An Obligatory Erykah Badu Post

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days, you’ve probably seen Erykah Badu’s controversial video, “Window Seat,” the lead single from her latest album New Amerykah Part 2: The Return of the Ankh.

In my opinion, I think the video and the album are just aight. What I’ve found to be more interesting than the video (and the album) is the discourse about it.  It’s amazing, with this video E.Badu has everyone talking.  Whether they are decrying her nakedness and guerilla video shooting tactics or praising her protruding posterior, everyone has an opinion. According to google, there are over 1,000+ news articles referencing the video. I can’t imagine the number of blogs (including this one) on the subject. And of course there is this entertaining post on Erykah Badu-affiliated site www.okayplayer.com. And then just in case I was living under a rock, @abc tweeted me about the video. I mean, damn.  You can’t buy this kind of publicity.

So back to the actual video.

Via twitter E. Badu (fatbellybella) states that the purpose of the video is: “@fatbellybella character assassination due to mob mentality/ groupthink is the theme of the window seat video . The message is encoded.”

I aint really get any of that from her video, I just thought it was a brilliant marketing/media move. That’s not an indictment; I just didn’t find anything sublime about strip strolling to the JFK assassination X.  The only thing I felt about the video is annoyed that a dope ass song like “Window Seat” is going to take a distant second to its own video. Tragic.

On a related note, if you’re anything like me, I wondered, “Who the hell are Matt & Kim?”  The duo’s music video for “Lessons Learned” featured a strip stroll (and Final Destination-esque video ending) through Times Square. This was Badu’s template and inspiration for the “Window Seat” video. Mystery solved.

As far as the album is concerned, it’s cool. Go get it. My only gripe is it’s always kind of anticlimactic when the single is the best song on the album. The tantamount bright spot is the last track, “Out of My Mind Just in Time” which is a 10-minute brooding soliloquy about the vicissitudes of love. (Think: “Green Eyes” from Mama’s Gun but about Jay Electronica instead of Andre 3000).

But I did think this was kinda cool. The good people over at Frolab have already put out this compilation of all the original samples used for New Amerykah. I could hear the Eddie Kendricks and Sylvia Striplin, but didn’t know the Wings sample. I love the internets. (Thanx QW for putting me on.)

In the end, this quote from the LA Times pretty much sums it up for me:

“New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh” is a velvety, but still appealingly odd, exploration that feels more like a casual counterweight than a heady sequel.”

I’m out. Look for me, I’ll be strip strolling in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center…

This is Not My Mama’s Dissertation

Of course this won’t be my mama’s dissertation, she’s got her own and I’m certain she doesn’t want the hell of writing another one. But in my many conversations with her, the differences between our researching and writing experiences are always apparent. While the Doctorate of Philosophy Degree will always be about thoughts and ideas, technology has greatly changed how we find, exchange, and articulate those ideas.

Most of our chats about my dissertation aren’t about the subject matter as much as my either bemoaning the woes or singing the praises of technology’s impact on the process of getting this thing done. She’s amazed at how I can sit in my bed search, read, save, and mark up dissertations and journal articles from around the world. All this information with just a laptop, and internet connection, and access to IUB’s many e-databases. (I can’t imagine life without JSTOR, AnthroSource and Proquest!) Meanwhile, my mama recounts stories of sifting through the card catalog (remember those & the Dewey Decimal System?) and waiting patiently for dissertations to arrive via inter-library loan. That’s whoa.

My mama earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from Florida State University in the B.E.D. era (Before Electronic Databases).  She wrote her dissertation on William Wycherley in time when one had to live in Strozier Library day and night looking at microfiche and pouring over journals and books. One of her greatest allies was the reference librarian at Strozier who assisted her with her many inter-library loan requests for hard to find books and documents.  The name, “Mrs. Harris” is very familiar to me as the typist of my mama’s dissertation.

Surely, there are those inhabitants of ABD Land who still prefer to write and research in the hallowed halls of our campuses libraries, or are still on a first name basis with our favorite research librarian, or still prefer to caress the pages of a journal rather than look it up online…Although I can’t think of anyone who’d prefer a typewriter to a computer.

I’m not one of them. I adore the fact that I can’t text, tweet, email, an anonymous person at IU’s library (and get a prompt response). I shout “HALLELUJAH” because my VPN has turned my personal computer into an IU library terminal (even though I’m currently in Atlanta). I rejoice, that my digital library of articles (and even books) weighs only a few pounds which that means I can dissertate from coffee shops, my bed, the couch, a plane, or a beach.

Earlier this week I had google buzz status that said: “Am I the only person who thanx God for things like: being born in the era of washing machines as opposed to washboards?”

There is no doubt that technology has revolutionized the dissertation research and writing process. The convenience of computers and the interent have made certain aspects of the process so easy that it feels like I’m cheating. But there are tradeoffs, with access to endless portals of data, I feel even more responsible to be aware of what everyone has said on my subject, knowing how to search for and sift through information becomes an even more valuable skill (and time-consuming task). And no piece of technology can do the most important (and fun) part, generate the ideas that make my dissertation the original contribution to scholarship that it’s supposed to be.

So “SALUD!” to my mama, and all other B.E.D. Ph.D.’s! You earned your stripes and hopefully I’ll earn mine.

***EPILOGUE***

So after all that praise for technology & whatnot. I went to the Auburn Avenue Library and was assisted by a fantastic reference librarian, Ms. Clark, who went far above and beyond to help me out. She even called this author whose conference paper I couldn’t find. She emailed me later that day and sent me his phone number & his reply.

…but of course I’d already googled him and emailed him myself.

Maybe there’s a happy medium between the two experiences after all.

Five Points: Stone Mountain to Roni Size

***“Five Points.” Named for the heart of the MARTA train lines, it’s a blog where I’ll quickly highlight five random things that I’m thinking about, tech stuff, or some other piece of randomosity.***

1. “Climb Every Mountain, Ford Every Stream?”

Maybe not quite but, for the last few years I’ve been convinced that I really enjoy hiking (although I’d never tried it). I’m happy to report that I was right. I love hiking. It can be incredibly challenging, but it’s SO worth it when you reach your destination. So far, I’ve hiked Stone Mountain twice and I find it to be as mentally and spiritually invigorating as it is physically exhausting. So onward to higher & steeper climbs for me!

2. Procrastination.

It is enemy of kinetic human energy. This little video (thanx NAK) accurately describes my busy days of procrastination. So hold off on those TPS report covers for a couple more minutes and have a good laugh.

3. A Robert Glasper Beat Tape?

Yes please! I LOVE Robert Glasper. Whether it’s straight ahead jazz, the avant-guarde sounds of The Robert Glasper Experiment, his serving as Musical Director for Maxwell’s recent tour, or improvising with Mos Def over Dilla beats, I love it. Now the Canadian homie, Dela, has put together this RG beat tape. God bless Prov!? for sharing this with me.

4. Soul Symphony in DC!

You really need to be here.

5. Roni Size LIVE

I’m a huge Roni Size fan and the homie Jasmine hipped me to this fantastic video via twitter. Post-dissertation, I’d really like to spend some time researching “black” music in London. I’ve been fascinated for years with groups like Loose Ends, Soul II Soul, Caron Wheeler, 4hero, Omar, and many others. But this is a DOPE ASS video of Roni Size with composer William Goodchild and the Emerald Ensemble. Enjoy!

Break! O’Jays “Living for the Weekend”

Yes!

The End is Near!

The end of my dissertation? I wish. But the end of my fieldwork expedition is drawing nigh. I have (in my mind) set an end date for May 31st, which means (in my mind) I want to send a précis to my advisor by April 15th.

All of this deadline setting has given me a renewed sense of urgency and increased my heart rate. My mind is kinda wracked with questions. Like. This is it? This great fieldwork project I’ve been thinking about and planning for years is almost over? Is there even a dissertation lurking in the mounds of data I collected? Did I talk to everyone to whom I should have talked? Sigh.

I mean, I know to a certain extent I’m just sorta buggin’ out. No fieldwork experience is perfect and neither is anyone’s dissertation. But still. This is my dissertation and in my self-absorbed world, that’s what makes the difference. It needs to not only be great, it needs to be right…whatever “right” means.

I have to constantly remind myself that perfection is the enemy of completion. So from somewhere within I’ll find the resolve to sally forth and meet my deadlines and continue my march towards the finish line that is having a dissertation that exists not only in my head, but also on paper!

Excuse my brevity, but clearly I have work to do!

Break! The Humpday Edition

Take a few moments from your day to enjoy some aural stimulation.

Disclaimer: This set may be a little too sensual for your day job, so if you start giving your cubicle neighbor your best “come hither” look, log off and get back to those TPS covers!

First up, Leon Ware who worked with two of my absolute favorite people on two of my absolute favorite albums: Marvin Gaye’s I Want You and Quincy Jones’ Body Heat. “Rockin You Eternally” is such a great song and was remade in 2008 on Jazzanova’s Of All Things album.

Ramp is (was) a funk/jazz group from Ohio who is best known for their work with Roy Ayers on their 1977 album Come Into Knowledge. I’m sure you can place this sample, but here’s the original.

Last, but damn sure not least, I’ve had “Walking in Space” in my head for days. It’s Quincy Jones in 1969.

PS: Perhaps the title of this post was an intended pun?

Five Points: An Online Course I’d Take + Shirley Caesar

***“Five Points.” Named for the heart of the MARTA train lines, it’s a blog where I’ll quickly highlight five random things that I’m thinking about, tech stuff, or some other piece of randomosity.***

1. Sampling Soul LIVE

I’ve already gushed about how dope I think this course is. You’ve got Mark Anthony Neal co-teaching a course with Grammy-Winning producer 9th Wonder. Fab. But now, people like me can watch the webcast? Even better! Nerds like me will be tuning in and jotting down notes for my own future course.

2. Dissertation Purgatory

I haven’t posted in like, two weeks, but I haven’t really been a slacker either. Although my dissertation has a name and a semblance of a skeleton, we’re still in a very unstable place. I feel like I’m making progress,, but it’s the inside-my-head kind of progress as opposed to the on-the-page kind. I think this is a necessary pre-step though, but I’m kinda sorta ready to just be done…like all the way done.

By the way, what do you know about structuration?

3. Red Bull Academy

How dope is this site? Full length interviews with people like Questlove, Bun B, Dam Funk, Dave Matthews, DJ Premier, Derrick May, DJ Toomp, Gilberto Gil, Leon Ware, Nicolay, Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Tony Allen, and countless others. Okay, I was geeking out a bit, but can you blame me?!?

4. Dam Funk Show

Speaking of Dam Funk, he’s gonna be @ The Sound Table tomorrow night. I’m pretty excited about it. I admit, I’m a new follower and was introduced to him through his work with Hollyweerd. Dope ass beats, looking forward to Tuesday night!

5. Shirley Caesar

I’m a HUGE fan of Shirley Caesar. As a kid I used to beg my parents take me to see her “concert” whenever she’d come to town. I knew all the words to “He’s Working It Out (For You)” and “Hold My Mule.” When my grandmother died “I Remember Mama” consoled me. I can’t think of a more talented and preacher/singer. From her beginnings with The Caravans (which included gospel heavyweights Dorothy Norwood, Albertina Walker, James Cleveland and others) until today, Shirley Caesar continues use her undeniable gift of singing, preaching, and evangelizing to reach the transcendent soul in all of us.

PS: I owe you, NAK.

Mama Shirley Live

Sister Shirley Caesar and The Caravans have a reunion