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Black History Month: A Convict's Perspective, Pt 1: Longtime incarcerated California rap artist X-Raided offers his perspective

Posted by Billyjam, February 10, 2009 03:05pm | Post a Comment
Black History Month – A Convict’s Perspective By Aneraé “X-Raided” Brown

As a 34 year old incarcerated African-American male, as a hip-hop artist, and as a human being, I can unequivocally say Black History Month has a deeper meaning to me now than it ever did, any prior year. You see, I am a California boy, a real child of the 80’s. You know, Reaganomics, Oliver North, Freeway Rick, Manuel Noriega… no Rick Ross. I am the fabled crack baby. A boy who became a teen during what some argue was one of the roughest, most dangerous periods in U.S. history. I turned 14 in 1988, a black boy, a fledgling member of the notorious Crip gang, trying to learn how to fly, in the wrong direction, unknowingly, with lead wings. Pistols, cocaine, HIV/AIDS, the Cold War; how those things became the concerns of a 14 year old, who, according to a paternal grandmother named Jesse Mae Martin, of Mobile, Alabama, had “the bright eyes of an old man and an old soul,” God only knows. A boy who learned by what he decried, I was an impressionable teen absorbing the teachings that emanated from the conditions I saw on a daily basis, which included police brutality, the devastation of the gang and crack epidemics on the black community, and an overall fear and disdain of both white people and law enforcement, issues with were largely ignored by the mainstream media. The only journalistic reports being published that addressed these matters to reach my eyes and ears were coming to me in the form of hip-hop music, videos, movies and magazines: Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing; Yo! MTV Raps; The Source magazine; In Living Color; and the strongest voices of all, which came from a few little groups you may have heard of that went by the names of Public Enemy, NWA, and the Geto Boys. They were, to the streets, what The Beatles were to white folk. What James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye were to older black folk. They were the voices of our generation. Chuck D and Ice Cube’s voices are as recognizable to us as Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s are to, say, a Baby Boomer, for perspective.  "Fight the Power," "Fu*k the Police" -- you know Chuck D and Ice Cube’s voices and the sounds of Dr. Dre and The Bomb Squad, even if you do not know their names and faces.

Continue reading...

The Great Black North

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 10, 2009 12:56pm | Post a Comment

One fact that’s widely overlooked during Black History Month is that it’s not only Black History Month in the US. Besides having the stated aim of highlighting the contributions to human history made by the entire black diaspora, BHM is simultaneously observed in Canada. People who've never been to Canada may not believe that black people live there. While it's true that the black Canadian population is minute compared to the black American populartion both in terms of numbers and percentage, black Canadians have contributed significantly to Canada's mostly overlooked music scene and their contributions are surely worth honoring (oops! ...honouring). [Special thanks goes to MuchMusic].


Dream Warriors - Wash Your Face in My Sink


Maestro Fresh Wes - Let Your Backbone Slide

Interspersed with exemplars of black Canadian musical contributions, allow me to ponder the controversies surrounding terminology used to discuss black Canadians and hopefully in the process shed a little light on history. No doubt we'll never come to a consensus on what's the most accurate/least offensive/least ridiculous terminology, but just thinking and talking about it is worthwhile far as I'm concerned... or at least fun.


Oscar Peterson - Waltz For Debby

MCJ & Cool G - So Listen

First of all, the black population of Canada as a whole is fairly different from the black population of the US. Whereas nearly all Black Americans are descended directly from Africans brought over in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, 62% of Black Canadians are descended from voluntary immigrants to Canada from the West Indies. Of course, most of them came from Africa, but in the West Indies they created a unique culture fairly distinct from the black American South's. This is undoubtedly part of the reason that most black Canadians reject the term “African Canadian” just as slaves did early on, hoping to separate their identities from Africa and gain recognition as Americans. Of course, the politcally correct designation “African American” is also used to describe black Canadians since most Americans can’t recognize Canadians from themselves, especially accent-deaf political correctionalists.

K-OS - Musical Essence


Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers - Little Miss Sweetness

The term “African Canadian” not only erases the broad cultural distinctions between West Indian-descended black Canadians and Canadians from Africa, eh, it also implies an African homogeneity quite at odds with reality. After all, Africa has the widest variety of indigenous populations on the planet and reserving the prefix “African” for the continent's black residents effectively excludes the non-black, yet just-as-African Arabs, Berbers, Bushmen and Malay from the equation… not to mention the more recent but still substantial (and, I would argue, equally African) European, Chinese and Indian immigrant populations. This fact is made more obvious in Canada, perhaps, than the US. In the US, most African-descended people are black west Africans so the term African-American isn't as obviously flawed. In Canada however, most African immigrants are Moroccan Berbers, Algerian Arabs, and European-descended South Africans... yes, most African-Canadians are whities. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.


The Dears - Lost in the Plot

In order to further recognize their distinct culture within Canada, many West Indian-descended black Canadians use the term "Caribbean Canadian," although it’s also not without controversy because, just like African-Canadian, it implicitly homogenizes the Caribbean, excluding the substantial, just-as-Caribbean, non-Black Chinese, European, Indian, Lebanese, Native and Syrian populations that are integral parts of Caribbean culture and the heritage of many black Canadians.

Kardinal Offishal - Bakardi Slang

As well, in order to avoid saying “black” at all costs, some Canadians have even taken to saying "Afro-Caribbean-Canadian" although that’s just too much a pain in the mitiss for most. Anyway, a smaller but relevant percentage of Canada's black population is descended from those who used the Underground Railroad, which took substantial numbers of former slaves to freedom, mainly in Nova Scotia and Southwest Ontario. So, while there may be no resolution to this question, hopefully you enjoyed thinking about it or at least the Canadian music.


Rascalz - Northern Touch

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Sweaters

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, February 10, 2009 12:05pm | Post a Comment
Sweaters were a big deal in the 80's. Obviously black artists did not have a monopoly on outrageous sweater covers -- see early 80's Cheap Trick for some serious sweater related catasrophes. However, I must say that there's a ton of soul, funk & R&B covers featuring various knit jobs. Bunny DeBarge takes the cake, if you ask me. How many of you could pull off a full skyline pattern???




Patti Labelle
looks like she's wearing a snuggie. I don't know which look I like better on the Force M.D.'s- the ultra preppy sweater vest action we have here or the giant fur coats they wear on the
Chillin' album.


ANTI RECORDS ALSO CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Posted by Billyjam, February 4, 2009 08:38pm | Post a Comment
booker t
The Amoeblog section of the Amoeba Music website is by no means the only blog recognizing and celebrating Black History Month in 2009. Over on ANTI- Records' blog they have an insightful, well-written piece reflecting on Black History Month penned by Booker T. Jones that was posted earlier today. And the musician / author of the blog knows what he is talking about. With a long history of living outside racial boundaries Booker T. and the MGs had both black and white members at a time when much of the country was integrating only under the protection of the National Guard; Booker T.'s was the perfect voice to bring attention to Black History Month on the Anti blog.

Read Booker T.'s insightful and hopeful essay by clicking here and check back on the ANTI blog this month where, like us here at the Amoeblog, they are celebrating Black History Month with music related blogs, all penned by African American recording artists. Upcoming blogs will include Bettye LaVette writing about Barack Obama, Mavis Staples on the the power of music to both heal and communicate, and Solillaquists of Sound's Swamburger talks of his experiences as a black male and a black artist.

(In which we consider Michael Ian Black.)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 2, 2009 06:17pm | Post a Comment

Michael Ian Black

Lately I’ve been listening to and watching a lot of Michael Ian Black. So when the Amoegods* let it be known that we Amoebloggers might consider posting some musings celebrating Black History Month, I thought, “How fortuitous!” For nothing says Black History Month more than uproarious comic Michael Ian Black.

Like most people who are exactly like me, my introduction to Mr. Black came in the form of beloved sketch comedy show The State. Because Mtv is run by terrorists who hate America, however, you younger generations haven’t been able to enjoy The State on DVD, but must settle for choppy YouTube clips like the one below, in which the aforementioned Mr. Black plays the concerned home-owner.


Most fans of The State carry with them a sense of desperation and compulsion to seek out any projects to which a former The State cast member signs his or her name to (i.e., Reno 911, The Ten, the Oklahoma City bombing, etc.). This blog entry isn’t for them, because I’m going to showcase things they already know. If you qualify as a fan of The State, why not click on this link and enjoy reading this instead

Now that we’ve gotten rid of those losers, let’s you and I learn a little more about Michael Ian Black and his contributions to comedy. Take notes and pay close attention, because I’m not going to repeat myself and you’re never to read this post again.


The Congress of Vienna. The Marquis of Labrador is seated at the round table,
third from the right of the diplomats who are seated.


Drawing of breadfruit by Sydney Parkinson

According to my research, Michael Ian Black was born. Some time later he joined things and went on to succeed with stuff. In addition to his role as McKinley in the film Wet Hot American Summer, he hosted VH1’s television program, I Love the 70’s (and subsequent spin-offs), though he has later reported that he was forced into doing this at gunpoint by his abusive husband, Chuck Traynor.

Mr. Black would later join forces with fellow The State cast members Michael Showalter (pronounced Showalter) and David Wain to form the comedy troupe STELLA, named after 1932 Olympic Gold Medal winning athlete, Stella Walsh, who’s name was actually Stanisława Walasiewicz, who, though a hermaphrodite, was to one day ignore the rest of this paragraph and move on to the next one.

Stay with me here. As I said before, I’m not going to repeat myself. And I don’t wanna hurt you. Don’t make me hurt you.


Some time after 2004 (but before 2006) Comedy Central broadcasted a half-hour sitcom version of STELLA, which, sadly, lasted only one season before it contracted cholera and died – just one of many eerie coincidences linking STELLA with eleventh President of the United States, James K. Polk. (Indeed, some conspiracy theorists conclude that STELLA is still rightfully the Commander-in-Chief of, if not the entire U.S., at least Nebraska.)


Something else you may want to exchange money for at your local Amoeba Music is Mr. Black’s compact disc, I Am A Wonderful Man, on which you may delight in recordings of his stand-up comedy routine in the English language.

But of course the most interesting fact about Mr. Black is not his celebrity, not his collection of hobbies, nor his marriage to Sarah Childress or his part in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; rather, it is his uncanny resemblance to my boyfriend, Corey. But that plays no part in my liking Michael Ian Black – though it does explain why I did once mistakenly fellate him at the Golden Globes a few years back.


My boyfriend, Corey Scholibo

Once you learn about the contributions Mr. Black has made, it becomes clear that his name should and must be included when considering the tremendously positive role of Black America. Thank you for your time, and God bless.

*That’s a term I just coined to describe the ruling class of Amoeba Music. I plan on copyrighting it, so don’t use it without sending me money. I think a nickel per usage is fair until further notice.
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