BHM Inspiration - The Legend Known As Swamp Dogg

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An American hero and creative genius…..Swamp Dogg

Swamp Dogg Album Titles (1970-2018):
Total Destruction To Your Mind
Rat On!
Cuffed, Collared, & Tagged
Gag a Maggot
Have you Heard This Story??
Swamp Dogg’s Greatest Hits??
You Ain’t Never Too Old To Boogie
An Opportunity….Not a Bargain
Finally Caught Up With Myself
Doing a Party Tonite
I’m Not Selling Out / I’m Buying In!
I Called For a Rope And They Threw Me a Rock
Surfin’ In Harlem
The Re-invention of Swamp Dogg
Little Jerry Williams AKA Swamp Dogg
If I ever Kiss It….He Can Kiss It Goodbye!
Resurrection
An Awful Christmas and a Lousy New Year
Give ‘Em As Little As you Can…As Often As You Have To…or…A Tribute TO Rock n Roll
The White Man Made Me Do it
Love, Loss, and Auto-Tune

A Conversation about The-Dream with Four Color Zack, Jordan Page, and Steph Watts

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Continuing my Black History Inspiration Series I had to do something on Terius Nash, aka The-Dream, whose music and songwriting for both himself and others has held my attention for over a decade. Since arriving to music in the early 2000’s and becoming a solo star in his own right a few years later, The-Dream’s songwriting has influenced a generation of musicians behind him. He’s still releasing weird and different R&B like Menage a’ Trois: Sextape 1,2, and 3 which came out at the end of 2018. Between writing chart-topping hits for artists such as Jay-Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Ciara, Justin Bieber, and Britney Spears he’s managed to release 6 solo albums, 4 eps, and a short film with an original soundtrack behind it — not one a clunker. He writes hits, deep cuts, anthems, moods, turn-ups, and any other format you could think of. In my opinion he is the alpha and omega of modern day R&B. 

I broke out the audio recorder and had a conversation with a few fellow fans of The-Dream: Jordan Page, Steph Watts, and Four Color Zack. Jordan is a DJ and stylist who’s knowledge of R&B is next level. Steph, who’s on that same level as Jordan (if not higher), produces the Brooklyn event “R&B Trivia” that celebrates R&B in all of its forms. Four Color Zack is a legendary DJ who plays all around the world — and when he and Terius Nash can make it happen, he’s The-Dream’s official tour DJ. 

Listen to the conversation to learn about The-Dream and his music.   

Bonus: Download Four Color Zack’s “Dream a Little Dream” The-Dream Mixtape which destroyed the internet when it came out in 2008. Statement below from Zack on making the mix…

I loved the sounds and complexities of his music both vocally and in the production. There were so many interesting ways to connect song to song, like a choose-your-own-adventure of the catalogue. There was never a plan for the original mix beyond just being a passion project I could easily share with my friends.

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Ramona Gonzalez (Nite Jewel) Recommends "The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning"

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I love the Madlib Recommendation series because it’s a great way for me to get people who’s taste I admire to give up the goods. One of those people, Ramona Gonzalez aka the recording artist Nite Jewel, provided me with a recommendation of a book that was a gift that continues to keep giving. That book “The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning” by Maggie Nelson is a critical assessment of art born out of actual or simulated violent events in life and how it relates to larger societal and cultural constructs. 

BHM Inspiration - The Emotions "Peace Be Still" (Live)

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“Peace Be Still” is a staple of the black church. The song written by the Reverend James Cleveland, who many would argue is the father of modern gospel music (from small group hymn performance to booming large choirs), is the “Stairway to Heaven” (pun intended) or “Freebird” of modern gospel music. If you grew up in the black church you heard this song many times but you always heard different versions of it because everyone has to put their unique spin on it. That is the beauty and consistency of the church where the gift of music and sharing is always new and different. You learn the standards and go your entire life hearing variations of them that you’ll never hear again. 

One of the most touching and emotional versions of “Peace Be Still” for me is a video recording of the R&B group The Emotions covering it at a church in Watts, California in the early 70’s. It is from the movie Wattstax, the Stax Records version of “Woodstock”, 7 years after a race in Watts riot injured over 1000 and killed 34 people. The visual is stunning because it’s at an old church within a neighborhood that is poor and below the poverty line — but that doesn’t matter on this day and in this moment to the congregation. Their faith and the music will make things right. The hardships of being black in America and racism are lifted for a small period of time when the people in the pews participate finding salvation in song and spirit. While they don’t have much, they have each other and song. This spirit of the church has helped generations survive and continues to this day. “Peace Be Still” is darkness and pain being overtaken by light and collective spirit. Everyone who knows ”Peace Be Still” has their favorite. When you take into account the historical and cultural context of that moment (and today) The Emotions rendition delivers a compelling performance that resonates and comforts in the toughest of times.

The amazing long version of the song below. Brings down the house every time.

BHM Inspiration - Belly (1998) by Hype WIlliams: Taral Hicks Blue

As time goes on opinion and attitudes change about Belly, Hype Williams 1998 feature film which was panned upon its release in theaters. Even if you didn’t like the film the one thing that everyone I knew agreed upon was the blue palette that Hype Williams employed for the scenes that he shot with actress, Taral Hicks. The hues, lighting, camera positions, and Hicks combined to create a stunning visual that continues to evoke interest from film and culture fans.

A Profile in Style - Paul Weller of Style Council by Sam O.B.

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Sam O.B. is a singer, songwriter, and producer who’s latest single “Don’t Stop” was released November, 2018 via LuckyMe Records. I love Sam’s style so I asked him to write about a mutually agreed upon style icon, Mr. Paul Weller of The Jam & Style Council. Sam assembled a gallery of Weller looks for your viewing pleasure.

Paul Weller’s style, both musically and in a fashion sense, parallels my own in many ways. He started out as frontman of the band The Jam and his style was quintessential mod with a focus on suits, ties and button-ups. Despite a sort of sophistication within the fashion, the music was more raucous and youthful. When he formed The Style Council he actually alienated a huge contingency of fans of The Jam, as the new music was more rooted in R&B, jazz, and sophisticated pop, and thusly a more “adult” focused, smoother sound. His cynical lyrics remained, but the actual fashion of the band (which was comprised primarily of himself and pianist Mick Talbot) was a large focus. 

Once I discovered Paul Weller’s style during the Style Council era, it seemed to resonate exactly with where I was in my own life. I was transitioning from an older project into a new and arguably more sophisticated sound and so I took a lot of queues in his fashion and brought them into my own palette. I think while there is certainly a focus on high-end fashion/luxury brands, I really enjoy how he will implement a sporty piece or windbreaker/anorak amongst these high-brow looks. Also, he isn’t afraid to rock a lot of color which I relate to :) I’m also on an endless quest to find the sunglasses he rocks in the “
Shout To The Top” music video so let me know if anyone has a lead on that!

Here is a selection below of some of my favorite Paul Weller looks

- Sam O.B.

BHM Inspiration - Tame Impala Covers “Prototype”

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After releasing Speakboxxx / The Love Below, Andre 3000 told his partner Big Boi that he did not want to tour the album which was a worldwide smash that went “Diamond” (Ten times Platinum!). Other than a few one off award shows where they they performed the hits, there was no live presentation of an iconic album by a group at the height of their creativity and powers. I respected Andre for going about it the way he did, but have always been bummed that I never got to see him and a band produce live versions of the songs on “The Love Below” during that time. Hearing him perform a song like “Prototype” which was a lot of people’s favorite track would have been amazing. Thank god for the internet and Tame Impala for doing a fun cover of “Prototype” which makes up (a little) for not seeing the man himself do it in 2003.