Monday, January 29, 2007

The Triumvirate is complete

It's been a long time coming, but finally, I can die a happy man. I am now the proud owner of 3 of the greatest pairs of sneakers ever made. Presenting (l to r) the Nike Flightposite 1 in gold, the Nike Penny Foamposite, and the Air Jordan V in black and metallic grey. I'll give u one last look at the soles (consider it a metaphor of some sort).

oh, so icy. maybe now, i can finally save my dough.

Monday, January 22, 2007

It's a sickness. I know.

You don't have to know me for long before you realize that I have a severe addiction to shoes. I'm a "sneakerhead." I can tell you more about tennis shoes than you could tell me about your life. That said, being on salary has not helped my obsession. Indeed, coming back to the East Coast, in the sleeper city of Philly, it's been a little too easy to find the shoes I want when I want them. Once (at the second hand store I shop at), I found the shoes pictured here, a pair of Nike Air Trainer 3's Limited Edition Viotechs (I know, it's sneaker-speak) for $26. $26!! That may mean nothing to you, but these shoes have appreciated to around $250-$350 on ebay, and I found a nice-but-used pair for $26.

Add to all this that Nike decided to release two of my all-time favorite shoes ever within one week's time; so ya boi now has a much smaller bank account to match the ever-decreasing amount of space in his closet.

Regrets? not really. I'm happy with pretty much every purchase I made. Even though you outsiders prolly think I'm crazy. And I am. I realize this. But I love it.

So without further ado, I present to you, 2 out of 3 of my grails, shoes I have longed for since childhood and now can finally bask in the joy of knowing that I own. The third will be purchased by Friday, God-willing.

If you're a sneakerhead and you don't own a pair of Jordans, then you're not a real sneakerhead. If it wasn't for #23, the sneaker game wouldn't even exist. We'd be trading Pokemon cards or something.
As for Air Jordans, we all have our favorites, the XI's are by far the most popular, but for me there was always one pair that I loved and desired: The black and silver V's. With their simple elegance, icy soles and reflective tongue, they were beyond words. If the XI's were the Lamborghini's of Jordans, the V's were the Bentley: stately, refined, and beautiful. Look at how icy those soles are!

I just purchased these retro's this past saturday. One of the happiest purchases ever in my life.

If you're from the Washington, DC metropolitan area, then you know that Chocolate City is the home of the Foam and Flightposites. The first pairs of Nikes fetching for $150-$200, these shoes were part of DC's uniform. By far, the most beautiful out of the entire series is the Flightposite 1. A clear evolution from the previous Foamposite shoes, the Flightposite 1 captured in a beautiful silhouette the form of the foot, not to mention that the original two colorways, gold (pictured here) and eggplant, were equally stunning.
No doubt, it's a polarizing design, but either you abhor it or you abso-friggin-lutely love it, and I love it. I happened upon these on ebay at a very decent price (not $26 though, :-p) and have yet to put them on.
Finally, the 3rd shoe in the triumvirate of grails has yet to be purchased because it has yet to be released. The Penny Foamposites, have the icy soles of the Air Jordan V and the foamposite upper of the Flightposite 1, with no swoosh. These are the only shoes where I can remember the exact time I first saw them on someone. It was Miami, Florida, summer of 1997. I was over at somebody's house and saw a bunch of boys running through the street. One of them had those shoes on. He was gone as quick as I saw him, but the image of those shoes have been emblazoned in my mind ever since. They will complete the triumvirate. That is, unless I get the eggplant Flightposite 1's too. :-p
And oh, did you notice the selvage? hehe... so fly.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

You should think about it; take a second... *ding!*

"The Great Artist may in fact be the socially useful narcissist"

"Most people think Narcissism is just being stuck-up and self-centered, but in the extreme it means there is no one else in the person's world with them--intense loneliness."

So, to my fellow Artists, do u have what it takes to be Great?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Blame Jeffrey

so i'm not as much of... how do i say... an "open book" as the young Taylor, but i must admit that reading his stuff, listening to Lupe, Clipse, and others, and the fact that i live by myself (translation: too much time spent thinking) have all amalgamated to end what had been a pretty extended writer's bloc. it's not like i had been tryna write that much, but i was more or less uninspired and unable to produce anything worth looking at for at least a year.

Well, the levees have broken and with them have come all the internal conflicts that breed the stuff I don't call prose. will u understand it? maybe. maybe not. could i make it more understandable and less guarded? yeah, probably. but i'd rather confuse u and leave u conflicted. is that a good thing? prolly not. iunno.

*note*: above is an example of me thinking too much. i digress.

so anyways, i've been writing more over the past 3 or 4 months and blame it on JV Taylor that i decided to put some up here. what can i say, i need an outlet. but i will not give dashiki-and-incense-laden introductions like the aforementioned individual has been known to do. all things are open to criticism (good and bad) and questions and interpretations (but if ur off, i'll let u know).

This one is a lot rougher than the first 2, but i'm bored. wrote it mid-november.

Tilden Dreams

I wonder—with the future before me,
at a desk here, walking there, never silent—
what happened to my dreams?

Wrapped in cellophane or spoiled
(because everything has a “sell by” date,
a shelf life)? There were always many
lofty, as they dreams must be, like an attic
in an old house, or this building where
I stand in front of dreamers who have no idea
they’re sleeping.

It makes sense
that the top floor is off limits. We’re one beneath it.
Besides, it’s filled with feathers
and perhaps the remains of a pigeon or two.
But I will remind myself and my dreams:
even birds have limits, wings can be burdensome,
and that star I wish upon may be filled
with souls that wish upon my own planet from a distance.

So I wonder—with the future before me,
at a desk here, walking there, never silent—
what happened to my dreams?

Like long lines in the cold, breath collecting
before my face to warm the tip of my nose
for a jackpot or an elusive ticket to a candy factory,

were some of them lost
before I had ever discovered them?

With so many black plastic bags tangled in tree branches, I can tell
they never take the time to notice packaging,
and the bags crackle in the wind like blown speakers, like static
from TV. Looking down from my window, I mistake them
for a flock of crows, as I’m sure
they would mistake a crow for a plastic bag in a tree.
It makes sense.

The desks are empty, I cannot hear them anywhere
but in my head. Still, I know that they are speaking
of the past, as the future always does, in spite of itself.

I wonder how long it will take

to sweep up feathers and excrement: the future
is as impatient as a dream.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Call it the "winter itch"

The first day

Some stood like axes on the wall,
Others more like guillotines
I have so much to learn
I stood, the only clean blade in a cutlery
until responsibility forced me to draw blood.
This is not new to you, is it? You expected more.
By day’s end, soaked in red,

I questioned myself.

I am not a soldier,
was never a fighter,
how did I end
up in the midst of a war?

This eighty year old brick building
is a fortress that only contains
the confusion of the street corners;
lives that carry the names of the fallen like their ink-
stained backpacks: those are forgotten too,
left at home.

Aware of their place, they are huddled, looking
like freshly washed swine in a mosque,
and I am a bayonet named Moira.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Lest I forget...

In my rant about music of 2006, I forgot to highlight the fact that DC is (finally) putting out some authentic home-grown talent worth listening to. There is of course Mr "Put Me in the Pocket" Tabi Bonney, but the real breakout is Wale. Dude is a monster. He's signed to Studio 43, the upstart label founded by former Rocafella VP (and DC native) Kenny Burns, and deserves real attention. Download his mixtape (for free!) here
and if ur into it, holler at his myspace page, Tabi Bonney's got one too, but i'm too lazy to put a link up. Google him and you'll find it.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The future is here

Happy New Year ppl. Unlike most ppl, this is the final day of my short Winter Break. It felt much longer though and, aside from the fact I didn't get any work done, I have no complaints. Reflecting on the year that was, I thought about a lot. 2006 was definitely a watershed in many ways. I won't add to that; a man's gotta keep some things to himself, right?

So, I have no witty transition, but one of the many things in my head about this past year was "Is hip-hop really dead?" I mean, Nas's (great) album said so, and we all know that we should listen to Nas. And aside from the pure art of it, Rap isn't even selling like it used to. I read somewhere that there was only one multi-platinum rap album this year. ("Ugh!" as Pusha T would say).

And then there's the "future" of rap, Jim Jones (no comment) and DipSet, Lil Wayne, who seems to have fallen victim to his own talent such that he believes he can be mentioned in the same breath as Jay or Nas (maybe i'll expound on this in another post), and is there anyone else worth mentioning?

Well, prolly so. While I'm not sure it was better than Lord Willin', Clipse came hard on Hell Hath No Fury. Too bad it won't get the commercial attention it deserves, which is strange considering they're the ones who blew the doors open on commercialized cocaine rap with grimy rhymes that didn't compromise themselves for commercial success. I'm a firm believer that Lord Willin' is not just a classic but durn near a masterpiece. (Is either The Carter or The Carter 2 better than Lord Willin'? I don't think so, Weezy. And can we come up with more creative album titles, dood? Ur getting lazy like Hov, but you still don't have two-thirds the swagger.) With the exception of "Nightmares," I don't think the beats on HHNF live up to the rhymes.

And then there was St. Elsewhere, the Cinderella album of the year. It was a breath of fresh air from market-driven collaborations and cookie-cutter hip-hop (yes, hip-hop). Cee-lo has always been one of rap's most poetic voices Dangermouse went bonkers, like "tripping balls" as white ppl say, on those beats. It was a masterpiece and a classic. Too bad the media hype frenzy ate them along with their album. "Smiley Faces" shoulda been #1 twice as long as "Crazy." That's not a slight to "Crazy" which--forgive me--was crazy, but rather a nod to how vicious "Smiley Faces" was. But alas, the world is a strange place.

Then there were other albums, Kingdom Come and Hip Hop is Dead along with Idlewild, from heavyweights. The Outkast album was a dissapointment, and even I'll admit that Jigga is rusty. (He's still better than Weezy. "Minority Report," "Lost Ones," "Prelude," "Beach Chair"--i hate the beat, but peep the lyrics--Big Homey did make a mature album. Just that some of it is lazy. Dude's not pushing himself.) But can I give a shoutout to two standouts from both albums...two names: Janelle Monae and Chrisette Michele. All I can say about Janelle Monae is that she's a monster. I remember the first time I heard John Legend's Knitting Factory CD sophomore year. This girl had me feeling as excited as that when I heard some of her stuff this summer (and i was siced when I found the Knitting Factory CD). So allow me to become her hypeman for 2007. And I doubt Chrisette needs a hypeman, she's signed to DefJam. But all i can say is that her hook on Nas's "Can't Forget" was mean and vicious.

And Nas? I may be one of the only ppl who thought his last double album was actually good, but either way, this one is not debateable. He really got it right with this one. It's consistent and the flow--the rhyme patterns and meter--is crazy on some of his tracks.

But still, with all this talk about hip-hop dying, I had to say that there was a beacon of light, the Hip-Hop Resucitator, if you will. Born Wasalu, my choice for hands-down Album of the Year was Food and Liquor. I don't care what you think, if you don't agree with me on this one, you're just wrong. This isn't opinion, it's fact. Food and Liquor deserved 5 mics. Was it a perfect album? Heck nah, but it was a masterpiece. It was the album that bridged the ghetto and the Black middle class. It was critical of itself, its culture, and dominant culture all at once. There were stories, (my goodness, were there stories!), rapper braggadocio, and real lyricism. It was "real" hip-hop. But not in the way that old heads speak of the olden days of A Tribe Called Quest, P.E., Rakim, et al. No, it was real Hip-Hop for a changed people, a changed hip-hop. For the growing number of black professionals as well as those high school dropouts. For the suburban kids who pout when they don't get their PS3's and the kids at Tilden whose parents spend welfare checks on 8-balls (real rap, not making this up). But all in all, it was intelligent, which, in the end, was its downfall. The program directors, A&R's, and music execs still don't know (or want to know) how to market music that you actually have to listen to. Music that makes you think has no real place in our culture anymore, or at least you would think that with all this durn snapping and leaning. I mean really, the only commercially successful rapper in this era of hip hop who could make you think was Kanye, and he (has) had to be a gorrilla (as well as an arrogant butthole) to get there. And really when you think about it, I doubt he'da gotten where he is without being his own #1 fan.

But it's not about Kanye, it's about the Fiasco. I have to admit, I slept on Food and Liquor at first. Although the retail version was much better than the first version that leaked on the internet (thank God whoever leaked it and forced him to go back in the studio. And thank you Lupe for not being lazy and going back into the studio), I just didn't give it the attention it deserved. But as I would play it while I was doing something in my apartment, I found myself stopping here and pausing there, going back to the computer and rewinding a verse like "did he say what I thought he said?"

Yes, he did.

Verse of the year, from "Daydreamin'":
Now c'mon everybody, let's make cocaine cool
We need a few more half-naked women up in the pool
And hold this Mack-10 that's all covered in jewels
And can u please put your titties closer to the 22's?
And where's the champagne? We need champagne!
Now look as hard as you can with this blunt in your hand
And now, hold up your chains, slow motion through the flames,
Now cue the smoke machines and the simulated rain
But not too loud cuz the baby's sleepin
I wonder if it knows what the world is keepin
Up both sleeves while he lay there dreamin
Me and my robot tiptoe round creepin
I had to turn my back on what got you paid
I couldn't see, had the hood on me like Abu Ghraib
But I'd like to thank the street that drove me crazy
And all the televisions out there that raised me
I was...

Like i said, on this one, if you don't agree, you're just wrong. 8-)