The Friday Music News Bootleg

Claire: Please! Please bring Aaron back!
Charlie: Aaron?

-from Wednesday night’s “Lost” season finale”¦only on ABC, check your local listings.

Welcome back to The Bootleg. Many thanks to the readers who pointed out that in over two years on the Bootleg Beat, I never no-showed a column. And, in the last two months, I’ve now no-showed twice. Christ, I’ve become 411’s Joe Reid mixed with a touch of Tayo. True story: that’s actually the Jelly Belly flavor formula for “Ashish”.

Truth be told, I had about 50% of the column done last Thursday night, when I realized a couple of thangs: One, my intro about going to the Snoop Dogg n’ Game How the West was One concert wasn’t reading all that well. And, two”¦the rest of the Goodness was suckin’ equal amounts of ass.

Should I pull these partially completed pieces out of Microsoft mothballs when it’s time to put together the 2005 Best of the Bootleg year-end column? What it lacks in “comedy”, it makes up for with “irony”.

Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a look at the past couple of years, first. In 2003, The Bootleg Family was met with the unexpected news that we were having a baby. On a related note, it might seem funny to replace your girl’s birth control pills with Chiclets, but, trust me”¦there are unforeseen consequences.

In 2004, Baby Bootleg arrived nearly nine weeks ahead of schedule. As far as suprises go, this one did rank pretty high. With a last-second, late season surge of votes, it finished number one at the end of the year on the “Unexpected Blessings” meter, with “four French Fries in my order of onion rings” snagging the silver medal.

So, what kind of life-changing surprise is in store for 2005?

Well, I’m glad I asked, uh, myself.

There are rumors that my current gig as Senior Contract Administrator for a major metropolitan defense contractor may be coming to an end. And, surprisingly, it’s not due to gross incompetence. In fact, the only thing that would be changing is the “major metropolitan” (or “big city” for my readers in Kentucky and parts of southern Ohio) part.

Word on the street is that, by the end of the year, all of the indirect paper-pushing function currently done here in San Diego, will be relocated to”¦Reston, Virginia.

Virginia? Weren’t they one of the gray states during The Civil War, about 150 years ago? Which”¦if my memory of U.S. History is still sound, was just a slightly more tolerant version of the preponderance of “red” states that pockmark our landscape like Craig Mack’s mug today.

OK, OK”¦it is the 21st century, after all. And, I have been out to Northern Virginia on business and found a vibrant professional Black community that stretches all the way up to D.C. and Maryland, before dying off somewhere in Delaware. But, still”¦Virginia?

Where would I go to curb a carne asada craving at 3:00 AM? And, unlike some people, I’ve never wanted to watch TV in a different time zone. I’ve never wanted to visit strange, exotic (exclusively indoor) malls. Out here in Cali, we call our elongated, stretchy sandwiches “subs” and I refuse to start referring to them by Atlantic Coast appellations such as grinders, hoagies or heroes.

Only The Goodness has more meat and cheese swimming in vinegar”¦

Whatever Happened to Hong Kong Phooey?

If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around”¦ I’m not sure if that’s the start of an ancient Chinese proverb, but it damn sure is an accurate end to the (chuckle) “career” of Asian rapper Jin (Tha MC).

He announced his retirement earlier this week and stated that he plans to explore movie and television opportunities. A quick search of the various Vegas betting books shows that his Hollywood odds for superstardom currently rank behind fellow members of the Asian persuasion, such as Margaret Cho and Brandon Lee.

For those of you who’ve never heard of Jin, he was a little like the union of Eminem and MSG. He won a pair of freestyle battles on BET’s insipid 106 & Park program, thereby propelling him into”¦pop culture purgatory.

Oh, he served a purpose. Hell, for a quick minute, he was even something more than a knick-knack or a novelty. But, at the end of the day, rap fans rejected his unique blend of orange chicken and fried rice rhymes, preferring the lyrical, and equally stereotypical favorites of fried chicken and orange rice Slice lines.

Yeah, I said it. Hey, now that Mathan’s gone somebody has to fill the void created by his absence of entertaining race baiting. Kill Whitey.

Lil’ Kim: Exposed! Again.

We are now less than a month away from the sentencing of Kimberly “Lil Kim” Jones. Anticipation? For me, this is how little Kareem must feel on the night before the first night of Kwanzaa mixed with the crotch-cupping two-stepping of the pee-pee dance.

Now comes word that Ms. Black Backfat 2005 could be in even more trouble. Not sure how I missed this story, but it seems that over the last few months, Kim has been filmed by a production crew looking to turn her current life into a reality series.

The footage allegedly includes inflammatory and incendiary commentary from Kim and her defense team, recorded away from the courtroom, that slams the presiding judge in Kim’s perjury trial, as well as the judicial system in general.

The production company, Red Moxie, has been making the media rounds in an effort to urge Kim and her crew to buy back the rights to the tapes”¦which she signed over”¦to Red Moxie.

Speaking of Black women on TV”¦I think it’s time to do something about Wanda Sykes. Who does this bitch know at HBO? I can just not watch her in the network’s hourly airings of Pootie Tang. But, there she is on Curb Your Enthusiasm. And, again on Inside the NFL. Yet, again on Bob Costas’ Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel Remix.

And, that voice”¦think Tom & Jerry’s offensive cartoon caricature of the Black maid meeting modern day.

Who’ll Be the Next Ellen Cleghorne?

Two weeks from today, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs will attempt to wring out the last few drops from TV’s over-saturated urban comedy market. So, if you’re like me and can’t get enough of BET’s Comic View or have ever signed one of those on-line petitions to bring back Def Comic Jam“¦you’re in luck!

On June 10, HBO (yes”¦them again) will premiere P. Diddy Presents”¦The Bad Boys of Comedy. Fortunately, the show’s only been afforded a nine-week run. And, using The Sopranos and Six Feet Under as the standards”¦season two won’t run until 2007.

Hmmm”¦maybe I should give ol’ Diddy a chance, though. If nothing else, the unintentional comedy looks to be off the charts. I mean”¦Diddy has tabbed himself to host the weekly proceedings. Hecklers unite! (“Can you show David Spade how to capitalize on the death of his fatter, more talented friend?”)

And, look”¦Doug E. Fresh will introduce each act. On the one hand, this is the right role for rappers with rigormortis. On the other hand, this brutha’s six minutes ran out around the time that Slick Rick still had two eyes.

In a press release, Diddy compared his cavalcade of comedians to Richard Pryor. Diddy = understated, kids. If these guys are Richard Pryor, let’s hope someone forgets the fire extinguisher. Oh, burn!

You Know It’s The Mack Militant”¦

A few years ago, I think it was Boston Red Sox OF/malingerer Manny Ramirez who stirred up a minor controversy when he chose Styles P.’s weed-loving opus Good Times as his walking-to-the-plate theme music. Well, Styles is back and this time he’s bringing the controversy! His new single, I’m Black, has reportedly been banned from most major market urban radio outlets. At issue is the following lyric:

“I’m Black/Even though my skin’s kinda light
That means my ancestors was raped by somebody white”¦”

Yeah”¦couple of things here. First, it’s obvious that Styles won’t be qualifying for this year’s National Grammar Rodeo at the Sheraton Hotel in Canada. Second”¦well, the whole ancestral sexual assault thing seems to be a paper cut among my people that just won’t heal.

Can we not learn from Denise, the lightest-complexioned of The Cosby Kids? While we never actually saw the flashback episode where Mrs. Huxtable crossed into Diana Ross, I think it’s safe to say that Denise still turned out”¦wait a minute. Wasn’t she the Cosby offspring that dropped out of college, then ended up naked and reeking of panda love after a nude scene with Mickey Rourke, for God’s sake?

At least the final few seasons of going-thru-puberty Rudy could just wax away her mustache”¦naked Mickey Rourke just kills careers. Just ask Kim Basinger. Umm”¦but make sure you ask her before or after her Oscar-winning turn in L.A. Confidential. Not during.

Seriously, I’d Rather Watch Jimmy Kimmel”¦No, I Wouldn’t

Jay Leno and the phrase “tired comedy” know each other quite well and their familiarity has little to do with the late night start time of The Tonight Show. A few nights ago, he riffed on Reverend Run of Run-DMC and the preacher man’s new reality show:

“I hear he’s getting his own Osbourne-style reality show on MTV. A rapper reality show? I think it’s called “Just Shoot Me”.

Jeez”¦you’d think one Black staff member (Kevin Eubanks? Nah, keep looking) could’ve stood up, spoke out and said, “Jam Master Jay”¦Run-DMC”¦shot and killed three years ago.” Rap fans are, shockingly, up in arms over this insensitive salvo and that’s a good thing, because it’s been days since they’ve had a quasi-controversy to glom on to.

With all due respect to Big L, Soulja Slim, Mausberg, JMJ and every other rapper that’s been shot and killed since Biggie bought the (fat) farm in 1997″¦the media probably has plenty of punch lines left. 50 Cent and his ubiquitous bulletproof vest”¦the weekly firing range outside of Hot 97 FM radio in New York”¦John Cena getting stabbed in the kayfabe kidney. It’s only the absurd that seems to be heard.

Speaking of which, I hear Cena’s album is finally out. Now, that’s segue.

Sometimes The News Just Writes Itself

Motley Crue (sorry, no time for umlauts) is suing NBC after the network “banned” the group from the NBC airwaves, earlier this year. Those of us you who were home for New Year’s Eve probably caught Vince Neil wishing us all a “Happy F’n New Year” on the celebratory Tonight Show telecast.

In an obviously preemptive strike to placate the FCC, NBC dutifully denounced the f-word that made it out to all the virgin ears that are open past midnight. They also yanked Motley Crue’s bookings from Conan O’Brien, Carson Daly and The Today Show. And, Motley Crue is suing.

Just a thought for these withered white warblers”¦the F-word is only fun for 14-year-olds (safely out of mommy’s earshot) and the staff of IP Sports. At least, the kids grow out of it unless, of course, they start writing for”¦well, you get the idea. All I ask is that you remember this ridiculousness the next time Johnnie Cochran takes a high-profile case based solely on discrimination by race.

Yeah, yeah, yeah”¦but the only other African-American attorney I know is the one who defended Tom Hanks in Philadelphia and his clients tend to die a horrible death at the end of the third act, so who’d hire him?

Nick’a Please
conceptualized by Nick Salemi

I’ve been gone for a minute, leaving Aaron scrambling to find a way to fill my six paragraphs a week while I was off trying to get my head straight in South Africa.

2005 is fast approaching its halfway point and what do we have to show for it so far? OK, let’s not get into that. How about asking how many good Hip Hop albums have dropped so far? Truth be told, not that many. However, this week we finally got the long anticipated 6th album from Chi-Town’s Common, Be. In the worst kept secret ever, Kanye West executive produced the album and, in total, 9 out of the lean and mean 11 tracks on the disc.

I really love to see a true MC, that’s kind of started to fade get the kind of production that they deserve. Com’s got a long Hip Hop history and has been both highly acclaimed and reviled but his skills have never been in doubt.

It’s probably a bit much to call Be his best work ever, but it’s close. How many Hip Hop artists even get to have six albums to choose from? No doubt Com is a talented MC, and it’s clear he’s getting a chance, through his connection to Kanye, to get a real chance to shine.

With only 11 tracks, a little song by song analysis is no problem here”¦

Be (Intro)

The title track and intro is criminally short. An extended version of this track should be the new single. Just an awesome combo of lyric’s and Kanye’s well known soul sample production.

The Corner

The first single debuting the Common and Kanye combination. Com’s flow hasn’t lost a step here and heads were right to expect heat with a single like this dropping before the album’s release. I’m not crazy about the Last Poets spoken word after the hook, but whatever. I understand it drives home the point and theme of the song. No legitimate complaints here.

GO!

Com’s “for the ladies joint” is on the weak side, as Kanye’s lame hook kind of detracts but the beat is OK. Probably the worst song on the album.

Faithful

The sped up vocal samples are getting a little too common (HA!) at this point but the piano loop that accompanies it makes it still hot. This is the typical song that Com gets both love and hate for.

Testify

Com’s storytelling tale of a court case with twists and turns resulting in a set up. This one is a textbook Kanye sample, but Common really tells the story well in fewer bars. Quick and to the point, the sample on the hook doesn’t have the chance to get annoying with the whole song clocking in at a little over 2 and a half minutes.

Love Is…

One of the two tracks produced by longtime Com-collaborator Dilla, he brings the heat so as to not get outdone by Mr. Jesus Walks. The track is exactly what you’d think it would be as far as content, so beware.

Chi-City

Straight up battle rap by Com showing he can still outrap half these cats in the game today. Absolutely blazin. No question about this one.

The Food

This is a recording of the track performed live on Chappelle’s Show last year and what started the whole buzz of Common and Kanye working together. I loved this when it first dropped and I would have liked them to have made a regular studio version, but hey that’s nitpicking.

Real People

Another soulful piece by the dynamic Chicago duo. Sounds like an old school Pete Rock and CL Smooth joint. He can be a bit full of himself sometimes but hey, who in rap isn’t? It’s part of the game.

They Say

John Legend drops the hook on this joint and Kanye lends a “Kanyeish” verse which shows why some people are getting tired of him, but truth be told, it doesn’t kill the song and Com’s rhymes are so well constructed (the third verse in particular) and ride the beat so perfectly that you really have to listen to it twice to appreciate it.

It’s Your World

More Dilla Produced goodness. He ends the disc with a bang. It fits right in with the rest of the album with a seamless flow content wise and musically.

What Com gave us here is a complete album, not a collection of songs produced by 20 different producers. That’s fine in some instances, but it’s nice to hear an album that has its own sound that sounds like a whole piece of work and at 11 tracks it’s not overly long or saturated with filler tracks.

And like it or not, y’all have Kanye to thank for that. I admit that in general, I dig Kanye’s production, as I’m a sucker for soul samples, but don’t hate on him if you hate him as an MC, the production is superb.

As for Common, the criticisms have always been that he’s his own biggest fan and too preachy. I say don’t worry about any of that nonsense, just enjoy how great the album is flow-wise and musically. Not many artists can come up with an album this good on their sixth time around, but he’s done it.

Most definitely recommended listening. Peace till next week. Have a good holiday weekend.

General Haberdashery”¦11:47 PM on Thursday Night Edition

No time for wit and/or humor (or haven’t you been reading up to this point?)

Fernandez has vintage footage of Scott Hall that you’d normally have to pay for over on WWE.com. And, the American Idol results are to be believed, Jeff plans to lead the one-man band to bring back Boston Public.

Gloomchen loves her some Madonna. Now, it’s not the same kind of love that Madonna and those little naked Negroes from Truth or Dare shared, but you get a career retrospective to with an unintended upskirt shot.

J.A.M. = the fourth in the line of short-lived novelty writing nicknames for a trio of Inside Pulse and 411 writers.

J is for Movie Joe Reid. He returns from his two-week suspension to craft a column that cuts deep”¦so deep, put your ass to sleep. I’m kidding. It’s Ice Cube, people”¦y’know, It Was a Good Day? In Joe’s own words:

“Certain other sites could certainly take a page out of (411’s) book. A page from the chapter titled “How To Handle a Geek-Friendly Blockbuster Without Getting Editorial Jizzum All Over Your Busy-Ass Layout.” Err, no site in particular. None that you all read, at least.”

Dude, rogerebert.com is SO totally going to kick your ass!

A is for me.

M is Now Hiring. In an effort to keep J.A.M. alive (I’ve already ordered the shirts), we’ve started an open casting call for a J.A.M. worthy colleague. Perhaps, longtime Friend of the Bootleg and Evocator Scourge, Mr. Matthew Michael? He’s got the M’s. In fact, he might be overqualified. Or, maybe he’s just incredibly unlikable. Either way, I don’t like him.

It returns next week. Someone tell Johnny Damon and the Desperate Housewives to stay home from work. Meanwhile, get at me on AOL or Yahoo IM: ajcameron13

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