"Ay Yo, they beggin' for a taste of it." - Little Brother, Say It Again
When last we (sorry, LAist habit) I talked Kanye West, it wasn't about music. That post got some interesting responses. I'm interested in the people that listen to Kanye say "doesn't care" and hear "hates" instead. I'm interested in the response of people who think writers who understand the frame of mind Kanye was coming from are giving the government of Louisiana a free pass. Be clear, it was a failure on every single level of government and I, like many others, believe all politics is local but if even the infamously non-apologizing President is going to shoulder some of the blame, then you know the feds, the people with the real power to save large numbers of lives, truly fucked up.
I've been bumpin' the hell out of all things 'Ye the last two weeks and reconsidering my position on College Dropout. I thought, at the time, that West came off as a weak MC over exceptional beats. In a lot of ways, I still think that, but I'm much more forgiving of those perceived inadequacies now. I think back then I was hoping for more of the promise of the lyricist on Through the Wire. There are some amazingly intricate and witty rhymes on what is probably his most personal and emotionally true record and he doesn't come close to that anywhere else on his debut album. Jesus Walks attempts it and the lyrical content of his grammy award winning track is complicated and surely a harbinger of where he heads to on Late Registration but it doesn't really work for me all the time.
On Late Registration, though, I feel it all coming together. I'm still not overly impressed with Kanye the MC but I see what he's trying to accomplish. I appreciate his willingness to look inward instead of outward, to create some supremely uplifting music and to grace it with ever more challenging subject matter.
I know lots of people are up on We Major and Hey Mama on his album but I'm constantly returning to Bring Me Down and Touch The Sky and the UK-released We Can Make It Better. I smile for Celebration and the hidden Late and they have yet to feel tired.
Bring Me Down is my anthem right now. Brandy riding the chorus is a cherry on top.
"Thought that I could organize freedom. How Scandinavian of me" - Bjork, Hunter
Ouch. Like, seriously: OUCH! My thighs are so sore, it hurts to take stairs. It is slightly painful to sit in this chair and write this right now. The MVP and the Blanks family are trying to kill me, y'all! in the past 6 weeks or so, I've taken 36 Tae Bo classes. I go about 5 times a week, give or take. This week, though, in a 24 hour period, I was in class 3 times. I was on the damn stage, people! The thing about the stage is that you don't really get to stop. Everyone is watching you for guidance. You have to do the moves right. You have to kick higher and longer and punch with serious intention. You don't really get to come off the stage and get water. At least not when John is teaching. He will hide your water from you. No breaks. Just sweat. And side kick. And punch. Now in combination.
In the first 4 weeks, I hadn't really seen much physical change. My pants fit better, sure, and I knew I looked better in clothes and my mom was remarking all the time, "You look really slim" but she always said it when my dad was around so I figured she was using it as a ploy to get him to work out. Last week, though, I was in class doing uppercuts and focusing on myself in the mirror. My neck was quite long. My arms had serious definition. My sides weren't creeping out over my shorts.
Well, shit, let me punch some more.
I've joined the cult of Tae Bo but today we say ouch. No class. No regular classmates Vanessa, Honey and Gene. No dancers and porn stars. No Blanks family torture. Just pain.
"I always knew that one day, they'd try to bring me down" - Kanye West, Bring Me Down (featuring Brandy)
Tubbs, who has been reading and commenting here since like forever, was one of the people trapped in her home this week. She's in Lafayette now and blogging. His brother is in Georgia. She got helicoptor-ed out.
That's my favorite phrase this week. "Speaking truth to power." I loved it when Anderson Cooper and Soledad O'Brien and Ted Koppel and Ray Nagin (who isn't above rapproach for his actions prior to the hurricane but who has been a stand up human being in the aftermath) did exactly that earlier this week and I love that an artist who will sell well over a million copies of his sophomore album this week (making him likely the most significant musician of the Fall) put it all on the line to say what he felt.
I'd quibble with the semantics a bit and say that George Bush doesn't care about poor people but you can extrapolate to his point. If you don't care about poor people and poverty effects black people at a much higher rate in this country than any other community then, by extension, you can't really care about black folks right?
If you don't have an urban renewal program, you can't care about poor black people who still live mostly in ghetto-ized urban communities.
If your recently passed bankruptcy bill that goes into effect in October will make it almost impossible for these poverty stricken disaster refugees to recoup much of anything from their losses or get out from under the massive debts they will accrue, then you can't really care about poor people.
If you continue to ignore infrastructure problems in a gulf coast community that is predominantly black while making sure that the oil and trade interests that also are based there are taken care of, you can't really care can you?
Soledad O'Brien pointed out earlier in the week that it only took two days to start airlifting food to Sri Lankan Tsunami victims. It took 4 days. 4 DAYS. 4 FUCKING DAYS!!!! for New Orleans and Waveland and these other gulf port cities to start getting food and water. 4 DAYS for there to be a National Guard Presence. 4 Days for the President of the United States to survey the damage. To get on the ground. To provide leadership.
To be fucking Commander in Chief.
And still people are trapped. Still people sit on rooftops and doors and in shopping carts floating along poisoned water in the humid Southern Summer air waiting for rescue.
And all American cities should be considering what would happen if a disaster struck. In LA, we don't have much to worry about in the world of natural disasters besides a big quake and, thankfully, we seem structurally sound and prepared for such an event but we have nearly 100,000 homeless people in this city. What happens to them? What happens in South Los Angeles when a disaster strikes?
As a society are we doing the best for our weakest members?
What saddens me about that question is that that used to be a regular part of American political discourse. While fighting Communism in the 60s, 70s and 80s, we were still talking about how to help the destitute, the downtrodden, the less well off.
Now we only talk about the rich and the middle class. And our underclass grows.
And dies in domes and convention centers.
The truly disadvantaged.
If our President and our government won't care for them, who will?
Her tenement was rat infested Her heart is like gold buillon cuz she went and protested cuz her best friend's man got popped He was 16 years old and a cop thought his phone was a glock In the hood it's an every day happening In front of the precinct she chews out the captain She yells out, "Why you do this to Black men?" Come on...We can make it better (better we can) -Q-tip's verse on We Can Make it Better
I am watching Bush in Alabama with the governors of Alabama and Mississippi thanking the president and the federal government and FEMA and how great they've been this week.
Bush is standing there and getting briefed as if this is the first time anyone has told him anything. He's asking about cell phone towers...
No one is talking about food or water or dead bodies or people trapped or electricity or gasoline.
And they are thanking each other.
And all these officials are white while the vast majority of people dying and lost and trapped are black and I can't get past this as the most clear explanation of the problems of class and race in the majority of this country.
Class is the big deal. The reason these people are trapped and dying is because they are poor first.
Watching MSNBC and CNN this morning, I got the feeling that news reporters are simply done with the federal government. They can't understand how they can get access to these people and find them and walk the streets relatively safely but the government can't.
Why are people moving so fucking slowly? Why aren't there just a stream of greyhound buses into the city? Or military cargo and transport planes landing nearby?
As Jesse Jackson Jr said this morning: Where are the hotels and motels to house people?
And why is the president in fucking Mobile, Alabama? And why is he talking about Law & Order?
Can't we talk about life?
"Out of this chaos will become a fantastic Gulf Coast! Out of Trent Lott's house will come a fantastic house and I'm going to sit on the front porch!" our president says.