Sunday, August 27, 2006

An Intimate Conversation with Domonique Simone

by Christopher Whaley
www.poeticrockstar.com
www.myspace.com/domoniquesimone

The year was 1993 and I was a high school junior when I first heard of Domonique Simone. I could hear my buddies in the back of the NJROTC classroom talking about how fine she was and the many things she could do to make “you go crazy just looking at her!” It wasn’t until my 18th birthday when I took that adolescent rites of passage and purchased my very first adult magazine and on the front cover was none other than Domonique Simone. In the confines of my bedroom, I marveled at this dark-skinned enchantress with this beautiful body. It would be another year before I would see her in a film and I must say that my buddies were right – this lady was bad!

As I got older, Domonique Simone played a significant role in developing my sexuality. She personified Black adult entertainment in the 1990’s and became our Goddess of Love. Her pictorials were elegant and her films were explosive. Like Vanessa del Rio before her, Domonique could captivate you with her over-the-top performances. Need a reference? Peep 1993’s Black Butt Jungle and see how she leaves Peter North gasping for air and Debi Diamond in a state of shock. The lady was adult entertainment’s first Black superstar, with numerous magazine layouts, top-selling films, and packed club appearances to vouch for her success.

Society at large has a love/hate relationship with adult entertainment. On one hand, Jenna Jameson’s autobiography is a best seller and on the other, many people called for Bill Clinton’s head on a platter after his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Since 1971’s Deep Throat, the business has skyrocketed into a multi-billion dollar industry with its own legends and success stories. However, when it comes to life as an adult entertainer on the other side of the color line, the playing field has never been leveled. Of course the pay is nowhere near equal and some venues won’t even book a Black entertainer for reasons that border on the ridiculous. Strides have been made and the walls are slowly but surely falling, but there’s still a long way to go.

At 35- years-old, Domonique Simone is a legend. Her name is mentioned in the same echelon as Jeannie Pepper, Ebony Ayes, Angel Kelly, Heather Hunter, and Janet Jacme. Her body of work is classic and she will have her place in the history of adult entertainment as one of the pioneers. She has persevered and weathered the highs and lows that fame can bring and stood the true test of time.

When the opportunity presented itself to interview Domonique, I seized it. The time has been long overdue to hear about life in “the other Hollywood” from a Black adult entertainer’s perspective. I wanted to know her story and furthermore, I wanted to know her up close and personal. I’ve heard about the rumors and I have read the interviews where she has often been misquoted and what I got was an intimate conversation that took me deep inside the heart of a very wonderful young lady. Many people have seen Domonique Simone in all her naked glory and lucky me – I got to see an amazing human being.

POETICROCKSTAR: So let’s get started, Domonique. I remember at one time there was talk of your singing career. I’m sure a lot of folks have no idea that Domonique Simone is a very gifted vocalist. Tell me a bit about that if you don’t mind.

Domonique Simone: I wanted to sing at one point and the music business is tough.

PRS: I’m aware that the music business is very cutthroat.

DS: Yes, more than the movies. I trained with this guy named Seth Riggs and he trained Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin – he’s an awesome vocal trainer. He wanted people to take me serious as a singer because he only produces chart toppers. In order to work with me, he wanted to develop me where I was gonna be someone that would be on the charts. I met several people who wanted to bring me to different labels and I’ve been all around the music scene. I don’t like the music business and plus the talent is not getting their money with the free downloads like Limewire and it’s just a really tough business right now.

PRS: It’s so funny that we’re starting off this conversation with your singing because I recall an interview you did in 1993 with Black Tail magazine. In the article, it was a picture of you and a gentleman sitting together and you were talking about your desire to sing. You mentioned Seth Riggs and the more you’re talking to me about it, the more everything is coming back to me. However Domonique, let’s fast forward a few years later and a certain adult entertainer contacted me about performing on a track with her and at first, I was excited but then I realized that it would be a novelty act and I wanted to be taken serious as a spoken word artist. At that time, you had several entertainers who were doing their thing in the music business as well. Still, regardless of how great their skills were, they would always be looked at as porn stars making music.

DS: I didn’t wanna do it that way either. We’ll always be seen as porn stars no matter what we’re doing. You have that label and even with Tracy Lords, who’s done better than most of the girls, the only other person that’s doing as good as she did is Jenna Jameson.

PRS: Speaking of Jenna Jameson, how is it that she and Tera Patrick become these huge stars and you have Black talent that’s just as good mind you, scraping the bottom of the barrel?

DS: The reason why Jenna Jameson and Tera Patrick do very well is they have big huge companies like Vivid and Wicked backing them. These companies are more apt to put money into their careers than a Black actress because these girls have the Whites, the Blacks, the Asians – you know what I mean, Chris? So their fan base isn’t limited. Whereas someone like me and Heather Hunter – when Heather came out everyone was “Heather Hunter, Heather Hunter!” because she was this light-skinned Black girl and everybody thought she was the hottest thing. When I came out and then had my boobs done, I started getting more work. I had what you call “crossover appeal.” They want you to appeal to a wide spectrum of people because they make more money. And with the Black actresses I don’t know what it is, but they don’t put enough money into us because they don’t make as much. It’s all about the dollar bill. It really is. The business has always been that way. They didn’t start to put Black girls on covers until they saw that the interracial movies were selling off the shelves. I just happened to come into the business during that time when Heather was already out and I guess I appealed to more of the Black audience, along with Janet Jacme.

PRS: So that’s how the business works?

DS: Right. So they said “we’re gonna do something with this.” I was over at Video Team – I love Video Team. They were very good to me. That’s where the My Baby Got Back series got started. I was in a series called In Loving Color and me and Janet Jacme went and auditioned for In Living Color. I told the owner I was going to audition because I’m thinking I’m cute and got big boobs and they’ll put me on TV! You know how we think! And I’m over there and I can’t even dance! I’m dancing for Keenan and Rosie Perez and they are just laughing and I was so embarrassed! And Janet? She can dance! That girl can throw down! So I came home and the owner asked about the audition and I said “baby didn’t have enough back!” And he was like “my baby’s got back” and he said he wanted to do the cover next week. It was me, Janet, and another girl. I had this girl that was living with me from New York who had never done any movies and her name was Lorna Dee and got her on the cover. That’s how that series got started. Right now they’re up to like number thirty-something?

PRS: Yeah, they’re up there!

DS: I know. But that series did really well and I feel like I opened the doors for a lot of Black girls in the business. The reason is they weren’t putting us on covers. I made the cover of Adult Video News, which I don’t think has happened again, another Black girl on the cover. At least I haven’t seen one. I was in magazines like Hustler and they’re beginning to put more Black girls in Hustler. I’ve yet to see one in Penthouse. Guccione – I don’t think he’s into that unless you’re a celebrity and he’s making some big money like with Vanessa Williams.

PRS: And what about Black features at clubs? I hear that some venues will not feature a Black entertainer and that’s so crazy!

DS: The clubs didn’t wanna bring in a Black feature because they didn’t think we would have the draw that one of the White performers would draw. There are a lot of Black girls in the business now; the business has changed so much to where they’re not paying what they used to pay. And the box covers are not as glamorous as they used to be.

PRS: I agree with you wholeheartedly, Domonique! Some of the stuff I see now is like strictly for shock value. There’s nothing that says sensual at all.

DS: Everything is all stock photos and gonzos right now. I think what sells right now is more realism, more of the girl next door.

PRS: It seems the era that produced you, Janet Jacme, Persia, and Anna Amore gave us some very classy entertainment. Nowadays you have some young ladies who will do just anything! Why is that?

DS: Big Booty Hoes and stuff like that! I always said that I don’t wanna do a cover like that. A few companies that shot the covers have tricked me and call it Black This and I don’t like that. I’ve gone to the video store and looked at some of the covers and they are so nasty. I like the more glamorous type flicks. It has changed a lot. Video Team wanted me to come back and do some things for them and if I came back and did a film, I would want to do my own stuff and produce. It’s no money in the business right now and it’s over saturated with actors and actresses that a lot of girls are working for much cheaper that they did when we were around.

PRS: So if you could make changes, what would you suggest?

DS: The thing is to start your own production company. It’s difficult too because you really have to be in to get in. Plus you really have to know the laws and you gotta have some money backing you. If you go in with some money it will be fairly easy because you can afford the attorney fees if you ship a movie over to Texas that’s not supposed to be there or you ship an anal film to Atlanta and anal is illegal in Atlanta. So you have to know all these different laws for these different states to keep from getting in trouble with the distribution part. It’s just really, really difficult.

PRS: When you say the business has changed, would you say that it’s changed in a drastic way?

DS: It’s really changed. The last movie I watched was one of Peter North’s movies, one of his North Pole movies. I thought it was really cool. I never really watched my movies; I just fast forward through them to see how they looked. I could never really watch myself having sex! And I hardly go into the video store because I go in there and guys lose their minds. They’re looking at a box and then they’re looking at me and it’s kinda weird.

PRS: In my opinion, the business changed around 1996. That’s when Jasmin St. Claire did The World’s Biggest Gangbang 2 and all of a sudden, it was like a race to see how extreme they could get with the adult entertainment business. Once that happened, then everyone tried to one-up the next person.

DS: It was like who could do the nastiest movie. I didn’t like the direction it was turning in at that point. I did a gangbang but I did seven guys and when I did The Howard Stern Show, he was like “that was hardly a gangbang!” Now they are doing like 600 guys at once. There was a girl who supposedly 2,000.

PRS: See, that’s ridiculous!

DS: They were doing an interview on the radio and they were talking about Jasmin’s movie and they were saying that it’s self-mutilation.

PRS: Well think about it: you got all these guys humpin’ away at you and you forget that you have to go home and go to bed later that night!

DS: She was miserable. They did some outtakes and she was miserable. Poor girl, I could’ve never done something like that. I don’t care how much money they pay me and I know she didn’t get paid what she deserved for that. She probably got a down payment on a car! Shit, she should’ve gotten enough to put a down payment on a house!

PRS: So Domonique, how did you get started in the business? Tell me that story.

DS: I came out here to LA on a scholarship to attend a school called Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. In fact, I went to school with Alexis Arquette. We were in the same class and used to see each other all the time. I was going to school and took a job as a manager at a clothing store and I was in an apartment with three other girls. Two of the girls, one was from New York and decided she wanted to go to FIT. Another girl was from Dallas and she wanted to go home and the other girl was from Chicago and she ended up staying with me. What happened was when they left, we couldn’t cover their rent and they were gonna evict me and my roommate. I was looking through The LA Weekly and I saw this ad looking for figure models. I went in to see him and it was like make $500 daily, but I didn’t know he was a porn guy. So I went in and he was like “I can get you in Players, Hustler, and others.” I couldn’t do that shit! I’m from Georgia and my grandmother would kill me! And he said “come back when you wanna make some money.” So I get back home and it’s like – they’re getting ready to evict us. I thought well, I’m gonna have to do this photo shoot. My first photo shoot was for Hustler magazine. It’s ironic because the girl I shot with, her name was Domonique Simone as well. She wasn’t an actress; she was a magazine girl, a dancer. There was a girl on the set and she did adult films and she invited me on the set and that’s how I got started.

PRS: Wow!

DS: This happened in like, June. In July they had a big show that they have in Vegas every summer and I was invited to go there. That movie that I worked on, that first production, Angel Kelly’s boyfriend was on that set and he wasn’t an actor – his dad was Henri Pachard. So he liked me, and he wanted to date me! Angel found out about it and she wanted to know this girl that her boyfriend liked. Then I go to the show and Angel is there and she saw me and said “oh, she’s cute” and approached me about her boyfriend! And I didn’t even know him that well! She tells me she’s about to do her last movie which was called Even More Dangerous. She was looking for someone to play her sister and she asked me if I would wanna do that and that’s how I got my first leading role.

PRS: So this is perhaps 1990, 1991?

DS: 1990.

PRS: At the time you came in, thinking back on the 80’s, you had Jeannie Pepper, Angel Kelly, Ebony Ayes, and Nina DePonca. You come along and the new era is ushered in.

DS: Yeah, and then it was Heather Hunter, Domonique Simone, Janet Jacme, Persia, Champagne.

PRS: And you ladies were in a league of your own. You all brought glamour and sophistication and really changed the game. However, I want to ask you a film you did called Black Mariah.

DS: Ohhh… yes… Black Mariah.

PRS: What was the story behind that film?

DS: I went in and shot a cover for a movie. They were really hush-hush about it. They said it was called Black Mariah or something. They didn’t even have the “Black” in front of it. I just went in and shot my scenes – I didn’t know what was going on the set. They did it to where they were very secretive about it the whole movie. I’ve never seen the movie, but I’ve heard a lot about it and I’m so upset and embarrassed about it. I didn’t know the scenes were in that movie.

PRS: It was rather disturbing, Domonique.

DS: It was racist.

PRS: When I watched it, I couldn’t believe someone could do something like this.

DS: Yeah, I understand.

PRS: But you know Domonique, I remember purchasing my first adult magazine when I was 18 years old. It was a Black Tail and you were on the front cover. I also rented my first adult film in which you were the star. A lot of my friends were Domonique Simone fans and to us, it was a rites of passage to be young and watching your films. It’s like in the 70’s, that generation had Vanessa del Rio. We came along and had Domonique Simone. In many ways, you are a legend to us.

DS: Thank you, Chris.

PRS: You can ask just about anybody, especially from the Hip-Hop Generation, and they know who Domonique Simone is. They know you before they know anybody else. How does it feel having that legend status attached to your name? When they say “Queen of Black Adult Entertainment,” they refer to Domonique Simone.

DS: Well the thing is, I never knew the impact the sex industry had on the world. I did the movies and for a long time, I didn’t tour or anything. When I went to New York to do an autograph signing, there were so many guys outside the store and it was like I was a rock singer. I remember the police had to come because the guys were waiting for the store to open and they were leaning up against the doors and about to break the windows. I thought it was crazy because I had never been to New York before. While I was there I danced at a club called Shadow World and they would book us in hotels on 42nd and 8th, which is when it wasn’t cleaned up by Giuliani. So it was a bunch of hookers and sex stores, like every other store. So I’m walking and these guys are going “Domonique Simone, Domonique Simone!” I didn’t realize the effect the adult industry had on the world. I didn’t know all this until I started going to the shows and dancing and all these guys and they what shoes you wore in what movie, your bra size, everything! My fans can tell you more about my movies than I can. It’s really weird how people can remember specifics.

PRS: Are you serious, Domonique?

DS: I remember this one guy in particular. I was at a magazine store and he’s getting one of my magazines. He walks up behind me and says “I recognized who you were by the mole on the top of your lip!” And that started to freak me out!

PRS: So what’s a normal day like for you?

DS: Now or back then?

PRS: How about sharing some of both if you don’t mind.

DS: When I did films, I basically would get up and if I wasn’t working, it was going to get a facial, going to the gym, or doing something to keep up my physical appearance. At that time, I was really good friends with Janet Jacme so I would go and hang with her or go to an event, sometimes visit different clubs. I’m really a private person so I didn’t get out into the party scene that much unless Janet would drag me out or my girlfriend Taylor Wane. I went to exclusive events; I never was really like hanging out a lot. My life was probably pretty boring. Now my whole life has changed because I have two kids. My biggest thing now is getting up and cooking breakfast and getting them to school. Now I’m working as a loan officer and I go to work, and sometimes I work from home. My life is a lot different now because I don’t have the craziness of that lifestyle I led when I was doing the films. Once you have kids, you change your outlook on things and the way you think. I think that’s one of the reasons I stopped doing the films because there are a lot of things you see about the world once you have kids that could be harmful to your children. A lot of the things going on in the industry were very upsetting to me. That’s when I realized I had to put things in perspective about what direction I wanted my life for my kid’s sake. I had some friends in the business with kids and they were acting out and I didn’t want that for mine. As kids get older, they get teased because your mommy does this and I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to bring my kids up with me working in the adult industry.

PRS: And that’s when you walked it away from it all, right?

DS: Yes. I wanted to leave the business and have people ask “where did she go?” I wanted to leave some mystery about me. I didn’t want to have to do a gangbang with 1,000 guys so I could keep my name out there. The last film I did was called Booty Talk with Lexington Steele and he talked me into doing that. That was around 2000 and it was a really good scene and that was the last one. I kinda disappeared and decided to move from LA to San Francisco and started doing my real estate. I wanted to continue my education because my family was like “you can’t be doing that forever.” I did it partially for my family and plus, I didn’t want to be 45-years-old and doing my comeback. I felt like I needed to take a different turn in my life.

PRS: A lot of folks don’t know that you were in some music videos as well, right?

DS: I did a Snoop Dogg video. I did one with Brian McKnight. Doing a video is a nightmare when you’re dealing with all those women. It’s something about women and boob jobs. Women tend to laugh at you – because they’re jealous. They wanna make you feel like a freak because you have fake boobs. When I did that Snoop video, I was with a bunch of ghetto girls! I did the video for Brian McKnight and no one knew that I was an adult girl. Brian McKnight was like “I know you from somewhere!” I found out he did a concert and had a question-and-answer and everyone kept asking him “how did you get Domonique Simone in your video?” He said they ask more questions about me than his songs!

PRS: Which video was it?

DS: “Keep It On the Down Low.” Then I did “Something For the Honeys” with Montell Jordan but when you’re used to making a certain amount of money a day and you’re on the set with some catty ass girls for ten hours a day for $200, that’s some shit! I couldn’t do it. Then I tried the music thing and everyone wanted to fuck and I’m like – I can fuck and get paid! That was the end of my music stint.

PRS: So did anything ever get recorded?

DS: I performed in Vegas at one of the awards shows and I have recorded some things as well. The business is so hard to get into. In order for someone in the adult business to make it in the music business, they would have to come with something really unique. Coming out as a Lil’ Kim rap star isn’t unique.

PRS: Here is the $64,000 question, Domonique: are you considering a comeback?

DS: I’m working on a website – www.domoniquesimonexxx.com – and I am so digging MySpace. My fans can find me at www.myspace/domoniquesimone. It’s very addictive. I’ve been on there a few months and it’s a pretty wild scene on there. Everybody’s on there. I knew I would be coming out with a website and I decided to I was gonna shoot all new photos because everybody and their mama and daddy has my pics. I hadn’t done a website ever before. There’s all those unofficial Domonique Simone websites and I want to do it right. I want to show the new Domonique Simone because people haven’t seen me for awhile.

PRS: No they haven’t, and it’ll be good for everyone to see you again.

DS: Thanks, Chris. I will also be writing a book because I have a lot to talk about. It’ll be a best seller!

PRS: I’m sitting here talking to you and what I like about you is that you’re a real person. You’re not coming with any bullshit.

DS: I’m a Georgia girl, Chris! I’m not a California girl!

PRS: Southern girl! Biscuits and gravy, ham hocks, pork chops, and all that good stuff!

DS: Oh yes – I just can’t cook ‘em!

PRS: Are you religious or spiritual?

DS: Yes, I believe in God. I grew up a Southern Baptist.

PRS: What? Domonique Simone grew up in the church house!

DS: Howard Stern asked me how a girl goes from the church to becoming a porn star! I think about what it was with me and I grew up in a family where I was told that sex is bad and I was in the church all the time and basically, when they let me loose I went wild. I was told boys were bad and boys did bad things to you and when I was like 12, 13, 14 – I wanted to see what these boys did that’s bad to you! I got kinda crazy and wild but I think it was always in me anyway. I could’ve went a different direction with my life but I’m glad that I took the direction I did because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have my two kids. I have a beautiful life now. I’m probably not making all the money like when I did the films, but I have peace of mind. If I was out there right now, I wouldn’t feel good about what I was doing. The things the girls are doing now I wouldn’t even do on camera!

PRS: They do some crazy shit nowadays! This gonzo shit is ridiculous! I see stuff and I’m amazed the human body can perform like that!

DS: Chris, I’ve seen some videos from Europe and it’s some really crazy things that people are into. You know, I’ve probably been in every sexual situation at least once where I’ve seen about everything and it’s crazy what folks are into. At one time, I had a substance abuse problem and when you’re doing drugs and sex, you wanna go higher and higher. Not just with your high but what you can do sexually and you become really jaded. You take yourself out of reality and it got really, really bad. Being in the adult business and having a substance abuse problem, I had to take myself out of that. I had to go and get some help and talk to some people about what was going on in my head. There are a lot of girls who go through what I went through and they don’t know how to deal with it.

PRS: I’m glad that you found an outlet, Domonique. I’m glad that you found what they call in the church, salvation.

DS: Yeah, I had to get it together.

PRS: It’s been an honor to talk to you, Domonique, and to get the truth. Finally we get a story from someone who’s been there and done that and from a Black perspective. You are a legend, and always will be. You are a pioneer and I know that you will be appreciated and admired for many years to come. Thank you so much and may you have continued success in everything you do, love.

DS: Thank you, Chris. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you as well.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Onstage with Kelli Sae (Day 2)

Wow. That's all I can say about last night is wow. Kelli Sae is amazing. What an awesome performer, man. As I write this, I am still overwhelmed by it all. This is how my day went yesterday.

Got to soundcheck yesterday at Joe's Pub and all was good. Watched Kelli do her thing and just got into the vibe of the place. At one point, the band played up some funky music and to get into the vibe of things, I got up and got my groove on. I even had Kelli bugging out. It was a chill type soundcheck -- not so serious and a way for cats to kind of unwind. Dear reader, I just had a feeling deep down that I was gonna be in for a great show, man.

Fast forward to the real deal. Get to Joe's Pub and get Gina -- looking lovely as ever -- seated in the VIP and I headed to backstage. Now here's the tripped out part: I wasn't nervous until it got down to gametime. All of a sudden, I started shitting bricks! I got so overwhelmed that I started to damn near shake. A stagehand offered me a drink and I was like "I can do this, chief." I peeked from behind the curtain and looked at the spot and it was packed. I thought to myself "oh, shit!" I picked up my cell phone and called my Pops back home who gave me a "Rocky Balboa" speech and was like "you can do this, Chris. Rock that shit!" When I heard him do his Sylvester Stallone impression, I was good! Then, Kelli came over and we sat down and talked. I said "Kelli, I'm nervous." She looked at me and said "Chris, I'm nervous too!" We hugged and wished each other a great show.

"Five minutes, Chris," the stagehand said to me. We all went joined in for prayer and my God -- Kelli looked gorgeous now that she was all made up. Each of the bandmembers showed me love and I took my place. I stepped back as they all took their places onstage and when I heard my cue, I shimmied onstage and did my thing, man! I knew I was on point from the way the crowd was eating it up. I had New York in the palm of my hand, man! This is what I had always wanted to do -- rock a New York crowd. Been a dream of mine since I was a child, chief. Here I am, from Hiram Clarke, Houston now onstage in New York City. When I was done, Kelli came onstage and kissed me on the cheek. She looked at me and said "that was beautiful, sweetie." I knew then that I did the damn thing.

She was so good. The lady is a true entertainer and an overwhelming vocalist. That voice. Christ... that voice. The lady can sing her ass off! It was by far one of the best performances that I have ever seen, man! And I've seen some great shows. This goes up there with me seeing Michael Jackson, Prince, and Corey Glover.

After the show was over, I have never recieved so much love like I did last night. I even had ladies trying to kiss me! (LOL) The respect that I got from those people bugged me out. According to Kelli, the feedback she recieved was great. I made contacts and I made friends. I'm like "damn, now why I don't get this back home?" However, I am so humbled and feel so blessed, man. You have absolutely no idea how I am feeling as I write this.

The night ended with G and I having dinner with Mr. Director. This guy is a hoot! I love this guy! What a great cat. We chilled at a nearby diner and vibed for a few hours. We then caught the 6 and came on in and crashed.

What a night.

I'm In a New York State of Mind (Day 1)

"Damn... New York. Just like I pictured it: skyscrapers and e'rythang..."

Well, I'm here with the lovely Gina and New York is the joint, son. We haven't been here 24 hours and already getting mad love from peeps. I have always, always loved this place. So much culture and so much to do here. Last night's rehearsal with Kelli Sae was on point. Guys... eat'cha hearts out because the lady is drop-dead gorgeous! I'm sitting there looking at her and I'm like "damn!" No wonder I couldn't concentrate in rehearsal! (LOL)

Oh boy... but I had another treat that freaked me out. In another studio two doors down was The Family Stand! I was like "oh shit!" They were in there getting ready for their European tour. Sandra St. Victor is amazing. We got to hang out and just vibe for awhile. Wow! I came of age listening to "Ghetto Heaven!" They were so fucking cool, chief. Ant Boogie... eat your heart out, kid!

Then we met up with some cats and kicked it. SistaSuga and Trel were just amazing. We really had a great time. Myspace is so powerful, man.

Anyway, I am bouncing. More to come. Gotta go to soundcheck!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Searching for D'Angelo



"C'mon D and sang the song, yeah..."

The first time I heard of D'Angelo was a brief glimpse of him in the video for "U Will Know," from the group Black Men United. Co-written and co-produced by this cat, the song was from the 1994 film Jason's Lyric and featured a who's who of talent such as Tevin Campbell, H-Town, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Lenny Kravitz, and Raphael Saadiq. The brother appeared to be mesmerized in the company of some great individuals as he dabbled at the keyboard. About a year later, I was gigging at KSYM-90.1 FM when the new batch of CD's came into the studio. I began shifting through them when I stumbled upon a single called "Brown Sugar." My co-host Jamal and I played the track and immediately liked what we heard. The music was fresh and much needed in an era of blunt hats, Dickies, and chronic smoke. That weekend, we premiered "Brown Sugar" on the show and watched as it quickly became one of our most requested songs.

In 1995, this cornrowed brother from Virginia took the world by storm with a sound that became dubbed as "neo soul." With a nod to Prince, Marvin Gaye, and Curtis Mayfield, Michael Eugene Archer was suddenly the poster child for throwback grooves and real instrumentation. Written, produced, arranged, and composed by D'Angelo, Brown Sugar proved that the brother had skills in the studio. With hits like "Lady," "Sh*t, Damn, Motherf*cker," and a classic rendition of Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin," D'Angelo was on a course for major success. Tours, awards, and videos in heavy rotation made the brother a household name. Legend has it that at a concert, the place was so packed that even his idol Prince couldn't get in the door.

It would take five years before D'Angelo would bless the masses again with some new music. Along the way would be a single here, a soundtrack contribution there, and a TV appearance somwehere, but that was about it. In that timeframe, fresh faces like Maxwell, Rahsaan Patterson, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Musiq Soulchild would make their mark in the "neo soul" movement. Across the water, a dreadlocked brother named Omar (who many consider to be the founding father of "neo soul") was doing his thing as well. With flicks like love jones, these musicians provided the soundtrack and it was cool to rock headwraps and dig in on esoteric studies like Eastern philosophy and 5% wisdom.

After calling Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady Studios home for a hot minute, in 2000 D'Angelo dropped the eclectic Voodoo. With rhythms reminiscent of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, D had concocted his own blend of musical gumbo for the masses. Dropping tracks like "Left and Right," the Prince-like "Chicken Grease," and "Send It On," many people consider Voodoo to be a masterpiece. What sent this CD flying off the shelves was the sensual "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" video with D'Angelo against a black background. Wearing nothing but a headful of neat cornrows and a chisled physique, he became the object of desire and a sex symbol for the new millenium. The album would go on to sell two million units and earn D a pair of Grammy Awards. He launched a very successful tour that featured ?uestlove of the Roots, Roy Hargrove, and an unknown background singer named Anthony Hamilton. D'Angelo was now "The Man" and had the success to prove it.

And then... he vanished.

Talk of a D'Angelo live album taken from the Voodoo tour came and went without a trace. Bootlegs of songs popped up on the internet but that was the extent of so-called new music. Word from the vine was that he was in the studio working on some new material never produced anything. The most we got to see of him was a guest spot in the video for "Be Here" featuring collaborator Raphael Saadiq. A lot of fans wondered, myself included, what happened and where did the brother go? His run-ins with the law were well documented and rumors of his emotional state made it's way in gossip columns. It wasn't until an arrest in early 2005 that the world got a glimpse of what was really going on with the brother. The charges of drunk driving and drug possession and an infamous mug shot of a bloated D'Angelo only proved that he had fallen off. To make matters worse, in September of 2005 the singer was driving in his Hummer when the vehicle slammed into a fence and overturned. Not wearing a seatbelt, he was ejected from the vehicle and sustained serious injury. Days later, he issued a statement saying that he "felt fine" and that he didn't remember much about the accident. That was the last anyone has heard from D'Angelo. Alan Leeds, former manager for Prince and now manager to D'Angelo, gave an interview earlier this year in which he stated that D'Angelo has recorded at least ten LP's worth of material. He also mentioned that D is having issues with his record label and that is what is what's holding up the new music.

I am a D'Angelo admirer. I love the music and I have followed his career since he first emerged on the scene. However, I am one of those cats who is looking forward to some new music from the brother. I would hate to know that he has gone the route of Shuggie Otis, a very talented multi-instrumentalist who released three LP's in the early to mid 70's and was never heard from again until recent years. With the state of (commercial) music today, someone of D'Angelo's caliber is highly needed. "Neo soul," a once promising genre of music in the 90's, has seen some of it's brightest and most innovative stars fall by the wayside with either label issues or record industry burn-out. Whatever the scenario that involves Michael Eugene Archer, he is missed in major way.

C'mon back, brother.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Totally Prince'd Out


I never thought that in a million years I would be Prince'd out. As the music industry and legions of fans across celebrate his 3121 as the number one album in the country, my attitude is nonchalant. You would think that I would be excited and ready to throw a "Purple Party" in his honor, but I feel like "whatever." How did it come to this? Why now? What happened? I'll break it down.

Recently, I attended the Tamar featuring Prince concert and it was by far the worst concert experience of my life. I have been to many a bad concerts, and eventually found something to redeem my sense of purpose for being there. With this latest Prince show, I was the least bit impressed with standing in a long line for hours just to see him play second fiddle to an up-and-coming vocalist. A friend of mine and I actually walked out; confused and disoriented about what we just saw. My image of Prince was a bit distorted and hazy and I was upset and angry and trying to find the reason why and it hit me: I had placed him on too big of a pedestal. When he didn't live up to the expectations that I had set for him, it was disappointing. For years I had marveled at his genius and considered him this god of music and forgetting that he's mere mortal like the rest of us.

Plus it didn't help that since he dropped the Musicology disc back in 2004, I was literally feeding myself a musical diet of nothing but Prince. I would listen to music by other artists every now and then, but a Prince CD was always in the chamber and ready for it's spin. It didn't help that a buddy of mine sent me in excess of 30 Prince discs full of unreleased material. It was a Prince overload and I gorged myself full of Vanity, Apollonia, the Time, and even Carmen Electra. If it was produced by Prince or had any type of Prince overtones, I had to have it. I could care less if it was Dale Bozzio or Madhouse 24, I had to have it. I've been told that too much of something is not always good and it's funny, because I never applied that to music. I figured you could take a piece of music or something by an artist and enjoy to your heart's fulfillment. Not so. I've listened to the unreleased Dream Factory so many times that the thought of hearing it again is making me cringe. I can't believe I allowed myself to be consumed with Vanity 6, knowing all the while that it was a horrible project even for someone considered eye candy. And Mayte? Lord forgive me for I have sinned!

I will always admire Prince. His music has provided the soundtrack for my life. I got my first kiss to a Prince song, and I fell in love with the woman who is now my wife at a Prince party. But deep down inside, I know I have consumed so much of the music that I have to take a step back. 3121? I have to admit -- I'm not feeling it. For some reason, it just doesn't rock my boat. I was so excited when Musicology dropped because for the first time in years, it was Prince. None of that TAFKAP or One Night Alone business. It was back to being Prince and it was back to guitars and thumping basslines. It was the stuff that used to move me, have me bobbing my head to the beat. This new stuff is a throwback to a Prince era that's long gone. "Black Sweat" has 1982 written all over it. I went into this new CD wanting a fresh new sound, some innovative grooves, and some banging tracks. I don't think I've been this letdown over an artist's CD since Michael Jackson's HIStory.

Prince, I love you man but the time has come for a long overdue break. That means putting Purple Rain away for a moment and stop trying to figure out the meaning to Grafitti Bridge. I'll always be an admirer, but I am missing out on other artists with great material as well. I'm putting Camille on the shelf and boxing away Vanity. Time to move on.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Impeach the President!

Seriously... is there any way we can get rid of this asshole? At this point, I really could care less what I say about the guy and they can tap me all they want. If anything happens to me -- fucking Bush did it!

So we're gonna be in Iraq for a few more years, eh? Why? What has this war proved? What are we doing over there? What is all this proving? That we can go and fuck up another country and be Billy Bad Asses? This is all insanity. However, notice how North Korea says that they got missles that can hit us with the quickness and no one in Washington has said jack shit!

I was checking out the Pres' speech and he mentioned that this shit will drag on way after he's gone. In other words, the next Commander-in-Chief has to come in and clean this shit up. So he's started a war that he knows he won't be able to finish. I take it to mean that he know's he has fucked himself and is gonna leave his dirty work for someone else to take over. Unbelieveable.

I'm a young cat. However, I'm wise enough to acknowledge that the powers that be have literally fucked us all. I am still trying to figure out just how in the hell did this clown get in office? Did he have that much pull? Who's ass did he suck to get where he is today? It's been more fuck-ups in his administration than Clinton could've ever done. Let's face it and just say that Clinton got his wang-wang polished by an intern. But we all had jobs and could afford to have a piece of this American Dream. We will definitely look back on Bush and see just total bullshit.

Can we impeach this guy? Serious? Can we get him outta there? As much as I would love to see this guy pack his bags, I am afraid of who's gonna take his place. The Democrats don't have any direction right now and the Republicans? Goodness. As long as it ain't another goddamn Bush!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Nigga, Please! My Thoughts on Damon Wayans


Seriously... I thought it was a sick joke. I didn't think much of it until I looked at the headlines today and it said the following: "Actor Damon Wayans Seeks to Trademark Hip-Hop Term 'Nigga'." So I get to reading and I am stunned that the homes has been on a 14 month quest to get the word "nigga" patented for a clothing line and a retail store. Note to Damon Wayans: ARE YOU FUCKING FOR REAL, MAN?

Who in their God-given right mind would want to trademark a term that some view as derogatory? Okay, let me rephrase that one: what possessed this cat to wake up one day with this lame-ass idea? But at the same time, should I really be surprised? This is Damon Wayans we're talking about, part of the biggest and most buffoonish family to ever come out of Hollywood. Before I allowed myself to get ticked off any further, I had to be cautious of the fact that this is a family who has given us "White Chicks" and fucking "Marci X."

I think it's dumb and just pure ignorance. Bad enough that him and Spike tried to insult my intelligence with that God-awful horrible piece of cinema called "Bamboozled" and now we get "Nigga Gear!" Maybe it's not enough that the youth are subjected to some of the most negative images in the history of the media and now, we can floss in some "Nigga Jeans." Motherfuck me, man! Is this what it's really come to? Iced out grilles and "Nigga Shirts?"

I think I'm pissed off because you have someone of Damon Wayans celebrity who would entertain something like this. If some silly ass rapper tried to attempt this, maybe I wouldn't be so bent out of shape. But after the so-called success of "My Wife and Kids" and "413 Hope St" (people forget about that one!), this is what you will do with your creativity and clout? It's a slap in the face, man! No way in hell do I wish to go to anyone's outlet and see "Nigga" stitched across the back of any jeans or scrawled on a shirt. Not to mention the shit will cost $75 and made overseas by some kid making pennies for an 18 hour day in a sweatshop, a'la Sean John.

(yeah... I went there!)

And what's with this "Hip-Hop" term shit? Is that to say that the word "nigga" is now associated with hip-hop and rap music? Again, the media hard at work. Such bullshit.

I'm sick of this shit. I am honestly sick and tired of "niggas" and "nigga" shit. I am tired of the word and I am guilty of using it, but the truth is it still stings. Regardless of who says it. I'm tired of acting like that word has no meaning and all this talk of "it's a term of endearment" is crap. So if I want to make a change for the better and dead that word, then I will start with me.
As for Mr. Wayans, you sunk to the lowest of lows on this one, chief. For someone who says he admired Richard Pryor so much, trust me when I say that ol' Richie Rich is beaming from the sky at the thought of "Nigga Gear."

Yeah, the ancestors are real proud. Look at how far we have come.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Decline of the Record Store and the Future of Music

Wow... what can I say about the closing of Cactus Music and Video? To be honest, I don't know what to say. I'm sitting here at my desk and many thoughts and emotions are running through my head. It's funny though, because not too long ago I got into a heated argument with someone over music and the person said "Chris... you take music a lil' too serious, sweetie." I admit that I do. Music has played a key role in my life since I was in the womb. My aunt says that when they brought me out... I came here with rhythm. I'm inclined to believe that.

The past two days have seen some changes in my life: my first (legal) download and the closing of one of the most influential record stores in all of the United States. I came home on Thursday and looked around online for some downloads. Not really thinking much about it, ya know? I came across Prince's new track "Black Sweat/Beautiful, Loved & Blessed" and thought to myself "I want it -- I'm gonna download it." I paid my $1.98 and less than 90 seconds after I clicked "buy," I had a CD with two new Prince tracks. I was fucking shocked! Granted, in the past I got some stuff from Napster and Kazaa but it was usually rare stuff and live joints and it took days for the stuff to burn onto a disc. This was of course back in the dial-up era when I would download my joints, go to work for 10 hours, come home, and the last track would finally process! The good ol' days.

So I'm sitting at home and I got this fresh CD of new joints and it is totally bugging me out. I'm old school -- I like to go to the store and cop my music on CD. I like cover art and the excitement of Tuesday, when the new releases touch ground and I'm so excited about getting the new Janet Jackson, I can't sleep at night! Now, I've just entered a different phase where I don't have to wait until I get off work to go and cop the new stuff -- just click and burn. Not only that, long gone are the days where I bought a CD for maybe one good song and the rest was all filler music. Now, I can just pay my .99 and I got the flavor of the week in the palm of my hand.

Which brings me to Cactus Music and Video. Have you ever had to go through the belongings of a recently deceased relative? Ya know, everyone is at the house rummaging through things and fighting for what's left? They all want a piece that they can hold onto so that they can cherish that memory. Well that's how I felt today walking through Cactus Music and Video. One of the largest independent record stores in the country, after 30 years in the game, Cactus is closing it's door. With the sales of legal downloads booming, the decline of the CD, DVD sales, file sharing, and a music industry that's steady breaking at the seams, it's all over. I've been going to this place since I was a kid, man. My mother says that when I was a small child, she took me to meet Bootsy Collins and his gorilla. Many great artists like the Police, Patti Smith Group, and Chris Whitley have graced the stage for free concerts. I can't tell you how many times I would go there and see some cat onstage and rocking out. I'll never forget going to see Mary Cutrefello and drinking free beer. That's a record shop going experience that you can never forget, man. Not to mention, that's where I copped many a great independent project by cats like Stiffed, Saul Williams, and this chick named Ani DiFranco.

So I'm walking around this place and there are folks pillaging the leftovers. DVD's are on sale and CD's are damn near being given away. I had to literally fight back tears as I saw aisles upon aisles of empty CD racks. What was left as far as music was all pushed together to clear some space. The area where they rent and sell video was almost wiped out by customers walking around with armloads of VHS and DVD's. I made my way to the front where they have the stage and saw that it was occupied by T-shirts. Can you believe the Ramones actually played here? So I made what was probably my last dig in the crates and came across a vinyl copy of Jesse Johnson's Shockadelica and copped it for $2. I took it to the counter and as the kid rung me up, we made eye contact and on the cool, I think we could feel each other's pain. Here is your change and welcome to the future of music.

It's a bitter pill to swallow because if Cactus Music and Video is closing it's doors, this is the beginning of many others like it to call it a day. About two years ago, I worked part-time in an independent record store and to be honest, there were days where I wanted to slit my wrist! I would spend an entire Saturday where maybe two CD's were sold. At the time, Usher was hot on the charts with his Confessions and Prince was kicking Musicology. Both CD's eventually went on to platinum status, but they were about the only CD's that made a dent that year. I watched good projects like Janet's Damita Jo, N*E*R*D's Fly or Die, and Ghostface Killah's The Pretty Toney Album fall off without a blip on the radar. The bell was ringing and I didn't like the tone. The music industry and CD sales were in dire straits.

On the cool, this is what it's come to for consumers and record shop owners. But then, there are so many people to point the finger at. For one, you got greedy executives who are about the almighty dollar and less about talent. They sign just about anybody who can shake their ass and hype them as the flavor of the month. They drop a CD with the producer of the moment, lace the record buying public with a high price product, and there is maybe three decent tracks and 15 other joints with no rhyme or reason. Then you got places like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Circuit City that sells CD's for maybe $9.99 which shuts out the Mom and Pop stores. Finally, there's Joe Sixpack, the consumer who has had it with the bullshit of buying crappy music. He digs a song so much that either he burns his man's CD or he heads to a file-sharing site and says fuck it to everything.

And there you have it, my friend. Now we have legal downloading and iPods and we're all happy. As for cats like me? Well, I tried long and hard not to join the digital revolution but I'm here, man. They got me hook, line, and fucking sinker. Dude, they got me by the short and curlies, chief! It's like either you jump on the boat or you will get left behind. This is the future. This is where we are headed. However, I am approaching it all with an open mind and a willing heart. Let's just hope that the ride won't produce any bullshit.(((Chris crosses fingers)))

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Recording Industrial Complex

I had absolutely no clue that New Edition's first royalty check was only for $1.87 -- for each member! Millions and millions of records sold, sell out tours, merchandise, and God only knows what else, and their hard work paid off in pocket change? Literally? Amazing.

Seeing their story on Behind the Music was sad and my heart went out to those cats. New Edition has made some great music; songs that will forever be embedded in the music history books. You would think with the spin-offs (Bobby Brown, BBD, Johnny Gill, Boyz II Men, Ralph Tresvant) that these guys would be rolling in 2006 with fat pockets. Not so. I've always known how cold and callous the music industry was and is, but I didn't know that it could be that ruthless where you give five young men who worked their asses off not even ten bucks!

But I'm not surprised. Not by a long shot. Ever since Little Richard was making half a penny per song in the 1950's, the music industry has made a mockery of it's artists by taking advantage of their lack of business savvy. It's almost as if it's set up for artists to fail. You would think that since it's the artist who's making money for the label with their creativity, the powers-that-be would see to it that those involved would be taken care of.

Please. Maybe in a perfect world.

The Recording Industrial Complex is all about one thing: money. Fuck taking care of an artist because it's all about what image will sell records and put asses in concert seats. I hate to be blunt, but I have to be real. Lack of business savvy on the part of the artist is the reason why you can go to a record store and see six different versions of Greatest Hits and Best Of packages. Sad but true. Do you really think that New Edition owns the publishing rights to their catalouge?

When Prince went toe-to-toe with Warner Bros. and scrawled "slave" on his face, everyone thought he had lost his mind. "How could he?" was the question asked by many people. Even though he was the writer-producer-arranger of his material, he desired more creative control over his work. He knew the deal and he wanted out. Until he released Musicology in 2004, Prince was the butt of jokes and deemed a has-been by the media as well as some fairweather fans. When he decided to include the CD with the purchase of a concert ticket, he beat the industry at their own game. Then he was called a genius.

Right now, the music industry is suffering. Downloading has become the norm and many consumers are now supporting independent artists. Sales have dropped drastically over the past few years and we have Shawn Fanning and Napster to thank for the way in which we have access to our music. Many people feel like after years of ripping off the artists, it's payback time. Suffice to say, it's true. For every ripped off royalty point that New Edition, Little Richard, Toni Braxton, and TLC did not recieve -- an illegal download is playing on Bobby's iPod.

Crazy, huh? One day it'll all make sense.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fuck Howard Stern!


With all the media hoopla surrounding his Sirius radio broadcast, I have this to say: FUCK HOWARD STERN!

Yeah... I said it. Fuck him and his radio show. Fuck Robin as well. Freedom of speech is a bitch! If he can be "free" to say what he wants on his show, then I can be free to tell him to kiss my ass. I have a disdain for this man that goes back like mad years. What's my issue with Stern, you ask? Ignorance and stupidity in the name of entertainment. Racial intolerance and just overall tackiness. That's why I have an issue with Howard Stern.

What I don't understand is why his leaving a radio station for satellite radio is such big news. Okay, so he has listeners. He's popular because he can get chicks to show their tits and get damn near ass naked and that's all well and good. But the tripped out part is HE'S NOT FUNNY! Howard Stern has some of the most dry ass humor that I have ever heard, man! Ain't shit funny about folks farting all over the goddamn place! That's that schoolyard shit that little kids laugh at. Maybe he has a target audience... I don't know. But on the cool, the media can spare me the details about him being "free" and doing what he wants to do.

And Robin Quivers? That fucking sellout.

Does she get paid to just sit there and laugh like a coon? You might as well paint her face with the black polish and paint her lips white and call her "Sambo." I'm like "bitch... that shit ain't funny!" The things that Howard says, especially about Black folks, would garner an ass whipping from someone who don't play that shit. But I guess when you licking bootstraps and trying to make that paper, degradation is just a word.

I love comedy. But I like good comedy. I can only do so much of the gross-out factor. Howard Stern? I choose not to listen to him. I just wish the media would just chill on trying to make a chocolate cake out of some bullshit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

R&B: Rhythm and Bullshit


When I see shit like this, it makes my skin crawl. One, because "Vibe" magazine is on some "out" shit and two -- what's with this one song shit? I am so trying to understand the world we live in where one song makes you a superstar! If you have heard Chris Brown's "Run," it sounds like an Usher "Yeah" outtake. I am not impressed. He can't sing to save his life and it just chaps my hide that now he is "the future of R&B."

Maybe it's for rhythm and bullshit because it is NOT the R&B that I am accustomed to.

When I think of R&B, I begin to think of cats like Etta James, ZZ Hill, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin. Not fucking Chris Brown. I'll even go so far as to include entertainers like Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, TLC, and Usher. But Chris Brown? WHO IN THE HELL IS THIS DWEEB?

The fucked up part about all this is this kid will be the flavor of the month and just as sure as my name is Poetic Rockstar, he'll be a has-been in a few months. Then what? We move on the next so-called "future of R&B." As someone who follows the ups-and-downs and ins-and-outs of the "music business," I see it all the time. Wasn't Ashanti the "Princess of Hip-Hop Soul" a few CD's ago? Now she can't even give away a copy of her greatest hits collection. Seems like many moons ago, Ja Rule was "the next 2Pac." What a joke he has become. And don't even get me started on Britney as the heir to Madonna and the new "Queen of Pop." She might as well take her swamp-digging ass back to Louisiana and be Kevin's babymama.

One song? One song. One song is all it takes to become the "it" person of the day. You get your video on MTV and the magazine covers and a few accolades off of one song nowadays. In the early part of 2005, it was Amerie with "1 Thing." I will admit... the song was tight. It was catchy and it got Amerie some love. However, I had issues with "Soul Train" awarding her the "Entertainer of the Year" for this "1 Thing." I just shake my head because it is ridiculous that this is what the modern day era of music has to give us.

Chris fucking Brown.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Vince-anity!



To be 100% honest with you, I am not a football fan. Never really cared much for the game and damn sure never had a desire to play. I think the last time I sat down to watch a football game, Bo Jackson was playing for the Los Angeles Raiders. As a matter of fact, that was the game in which Bo went down with the hip injury. I think that did it for me as far as watching the game.

I went to James Madison High School here in Houston, Texas. I attended a football game every now and then and cheered on the team because most of the players were friends of mine. At the time I went, our claim to fame as a school was the fact that Dino, lead singer of the group H-Town, attended the same school. Now, Madison is associated with another name: Vincent Young.

I don't know Vincent Young personally. Even if I were to walk through my old neighborhood, I wouldn't have a clue who the kid is. It's been said that he's from my old neighborhood of Hiram Clarke but I was probably long gone by the time he got to middle school. I give the dude props for leading the University of Texas to the national championship. I give him love for being a classy cat who is taking it all in stride as well. However, even though he just announced his intention to go pro, I'm already sick of the kid!

I know that's a shitty thing to say. You might think to yourself "you should be proud, Chris." I am. It's good to see a neighborhood cat make something out of himself. My only issue is the fact that the dude has yet to touch an NFL football and you can swear he's the LeBron James of football. So he makes the announcement that he's gonna jet outta UT early and suit up for the Big Leagues. Now, here's the fucked up part in all this: it was just last week that the whole country was going apeshit over this Reggie Bush guy. For those of you who don't know that name, he won the Heisman Trophy and was the star running back at USC, the team UT beat to win the title. Okay. Now everyone is speculating that this Bush guy is The Man and he's gonna be the #1 draft pick and you got teams intentionally losing just to grab the guy. Follow me, now. So he goes to the Big Game and on national television and gets his ass handed to him by Vince Young.

And now Vince Young is The Man.

Wasn't the same thing said about Andre Ware, Charlie Ward, Desmond Howard, and Ricky Williams? What came of those guys? They were college football media darlings who eventually saw their NFL dreams fizzle out. Poor Charlie Ward never even made it to the NFL. Nobody wanted him. Here's someone with the Heisman Trophy and can't get a job. Of course, we know what happened to Ricky.

I was reading today's paper where they said Vince Young could get up to $25 million in a guaranteed contract. For what? Winning one big game doesn't make you a fucking star? Shit, he could ride the bench forever, man! He hasn't even suited up or even made the cut? Not to mention, has anyone given any thought to the fact that the college level is a lot different than the professional level when it comes to sports?

I'm happy for Vince Young. Please don't get it twisted. Like I said, I don't know shit about football and could care less. But let me say this: with all the media hype surrounding this cat, God fucking help him if he doesn't produce. Hate to say it, but he'll go from being champ to chump.

Or better yet... just another rich nigga in the NFL.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Toni! Toni! Toni!




So now Toni Braxton is considering posing nude for "Playboy." Well, for one thing, I'd buy a copy! However, the question is "why, Toni?"

She looks good for a lady of 37. After settling down as a wife and a mother of two sons, Toni's got it going on. No doubt about that. But I'm shaking my head because there is a trend with singers and "Playboy" and that is once their respective career has dwindled and no one really cares much about them, off comes the clothes. I've seen it with LaToya Jackson, Belinda Carlisle, Jody Watley, Tiffany, and Debbie Gibson. Maybe it's to keep the public interested in their careers but the truth is by the time we see the airbrushed boobs and that little line of pubic hair, no one really gives a shit.

Toni Braxton has had mega-success. She has won numerous Grammy Awards, done television, films, and has even appeared on Broadway with the starring role in "Aida." Of course, the story of bankruptcy and her losing everything is legendary, but true fans have stuck with Toni through it all. There has been the reports of her heart condition as well as issues with her youngest son. Toni has been there and done that and has survived. Granted, her latest offering "Libra" has not met up to music industry expectations. But neither did the other CD, "More Than a Woman." What does that spell in record industry politics? Has-been status.

Right around the time she dropped her sophomore project, "Secrets," Toni appeared on the cover of "Vibe" magazine wearing nothing but a bedsheet and a serious look. It damn near sent shockwaves through the world. "How could someone of her status do such a thing?" Many people wondered why did she resort to getting naked to sell an album? Especially when her debut project sold so many millions of copies and she appreared to be such a wholesome young lady with such an amazing voice. It baffled many. "Secrets" sold well and awarded Toni with more Grammy gold and then her world started to fall apart. She took some much needed time off and rebounded in 2000 with the hit album, "The Heat." She accepted her 2001 Grammy Award in a barely there dress and put J. Lo's overhyped dress to shame. Toni was back.

The world wasn't ready for the hip-hop version of Toni with her "More Than a Woman" project. Working with Mannie Fresh and the Cash Money Millionaires, Toni saw this CD become a flop. She did TV work and gave birth to another son as well. In 2005, she dropped her fifth CD, "Libra." As of recently, the project has not brought Toni Braxton back to the charts where she once ruled.

So now comes word of a nude layout for "Playboy." Should anyone be surprised? I'm not. I just hate that this late in her career this is what she resorts to. Maybe it would've been different had she done this at the height of everything back in 1996 or even 2000. But now?

What's there left to show?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mariah Makes Me Eat My Words!

All I can say is damn. Just... damn. She made me eat my words.

I feel like I am this small.

On the first day of 2006, I copped my first CD. Mariah Carey's "The Emancipation of Mimi." I tried so hard to steer clear of Mariah and her new music. See, I remember "Vision of Love" back in 1990. That Mariah. The songbird who had the high-octave range that reminded you of Minnie Riperton. I remember Mariah in the black leather jacket on "MTV: Unplugged" singing "I'll Be There" with Trey Lorenz. This Mariah? The hip-hop, cleavage-exposed, barely-there-dressed Mariah? Uh-uh... I wasn't buying it. I wanted to hear her sing again. I didn't wanna see Jermaine Dupri all in the videos and all over the damn songs! I saw what hip-hop did to Toni Braxton. She can't even give her CD away now!

Seems like for all of 2005, it was Mariah. I couldn't get away from her. "We Belong Together" was everywhere. There was her image on magazine covers and her videos were all over the place. After her disastrous "Glitter" project of 2002, I was done with Mariah. I felt like her time had come and gone and she should drop a greatest hits package and be done with it. "Charmbracelet?" You gotta be kidding me, right? I don't even remember the hit singles from that CD.

So, this past Sunday I am out and about and I copped the CD. I popped it in the CD player and as I'm driving and listening to the music, my reaction is "goddamn!" The shit was bumping! Several tracks like "Shake It Off" I had to play again just because the beat was so thumping. I'm driving and thinking to myself "Mariah came with it, man!" Then, my next reaction was "why didn't I cop this a long time ago?" In all honesty, Mariah made me eat my words.

The last great comeback that had everyone ranting and raving was Prince and his 2004 CD, "Musicology." Before that, I would say rewind 20 years and you see Tina Turner and the "Private Dancer" project. If you wanna say Mariah had a great year and call it a comeback, I would have to agree. Mariah Carey redeemed herself. Now I'm hoping that she does clean up at the Grammy Awards because she has earned it. She knows how to crank out the hits and on the cool, her teaming with Jermaine Dupri makes for some great music. Now if Jermaine can do for Janet Jackson what he did for Mariah... then we can really call him a "bad motherfucker!" For some reason, I think JD just might do the damn thing.

As for MC... I'm a fan again.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Goodbye 2005... Hello 2006



Wow. This year is over already? Seems like I woke up yesterday and it was January 1, 2005! Now here I am about to welcome in 2006. It all just flew by so fast, man. However, I am thankful to have seen another year go by and usher in another cipher.

Let me say that I am very thankful. I have a lot to be thankful for. For one, my wife. I can't begin to tell you how thankful I am for this lady and the wonderful lessons that I have been blessed to learn from her. I am proud of her for accomplishing a major milestone and it's just cool to have someone like her in my life. In 2005, I got closer to my father in a way I never thought imagineable. I got to see a different side of Pops and it made me feel good to call him "Daddy," ya know? This year, I also got to see just how my poetry has affected many people over the years. It's funny -- I knew I had been doing this a long ass time when cats who are like 19 and 20 are telling me "I have heard of you!" Just lets me know that I still have more work to do in this spoken word arena and to keep it coming.

I have learned some lessons that have been both enlightening and frustrating. Had my good times and bad. I'm still thankful.

I have no idea what 2006 has in store for me. I just pray that the Universe will be kind and the one thing that I do want to accomplish this upcoming year is change. There are some ideas, ways, methods, and thought patterns that will be undergoing an "extreme makeover" in 2006. (smile) I promise that I will not be the same person one year from today.

Thank you, 2005. Welcome, 2006.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My Thoughts on Oprah Winfrey



For Christmas this year, the wife and I recieved a copy of the Oprah Winfrey DVD. You know, the one that's like 6 DVD's long and has all the highlights? Yeah... that one. Well let me just say this: I have all the respect in the world for Oprah Winfrey. We're probably halfway through the set and I have learned so much about the lady as well as myself.

As a kid, when I go over to Grandmother Doris' in the afternoon, the TV would be tuned in to "Oprah." I never paid it much attention and figured that Grandmother Doris was watching it only because she saw her in "The Color Purple." In my 12-years-young mind, I found the show to be quite interesting. As I got older, the show would intrigue me here and there and I would find myself sitting down to watch and listen to what Oprah was saying. Then I would head outside and do the things that beckons the average teenager and not think twice about what Miss Winfrey was talking about. I did enjoy her conversation with Michael Jackson before all the madness truly erupted and I dug her talk with Dennis Rodman back in 1996 at the height of "Rodmania." Afterwards, I forgot all about Oprah as well as the show.

Flash forward to about 1997, 1998. Iyanla Vanzant was a regular on her show and everytime Sister Iyanla was on "Oprah," the VCR would be set. Now my mindstate was "okay... I'm digging this show, man." Together, these two ladies put some heavy mental on the brain and of course, it compelled me to buy a bunch of Iyanla books that are now collecting dust! However, the seed was planted and I had to now have my "Oprah" fix. I found her to be full of knowledge and her topics would prove to be very stimulating. I began to see Oprah as like one of the sisters on the block you holla at for some quick advice and go on about your business. Feel me?

It wasn't until I settled down with the wife and Oprah Winfrey began to play a much bigger role in my life. The topics I could relate to more because life had given me much experience. Now it was "sweetie, did you set the tape for 'Oprah'?" (smile) Watching the show now from the aspect of a man 30-years-young, I pick up on something that I can add to my life and move forward. The wife and I often have conversations about what we just watched and sometimes, find ourselves still talking about it days later. To me, Oprah Winfrey is more than a talk show host -- she has become a hero to me in many ways. She is an icon and someone to be admired in every aspect of the word.

Let me be real and say that I am NOT ashamed to say I watch "Oprah!" (LOL)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Rent"


The other day I finally got to see the flick, "Rent." The music intrigued the hell outta me and I'm almost sorry that I never got to see this onstage. I thought that the acting was superb. Jesse L. Martin as "Tom Collins" was just extraordinary. Rosario Dawson? Her portrayal of "Mimi" was just spectacular. And Wilson Heredia's "Angel?" Wow!

The only thing I hated about "Rent" is that is started off kinda slow. If you're not familiar with the story, you will get lost if you don't pay attention. It also sucked ass that I had to see it with a bunch of middle-aged women who would not keep quiet! Nothing ruins a good movie experience like useless chatter and loud, crackling snacks! But anyway. Eventually I started to get the hang of the flick and my attitude changed to "okay, I'm feeling this." I could relate to the characters in "Rent:" bohemians looking for acceptance in this closed-minded society. I've known people like "Mimi" and "Tom Collins." Working at an AIDS hospice back in 1999, I've taken care of many an "Angel." It was a human film about human issues. It was a feelgood flick and I think this is something I can see watching a million times once I get the DVD. Kinda like I feel about "Rocky Horror."

However, the reality is Hollywood is not about musicals these days. I think "Rent" wasn't a box office success because hell... it wasn't promoted right! I didn't even know this flick was coming until I saw the preview in November. It's kind of a drag to see it not do so well but trust me when I say it WILL be a cult classic in a few years!

Aren't we all still singing the songs to "Grease" some 30 years later? (smile)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Janet Jackson


Janet Damita Jo Jackson has been catching hell ever since the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl. Her CD, "Damita Jo," was considered by some to be a flop and her relationship with music producer Jermaine Dupri has been the topic of tabloid fodder. There was the video of Janet sunbathing naked that hit the web this past summer and the icing on the cake were the rumors of a child with ex-husband James DeBarge. Oh, and let's not forget the drama with her brother Michael and his allegations of child molestaion.

Can the lady get a break?

You almost want to put your arms around Janet and tell her it will be okay. To most of us, she has been like a member of the family. She was the homegirl you kicked it with on "Control," the social commentator on "Rhythm Nation 1814," and she came into her own with 1993's "janet." We scratched our heads with "The Velvet Rope," danced our butts "All For You," and got introduced to her alter ego, "Damita Jo." In between were the films and lavish videos and flashbacks of "Good Times," "Diff'rent Strokes," "Fame," and "Dream Street." Janet Jackson has been our girl and you get pissed that they just won't leave her alone. We've seen what has become of Michael -- a reclusive individual who has been reduced to laughingstock for late-night punchlines. You don't want that to happen to lil' Penny. Okay, so she showed some tit at the Super Bowl. Big deal. Get over it. I have heard the argument a million times "but my child was watching that." Okay. And? It was a breast. I never understood why folks got their panties in a bunch over a tit and it's a lot worse that's shown on "Desperate Housewives."

And about this so-called "child" with James DeBarge. First off, who gives a damn if she did or if she didn't! How many other entertainers have hid children or had secret lives that we never knew about? Second, they said the kid was 18. Okay, let's do some math. If Janet and James were together in 1984 and their marriage was annulled in less than a year, that's about 20 years ago, right? So for an 18-year-old Jackson-DeBarge child to be walking around, that kid would've been born in 1987. That year, "Control" was one of the hottest LP's in the country. Janet was all over the place. When and where would she have found the time to have a child? Screw the argument of "but she hid her marriage to Rene for 9 years!" Please. The facts don't add up, man. It doesn't make any sense at all. Sorry, but I can't be convinced that Janet has a child out there that we don't know about.

The point is, it's time to just let Janet be Janet and continue to enjoy the music she has given us over the past 23 years. We can argue about kids and tits all day long and never get anywhere. In the end, it's all about the music. You just wanna dance and feel good. When you hear the bass thump on "When I Think Of You" or the grooves from "Together Again," thinking about Janet's boobs is the last thing on your mind.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Misdirection of Lauryn Hill


The first time I saw "Sister Act 2," I was blown completely away by the singing skills of a young lady named Lauryn Hill. I was telling all my friends about this dynamic sister with the honey-coated pipes and I said to them "mark my words, one day she will be a star." Folks laughed at me and called me crazy. I was like "you'll see." A few months later, I was flipping through this magazine called "Vibe" when I stumbled upon a review for a CD by this group called the Fugees. The young lady in the middle of the two dudes looked very familiar to me. "Where have I seen this girl?" I asked myself. I kept on reading and recognized the name: Lauryn Hill. I hopped on the 15 and made my way to Soundwaves where I copped "Blunted on Reality." However, the reality was the CD was horrible.

Still, I thought to myself Lauryn Hill is gonna be big! I tried like hell to give that CD he benefit of the doubt. The production was weak, the lyrics were subpar, and I felt as if Lauryn didn't get a chance to really shine. I was very unimpressed and I ended up giving the CD away. It wasn't until one night I was up late watching videos with Moms that the Fugees came on to do a live spot. The song they performed was "Nappy Heads" and I remembered how they ripped it! Even Moms was hollering "cheeba, cheeba y'all/well I'm a Libra y'all" and I told my man I wanted my CD back. No dice. Had to go and cop another one.

Fast forward to 1996. Tupac was on Death Row and Sean Combs was still Puffy. Word came that the Fugees would be dropping a new project and again, I told everyone to watch out for Lauryn Hill. I was right. "The Score" came and with hits like "Fugee-La," "Cowboys," and Killing Me Softly," there was no way you could get away from the Fugees. Wyclef, Pras, and Lauryn seemed to turn up everywhere you looked. But it's that fame that gets ya everytime. Whereas the Fugees came as a unit, the media singled out Lauryn Hill. It was L-Boogie who was the soul of the group. L-Boogie who was the media darling. L-Boogie with the ill lyrics. After awhile it looked like Lauryn Hill and the Fugees. Everyone wanted her to go solo. Brothers wanted her for a mate and sisters wanted her for some girl time. Overnight, Lauryn became our Aretha, Nina, Patti, Roberta, and Chaka all in one. The Jersey girl had finally made it and cats who laughed in my face two years prior were now calling me on the phone and eating their words.

Then it finally came. After taking some time off to have a child with Rohan Marley, Lauryn blessed us with a masterpiece, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." Sporting a head full of beautiful locs, she became the female version of Nesta. Her face was plastered over magazine covers and her videos were in constant rotation on MTV. By now, the rap community had lost Tupac and Biggie and a void needed to be filled. Suddenly, we had this beautiful and natural sister who had become a role model and a voice for the voiceless. Her songs provoked change and the music moved you something like Stevie in the 70's. Her concerts were sell outs and her records flew out of the bins. It was a conscious party and Lauryn Hill provided the music to have a good time and be mentally stimulated. The tip of the iceberg was her mega-selling opus recieving 5 Grammy awards and being considered a modern day classic.

And it all came crashing down after that.

Maybe the success was too much, too soon. There was talk of Lauryn not being able to handle the pressure of being such a big star. She took a backseat and produced for other artists like Mary J. Blige and Aretha Franklin, but it appeared as if Lauryn was losing ground. Beef with fellow Fugee member Wyclef led to a bitter dispute that was played out in the media. Speculation of her relationship with Rohan not going well was making the rounds and then the accusations of her not producing her CD fueled lots of heat as well. Could it be Lauryn Hill was a fraud? Rumors, rumors, and more rumors dogged her until finally, we got to see for ourselves.

The "MTV Unplugged" was the straw that broke the camel's back. There, sitting on a stool and strumming an out of tune guitar was our L-Boogie. Gone were the beautiful locs, now replaced by a worn-out baseball cap. The glamour was gone and so was the personality. She spoke of not wanting to have anything to do with the past, so she chose to not perform the tunes that made her who she was. Instead, we were subjected to endless chatter about life and it made it so obvious that she was unhappy. The new songs sounded as if they were created on the spot and of course, there were the tears. It just didn't make any sense why this young lady was so unhappy. And why did every interview have to deal with her "letting go" and what was with the new dull and bland look? She said that she was being guided by a spiritual leader and she was shedding negativity. Then she had the nerve to charge ridiculous prices for her work on her website. Hmm... so much for being humbled now that we've found a higher plane, eh?

When Dave Chappelle hosted his block party in Brooklyn in 2004, the highlight was a Fugee reunion. Yes, it made headlines but for some reason, it seemed like it wasn't genuine. In the summer of 2005, they made an appearance on the "BET Awards" that had some people scratching their heads and wondering what was up with Lauryn's appearance. She wore a Carol Channing-like wig and a ruffled shirt and looked as if she missed a few meals. Her singing was off key and the chemistry between the group members was null and void. They gave some lame excuse as to why the performance wasn't so great without acknowledging the truth: it's over.

Really, who wants to buy a 2006 Lauryn Hill? After she's dogged out everything and swore that she wanted nothing to do with "that" lifetsyle, why should I take her serious now? The stories of how she treats people is legendary: not allowing eye contact and talking down to folks. Talk of a new Fugee CD? This is a joke, right? The Black Eyed Peas picked up where they left off.

I bought "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." I'm sorry, but I just can't dig "The Misdirection of Lauryn Hill," too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Entertainment Year in Review - 2005

As the year winds down to a close, let's take a look back on some of the highlights of the entertainment world:

1.) The Michael Jackson Verdict - During the course of this bullshit trial, we learned that MJ is about as thugged out as the rest of us: he cusses like a sailor, watches porn, and still got Lisa Marie sprung. In the end, Money Mike made out like a bandit and is still counting that Beatle dough. Respect his gangsta, beeyotch!

2.) The Mass Commercialization of 50 Cent - It all started with a beef to sell some records, then a much publicized feud with his label-mate, The Game. He signed has-beens M.O.P. and now has former Shiny Suit Man Ma$e shouting "GGGG-Unit!" There was the VitaminWater, the video game, and that whack ass movie that no one saw for fear of getting shot. Now comes word of a 50 Cent condom. Note to 50: MC Hammer!

3.) Tom Cruise - There comes a time when you just gotta say "what the fuck?" From saying stupid shit in the name of Scientology to dancing on Oprah's couch, Mr. Top Gun has perfected the craft of making an ass of one's self! And by the way, we'll see how long his "marriage" to Katie Holmes will last.

4.) "I'm Just Being Bobby Brown" - This former member of New Edition and late 80's superstar confirmed what we knew all along -- that Whitney Houston is nuttier than squirrel shit! Week after week we all tuned in to see the latest drama unfold in the House of Brown. We loved it; we hated it. "Hell to the naw" became the new catchphrase and "dookie bubble" gave us TMGDI: Too Much Goddamn Information!

5.) Kanye West - After collecting some Grammy gold, "The College Dropout" snatched Common from "The Electric Circus" and blessed his fellow Chitown homie with the hip-hop classic, "Be." Not stopping there, he hit us with "Late Registration" and took the rap world back to the days of consciousness with the immortal words: "George Bush does not care about Black people." Pump ya fist.

6.) Nick and Jessica - With his CD sales going wood and her disastrous "acting" gig in the megaflop "Dukes of Hazzard," it came as no surprise there was trouble in loveland. When these media darlings decided to go their own way, it actually came as a breath of fresh air. I just feel for the poor bastards who spent good money to see her in a pair of cut-offs that were too big for her bony ass!

7.) "Trapped in the Closet Parts 1-12" - This is what happens when you have totally run out of ideas. You go into the studio and just create some shit that is totally a waste of CD soundwaves. Then he had the nerve to go on the VMA's and try to act this crappola out in a one-man production? Sources say there is more to come from Mr. Piss On You.

8.) Janet Jackson Gets Naked - What do you do when you have the most downloaded tittie in internet and TiVo history? You get bucky nekkid, lay in the sun, and play a tune on your ass! All we need now is for Rebbie to show some skin and we'll be good to go!

9.) Thanks For the Support... Love, Superhead - Only in America can you suck some wang and become an instant celebrity. Karrine Steffans, known throughout the hip-hop world as "Superhead," busted nuts and named names. Her book "Confessions of a Video Vixen" became a bestseller and made her a millionaire. The dirt was dug deep and the gossip was good, but did we really need to know about her and Ray J?

10.) "Hustle and Flow" - In a year of Hollywood remakes, next to "Crash" this was one of the most original and entertaining films of the year. It solidified Terrence Howard as a serious actor and had us all singing "whup that trick/yeah/whup that trick/get 'em!"

11.) The Rise of Houston Hip-Hop - The Bayou City became a hot spot as Slim Thug, Paul Wall, and Mike Jones (281-330-2004) took the city to new heights. MTV did a special and folks from all over the country are now feenin' for iced out grills and Timmy Chan's.

12.) Madonna - You know it's sad when your last album sounds like the previous three and the look you are going for has been done to death. The Queen of Re-Invention? Please! Many agree that the whole Kabbalah, children storybook writing version of Madonna has fallen from her high horse.

13.) Dave Chappelle - What happened? One minute we were all walking around saying 'I'm Rick James, bitch!" and singing "The Piss On You Remix" and the next? Son pulled one of those "Eddie and the Cruisers" moves on us. Rumors came from all over. Crazy. Crack. In the end, Dave assured us he was okay. Fame... ain't it a bitch?

14.) Mariah Makes a Comeback - Okay, okay, okay... so she made us all eat our words! "The Emancipation of Mimi" sold millions of units and put Mariah back on the map. Her TV appearances were all cleavage and lip-synching but Mariah showed our asses... or did she?

15.) Puffy/Puff Daddy/P Diddy/Diddy - The self-proclaimed "Black Frank Sinatra" did a horrendous job as host of the VMA's and changed his name to garner some much needed attention for himself. Still pimping the legacy of BIG with a digital "duets" CD that features the late Frank White with Bob Marley and 2Pac. Trust me when I say there is a warm spot in hell reserved for Mr. Combs.

16.) Hick-Hop - Big and Rich, along with a hulking Black man named Cowboy Troy performing rap and country music. Just fucking great! Just what the world needs: Charley Pride and freekin' Hank (Boceephus) Williams Jr rocking Sean John and remaking "Aint Nuthin' But a G Thing!"

17.) Lil Kim in the Big House - This is what happens when keeping it real goes wrong. One of two things will happen for Kim while in the pokey: she comes out hard like Pac or we'll be seeing her dropping verses on TBN.

18.) Destiny Turns Off the Radio - After numerous line-up changes and enough hits to make Mike Tyson envious, the "Bootylicious" trio calls it quits with "Destiny Fulfilled." I got $10 riding that in a few years we'll get "Destiny Returns."

19.) Oprah - The most powereful woman on the planet -- FUCK Condoleeza Rice! Who has so much juice that she can do a broadcast in the offseason? Who has so much clout that she can make you or break you just by saying your name? Who is just so bad that things get done just because Oprah is attached to it? Nuff respect due.

20.) Jigga and Esco Squash Beef - When two of the most important figures in hip-hop came together at this year's "SummerJam," it marked the ending of one of the nastiest vocal feuds in history. Admit it... that was a surprise, eh? Not only was it a great day for the rap community, but we can only imagine the damge these two men would do if they joined forces.

Prince and the Revolution


I have no shame whatsoever about being a Prince fan. Call me what you want, but I love his music with a passion. I always have. Ever since I was that 5-year-old kid who found his mother's vinyl copy of "Dirty Mind" laying on the coffeetable, I have been a major admirer of His Royal Badness. I think I probably have everything he has ever done: bootlegs, live concerts, unreleased projects, rarities, and just about everything in between. His music has pretty much provided the soundtrack to my crazy ass life. I can honestly say that I have seen him through many phases of his career -- from the "Rude Boy" to the unpronounceable glyph, and from "His Royal Badness" to being just Prince all over again. I've been to the concerts, got tickets to the films, bought a lot of merchandise, and have been a faithful supporter of the Man because I admire him so much. As he gets ready to drop his latest project "3121," there is something that bothers the hell out of me: why do people want him to return to the Prince of old?

To be real, I don't think I can get ready for the Prince of old. I have gotten so used to seeing him progress with the times that it would hurt my feelings to see him in a purple trenchcoat. With such monumental pieces of work that include "Purple Rain," "Parade," "Sign O' the Times," and "Diamonds and Pearls," I think it would be a slap in the face to see Prince try to slide down a pole like he did in the "1999" video. People change. The argument that I have made is the gentleman is pushing 50 years of age. He's not 25 anymore. When I went to the "Musicology" tour last year, I didn't go expecting to see him hump the piano or even do a split. I went because I knew that no matter what Prince would play, I was bound to see a great show. And I did. A few times he slithered around on the floor, but that was as raunchy as it got. Even he said that he respects the fact that people bring their children to see his shows. Gone are the days of four letter words and prancing around in his bikini briefs. I see that change. I have witnessed that revolution that unfolded over the years. The question is: why can't some people respect that and move on.

When you see Michael Jackson onstage, you know exactly what he's gonna do. You know that "Wanna Be Startin' Something" will be in the first five songs of his playlist. You know that he will perform "Billie Jean" exactly as he did on "Motown 25." You know he's gonna do that tired routine where he "cries" while singing "She's Out of My Life." He's predictable. The same can be said of Madonna. Here is someone who spent her career reinventing herself, only to fall victim to following everyone else's lead. With Prince, you never know what he's gonna do! Just when you think you're about to hear "When Doves Cry," he goes into "I Wanna Be Your Lover." Or better yet, he might do "Let's Go Crazy" but it will be in a completely different arrangement. See where I am going with this?

Artists have that tendency to change. If they didn't, the majority of their work would be crap because they quit challenging themselves. I agree with Nikka Costa who said "Prince has yet to scrape the bottom of his talents." I think there is that masterpiece that is waiting to be played in our CD players. He almost had us with "Musicology." We're talking about a man who has amassed a body of work that will go unrivaled in this generation's lifetime. No one -- not Britney, Justin, Usher, or Alicia -- will ever garner that type of catalouge that Prince has blessed us with since 1978. The industry is no longer set up to allow an entertainer to flourish like that. And people have the nerve to say they want the Prince of old?

Uh-uh. Look at it like this: Michael Jackson is still chasing "Thriller."