Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac at Coachella: Gangsta Contemplations

And so the buzz this week emanates from the Coachella Music and Arts Festival where Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg headlined an absolutely outstanding lineup of music from a wide variety of genres. It's not that Dre and Snoop did not have a body of work that's got folk talking... Certainly the duo deserves a headlining spot at this music festival attended by tens of thousands over a two weekend period.  I am impressed that the Festival has grown in stature so much that not only was it massively attended live at Coachella, but they added millions to their audience through live streams to YouTube.

Dre and Snoop did not disappoint as they delivered hit after hit with flawless precision. They dedicated an entire segment of their show to their fallen colleague Nate Dogg, joined onstage by fellow G-funk producers Daz and Kurupt. And while the litany of hit music was presented in an outstanding manner, the talk of the town is that the duo reincarnated the late Tupac Shakur via hologram that placed the legendary rapper right on stage with them. It was something to see!!!!

Tupac's holographic appearance has generated everything for shock to awe. In fact, as I look at the video, I am convinced that the crowd is rendered speechless as Tupac rises from the stage. It is unbelievable!!!

I know that from the start, Dr. Dre has been an innovator. His time as one of the infamous NWA followed by his litany of hits at Death Row and and AfterMath has made him one of hiphop's hall of famers. Snoop Dogg is also a hall of famer with major hits under his belt and a plethora of creative collaborations that have made him one of America's pop culture icons.  Tupac is immortal as he left behind a tragic story and a tremendous body of work in music, television and film. So the question is not if the brothas are innovative and creative. It's how innovative and creative could they get?

Now this is not the first time Dre and Snoop have been the arbiters of creative shock and awe. I remember the 1994, Soul Train Music Awards. The Shrine Auditorium was the place to be as black music's best and brightest gathered to honor it's own. Amid the controversy of the day regarding their music, it was unprecedented that Don Cornelius would invite gangsta rappers to his otherwise elegant stage. It was then that we witnessed what kind of showmen Dre and Snoop would be as they hit the stage in a '63 lowrider Impala, hit some switches and proceeded to rip "Nuthin but a G-Thang Baybay!!!" It was off the chain and a technological marvel at that time that had tongues wagging for weeks.....

Now when we examine the Coachella performance, we really see an entire show that was full of technological wizardry and bigtime firepower. And yes. Snoop and Dre served their body of work - hit after hit, but we would be remiss if we did not celebrate the performances of Eminem, 50 Cent Wiz Khalifa and more. This concert set was fantastic to say the least! You can enjoy it below.

At Coachella this weekend, we witnessed the unimaginable. Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre resurrecting Tupac. They performed together and interacted right there live onstage at Coachella. Now THAT's gangsta!!!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter Morning Contemplations

As millions did, I went to church today. I attend church every Sunday. So today was nothing out of the ordinary except that it was Easter. And needless to say, church was packed!! You know how it is on Easter Sunday. All those folk who never come to worship except for a Sunday just as this. Attendance is always to the rafters on Easter Sunday. And oh boy... the saints... my people... looking down their noses at those newcomers. Sniggling under their breath about how those folk are hypocritical.... how those folk turn service into a fashion show. Their new outfits. Their extreme couture.... The essence of church fashion is intensified on Easter Sunday. But why do we point and criticize? why do we care if those folk come on Easter? Why interrupt our contemplation of this most sacred observance to roll our eyes at those who are visiting today? Why is it a problem for us? Sure. those folk could be here on other days. Sure they didnt have to come just today. But the point is that they came. As we consider the Last Supper, didnt Jesus leave final instruction to love one another? Why dont we take an opportunity to show love. Isnt the lesson learned today concerning Jesus sacrificing his life for our sins? If so, then these visitors have had their sins forgiven just like we have. They cannot be judged. Nor should they be. They should be given more reason to come back more often. They should feel that they too are part of the church family.                                                                                                                                                            Now, as I drive around the city after church I cant help but notice the hundreds of souls who did not make it to worship.  I see and hear those who did not hear the good news. I see the lost. the hurt, the sick. What of them? Do we look down on them too? Or do we take the example of Jesus and express love to them. Do we share the news of the resurrection with those who seemingly have not heard it? To not do so is to disobey Jesus final instructions before He submitted himself to the agony of the Crucifixion and the glory of Resurrection.  If we are to follow the instruction of Jesus.... if we are to understand the notion of this holy time.... if we call ourselves Christians, then this holiday, is an opportunity to love those who are new to the word.... to minister to the lost..... to lift up those who have lost hope... those who are sick (by His stripes we are healed).... it is not the time to criticize.... because wasnt it criticism and hateration that got Jesus nailed to the cross in the first place?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Contemplations of Trayvon

By now, you have heard about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon, 17 years old, walking through a gated community in pouring rain and wearing a hoodie, is followed, confronted and ultimately shot and killed by George Zimmerman. George was the neighborhood watch captain for the area who, as he observed Trayvon moving through the community, felt suspicious- so suspicious that he called 911. Against the counsel of the 911 operators, Zimmerman follows- no, stalks and hunts down the young man. Somehow a struggle ensues and in the end, an unarmed, innocent teenager is dead. Shot at close range by an overzealous neighborhood watchman.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As I contemplate this tragedy, I realize that black males are an increasingly endangered species. Even as some have proclaimed that America is now a "post-racial society",  we are seeing an increase in race based violence. Even as we have placed a black man in the highest political office in the land, hatred, prejudice, racism is all around us. In the words of my late mother, "the more things change, the more they stay the same", a mantra she repeated time and again as she watched the progress of the Civil Rights Movement. The tragedy of Trayvon is a reflection of what is happening all over our nation. The worth of a black life is devalued even the more. And yes, when I look upon the image of Trayvon Martin, I know that he could be my son. My neighbor. My nephew. The youngster at church. One of my interns. Yes, As I look around the community, I see millions of Trayvons. It is sad but true that one could send their teen to the corner store and that young man may never return to the home alive.                                                                                                                                                      And so, the masses are in an uproar. Protest across the nation abound. We see the usual suspects - Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton et. al. making a stand for justice for Trayvon. Across the nation, folk are wearing hoodies. They are changing their facebook profile pics. The Hoodie is a national symbol of protest against racial profiling.. The entire Miami Heat Team took the court wearing hoodies. Congressman Bobby Rush wore a hoodie as he addressed that great body and was summarily reprimanded.                                                                                                                                         Yes. We want Justice for Trayvon.  But then what of the others? Those who have been wrongly killed by police? What about the more prevalent issue of black on black murder? Indeed, we are just as, if not more, dangerous to our own selves than any white man. There are thousands of unsolved murders in Los Angeles County involving black male vs. black male. What about Justice for them? Wheres the outrage for this aspect of violence against the black male? As we take to the streets and demand justice for Trayvon and others like him - as we demand and protest that a black life is valuable, not to be thrown away and discarded like a soiled napkin, why not demand justice for our own, killed by our own. As we demand respect for a black life, why don't we check ourselves and have respect for our own?  Justice for Trayvon? Absolutely. But we must look inward and demand justice for us.          "Just-Us."