Posts Tagged ‘De La Soul’

Two of us

April 22nd, 2008 1 comment

My friend Liz, who works for a London magazine publisher, e-mailed to tell me that she had spotted my Doppelgänger while doing a page layout (apparently he’s more heavy-set than I am, which is a relief).

I find the idea of a double very spooky indeed (as would, presumably, my look-alike). I once saw a spitting image of myself sitting at a bar. It was disconcerting observing this incredibly handsome man. Like myself, he his excess of charm, wit and intelligence was observably steaming through his delicate pores. I did not approach him, of course, taking heed of Doc Brown’s warning to Marty McFly and the dangers of upsetting the time continuum. Perhaps that handsome specimen of a man was my future self on a time travelling mission. Which might mean I’ll become a barfly. A good-looking barfly. Not Mickey O’Rourke. Or perhaps my future self had the sense to obtain a sports almanach. What did Doc Brown say about that again?

I suppose meeting my exact double would put to test the promise I (a vain man who favours unrealistic ego boosts over self-deprecation) make to my mirror image every morning: “Hmmm, I would do you.”

Kid Creole & the Coconuts – I’m A Wonderful Thing, Baby.mp3
Michael Jackson – Man In The Mirror.mp3
De La Soul – Me, Myself And I.mp3*

Lame hip hop for lame whiteys

October 14th, 2007 2 comments

Take a look at ‘The Top 10 Rap Songs White People Love’. Not because it hits the nail on the head (it doesn’t), not because it’s amusing (it mostly isn’t), not because we can learn anything from it (we can’t). I’m flagging it because the idea is at once interesting and ridiculous. Is the dude saying that white people are lame for supposedly liking these tracks, or is he saying that the tracks are lame for white people supposedly liking these songs? Either way, is he advocating some kind of a Taste Apartheid?

Of course, it seems evident that cap-in-yo-ass-bustin’ charlies such as 50 Cent, The Game or Fabolous, and even Snoop Dogg, are now marketed primarily at an audience in the ‘burbs, not that in the ‘hood. It would be fair to say that “Whitey” digs Fiddy probably more than Whitey’s African-American counterparts do. But by establishing a racial link between music and perceived audience, one risks engaging in the same silly stereotype which assumes that black people cannot possibly like rock or pop music due to some cultural or genetic proscription. Which, of course, is not true (and here is a blog about non-hip hop music black people like ).

Some rap acts will lack credibility, for a variety of reasons. Some had cred, and lost it when they sold their image to be used in kids’ cartoons (MC Hammer); some entered with no credibility in first place (any number of cash-in copycat herberts); and some are accused of not having any credibility when that is just uninformed nonsense, sometimes based on race (Beastie Boys, by people who know nothing; I’ve heard that even Vanilla Ice had credibility on the rap circuit before he sold out to MTV). Surely credibility cannot be based on whether a melanin-disadvantaged character dances poorly to Eazy E. Because — ha ha ha — Whitey ain’t got no rhythm. Flip that stereotype for a laugh.

A poster on my favourite message board suggested the following juxtaposition: “Transpose the post as ‘Top 10 country songs that black people love’ written by some redneck and see what responses it would garner.” Nail. MC Hammer. Bang.

Incidentally, the latest poll suggests that most readers here don’t give much of a damn about hip hop. I asked: What is the state of hip hop today?

Better than ever…………………..1%
Doing OK………………………………4%
Dying on its arse…………………26%
Who gives a 50 Cent…………..67% (that would be the Sir Mix-A-Lot fanbase, presumably)

Count me in the ‘dying on its arse’ constituency. But, frankly, hip hop has become so corporate that I’ve stopped giving much of a 50 Cent. Can rap be saved? We’ll have our old CDs and the memories should all these gimps invariably featuring Akon on their albums succeed in killing rap.

In the spirit of rap songs being liked by white people, a few random tracks which this (non-nasal) “whitey” likes:
Scarface – On My Block.mp3
Common – Real People.mp3
Jay-Z – Izzo (H.O.V.A.).mp3 (live unplugged)
Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five – The Message.mp3
De La Soul – Me, Myself And I.mp3
Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.mp3 (proto rap track)

And for the fun of it:
Chris Rock – Rap Standup.mp3 (“love rap, tired of defending it”)
Chris Rock – Real People Of Ignorance.mp3 (a few laugh-out-loud moments!)
Ben Folds – Bitches Ain’t Shit.mp3 (live on 3FM)
Richard Cheese – Hey Ya.mp3

(Image borrowed from


July 29th, 2007 1 comment

A most intense year. I fell heavily in unrequited love (we were closest of friends instead, FFS), and I had the worst day of my life. One morning in January I received my call-up papers for the apartheid army — there was no way I’d go, but what to do other than leaving the country (and leaving behind the woman I hoped would love me back)? Refusing military “service” was punishable by six years in jail. After a Savuka concert that night, which I had to watch on my own after getting separated from my friends, I crashed the car I was about to sell to my friend Claude, and was lucky to to get away with a mashed-up lip, cut chin and sprained finger, since I was wearing no seatbelt (playing on tape at the time was Bruce Springsteen).

The army situation became an opportunity: it turned out that one could receive an exemption if one studied. So I registered at a college to complete my matriculation. From there I went on to university to study Sociology and Political Studies (the refuge for people who have no idea what to study). By the time I had completed my studies, it was safe to ignore call-up papers. Musically it was generally a terrible year, except in dance music, which hit a high.

Jevetta Steele – Calling You.mp3
The fantastically atmospheric theme song of the fantastically atmospheric film Baghdad Café (not to be confused with the train-wreck sitcom based on the film). The Percy Adlon film, originally titled Out Of Rosenheim, was originally released in 1987. It hit the South African circuit in 1989. I watched it twice at the movies, and several times on video that year.

Michelle Shocked – Anchorage.mp3
I was in bed with the woman I loved when this song played on the radio one afternoon. Alas, we were both dressed and there were other people in the room, resting after a day at the beach. Gah! I can’t say I would know other Michelle Shocked songs. I taped the album, but didn’t rate it. Except this song; it’s great. Oh, and hello to my two loyal readers in Anchorage!

MarcAlex – Quick Quick.mp3
The South African hit of early 1989. Brothers MarcAlex not only filled the dancefloors with this innocuous discopop tune, but people everywhere were singing it. It’s a catchy number, very much of its time (it even has a sax solo in it). After a few more inferior hits, Marcalex’s gradual disappearance was barely noticed or bemoaned.

Gipsy Kings – Djobi Djoba.mp3
I could never get much enthused for the works of the Gipsy Kings, nor for the criticism of them. At the time I often DJed at parties, by dint of having the biggest and best record collection. As a party mover, this song worked. And where I live, it still does.

Roberta Flack – So It Goes.mp3
Flack’s reputation is slightly tarnished by her duets with the likes of Peabo Bryson (though their “Maybe” was great). Fact is, Roberta Flack is one of history’s great soul singers. Her 1988 Oasis album, which yielded this unassuming track, was quite lovely in the “Quiet Storm” sort of way. As I listen to it right now, I can smell 1989.

Natalie Cole – Miss You Like Crazy.mp3
Guess whom I associate this song with. Oh the tears this song soundtracked; just hearing it now knots up my stomach all over again. The album this is from, Good To Be Back, was actually pretty good. Especially the swinging vibe of the title track.

De La Soul – Me, Myself And I.mp3
Fabolous, 50 Cent, Ludacris, The Game and all these contemporary hip hop gubbins are pissing on the legacy of De La Soul. Fiddy and his ilk are really an outgrowth of the MC Hammer vs Vanilla Ice battle for the crown of rap kings via the deplorable gangsta rap scene of the ’90s (OK, I’m not an expert on hip hop, it just seems like it to me). So where can we find the influence of De La Soul today?

Soul II Soul – Back To Life.mp3
Black Box – Ride On Time.mp3
Ten City – That’s The Way Love Is.mp3
A trio of dance classics from a golden era. Soul II Soul were innovators from a British dance culture; Black Box was the best slice of Euro disco (though replacing the generously proportioned singer with a thin waif in the video was criminal); Ten City was a Chicago act produced in Germany, drawing from ’70s soul, House and Euro to create a quite unique sound.

Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians – Friends.mp3
I bought this album because I thought I was supposed to like it. Hearing Brickell even now tends to remind of all the frustrations I felt in 1989. This song is an exception — nice vocal performance, a good melody, and wonderfully stroppy lyrics that give the finger to bad friends, of whom I’ve had my fair share.

Martika – Toy Soldiers.mp3
When I played this a few minutes ago, my 12-year-old son came in, singing along. I asked how he knew that song. He told me Eminem sampled liberally from it on a song called — and here we learn that Eminem is a true innovator — “Like Toy Soldiers”. I didn’t want to like this song after Martika’s redundant cover Carol King’s “I Feel The Earth Move”. But, pssst, it is actually quite good, at least within the context of Top 40 hits of 1989.

Mango Groove – Special Star.mp3
Oh, South Africans were proud of the multi-racial Mango Groove, which combined joyful pop with local musical genres, revived the pennywhistle (giving dues, as in this song, to the master of the art, Spokes Mashiane), and gave wider exposure to the miners’ tradition of gumboot dancing. Mango Groove foreshadowed the New South Africa. Alas, by the time the New South Africa was born in 1994, Mango Groove was no more. Singer Claire Johnston’s beautiful voice is now usually heard singing the national anthem before rugby internationals in South Africa. But “Special Star”, with its multiple pace changes and that exuberant pennywhistle, is rightly a towering classic in local pop history. (Previously uploaded)

Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes.mp3
I know, it’s not from 1989 at all (it appeared on 1986’s So). Why is it included in a 1989 nostalgia trip? Two words: Say Anything. Which came out in 1989 and created one of the most iconic moments in ’80s cinema.


And so we reach the end of my nostalgia trip through the 1980s. I will no

t attempt to do the 1990s, which are a blur to me (Mariah Carey was big in the ’90s, yes?). The 1970s on the other hand… Oh yes, I’ll do the 1970s soon.