Amoeblog

What Do You Dance?

Posted by Smiles Davis, March 17, 2009 11:31am | Post a Comment

Ever heard a record that made you want to get down like this little kid? The first record I ever bought on vinyl was Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. I was 10, it was 1994 and the record was still bumping on the radio fifteen years after its original release. New, old, fresh, or dusty, the music got to me, put me in a mood I was unable to describe at the time. My mother had never seen me so intoxicatingly excited about anything before; she didn’t really know how to react. She worked hard with a no nonsense policy always enforced around the house. She gave me the money I asked for to get the record just to get me out of the house. “Now go on outside and play and stop pestering me,” she barked after slapping the dough in the palm of my hand. Out I went. After buying the record and enough candy to last me ‘till the end of time, I raced my bike across town – a very small town -- as fast as I could to my grandparents’ house, where I retreated to the basement for some serious privacy. My grandfather, who used to own a record store, had a lonely turntable set up at the end of the long, terribly lit basement for special occasions just like this. I got my boogie on for a couple hours, doped up on food coloring and high-fructose corn syrup, poor lighting and all.

It wasn’t long before music got to me the same way the youngest member of the Jackson 5 did. In 1995, just one year after my first magical music moment, I discovered Prince. My cousin let me borrow 1999 on cassette with the promise I return it promptly. 9 months and 101 excuses later, she was forced to steal it back from me. Prince was my forbidden fruit. Never listened to him out loud, always played him in my Walkman for fear my mother would forbid me from listening to it. I’ll admit, the vulgarity and promiscuity that Prince exudes is a bit much for any 11-year-old, but like Michael Jackson, all I ever wanted to do was dance. I had to listen to music that made me want to move, shimmy and shake ‘till the exhaustion kicked in and forced me to call it quits. Lyrics be damned-- I didn’t understand what the heck they were talking about anyway, it was gibberish to me. It was about the beat, the rhythm, and the evoked emotion.

So, what do MJ and the artist currently known as Prince have in common besides pure genius and impeccable taste? Director/choreographer to the stars Fatima Robinson has graced some of their videos with her cutting-edge dance moves. Her “big break” came back in 1992 when John Singleton, director of Poetic Justice featuring Janet Jackson, asked her to choreograph the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time.” She was a street dancer hired without technical or formal training. Flash forward a decade and some change later and Fatima finds herself in an episode of Making the Video for Prince’s “Black Sweat” from his album 3121. They played nice and made friends, good friends, according to Ms. Robinson, who was quoted in Papermag claiming if she really wanted to boogie, "I just go over to Prince's house for a jam session, and I'll dance in my own world. Get my groove off!" Word.

Prince and MJ are just the tip of the iceberg-- she’s busted a move for more artists than you could ever imagine. According to Serena Altschul of MTV, “You can turn to MTV at any time of the day and catch a glimpse of Robinson's resume. She started saturating the video market in the early 1990s,” and
hasn’t stopped since, adding artists Like Fergie, Gwen Stefani, Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, Madonna, Dr. Dre, and Santana to her long list of clients. Robinson has also since gone on to choreograph big productions like Save The Last Dance, Ali featuring Will Smith and Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls. What makes Fatima so different from other choreographers is her relentless determination to impose her innovative will, rhythm and authentic style on the most popular dance moves of our time. She catapulted into the entertainment world beyond MTV after winning her second award for Best Choreography in a music video for her work on “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” by Busta Rhymes. Demand for Fatima abundantly increased back in 1998 and hasn’t stopped since.

Ms. Robinson has won enough awards since the start of her career to fill a small room in her house and has made enough friends along her journey to fill an arena and have a private dance party of her own. She recently launched her site Whatdoyoudance.com, a social network dedicated to dance, lifestyle, fashion, art, events, and forward thinking from a dancer's perspective, of course. Puma, the shoe and apparel company, along side Love-Made, has decided to celebrate Robinson and her long list of accomplishments by making her the first host of their Monthly Music Showcase Series. Next Tuesday, Fatima, along with a circle of her closest dancer friends, singer friends, and friends of friends, will dance and toast the night away. For one hour out of the night I, DJ Smiles Davis, will have the pleasure of spinning some freshest tunes for guests and party go-ers. Alongside me will be Prince’s very own DJ, the beautiful and talented Rashida, plus DJ Wendy City and Posso The DJ. If you'd like to attend and get your boogie on please feel free to view the flyer and RSVP here. This is a private event and there will be no entry unless you've put your name on the list. Hope to see ya'll there! ‘Till next time…chew the corners off.

(In which we consider Peaches considering Joni Mitchell.)

Posted by Job O Brother, March 16, 2009 06:40pm | Post a Comment
This has been a busy week, dear readers. Lots of phone interviews, dinner parties, and soundtrack-slinging at Ye Olde Amoeba Music Hollywood.

I was gabbing with Peaches about her new album last Wednesday. It’s called I Feel Cream (release date in the U.S. is May 5) and it’s a blast! Definitely a departure from its predecessors, in that it’s more diverse in sound and moods. Peaches sings a lot more. There are moments where it sounds like the lovechild of modern R&B and older tracks by darlings of the Industrial genre, Front 242.


Anyway, I asked her about musical influences that might surprise people (it’s already well documented that she loves hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll). This led to her gushing about Joni Mitchell, and this performance in particular, which rocked her world:


That voice! A miracle. I just can’t get enough of it…


She really is one of my favorite things in the world of music, and while not everyone shares my passion for her sound, anyone who appreciates songwriting as a craft must acknowledge that, as a writer of music and lyrics, she remains one of the greatest artists of modern pop music. She’s credited with inventing about 50 different guitar tunings, and the list of musicians who cite her as an influence – Peaches included – reads like a Who’s Who of music.












Her own feelings about the music industry may not be so generous, though they seem to be justified. When asked in a 2002 interview with Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone: So how do you feel when some people say the whole [music] business is going down the crapper?

Joni Mitchell: I hope it all goes down the crapper. It's top-heavy, it's wasteful. It's an insane business. Now, this is all calculated music. It's calculated for sales, it's sonically calculated, it's rudely calculated. I'm ashamed to be a part of the music business. You know, I just think it's a cesspool.


…Gee whiz, Joni – tell us how you really feel.

I joke, but I only admire her for her frankness. I love her work so much that I’ve not wanted to blog about it. I have this issue with certain artists; I respect them so much that the idea of conveying their brilliance intimidates me. (Notice I’ve never blogged about Jim Nabors?) But Peaches’ excitement over Mitchell was so sincere, so surprising, and, for me, so relatable, that I had to take a moment to at least say, for the record, how totally gay I am for Joni Mitchell.

So there.

Prince

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 1, 2009 06:20am | Post a Comment
Prince Rogers Nelson is easily the most daring, inventive, and subversive pop star in contemporary music. He is just as much Cole Porter as he is James Brown. Using an R&B aesthetic base, he has interwoven punk rock, rock & roll, pop, jazz, blues, and new wave to carve out a sound that is American, uniquely African-American.

prince

His diverse background, varied music palette, and pop/showbiz mentality can be credprince rogers nelsonited to his Minnesota upbringing. Like Bob Dylan (also from MN), he balances spirituality and humanity with heartache and yearning. He is part spiritual leader, religious zealot, sensualist and priest of carnality. His work is visceral yet calculated, both frank and overt. This is all anchored by his genius for laying out a great tune. I mean, who princecaught the first time that "Raspberry Beret" was a tale of a person losing his virginity? With attention to detail draped in poetry and the abstract, the lyrics sound idiosyncratic and real as anything Joni Mitchell ever wrote. But songs like "Darling Nikki" expose a rawness and sexiness balanced in a tale about the love and loss found in a one night stand. So what is he about? What does it all mean?

Prince's music, story and career are so singular that many have tried to trace where this all comes from. The Minnesota link was a start; maybe it's his mixed African-American heritage. Who knows? But Prince has continued time and time again to break the mold of pop constraints, social uptight-ness, cold war hysteria, bible reading, and corporate rock greed. And through all of Prince's moods, phases, flings, mysteries and crusades, he has gotten us to wonder, follow and believe with one thing-- our own body. So where it "all comes from" is beyond us all, but where it goes is rapidly obvious -- we feel it in our bodies. There is no doubt he has moved us.  

Continue reading...

Multiple Maniacs

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, November 10, 2008 11:45pm | Post a Comment








The Best Video Ever

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 1, 2008 12:42am | Post a Comment
This has to rank as one of my favorite videos ever. Snoop is just crazy! I like how the video begins and ends like it was recorded off a VCR. It reminds me off watching a late night video show and waiting for my favorite video to come on, then pressing the record and play. Everyone in the 80's/early 90's had that one VHS tape full of your favorite videos. The song's pretty out there as well. It's Snoop meets Prince/The Time/Vanity 6 meets T-Pain meets Daft Punk. BTW, Snoop's album drops March 11th.

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