Happy Valentine’s Day

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Nuit de Noel, 1965 by Malick Sidibe

“when was the last time you danced? | when was the last time you danced?
well come rock with me baby | dance with me darling
step with me sweetheart | the world is watching”  – – Gnarles Barkley, “The Last Time”

 {everyday the 14th}

{Eargasm Friday | Jada Tribute} – Mos Def “Umi Says”

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My precious daughter would have been 8-years-old today and as I think about our time together, I can’t help but remember the songs that became our soundtrack. 

I played music for her throughout my pregnancy. Jadabug’s favorite emcees were Mos Def and her father, 7evenThirty (Marq). Both artists had a completely different effect on her. It felt like Jada was doing somersaults every time I played Mos but when she heard her father’s voice, a stillness came over her. She would instantly stop moving as if she was studying Marq’s voice, analyzing every word and sound. It was a fascinating experience!

Marq and I would sing “Umi Says” to Jada every night when she was in NICU. She had this uncanny ability of knowing exactly when we were planning to leave the hospital. She would scrunch her face, turn red, and cry. Broke our hearts! We figured out that if we lowered our voices and sang a song, Jada would ease off to sleep, allowing us to tip-toe away. (We learned fairly quickly that trickery is a fair tactic if the outcome is a sleeping baby!)

So here’s to you, my little one! Continue to shine your light on all of us, forever and ever more.

{fly to da sun}

 

 

 

 

Thornton Dial – Folk Artist

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1. “Don’t Matter How Raggly The Flag, It Still Got to Tie Us Together”, 2003  | 2. The artist, Thornton Dial | 3. “Lost Cows”, 2000-2001

Thornton Dial, a self taught artist, passed away on Monday, January 25th. His assemblages was an exploration of American history using a vernacular that was exquisitely black and southern. Dial used toys, rope, bones, wood, tin, cloth – just about anything that he saw could be utilized and transformed.

He was an accomplished artist whose work was acquired by top institutions – the MOMA, the Smithsonian, and the Whitney – no small feat for a man born into a sharecropper family in a small town in Alabama.

Dial’s voice and vision will surely be missed.

{rest in peace}

“I like to use the stuff that I know about, stuff that I know the feel of…” — Thornton Dial

{Eargasm Friday} – Bilal “Open Up the Door”

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Those who know me personally know that I absolutely adore Bilal Oliver. It’s been that way since I first heard “Soul Sista” back in 2001. (That video solidified my feelings!) In the years since that precious jewel dropped, Bilal has blessed us with 5 dope albums (including the leaked project, Love 4 Sale) and more features than we could ask for.

The brotha can sang. Period.

His new project, In Another Life, is magic and features productions by mad genius, Adrian Younge. Thus far, I can’t get over “Open Up the Door”. It’s a beautiful reminder to never forsake the tough times – after winter, comes spring.

If you need a musical pick me up, press the play button below.

{steel sharpens steel}

 

William H. Johnson – Painter

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(left to right) 1. Street Musicians |  2. Athlete | 3. Girl In A Turban – Betty | 4. William H. Johnson | 5. Cafe | 6. Three Friends

William H. Johnson was a prolific painter whose career spanned decades. He moved to New York City at the age of 17 to study at the National Academy of Design. Afterwards he moved to France where he studied modernism. When he returned to the United States, Williams immersed himself in African American folk culture thus leading to a new exploration in his work.

Bright, bold, and eclectic – his work depicted the daily life of black folks in New York City. He was dedicated to the concept of “primitiveness” and tradition; and believed that a people’s connection to nature affected that people’s art, allowing cultural and spiritual elements to seep through. (Could Basquiat have been inspired by Johnson’s philosophy?)

Johnson died in 1970 after a long and debilitating fight with mental illness. He left behind over one thousand paintings that are now part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection.

“My aim is to express in a natural way what I feel, what is in me, both rhythmically and spiritually, all that which in time has been saved up in my family of primitiveness and tradition, and which is now concentrated in me.” – William H. Johnson

MLK Jr. Day | John Woodrow Wilson – Printmaker, Sculptor, Painter

1. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” 2002; 2. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” 1987; 3. John Woodrow Wilson with his maquette of MLK in 1997 (Barry Chin, The Boston Globe)

As the years roll by since his tragic assassination, we have seen gorgeous, poignant, and even light-hearted images of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We use these images, especially on his national holiday, to remember his efforts to dismantle the oppressive plight of black folks and humanity-at-large.

My favorite images of him are actually not photographs, but the works of the artist, John Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was a phenomenal draftsman and sculptor and his depictions of MLK are just a few of his most inspired works.

In 1986, Wilson was commissioned to create a 3-foot-tall, bronze bust of the legendary reverend and activist for the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.; and it is noted as being Wilson’s most viewed work. He also designed a large maquette of MLK that evokes the mysticism and power of a Mayan Olmec head.

Wilson passed away on January 22, 2015 at the age of 92, leaving behind a body of work that should be studied and respected for years to come. May he and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. continue to rest in eternal power and peace.

{ashe}

{eargasm friday} – King “The Story”

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It’s been brutally hot so I’m grateful for the occasional cool breeze. “The Story” by King sounds like that moment when the wind swepts across your skin and you know trouble doesn’t last always. This song inspires you to take distant voyages and renew yourself. Check out the super cute video below.

Eargasm Friday | Sean P! Tribute – Sean Price “Bar-Barian” & 7evenThirty “Hook Heavy” feat. Sean Price

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Back in 2014 my husband, 7evenThirty, was working on his album, The Problem. He was trying to figure out if he wanted to feature another emcee on the project and if so, who. Seemingly out of nowhere, 7even tells me that he landed a Sean Price feature. Look…I really don’t mess with too many rappers nowadays simply because it’s garbage but P! is one of my favorite emcees. Imagine my joy when Sean not only delivered a dope verse for “Hook Heavy” but he also wanted to do a video for the song. I geeked! The whole damn experience was pretty incredible to watch.

Unfortunately, Sean passed away on Friday, August 8th. It was news no one expected to receive. He was a talented, surly, and ridiculous (seriously funny) emcee who could rap most of these cats under a table. Hip hop truly loss a good one when P! transitioned.

I dedicate pics + brushes to Sean today. If grimy, dope hip hop is what you need then peep the vids below. “Bar-Barian” and “Hook Heavy” can get your Friday right.

Duck Down Music, Sean’s record label for over 20 years, released his new album today, Songs in the Key of Price. Cop it here: http://www.duckdown.com/website/store.

They are also raising funds to help support his family during this difficult time. You can make a contribution at http://crowdrise.com/seanp

May peace find his loved ones. {Rest in Power, P!}

Warning: Explicit language, NSFW