Monday, December 25, 2006

Soul Brother Number One!

The supreme liberator; James Brown has passed away at age 73!
What most people don't realize is that he was one of the most influential innovators of the 20th century. Surely, he had become a caricature of himself in recent years but his place in African Heaven was long accounted for.

James Brown liberated African-American music from the clutches of European influenced church music. By himself, he brought the entire world to its feet with his organic, pulsating jungle grooves. Without James Brown there is no such thing as "Funk" and certainly not any art form known as "Hip-Hop".
Not surprisingly, most of the pioneering rap songs of the '70's and '80's featured samples of his music as the backdrop for a new attitude. Why not?
James Brown preceded Fela Kuti as the Blackest African of our planetary system. When he visited Africa in the 1960's he freed African musicians from the constraints of colonial etiquette.
His band was the first group to feature two drummers, two bassists, three guitars and a full horn section! Fela acknowledged, in a film interview, that he had been driven to inspiration by the thoroughly raw African power of James Brown's music. Having seen Fela live on stage, I can attest that he had borrowed much from the Godfather of Soul.
If you need to be reminded of the enormity of the man's legacy, you need only listen to what African-American music sounded like B.J.B. (before James Brown). Then you will truly understand that in the Jungle Groove...he took us back to Africa!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The age of citizen journalism is upon us!

NEW YORK (Reuters) - You were named Time magazine "Person of the Year" on Saturday for the explosive growth and influence of user-generated Internet content such as blogs, video-file sharing site YouTube and social network MySpace.

"For seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, Time's Person of the Year for 2006 is you," the magazine's Lev Grossman wrote.

The magazine has put a mirror on the cover of its "Person of the Year" issue, released on Monday, "because it literally reflects the idea that you, not us, are transforming the information age," Editor Richard Stengel said in a statement.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Unique Podcast this week

This Week's 'One Tribe, Many Voices' podcast features an educational project that I did for incarcerated teens. Sometimes it seems as if 75% of all Black & Latino boys have been incarcerated in this state. Every time that I have visited a correctional facility, I have been startled by the sheer numbers of young men who are being warehoused in the United States.
In many neighborhoods, incarceration has become a 'rite of passage' for young men. There is no negative stigma attached to their plight since it is more the norm than an anomaly. For many, imprisonment has become the path most trodden. It may be the more likely 'straight path' for those who find grade school irrelevant.
The most disturbing reality is that serial incarceration has breed a generation that is not uneasy with the dehumanization of imprisonment. Some young men feel more self assured within the confines of correctional facilities. They know what to expect and they know what is expected of them. The the halls of justice and education present a clearer danger to them. Could the ugly secret be that society has no use for most of them? Are they taken out of the economic equation early in life so that America can make the numbers look good? Are they factored into the percentage of America's success quotient?