Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Straight Outta ... Well you already know

     Finally, ya girl Kearmonie took that trip to the movie theaters to see the latest Critically acclaimed BioPic "Straight Outta Compton". Telling the story of one of the most impactful Rap groups of all time, Titled after their iconic debut album, and having dominated the box offices 4 weeks in a row S.O.C. is a must see.

     The film opening up with soundbites of scattered radio commentary and song lyrics we meet, who I personally declare as our protagonist, Eric "Eazy-E" Wright, introducing us to the lifestyle he led before "blowing up". We then meet Dr. Dre and then Ice Cube through their run-ins with gang violence, police brutality and trouble at home for a simple yet effective opening sequence.

     What is revealed in those moments could have been a half-hour to 45 minutes long, as this film comes across rather rushed. You blink once and next thing you know they are on a national tour. Granted, most films are only 120 minutes long, the run time of this one being 150 minutes(2 1/2 hours), yet this film was more of a timeline, a re-telling of a lot of information fans of Hip-Hop especially those who were alive and experiencing the culture during the era in question(unlike myself) already know, and still remember vividly.

     A lot of subject matter is danced around, such as Eazy-E's promiscuity, infidelity, and all of his children. Not one of his kids a depicted in the film, or so much as mentioned; nor are the mothers of his children or other women he was seriously involved with during the height of his career. His involvement with multiple women is snarkily hinted at but not ever shown. It is hard to believe he was infected with HIV by being with one woman during the entire time. Also regarding Eazy-E, his departure from NWA(followed by a solo diss track or two) is not depicted; maybe a minuscule bit of information, but the truth is never obsolete. What else is cleverly left out is Dr. Dre's assault changes, and most importantly the woman he reportedly assaulted, who was not only his girlfriend but also an artist signed to his label who's music Dre had produced the majority of. We are given a glimpse into the life of Dr. Dre, the depiction of his career could arguably be more necessary for this film than his personal life, but the way the two have overlapped is not shown. Going back to before the fame, we do not learn how these brothas got their names or how they even fell in love with hip-hop music, we meet Dre as he is already a well known underground DJ, not how he got the name Dr. Dre or how he became established; and Cube is already an MC involved with another group.

    Enough of the negativity though, this film is beautiful. The colors, the lights, the sound, the close-ups. The depiction of the rawness and severity of what these men went through just by being young, black men, in the hood; and all that fueled their music was remarkably illustrated. This film did it's job in playing up the drama the way film and television seems to be doing these days, giving the viewer what they want, in the most cinematic way possible. What I personally felt was overdone, is the interweaving of the Rodney King incident/trial. I feel that was an obvious element used, not just to tell what year/era we're in, but to amplify all that N.W.A. stands for and the fact that the fight is not over. This is not to say that the members of the group were not greatly effected by the case and the riots that followed, but the use of it all does not add to the film, nor take away from it, its just there.

     Straight Outta Compton, is an intense look back on one of the most iconic and influential rap groups of all time. Despite feeling as if this film failed to inform me on anything that I did not already know, I was impressed, and I teared up about twice... well maybe three times.

     Oh, and one more thing that I cannot overlook, The man I am declaring as the lead actor, having portrayed who I have already declared or protagonist, Jason Mitchell(Eazy-E). That man was incredibly charming, funny, and an incredible actor. Mister O'shea Jackson, the young man who portrayed Ice Cube and who just so happens to be Ice Cube's son, got Top Billing(his name is the first to pop up in the credits and while searching the film online) but we'll see how that all changes when award season comes around. #NoShade

Monday, May 25, 2015

Keith Haring Exhibit at the TBD Art Gallery

Nearing the end of the exhibition I visited TBD( for their Closing Reception and Celebration of Keith Haring's life and legacy. None of the materials used in this short (footage/music) are for promotional use.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Why you should watch "The Act of Killing"

The Act of killing follows former “gangsters” who are responsible for aiding a Genocide during the 1960’s in Indonesia. At this time they helped the military in killing thousands of presumed communist. Their government was in complete military control at the time and the details of this genocide have been overlooked at the time. However, the act of killing is not a simply retelling of what has happened we following these gangster as they recruit actors, extras, design a set and props and put together reenactments of the killings they did to create a film. They are more than willing to reminisce and reveal the many ways they’ve killed people, this film they are creating also seems to have pleasant comic relief with strange dance sequences and cross-dressing. We even get a character profile of who seems to be the most charismatic of the criminals we meet, Anwar Congo. Congo has the most camera time and his personal reflection is manipulated at the end to help viewers come to a conclusion, an element used in many documentaries. 

      What I think makes this film so critically acclaimed are those many elements, this film is very layered and we a given true raw stories, that a graphic, and represented visually, and the “characters” are open. However, the story itself is disgusting. The men we meet clearly lacked morality and seem as if they still do. Many times Anwar has said “I did it because I had to”, He describes the best ways to kill someone without seeming remorseful. Though, as the actor in recreating the killing for their film he felt terrified as if he was really going to be killed there is no way he could possibly feel what any  the “communists” he killed ever felt. When the other militia men reminisce on burning down villages, and raping young women I felt the urge to vomit and cry; which is exactly what Anwar did in that very last sequence. This film is where the exploitation of documentary film is exemplified. Here we have murderer willing to admit their murder, this film is structured beautifully but in reality this is a terrible story. There is no answer to this, no “right” way to go about it. All stories and narratives are important to be told, and in terms of film it is incredibly innovative that we are hearing from the “bad guys” instead of historians or “experts” who have done a lot of research.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Don't Believe the Hype!: the Story of The Modern Day Bohemian" is back !! or something like that

      In society “artist” is not a job description, it is not a lifestyle, instead it is considered a hobby. Art is not something you are supposed to purse in college or even in life as a career. If you tell someone what you do and the answer is something solely artistic they would probably ask you again, probably ask you what your profession is; as if job title stands alone from whom the person truly is. “Don’t believe the Hype: The story of the Modern Day ‘Bohemian’”. Bohemian: a slang term used to describe a person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices. Stemming from the word describing people of Bohemia (ancient Czech Republic) who were thought to be Gypsies. Although this word seems like a slur, there are people who identify as such. Artists like myself and people I associate with are just doing what we love but also face harsh criticism because of it. DBTH is going to challenge these cruel interpretations of who young artists are and what we do. Profiling and following the lives of musicians, poets, actors, etc.; including 5 main people or groups/collectives this film is going to be a 45 to 60 minute journey, filmed over the course of 6 months.

 Help FUND this project here :

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Springtime hits Brooklyn

It was a beautiful beginning to Spring Break, my friend and aspiring photographer Allegra Earle hit Williamsburg for a quick photoshoot:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

#FearandRace The fear of Black Men in America

    Today NPR is taking this discussion to Twitter with NPR/CodeSwitch correspondents Gene Demby and Michel Martin, inviting listeners to join the conversation using the hashtag #FearandRace.
    It is easy to say that we are targeted, especially Black men. Earlier today I was asked "How do you preserve when you're black and the world lives to see you perish?". My response: This is something that I would actually like to have a forum on. I've noticed Black girls say that they are afraid to have children more specifically boys, and that is sad. Personally, I am the exact opposite. I hope the lord blesses me with TEN nappy headed brown skin boys. In a society that is trying to kill us all we have to do is live, and be great. But that all comes from within, it is self love. We have to love and believe in ourselves and support one another. Racism is trying to kill us but racism is also trying to convince us that we are expendable. Trust in this life that has been given to you and believe that you are here for a reason, we all are. 
     However when it comes to the racism against us what we can really do is talk about, make sure everyone is aware of what is happening. Which is exactly what Michel Martin did on MPR in two interviews this week. 
       Here Martin talks to author and Georgetown University Law professor Paul butler about his experiences:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When that Kendrick Lamar album is the greatest thing you've heard since that last Kendrick Lamar album

      Just two weeks ago Kendrick Lamar announced the release of his third album to be March 16th, and at that point it was "Untitled" *cue eye roll*. But listeners were surprised on March 16th at midnight to see Kendrick's album has been released digitally with no promo, though we knew of this album it's safe to say he "pulled a Beyonce`". Twitter was swarming with #ToPimpAButterfly tweets commending its introspection, innovation and musical progression. By 12:01 hundreds of hip-hop heads were convinced that this album is a classic. Kendrick done did it, two classic albums.

      Just a few months ago this album's first single "i" received a lot of mixed feelings. The "Who's That Lady" sample and "I Love Myself" chant make up a funky upbeat positive record, which some people(including myself) just could not get hip to. A few weeks ago he released "The Blacker the Berry" which received harsh criticism as Kendrick refers to himself as a "hypocrite" for taking part in gang activity and killing other Blacks, as if that is suppose excuse racist acts against us. This made me quite reluctant in listening to the new album but upon it's release, and all the buzz, I had to add this to my library and give it my ears.

     This album is a funky, prophetic, and an unprecedented peek into Kendrick's mind; as well as an opportunity to evaluate one's self. It is not about Kendrick more than it is about all of us. Kendrick did this for the kids, for Black people everywhere, for young Black men everywhere. I don't sense a change as an artist but progression. Standout tracks include the intro "Wesley's Theory" a look at America's capitalism and Black people in debt(like Wesley Snipes), "King Kunta", "Alright", and "Complexion". If I was to rate those tracks a 5, then every other song on this album is a 4/4.5. It is a solid body of work. "i" makes so much more sense while listening to "To Pimp A Butterfly" in it's entirety, especially as a first single. This album is everything Kendrick was reaching for on tracks like "The Heart pt. 2", "HiiiPower", "Sing About Me", etc. It is everything we love about Kendrick, he constantly raises the bar. 
      If you haven't listened to this entire this project, straight through, in one sitting; I'll just assume you are incredibly busy and haven't had the time yet. But anyway, lets get into this final track. "Mortal Man". "Mortal Man" challenges exactly what the title states as Kendrick sings "When shit hits the fan will you still be a fan?". On this track he references Michael Jackson and all of the controversy that followed that man stating "He gave us Billie Jean, you still think he touched those kids?". The end of this song is the cherry on top, an interview between Kendrick Lamar and Tupac Shakur, a conversation rather. The Tupac soundbites were flawlessly sampled and spliced with questions/responses from Kendrick. This jaw-dropping, eye opening, tear jerking conversation is the perfect close to this project. (More info HERE)

     Now, with all that said here comes the big BUT. I don't particularly favor this album. I get it, and I am appreciative but I don't love it. It doesn't have the effect on me that good kid m.A.A.d City did, but maybe it isn't supposed to. Maybe this album just lacks the car bumping, brainwashing repetition and sophisticated ignorance we all flock to so often. This album is social commentary, this album is Black Love.

#ToPimpAButterfly is for us and it is necessary.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Oscars and your everyday racism

Three of the most trending celebrity names from the evening: Patricia Arquette, John Legend, and Zendaya.

     Now to begin with Patricia Arquette. Upon receiving an Oscar for her role in "Boyhood" she ending her thank you's with a shout out to women across this country who are underpaid for the hard work. Statistics have proven that men do earn more than women and Patricia's statement calls for Equal pay.
Watch here:

     The problem is she does not seem to be standing up for other groups who are discriminated against in the work force like Blacks and Gays. She even makes a slippery slope kind of point stating "We have fought for everybody else's equal rights". Almost to say "enough of that Marriage equality or equal opportunity jazz, it's OUR turn" The OUR being White women. This is what is referred to as white feminism. White women fighting for equal rights but not acknowledging that they still reap the benefits of being white. It is clear that a white woman will be awarded equal pay before a queer, Black woman for example; that doesn't seem to be clear to Ms. Arquette.

Now moving on to John Legend. His collabo with Common "Glory" from the "Selma" soundtrack was awarded best original song. Watch here:

In his acceptance speech he stated "The struggle for justice is right now". "There are more men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850". Now there are people responding to this with the that fact there are more Black people in this country now than during the times of slavery, in terms of statistics and percentages. But why does that matter? All that matters is exactly what John legend said, we are the most incarcerated nation. The fight for freedom and justice is still alive and that needs to be acknowledged, not numbers. This speech is a tad funny because all of those white people who were jumping out of their seats for Patricia Arquette's speech had no reaction to John Legend's.

Closing with Ms. Zendaya.

     The 18 year old Disney kid decided to rock Loc Extensions for the evening. I've posted a how-to HERE. Personally as creator of I LOVE Box Braids I absolutely adore seeing celebrities wearing protective hairstyles. As far as hair goes I feel that the synthetic hair she used was very shiny, she should have went with human, and the burnt ends are tacky, whoever did her hair could have done the method I and so many others have used. Aside from that the style looked very nice on her and was beautifully done.
Giuliana Rancic of Fashion Police felt otherwise. Stating that Zendaya looks as if she smells of patchouli oil and weed. This is a direct prejudice o towards locs, and you know who has locs? Black people. This was immediately taken as an attack on Black hair, and Zendaya responded respectfully.

   It's kind of funny how Zendaya's statement in "defense" of her loc extensions is exactly why certain people didn't like the hairstyle when it started to get really popular a few years back. She says locs are a symbol of strength and beauty, yet hers are fake. Either way people are loving faux locs now-a-days and I totally support Zendaya's hair choice and response.

   Rancic soon apologized via E! News' youtube. In a kind way stated that she is sorry for perpetuating stereotypes. I don't care for this apology. The Fashion Police crew have always been shady and I don't think the offensive comments are going to stop. She is only apologizing because the internet called her racist. Basically. You can watch the apology video HERE.

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