Archive for September, 2008

The Facebook Factor

As Erykah Badu said in her smash cut, Apple Tree from her ’97 debut, Baduizm, “I’d like to dedicate this to all the creative righteous children.”

I’ve recently had the pleasure of reconnecting with mad friends from the creative community. Hustlers, bohos, intellectuals, showmen and women, performers, string pullers, filmmakers and headliners. Shit is heating up.

Until very recently, my long time friend and confidant, former head of Atlantic Records’ Urban Communications, Chrissy Murray was technologically averse. She’s the type, who thinks that returning an e-mail is a problem. At least it used to be that way.

Chrissy is a vet. Broke Jr. Mafia and Lil Kim at the national consumer press level. Introduced me to, Brandy at the very first, Vibe party when she was newly distilled and rocking, I Want To Be Down. Got Jody Watley a, Playboy spread after she was north of 40. She plays hard.

Chrissy’s on sabatical in her beloved, D.C. recuperating from surgery. Everyday is a struggle that she’s winning. Without knowing it, she’s quite inspiring.

A recent reassessment of her relationship to the web has caused a change in her get down. She’s recently acquired; a cordless phone, an i-pod shuffle, an upload of a friend’s entire music library via an external hard drive, a Facebook page and a new outlook on life.



Long time citizens of, Soul City and intimates of the insideplaya will attest to the fact that we are digital networkers with a vengance. We were satisfied with the connective tissue provided by MySpace and our phone.

Indian cover girl, neo-smooth singer and DesiHits.com personality, Manjit Devgun recommended that Facebook was a place to set up an annex for, Soul City. LA actress, Rena Andrews nudged us a bit more toward expanding the city limits in that direction. We mumbled that we’d look into it.

Months passed, questions arose like, “You on it yet?” We were unresponsive.

Conversations with, SAP software consultant and the prettiest lil hustla on the web, The Wirk, included her veiled references to Facebook. We weren’t connecting to it’s hidden promise.



A little over two months ago we filled out a membership application. We scouted a few familiar names. Tentatively we looked at the photos of matured faces from the club days. We looked at our desk top screen wondering if we were having fun yet.

In a conversation with Chrissy, the previously technophobic publicist, she revealed that she had over 180 Facebook contacts.

We asked increduosly, “180 Facebook contacts? You? You think checking your e-mail is a chore.”

Something ugly and diabolical took over . My competitive urge began to take hold.

In another life, I was a decent street ball player. Played a bit of organized ball here and there. Mixed it up along the way with some name Division I kids and a handful of pros. Held my own quite a bit and took advantage of some, who were less prepared.

In the school yard record books, I’ve scored my career 10,000 points. Under the right circumstances, I’ll play for keeps.

My former pick-up game running mate, author, social critic and filmmaker, Nelson George’s examination of the new black athletic aesthetic and b-ball tome, Elevating The Game: Black Men and Basketball is dedicated to me. I like to win.

Sundance Portraits


Inadvertently, Chrissy had set it off. At the time of her revelation, I had eight friends. I had to get busy. I started with the club kids, the former bartenders and door people.

NY nitelife is a world unto itself and I’m a lifetime card carrying member. I scouted the night world crew. Fortunately, I was still welcomed.

Next, the media pros. Label mates from all of the different companies I’d called home, radio jocks and programmers, film people, producers, artists and friends.

Out of the blue we heard from NY artists Erika Cosby and Samantha Keely Smith.

We found film producer, Lauren Lloyd, who’s developing a project about a black female pimp.

Both halves of ’90’s neo-slick dou, Groove Theory, Bryce and Amel found their way on to my list.

Hip hop film vets, Alonzo Brown and Pam Gibson got spots.

Step Up 2: The Streets screenplay writer, Toni Ann Johnson checked in with an inspiring and stimulating phone call after a long absence.



Midwest hustla and entertaiment vet, Livio Harris sent a number and kicked it about some soundtrack that he’s putting together for a feature on Pablo Escobar with NY Roxy vet and Wu Tang associate, Melquan Smith.

The LA Posse, the west coast based production team that produced, LL Cool J’s, Walking With A Panther, the second Def Jam release by the MC that ladies love. It contained the breakthrough ballad, I Need Love. They’re looking for tv opportunities.

Mix show vet, Chuck Chillout checked in.

Chuck’s former selector and current pop mega producer, Salam Remi (Nas, The Fugees, Amy Winehouse) dropped us a line.

Former MTV powerhouse and director for hire, Moses Edinborough wrote.

Progressive soul and hip hop producer, Erik Rico got in touch.

Facebook is a cauldron of opportunity. There’s more going on there than any black barbershop that I’ve ever been in.

Thanks to all the previously mentioned for continually reaffirming my faith in community. Keep it hot!!


shouts to the legendary, Chrissy Murray of CPR Media

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The NY RTB gig is now over and a mini version of the disco truck has convened in Jackson’s Porsche Cayenne Turbo for the ride west back to Manhattan.

Jane Morledge, Manjit, Marcus Logan and yours truly have piled in. Conversation about going further on the party tip is being had. Spots are being discussed. I’ve fallen in with an industrial strength disco crew. Pros.

I’m slightly worried that I could be swept up in the moment and that I may attempt to go to the bitter end. The time of the night when the lights go on and you see what everyboy’s really working with. I can’t do it. I get dropped of at the Hudson hotel. I’m stiil buzzed off rhyme, tequila shots and no sleep. I need to pause.



I crawl into the bed and fall off into a well deserved sleep. I’m a liitle stiff. Partly from the cramped airplane travel, car rides and lack of sleep. Partly because of the memory of seeing NY character actress and local scenester, Lisa Branch moving to hot beats in shorts and a tank top.



When I wake up 10 hours later I reflect on meeting one of the tour’s performers.

In a former life, Jackson managed Lauryn Hill through her triumphant, Grammy winning, Miseducation Of…period. Previously, he’d also been an exec at Def Jam. As we were leaving Jones Beach, an artist that he’d worked with stopped him to show a little love.

The artist is, Meth proudly basking in the glow of the afternoon’s performance. I imagine that he feels like a contender who has just forced the champ to hand his belt over.

As I’m witnessing this exchange, I reflect on Meth’s pivotal performance in the HBO scrambler opera, The Wire. Jackson introduces me and I tell Meth that his show was lethal. It was like he did it for, “Prop Joe.” He smiles and tells Jackson that, “you always introduce me to good people Jay.” He saunters off into the night. Presumably to see how the belt looks.

I’m up, dressed and on the street within an hour. I’m in pursuit of detoxification. I hail a cab and ride over to the lower east side. Bohemian pardise of my youth and now a gentrified enclave for the upwardly mobile.

My destination is the world famous 10th Street Bath House. The hundred year old, ol skool Russian, Turkish sweathouse and massage parlor to bootlegers, thespians, artists, models, finaciers and the hip hop elite.



There are several saunas and steam rooms but the main event is the radiant room. A steam room with stone walls and bleachers where the temperature reaches 140 degrees. This is really the hotness.

I spend four hours regainig some balance and grab a cheesburger from Cozy’s over on Broadway and 8th.

In spirit I’m ambitious but the flesh is weak. I flirt with the idea of clubbing. I decide to get a full night’s rest instead.

I sleep in again and get a call from Jackson about 10am. He went out after he dropped me on Sunday night and spent all of Monday knocked out.

The Ab checks in and suggests lunch. Any place that the food is good and the girl watching is easy. I opt for Jellybean and Carolyn Benitez’s Coffee Shop in Union Sq. They have the reputation for hiring every new and transitioning model in town.



Jackson wants to join us (he can always be counted on to participate in a good meal) so he scoops me in the Porsche. The Ab is at the gym, I’m meeting him at the Chelsea Piers athletic complex.

Jackson is supposed to drop me there while he handles some Mos Def biz. He asks can we stop by the crib for a minute because he’s got a matter to handle. That’s cool with me. I can catch up on e-mail.

As it turns out the matter that needed to be handled is the shipping of his Porsche across country. Jackson is moving his base of operations west as the tour moves there.

He loves beach life and several times over the past few years he has moved out to the Venice Suites to conduct the slimming fast known as the Master Cleanse, work the film community and get away from the New York hustle. He’ll need the truck to do all of this.

I catch a cab, drop Jackson after having gotten the promise that he’ll meet us and I continue to the Piers.

The Ab is pushing a burgundy, G55 Benz truck. I’m reminded that pimpin ain’t easy but it’s fly. Supa Luva Cee and Cassanova Rudd’s classic, Do The James is pumping.

I’m pleased to see that the hiring standards at the Coffe Shop have been adhered to. We’re seated outside.

A state of the art B-Boy producer slides up to our table with an Obama shirt and begins to try and figure out how he can get his beats heard. His name is Archive. I suspect there are some loops involved in his production style. A passerby yells out that they love The Ab’s new single. Jackson arrives.

We’re chopping it up when The Ab and Jackson both suggest that I need to go to LA with the tour. I don’t hesitate, I’m in.

We get the check and I say goodbye to Carolyn and congratulate her on the good judgement she showed in hiring our waitress.

I’ve got a plane to catch and The Ab is giving me a ride back to the Hudson. Before we get there we take the scenic route. We ride through the meat packing district, past 1 OAK and a few other points of interest.

We post up, up the block from the hotel and Light, long time Tribe road manager is walking west on 58th. He jumps in the truck and I get a sneak preview of the new Q-Tip solo project, The Renaissance. His contemporary look and tribute to the hip hop of the past.

I heard a few tracks. Rapahael Saadiq, D’Angelo and others are featured. The burner features a Norah Jones vocal called, Life Is Better. A mid-tempo smash that’s a love letter to hip hop and assures the listener that his life was improved after he discovered hip hop. A classic.

My driver is waiting for me and I get a ride to Newark Airport. I am on my way back to Charlotte for 3 nights before I pick up the thread in LA.

to be continued


shouts to the 10th Street Crew, Shacazia Brown, Karuna, Isabel, Doc and…The Wirk

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My driver is at my door in Charlotte at 4:30 am Friday August, 9th. I’m catching a 6:30am Continental flt to LA.

The American Black Filmakers Festival is having their annual event in LA this weekend and they’ve sucked up all of the affordable hotel rooms. This is inconvenient.

The night before, I’d put a call into my homegirl, NY born and LA based actress, Rena Andrews. I begin to tell her my problem and she interrupts and says that I’m welcomed to stay with her as long as I need to. She’s got an available couch with all the deluxe accommodations.

I’m good. I’m going to land Friday morning, get a little rest, go to the show on Saturday, hang out Sunday, turn it around and head back east Monday morning.

Continetal does not have their shit together. They’ve got two counter agents working and three plane loads worth of travelers in a line that’s snaking out of the door. I’m due to catch a connection to Cleveland and continue on to LAX.

The 6:30 segment is due in from Buffalo but isn’t going to make it. In order to make good, I’m booked on a non-stop US Air flt. Things are looking up.

It’s a gorgeous southern California morning when I arrive. A driver meets me at LAX and takes me over to Rena’s. She’s situated quite nicely in my old neighborhood, the Miracle Mile section of town.

When I was with Ted Field’s ARTISTdirect label, I lived in the Park La Brea apts. Since I’m a New Yorker and never learned to drive. I used to walk right across Wilshire to my office every morning.

The old AD offices aren’t far from Rena’s. In fact you can see them from her living room windows.

She’s got a beautiful joint. It’s the top of an old style LA duplex. Crazy lighting fixtures, wood floors, french windows, high ceilings, a lesbian roommate, two rabbits named, Peter and George and her grandmother’s piano. Homey.

She’s bright and cheerful and happy to see me. I’m hungry and I suggest Roscoe’s Chicken ‘n Waffles. The classic LA institution where one can see and be seen. I want to go to the Sunset and Gower location because you never know who you’ll run into and the waffles are banging.

Rena is a little finicky on the diet tip. No processed nothing for her. Plus she’s always at fighting weight.

She suggests a local diner called CJ’s. I’d heard of it but had never been. Reports indicate that the grits are real and that pimps bring their workers there after shifts. I wonder if there’s ho cake on the menu.

It’s late morning, there aren’t any obvious gentleman of leisure or their ladies in waiting in effect. Mercifully, there’s more of a family atmosphere. I do the eggs, grits and pancakes. Rena has heuvos something or another. The spot is as advertised.

Later that night, aspiring indy rock goddes, Karuna drops by. She knows that I’m in town and we’ve made plans to link.

She checks in from time to time and seeks career advice. She’s recently completed her self produced, self penned debut cd. She’s big on self reliance.

Rock Goddess Karuna


I’m gonna hear her jawn and then we’re going to meet Jayson Jackson for dinner at a bbq joint over at upscale shopping center, The Grove.

Jayson has mental files of every comfort food spot in the free world. Food and wine are his game. He can talk about the hot Argentinian steak spot in Paris, Chinese in London, 3 star French in northern Cali and burgers and bbq anywhere that allows foot traffic.

The particular joint that we’re eating in tonight is one that I discovered years ago and recommended. Fortunately it meets his high standards.

Karuna shows up dressed every bit as the cool LA rocker chic. She’s rocking a denim mini to very good effect. The music is good too. I’m particularly fond of a power pop ballad, tribute to her deceased father called, Daddy. You can hear more of her at http://www.myspace.com/Karuna.

We meet Jackson at the bbq joint, catch last call, peep the opening Olympic ceremonies and order. Dinner goes well and we decide to take it over to the Chateau Marmont for an after dinner drink.

The Chateau is an old Hollywood joint where Howard Hughes used to hole up and fuck starlets. John Belushi over dosed there and died. Along with rich history and excellent rooms, I hear that they offer exquisite bath robes.

The doorman is a former New Yorker that I recognize from around campus. He smiles, speaks and let’s us right in. The bar manager is a friend. I knock back a martini or two and we close the joint down.

On the way back to the cars we run into action star, Jason Statham and some friends. They’re feelng a bit festive. I stop him for a minute and tell him that I loved him in, The Bank Job. He seems genuinely grateful, gets into a canary yellow Ferrari and bounces.

I hit the couch about three. I’ve invited both Rena and Karuna to tomorrow’s show at the Glen Hellen Pavillion in San Bernadino. I know the girls are gonna love Rock The Bells LA.

to be continued….


shouts to Wayne at Bar Marmont, Eliane Henri, Tony Starks, MF Doom, Chace Infinite and…The Wirk

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I’m watching, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid for the umpteenth time. My favorite film besides Warren Beatty’s, Reds and The Godfather I & II.

The old Redford and Newman vehicle is loosely based on the exploits of the bank robbing duo from the “wild west” period. They terrorized the Wyoming and Oaklahoma territories in the early 20th century. Right before the industrial reovolution. When empires were built by the train barrons.

In the film they rob banks and are so commited to their way of life that they decide to move to Bolivia. In order to continue the practice of their craft. Intstead of giving in to the signs of the times and going straight.

Their hustle is portrayed charmingly with a deft and light comedic touch. They are ruthless without being venal. They are rebelious without promoting anarchy. They are loyal to one another and their way of life. They’re on the come up. They remind me of me and my friends who were involved in the early hip hop business.

There’s one who is heavy on my mind this evening. Uptown Records founder, chairman and CEO, Andre Harrell.



Andre had been half of early black fab rap duo, Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. In an era when rap groups wore coon skin caps and leather pants, Jeckyl and Hyde wore suits.

He’d also had a day job selling air time for NY am gospel outlet, WWRL. Frustration with the radio exec game led him to quit his day gig and enter the entertainment world full time as VP of Russell Simmons’ Rush Productions, the management and production arm of the early Simmons empire.

Andre, Russell and I did the NY clubs with regularity. Russell and I did the downtown set; Roxy, Danceteria, Area, Palladium, The World, Nells, Save The Robots, Rolladex, Home, Mobile Home and on and on. Anywhere you could find a punk rock kid liseting to a rap record.

Andre joined us on occassion but his regular track was the NY r & b set; Leviticus, Bentley’s, The Silver Shadow and The Red Parrot. He also knew every soul food joint in the city.

The world of the downtown alternative experience led to the creative direction of, Run/DMC. Later it led to the direction of, The Beastie Boys and LL Cool J. The first two signings to Russell and Rick Rubin’s Def Jam Recordings.

Andre’s scouting of the NY r & b scene led to the direction for his Uptown/MCA Records label. Where he found the first home of the “new jack swing.” The music poularized by, Teddy Reily, Keith Sweat, Bobby Brown and Uptown artists, Heavy D, Guy and Al B. Sure!. He eventually signed Jodeci, Mary J. Blige and hired, Diddy, giving the young mogul his start in the music business.

While in his position at Rush, Andre convinced Russell to hire me as the first director of promotion at Def Jam. When he started Uptown he took me with him as his right hand. He briefly became CEO of the moribund mid ’90’s Motown. He was unsuccessful in reviving the label.

Years ago while debating some current issue in the music business in front of Andre, I deferred to someone else’s oppinion. Later on, it turned out I was right. He said to me, “Don’t you realize how much of an inside playa you are?”

Last year Andre was inducted into the VH-1 Hip Hop Hall of Fame in recognition of his contribution to the game. He is quoted on tape saying that all he wanted to do was “put a little champagne in the game.”

I received several calls tonight about my old friend. He’s recently been suffering from a bout of walking pneumonia and two of his heart valves have been damaged.

Saturday night his old intern, Diddy went by his Manhattan apt to check up on his mentor and discovered him in a dire state. He rushed him to Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Tomorrow morning Andre Harrell will be going through an open heart procedure to replace his damaged valves. We pray for his recovery and tonight we reflect on the era of Dr. Jeckyl and his “Champagne Of Rap.”

Get well soon Doc.


shouts to Wendy Credle, Go Beverly, Pam Gibson, Rush, Alonzo Brown, Jimmy Love and Nelson George

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Musically, the earliest hip hop records were dominated by one direction: A hit black dance record would break out of the clubs, emerge on the charts and a few months later, some colorfully named crew from NY would “cover” the track and spit their joint over the top of it.

The Funky 4 +1 rhymed over, Frankie Beverly’s. Before I Let Go. The Jazzy 5 hit over, Gwen McRae’s, Funky Sensation. The Sugarhill Gang destroyed the game while spitting on the CHIC classic, Good Times.

This was changed to a large degree by Russell Simmons with his interest in original production. First, thru his management client, Kurtis Blow’s, Christmas Rapping and The Breaks. Later, thru his production of, Jimmy Spicer’s, Dollar Bill and most famously with his little brother’s group, Run/DMC.



Later in the decade, the music of James Brown and Bob James began to dominate the palate of the hit makers that produced early charting rap records. Until the Native Tongues came along; a loosely affiliated group of young artists who were originally comprised of kids from the outlying burbs of Queens, Long Island, Jersey and London. Queen Latifah, Monie Love, The Jungle Brothers, De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest were on the initial roster.

The “tongues” spoke In opposition to what came before. This crew changed the sound of hip hop by expanding the hit menu that rappers sampled from. By using the more progressive music that was found in their parent’s record collections. Artists like; Steely Dan, Hall and Oates, Funkadelic, Mandrill, Collage, and others began to supply the sounds that these kids used for production. The most progressive of them all were my favorites, A Tribe Called Quest.


Frontman and primary contributor, Q-Tip grew up in the same neighborhood that produced LL Cool J, 50 Cent and Run. He had an older sister who was immersed in the funk and soul of the ’70’s, a father who was a jazz fanatic and a mother who was a back up singer for early r & b singers.

I met him 20 years ago at the classic NY weekly, Soul Kitchen. He engaged me in a discussion of the appreciative differences in the way drum sounds were recorded over the years. A little nerdy, yes, but charming

Tip’s understanding of the fusion and funk recordings of Roy Ayers, Freddie Hubbard, Weather Report, Cal Tjader, Milt Jackson and Minnie Ripperton was well beyond his years. His awareness of the dope underground freestyle scene that was taking hold of New York. His feeling for a hot party jam and his unique lyrical perspective all contributed to his hit making ability and his status as The Abstract Poetic.

Making up the other 3/4 of the original Tribe lineup are, Jarobi, producer dj, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and, The Funky Diabetic, Phife Dog providing rough, rugged and raw counterpoint to Tip’s smooth daddy, downtown persona.

As previously stated, Nas had a record that entered the charts at no.1 two weeks before the show. Tribe hadn’t been on the radio meaningfully since ’98 yet they were headlining. They briefly reunited for a tour in the summer of ’05 but didn’t play NY. This would be the first time that they touched a NYstage in a decade.

Spin.com has an article depicting the struggles of my discovery, D’Angelo that I’m quoted in. The article states that his, Brown Sugar album was the beginning of the neo soul thing. If not for the success of Tribe’s break through, Low End Theory album, I would not have understood the commercial appeal of, D’Angelo’s demo.

Tribe DJ, Ali Shaheed Muhhamad was kind enough to lace me with the a co-writing and co-production of, Brown Sugar.

Tip’s got a solo deal at Motown and a hit that’s moving called, Getting Up. His new album is slated for release on election day ’08. The single references, soulful stand up, vocal harmony group, Black Ivory’s, You And I. An early ’70’s begging jawn that he’s revisited to do a bit of begging of his own. He’s opening for his own band with Mos Def taking a cameo as hype man.

Picture 1


It’s dark and the crowd is going crazy. Tip finishes his twenty minute mini set that features a torrid display by DJ Scratch that includes him taking his shirt off while he’s cutting and Tip and he rotate on the 1 and 2’s.

By now everyone is on their feet and Ali drops the voice of the electronic lady that narrated their, Midnight Marauders album. She introduces the band and it starts to go down.

Bugging Out begins the proceedings and then we are pummeled by hit, after hit, after, hit after hit.

Check The Rhyme, We Got The Jazz, Footprints and on and on. The crowd is taken to fever pitch and then the hottest guest spot of the night. Drama King and prodigal Tounge, Busta Rhymes comes out and takes his star making turn on, Scenario. Then Ali filps it into Busta’s smash, Put Your Hands Where I Can See.

While Scenario is rockin, I run into C-Line. She’s gotten a return call from Faith on her jack. This is the first time that we’ve run into each other in about 9 hrs.

I return the call. Faith is displeased. I try and apologize. She’s having none of it. While she’s riffing, I wonder why she didn’t just come to the building. She would have seen any of 30 people that she knew if she’d gotten to the employee entrance. Faith has forgotten a bit about the hustle from our old club days. I listen a bit more and then remind her that we aren’t married and enough is enough. I hang up.

De La comes out and they all perform the MTV standard, Award Tour. Mercifully it all ends without injury. My clique has put a hurtin on ’em.

After the gig, I checked into the Hudson Hotel. I’ve slept for five of the previous 48 hours. I need a rest.

…to be continued

shouts to Aphrodita, Dan Peisner, Carolyn and Jellybean Benitez, Barry Michael Cooper, Michael Gonzales and… The Wirk

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After about 2 hrs of sleep, Jayson Jackson appeard at my bungalow’s door at 6:00 am sharp. He was ready to make it to the airport, return the rental car and grab an 8:30 flt to Laguardia.

Experience has taught me that, Miami is not the most tolerant of cities. A lot of what was going on under Bautista in the ’50’s is going on 90 miles to the north right now.

To insure as little drama at the airport as possible, I slipped into a cream, linen, 3 button suit and a pair of brown, Louis lace ups. Protective armor for potentially unfriendly encounters.

My itinerary indicated that I was booked on the same flt as Jackson. To my suprise, the ticket agent informed me that I was actually booked on a flt to Kennedy.

This was cool except, I was supposed to meet an old friend. Former Def Jam, Jive and Columbia A & R exec, Faith Newman Orbach. She was flying in from Pittsburgh and expected to meet me at Laguardia not Kennedy.



Faith’s most important discovery and signing, Nas is on the bill again. His untitled release had dropped 2 weeks previously and entered Billboard’s top 200 album chart at no. 1. She originally discovered, the Illmatic one, A & R’d and dropped his first release in ’94. Faith has a bit of vision.

She and I go back to when cotton was king. We met at a triple platinum party for, Billy Ocean on a yacth rented for the evening by, Jive/Arista. I’ve kept up with her career ever since. I’ve got a bit of vision too.

I’m traveling without the benefit of a pda or celly. It’s a bit annoying to friends but it’s cool with me.

The Standard Miami has a tremendous pool scene but shitty internet access. I couldn’t get an e-mail out of the joint to save my life. Jackson’s pda isn’t getting through. Jackson and I split up and I ask him to pick me up at Kennedy. I’m about to have a crisis of Faith.

The flt is cramped and packed as tightly as the A Train at rush hour. I catch a power nap and get ready to view a bit of history.

We landed smoothly. The suit must be cool because Mos Def’s dj’s Rahman and Preservation are making extra sure that my luggage is straight and that they reach out for Jackson for me.

Jayson is outside in his blue, ’06 Porsche Cayenne turbo truck. I haven’t been on NY soil since Super Bowl Sunday ’07. It’s a gorgeous morning and WBLS’s Hal Jackson is playing Herbie Hancock and Bobby Womack classics from the ’70’s. We’re moving toward Jones Beach’s amphitheatre listening to funky soul music. NY is feeling right.





We need to get to the building with the quickness because every act on the bill has got friends, cousins, girls, and kids that need to get in. The guest list is over extended by hundreds.

As we pull up to the employee entrance it’s about noon. Mos Def’s mom, Umi is already in effect with a crew. Jackson’s a bit tense. He drops me off and proceeds to handle his biz.

I change into a pair of Timberland jeans and some shell toes. I run into Tribe security stalwart, Muhammad and he coments that I flipped it from “Wall street” to “125 street.”

Soon as I begin to get into the mix, I run into D prosper. Former G-Unit A & R exec and current manager to “The Chosen One”, Jay Electronica. D is looking “Prosperous” cleanly shaven and well presented. He’s got the look of someone who’s about to jumpoff.



As of this writing, his client, Electronica is the hottest unsigned act in the game. Kid’s from New Orleans with Brooklyn style swagger. Says he’s going to shake the game up and go indy. He’s an internet phenomenon and wildfire in Europe right now. Hot new, DJ Khalil produced, Canadian act, The New Royales is doing an ep with him. Stay tuned.

I make my way back stage and run into DJ Beverly Bond. A funky individual who’s holding down the 1 and 2’s for Dead Prez. Beverly is a former model, actress, dancer and personal trainer. She’s also a one time muse to new jack overlord, Andre Harrell.

Whle watching Beverly dance at a house party that he threw, Harrell came up with the idea for his buppy love, Halle Berry starrer, Strictly Business. Berry’s character was based on Beverly.

Her body has been invaded by hip hop and all the rest just doesn’t seem to matter as much as it used to. She’s working on a documentary idea about discriminatory practices in the hiring of dj’s.



Those of you in the NY metro area can hear her get down at the Hotel Rivington on Sunday afternoons. She’s the goods.

After a quick hello to Beverly, I posted up in the shade at a picnic table in the backstage area. I met a new friend, C-Line. An up and coming exec in the new game.



While I was chilling, free style menace, Supa Nat makes his way over to make sure that It’s really me. He caused irreperable damage at, The New Music Seminar’s, Battle For World Supremacy. An incredible dj and mc batle that was one of the features of the old NY alternative/hip hop music conference.

It must have been about ’92 when he won. Atlantic scooped him up to a big deal but couldn’t quite help him figure him out how to harness that lethal rhyme style into hit jawns.

I liked him early. He remembers and gives me a friendly and warm hello. He’s the host for the tour.

I explain to C-Line my predicament with Faith and she’s kind enough to lend me her jack. I call Faith. No answer. I leave a message.

I catch Dead Prez’s set in the afternoon sun. To my pleasure, I find that it’s still “bigger than” Hip Hop.

Jackson has leased a production trailer for friends and family to chill in. The kind that movie stars are assigned on feature productions. He’s gotten one that would normally be appropriate for someone with billing above the title.

The trailer features a bed, couch, a dressing room, bathroom, fold up chairs, Westchester County’s Stew Leonard’s fried chicken, potato salad, sandwiches, fruit, cookies and a well stocked bar. As previously stated, Jackson takes his hedonistic pleasure seriously.

I’ve been given the duty of programming the music. I’m carrying two i-pods packed to the brim with more jazz, funk, soul, classic hip hop and dance cuts than is advisable.

One is a white 60 gig joint with 5,200 plus items from my own collection. The other, a 80 gig joint with about 4,200 jawns programmed as a gift from, The Ab.

I pop the white one in. Set it to a playlist that features ’80’s and ’70’ funk, dance and club classics. The stage is set.

Jackson’s staff is manning the trailer. Rock The Bells principal, Josh Boumel’s wife, Jonelle. is in the place to be and setting a festive tone from the jump. With a smile as big as the beach of her native Maui and shorts as brief as a single mixed for radio, she’s asking everbody what their name is and making sure that they have a drink.

I’m gassed because my favorite hip hop band of all time, Tribe is having their first NY appearance since a ’98 show in support of, The Love Movement.


Rumors have been spreading that everybody is going first strike capability with the guest shots.

De La is planning to have Biz Markie come out and do, Just A Friend. They’ve already been giving shine to Black Sheep’s Dres so he can rock, The Choice Is Your’s.

Mos Def is bringing, Talib Kweli to revisit the Blackstar period but isn’t about to stop there. He’s threatening to add, The Ruler, Slick Rick to the show as well.

Nas is adding former battle advesary and label mate, Jay-Z to the proceedings.



I’ve run into Eric Sermon and Parish of the legendary, EPMD. Shit is getting serious.

Meanwhile back at the disco trailer…it’s getting thick.

Visitors include; Mobb Deep A & R man, Scott Free and his wife Virgin Mobile exec, Gizelle Jacobs, independent, hip hop marketing genius, Marcus Logan. Former J Records execs, Jef Burroughs and Jane Morledge. Indian Vouge cover subject, Manjit Devgun, swimsuit designer, Sade Lythcott and rock ‘n roll scion, Zoe Kravitz.

Other visitors included; Umi, Q-Tip, Spank Rock, former Olympian, Ed Go Go Lovelace, Miguel Mojica, Corey Smyth and foul mouthed floacist, Amanda Blank.

I’ve been all over the joint. I caught a bit of, Spank Rock’s set at the developing stage. His cohort, Amanda Blank and he are working something new out.

It’s club music based on trashy internet standards. He’s got a jawn about Lindsay Lohan cavorting without her drawers. Vulgar as hell but I like it.

I’ve been back stage again and run into; Busta Rhymes, Prince Paul, noted culture and social critic, Joan Morgan, Raphael Saadiq co-manager, Sophia Chang and Brand Nubuian and House of Pain A & R, Dante Ross. New York is out in force for this one.

The sun is starting to set and after a long afternoon of eating, drinking and networking, I’m settling in to enjoy the show from the house.

…to be continued

Shouts to Faith Newman Orbach, The LA Posse, Phife Dog, Qiana Wallace and…The Wirk

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Nelly is here in Charlotte tonight. MySpace is webcasting his performance from the Neighborhood Theater.

LA video/tv vet, J. Kevin Swain is in town to direct and produce the show. He reached out for me and asked would I like to attend. It sounded appealing. I don’t know any of the MySpace crew and I haven’t hung out with Kevin in years.

I like Nelly. Country Grammar was an innovative joint. As pop records go, it had strong character, flavor and a point of view.

It’s Gettin Hot in Here was the pinnacle of my man Pharrell’s reign of terror on the charts. Nelly is fun. I chose not to go. I’m still nursing my severe case of Rock the Bells Fever.



August 2nd, Miami’s Bayfront Amphitheatre provided the stage for a lineup from hip hop’s glorious golden age. Raekwon, Dead Prez, The Pharcyde, Rakim, Method Man, Redman (with special guest Noreaga) De La Soul, Mos Def, Nas and A Tribe Called Quest all put it down like Allen Carpet. This was where I first began to get flu like symptoms. The show was sick!

The sauna like, Miami in August conditions were unbearable. I sweat through my gear twice. Comparitvely speaking, backstage was mild.

I’ve been a looong time fan and supporter of De La. While serving as National Director of Promotion at Jive, I heard there first joint, Plug Tunning backed with the insane b side, Freedom Of Speak. I immediately knew they were up to something different.

I met them and became an ardent advocate for them in the fledgling NY hip hop community and the greater music industry.

At the time of their debut release, I was working Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s, Parents Just Don’t Understand at mainstrream radio and setting up a national marketing plan for, Blastmaster KRS-1’s, By Any Means Necessary, with it’s street anthems, My Philosophy and Jimmy at college radio and mix shows. I was busy but I could always hear something new.

dj jazzy jeff 4


As a result, when I saw De La’s Plug 1/Posdonous, Plug 2/Trugoy and Plug 3/DJ Mase. It had the flavor of a reunion. 20 years ago they were all 18/19, bohemian and eccentric creative types.

Now they are no less creative but they are all family men approaching 40. Pos has three kids. Tru introduced me to his wife. Mase brought 3 children to meet me and a wife and informed me that his oldest son who was not present, has made him a grandfather. Whew.

On stage, mad mic technicians did their thing. Red and Meth performed as a tandem and crushed. Like their west coast, cannibis influenced counterparts, Cypress they did a show in praise of weed.

The hits played and in the middle of their set, Miami based, boricua bad boy, N.O.R.E. jumped on stage and did his Pharell produced heat rock, Nothin. The house crumbled.



Further near the top of the bill, God’s Son, Nas unveiled his new and more overtly political direction. Cautionary tales about Rupert Murcdoch’s ownership of Fox News and MySpace and the previous generation’s black leadership abounded. As always, when he got down to performing jawns from his ’94 classic, Illmatic, especially, The Q-Tip produced, One Love, he was mesmerizing.

New York character actor, Dominic Chianese played deposed don and James Gandolfini’s, Uncle Junior Soprano on the seminal HBO series. He is also remembered for a small but pivotal role that he played in Godfather II as, Johnny Ola, “Hyman Roth’s sicilian messenger boy.”

As I implied in the previous filing, Miami makes me think about Godfather II. So it was an odd coincidence when I ran into long time NY downtown scenester, club dj, doorman and occasional actor, Dominic Chianese Jr. as we bounced from the show. He wanted to know where the after party was. Funny, no matter how old you get, somebody thinks you know where it’s going down ’til the break of dawn.

Rumor had it that the crew was gathering at Club Nikki. I didn’t attend. I caught a late night cheese steak at Cheeseburger Baby, stopped by The Ab’s suite at The National for a minute and made my way back to The Standard.

It was approaching 3:300 am and I had to get up for an 8:30 am flight to The Apple. I needed a bit of sleep. The Rock The Bells tour was playing New York’s Jones Beach on the next day.

I was going to the birth place of hip hop to see an all day bill filled with NY icons. I wanted to catch that flight.

…to be continued


shouts to, Sade Lythcott, Giada, Manjit, Umi, Jane Morledge, Marcus Logan and…The Wirk

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