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 AllHipHop.com, Alternet.org, BlackCommentator.com, TheDailyVoice.com, TheNation.com, 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 BlackCommentator.com, TheDailyVoice.com, and AllHipHop.com.

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 citizencope.com.

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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