

While reading about Sarah P's 150,000 shopping spree, my immediate instinct was to clown. Hockey moms don't shop at Neiman Marcus, Ma. But, to keep it real, anyone who knows me knows that I have most certainly invested a fair amount of my income into NM retail stock over the years. It's like Kenny Red said in American Pimp, "It takes me 2 to 3 hours to get dressed, 'cause it's lights, camera, and action." This being the case, the pot can't call the skillet black (no pun intended). But, my own consumer culpability notwithstanding, I couldn't help but be reminded of this Juelz Santana line from the Jim Jones' joint "Emotionless," while reading about Sarah P's retail therapy. "Neiman Marcus edition/contraband/Neiman Marcus I'm in it/shoppin' and/5 thousand spent on pants/man (man)."

Not that I'm in the habit of quoting Juelz Santana, mind you...

Kind of Blue in the Age of the Ring Tone

I recently received the 50th Anniversary box set for one of the greatest albums ever recorded, under any genre of music. The masterpiece of which I am speaking is none other than Miles Davis' uber-classic Kind of Blue.

Kind of Blue is, in my mind, one of the signature achievements in musical history. The fact that people are still buying this record some 50 years after its original release is a testament in and of itself. Sounding as fresh and as hip today as it must have sounded back in the late 50s, Kind of Blue is both vintage and contemporary at the same time. "So What," "Freddy Freeloader," "Blue in Green," "All Blues," and "Flamenco Sketches," that's right, only 5 songs, no excess, no filler. If anything, Kind of Blue is one of those albums that is--like the rapper from Oakland--simply too short. I feel the same about Marvin Gaye's What's Going On also. There's something to be said about a record that leaves you wanting more.

I have never wanted to be one of those cats who dismisses everything new just because it isn't old. But when I hear something as brilliant as Kind of Blue in an era when some fools are getting over on 10 second ring tones, I have to go there. The game is so jacked up right now and ring tones epitomize this sad state of affairs. Can you imagine a 50th anniversary box set for a ring tone?

Oct 21, 2008


There was a time when Oliver Stone's name really meant something in Hollywood. In the days of Platoon, Wall Street, Born on the 4th of July, and JFK, Stone had no peer in terms of making provocative, socially relevant movies. His script for Scarface has to be one of the most underrated screenplays ever penned. His biopics, The Doors and Nixon, were both first rate. Over time though, the wheels came off. The Stone penchant for political controversy started to fall flat in a Hollywood culture increasingly catering to a teenage mindset. So when I heard word about W. I thought for a second that maybe the old school O. Stone had been--like disgraced former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said as he was being ousted--"setup for a comeback." Unfortunately this is not the case.

W. is like a long Saturday Night Live skit. Josh Brolin is hilarious as the idiot savant, George W. Bush. Thandie Newton is equally funny as she mocks the ever uptight Condi. But beyond that, if you've watched the news or read the internet at any point over the last 8 years, much of the film will seem redundant.

I knew that something was up when I saw that the film had a PG-13 rating, in spite of the fact that what Forty Three has done to this nation is nothing short of pornographic and in turn more deserving of the most explicit XXX rating.

What we need is historical distance. The wounds that Four-Trey and his homies have inflicted on America are still too fresh to fully comprehend. History will, no doubt, be a harsh judge.

The same thing that will make you laugh will make you cry. To this end, I found myself laughing profusely throughout W., though the events of the Bush presidency are most certainly not funny.

The Code

According to a recent John McCain radio address, "Barack Obama's tax plan would convert the IRS into a giant welfare agency, redistributing massive amounts of wealth at the direction of politicians in Washington," The operative word here is, of course, "welfare." It's bad enough that McCain and Sarah P., in their best Joe McCarthy impersonations, have resorted to yelling "socialist" in reference to Obama at every turn, but to invoke the coded term "welfare" at this juncture is beyond pitiful.

One of McCain's heroes, Ronald Ray-gun, wore out the stereotype of the Cadillac-driving welfare cheat some years ago, but desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess. Reagan's use of the welfare queen and the "strapping young buck" as foils for his neo-conservative race baiting in the 1970s and 80s seems to have been reborn in the contemporary McCain campaign. McCain wants to have it both ways. He gets a great deal of television coverage for rebuking a woman who says Obama is an Arab, but out of the other side of his mouth, he relies of the coded racial language of a previous era to further rile up his soon-to-be-very-disappointed base.

Commie pinkos and welfare queens are so last century. Come on, John, you can do better than this!

Oct 20, 2008

Dolemite (R.I.P.)

One Christmas, back in the day, Mom Dukes gave me a cassette tape recorder. As I made my way around the 'hood, showing off my new gadget, I ran across this cat who in today's parlance might be described as "mentally-challenged." Dude was not someone known for being articulate, but when he took the mic and started reciting Dolemite from memory it was as though he were Wm. Shakespeare reincarnate. This was the first time I had ever heard Dolemite, but it was far from the last. Eventually I learned, word for word, all the x-rated Rudy Ray Moore joints that I could find; Shine and the Titanic, The Signifying Monkey, The Player, and Hurricane Annie, among others. I saw all the flicks firsthand too; Dolemite, The Human Tornado, etc. My favorite was Petey Wheatstraw (The Devil's Son-in-Law).

As my generation started coming of age in hip hop, one could now hear Dolemite, or at least his influence, in settings that were more accessible than the previously underground nature of his old "blue records." There was Big Daddy Kane vs. Dolemite, Dr. Dre's use of the Dolemite sample, "if I had some nuts," on The Chronic and Too Short's exaggerated pronunciation of what he calls his "favorite word," just for starters. Snoop has done his part to keep the Dolemite legacy alive too, along with many others.

Dolemite was a crude, raw, country, explicit, chitlin' circuit genius. He represented the root of the oral tradition and the evolution of this tradition in hip hop. His flicks were so bad, that they were good. He was organic in every sense of that word. For cats my age, quoting "Way down in the jungle deep/the bad ass lion stepped on the signifying monkey's feet..."was like a rite of passage. Dolemite was the man, in no uncertain terms.

Dolemite, they reminisce over you. We pour out a 'lil liquor in your honor!

(Dr. Boyd discusses the legacy of Rudy Ray Moore on NPR. For a further discussion of the Blaxploitation era check out The Notorious Ph.D.'s Guide to the Super Fly '70s.)

Oct 19, 2008


Colin Powell has now endorsed Barack Obama. Does this endorsement redeem him for his Mad Men-like performance in selling the bogus claims of Iraqi WMD at the UN back in 2003? Probably not. But the endorsement does demonstrate how utterly pissed The General must be at the Bush posse, especially Darth and Rummy, for the way that they put him out on front street. The General, the only one in the Bush Whitehouse with the necessary credibility at the time, used his persausive oratorical skills to close the deal on the unilateral, preemptive, invasion of a soveriegn nation. This is something that he will never be able to fully live down, but this endorsement shows that The General does have a mind of his own, something I was never sure about before.

Oct 17, 2008

It's All Over But the Cryin'...

...or so they say. As Barack Obama seems to be running out the clock, one is reminded of the dreaded "Bradley Effect." Is Obama's lead so big that such an "effect" won't matter? Have we not progressed past a California gubernatorial election some 26 years ago, where voters claimed to be in favor of Tom Bradley in large numbers, only to see Bradley go down in defeat on election day? With cries about ACORN, William Ayers, and Joe the Plumber, who really knows? I am reminded of the title from Jackie Robinson's autobiography, "I Never Had it Made." Indeed. The game ain't over, 'til the last man is out, so stay focused and keep grindin'.

The saga continues.....

Oct 10, 2008

Say It Ain't So

Sarah P. abused her power and violated the public trust in Alaska's Troopergate scandal. This we now know. So, what creative hyperbole will this team of non-Dallas Mavericks use to shift the focus on this one? Considering that the two most powerful Republicans in Alaska, Sarah P. and Senator Ted Stevens, both appear to be "ridin' dirty," what does that say about GOP political culture in Carlos Boozer's home state? Maybe we shouldn't be so worried about those "Chicago pols" that Sarah and John Boy keep whining about. It's those Alaska pols that we need to watch out for.

And while we're on the Windy City, here's another question, did Sarah P. even know who Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground were before Karl Rove's former "do boy," Steve Schmidt, forwarded her the wiki link or did she think they were a 60s rock band?

Oct 7, 2008

Telegraphing the Punch

Round 2 goes to Obama. I guess you can accuse someone of telegraphing a punch, but if you telegraph your punch and the punch lands then perhaps it's ok to telegraph it? Just a thought.

Tom Brokaw needs to stay in his lane. Tom, you are a ref, not a player. I felt the same way about Jim Lehrer during the first debate. Let the players play.

Why do they try and impose this forced silence on these debates? This is not natural. I'm not saying that I want Def Comedy Jam circa '91, but some genuine human emotion--laughs, sighs, applause--would enliven an otherwise mortuary-like experience.

Round 2

Allow me to re-introduce myself. I am Dr. Boyd, Dr. B., The Good Dr., and last but most certainly not least, The Notorious Ph.D. And contrary to popular belief, I'm the biggest boss that you've thus far!

In less than an hour, Barack Obama and John McCain will square off in round 2 of a scheduled three round prize fight for the presidency of the United States. Though Obama landed more punches in round 1, McCain used that old Sugar Ray Leonard strategy by engaging in repeated flurries so as to sway the judges by appearing to be the more aggressive fighter. Thus, the judges scored round 1 even.

McCain originally wanted to do multiple town hall meetings and so tonight's format would suggest that he is playing on his own turf. Let's see what he can do.

Will Barack finally show his verbal pugilistic skills? Will he do to John Boy what Ali once did to Ernie Terrell back in the day? Will he tell McCain, "I'm going to kick your ass," like he once told fellow Illinois congressman Ricky Hendon?

The two men became embroiled in a yelling match on the Senate floor that looked as if it might become physical; they were separated by Courtney Nottage, then the chief of staff for Emil Jones. Nottage led Obama off the floor to a room that legislators used to make telephone calls. “It looked like two men that were having a serious disagreement and they had walked up to one another really close,” Nottage told me. “I didn’t think anything good could come of that.” Hendon told me, “He’s the one that got mad, because he said I embarrassed him on the Senate floor. That’s when he came over to my desk.” Before Nottage broke them up, Obama, who had learned to box from his Indonesian stepfather, supposedly told Hendon, “I’m going to kick your ass!”

Punks jump up to get beat down! Indeed.