Tuesday, November 10

wale releases attention deficit

For those who frequent the site and have not heard of DMV artist Wale, no worries. Thats why exists. Hailing from the DMV area, Wale burst onto the local scene in 2005 dropping mixtapes (100 Miles and Running, A Mixtape About Nothing, Hate Is The New Love, Back To The Feature) and doing local shows. It was in 2007, where I got a chance to meet Wale through Jabari, and witnessed him perform for the first time. The brother brought the crowd down, and it wasn't long before he translated his mixtape success into being signed by Interscope. Discovered by Mark Ronson, Wale soon began to make appearances on studio albums of major artists such as The Roots. The Howard University community recognized his talent at the outset, and probably collectively represent one of his biggest followings. Parties routinely included his "Dig Dug" and "Breakdown". He has performed at the Yardfest concert the last three years, even filming his video for "Nike Boots" there. Today is the release of his first studio album, Attention Deficit and the beginning of what we hope is a long career. The project features legends (Bun B), the future (J.Cole and K'Naan), and some of the best vocalists out right now (Chrisette Michele, Marsha Ambrosius). Don't take our word for it however, we have provided the skeptics with a preview of this great project. The album is in stores now support our brother!

Wale "Mama Told Me"

Wale "TV In the Radio" featuring K'Naan

Wale "Beautiful Bliss" featuring Melanie Fiona and J.Cole

My brother Jabari interviews Wale

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Tuesday, October 27

cameo headlines howard university's yardfest

The 2009 HU Homecoming Steering Committee provides the old heads with a little reminder of the past. Usually Yardfest includes up and coming artists, however this year the coordinators saw fit to take it back. In their 33rd year of performing, the crowd enjoyed renditions of classics such as "Single Life", "Candy", "She's Strange", and "Word Up!". Here's a glimpse of the hour-long set from Cameo!

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Monday, October 19

philadelphia's rafiya presents: amazing

Got this new track in my inbox the other day. This is from Philly-based Afro-Soul singer Rafiya. The track is called 'Amazing'. Support her, you can find it at itunes. Shouts to Jimmy and 413 Management for the heads up.

Who is Rafiya?

Rafiya was born in Los Angeles to Congolese parents: a diplomat father and a sociologist mother. Due to her father’s career, she traveled extensively during her formative years: living in Congo (Democratic Republic), the Cape Verde Islands, Benin, Senegal, Guinea, Barbados and Ivory Coast. She moved to Philadelphia in 2001 to attend Temple University where she double majored in Sociology and Spanish, and graduated in 2006 with honors.

While attending school full-time in the aforementioned nations, Rafiya found time to work with local artists, absorbing their techniques and wisdom all the while enriching her sound. She has worked with Oscar Kidjo, recorded in Youssou N’Dour’s studio and toured France and North Africa with French rap star, Mokobe.

Every passing collaboration, studio session and performance strengthened her ever-present belief that she would be spending her life making music; making people smile, dance and think.

Rafiya writes and sings about the human experience in French and English but regardless of your native tongue, her passion translates itself in the melody. Parlez-vous Rafiya?

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when and where i enter: paula giddings

book info: published in 1984 by Morrow
author info: Paula Giddings is a professor of African American Studies at Smith College

Anna Julia Cooper. Ida Bell Wells-Barnett. Maria Miller Stewart. Mary Church Terrell. Mary McLoed Betuhune. These are just a few of the names that are mentioned in this important work on the history of Black women in the United States. In her work, Paula Giddings provides a narrative history of the impact of Black women on America and more specifically and importantly the lives of the Black community in America. For whatever reasons, the general history of African people in America is distorted, and this includes many African American women. Giddings begins the process of uncovering some of the stories and struggles of these women in the American context. Well-written and informative, When And Where I Enter is an important piece of scholarship for the casual reader, scholar, as well as the young people in our communities.


"...Black women had already proven their inherent strengths--both physical and psychological. They had undergone a baptism of fire and emerged intact." (pg. 55)

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Wednesday, September 30

david walker's appeal

This past Monday marked the 180th anniversary of the publication of David Walker's Appeal. This was one of the first attempts by an African American to inspire his people to rise up and 'retake their fame'. It was one of the first attempts by an African American to elucidate the inner workings of white supremacy in America. It was one of the first attempts by an African American to brainstorm solutions for Black people. It was a seminal work and work that is to this day still relevant. The four sections of this work include:

David Walker work represents truth, authenticity, and passion. It is a work of great honesty and worth.

This books is available online for free. Check it out here.

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Tuesday, September 29

interview with tolu olorunda

In our latest artist spotlight, we interview Tolu Olorunda. One of the brighter minds in hip-hop and journalism. Olorunda has recently released an instrumental EP entitled, Open Casket which is available for free download (we thank the Brother for that). We at Beats and Books decided we want to know a little more about the brother so we conducted an interview.

BB: Introduce the world to Tolu Olorunda.

TO: I am a cultural critic whose work has appeared on several websites including,,,,, among others. I don't work primarily as a producer, but I did for about three years until early 2008, when I decided to focus more on a career in writing.

BB: What are your earliest influences in music, and in life in general?

TO: My earliest influences in music are varied. But two musicians I grew accustomed to hearing at a young age are Bob Marley and Nas. Life influences would probably be more the guys I hung out with when I skipped class and school. There was an innocence and realness I grew accustomed to in those environments that attracted me. Later on, when I began reading voraciously, I came to understand just why I had more in common outside of than within a controlled classroom setting.

BB: What is the inspiration behind the Open Casket project?

TO: The first 7 beats on the album are the result of a beat battle I engaged in just a couple of months ago. I battled a local producer and thought the beats came out pretty good--more so because, as I prepared for the battle, the creative energy didn't just limit me to battle-style beats. In the process, I created tribute songs to the legacies of icons like Michael Jackson and Mike Tyson. The last three, however, are a random selection from my vast, past catalog--just a small treat from the many beats I created in those three years.

BB: Who did you work with on it?

TO: Nobody. Just Me, Myself, and I. I work solo. That way, full control over the direction of such a project is in my hands. But I credit my whole career to the immortal spirit of J Dilla--in whose work I've found illimitable motivation, drive, diligence, and richness.

BB: What is in your Ipod?

TO: I don't have a Ipod, but my musical library (which includes Vinyls, CDs, and cassette tapes) is as diverse from Odetta to Mos Def, Fela Kuti to Nina Simone, Louis Armstrong to Coltrane, Nas to Carlos Santana, J Dilla to DOOM, Devin the Dude to Z-Ro, Talib Kweli to Pearl Bailey, Pete Rock to Big L, MC Lyte to KRS-One, Michael Jackson to Ray Charles, Ahmad Jamal to Tears for Fears, Joni Mitchell to Muddy Waters, James Brown to Lupe Fiasco, Amir Sulaiman to George Carlin, Femi Kuti to Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin to Brian Eno and David Byrne, and many others without whom I couldn't survive.

BB:Where can fans go to learn more about you and see more of your work?

TO:You can check out,, and

BB:In your opinion, what is the state of African and African American music?

It's in crisis--a severe one. If we don't act now, we would be mortgaging the future of the next generation--abandoning them at the hands of capricious executives who have no respect for our culture or music or artform, who simply see it as an ATM machine. They've made ATM cards out of artists--swiping them at the speed of light. It's not just Hip-Hop. It's every musical creation classifiable as "Black" in the native sense of the word. They've commercialized the sound and re-packaged it as disposable, paper-plate, bubble-gum caricatures of serious art--music at its purest form. For more, see the great documentary, Before the Music Dies.

BB: How do we raise the consciousness of our people through music?

TO: By demanding the labels, media outlets, and artists all stop feeding the public bullsh**. I've written quite extensively about this issue in the last few months, and I plan to keep on doing so for as long as the need remains. Some fans are smart; some aren't. Some fans can see the forest from the trees; some lack the foresight. Some artists are prophetic in their inclination (see Jasiri X, Amir Sulaiman, Asa, M.anifest, K'Naan, Tumi & The Volume, Invincible, Ian Kamau, for young, noteworthy examples); many aren't. But the universal theme in all this is choice and diversity--something major labels seem to lack the intellectual capacity in grasping. So, it's incumbent upon conscientious fans to do the heavy lifting. We have to stop purchasing music that degrades women, promotes promiscuity, and champions materialism above the non-market values--such as Peace, Love, and Unity--that founded, and are at the core of, Hip-Hop culture.

BB:What is next from you?

TO:More wide-ranging, hard-hitting essays, and a book to be released sometime next year.

Thanks for the opportunity. I love the concept of the site: beats and books--two essential tools in my life!

We thank Tolu for a great interview and we encourage everyone to cop the Open Casket EP as well as check out some of the his articles. Its well worth it. Expand your mind!

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Wednesday, September 23

video: happy birthday john coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967)

Celebrating the life and achievements of John William Coltrane. Maa Kheru. Enjoy these videos.

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Tuesday, September 22

music: dv one's "soul girl" mix

If you don't get DJ DV One's newsletters you miss out on gems like this. I will just leave it at that. Here is his "Soul Girl" mix. Listen and Download

From DV One

Whattup ya'll!

LIVE AND DIRECT FROM THE 206.... well for now at least.
Fresh back from Detroit Big Tune... BIg up to all the competitors,
and the winners Apollo Brown, and Frank Dukes! see u at the
finals in ATL. Being in Detroit we took a trip to Hitsville USA.
The birthplace of motown records and many, many soul legends.
It was that visit which was the inspiration for this weeks mix.
This weeks jammy is all abt the soul girl... This one will definitely
have a volume II, maybe a vol. III & IV too... So much good stuff
and more that i didn't even get to add. As always listen, enjoy
and pass along to anyone else u think may be interested.
This is the 27th mix to the collection, so u know its good :)

Until next time....


DV One
Rock Steady Crew
Massive Monkees


Roberta Flack - killing me softly
Margie Joseph - stop in the name of love
Diana Ross - my world is empty
Ten Wheel Drive - aint gonna happen
The Emotions - as long as ive got you
Yvonne Fair - let your hair down
Dawn Penn - no no no
Sister Nancy - bam bam
Booker T & the MGs - children dont get weary
Lyn Collins - take me
Patrice Rushen - where is the love
Marva Whitney - only you
Wendy Rene - after laughter
Minnie Ripperton - adventures in paradise
Marlena Shaw - woman of the ghetto
Lyn Collins - you cant love me if you...
Ella Fitzgerald - sunshine of your love
Vicki Anderson - i want to be in the land of milk & honey
Aretha Franklin - respect
Teena Marie - square biz
Freda Payne - you brought the joy
Thelma Houston - reach out i'll be there
Nicole Willis - feeling free
Cold Blood - i wish i knew

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TONIGHT (9/22) alice smith in los angeles

If you happen to be in Los Angeles, Alice Smith will be doing two surprise shows the next two nights! Get your tickets now! Here's the info:

Hey everybody in LA, Alice here.

Starting TONIGHT I'll be playing 2 surprise shows, opening for Citizen Cope. Tuesday 9/22 is at House of Blues in LA, show starts at 9pm. Wednesday 9/23 is at House of Blues in Anaheim, show starts at at 9pm.

All info is listed below. Tickets available at

Tuesday 9/22
House of Blues LA @ 9pm/Doors 8pm
8430 W Sunset Blvd

Wednesday 9/23
House of Blues Anaheim @ 9pm/Doors 8pm
1530 S Disneyland Dr

Here she is performing "Hey, Yeah":

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Monday, September 14

video: foreign exchange in san fran

The Foreign Exchange collective doin' what they do.

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davey d drops the knowledge

Here's an article that underscored my sentiments about the stupidity of Kanye West, MTV, and last night's show. Shouts to Davey D for putting it more nicely than I would have.

The Phony, Corporate Sponsored Disruptions & Outbursts of Kanye West & Joe Wilson by Davey D

Lemme cut to the chase, Kanye West is phony as was his contrived outburst when he rushed the stage to disrupt an acceptance speech from country singer Taylor Swift, during last night’s MTV Video Music Awards. It was a perfectly executed stunt which was designed to make national headlines (which it did). It was designed to become among the top trending topics in twitter and one of the hot key words in google (which it is). It was obviously designed to take away attention from issues at hand as Kanye’s outburst overshadowed many of the performances and presenters including the Michael Jackson tribute.

Like it or not in 2009, notoriety works and unchecked disruptions, outbursts and controversial statements and gestures are the order of the day especially if you need to do a little bit of ’social engineering’. Kanye rushing the stage at the VMAs was no different than the idiot congressman from South Carolina, Joe Wilson calling President Obama a liar during his speech the other night. It was no different then last month’s so called ’spontaneous’ shouting matches and YouTube ready disruptions during Democratic sponsored healthcare townhall meetings around the country.

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The end results are all the same. People are still talking about Joe Wilson and more importantly his opposition to Obama’s Healthcare plans. It created a huge windfall of donations to the tune of 1 million dollars for his re-election campaign. Lastly, this once obscure congressman is now a national figure and a household name who is seen as a hero in many circles. His notoriety and 15 minutes of fame has gotten him a platform to voice his espouse his opinions and political philosophy.

The disruptions during the healthcare townhalls were obvious game changers. First, it put the Democrats on the defense and allowed a vastly outnumbered Republican party that was in disarray to gain momentum and popularity. It also emboldened a number of people including staunch racists who were frustrated and angry to let loose and grab a seat at the proverbial table.

In the case of Kanye West, people are obviously talking about him and inevitably whatever projects he’s pushing. In a crumbling music industry where personality and branding is whats being sold more than music, the attention Kanye received is extremely valuable. The free publicity is worth millions.

But all this is just part of the story in terms of who benefits. Whether we’re talking about Joe Wilson or Kanye West, they are small cogs on the totem pole. There are larger and more powerful beneficiaries. It could be Health Insurance, leadership in the GOP, Kanye’s record label and MTV/Viacom. The 64 thousand dollar question is what hand did these larger institutions have in these controversies.

Did GOP leaders plan to have Wilson act out during the president’s speech as a strategy to take some shine away and minimize Obama’s persuasive oratory skills? To me, its more than obvious they did. No one seems to be to upset with Wilson. Thus far I’m not hearing about Wilson being removed from any committees. He already said he’s not gonna apologize a second time and it’s not like President Obama is gonna run up and punch him in the face for being disrespectful. In short there’s been no penalty for Wilson breaking the rules as his party has pretty much circled the wagons around him. Wilson and his GOP buddies are relishing in the fact that they were able to reaffirm and in many ways re-established their position as scrappy fighters who are down for the cause of the blue collar man compared to the ‘whimpy’ Democrat.

In the case of the townhall disruptions, we already know that many of these ‘grassroots’ , ’spontaneous’ gatherings were actually orchestrated and seeded by lobbyists and corporations with the main groups being Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity. Expensive PR firms were hired and a strategy was developed instructing people how to systematically disrupt townhalls. This included, spreading out amongst the crowd to give the appearance as being larger in numbers, rattling the sensibilities of a congressperson early on by shouting and aggressively challenging him/her and just generally being disruptive so that what got reported on the evening news was people shouting down the congressperson and not the finer points of healthcare.

Anyone who has ever done commercial radio and been in a ratings war, much of these ‘political’ disruptions are text book. Early on we learned the important lesson of controversy sells. We’ve learned the importance of staging ’spontaneous’ activities including cheering, hissing and booing in such away that the people around you would catch on and join in. ‘That’s all classic social engineering tactics. We learned how to show up at our competitions events and concerts, give up t-shirts, bumper stickers and signs and create the illusions that we were somehow apart of what was deemed exclusively theirs.

This brings us full circle back to Kanye West rushing the stage. because we’ve been inundated with crass disruptive behavior at political events, many of us forgot that this is a hallmark of the music industry. Creating illusions and smoke and mirrors is what we specialize in. Was Kanye’s antics sanctioned and planned by executives at MTV? LOL, last night’s Kanye moment was about as real as the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction several years ago. It was about as real and unscripted as an episode of MTV’s Real World. or even better last night’s Kanye outburst was about as real as the battle for record sales between him and 50 cent two years ago.

This should be more than obvious. By the end of the show MTV had a graph in place to show how Kanye’s disruption was the thing everyone was talking about on twitter? Plus, is Kanye being banned from any radio play? No. Will he be back at the next MTV event or is he banned for life? Hell naw. Will MTV keep showing the clip of Kanye rushing the stage? Hell yeah. This is not the first time he’s acted a fool at these type of events and he’s always invited back. Kanye is playing the role of the late Ole Dirty Bastard who was known for having a number of spontaneous outbursts including rushing the stage during the Grammys, that became seared in our collective memories over the years.

Me personally, I knew Kanye was phony balony when he rushed the stage and proclaimed Beyonce should’ve won without being nervous. That was the scripted Kanye we saw last night. The unscripted Kanye was the one we saw during the Katrina telethon when he said George Bush doesn’t care about Black people. But lets not digress.

Look the bottomline is everyone was in on it. Hell I’m beginning to even think Taylor Swift and Beyonce went along for the ride and had scripted out roles with Beyonce being the gracious sheroe and Smith being the poor victim we all rallied around. No matter the case, scripted or not it all seems to have worked out. Remember this is the same MTV who just a few months ago had us all looking on in shock as Eminem shed his bad boy image to go along with promotional stunt concocted by actor Sacha Barron Cohen dressed in character as Bruno. People were led to believe that Cohen ‘had an accident with his stunt cables and somehow landed in such a way that his ass and nutsack was in Em’s face as he attempted to untangle himself. An enraged Eminem stormed out the building only to have it later revealed it was a stunt he was in on and even rehearsed it.

I guess the bigger and more somber picture to all this is how we are constantly being manipulated. It may start somewhat harmlessly with Kanye West-like stunts at MTV but then it leads up to ’staged’ outburst by ’upset’ lawmakers during a Presidential speech. All of it corporate sponsored and all of this is part of a larger pattern to dumb down the masses and keep a population ill-informed. In the business we call it learned behavior and it allows for people to be easily duped and eventually pimped.

Something to ponder

-Davey D-

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"make me": janet jackson

After being swindled (mostly by Wale and UCB)into watching parts of MTV's gross mis-interpretation of music, art, and the African aestehtic, (the VMAs), the only good thing was seeing Janet Jackson's tribute. Fresh off that performance is this new track, "Make Me", off her upcoming project.

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video: n'dambi 's "can't hardly wait"

Most of us remember, N'dambi from here days as Erykah Badu's backup singer. The song is from her upcoming album, Pink Elephant.

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link to: jay-z's answer the call concert

For those who missed it, Pinboard has provided the full video to the Jay-Z concert last Friday. Check it out here

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Wednesday, September 9

video: jabari interviews raheem devaughn

My man Jabari sits down with Raheem Devaughn to discuss how hip hop influences his music.

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its finally here: q-tip's kamaal/theabstract

For those who were too young (me) to know about this, Q-Tip's Kamaal/The Abstract was originally slated to be released in 2002. But due to what L.A. Reid called "a lack of commercial appeal", it was never released. Certain singles and advance copies eventually saw the light of the day however. After a long battle, Q-Tip got the rights to the project and 7 years later it will finally be released on Battery Records. I may be the only one, but this would have been a welcome precursor to the style of music embodied on Outkast's Love Below/Speakerboxx. The album is slated to be released on September 15th. Support good music yall! Here's a video he produced, and a preview of two of the tracks.

Q-Tip "A Million Times"

Q-Tip "Even If Its So"

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Tuesday, September 8

remembering: marvin gaye + tammi terrell

The best male and female singing duo in the 20th century was undoubtedly Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Their legacy began in 1965 at Motown Records the year Terrell signed to the label. Included in this post are three of their famous hits. However the average music fan is usually not aware that they recorded much more. Within a short span, the duo released the following singles: "Ain't No Mountain High Enough","Your Precious Love","If I Could Build My Whole World Around You" (in 1967), "If This World Were Mine","Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing","You're All I Need to Get By","Keep On Lovin' Me Honey" (in 1968)"You Ain't Livin' Till You're Lovin'","Good Lovin' Ain't Easy to Come By","What You Gave Me","The Onion Song" (in 1969),and "California Soul" (in 1970). Tragically, Terrell's life was cut short at the age of 24, which affected Gaye tremendously, whose own life was cut short at the age of 44. Despite their short careers, the legacy that they left together was nothing short of amazing. So amazing, that we have not and probably will not be able to reproduce anything like it. For history's and for the future's sake, here are three of the aforementioned classic duets.

"Precious Love"

"If I Could Build My Whole World Around You"

"Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing"

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"you got me" (1999): the roots featuring erykah badu and eve

The Roots "You Got Me" (1999)

Believe it or not, this song was my introduction to the Roots. Needless to say, they've been my favorite band ever since. This track also spawned the career of many artists and producers, including Jill Scott, who co-wrote it, Scott Storch , who produced it, and Eve, who is featured as well. It will live on as one of The Roots' greatest hits. In 2000, it won the Grammy for Best Performance by a Rap Group.

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"da art of storytelling pts. 1 and 2 " (1998): outkast

Outkast "Da Art of Storytelling Pt. 1" (1998)

Outkast "Da Art of Storytelling Pt. 2" (1998)

When Aquemini dropped in Septemebr 1998, those who had previously doubted the talent and abilities of Outkast were forever silenced. To deny their lyrical artistry at that point would have been intellectually fraudulent. The high point of that project (according to me), were tracks 9 and 10. The Atlanta-based duo showed that the South had previously and will forever produce hip hop artists that can showcase rhyming at the highest levels. Can't believe this was 11 years ago.

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"ordinary people" (2005): john legend

John Legend 'Ordinary People" (2005)

As fan of the piano, this song is probably one of the more soulful created within the last 5 years. From the debut album of John Legend , Get Lifted, "Ordinary People" is in my opinion a timeless classic because it evokes a tradition grounded in the tradition of Ellington, Monk, and Taylor with a flavor of the new school. I know yall remember it, because it wasn't that long ago. Enjoy.

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Sunday, August 30

the beautiful struggle: ta-nehisi coates

book info: published in 2008 by Spiegel & Grau
author info: Ta-Nehisi Coates is a writer hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. He is the son of Paul Coates, founder of Black Classic Press.

In his memoir, The Beautiful Struggle , Ta-Nehisi Coates eloquently captures the struggles of coming of age in Baltimore in the late 80s and early 90s. The story begins with Coates and his brother Big Bill finding themselves surrounded by a neighborhood posse on their turf. A microcosm of life during the times, Coates explains the perils of life under his father's unorthodox method of raising children, his non-traditional family, and acquiring the "knowledge" in West Baltimore. A cultural gem, this story remembers the genesis of hip-hop, the black nationalist movement (with which is father was involved), and the crack epidemic and response. Supported by their father's burgeoning Black Classic Press, Coates' family was unique in that his father and seven children by four women, yet all of his siblings were a part of his life. Coates also remembers his education both within public school and the African community, as he was initiated into Ankobea in Washington DC. The long road to manhood for the Coates clan would end up in DC, at the Mecca (Howard University), where Paul Coates was able to send them for free as a result of his employment at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.


"To be a black male is to be always at war, and no flight to the county can save us, because even there we are met by the assumption of violence, by the specter of who we might turn on next. I was ravaged by the plague of my fallen old town and reengineered. They took my wings, handed me a blade. I lost so much of myself out there. My dreams shrank into survival and mere dignity and respect. But in my djembe, I found art and my lost imagination, and now from heavy hands to making a drum sing--what more was out there? How far did it all really go?"

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video: the foreign exchange's "house of cards"

The Foreign Exchange video for "House of Cards". One of my favorite songs off the album. If you are on the West Coast, this group has a myriad of shows coming up near you.
Sep 11, 2009 : Someday Lounge, Portland OR
Sep 12, 2009 : Yoshi's, San Francisco CA
Sep 13, 2009 : The Roxy, Los Angeles CA
Sep 14, 2009 : The Roxy, Los Angeles CA
Sep 15, 2009 : Nectar Lounge, Seattle WA
For ticket info: visit their website.

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Wednesday, August 19

video: dwele's "traveling girl"

Dwele official music video for "Traveling Girl".

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Tuesday, August 18

"all night long": john legend, estelle, & ludacris

John Legend + Estelle + Ludacris "All Night Long"

Apparently there is some confusion among the blogosphere about who's track this actually is. We'll just enjoy it til they sort that out. Luda's verse. No comment just a Wow.

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live tonight 8/18: yahzarah and brandon hines at dc's station 9

DC's own Yahzarah and Howard's own Brandon Hines to rock DC's Station 9. TONIGHT! August 18th.

Wine, Dine and Enjoy Great Live R&B Music!

R&B Live DC, a live monthly performance showcase highlighting national, independent and local R&B talent, presents nationally renowned singer Yahzarah August 18th. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Yahzarah attended the Duke Ellington School of Arts before beginning her career singing backup for Erykah Badu. For more information on Yahzarah, please visit

The evening's lineup will begin with a special performance by Patrice Jones of Glenarden, Md., before "Mr. Howard University 2006," Brandon Hines takes the stage. House band Standard will accompany the performers and DJ Bee will be spinning throughout the night.

Doors open at 8 p.m.
Performances start at 9 p.m.
$10 Cover
For dinner reservations or to RSVP for VIP seating call (202) 667-1661

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"if you could see me now" (1946): sarah vaughan

Sarah Vaughan's musical career is one worthy of the highest praise. The "Sassy One" blessed the world for over 47 years with her "wondrous, contralto voice". Her contributions to not only jazz, but music are enduring. Her future legendary status was evident when she recorded this Tadd Dameron-arranged "If You Could See Me Know" in 1946. A Newark, N.J. native, Vaughan captivated the audiences at Harlem's Apollo Theater before captivating the world the rest of her life. This is a timeless classic because it is captivating us to this day. For an in-depth look at her life, please check out Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan:

Sarah Vaughan "If You Could See Me Now" (1946)

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video: miles davis' "human nature"

The homie Monique put me on this last night. I had to share. Miles + Michael. Good stuff.

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Thursday, August 13

"cruisin": usher

Usher "Cruisin'"

This Usher track was recently leaked to the internet. No word on whether or not this will be on his upcoming Monster. Shouts to pinboard for the drop.

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listen to: 88 Keys' Born to Rock Playlist

Imeem recently partnered with 88 Keys to share a playlist featuring some of his influences. Some pretty good tracks on it, including A Tribe Called Quest, Slum Village, and Bilal. Listen to it here .

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video: mpho skeef's "box n' locks"

I hadn't heard of Mpho Skeef until recently. As a recent visitor to South Africa, she reminds me of what I saw while walking around in Cape Town. Anyway here's some more information about here courtesey of Afripop Mag:

"Last I spoke to Mpho Skeef she had an independently released EP called Documented in the cut. For three whole years to have passed and for there to be this much buzz upon her return is unheard of.

Clearly it was time away well spent for the 33-year-old who got hitched, popped a second child and got on with constructing POP Art, her debut disc, which is one out of a five album deal, and an assured first step towards mainstream acclaim. Especially considering its first single Box N Locks produced by Switch (M.I.A) and using the sample for Martha and the Muffins’ 80s new wave number Echo Beach (Martha approves).
Last I spoke to Mpho Skeef she had an independently released EP called Documented in the cut. For three whole years to have passed and for there to be this much buzz upon her return is unheard of.

Clearly it was time away well spent for the 33-year-old who got hitched, popped a second child and got on with constructing POP Art, her debut disc, which is one out of a five album deal, and an assured first step towards mainstream acclaim. Especially considering its first single Box N Locks produced by Switch (M.I.A) and using the sample for Martha and the Muffins’ 80s new wave number Echo Beach (Martha approves)."

I dig. Shouts to blackgirl LAWst for the heads up.

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Wednesday, August 12

video: yahzarah "tickler"

Sexy. According to Yahzarah also known as Purple St. James, this video was leaked by director Tchaiko Omawale today, so she shared it to the world via Twitter. "Tickler" is from the upcoming album, The Ballad of Purple St. James.

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video: eric roberson "she"

We do a lot of spotlights on HU alum, but Eric Roberson is a talent that deserves mention regardless of that fact. Here's his a commercial for the song "She" from his upcoming release, Music Fan First. Out on August 25th and available for pre-order now .

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ledisi is ready to turn it loose

Good news, people. Ledisi is back! Following her 2007 release, Lost and Found which got a 4.5 star rating from, is the album entitled Turn Me Loose. This beautiful album is set to be released on August 18th, and features soulful vocals, creative production, honest lyrics, and positive messages. Her name, Ledisi, is Yoruba meaning "to bring forth", and Ms. Young has brought forth an amazing album. The first single is "Goin Thru Changes". This album features the production of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as well as Rex Rideout, Chucky Thomson and Raphael Saadiq. Ledisi shows her constant ability to interpose genres and sing from the soul with messages about love and preservance, doing so with an irresitible southern charm. Come next Tuesday, we hope you support this wonderful artist. The album is available for pre-order now.

Preview some of the tracks here:

Ledisi "Higher Than This"

Ledisi "Say No"

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bloody lowndes: hasan kwame jeffries

book info: published in 2009 by New York University Press
author info: Hasan Kwame Jeffries is a professor of history at Ohio State University. He is the nephew of Dr. Leonard and Rosalin Jeffries.

During the mania that was the election of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, the euphoria was adamantly expressed by members of the new generation. The energy of young, liberal-minded Americans was felt throughout the country. Some young college-aged African Americans said that they suddenly felt a
sense of entitlement here in America. However very few acknowledged the sacrifice, plight, and struggles of the first African Americans in this country who raised to say "Enough!" and sought political power. This began the moment Africans set foot in the New World. In the contemporary era this was characterized by the Civil Rights era and Black Power movements. An important area of this struggle began in little known Lowndes County, Alabama. In this excellent work, Dr. Hasan Jeffries, recounts the story of the quest for self-determination of the African people living in Lowndes County. Those well-versed in the history of the Black Power movement will remember the story of the Lowndes Country Freedom Organization, aided by Kwame Ture (aka Stokely Carmichael) in the 1960s. This party had as its emblem, the black panther, and was the original Black Panther Party, running a political campaign in Lowndes County. In this book, Jeffries talk about that struggle but gives a succinct history of the region going back to Reconstruction.
The struggle for humanity waged in Lowndes County was characterized by much sacrifice, and we must continue to acknowledge those elders and and ancestors who put their lives on the line for a much greater cause than the election of a Black president. For them, the struggle encompassed a greater aim.

"Thus the obstacles that African Americans sought to overcome in the civil rights era were neither new or short-lived. These harsh restrictions, however, failed to extinguish the desire of African Americans to live autonomous lives. Although the limitations that whites imposed on African Americans, influenced the timing, tactics, and goals of the Lowndes Movement, they were not solely responsible for shaping its contours. Equally important, was the unique understanding of freedom that African Americans developed during slavery, which served as the basis of their post-emancipation political agenda." (pg. 9)

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Tuesday, August 11

the hip hop generation: bakari kitwana

book info: published in 2002, Basic Citivas Books
author: Bakari Kitwana is a journalist, activist and political analyst. For more check out

Hip-hop fans, writers, intellectuals, but most importantly the next generation of torch-bearers...this book is for you. Read it. Understand it. Bakari Kitwana's The Hip Hop Generation is an excellent foray into the world of hip-hop. It chronicles the history of those who influenced the movement, according to him those who were born from 1965-1984. It is framed in two parts. Part one discusses the conditions that caused the crises in African-American culture. While part two, is about confronting these crises. Not merely a narrative about music, Kitwana discusses hip-hop from a standpoint of its social, political, and economic foundations. If we understand all these factors, we get a better understanding of hip-hop. Maybe Oprah and others should take a look as well.


"Both rappers (Notoroius B.I.G. and Tupac) like their peers who saw promise in their short lives, were hip hop generationers--those young African-Americans born between 1965 and 1984 who came of age in the eightes and nineties and share a specific set of values and attitudes. At the core are our thoughts about families, relationships, child rearing, career, racial identity, race relations, and politics." (pg. 4)

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Monday, August 10

the destruction of black civilization: chancellor williams

book info: published in 1974, Third World Press
author: Chancellor Williams (1898-1992) was a historian,scholar, professor, and defender of African humanity.

This treasure is by far one of the most important pieces of scholarship ever. It is the seminal work and foundational contribution to the study of African civilization. In this volume, former HU professor Chancellor Williams chronicles the genesis of African civilization and explains how we got from here.
Discussing not only the ancient kingdoms of Kush and Kemet, but of Axum, Mali, Songhay, Ghana, Monomopata to Kuba, Zimbabwe, and eventually Kongo. Williams covers important events in the history of African people, such as the drying up of the Sahara, the forced migrations (evolutionary as well as oppression-driven), the introduction of Islam and Christianity, and the assault of the maafa. In this work we are re-introduced to important figures such as Candace, Shabaka, Pianki, Shyaam, and Queen Nzinga. Williams puts into context some of the 'missing pages of world history'. We also learn about the origins of the Arab, the Semitic people, and the European as it relates to their dealings with Africa. Also included is the African Constitution, which goes back to Diop's cultural unity of Africa thesis. Williams' work was the culmination of 16 years of field study in Africa. It is important because like works previous to it, such as Dubois' The Negro, it links the African in America with their history to the beginning of time. Williams ends with his all important solution based alternatives for the worldwide African people to explore in response to knowing this history. This timeless classic must reside in your library. This provides unassailable truth and historical clarity that is much needed.


"The necessary re-education of Blacks and a possible solution of racial crises can begin, strangely enough, only when Blacks fully realize this central fact in their lives: The white man is their Bitter Enemy. For this is not the ranting of wild-eyed militancy, but the calm and unmistakable verdict of several thousand years of documented history." (pg 310)

(videos after the jump)

These will expand your mind...

This book is available from black-owned Third World Press

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"dreams:" j.cole featuring brandon hines

J. Cole featuring Brandon Hines "Dreams"

New music from J.Cole, from Jay-Z's Roc Nation. This track appears on the mixtape, The Warmup (free download here). Many are people are ready to crown J. Cole the next big thing in non-dance hip hop. Are you convinced? Featured on the track is Brandon Hines, who many of us HU folks know very well.

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video: t.i. featuring john legend 'slide show'

New vid from T.I. and John Legend. From the album, Paper Trail in stores now.

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Saturday, August 8

video: janelle monae performs "sincerely, jane"

Janelle Monae in this funky version of her hit "Sincerely, Jane". This is from her performance at the Highline Ballroom at the Roots Jam Session.

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video: messiah's "in the AM"

Official video from the new project by Messiah (HU stand up!). One of the best lyricists/poets walking. Support his new project.

from liberator magazine:

Ever since his [Live From Planet Earth Volume 1] contribution and those four Apollo Theatre victories in a row, we've been paying close attention to Messiah Ramkissoon (yes, that's his real name, not his ego). This video (produced + directed by LFPE partner Ron Brodie/DonoR Media) for his new track "In The AM" says much more than I can say. Messiah does a excellent job of blending his personal narrative and perspective with a bit of something that we all can feel. It's important to accept that, because once you do you'll see his gift to tell various stories in one, regardless if you personally relate to each story. And you'll really hear that the track, the chorus... are just magical.

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"million dollar bill": whitney houston

Whitney Houston "Million Dollar Bill"
(produced by Swizz Beatz)

This release from Whitney Houston's new album, I Look To You, due out August 31. Written by Alicia Keys and produced by Swizz Beatz, this utempo groove will be available on August 17th.

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Friday, August 7

slave culture: nationalist theories and the foundation of black america: p. sterling stuckey

book info: published by Oxford University Press (1987)
the author: P. Sterling Stuckey, professor of History University of California, Riverside. Other books include American Nation (series), Want to Be African: Paul Robeson and the Ends of Nationalist Theory and Practice, 1919-1945, and The Ideological Origins of Black Nationalism, among others.

Most studies of slavery in the academy are often marked by a serious disregard for the culture and humanity of people of African descent: the enslaved. We know better, and African-American scholars such as P. Sterling Stuckey have begun the process of looking at the history of slavery in a new way. In Slave Culture Stuckey examines the identity and culture of the enslaved. Taken from many parts of Africa, Stuckey explains how these Africans utilized their commonalities to survive enslavement and forge an identity. Central to his discourse is how nationalism was the by-product of this coming together. Stuckey believes that the Africa antecedent was essential in achieving this unity, a far cry from other theories that scholars have utilized to explain how Africans of seemingly different cultures, languages, and nationalities came together. Stuckey's contribution in this volume is his explication of the "ring shout", a spiritual dance originated in Africa but popularized in the New World that survived generations on this continent. He explains how this dance was the beginnings of a new national identity brought about by the conditions of slavery. Stuckey also devotes much time in this work into discussing figures such as David Walker and Paul Robeson, and how they fit culturally into the discussion. This work remains an important piece to challenge any doubters about the African-ness of Blacks in America and the rest of the world. The cultural unity of Africa can and should be the rallying cry for world-wide unity. This title should be taught in classrooms across America.

(more after the jump)

quote: “Wherever in Africa, the counter-clockwise dance was performed--it is called the ring shout in North America--the dancing and singing was directed to the ancestors and gods, the temple and revolution of the circle quickening during the course of movement. The ring in which Africans danced and sang is the key to understanding the means by which the achieved oneness in America.”(p. 12)

This work was only the beginning, check out Exchanging Our Country Marks by Michael Gomez, for an even more detailed account.

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