Shaba!!!!!!!Irina Shabayeva Spring 2010 Collection

I wave my ‘Project Runway Fanatic’ flag high and I’ve got to hand it to this season’s winner,  Irina Shabayeva is  bad. No, not just bad, BAAAAAD. Yeah, she may have had her stank moments throughout the competition but her snide comments and snarky attitude all paid off in the end, and was more than likely the product of her fierce determination to take the grand prize. The child of immigrants from The Republic of Georgia, she carried the extra burden of proving to her old school pops that a career in fashion design was neither frivolous nor unattainable for her at the tender age of 26. Like the Cocoa Chanel’s, Diane Von Furstenberg’s, and Betsey Johnson’s before her, Ms. Shabayeva is a woman of style and vision. Her clothing philosophy is all about keeping it elegant, but Ms. Shabayeva doesn’t do your mama’s elegance. Her designs bring to mind a downtown chick with uptown sensibilities. Imagine a feminine yet feral, fly tenderoni who looks luxuriously delicious copping a bag of chips and a brew from the corner bodega or sipping chardonnay at a quaint little bistro. Carrie Bradshaw meets Courtney Love? Her Spring 2010 collection debuted this friday and upon checking it out for the first time earlier today Michael Jackson’s ‘Butterflies’ erupted spontaneously in my head, peep the photos and you’ll understand.


[Visual Analysis] Dana Dane- Nightmares

When I was  13 or 14 years old, I found an old box of my father’s which contained a couple of casette tapes. One of the tapes was Realms N Reality by Cella Dwella’s, which I still bumped Freshman year of  college in my cherry red Pontiac Grand Am, and the rest were a couple of mix tapes. I’m not going to front like I remember every song that was on those mixtapes, mostly a bunch of classic cuts from the 80’s, but I do remember Nightmares by Dana Dane. I probably can’t remeber the rest of the tracks because I had this one on repeat all night long the first time I heard it. Lyrics? Sick. One of the things that makes an emcee great is their ability to take an average scenario and turn it into a lyrical masterpiece and Dana Dane does that with this one, flawlessly. Beat? Fresh. I already think the theme song to The Munster’s goes hard as it is so the sample just does it for me.  I was surprised to find this  gem was available on youtube and more than pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed watching it. Premiering circa 1985, one year before my birth, this video represents everything I love about the golden age of hip hop. It plays out like something that could’ve been produced by my high school theatre arts squad, and it’s in that aspect that it holds the greatest appeal. Low on sophisticated camera techinques, but heavy on style and charm, this video would smash anything out right now. Dana Dane takes you on a journey both lyrically and visually, the hallmark of any great video. While nowadays some artists come out with a video that has nothing to do with the song and everything to do with their fashion sense, I actually felt as if I was watching Dana’s nightmare unfold before my eyes. Throughout , there are several diagnol lines created by various objects within the frame, the door as he enters into the doctor’s office, the armour he lays down on to recount the tales of his beastly stalker, the angle at which the three back-up ‘singers’ are shot during the chorus. Diagnol lines within a shot serve to create a feeling of disorientation, hence the setting of a nightmare. That’s television and film 101, a little something I picked up in college. The smoke machine is a trusted standby for creating an eerie atmosphere, is it just vapor or a ghostly presence?  The colored lighting is  icing on the cake , an impressionistic touch enhancing the surreal nature of the experience. There are plenty of great shots as well, Dana Dane writhing on a neon hued floor, blue suede shoes ditty bopping down a dimly lit hallway, and the beastly chick blowing in his face is classic. The party sequence is a   highlight for me, the way the crowd converges and disperses along with his narrative creatively provides continuity. His three back-up’s are a haunting vision, all ethereal tones and shadows, another punctuation in his conceptual dreamscape. Watching this video 24 years after it was originally released, I can’t help but take note of it’s nostaligic qualities. Seeing dudes actually dance is kind of cool as are  the after school special graphics. You don’t need a big budget when you’re that nice with it.

Ignorance + Herd Mentality/Politics=

My boy forwarded this video of the DC Tea Party protest/rally to me about a week ago and I just got around to watching it.  Now there’s not many things that scare me but seeing these people out there passionately protesting when they couldn’t even answer basic questions about what they were protesting against creeped me out and here’s five reasons why.

1. Even when the interviewer broke down the history of the term “Czar” as it relates to American government these  fools  fine upstanding citizens still attempted to assert an argument against Obama having Czars after essentially being logically stomped out.

2. Did you see some of those signs? God bless Glen Beck? Pelosi is a Jezebel? Obama is the AntiChrist? Palin in 2012 !?!

3. Did old boy really just say that abortion was a greater evil than Slavery? Slavery? And did he really bust out with the 12 % of the population argument? Would you like to talk about the disparities involving Blacks and the Death Penalty my brother? Probably not.

4. Take a good look at the demographic composition of the crowd, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

5. The woman that starts crying at the 5:20 mark….um yeah

Kelis is my girl……….
November 23, 2009, 5:39 pm
Filed under: Jamz | Tags: , ,

Seems Kelis just released a new joint entitled ‘Acapella”. She is RIDICULOUSLY innovative and talented, yet she is one of the most underrated females in the game. True, singles like Caught Out There, Milkshake, and Bossy have garnered attention from the masses but she tends to be treated like a singles artist when in fact her albums are fire. I would know I, at one time or another, have owned them all except for Kaleidoscope. Singles like Scared Money, Keep it Down, and Have A Nice Day are perfect examples of her range as an artist. Her musical vision knows no bounds, from soulful R&B, skate-park alternative and breezy calypso to electro-clash Ms Kelis done done it all. Yet the public still sleeps, singing the praises of clones and biters while the originals remain in the shadows. I am more than glad that she has some new material out, it’s about time. If she’s Red then I’m Meth. Get emmmm……..

Lillies for Shaniya

The last few weeks three faces dominated the local news broadcast. The first  was that of 5 year old Shaniya Davis, curly haired and caramel complected, smiling in a white dress and sunday shoes. The second was that of Mario McNeil, the man accused of kidnapping her from Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park 5 minutes down the road from where I now live. The third was Antoinette Davis, Shaniyah’s mother. If you’re up on current events, which you should be due to the influx of information present on television and computer screens, you already know what became of the little girl with the bright smile. She was sexually assaulted, asphyxiated, and dumped in a wooded area on the outskirts of town. This is my city. Fayetteville, NC.  I’m not a behavioral scientist or psychologist so I can’t pretend to know what it was that made Ms. Davis give her daughter over with the knowledge she would be held in “sexual servitude” or what drives a grown man to assault and strangle a young girl, but I do know that Shaniyah was a divine light, an angel, and her death was not without purpose. Every time a tragedy like this takes place it’s like the check engine light on a car. There’s something that needs to be fixed, there’s an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Like that squeak when you press on the breaks. It’s telling you something. Now you can keep riding like you don’t hear it but wait until the day when your breaks lock up, what are going to do then?. I read a quote by  Anne Graham Lotz , daughter of Evangelist Billy Graham, dealing with the end of days and the signs before hand as Jesus explained them in the Bible. When I read it, it struck a chord with me and certain events I see on the news remind me of it often…..

“Like a woman in childbirth whose labor pains increase in frequency and intensity before the baby is delivered the world will experience natural disasters, wars, epidemics,  religious delusion and deception, persecution of Christians, an increase in moral wickedness and many other signs.”

Now while I can’t say that I completely believe in the ‘second coming’ or apocalypse from a religious perspective,  I definitely feel Ms. Lotz on this one, these are the words of Jesus, uttered thousands of years ago and one can’t help but recognize the truth in them. Take shooting rampages for example, the first one to really devastate on a national level was Columbine, now it’s been Virginia Tech, the Holocaust Museum, LA Fitness,  Ft Hood…..frequency and intensity. The youngest of us are being slaughtered and brutalized. Every time you turn on the news it’s another sweet face and another shocking story to tell.  It’s just sad, on so many levels. I want to have children one day, but I often wonder exactly wat type of world would I be bringing a child into?  Is what we’re confronted with now just the nature of human beings or have we allowed our nature to become corrupted? How much have we allowed our humanity and overall respect for life to be eroded with the sands of time?  The saddest thing to me is, this isn’t the first post I’ve dedicated to  a child thrust into the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons and I know it won’t be the last. I just wonder how many more innocent lives will be lost stolen before we as a society deal with the crap we have swept under our rug?  Shaniya was laid to rest today at 3pm and from what I heard the community came out in droves to pay their respects. She was a divine light, an angel, who in her passing became a beacon regarded by many near and far.  May she eternally and blissfully rest in peace.

Junebug Obama hits it on the head……

[Visual Analysis]Pac Div: Whiplash

Pac Div exudes that type of nostalgic cool that never looses it’s freshness. They evoke comparisons to groupls like De La and Tribe, yet remain completely and comfortably within their proper decade. As a connoseuir of the art of storytelling , the video for their recent release Whiplash strikes my interests as I find it to be a perfect visual definiton of the current quarter life crisis afflicted their peers. As fellow new school breakout Drake lamented on his successful single, Successful, that’s pretty much all he wants to be. Success itself, as determined by the concept of the ‘American Dream’, is almost always attached to the quality and breadth of our material possessions and we live in an increasingly materialistic society where consumerism and debt form an uncomfortable relationship within young urban America.

It was  near the end of the 90’s when record companies acting as image consultants aesthetically gentrified the still developing genre. The level of gratuitous lyrical and visual decadence rose to new heights as the era of bling descended upon us. Women, clothes, money, and cars had always been central themes in hip hop culture, yet compared to previous incarnations the face of hip hop was completely altered. For those of us who came of age with MTV and BET bred hip hop culture, these images have no doubt affected our perception of what “making it” truly means. Everybody has dreams, so as Langston Hughes poised in his famous work “What happens to a dream deferred?”  Through thier eyes we are given a glimpe of the flip-side to the grind, the many days spent in limbo waiting for the big payoff which may or may not come.  This clip Directed by Carey Williams makes no use of fluff or filler and his minimalist approach in composition mirrors a time when realness was a hip hop video standard. Strong contrast between light and shadow, and the specific use of color and black and white sequences mark the shift of tone as we are given a visual parallel of success and failure. Amidst broken down cars, bicycles and travelers on foot, a single Benz occupied by the trio becomes profoundly symbolic as it  glides over asphault like Apollo in his charriot.  Sunlight gleaming off the spotless paint and chrome wheels as their wistful faces are reflected in the hood, the car becomes a manifestation of the hard earned sucess the group has achieved and also an extension of their essence in relation  to the industry. The imagery suggests that Pac Div is letting us know they are the E-class of hip hop; verbally elegant, stylishly classic, well equipped, and top performers.  The languid flow of William’s shots perfectly mirror the hypnotic melody of the track with the segue into Young Black Male providing a poignant finale. The flagrant lights of the squad car bursting through the darkness command the screen. Most of us are well acquainted with the pulse quickining sight of red and blue lights flashing us down in the rear view mirror. Police brutality and racial profiling are disturbing factors in the success stories of urban youth, especially young black men in America. The discomfort and annoyance on BeYoung’s face set aglow by a department issued flashlight is an arresting image, no pun intended. 

[Visual Analysis] Beyonce ft Lady Gaga: Video Phone

After watching the video for Video Phone, my appreciation for the directorial talents of Hype Williams remained solidified. He makes a mean ass video and this was no exception.  Hype is known for is his ingenious application and use of color within his compositions. Brilliant neons, muted purples and metalics, amplified earth tones, his creations perfectly fit the tone and energy of the musical pieces they accompany. As a young grafitti artist he wanted to be the Basquiat or  Keith Haring of the streets, an ambition as indicative of his artistic prowess as it is of his extraordinary aesthetic ideology. His canvas is film and he masters it with the grace of Boticelli and the eye of a visionary. I became somewhat of a fan when Beyonce dropped the video for Single Ladies. Like Kanye, I must agree that it was one of the best of the decade. It was stunning in it’s simplicity, a perfect blend of stylish direction and flawless performance that will certainly be heralded as a classic 20 years from now. After it, however, Beyonce’s video game slipped a tad which was probably due to the pressure of trying to top herself.  Hype single handedly up’d her cool points in my book about 50%.  It seemed she let go of what her fans have come to expect and just had fun with this video, and it worked.  Hype shoots women as surreally beautiful creatures,  an augmentation of the qualities already existent within his female subjects. In this respect, since he’s dealing with Beyonce’s self proclaimed hardcore alter ego Sasha Fierce, we are presented with Beyonce as a collage of femme fatale archetypes complete with pop art shotguns, high heels and side-swept bangs. Influences range from Betty Page and Priss Asagiri, to Sin City’s Gail, Barbarella and g’d up chulas in the style of Mr. Cartoon. The men play the background as Beyonce’s faceless playthings, tied to chairs, stroked with instruments of death and impailed on spinning wheels. The song itself is coquettishly airheaded, lyrically vacant but you know it wasn’t intended to be a grammy nominee. It’s a slice of friday night/saturday morning sexiness better suited for 2am strobe light and smoke machine induced frenzies. Flash editing, festive and opulent colors and tight close-ups of cat eyes and moist lips provide the ambiance for Beyonce’s phone freak fantasies, leaving the viewer with a 5 minute exhortation of  pulp magzine-esque visuals.  The result is something like a bondage/peep show you would see at Cirque Du Soleil. I can dig it