The Greatest Entertainer Ever To Live

Sunday, I posted ?uestlove’s argument that Beyonce is the next MJ. Needless to say, myself and MANY others disagreed. If you are just joining us you can read ?uesto’s full argument on my previous blog here:

Good people, I want to be brief but the fact is to comprehend MJ is a huge undertaking. Though Mr. Thompson had some interesting points, his claim is poorly thought out and completely without merit.

First off, let me say that there are certain facts about Mrs. Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter than cannot be disputed.

A) She is talented.
B) She can sing.
C) She can dance.
D) She has star quality.
E) She is a beautiful woman.

That being said, there are definitely parallels between Mrs. Knowles and Michael Joseph Jackson:

A) They both have been entertainers since they were children
B) They are both driven to be the best in their field
C) They have reaped great success in the entertainment industry
D) They are both Virgos–thus hard workers and shy people that come alive on stage
E) They both came from groups that they inevitably outgrew
F) They both-because of growing up in the entertainment industry-have somewhat stunted social development
G) They have overbearing fathers who guided their careers.
H) They both bammas
I) They Black

…and that’s where the comparisons stop.

When Berry Gordy stood before the world at MJ’s memorial and finally said out loud what the world already knew but for numerous reasons could not bring itself to freely admit–that Michael Jackson is the greatest entertainer to ever live–NO ONE could offer an argument to the contrary…because there is no argument to the contrary.

There is a point when you are no longer great, but legendary…where you are no longer legendary, but an icon…where you are no longer an icon but the Gold Standard by which all others are measured…MJ reached that level….

MJ didnt just “change the game”, he obliterated the old game and put a new one in its place.

This may sound like hyperbole, but the facts speak for themselves.

No one has sold as many records as MJ. Period. But record sales are only a piece of this pie. Yes, Thriller had a lot of serendipity going for it, but the pieces had been put into place a long time before that…

At the age of FIVE YEARS OLD, MJ was already on a level that he relieved his older brother Jermaine of his lead singer position in the Jackson 5. Grown men refused to play on a bill with him. He was a seasoned enough entertainer that his competition in talent shows swore that he was not a child, but an adult midget (true story). A child had professional adult entertainers shook. Bear in mind, this was the 60’s, where you couldnt lipsynch, use auto-tune, or prerecorded tracks. If you didnt have the goods, you were forced to leave the stage, cute kid or not. The Jackson 5 won EVERY talent show they entered.

Another true story. At the age of THREE YEARS OLD, MJ sang Climb Ev’ry Mountain in school one day. His teacher wept.

Etta James told this story to MJ biographer J. Randy Taraborelli. She said that one night on a tour stop in the Midwest, she noticed a little boy hanging around her dressing room before showtime. She was trying to prepare for the show and the kid was distracting her. She marched up to the kid and told him to get lost. The kid scrambled away. Later, after her set, the boy appeared at her dressing room door. She asked him “What do you want, kid?” The boy replied, “Miss James, my father told me to come and apologize for bothering you earlier. I didn’t meant to, its just that you’re so good. I just want to know how you do it…” Etta had a change of heart and invited the boy in for some pointers. She remembers (in a self-congratulatory way) thinking to herself after the boy had gone, “One day, that boy is going to be the best…because he wants to learn from the best…”.

Mind you, this is going on before Motown ever knew The Jackson 5 existed. The rest, as they say, is history.

There are artists that we enjoy, and then there are artists that we FEEL. They give us pause. They make us consider things. They make us sit up and pay attention, and what they do and say stays with us long after the show is over or the record stops.

I’ve always said that you can divide entertainers into 2 categories: Artists and Acts.

Acts wants your attention and praise. They use whatever talent they may have to gain your favor. It doesnt matter to them how they do it. You pay them and clap for them and they are satisfied.

Artists also wants your attention and praise, but the difference is that an artist feels duty bound to share their gifts. They perform in service of the audience. They feel compelled to connect with their audience, to give a voice to whatever you in the audience may be thinking or feeling. At other times, an artist has something to say that they feel everyone should hear. An artist has purpose and integrity.

Michael Jackson felt duty bound to right the wrongs of the world. He wanted people to stop hurting each other and start loving each other more. It was this message of love that was the foundation of his music and performances until his last day on Earth.

Michael Jackson is an artist. At the age of 18, he pleaded with us to come together in songs like Show You The Way To Go, Living Together, Dreamer, and Strength of One Man. He continued on with a constant message.
-Man of War
-Can You Feel It
-We Are The World
-Earth Song
-They Dont Care About Us
-Beat It
-Heal The World
-Bless His Soul
-Man In The Mirror
-Keep The Faith
-On The Line (which was the theme song to the only film that I know of about the Million Man March)

if you wanna talk empowerment, he said:
“Lift your head up high and scream out to the world
I know I am someone, so let the truth unfurl
No one can hurt you now cause you know its true
Yes, I believe in me, so you believe in you
Help me sang it
Sing to the world, sing it out loud”

He wrote that when he was 21.

Lots of people write inspirational songs, mattafact there’s a whole sub-genre of music dedicated to just that, but when MJ sang people listened…people in all corners of the globe.

While it may seem that Im just retreading old shit…I remind you that we are talking about someone who is being talked about as the “next” one of this caliber, so I think its important to realize what caliber we taumbout here….

We taumbout a cat who inspired the world to stop and not only realize the plight of Africa, but help…you had kids sending in allowances, and Mr. Joe Six Pack writing a check for famine relief….These days that type of widescale philanthropy is commonplace…

We’re taumbout a cat that made grown men cry during and after his life (I’ve seen it). A person who has little children demanding that their parents buy them his music AFTER his death.

MJ changed the way Black men approached singing. How many baritones are there in R&B these days? These days a little white kid is just as likely to start singing in an R&B style than forming a rock band because of MJ.

MJ wrote songs that are part of the permanent fiber of global culture.

MJ made Fred Astaire bow down.

Even MJ’s hero, the notoriously egocentric genius and architect of modern Black music, James Brown insisted that even though MJ had learned from him that MJ was an original.

To this day, people are still trying to discover what made MJ tick.

MJ survived a scandal that would have obliterated anyone else’s career-TWICE. After 8 years of creative silence, then man announced that he was back and instantly sold out the same arena 50 times over.

This is the man we are talking about here. This is the entertainer we are talking about. This is the artist we are talking about.

And who is Questo proclaiming to be his rightful successor?

Beyonce.

Beyonce?

For all the talent, charisma, success, and work ethic that Beyonce has, let’s be really damn real.

She aint fuckin with MJ.

She may be one of the many entertainers in the mold of MJ, but the “NEXT” MJ?

How so? Because there are some similarities in their careers? That aint enough…

Let take the visual out of the equation.

let’s sit MJ’s catalogue next to Beyonce’s….that’s not even fair…

What is the criteria? Beyonce’s songwriting? Aight, let’s look at that….

on persistent suitors:
MJ – “She comes to the door/crying at my feet/Guilt shines in her eyes/as she slowly sinks in deep/You know our love couldnt last forever/persuade your way/but you aint clever/ I close the door and I say never….”

Yonce – “So what/you bought a pair a shoes/what now I guess you think I owe you/you dont have to call as much as you do/Id give em back to be through with you/so what/my mama likes you…”

on self-empowerment:
MJ – “And when you think of trust/Does it lead you home?/To a place/that you only dream of/When you’re all alone/And you can go by feel/’Stead of circumstance/But the power’s in believing/So give yourself a chance…”

Yonce – “the shoes on my feet/I bought it/the clothes I’m wearing/I bought it/the rock Im rockin/I bought it/cuz I depend on me/if I want it/the watch Im wearin/I bought it/the house I live in/I bought it/the car Im drivin/I bought it/cuz I depend on me…”

on a broken heart:
MJ – “and it doesnt seems to matter/and it doesnt seems right/cuz the will has brought no fortune/still I cry alone at night/dont you judge of my composure/cuz Im bothered everyday/and she didnt leave a letter/she just up and ran away…”

Yonce – “Now that it’s over/Stop calling me/Come pick up your clothes/Ain’t no need to front like you’re still with me/All your homies know/Even your very best friend/Tried to warn me on the low/It took me some time/But now I am strong…”

I think we can see that we’re not dealing with the same caliber of songwriter…Also let me point out, that songwriting and producing actual music is one of the things that MJ was known for (if the word “Quincy” enters your mind, go see my “In Memoriam Part 1″ blog, then rejoin us here). it is common knowledge now that if you want a track on a Yonce album you are REQUIRED to give her a writing AND production credit–whether she did any work or not. Tsk Tsk, mayne. Okay, we know that she’s written lyrics before. Schmoove. But sometimes she doesnt when the credits say otherwise. See If I Was A Boy.

But Beyonce aint twisted knob the first, or arranged a string session, or worked out chords with musicians. Mike has. Kenny Gamble told CBS in 1977 that Mike and his broze didnt need a babysitter in the studio anymore.

Vocally? *looks at the camera*. I’ve only heard B sing ONE song with any kind of believable emotion (the latter song quoted above). Yonce fans, feel free to point me in the direction of any other song by her that moves you emotionally (please say Get Me Bodied). Meanwhile, Mike made HIMSELF cry every time he sang She’s Out Of My Life. EVERY time. Its one thing to sing well, its another thing to make people feel…

Videos? Mike damn near invented the video. I challenge you to make it all the way through this:

Like I was saying…what other criteria are we judging on, Mr. Thompson?

Record sales? Popularity? The scales are not coming anywhere close to balancing with those factors on the table…MJ’s weakest selling album ran 10 million out the gate with little promotion and one video.

Dancing? Again, Fred Astaire, James Brown, and every kid that dances professionally now cites MJ as an inspiration. He created his own dance vocabulary, his moves are studied. Even K-Fed said that the greatest moment in his life was dancing for MJ. Beyonce’s choreographer left her tour to audition for This Is It. Not for a job, to audition. Yes, MJ learned from the best but in the end when you bust certain moves people know automatically who you are mimicking. Yes, Yonce had her Single Ladies moment and everyone wanted to learn the steps but the same thing happened with the Achy Breaky Heart, The Macarena, and MC Hammer’s Chinese Typewriter. Do the Single Ladies dance 10 years from now at a party if you want. People are still doing Thriller–27 years later. Let someone accurately dance like MJ and a crowd gathers…

Is Beyonce the biggest pop star in the world right now? Yes. has she been successful for a while now? Yes. But she’s hardly alone in wearing that distinction.

Lastly, let’s talk about influence. MJ has inspired millions of people to better themselves, care about others, be ecologically responsible (long before it was hip to be “green”…BTW, MJ was a vegetarian back when fast food still tasted good), be the best they can be, follow their dreams, and take pride in being different. He has personally mentored actors, athletes, emcees, choreographers, filmmakers, authors, activists, singers, musicians, entrepreneurs, doctors, etc…both young and old.

What is Yonce’s influence? Inspiring insecure women to shake their asses half naked in a room full of strangers? Who is she inspiring and what is she inspiring them to do? To wear as little clothing as possible? Throwing your man out of the house? Emotionally blackmailing him to marry you? (the less I say about Yonce’s relationship, the better) To writhe around on the floor and spread your legs? To drive around in the Pussy Wagon???

Warning: Opinion ahead.

I absolutely fucking cringe when I hear someone suggest that Yonce is a role model that young women should be emulating. In the last decade, she has gone from suggestive to risque to desperate. What would happen if she put her legs, ass, and titties away? Would we be still be having this conversation about her artistic merit? Sweet Lawd, WHEN will women learn the difference btwn taking ownership of their sexuality and exploiting themselves?

A large part of Yonce’s appeal is that she makes records out of women’s sillier fantasies.

-Kitty Kat: I’ll withhold pussy from you if you dont give me the amount of attention I want
-Irreplaceable: I’ll kick you out the crib and you wont have a word to say about it. Oh yeah, Im going to further provoke you by inviting another dude over here in the middle of a hostile situation
-Freakum Dress: Im feeling insecure about my relationship, so instead of talking to my man…Im going to the club in the sluttiest clothes I can find…that’ll teach his ass
-Single Ladies: if you dont propose to me, Im going to go out to the club make a spectacle of myself

This is some real mature shit here *sarcasm*. the list goes on…ladies, you can follow this advice if you want to and see how far it gets you…Sadly, alot of girls and grown women think that they can pull this type of shit off because they saw Beyonce do it in a video. Trust me, I’ve seen it…

What they fail to realize is that Beyonce can make up fantasies about what its like to deal with men because she’s Beyonce. She’s spent the majority of her life on stage or under the watchful eye of her dad. If there’s one parallel btwn Yonce and MJ that stands out, you can bet your ass that the lack of a social life is one of the most prevalent. Solange can get pregnant at 17, but there was no FUCKING way Matt and Tina would have let Yonce get that far out of their eyesight for that to happen…

Just for comparison, here’s some MJ fantasies: He goes around fighting evil, protecting the world, and saving people from getting hurt…oh yeah, he turned into a zombie once…

Aint no way that Yonce, in her current incarnation, should be held up as an example…You can say what you want abt MJ and his various controversies, but when have you seen him advocating acting a motherfuckin fool?

Lemme wrap this shit up, B.

Beyonce is successful performer. Lots of people love her. MJ is a global cultural institution. A musical genius. One of the greatest vocalists of our time. One of the best dancers in history. An innovator in the field of music. A trailblazer that changed how the music industry works. A humanitarian. An inspiration. A hero. He left the world and broke the damn internet…

He is simply, the greatest entertainer ever to live. (c) Berry Gordy

Beyonce got a long way to go before she can event think about climbing that mountain.

Aint no next. There was only one.

Sorry, Ahmir.

In Memoriam Part 2: Michael Jackson – Long Live The King

It has taken me this long to get my thoughts together.

I’m not trying to make this some definitive tribute statement, either…I’m just speaking from my soul…

Another Black man is gone before he could grow old…that in itself is a tragedy…but what makes it significant is that that Black man is the greatest entertainer ever…

Yes, I said it.

Michael Jackson is the greatest entertainer ever.

I definitely do not wish to shortchange James Brown. James Brown is the blueprint of modern Black music. Michael knew this and studied JB’s every move. He loved James—as a mentor, as an entertainer, and as a person. To me it speaks volumes that Michael came out of his exile to honor James when he passed….

Michael put his own issues aside and came out for JB when so may of JB’s disciples and progeny were shamefully absent….

James Brown lived a long life, and good sense would tell you that JB was older than what he said he was….so when JB passed, it was major but not unexpected…

I haven’t told anyone this until the last couple of days…Michael Jackson introduced me to music…It was because of him that I made up my mind early in my childhood that I would make music…

I’ve heard quite a few other people, famous and not, say the same thing over the past few days…

Over the years, I have defended him against unfair and false criticism…the thing that angers me the most about his life is the willful ignorance of those who hate him…

I’ve never seen anyone be hated with the fervor I’ve seen some people hate Michael Jackson…

I’ve heard people call for his death…and now that it has happened, I’ve heard people say that they are glad…

and they base these feelings on what exactly?

Because he was eccentric? I bet you there are weirder people in your family…

this didn’t start with the allegations, this hatred of Michael Jackson has been building steadily since 1987….I’ve watched it with my own eyes…

I watched the press start going out of their way to make it seem like everything he did was cat shit crazy…

“Bizarre singer Michael Jackson flew a kite in his yard today…the famously weird singer for some odd reason flew a kite for about an hour this afternoon ….some found the scene disturbing…”

Silly shit like that…

A real life example is when Michael bounced his baby on his knee to calm his crying…Martin Bashir acted like he was choking the baby…

Who DOESN’T bounce crying babies on their knee?

I think the thing I found most disturbing about the venom directed at Michael Jackson was the Black people who turned their backs on him…

Michael Jackson represented for Black people all of his life.

His career is based on his Blackness…

He paid for David Ruffin’s funeral.

John H. Johnson (publisher of Ebony and Jet) was one of his advisers.

He owned Sly Stone’s publishing and made sure Sly was taken care of.

His heroes were James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and Sammy Davis., Jr…he spent his 50th birthday listening to James Brown…

There are rumors that after acquiring the publishing rights to Little Richard’s songs, Mike gave them back to Richard…not sold, gave…

Michael would bring in busloads of poor children South Central, Watts and other black populated areas of LA county to Neverland to have their run of the place…

Saul Williams said that his education was funded by part of a 25 million dollar donation by Michael to the United Negro College fund.

Michael was friends with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

He loved to vacation in Africa and tried to spread the word about the historic and physical beauty of the continent…he stated that he believes all things come from Africa….

He made a song called THEY Don’t Care About US (feel free to read between the lines)

He loved the documentary Unforgivable Blackness about the story of Jack Johnson.

He made street dancing popular long before the breakdancing phenomenon of the mid-80s….in the mid-70’s, Mike was popping and locking. He always gave credit to the dancers in the streets, many times hiring them for his videos.

He made a video with real gang members, long before gang-banging became chic.

He made a video showing Black people as royalty in Africa.

His vocal style with all the ad-libs, scatting, and slang is undeniably Black.

Michael NEVER looked down on hip-hop…he reached out to, collaborated with, and mentored many young hip-hop artists.

He called Tommy Mottola a devil, loved to eat KFC (with the skin removed) and drink Crown Royal, his first date with Lisa Marie was to go see the Temptations and The Fifth Dimension in Las Vegas.

She asked him, “Where will we stay?

“In my room.”, he replied.

“Will we sleep in the same bed?” she continued

“Hell yeah, girl!…” was his answer…

was he not Black?

He had a perm and married a white girl…how Black is that?…LOL

I kid….but I never felt that Michael did not want to be Black.

I don’t want to focus on the controversy because that cheapens his legacy…as a man, he had faults…but who among us does not?

The plain and simple truth is the reason why Michael touched so many of us in such a personal way is because what his mission was….

he summed up it here, very succinctly:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6TzvE6b_lM&hl=en&fs=1&

“Love is my message….”
-Michael Jackson, 1980

he told us many times over the years…

“All the colors of the world should be lovin’ each other/wholeheartedly/Yes, its all right/take my message to your brother and tell him twice/Spread the word and try to teach the man/who’s hating his brother/when hate won’t do/When we’re all the same/cause the blood inside of me is inside of you…”

Michael Jackson was not just a simple singer and dancer…he was a revolutionary…

As a songwriter and producer, he does not get his due…he is the definitive for behind the sound…he is the funky one…he is the one with the gift…

he used Quincy to articulate his intent, but he did it without Quincy, before and after Quincy….

He is a musical genius…bar none…

His lyrics are rich with meaning and emotion…people get caught up in the spectacle and miss what he was saying…

“something’s soon to come over you/you just cant please the world and yourself/gotta start doing what’s right for you/cause life is being happy yourself…”
-Bless His Soul

“live inside cryin’ eyes/your touch/your heart/your warmth/lullaby/love to dream/don’t it seem/the tears/the pain/reality/

don’t cha know/these dreams I wish could be/the real you and me/I come running back to you/you push me away/you push/you push me away…”
-Push Me Away

“I am the damned/I am the dead/I am the agony inside the dying head/this is injustice/woe unto me/I pray this punishment will have mercy on me…”
-Who Is It

“this time I’m leaving all of my cares behind/I taste the good life and its fine/no more this pain and strife/this life’s willing to be/and I’ve got enough/and I know what’s right for me

I’ve done my time and I have paid the price/all you have to do/is state my name out loud/forget your worries/and let’s dance and shout/cause we’re here to live so free/Ive got to let me be…”
-Everybody

“the world keeps changing/rearranging minds and thoughts/predictions fly of doom/the baby boom/has come of age/we’ll work it out

I told my brother/don’t u ask me for no favors/I’m conditioned by the system/don’t you preach to me/don’t scream and shout

she pray to God/to Buddha/then she sings a Talmud song/confusions contradictions/the self/do we know right from wrong?

I just want you to recognize me in the temple/you cant hurt me/Ive found peace within myself…”
-Jam

“Now, I’m a man whose for all seasons/and what the city offers me/ain’t naturally/I live to greet the stars but there’s no stars to see/ I’m gonna search this world until I find my destiny…

If its the rich life/I don’t want it/happiness ain’t always material things

I want destiny/its the place for me/gimme the simple life/I’m getting ‘way from here/let me be me/cmon/let me feel free…”
-Destiny

These are words that came from his heart and his pen…incredibly profound words….a lot of us were listening…

This is why we felt Michael, because he reached out and did his best to make us feel, to unite us, to make us dance…

His voice is instantly recognizable…a beautiful, soulful instrument of both joy and pain…from his first songs to his last…

When I listen to Get On The Floor, I am captured by the breakdown….he breathes and scats in amazing rhythm…then he begins to chant:

“get up/wontcha gon’ get down/shake ya body/wont cha gon get down….”

he repeats this over and over….his vocal percussion blending in with the the drums and tom-toms…

he keeps repeating this until you feel like you are in some kind of voodoo ritual….he brings the groove back with a scream…he’s still chanting but harder…urging you to move…

the groove climaxes and he is whooping and screaming as if possessed…

when he comes back to the lyrics he is so exhilarated that he is laughing out loud while he sings…

he was feeling the groove as much as we were…we had no choice but to surrender…

many other folks my age, when we were kids, and we watched Michael sing and dance, he seemed to be a supernatural force of nature…he seemed more than human…

it was the little things…the glowing socks…the glowing pavement when he walked on it…the laser light behind him in Rock With You…it felt real….it felt natural…like he was some kind of funk sorcerer who knew magic…

Magic.

That’s the word that keeps coming up when people talk about Michael…his mystique and his brilliance made us think somehow, someway magic was real….

You watch him in The Wiz…and you realize that he really is The Scarecrow…

His music at its core…was primal…there was a combination of darkness and light behind it all…he could do the ballads and the smooth stuff….but when he was unleashed over a funk groove, that’s when we got the raw Mike…

songs like Workin Day And Night, Wanna be Startin Somethin’, Heartbreak Hotel, Remember The Time, Everybody…

We fed on his energy and we couldn’t get enough of it…

If you really listened to his music…I mean REALLY listened…he told us everything we needed to know…

One of his most enduring and heartbreaking songs is That’s What You Get (For Being Polite)…it is pure autobiography…

“love’s not harsh/love’s not bad/ but what he’s doing for love is so sad…

he wants to be so bad/he wants to be so bad/all the time/gettin in/thinks he can get out/something’s deep in side of him/eating up the pride in him/that makes him buy things for the girls/that’s what you get for being polite…”
-That’s What You Get For Being Polite

But even though we are grown men and women and we know that he is human just like us…we still have the notion that he is really some kind of spiritual force in human form…as we all are really…

But now that he has passed, it underlines with mean finality that underneath it all, he was flesh and blood…

All of that wisdom, artistry, energy, excitement, sensitivity and love seems like its been taken away from us….

People, my heart is heavy…because for all that the brother gave to us all,we did not return his love like we should have…

It is not just that it ends this way for Michael….for all the respect shown, the media still will not let go of their bigotry and disdain….they still allude and make innuendo…they fear his power and refuse to let the brother shine and go on to his glory like he deserves…

But then I think about it, and all of that wisdom, artistry, energy, excitement, love, and sensitivity will never die…Michael will live on forever…

We will never forget him.

We will still sing along, we will still dance, we will still watch and listen.

We mourn the loss of him not as a celebrity, but as a friend….he was a friend to us…

I listen to the people who knew him personally and I hear their devastation…I listen to what THEY say about him and I know I was right about him…if he wasn’t as special as he seemed to be, this might be just a little easier to take…

I’m not ashamed to say that I love Michael Jackson…and the world doesn’t feel the same without him here…

you kind of always expected him to be here…

Through his life, he taught me so much about life, music, compassion, survival, expression…and I feel I’m a better person for being a Michael Jackson fan…

I pray for his family, especially his parents, and his children.

I pray that people will show respect, restrain, and compassion now that he has moved on.

I pray that people will move away from the spectacle and really and truly re-discover his music and his gift…and even though its far fetched, maybe see him for who he really is.

Michael Jackson sacrificed his life to entertain us, to make us happy, and possibly teach us a thing or two…no matter what you thought of him, that deserves respect….

Michael Jackson is the greatest entertainer ever.

We will not see a phenomenon like him again.

Michael Jackson was more than the greatest entertainer ever…he was a great man…

and the world was a much better place when he was here with us.

He is The King.

I don’t know if these words made any sense to anyone, but I felt they needed to be said.

Rest In Peace, Brother Michael

Thank you. For everything.

In Memoriam Part 1: The Artistic Value of Thriller

The King.

I posted this on The Lesson forum of Okayplayer’s message board this past winter when asked if Thriller was merely a pop album with no artistic value.

I’ve been asked to re-post it,  here it is.

I’m still composing my words about what happened yesterday,  so I give you this for now.

-Scorp

The Artistic Merit of Thriller

while we all might be sick of hearing it and while it may not be as heavy as a What’s Going On or Innervisions…the fact is many records we regard as “art” dont have the sociological or spiritual depth of those records…

it would be easy to say that the work of Leroy Burgess or even James Brown is fluff based on the subject matter and dismiss it as not being artistic..which is in fact what mainstream music press does to Black music as a whole…and I have a problem with that…

it would be easy to say that I Want You is just a record abt being horny just the same as a Jodeci record is….

now as far as Thriller is concerned, it is an artistic as well as a commercial landmark for these reasons:

A) you said in another post that you do not regard MJ as a songwriter or producer…which is unfair because he CLEARLY does both…as far as his first 2 albums w/Q…..people tend to overestimate Q’s role…they tend to think that without a producer at the helm, Mike is helpless…it was Mike(w/the help of Randy Jackson) who created the the Jackson sound….it wasnt Jackie, Tito, or Marlon….and you see how well Jermaine faired on his own….

the the biggest issue that led J5 to leave Motown was lack of creative control….Mike was tired of being a singing puppet…he wanted his freedom in the studio…

CBS was unsure and made the group do two albums w/Philly Intl…after that it was time to put up or shut up…

so Mike and the boys got in the studio….CBS sent some studio pros in to make sure the shit didnt go wrong….the result was the Destiny album…the album that put them back on top….

with the exception of Blame It On The Boogie, ya boy wrote every song on that record…

he wanted to distance himself from his family and create a new sound for himself….since he’d already lent his sound to the family brand he brought in Q….

NOBODY else wanted Q…the word was that he was too old, that his track record in pop was unproven…look at the facts….before OTW and Thriller, Q was known as a bandleader and film composer, NOT a pop hitmaker….he’d had success w/the Brojays but that’s it…the last pop hit that he was responsible for before that was It’s My Party by Leslie Gore….

if you hit you tube and listen to the demos that Mike brought Q, you will see that very little is different from the album versions…

matter of fact, here ya go:
Dont Stop demo:

Working Day and Night demo:

let’s go to the Thriller demos….

The Girl Is Mine demo :

Billie Jean demo:

so…my point…is that Mike created these albums from his own vision….he hired Quincy for a)legitimacy and 2)to run the studio 3) for his connections 4)quality control

so what you hear is his vision not Quincy’s…so from an artistic standpoint, he didnt just sit around and sing what Quincy put in front of him….he knew what he wanted and hired Q to translate….

after OTW, Mike went and cranked out another Jacksons album, Triumph…where he wrote every song except two…

so w.out Master Quincy, Mike was responsible for:
Shake Your Body
Heartbreak Hotel
Lovely One
Can You Feel It
Walk Right Now
Things I Do For You
…and the remaining songs on both Jacksons albums of that period…

but the music snobs like to think that Maestro Quincy sat Green Mike down and told him what to do….we can also add the folks that think Rod Temperton wrote every song on those two albums…and that’s the reason why those records came out the way they did…

Mike created those albums from his own creative muse, so artistically for him, that’s a W….

B) as far as Thriller specifically…Mike did something that no one else had done….he created the musical bridge for mainstream music from the 70’s to the 80’s…he was the cat who survived the 70’s and led the way to he 80’s, where most other 70’s cats were tryna figure out what to do next…most of them were doing disco knock-offs and praying for their survival…

people glaze over it now…but what soul/R&B figure could create a hit rock record that was embraced across the board…AND considered authentic by the rock audience?(the snobs may have been pissed off, but they werent the ones buying the records)…what soul/R&B cat was collaborating with Van Halen….and have it WORK?

it wasnt Prince….w/out Beat It, could you have a Let’s Go Crazy?

what other soul/R&B cat could get one of the Beatles on Black radio in the 80’s?

what soul/R&B cat would get Vincent Price to drop spoken word in the middle a funk/R&B cut cum horror movie?

who was else at the time was incorporating African chants and percussion at a time when everyone was whitening it up sonically(including MJ)…and who would reference Soul Makossa in the 80’s?

listen to the fact that a Black artist who was considered strictly soul/R&B decided to do a stylistic tour de force in one album when it hadnt been done before…

Thriller had:
Funk
straight R&B
Quiet Storm
MOR Pop
Rock

…all in one album by a Black aritst when such a thing was not only unheard of but frowned upon…..

futhermore, on Thriller he spoke abt teen preganancy, gang violence, challenging the social constructs of manhood, the culture of gossip, emotional blackmail, obsession, false accusations of paternity, and belief in one’s self…

fluff?

these are ARTISTIC RISKS….they could have gone horribly awry, but they didnt….he did the record HIS way….and in a rare occurence that we will only see once in a lifetime, hit the bulls-eye and pleased EVERYBODY…the effects of that had both deep positive and negative effects on his work and the entire music industry after that….

let’s remember…when Thriller was being conceived and recorded, MJ was still thought of as strictly an R&B act (Rolling Stone refused to do a cover story on him at the time), a boy band singer made good and the success or failure of the record was of little consequence to anyone BUT MJ…so pulling those strings wasnt as easy as we’d think it to be….

but WHY did he want to make a record like Thriller?….was it just to win the awards and make copious amounts of dough?

partially, yeah…but beyond that…why would MJ risk his entire career (which he’d done a few times before at that point) on a record that everybody, even QUINCY, thought would only be a mild follow up to OTW?

because he wanted out of the box…he wanted the limitations placed on Black musical artistry lifted…to end the segregation, so to speak…to send a message that you can follow your muse no matter what people say or think…you can do the kind of music you want to do and nobody should get in your way or try to stop you….

and he DID that…he achieved that goal of ARTISTIC freedom that reaps commercial success where it is unusual that the two paths EVER cross…

and whether you believe it or not is beside the point….MJ kicked down a huge barrier with Thriller…and many artists, regardless of culture or genre have reaped the benefits…

so at a superficial glance, it could appear that Thriller is nothing but the hottest chick in school for a couple years…but what happens when you talk to that chick and find out that there’s more there than just eye candy…

so like I said….people can feel how they wanna feel abt the artist and the record, we’re all entitled to our opinions…but give credit where credit is due is all Im saying….

The one that got away…

WTF is this, Scorp?

Here’s the backstory:

2000.

Dearborn, MI

My brother paid me a visit, so we decide to hit this new bar by my crib…

We’re standin around waiting on drinks…they got video screens errywhere…

This video comes on.

Wauw.

WHO is THAT?

I continue to shoot the shit with my sibling while keeping an eagle eye on this video…Im waiting for the end so I can find out who this bouncy young lady is…

The end credit comes up and it says Tarsha Vega…I immediately consult le internet…
Nada.
Zilch.
Zip.
Zero.
Nuffin.
not even a damn picture…
Apparently, this song was from the Rocky & Bullwinkle sdtrk. its a decent pop song…Im not offended by it…
she aint been heard from since…periodical checks over the last 9 yrs. with ye olde search engines came up with the same shit.
Nothing.
Today, I was at home and my inner voice said “hit the Great Oracle and see if Tarsha Vega is on there….”
Bitch, JACKPOT.
I see what I was lookin at…got the semi-boho thang happenin(which I’ve since cured myself of)…
She aint all undressed and writhing and tryna be all come hither….she’s rockin jeans, kicks, and a girl tank…perfecto.
hit Google again to find out what’s what….
besides the fact hat she’s from BK and that she did some back up singin here and there…again, goose egg…
so I’m looking at this video and enjoying my lil fantasy….then I see this:

um….this is a scene plucked right out of my g*ddamn fantasies…

do they even make women like that?

and she hollarin at a big dude?

F’REAL????

Sheeeeeeeeeeeit.

*schmooves eyebrows*

Tarsha…if you out there…and you see me at the local watering hole…

*fanger guns*

Today’s Treat: Carl Anderson – Buttercup

Buttercup is a jam by Carl Anderson and written by Stevie Wonder…

Carl Anderson was an extremely gifted  and criminally underrated singer active in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s….

he first came to prominence in the early 70’s when he orginated the role of Judas in the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar…he was passed over for the Broadway run in favor of Ben Vereen but was cast as the understudy….Vereen fell ill during the production and Carl played Judas on Broadway and on tour. When Vereen recovered, he and Anderson alternated the role…

When the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar was getting underway, Carl was cast as Judas for the film version…his performance in the film brought him rave reviews, acclaim, and awards…

Carl signed to Motown Records in the early 70’s, but no material was released on him…it was there that he met and became friends with Stevie Wonder…

In 1982, after parting ways with Motown, Carl released his debut album, Absence Without Love…his friend Stevie contributed Buttercup to the album…the album was produced by Minnie Riperton’s widower and fellow Wonder friend, Richard Rudolph…

the song was featured again on Carl’s 1985 CBS debut album, Protocol…

In 1985, Carl scored a huge hit with the song, Friends And Lovers, which was a duet with singer and actress Gloria Loring (Loring’s son is Robin Thicke)…

at the time, Loring was a cast member on the daytime soap Days Of Our Lives and the song became the show’s romantic theme…

Carl’s other big hit was his 1992 single, How Deep Does It Go…

Carl continued to act and sing on stage on record for the remainder of his life…

Carl died of leukemia 4 days shy of his birthday in 2004.

other Wonder freaks like myself love this rare groove…hopefully you’ll dig it, too…

I really dig the story in the lyrics…

RIP, Carl

How to stop the chicken dancing….

the geniuses behind the KFC cooning for chicken campaign are right here in Chicago…

the ad agency is Draftfcb

the director is Errol Morris

the contacts for this campaign are:
Laurie Schalow
KFC
502-874-8100
Laurie.Schalow@kfc.com

Michelle McGowan
Draftfcb
312-425-6013
michelle.mcgowan@draftfcb.com

draftfcb has a twitter page:

you can hit KFC online and by phone here:
Online Customer Comment Forms
U.S. Feedback (Continental United States)

http://64.213.197.19/forms/irpt_welcome.asp?brandid=80

International/Hawaii/Canada Feedback (outside the Continental United States)

http://www.kfc.com/contact/international.asp

KFC’s Corporate Address for Customer Comments
P.O. Box 725489
Atlanta, GA 31139

Customer Satisfaction Numbers
U.S. – 1-800-225-5532
Canada – 1-866-664-5696

This shit can’t go on unchecked….

R&B dudes, please stop…TODAY

Modern R&B hasnt been good in a very long time.

Modern R&B singers have made it a point to be as n****rish as possible in the last 15 yrs or so, while making rancid music to boot…

I thought it had reached critical mass with the inexplicable rise of T-Pain(who’s at 14:55 as we speak)…

But on another blog, I saw some shit that made me actually feel sorry for these guys.

Because at this point, the shenanigans are even lost on their target market of Black women ages 15-35…

I refuse to have that foolishness on my blog, but you can find it VERY easily if you wish to view it…

Check out the offending video here:

…instead please watch the reaction to this foolishness…

When teenage girls cant fuck with you no more, its time to re-think thangs, no?

R&B dudes….in the words of the great R&B genius Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire…

Stop.

Just.

Stop.

I feel sorry for your mother.

I blame Jodeci and bad parenting.

Update: Apparently, these cats learned their lesson and were shamed into removing the video from their You Tube channel…but once somn is on the internet, it’s there forever…

KFC Part 2-Dances With Chickens: One Actor’s Story…

Aight so, you know how I feel about this whole dancin with chicken bullshit…

and I also realize that it’s hard to get work as a Black actor…

I also realize that TV money is good….REAL GOOD…

I just found out that talented comedian/tv personality Joe Clair has appeared in the Kentucky GRILLED Chicken spots…

Below is his account, which appears on hiphopdx.com:

http://allhiphop.com/stories/editorial/archive/2009/03/27/21290454.aspx

Joe Clair: That Funky Chicken

Published Friday, March 27, 2009 3:05 PM
By Joe Clair
THE FUNKY CHICKEN!

(an excerpt from the black man’s guide to surviving in Hollywood)

“like all my brothers eat chicken and watermelon/talk broken English and drug sellin’.”

KRS-ONE

Ok soooo…

Today I shot a commercial for a restaurant. I won’t mention the name but they make chicken. When I went on the audition a couple of weeks ago, I heard that little voice in the back of my head mention somethin’ about black men and chicken and stereotype, but I ignored it ‘cause my mind was blissful with the thought of something else. See, I was getting back to work. I love workin’. It makes me feel good to make some dough. This particular morning I was rushing into the commercial audition all joyous and happy. Things are pretty good in my life at the time. I’m a new husband and things are going well. I’m getting’ funnier and funnier on the mic. I had a little extra dough in my pocket. I was happy, and grateful to have the opportunity. In my joyous state I never thought past what I was doing at the moment.

What does this have to do with today?

Tell you in a minute. Just follow me for a second.

Soooo….

I go into the audition, which is a weird process that I’ll have to write about another time, and do my thing and I’m out. I got a session across town after that then I gotta get some work done in my office. I’m good. Fast forward a week, and I get a call from my agency telling me that I have a call back for the chicken people. When I heard my agent say chicken, the little voice came back, but this time it was singin’ “Mammie” and shuckin’ and jivin’. I still ain’t really listen to it though, I was happy I had done something right and gotten the call back. Feels good.

So I go to the callback and do my thing. This time I have to eat the chicken and then say the line. When I bit the chicken the little voice screamed at me “Obama!” but I was eatin’ and paying attention to the chicken and then Dave Chappelle from Inside the Actors Studio popped up and said, “You gotta set your price. And don’t take nothing less” or somethin’ like that, all echo-y and movie like. Too late, I was deep in it by now. The chicken was all hot and good. I was lovin’ my job.

Now, I guess I could have had a movie style “I can’t do this” moment and walked out of the audition but I didn’t. I ate the juicy ass drumstick and delivered the line like a pro. They said thank you and my agent called and told me I had booked later that day. It felt good. Gold star for Joseph!

What happened next n***a?

I’m getting’ to it.

Soooo…

Today I arrived on set at the designated time. This was a big production. They had a huge soundstage rigged to look like were just standin’ in whiteness like on those MAC computer commercials. They had tents and shit set up. They had a bunch of big white trucks that you see on big shoots. A couple of campers/trailers for wardrobe, hair/make-up and production. It was big.

My call time was right before lunch so I got to eat even before I worked. Food was off the chain. (it wasn’t chicken) When I got there an actor that I had bumped into from time to time in auditions was there, so I was kickin’ it with him ‘til I had to go on set. He had already worked and was asked to stick around in case thy needed something else. So while we were out there, a celebrity chef shows up ‘cause he’s in the spot too, playing himself. He has a person working with him, who’s a sister and all of us sit, talk shit and eat lunch together ’til it’s time to work. There was only one other black person on set but she was workin’ and ain’t eat. Anyway, the chef asked my man what we had to do when we get on set and he described what I had done in the audition and then he goes, “and then he ask you to act like a chicken and you gotta do a dance. A chicken dance with the chicken in your hand.” As he said those words a wave of disbelief permeated our little black contingent. It was like an urban legend come to life. Being asked to dance is already a bad one but being asked to dance with chicken is like go get another profession type shit when it happens. It’s the worst look of all. There is nothing sexy about being asked to dance with chicken in your hands in 2009. For a black actor it is the worst. The chef said “What?!” My man goes “Chicken dance brother.” The chef and me was like “you playin’. Man get the fuck outta here. Foreal?!”

Now the chef is a celebrity chef, that they asked to do the spot, so I knew he wasn’t gonna have to do it. But I was the willing slave ass actor, soooooo happy to have the opportunity, soooooo ready to get to work, just sooooooo muhfuckin’ joyous and full of glee and I knew they was gonna get my black ass to do it. The little voice came back with a couple of beads of sweat. The little voice said “ Do the chicken dance BITCH!” like the world’s greatest heckler. It started laughin’ at me and clowin’ me like I was havin a comedy club nightmare!…“Do the muthafuckin’ chicken dance.. N***A!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh haaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaa haahahahah ahhhhaaaahha ahahahhah. CHICKEN DANCE BITCH! DO THE CHICKEN DANCE BITCH! AAAAHHHH HAHAH HAHAHAHAH HAHAHAHA AHAHAHA HAHAH…….. FUNKY CHICKEN N***A!!!!!!”

I was snapped back into reality when the actor dude said “ yeah, I felt bad, but shiiittt a brother got a mortgage to pay.” Right then I made the little voice shut the fuck up. Those words brought it home. I got a mortgage to pay as well along with all kinds of other bills and shit that take a lot of work to maintain. So I’m like fuck it. It is what it is. I need to eat and I ain’t in a position to be throwin’ no money away. Fuck dat. Chicken dance it is. Ain’t this some shit.

Soooooooo.

I finally get on set, after getting’ bumped by the chef, to do my thing. It’s people all over the place doin what they do on set. Most of the people are white, most of ‘em are cool and speak to you , especially like the lighting dudes and the camera operators they crack jokes and make it a cool atmosphere. The people from the company and the ad agency however, are usually reserved and don’t say anything to you. You’re just another actor here to do the shoot. Anyway, I eat the chicken and say the lines and do that a bunch of times. They got a dude that gives me a new piece of chicken after every take. I say the line, take a bite, chew, spit it out , and get a new piece of chicken. There’s another lady that comes and wipes my mouth after each take while they switch up the chicken. It’s ill cause they are like older white people and it’s just, very surreal that I am eating chicken and a room full of white folks is there makin’ sure I do it right. Ill.

Did you dance n***a? !

See what had happened was……

After a long pause in production the director comes back and says “O.K. so now I want you to act like a chicken.” N***a, a chill ran down my spine. I know he ain’t mean nothin’ by it. He’s just doin’ his job. Plus they had been shooting for days and at least twenty or thirty actors done had to do it. So I’m like, “Cool. I’m an actor and this is a gig”. He gives me a few more directions and yells action. I act like a chicken. I tried to get real loose with it but just couldn’t. I did a good enough job though that it gotta a couple of laughs. He yells cut. Then he goes “ OK now I want you to dance with the chicken in your hands and eat while you dance.” Now I like to think that I saw a bit of embarrassment shoot across his face as he said it. That good old-fashioned white guy emabarrased by the race thing look they get in the movies and shit. Like he know he wrong to ask a black man to dance with some chicken but he got to get this done. I looked around the room and it was all eyes on me. And it looked like they probably said “the black guy gonna dance his ass off” before I got there. At that moment I wondered if they pictured me dancin’ while I was at the audition two weeks ago? “Fuck you gonna do?” I thought to myself as they readied the chicken for my consumption. The mortgage, the office rent, the other crib in Cali, cable bill, phone bill, insurance, car notes trickled through my brain. Simultaneously Morgan State, Red Black and Green, Huey P. Newton, Sojourner Truth, Orange Juice Jones, Queen Latifah, Nat Turner, Larry Davis, Birnie Mac and GhostFace Killah hit their mark as well. “What is I’m gonna do?”, I thought. “We gotta a black president and I’m dancin’ with chicken fo’ my pay”, I said to myself and the thought gave me a shiver. On cue, like a Wayans Brothers movie or some shit, this music comes from outta nowhere. They played a fucked up’90s remix of “Do The Funky Chicken”. I’m like “Aww Dayumm!”. I mean this was some ill shit. “What would Stark’s do in this situation?”, I thought. The director yells action and I gave the performance of a lifetime. My scene sucked, but the acting job I did of being delighted to do this was phenomenal. I didn’t get down with the song or nothin’. I t wasn’t a Jabberwockies moment but I did good enough, like a cool uncle at a cookout with a plate. I have a hard time hiding my emotions so I can’t wait to see what my face looks like.

You did the chicken dance n***a?

Yep. I did the fuckin’ chicken dance ladies and gentlemen. I like to think that it was God getting me back for clownin’ this dude at the comedy club the other night. Or maybe it was just my “Mammie” moment that almost all black actor/comedians have. I don’t know. I do know it was a funky ass situation that I never envisioned myself being in. But it is what it is. I’m gonna take the money from that jo’nt and ball out somehow. I owe it to myself….. But then again, I could be like the millions of people who have lost their jobs in the past year or so and be home watchin’ the n***a who ate the chicken, so maybe I should consider myself lucky and fortunate.

Holla back and tell me what you think.

Cleez

P.S. This editorial was written by pride. Pride has a valid point but, pride will leave a yo’ ass hungry as hell. So although pride wrote it humble is gonna live with it. As you can see folks, this thing has my mind messed up and goin’ every which way.

**********

Aight, Joe… we get it…

it’s hard out here for Black actors, gotta pay the bills, yaddayaddayadda…

Two words for you, Joe….cuz I respect you, man…you seem like a real solid brother…

FUCK THAT…

Dog, fuck that shit…

UNTIL Black actors stand up for themselves, Hollywood will continue to portray Black people how they feel like it….

and Im sick of that same excuse from EVERYBODY Black in the entertainment field….

“oh, I gotta eat…”

its work at the post office…

and we WONDER why:

-we dont have any power in the entertainment business

-our music is fucked up

-Black actors have to scrounge for work

its because we dont DO FOR SELF…

you can’t serve Massa and rise up at the same time, its not possible…

Hey, I work everyday…so Im not saying this from someplace on high…

Black folks talk about strugglin….but we dont care abt THE struggle….

We will struggle all day long as long as it is forced upon us…but when there’s a struggle that’s worth fighting that will benefit us in the end, we dont know anything abt that….

the struggles that our people face to get us here where we can have a Black president were fought willingly…..those people made the choice to tell The Man, “enough is enough”….

and because they had that courage, we reaped the benefits….

but I guess reaping the benefits of that struggle has softened us to the point that we’ll dance for chicken in 2009….and we dont have th courage like our the generation before us (the 60’s wasnt that long ago, yall) to say to The Man enough is enough…

Back then, they had dogs, hoses, and guns pointed at us….

now, its just a camera…

Sorry, Joe…I dont accept your weak ass excuses….the shame you feel is justified…you SHOULD be ashamed of yourself for disgracing Black folks….

I hope the money covers your expenses for while…but I also hope that your kids, your parents, and all of your ancestors who suffered horrible indignities see you dancing with chicken in 2009…


But you got your bills paid…Aint that the same thing prostitutes tell themselves?

Whatever gets you through the night, I guess…

“Don’t be eyein’ my bucket…”

Don’t worry, Joe…you earned it, it’s ALL yours…

The Funk of Ndugu….

If you’ve read ANY liner notes for R&B albums in the 70’s, you know the name Ndugu…

pronounced “en-doo-goo”…..LOL, what a cool and funky name…

Well, if you got a funk name like Ndugu, that means you gotta be funky…and Ndugu is funky, indeed…

If you check out my George Duke Primer blog below…you will see how funky Ndgugu is for yrself…

Leon “Ndugu” Chancler is one of the top drummers in the music business…

Ndugu

He has played with so many people, its stupid….but to the general public, he’s best known for his vocals on his homeboy George Duke’s monster funk jams, Reach For It and Dukey Stick…

If you aint hip, head down to my Dukey blog and check him in action in the live videos for those songs….

Even if you are completely ignorant of Ndugu, you STILL love his drumming…

you’ve rocked to those drums forever…LOL

But, dig….In my research for my Dukey Blog,  I came across this:

Ndugu & The Chocolate Jam Co. – Take Some Time (Do I Make You Feel Better – Epic/CBS Records, 1980)

This funky ballad is by Ndugu’s band, The Chocolate Jam Co. who recorded two albums in 1979 and 1980, respectively…

So this is what ya boy Scorp is gon’ do for you…

I’ma give y’all a lil Ndugu today…


Take in the funk and enjoy.

Peace,

Scorpeze of Windimoto