Monday, June 30, 2008

Zozo Afrobeat, Fallou Dieng, and Vieux Farka Toure at Central Park Summer Stage

It was a wet day to say the least on Saturday, but that didn't dampen the mood at Central Park Summer Stage where Vieux Farka Toure, Fallou Dieng, and Kaleta's Zozo Afrobeat Ensemble pooled their efforts for one of the best African music concerts of the summer.

Kaleta's Zozo Afrobeat Ensemble kicked things off nicely with their cast of some of the city's best Afro-performers. They laid down the funk so hard that when the sky opened up ten minutes into their set, the crowd didn't even think of dissipating.

Fallou Dieng, a Senegalese mbalax superstar followed and the sun shined throughout his entire set. While Fallou's voice was as majestic and powerful as ever, his mbalax dancer totally stole the show. His on-stage antics drove the crowd wild. Maybe it was the two Senegalese women in the crowd that gave him extra inspiration.

Vieux Farka Toure closed out the show, and the rain really came down. He was joined onstage by Baye Kouyate whose infectious talking drum energy made the crowd scream, or maybe it was just the chilly rain pouring down on them. Either way Vieux played a great show that reinforced his distinct style and identity, separate from yet tributary to his legendary father Ali.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Paid Dues Independent Hip-Hop Festival-June 4th 2008

Blackalicious, Gza, KRS-One, and Rakim were officially crossed off my list of hip-hop artists I want see live before I die last Wednesday night at the Paid Dues Independent Hip-Hop Festival. With the legendary lineup of Rakim, GZA, Blackalicious, Murs & 9th Wonder, Buckshot (Boot Camp Clik), Supernatural and Scratch, Kidz in the Hall and Yak Ballz, it’s no surprise they sold out the Nokia Times Square Theater, and rocked it hard.

The Kidz in the Hall started the night off and got the crowd warmed up. Then Scratch came out with a loop machine and showcased his human beatbox skills. Supernatural joined him onstage, the crowd got into it, and the concert officially began. Buckshot followed and the packed house started going wild. Smith and Wesson came out with him and kicked things up a notch, but then, the dj dropped “The Bridge is Over” and the teacher himself, KRS-One, walked out on stage and started rapping. The place went totally nuts.

Murs, the festival organizer, came after and did a set with 9th Wonder which was followed by an awesome set by Blackalicious. Gift of Gab showcased his skills as a killer mc, freestyling a mile-a-minute and energizing the crowd.

Gza followed Blackalicious and absolutely killed it. The crowd was getting tired at that point, since the set breaks were about half-an-hour between acts, so Gza immediately demanded energy from the crowd, which he received. The highlight of his set was a four-minute long freestyle about Ol’ Dirty Bastard before the dj dropped “I Like It Raw”.

Kid Capri came out to start Rakim’s set which closed out the show. Rakim played all the classics from Paid in Full and Follow the Leader. The crowd sang all his lyrics word-for-word turning the show into more of a sing-a-long than a concert. There was a special moment during his set when he told the crowd he had a death in his family only a couple days prior. He had the theater turn all the lights off and the crowd hold up all their lighters and cell phones for a moment of silence dedicated to everyone’s lost loved ones. Kid Kapri broke the silence perfectly when he dropped “Check Out My Melody.”

Without question, it was the best hip-hop show to which I’ve ever been. All I could think of was how amazing it would be to see a freestyle battle between, Supernatural, KRS-One, Gift of Gab, Gza, and Rakim with Scratch beatboxing. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Go Home Hillary

Hillary Clinton needs to stop wasting people's money and drop out of the presidential race. She has made an absolute embarrassment of herself. For quite some time now, she's done nothing but distract key parts of the democratic constituency from coalescing behind Barack Obama.

We're at a point in our country's history of great importance. The 2000 and 2004 elections were some of the closest in history. Besides the elections of 1824 and 1800 which ended in draws, the only election decided by a closer margin of victory than 2000 was 1876 when Rutherford B. Hayes won the disputed election of 1876.

Like Bush in 2000, Hayes lost the popular vote. He only won the election in a brokered back room deal known to history as the compromise of 1877. In exchange for the Democrats conceding the election, the Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South.

This allowed the Democratic party to reclaim the southern local governments, push African-Americans out of power, and take away their voting rights effectively ending reconstruction. Also like 2000, the election of 1876 was ultimately decided by the Supreme

After the 2000 election, there have been only two closer than 2004: the election of 1796, the first election in American history not won by George Washington, and the election of 1916, contested during World War One, four years after Teddy Roosevelt split the Republican party to form the progressive party. 2000 should have been enough of a wake up call to the country, but instead, we elected the same president by the same questionably close margin.

While our electoral system is unquestionably flawed, the blame is still none but our own. We allowed ourselves to be mislead—twice. It is up to us now to ask harder questions and pay closer attention. We're at two wars and in a recession--obviously we've done something wrong.

Hillary Clinton has been doing nothing but campaign for Jon McCain for the past couple months. America needs a change. The past eight years have been a sharp decline for America both in its integrity abroad as well as economically at home. American society’s political and economic
divisions have only increased. Which candidate most represents departure and change: Hillary Diane Clinton, John Sidney McCain, or Barack Hussein Obama?