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Archive for the ‘1997’ Category

Remarks:

Merry Christmas!

Lyrics:

Verse 1: Run

It was December 24 on Hollis after the dark
My man Santa saw a rabbi and gave the strangest remark
He said that giving was his living and I had to take part
So I grabbed a bag of goodies and I hopped up on his cart
I laced the pockets of the poor and gave the hoodie a play
Dropped some dollars up on Hollis and I went on my way
I hear your jingle Mr. Kringle peep the single, my man
so Santa hit a brotha off and come as quick as you can!

[chorus]
Santa Baby
Just slip a Benzo under the tree for me
A ’98 convertible, light blue
I’m looking for a fly guy, like you
So hurry down the chimney tonight…

Verse 3: Ma$e

Now all Mase know
When its eight twenty-four
He be looking at the door for the ho ho ho
Cause I know
When theres a christmas uptown
Ain’t no chimney for santa to come down

Verse 4: Puff Daddy

Now to me, PD I had alot
Appreciated everything that I got
Though I used to take my pops
Who aint caught me shaking the box
Cause I knew I couldn’t wait till it turned 12 o’clock

Verse 5: Snoop Doggy Dogg

Cookies and Milk
Satin and Silk
I’m chillin in the living room, wrapped in a quilt
I’m waiting on this fat Red Suit wearing-comparing
My gifts to my homeboy next door to me
A gift here, none there, but who cares
My little sister needs a comb just to braid her nappy hair
Bbut here we go again waiting on the enemy
To slide down the chimney
Look here, that ain’t reality

[chorus]
Santa Baby
Just slip a Benzo under the tree for me
A ’98 convertible, light blue
I’m looking for a fly guy, like you
So hurry down the chimney tonight…

Verse 6: Salt & Pepa

Santa Baby, are you really real?
Chris Kringle
Let me see you make my pockets jingle (ching ching)
We need some jobs in the ghetto
Too much gangbanging where kids are playin
I hear the church bells ringing
On christmas eve
I believe
Jesus-calling me
Forget the gifts and the shopping lists
And the new kicks
Your just falling for tricks
(you better praise him)

[chorus]
Santa Baby
Just slip a Benzo under the tree for me
A ’98 convertible, light blue
I’m looking for a fly guy, like you
So hurry down the chimney tonight…

Verse 7: Fredro Starr

It’s the gritty-the grimy
The low down, the shifty
Yo Sticky, christmas time in the city
Late night, stars are bright
We gettin rocked!
With the 50 St. Nicholas
Start rippin this

Verse 8: Sticky Fingaz

Its the Grinch who stole christmas
Climbin down ya chimney
Kids open up they gifts
They all gonna be empty
Just like mine was
I hate to say it
But if I wasnt a boy I wouldnt have had nuthin to play wit!

Verse 9: Keith Murray

On December 25th I knew I wasn’t getting jack
when I saw Santa Claus on the corner buying crack
I ran up on him with the (blur) and asked him “yo whats up with that?”
He said “there aint no christmas kid” and I can’t get him back
Back in the days, Christmas was deep
My moms put presents under the tree while I played sleep
And peeped ha! Santa Claus never gave me nuthin
Seen them mad faces, lying and frontin
So do some good to the ghetto, Mr. Chris Kringle
Come and stay awhile, kick it with God’s Angel
Take and acknowledge my wisdom and understand
That Santa Claus is a black man
word up

[chorus 2 times]
Santa Baby
Just slip a Benzo under the tree for me
A ’98 convertible, light blue
I’m looking for a fly guy, like you
So hurry down the chimney tonight

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karawalkerKara Walker (1969- ) is an American artist who, as she puts it in the title of one of her works, shows us “the Peculiar Institutions as never before! All cut from black paper by the able hand of Kara Elizabeth Walker, an Emancipated Negress and leader in her Cause”.

kwalkerShe uses silhouettes, cut pieces of black paper put on a white background, to make pictures. It was a common form of art in the 1800s, which she uses to make pictures about the 1800s! But instead of the safe, white middle-class pictures that silhouettes were used for back then, she makes those other pictures you never see: a white slave master running down a black girl to rape her, a white woman hanging from a tree after a slave uprising, the heads of the black people who died to keep a white woman pure, black girls giving head and so on.

Starting out with things like paper doll books meant for girls, she creates pictures of the sex and violence of the dark and sick history of race in America.

Many of us have certain pictures in our heads of the history of race in America: slave ships packed with black bodies, black men being sold as slaves, slaves working in the fields, black bodies hanging from trees and so on. But beyond that there are other pictures that we never see and those are the pictures that Walker creates.

Her blacks look like minstrel show stereotypes. She shows what sick things followed from seeing blacks as unseriously human as that.

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Her work has been shown in top art museums, like the Guggenheim, Whitney and Modern Museum of Art in New York. In 1997 she won a MacArthur fellowship, one of those genius awards, the youngest person ever to get one. Her work once made the cover of the New Yorker. It seems she does not make white liberals uncomfortable with their own racism.

Sometimes, in fact, her pictures show the old days the way whites would like to imagine them: like half-naked black women with white men asking them for sex – the Jezebel stereotype, black women as sex animals.

walker

Her pictures seem simple, yet the more you look the more you see: a knife held behind the back, a small white man in the hand of a black woman, a lantern held by a black boy hung from a tree – the boy is a lawn jockey, it turns out.

Walker:

A lot of what I was wanting to do in my work and what I have been doing has been about the unexpected … that unexpected situation of wanting to be the heroine and yet wanting to kill the heroine at the same time.

She says that maybe her pictures look like they are about slave days of long ago, but for her they are a way to find out who she is and where she fits into the now of American history.

awarmsummereveningin1863karawalker

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The sweetest thing I’ve ever known
Was like the kiss on the collarbone
The soft caress of happiness
The way you walk, your style of dress
I wish I didn’t get so weak
Ooo, baby, just to hear you speak
Makes me argue just to see
How much you’re in love with me
See, like a queen, a queen upon her throne

It was the sweet, sweetest thing I’ve known,
It was the sweet, sweetest thing I’ve known

I get mad when you walk away
So I tell you leave, when I mean stay
Warm as the sun dipped in black
Fingertips on the small of my back
More valuable than all I own
Like your precious, precious, precious, precious baby, dark skin tone

It was the sweet,the sweetest thing I’ve known

It was the…Aaaaaah
I try to explain
Aaaaaah…but baby, it’s in vain

Speaking on my mother’s phone
The touch that makes me think I’m grown
Sweet prince of the ghetto
Your kisses taste like amaretto
Intoxicating, oh, so intoxicating
How sad, how sad that all things come to an end
But then again, I’m, I’m not alone

It was the sweet, sweetest thing I’ve known,
It was the sweet, sweetest thing I’ve known

Aaaaaah…Sometimes watch you in your sleep
Aaaaaah… Excuse me if I get too deep, hey

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On “Oprah” in 1997 Tiger Woods, a world-famous American golfer, told us that he is not black but Cablinasian. The word comes from the four races that make him up:

  • CAucasian
  • BLack
  • INdian
  • ASIAN

According to the Wikipedia, Woods is:

  • 12.5% Caucasian (white, particularly Dutch)
  • 25.0% Black
  • 12.5% Indian (Native American)
  • 50.0% Asian (25% Thai, 25% Chinese)

He made up the word when he was 16. He said calling himself black would mean denying his mother, who is not black at all but Asian – half Thai and half Chinese.

Thai Americans say he has a Thai sort of face. Thais see him as one of their own just as much as black Americans do. Woods says, “In fact, I am both… Truthfully, I feel very fortunate and equally proud to be both African American and Asian.”

But because of the One Drop Rule in America, if you look even a bit African you are seen as black. So to most Americans Tiger Woods looks like a black man, not like someone who is Asian or even mixed (unless they stop to think about it).

Woods knows all about the One Drop Rule. It has kept him off of at least one golf course. As someone who has succeeded in such a white sport, he has to know a thing or two about whites. Probably more than most.

Yet Woods says things like, “If people cannot call themselves what they want to call themselves, they cannot call themselves truly free….”

A nice thought, surely, but that is not how it works in America: if you look black you are black. You are stuck with it. For life. Everyone else in American society will see you as black and act accordingly: the police, the judge, the loan officer at the bank, the estate agent, the little old white lady at the bus stop. Even the Golf Channel. No matter what you call yourself.

Tiger Woods is no different, but acts like he is. He seems to be the only one who does not understand he is black:

  • When white golfer Fuzzy Zoeller said Woods was “a fried chicken and collard greens eating sambo,” and called him “that little boy,” Tiger spoke with him and forgave him. The white world certainly did not: Zoeller never golfed again.
  • When white television host Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel said the younger players should “lynch him in a back alley,” and then laughed about it, Tiger said, “We know unequivocally that there was no ill intent in her comments” and “a non-issue in our eyes. Case closed.” The Golf Channel was not so understanding.
  • When the state of South Carolina flew the flag of the old South, the one from slave days, and the NAACP asked Woods not to golf there, he said, “I’m a golfer. That’s their deal, not mine.”

Maybe he is trying to lead us to a new age where skin colour no longer matters. Or maybe it is what Nas said: a character flaw.

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Tyra Banks (1973- ) was one of the top black supermodels of the 1990s. She was the first black woman ever to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, GQ and Victoria’s Secret – all in 1997. In 2003 she moved into television. By 2008 she had two shows: “America’s Next Top Model” (2003- ) and “The Tyra Banks Show” (2005- ), a talk show.

“America’s Next Top Model” is a fashion modelling contest. It is like “American Idol” but instead of singing, they model. Tyra not only created the show, she is one of the judges. She takes a personal interest in each of the young women in the show , trying to guide them in the right direction in the fashion industry. Some of the models to come out of the show are Toccara Jones, YaYa Da Costa and Eva Pigford.

“The Tyra Banks Show” is a talk show. It is like Oprah’s talk show but it is aimed at younger women. Again, Tyra wants to guide young women in the right direction. She seems down to earth, like Oprah did in her early days. On the other hand, sometimes she tells guests what they should believe.

Television is not something she suddenly thought of because she was getting too old to model. When she applied to universities (she never went), she was thinking of getting into television then.

She also wanted to be a singer, but gave it up in 2004 after six years of hard work: her song “Shake Ya Body” did badly.

She grew up in Inglewood, California in Los Angeles county. Her mother was a photographer and her father worked in computers. They broke up when she was six. She went to an all-girls Catholic high school. She became very tall and thin. In the last year of high school she joined the Elite modelling agency.

Instead of going to university she went to Europe to become a model. Her mother went with her.

While she did have the height and weight (or lack of it) to be a model, her breasts were large and her face did not seem to be model material. Being black in such a white industry did not help either. But in whatever she does she gives it her all, works hard, aims to be perfect and has a never-say-die spirit.

In the end Paris loved her.

Her secret: “Believe it or not, I just really know how to pose well. It took me five years to learn what my best angles are.”

Naomi Campbell, the other famous black supermodel of the time, tried to get Tyra kicked out of fashion shows (fashion shows do not like to have “too many” black models). They were at odds and did not make up till 2005 when Naomi came on her talk show.

Tyra Banks has dated John Singleton and the singer Seal.

Playboy has asked her several times to appear in their magazine. Unlike Naomi, she always says no.

She says everything you see is completely natural except for her hair.

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Sittin’ here, in this chair, waitin’ on you
Oh baby, to see things my way
But not a word you say
Don’t even look my way

Girl, I’m spending my dimes
Wasting my time
Talking till I’m black and blue
Can’t you see
I wanna get next to you

Dreams of you and I go sailing by
Whenever your eyes meet mine
You’re so fine
And girl you make me feel so insecure

You’re so beautiful and pure
Why must you be unkind
And tell me I’m not your kind
Playing with my mind

Girl, my money is low and I know
That I can’t take you to the fancy
Places you might wanna go
But still I wanna get next to you
I wanna get next to you

Baby yeah

Girl, you can bend me, shake me
Make me, whatever it takes to please you
I want to do just what you want me to do, girl
I wanna get next to you, yeah

I wanna get next to you
I wanna get next to you
I wanna get next to you

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“Bittersweet Symphony” by the British rock band The Verve came out in 1997. You cannot dance to it like the Macarena, but it is easily one of the best songs of the 1990s. Even ten years later it still sounds wonderful.

The video is also a masterpiece: Richard Ashcroft, the lead singer, is waiting at an ordinary street corner in North London (Hoxton and Falkirk). He is dressed in black, so we are expecting to hear a rock song: drums to set the beat and then electric guitars. But we do not. Instead we hear violins. They sound like they are far away, like maybe from heaven.

Then the drums start and Ashcroft begins to walk. The drums play a slow, heavy beat. After Ashcroft crosses the street and heads up the block, he begins to sing. His singing matches the drums: slow, flat, low.

The colour of the video matches the mood: blacks, blues and greys.

So do the words: Ashcroft says this life is a bittersweet symphony, you are a slave to money and then you die. He is here in his mould, he cannot change, no, no, no, no, no. The only road he has ever been down is the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet. Who knows his pain?

As he walks north on Hoxton Street he does not change his course to avoid knocking into people, even old ladies. He knocks over one woman and does not even seem to notice. When he crosses one street he jumps onto the car and walks on it instead of going round. The driver gets out and gets into his face, calling him names, pushing him. He takes no notice of her either but keeps on walking, his eyes always looking into the distance, looking for something.

A woman in a blue sweater walks down the street towards him, but she is there and then she is gone.

The song seems like it is about heroin: “the places where all the veins meet” and so on.

Maybe so. But the way I took it, and the reason I like it, apart from just being a plain good song, is the way it is a song of both despair and hope. It sounds like a sad song yet somehow it leaves you filled with hope.

Despite the drums, despite the dark colours, despite the pain and despair of his words, he keeps looking in the distance for something. He tells us he has never prayed before but tonight he is down on his knees. The music sets him free, it cleans him. And up above him, above the streets of London, the violins are playing from heaven.

Those violins, by the way, come from an old Rolling Stones song. But that is another (very sad) story – about a rich man and a shoemaker.

– Abagond, 2007.

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