Banter on Tulips and a Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z and John Coltrane, Outkast and Othello.


Is You Is or Is You Ain't?

now playing: Maiden Voyage, Herbie Hancock

I think Black Sheep said it best, "Back on the scene, crispy and clean. You can try, but don't worry cause you can't intervene..." Not really the way I was feeling today, but I have to sort of hype myself up cause I admit I've been feeling a little, well, blue. I'm at a crossroads career/school wise and I have been hoping that God will point me in the right direction. And ...uhm point me to the bling... well at least enough to be comfortable. To totally permutate Billy Dee Williams' classic phrase in "Mahogany", "Success is nothing without [a bangin' 401 K]". Ha. How I do make me laugh.

Anyways, whenever, I'm a little indecisive on course of action, jazz seems to come in at just the right moment (Do ya thing Herbie.) And, in times like these, it strikes me as especially amusing to read up on the goings on of the world's most important citizens-- celebs, of course. Doing so somehow makes me feel more grounded and practical. And, of course I get a kick out of their stunts (see Cameron Diaz drop kicking a photographer, or Jay Z snatching a paparazzi's camera BK style.) Anyway, I once created a magazine feature that fictionally paired celebs, talked about what they had in common and what would precipitate a case of Splitsville. Luckily, I've found it among the relics of the past year (my stacks of books, CDs and take out menus). Don't know about y'all, but I would pay good American dollars to personally witness any of these unions. (or maybe just write a bounceable check. LOL) Presenting for the first time on Rhythmandwords...

“Is You Is or Is You Ain't my Baybay?”

Tyson Beckford and Tyra Banks: You might be hard pressed to find a better-suited duo: Banks, the diva who is said to have fought hataration from the likes of a Naomi who shall not be named to ascend to the top ranks of the modeling world and Beckford, who made Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak my Heart” video sing with his catlike gaze are so in love.
They fight over who gives the camera “better face” and who rightly deserves the nickname “Ty Ty”
She keeps her contract with IMG modeling and her “America’s Next Top Model” T.V. deal
He keeps the memories of when he was the best eye candy since Christopher Williams

Ludacris and Diana Ross:
When he moves, we move, just like that. But the ATL-playa was knocked to his knees when he encountered the original Detroit diva, Ms. Ross. They share a love for the spotlight, large mouths and of course, the biggest hair on God’s green earth.
The fight over who has the better ‘do, who can rock fur coats with more ghettois sparkle and whether more seduction seeps from the diva’s disco hit “Love Hangover” or Luda’s “Splash Waterfalls”.
She keeps her Afro wig and screenplay from the Motown film, “The Wiz” (she played Dorothy) He keeps the “Awl his Cadillac spills” and shiny new Air Force Ones

Mike Tyson and Angelina Jolie: The former boxing champ and pouting actress have one thing in common – they both, off screen and on, respectively, know how to kick a--. Jolie fell for the prizefighter because of his hunger for sport, his raw emotion, and yes, that Maori warrior tattoo around his eye (it’s so dreamy). Tyson admired her love for older men and her willingness to try new things (like becoming an adoptive mother)
They fight over whether she can really body slam him, who has better tattoos
She keeps her knife collection, previous divorce papers
He keeps his punching bag, previous divorce papers

Snoop Doggy Dog and Sarah Jessica Parker: These two came together over an obvious love for the bling. Sarah worked it out to no end on “Sex and the City” and now that it’s in reruns on TBS, the couple has had a little more time to borrow some of each other’s style pointers. For ’05: fur is still hot for the Dizzle. The S.J. Pizzle will still be rocking the Manolos.
They fight over whom the mirror calls “the top dogg of them all” (see Snoop’s rendition of Slick Rick’s classic, “Lodi Dodi”). Also, there’s conflict over access to the clear pimp polish (Snoop uses a lot for those second coats)
She keeps her shoes (of course) and royalties from “Sex in the City”
He keeps his pimp cane and chalice

Missy Elliott and Jermaine Dupri: Not only do these two hitmakers share the fact that they put a lot of time in the studio (she counts “Hot Boyz” among her hip hop hits, one of his best known collaborations was with Jay Z on “Money Ain’t a Thang”) but at just 5’ 1 and 5’3 respectively, they both share the experience of having been turned away from a few amusement park rides.
They fight over who holds a lifetime membership to the Wizard of Oz’s “lollipop gang”
He keeps Janet Jackson’s # on speed dial
She keeps her UPN reality show, “The Road to Stardom” and her Virginia Beach mansion

Jay Z and Lani Guinier: The owner of the “flow of the century” matched up with one of the Harvard Law School’s most loquacious black scholars? Look out Will and Jada. We think we have the new model black couple on our hands. Guinier will trade her tenured professorship for life as a rap roadie (“L-to the izz A, N to the izz I, that’s the anthem, get your d--- hands up!”). Jay will learn a few SAT words to accent his colorful phrasing.
They fight over whether Guinier will take time off from offering analysis of the affirmative action debate to indeed be “the hottest chick in the game wearing [his] chain”.
He keeps his millions and sexy Brooklyn accent
She keeps her legal briefs and institutional culture navigation map


Here's a chance to make it...

If we focus on our goals. We can ditch it. We can take it. Just remember that you've been told... It's a Different World.

So, my brain has been in stasis as I hadn't been able to think of a darn thing to write. Well, it's another week, another Monday, yada, yada. I spent the whole weekend doing absolutely nothing, well except for assisting with chores like pulling weeds and sweeping down the stairway (*note to self -- do not come back to parents' home without personal manservant Belvedere in tow*). I also read story after story on the latest evidence as to why Karl Rove (aided by his White House minions) is the devil incarnate. The third and capstone activity pour moi was watching taped Different World reruns at my aunt's abode. (It really doesn't take a lot to make me happy *smile*). I do so miss that show and what it stood for -- chronicling the lives of intelligent, funny black people. *Drafting my "Bring on a Reunion Episode Petition" as we speak.* So, I took it upon myself to go through the vault and pull some of the classics...

- Dwayne's mother comes to visit and his girlfriend Kenu prepares a Japanese lunch for the three of them: Whenever I think of this episode, I think of Patti LaBelle shrieking "They're fighting over you like a bone scrap. Do you think I raised you to be a bone scrap?... AND THEY DROPPPED MY PRUNE COBBLER TOO?! I'm mad now!" She was just great--a black mother personified, ready to attend to the every concern of her beloved Chipmunk. This episode also features Whitley once again calling Kenu everything but her name (Ki-Ki, Ki Li Da Da, Kookali, Kenusabi). Pure hilarity. But Kenu finally hits the road... to my (and Ron's) amusement.

- The crew goes to visit South Carolina: Kim and Freddy happen upon boytoys they later find out to be homies "pushin' dope for da man" (to quote Curtis Mayfield). Dwayne and Ron mistakenly happen upon their bags which are filled with deniro. Needless to say, dudes are on the lookout for them and try to kill them all. But then Sinbad comes in the nick of time and in the midst of a storm to save the day with his classic "Star Trek" V-hand grip and breaks those fools. Loved it.

-Of course the piece de resistance was the wedding: Diahann Carroll, playing Whitley's mom, was fabulous, or as Shaza told her, "Besides this obvious display of bourgeois blabeddy blab...you look good!!" I do have a confession to make. At the time, a middle school-aged M. Elle wanted Whitley to marry Byron. (After all, she was going to be the wife of a senator. Need I say more?) But after watching it 20 more times since it aired originally, I understand why she was destined for Mr. Wayne. After all, he let her be herself. Anyways, the ceremony's greatest moments came from Dwayne ("Please. Baby please!") and Ron, who looked like he was ready to take the ni$%ahs who wanted to knock Dwayne out. But of course, the most classic phrases came from Ms. Carroll. I love her Scarlet O'Hara tinged pre-ceremony instructions to Shaza. M. Elle has even used them on occasion at probate shows and the like to unbeweavably coiffed audience members. "Will you kindly sit in the rear, so your crowning glory doesn't block anyone's view?" And of course, her "Die, just die!" when Dwayne appears in the aisle is irreplaceable. Classic, just classic.

And, of course they are many other great ones... like when Whitley and Dwayne have to be a team for the college quiz bowl(*imitating Whitley "Harrah's in London!! My momma took me there")...the apartheid episode (when Whitley starts dating dashing Julian)...the episode where Dwyane sells his comprutah Peabody to raise tuition money for Whitley... the Kappa Lambda Nu episode...and the black history episode where Kim recites Nikki Giovanni's Ego Trippin'... (DW fans out there, feel free to chime in for any others if you can make a good case. *smile*)


Requiem for our Maestro

When I heard the news, courtesy of my brother, it hit me like a thud to my chest. *Deep breath* Oh no. Not Luthah.

Even though legendary crooner Luther Vandross had been sick for some time, it's like I thought he'd always be here. And now, I'm sad--perhaps hypocritically so. Because, very few of us outside of Mary Ida really knew the real person inside of that velvet tenor, the boisterous jeweled jacket-donning showman, the gifted songwriter and arranger. The man whose voice we loved through weight gains and losses, through personal scares of stroke and sickness, through his and our lives. And yet, it seems superficial. How dare we moan and groan when we indeed we can't answer the questions of what his favorite color was or what he liked to cook most or even what his most enjoyed song was? Did we know what TV shows he watched, or whether he was quiet or gregarious at home? Or, how was it to be the man, that crazy uncle in the Nutty Professor, called da' black Pavarotti? I wonder what it was like of knowing that somewhere in America at any given moment a child was being conceived by the power of your vocal chords? LOL Or that a past couple somewhere else was split apart, listening to you, reminiscing on a love that they once had? That must have been some pressure, some responsibility. But, he carried it so very well. So well, that he left a legacy admirable by any standard that will carry generations through the ebbs and flows of the lives of those just scratchin' and survivin' to those enjoying the spoils of glamourous life. So, I wanted to remember Luthah as he sang it best, forever, for always, for love.

It was So Amazing, the first time I recall him singing. I was in the second or third grade and piled into a white station wagon with a play aunt of mine and a bunch of her kids. We were on the way to Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania for summer fun. I'm pretty certain someone got their hide tore up on the way there (I can't remember who, but this aunt was notorious for threatening to pull the car over to whoop somebody's behind and usually lived up to her promises LOL). But, besides the preponderance of bad behind kids in the seats around me, what I remember most clearly is the radio."Stop to Love" was on and the "He touched my neck/ Stop kicking me/When are we getting there?!!" craziness momentarily abetted for us to all sing along as if Mr. Vandross was the guest vocalist at our moveable Romp-a-Room. *singing* "I love you stop. Stop! I still love you stop. Stop!"

Growing up in the years since, I often listened for Luther at family cookouts. Like fried chicken and potato salad, he never failed to appear. Sure there were also the Temptations, William "Smokey" Robinson and a little Dennis Edwards blasting from the box. But he was always there, Creepin' into the rotation--once, twice, maybe three times in an hour. But, it was Never Too Much to hear him belt out "skibbety dibbety dee dee (Well alright!) in Bad Boy/Having a Party or sing, "We are one having fun, walking in the Glow of Love." But for me, even more than singing along with Luther in a crowd, it was easier to be a Superstar in my room with a broom/paper towel roll as a mike. With my Teddy Ruxpin and black Barbies as my only audience, there were no pressures of constant tour dates, of always having to be perfect for adoring fans with an Endless Love for your music. Fans, who though they meant well, always wanted you to give them yourself, even when you were worn out/ sick/ tired "If Only for One Night, one more perfect song, they'd beg. Surely, Anyone Who Had a Heart would have told them to back off just a little and would have made Luther slow down a bit. Rest a little. Take five like Dave Brubeck. But it seems as though this was his calling--to give the wonderful music we craved and then journey on to the next life. Each Brand New Day he was granted, he gave us more. And though many of tunes were about matters of the heart, the topic never seemed old. It's probably because in life, as he sang, there's Nothing Better Than Love. Now, it wasn't always pretty. All of us can recall times past where A House is Not a Home touched a chord as my man sang softly, then belted, "Now and then, I call your name and suddenly your face appears, but it's just a crazy gae-eee-ame. When it ends, it ends in tears." And though his other popular tunes never really delved into the deep confusion that love sometimes leaves, he did help others tap into the underbelly of the word. His catchy "Da-da-dup, Dup-dup, Da-da-da-dup" scatting famously marked Stevie's classic "Part-Time Lover" and had me singing on the ride home from school like I knew what the heck they were talking about. But normally he showed us the sunny side of the subject. Promise Me, you'll keep your faith in love, that you'll treasure this gift from the Creator, he seemed to ask us. So, If This World Were Mine, I'd want to thank Luther for all the wonderful songs he left us, all the moving stories he told. It seems as the years passed, the struggles he faced never obscured his purpose to teach us that Once You Know How, you just never forget how to love. If I had the chance, I would say, "You are so missed. You spiced up so many lives, started so many parties--and, ahem families *smile*. Don't You Know? We love you. But then again, I bet a million dollars that you know.

Rest in Peace Luther Vandross.