LIT Over a five-year period in Oakland, California, archivist Pat Thomas befriended key leaders of the Black Power movement, dug through Huey Newton's archives at Stanford University, spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on eBay, and talked to rank and file Black Panther Party members. He uncovered dozens of obscure albums, singles, and stray tapes. Along the way, he began to piece together a time period (1967-1974) when revolutionaries were seen as pop culture icons.Read more »
When I made the promise to listen to 106 KMEL for this piece, I fantasized about a weekend afternoon listening to hip-hop from the golden era of the mid-'90s. I expected a few aggravating commercials, maybe an abrasive deejay or two. Nothing I couldn't handle, right? Wrong. Dead fucking wrong. Read more »
Having uprooted from his native Atlanta to chase his musical dreams in L.A., Cody ChestnuTT and his band, the Crosswalk, landed a deal with Hollywood Records and got as far as recording and mixing a debut album, Venus Loves a Melody, before things went south. In 2002, ChestnuTT took his bass, drum machine, keyboard, guitar, organ, microphone, and headphones into his bedroom and single-handedly crafted his debut album, The Headphone Masterpiece (Ready Set Go). Read more »
MUSIC In his 1963 essay "Jazz and the White Critic," Amiri Baraka (then Leroi Jones) writes, "The New Thing, as recent jazz is called, is a reaction to the hard bop-funk-groove-soul camp, which itself came into being in protest against the squelching of most of the blues elements in cool and progressive jazz. Funk (groove, soul) has become as formal and clichéd as cool or swing, and opportunities for imaginative expression have dwindled almost to nothing."Read more »
LIT/VISUAL ART Yvan Rodic has to be one of the luckiest souls on the planet. He'd have to be to make my cynical ass fall in love with him. His new book Facehunter (Prestel, 320 pages, $24.95), a pastiche of photo book, style manual, travelogue and (hallelujah!) manifesto, has just the right combination of couture and subversion to earn a place on every cigarette- burned coffee table in the world.
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LIT Recently I was at a meeting with an unnamed arts organization, planning for an AfroSurreal art exhibit. As we were hashing out the details of display, the concept of the black dandy become a bone of contention among my learned colleagues. What was, and is, a black dandy? How does the black dandy differ from the white dandy? What's the difference between a dandy and fop? Aren't those terms interchangeable? Why bother looking at or for a black dandy at all? Read more »