The Friday Music News Bootleg

Welcome back to The Bootleg. Before the birth of my son, Lil’ Boy Bootleg, I could almost guarantee that I would get sick two times a year”¦no more, no less.

The first flu bug would come as the summer months on my daily Dilbert calendar flipped into fall, while the second would arrive as old man winter (Temp: 68″¦but, overcast all day) was shanked by the start of springtime.

Since Jalen arrived, I now get sick about two days after he does which, thanks to the bronchial cocktail of six kids in day care mixed with their uncovered coughs, means that if “something’s going around”, then it went around my Black ass long before it got to you.

In an effort to fight influenza on the front lines, I received my first ever flu shot, earlier this week”¦at my job. And, have I mentioned that we’re a defense contractor? One that’s apparently now authorized to inject its employees with more than the usual weekday dosage of vitamin stuck-in-a-rut.

Sign-ups began at 8:00 AM last Tuesday and, after a quick questionnaire, I was in the chair by 8:05. And, look who I get to share a needle with this week”¦why, it’s my old friend, Mr. Abject Humiliation!

First, a little background: Remember last week, when I insisted that my disdain for airplanes was not an irrational fear? Well, when it comes to n-n-n-needles, I can actually type the way I would say the word in real life. Thankfully, Marsellus Wallace didn’t send me out on the town with his wife, Mia. If she OD’d on my watch, she’d have to get her own damn injection of adrenalin and I’d finish her five-dollar shake, while I waited.

Anyway, on this day, I was obviously wearing my girlish nerves on the sleeve of my dress shirt. So, of course, the first thing they tell me is that I’ll have to take my shirt off, because the long-sleeves won’t roll up far enough.

Now, I’m about six feet tall, with long arms”¦and I buy my undershirts a size or two too small, so that they’re not longer than what I wear over them. Am I the only man in America who does this? I don’t know, but just then, I was the only man in America wearing black slacks and a skin-tight, tagless Hanes white t-shirt that barely covered my belly button.

Hoping to end this embarrassment, I assume the position at Station #3. Without even reading my form, the flu-shot lady says:

“You’ve never had one of these before, have you?”

And, before I can say anything more than “no”, here she goes again with the questions:

“You’re not a fan of needles, right?”

Aw, Christ. C’mon, Cam”¦never let ’em see you sweat. I mean”¦is my apprehension that obvious, or is she reading too far between the lines in an ill-fated attempt to break the ice?

“I can tell you don’t like needles because you’re making a tight fist and flexing your little arm like this is the Mr. Olympia competition.”

Then, following a perfectly placed pause, she adds:

“In the lightweight division.”

“Little arm” and “lightweight”? Had I just been dissed by a nurse’s practitioner? This is someone who’d need two promotions and 10 more years, just so we could call her “Gaylord Focker”, yet this moonlighting school lunch lady had laid out the last bit of dignity I had left.

Whoops”¦I spoke too soon. It seems all first time flu shooters needed to stand off to the side for five minutes to ensure there were no allergic reactions. I’m not sure if my brow, which was now moistened with terror sweat was a symptomatic effect or an anxiety attack, but either way, I was done with faux doctors for the day.

Just remember”¦your injection of Goodness only hurts when you read it.

Believe Me”¦If Anyone Can Relate to This, It’s Me

In a significant step forward in the fight for urban equal rights, this past weekend proved that the bruthas no longer have a lock on acting like assh*les at a Hip Hop award show.

The self-professed “Queen of R&B”, Mary J. Blige, went off on VIBE magazine during the publication’s self-titled ceremony last Saturday. It seems what really peeved her weave was the cover photo of VIBE’s current issue. And, I can’t think of a better place for her to bitch about this than at the magazine’s own award show”¦while on their stage”¦while accepting their “V Legend Award”:

“For so many years, VIBE has given me great, great, great covers, but I must say, I’m very, very disappointed at the cover this time. No disrespect, but I really hated the way you guys (at VIBE) shaved off my head [and] pushed my forehead way back behind my ears. I’m just insulted, so that’s no respect on the cover, but I thank you, and I appreciate this award.”

Hoo Boy! Glad to see her open up with the repetitive adjectives and adverbs approach, which most of us haven’t seen since we were assigned our first 100-word essay in second grade. And, how ’bout that imagery? “Shaved off my head”¦pushed my forehead way back.”

I mean, has there ever been a better unintentional Oz reference? Hell, that pretty much summarizes the sex scenes in each of the first three seasons.

But, what we’re all overlooking is that Mary J. is just man enough to make this look work. “My forehead slopes down with hint of light brown”, could easily come from any of her recent paint-by-numbers, cookie cutter R&B pieces. Or, she could just do a compilation of all of them and call it Chocolate Dolphin.

Make this happen.

Juicy Baked Chicken n’ Bitches

This must be the musical equivalent of the parents who want to get divorced, but have to stay together for the kids. Pop divas Destiny’s Child, who have broken up about ten times in the last two months, performed their latest single, Stand Up for Love, at a Southern California Ronald McDonald House.

The event was in conjunction with both World Children’s Day and the recent PSA that’s been airing on American television, where this lil’ sick boy has to run “home” so he can meet Destiny’s Child and get a hug from Beyonce Knowles. For those of you who haven’t seen it”¦to give credence and credibility to the campaign, the lil’ boy completely ignores the ugly, unnamed other members of Destiny’s Child, while his height means that the “hug” gets his hands in the vicinity of Beyonce’s booty.

These syrupy commercials are almost effective, until one knows what Ms. Knowles usually asks for to appear, pretty much, anywhere. Our friends at TheSmokingGun broke the story over a year ago, but it’s still worth some (unworthy) words from those of us in the underclass.

According to the report, while Beyonce demands HOT food in her dressing room, it’s good know it’s the same things that the field Negroes were not to be fed, back in the day. C’mon”¦name one sista that asks for chicken, but not the neck bones, livers or gizzards.

And, when anyone is asking for a bucket of clean ice (is there any other kind, save for what you might find on a freeway in February?), you’ve officially climbed a new wall of gall. So, remember lil’ sick kids”¦Beyonce is better than you and sleeps with Jay-Z.

So, what”¦is that Karma or Kismet?

Animation, Bad Acting & Costume Jewelry

Paula Abdul is being sued, again. And, before you ask, it’s not for her weird, wooden performance in describing the best looking men of the decade on VH1’s latest I Love the ’80s installment. Nope, this time around a San Diego(!) company is claiming breach of contract as Abdul allegedly signed an exclusive agreement with them to use Abdul’s “Innergy” trademark.

The name brand is built around her line of jewelry which, when worn, promises to extend your career 20 years past its supposed shelf life.

The company in question is claiming that Paula Abdul negotiated several side deals with various retail outlets, including Sam’s Club, in an effort to squeeze out her initial distributor. Sam’s Club? Isn’t that just a low-rent, corn-fed Costco? And, who wouldn’t wanna buy their jewelry from the same store the sells bulk head cheese? Anyways, the only interesting thing here is the name of the company that’s suing Abdul.

They’re called “Pro-Stars”, which probably means nothing to anyone who wasn’t alive to watch the Saturday morning cartoon of the same name back in 1990. Animated athletes Wayne Gretzky, Bo Jackson and a much lighter Michael Jordan fought crime and evil in an era where even the African-American athletes were held in high regard by all.

No, seriously.

Sadly, though, this was pretty much the acting peak for these three. Although, it’s still better than anything Gretzky’s wife ever did (Police Academy, notwithstanding), Bo’s future filmography fizzled out, too and Air Jordan was out-acted by everyone from Theresa Randle to Tweety’s Grandma in Space Jam.

So, That’s Where He’s Been!

Anyone know what 50 Cent is up to these days? Haven’t seen or heard too much from him this month and I’m worried. Thankfully, the good people at Pocket/MTV Books have brought 50 back to the front page with news that the two sides are joining forces to form “G-Unit Books”.

This series of “short books” will run about 100 pages and feature 50, along with labelmates Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks and Olivia, as characters. The press release promises that:

“These tales will tell the truth about ‘The Life'”¦the sex, guns and cash; the brutal highs and short lives of the players on the streets.”

Well, sure”¦I mean it’s not like we haven’t heard enough on these subjects from G-Unit over the years. And, now we’re getting the written word version. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking the exaggerated imagery of these “gritty” street scenes will lose a little something without a plodding, monotonous Eminem beat in the background.

And, to the surprise of absolutely no one, 50 and his crew are only lending their names and likenesses to this effort”¦the real writing will be handled by actual authors. So, let’s all hope that talent like Terry McMillan or Mick Foley are free to turn phrases like “Deez n*ggaz be trippin” and “I’mma f*ck me some b*tches.”

Come on”¦read it out loud in the voice of Mankind and tell me that’s not comedy.

Chicken Fried Fool in Rich Country Gravy

Dirty South lyricist, Ludacris, has caught his share of controversy over the years and now the backlash is coming from Black folk. At last weekend’s VIBE awards, Luda performed while wearing clothing that featured the Confederate flag. The cacophony of criticism that he received led to Ludacris releasing a statement through his label that read, in part:

“The discussions that have been sparked after my performance”¦is my exact reason for wearing [it]. This flag represents the oppression that we as African Americans have endured for years; this is a symbol of segregation and the racism that reigned not only throughout the South but throughout the entire United States. I wore it to represent where we came from, to remind people that Ray Charles’ original ‘Georgia’ was written because of that racism.”

Oh, n*gga, please. I’ll believe that Terrell Owens actually authored those agent-generated “apologies” before I’ll buy a word of anything above. I mean, am I missing something here, because it’s not like National Discourse was the alternate title for Chicken & Beer.

Let me take a stab at speaking the truth for Luda: The Georgia State flag featured the Confederate “stars & bars” up until 2003. Ludacris is from Georgia and in Hip Hop’s increasingly inane ways to identify where one comes from (Area Codes, anyone? “By God, 6-1-9″¦Rey Mysterio drops the dime!”), Luda thought that he’d let people know he’s from Georgia”¦again.

Now, I know that not everyone “gets” the whole repeatedly reppin’ your hood concept (“Hello, Helsinki!”), so let’s break it down with some original dialogue:

“Bart, you have roots in this town and you ought to show respect for it. This town is a part of us all. A part of us all. A part of us all! Sorry to repeat myself, but it’ll help you remember.”

Wow, that does work!

Sometimes the News Just Writes Itself

In my entire life, I’ve never been to anybody’s bat mitzvah. In fact, the closest I’ve ever gotten was watching Vince Vaughn’s fictitious daughter come of age in last year’s Starsky & Hutch movie. While that scene ends with a horse’s homicide, this story starts with someone just as grotesque.

Embattled Murder Inc. affiliates Ja Rule and Ashanti headlined a bat mitzvah in Miami last weekend. Little Amber Ridinger, 13, is an eighth-grader at a posh private school with parents who prove you can buy a child’s love. Yet, unlike the modern-day kiddie commerce commensurate with white slavery rings, there’s nothing funny about this.

Richie Bitch’s birthday budget was $500,000, which included a Dolce & Gabbana gown for the Druish princess, along with a guest list that included New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza and his life partner, Alicia Rickter, former Playboy playmate Brande Roderick and future Mr. Nicole Ritchie, DJ AM.

Good to see that half a million dollars still generates A-list talent, no?

Lucky for Amber, the ESPY Awards weren’t that same weekend or else the guest list might’ve just been her, her parents (Mr. & Mrs. Schlomo Ridinger) and the feculent stench of their own self-entitlement. Anyways, back to Ja Rule”¦he explained his presence at the event:

“I’m Uncle Ja. I’m really here just to scare all the little boys”¦the little 13-year-old bad boys that try to hit on little Amber. That’s why I’m here.”

She-e-e-e-e-t, Negro”¦can you spell “overqualified”? Oh, right”¦well, can you pronounce it? Any man whose nostrils actually arch outward at 60 degree angles, like an inverted isosceles triangle, is guaranteed to scare everybody.

In geometry, it’s called the Dionne Warwick theorem.

Nick’a Please
conceptualized by Nick Salemi

I’ve been MIA from the Bootleg for a minute, while Aaron has held it down solo (how has he survived?), so to make up for lost time I have two new reviews ready to go. The reviews include artists that reside in the furthest ends of the Hip Hop spectrum from one another.

Without further ado”¦

Danger Doom (MF Doom and Danger Mouse)-The Mouse and the Mask Review

The Inside Pulse:
MF Doom, he of the multiple personalities, is Hip Hop’s underground superhero and anti-hero. He most recently collaborated with Madlib for 2004’s Madvilliany (a disc that AJC and I were raked over the coals for not reviewing last year) and he returns for his latest offering with Dangermouse as his tag team partner.

To those who are unaware, Danger Mouse is the underground producer extraordinaire who became famous for his remix of Jay-Z ‘s The Black Album that meshed Jigga’s vocals and the Beatles White Album to form The Grey Album.

Mix them together with the characters of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force cartoon series and you’ve got yourself an eclectic mix of Hip Hop. In all honesty, I had never listened to an entire album from Doom, for whatever reason. While listening to the disc in my car I switched to the radio for a second and heard some godforsaken excuse for Hip Hop blaring on a local “blazin Hip Hop and R&B station” and realized, truly, what his appeal is.

Doom (and Mouse) are the polar opposite of anything commercial and, believe me, that’s a good thing. I realize this is not a mind-blowing revelation, but to hear it side-by-side with awful processed radio rap was quite telling. Somehow the phrase, “backpacker favorite” is looked at with the reverence of tuberculosis quarantine these days, but I would think this is what most would categorize this as. Screw descriptive labels like “backpacker” and the dreaded “gangsta”, just check it out.

Positives:
The production is top notch. MCs should be strangling each other over the right to get Dangermouse to produce a track for them. Standout tracks are El Chupa Nibre, which starts the disc off on the right track. Basket Case features a Pete Rock-esque sounding beat to go with Doom’s trademark flow. Surprisingly two of the better songs on the disc feature other artists. The Mask, featuring Ghostface Killa, sounds like a classic Wu Tang joint joining two of Hip Hop’s most comic book alter-ego obsessed MCs. Old School featuring Talib Kweli is probably the best track on the album. Kweli drops one of the funnier lines of the year:

“Like in order to spit it dope / you gotta have a criminal past that’s similar to the cast of Different Strokes.”

Love the line but would it have killed him to try and rhyme “Plato” with “Yayo” or “Bridges” with “bitches”? (Note: no disrespect to Dana, I hope her family can still live off the residuals from the Sega CD game Nightrap.)

Negatives:
If you’re not a fan of or do not watch the Cartoon Network’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the skits and voiceovers from the show’s characters, spread throughout the CD, get really annoying. Since I don’t watch it, I didn’t find any of it funny and thought it took away from the disc. I understand that they made this as the whole theme of the album, which every song reflects, so I’m not pleading ignorant, I just don’t like it. Also, if you don’t know, Doom does not follow the 16 bars/hook/chorus format. I don’t have a problem with it but, if you can’t get past it, you’re not going to like it. Also, Doom’s flow can get monotonous after awhile. I realize that’s his style, I’m just saying.

Reason to Buy:
I’m gonna split the difference on the beats (10) and rhymes (6) and give this one an 8. It’s truly a great alternative that can restore your faith in Hip Hop that may have eroded throughout the first half of this decade.

Pulse Rating: 8

Various Artists-Get Rich or Die Tryin Soundtrack Review

The Inside Pulse:
Speaking of eroding faith in Hip Hop”¦the G-Unit has put out another, uh”¦unit. 50 Cent’s feature film debut came in second to Chicken Run last weekend. This soundtrack came in second on the Billboard charts to country singer Kenney Chesney. Maybe everyone is overestimating how much clout this guy has left. The problem with listening to his music is it’s really difficult to separate him from the hype. So in terms of this review I’m trying REALLY HARD to block out everything I can’t stand about him and just judge the disc itself. The disc is very similar to 2003’s G-Unit album as everyone from 50’s crew shows up, including Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, Young Buck, Olivia, as well as new members, Spider Loc, Mobb Deep, MOP and Mase.

Positives:
Despite fearing the worst, I’d say there are a few listenable tracks on here. The lead track Hustler’s Ambition sounds a lot more like 50’s mixtape stuff from 2002 and the beat is pretty hot. What If has its moments, including a pointless AZ diss. Was he hurting 50’s money or is this just another swipe at Nas? Although risking a hanging from some of you, I have to say I like Have A Party by Mobb Deep featuring 50 and Nate Dogg, a definite club banger. Also When Death Becomes You by M.O.P. featuring 50 is nice as well, which left me wanting more from M.O.P. I Don’t Know Officer features several “guests” including Banks, Prodigy, Spider Loc (whose vocals I can’t tell apart from Young Buck) and Ma$e. It’s more of a street record that’s reminiscent of the classic circa 1997 mixtape cut N****z Done Started Somethin’, which, interestingly enough, also featured Ma$e.

Negatives:
What can I say? The transformation into the new Ja Rule is complete. When he said he would take his spot, no one thought he meant THIS! The track with Olivia is a horrendous manifestation of this. Yayo, Banks and Young Buck all have solo tracks on this album. Enough said. The first 10 second sample at the beginning of Best Friend had me amped for a good song and then it then suddenly it turns into what Animal House’s Neidermeyer might call “acts of perversion SO profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here.” And I don’t mean explicit content, I’m talking singing that is lamer than anything Ja ever did. 50 can make a decent track when he wants to but I assume when the #1 goal is to move units there’s going to be pandering to the masses with ridiculous “girl you hold me down while I rob this bank” music.

Reason to Buy:
Pick it up if you’re a fan of 50. I bought this for less than $10, which was the driving force for me. $16? No way”¦in that case, just download the bits of goodness scattered throughout the album.

Pulse Rating: 4.5

General Haberdashery

Fernandez seems out to prove that all white people are racists. Well, whaddaya know”¦someone tell Mathan I owe him a Coke. He also unearths the remains of former 411/IP writer Elliot Smilowitz, with some of his greatest hits. Smilo and I still hook up on IM from time to time and he still hates pretty much everyone he ever worked with at 411 and Inside Pulse.

Mathan asks if anyone has ever wondered who’d win in a war between ?uestlove and Dave Grohl. And, for everyone (and, I do mean everyone) else”¦read him anyways. He’s got a Muppet Show reference, a line on Ebony & Ivory and, oh, hey, here’s something new”¦Mathan apparently likes The Roots!

Open Mike is like a walk down memory lane as he covers Hip Hop’s proud and not-so-proud past. He also includes a picture of himself as a child, which looks a LOT like”¦me, at that age. Seriously, if I can dig up a picture of Aaron from that era, I’ll post it next week. It’s positively spookity.

Shawn, M.S. gets letters from the same people who write in to me. These people known from what they, uh”¦write. He’s still got that exclusive “Ashlee Simpson’s BAC is 2.0” video, which is HEE-larious, along with a reference to asexual reviewer Richard Roeper.

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. Joe’s got some never-before-published stuff from his days toiling in the 411 fields under “Taskmaster” Ashish Sullivan. There’s a Heather Langenkamp reference, along with the untold story on the fifth Golden Girl. Ah, but most impressive is finding out which net writer’s pseudonym is exposed.

Also, be sure to check out Joe over at Television Without Pity. He’s got the most comprehensive television recaps anywhere in this hemisphere. Now, I won’t tell you which show he’s covering this week, but that’s mostly because I don’t know. After 28 pages into this encyclopedia, I almost wanted to read another Eddie Guerrero love letter. Almost.

A is for me.

M is for TV Mathan. Mr. Erhardt is starting to feel the pressure from writing all those columns each week. His coverage includes the great CB radio craze of 1976, a lament that Smallville is too big and he closes with Convoy! On the plus side, he finally got a day off this week, so maybe he’ll be able to catch up on all his unwatched viewing. Dude, is this the highlight of Living in Las Vegas?

No wonder Ben Sanderson wanted to leave”¦even though there was free sodomy.

Junk Mail

Hold up, Cam. In each of the last two years, Nick’a Please comes out to Cali and we get a two-page write up of all the events, including your run-in with (Autobot Prowl). So now we’re supposed to believe that you go out to Connecticut and there’s nothing Bootleg-worthy after you two turn it out? Nick’a Please.

Eddie S.

Umm”¦I think the fact that you actually remember our run-in with (Autobot Prowl) two years ago is all the explanation I need as to why “Thursday Night Nick’a” wasn’t really recapped. But here are five random words that were actually heard during the evening in question: Mexican, basketball, post office, Lucy n’ vodka. OK, six.

===

Glad you liked New England, AJC. I’m actually only 20 minutes south of the city and I know the bar where you got your Super Big Gulp Red Bull and Vodka. I’m not sure how much of this that your wife reads, but I’m curious to think what you thought of Boston women? I always hear how Cali women are stuck up, but they ain’t got nuthin on the “I don’t need no man” brand of women out here.

Will R.

Y’know, I could probably keep myself from getting in trouble if I just didn’t print these damn letters. But, anyways”¦I got the same vibe from the Boston broads, as the wee bit of banter at the bar with them was mostly about their jobs and how successful they are. Far be it for me to judge an entire area’s gender on the four or five females I talked to, but next time, ladies”¦leave the résumé at home. Remember: “single at 30 = ‘You Go, Girl!'”, while “single at 40 = Yahoo! Personals”.

===

Holy sh*t, Aaron”¦tell your boy Movie Joe Reid that I haven’t laughed that hard at anything on 411 or Inside Pulse in a LONG time. His “Whatever Happened to Sharon Stone” rant was just f*cking brilliant and I really hope that you’re just stockpiling talented white contributing writers for your column just so I know where to look for ’em.

Levii B.

Glad you dug it, um”¦Levii. Joe will be happy to hear that he’s cornered the market on men with denim names. (I kid, of course, as Levii is a longtime Friend of the Bootleg.) And, it was pretty damn funny. One might say a little too funny as it spawned more than one (OK, two) emails identical to the following:

===

So, is Joe Reid officially with Inside Pulse or what? His Sharon Stone thing proved that no one can combine caustic comedy with informed opinions better than you guys. He’d be a much needed infusion of new talent to your staff.

Garrett S.

Full disclosure: I printed this email because the other one asking about Joe Reid on IP didn’t include praise for me. (Sorry, “James K.”) Joe’s still affiliated with our friends at 411mania and, of course, his work is linked every week down in the land of J.A.M. But, I’ll continue to milk his talent in this space anytime I have a column that’s light on material on a slow news week and I need Joe’s Styrofoam peanuts style of writing to fill up the box.

===

Any update on the Hip Hop Essentials thing that you teased last week?

Robert H.

You bet’cha”¦We’re a little bit closer to making this happen as every Inside Pulse Hip Hop head is on board. My list already has garnered mocking from Michaelangelo McCullar, which would hurt a lot more if he wasn’t including John Cena’s debut joint on his list. (Kidding”¦Cena finished sixth, just out of MM’s top five.)

Life with the Bootleg Family

Dedicated to these two people I know.

I remember my wedding day like it was yesterday. And, you know what I remember most? Yep”¦all the things that went wrong.

San Diego gets about a dozen rainy days each year and in 2002, numbers 10, 11 and 12 occurred during our wedding weekend. Sure it was just the “California” kind that was mostly an all-day drizzle, but that didn’t stop a guest or two from actually no-showing because of the faux showers.

Speaking of guests, the parents of one of my groomsmen were making the drive from L.A. to San Diego”¦too bad they weren’t invited. They had already sent us an extravagant gift, which made telling them to turn around and go back home especially awkward. I’m still not sure how Mrs. Bootleg worded that one.

No less than FOUR married or long-time committed couples who were at our wedding, actually broke up almost immediately afterwards. The most tragic being my boy who got the “where is this relationship going” speech from his girl, upon the arrival of the invitation. Don’t they usually wait until at least the ride home from the reception?

The wife really wanted Missy Elliott’s Work It single for the dance portion of the evening. At the time, the album hadn’t been released, but our DJ hunted it down. Too bad it was the dirty version. I only pray that my Grampy John has finally forgotten about it.

My best man drank too much at the reception. At various points in the evening he: gave a best man speech that ran longer than a Triple H promo (with that same constipated growl by the end)”¦propositioned the wife of one of our guests”¦clumsily fondled my wife during the “money dance””¦and played a part in our open bar reaching its money limit after just 90 minutes!

The cake was delicious, though.

Congratulations on your engagement, kids. Mrs. Bootleg, Baby Bootleg and I wish you all the best! Yahoo or AOL IM: ajcameron13.

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