Black Girls ROCK!


The music industry has never really known how to promote or market Black women who do rock music. Brilliant artists like Sandra St. Victor, Dionne Farris, RES, Meshell Ndegeocello and Kina have consistently been mishandled or flat out disregarded by the industry–even sometimes by the labels who signed them in the first place. I mean, Dionne Farris had a single “I Know,” which was at the top of the pop charts for 4 weeks in 1993, and they waited nearly a year before releaseing another video, which was the monster track from Wild Seed Wild Flower, “Passion.” Most of these artists actually do more than just rock music, their music blends seamlessly from rock to funk to soul and gospel, sometimes in the same damn song (See: Me’shell Ndegeocello’s “Dead N*gga Blvd, Pt 1&2” from the album Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape” for clarification.)

But these women continue to rock on, and rock hard. Many of them have gone independent, and have found continued success by starting their own labels and putting out some really creative and polished records on their own. New York based artists Tamar-Kali and Imani Uzuri began and continue to be independent, all the while building a solid fan base and reputations as (in my not-so-humble opinion) two of the best live shows in New York.

Anyone who knows me, knows that my absolute favorite Black woman musician/artist/vocalist/songwriter/producer is Nashville born queen of the ATL underground, Joi (In the photo above, with one of the best background singers around, Ms. Keisha Jackson). Joi has had similar struggles with record labels while releasing four albums that are nothing short of classics, including the recent Tennessee Slim Is The Bomb. Tennessee Slim is the first record Joi completely produced and distributed on her own label, Joilicious. (Read a recent interview with Joi here. Part 1. Part 2.)

But what I love right now about Joi and Tamar in particular, is that they are lending their names and time and talent this Monday, September 25th to the Willa Mae Rock Camp for Girls, and organization cultivating the next generation of women musicians. They will be playing with some of these youngstas, while paying tribute to thier contemporaries, and those women that paved the way like Rosetta Tharpe, Big Mama Thornton, Nina Simone, Odetta, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Joan Armatrading, Betty Davis, Nona Hendryx, Poly Styrene, MeShell NdegeOcello, Cassandra Wilson. I just bought my tickets for this show. I hope to see you NYC folks there was well. Go here for the details.

MAXWELL IS BACK!!!

I was sitting in front of my computer, with my back to the TV, doing schoolwork while I heard the pretty ass falsetto of R&B crooner Maxwell on VH1 Soul. It was so good to hear his voice again. I though for a sec he was licking my ear. Oh LAWD!

Anyhow, it was a song I hadn’t heard before, so minimized my Lexus-Nexus online to google to see if Maxwell had a new record out–if this record were new, or much whispered about Black Summer’s Night. This album was ALLEGEDLY shelved by Sony music because of some homoerotic references in the lyrics of one or more of the songs. But I ain’t mad, are you, boys?

As it turns out, the video I was watching was NOT a new Maxwell (it was a video from The Best Man soundtrack), I just hadn’t heard the song before now. BUT, the Lawd works in mysterious ways, cuz when my google stopped, it showed that Maxwell IS IN FACT BACK! His team is gearing up for a promo campaign (including the now obligatory MySpace page) for Black Summer’s Night. BSM will, according to the myspace site, will be the first album in a trilogy!!!

Look for some trax on the site, and the whole thang to drop on V Day!!!

Grad School

Has it been a month? Well, I been busy. I just started journalism school two weeks ago. It’s really interesting and i am learning alot. I am trying to figure out what the hell I am going to do once I graduate. It seems that journalists are supposed to be objective -if such a thing exists-and I have written (and published) so much political work, unabashedly opinionated, that news organizations may take me as some crazy person, who will bring the esteemed “fourth estate” to its knees because I don’t pretend to not have an opinion about the world, and have no interest in the direction of things. Now, ahve you ever read a publication, seen a TV new program and weren’t left with some sense of that organization or reporter’s ideology?

So what’s a propagandist like me to do? I guess finish the damn degree and see what shakes out. Looks like it’ll be off to a PhD–since people with ideas like me are unfit for public consumption. LOL!!! I love pretend self-deprecation.

Any thoughts?

In the meantime, check out this really interesting piece about the closing of the Stonewall bar in NYC from John Koblin at the NY Observer.