Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On Massive Attack

This year marks the 21st Anniversary of one of my top-ten albums in the entire universe, Massive Attack's brilliant 1991 debut Blue Lines. More than two decades later, the slick style combined with the weeded atmosphere and texture of the record still makes it the perfect disc to play while writing fiction. In addition to the motley trio that comprised the core group, this record also introduced the world to spliff star and madcap recording angel Tricky. One of these days I hope my friends over at Wax Poetics give me a chance to riff on that brief, brilliant time in pop music when trip-hop (hip-hop for grown-ups) ruled the earth.

For now, dig this small piece I wrote about Massive's "game changing" single ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ by Massive Attack [Virgin, 1991]

Inspired by blunts and beats, Massive Attack emerged from port town of Bristol determined to be different. Releasing the debut disc Blue Lines in 1991, their so-called ‘trip-hop’ sound became a melodic blueprint for an aural revolution. As former group member Mushroom explained to me in 1998, “When we went into the studio, we didn’t care about the record company or the listeners; we just want wanted to make ourselves happy.”

Luckily, Massive’s sonic selfishness paid off. Their second single ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ brought together various schools of sound including b-boy scratching and funky samples, classical instruments and Shara Nelson’s soulful vocals. The result was an exhilarating manifesto to romantic love and rhythmic rebellion. 20 years later, the controlled chaos and cinematic sound of ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ is still serves as a mighty pop influence.

originally published in One More Robot #8

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Blunted on Reality @ Complex.com


In the tradition of Hunter Thompson’s wild styled Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I began writing a gonzo memoir called Blunted on Reality. Today, Complex.com offers a sneak peek of this work-in-progress. As a celebration of National Weed Day 4/20, this excerpt details various “blunted” experiences while working as a journalist for various publications including The Source, Vibe, Rap Pages and Spin.

For those new to my work, I've been a pop journalist since the 1980s and co-authored the respected hip-hop book Bring the Noise (1991). I've also written for Essence, High Times, Right On and New York magazine.

As a fan of the gonzo writer adventures of Hunter Thompson and Lester Bangs, and I wanted to apply that type of prose to pot, hip-hop and soul. I wasn’t attempting to mimic either writer's style, but simply trying to find my own groove.


Beginning with the first cover story I ever wrote for The Source in 1992, documenting a studio session with weed advocates Cypress Hill, the other weeded artists I reminisced about in “Blunted on Reality” include Snoop Dogg, D'Angelo, the Notorious B.I.G. and Tricky.

I started writing this project, because I used to tell friends all these smoked-out stories about those golden years and I thought they would make a wonderful book. This is just a sneak preview of what is is come.

As a companion piece to “Blunted on Reality,” he also wrote a list of “50 Best Weed Songs” for Complex.com:

Blunted on Reality: http://www.complex.com/music/2012/04/blunted-on-reality-a-rap-journalist-recalls-smoking-with-snoop-dogg-biggie-cypress-hill-more/page/1

50 Best Weed Songs: http://www.complex.com/music/2012/04/the-50-best-weed-songs/#gallery

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Monday, April 09, 2012

Ooooooohhh...On the TLC Tip (20th Anniversary)

As I get older, I find myself saying more and more, "I can't believe it's been 10, 15, 20 years since..." Last fall, when I was thinking of ideas to pitch to my fave gossip mag Juicy, I realized that 2012 would be the 20th anniversary of Ooooooohhh...On the TLC Tip. While TLC's debut album was a landmark disc that would go on to sell millions, the group's fabulous rise wasn't as effortless as the public might've perceived. Indeed, much blood, sweat, water guns and food fights went into making their project a success.


In addition to new interviews with group members Chilli and T-Boz, who are currently consulting on a TLC bio-pic for VH1, I also spoke to video director Lionel C. Martin, former publicist Audrey LaCatis Onyeike, promotions man Lamont Boles, writer Carol Cooper, former Billboard R&B columnist Janine Coveny and singer Keyshia Cole. Additionally, I also wrote a sidebar tribute to the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who was killed in a car accident ten years ago this April 25. Thank you to the Juicy team Paula T. Renfroe, Taiia Smart Young and Kweli Wright for doin' it right.


Juicy: http://www.juicymagonline.com/celeb

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