Molly was doing the Carlton before it was cool.
Pam is so damn cool. She’s my BFF in my head.
I was twerking and droppin’ it like it was hot in college. Now, in my 30s, my knees hurt.
2010s swag #FAIL
It wasn’t until I reach undergrad when I was formally introduced to Assata’s work through music. It wasn’t her words, but her voice on Common’s album ‘Like Water For Chocolate’ to which I was first drawn. When she said, “Freedom? You asking me about freedom? I’ll be honest with you, I know a whole lot more about what freedom isn’t than what it is.” her words stayed with me. They never left.
About ten years ago, when I living in Houston pursing a music career I demo’ed a song by Dick Gregory’s daughter, Ayanna Gregory, called “I Believe.” I didn’t realize until later that the song was adapted from Assata’s poem ‘Affirmation‘. All along Assata has been in my life like a strangely familiar shadow. The sort of encounter that’s the sweetest.
Happy birthday Assata Shakur.
On July 16th, 2013, also Assata Shakur’s birthday, I put together a tribute piece for Trayvon Martin. The images are from a recent Travyon Martin peace rally I attended in New York City. I recorded the song, “I Believe” over ten years ago and up until now never released it publicly. I figured now was a better time than any to share the song with others. The lyrics are adapted from Assata Shakur’s poem Affirmation. Enjoy.
Photos and video by Tara L. Conley (copyright 2013)
“Hip-hop is the most progressive culture we’ve had in a long time, Never have so many people so eloquently described the pain and issues of a generation.” – Matulu Shakur, political prisoner since 1997.
For those who ever thought hip-hop was dead must have been asleep. Like with any movement, hip-hop shifts and transitions, but nevertheless moves relentlessly. Matulu Shakur is one of many powerful voices featured in the new documentary Black August Hip Hop Project directed by veteran journalist and filmmaker, dream hampton. The film invites audiences to listen and learn about political imprisonment and its connection to hip-hop culture. Black August chronicles parts of the 1996 The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Hip-Hop Benefit concert, which recognized political prisoners like Mumbia Abu-Jamal and those in political exile like Assata Shakur. The documentary features concert footage from hip-hop artists Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and M-1 of Dead Prez. Riveting interviews and images encapsulate the film’s brilliance as a showcase of compelling individuals and music. It’s been awhile since a hip-hop documentary of this calibar has hit the scene.
Peep the trailer below.
Recently, I had an opportunity to attend the August 26th screening for of Black August at the Walter Reade Theater in New York City. Unfortunately I was unable to grab a last minute ticket to enter the theater (my fault, of course). dream even tried to get me in but the theater was packed to capacity. ABC News cameras couldn’t even enter, which admittedly made me feel a better. Despite being a bit bummed out that I couldn’t experience what was going on in the theater, I remained in the lobby where I could still hear hip-hop artist Blitz the Ambassador perform on stage while Talib Kweli and M-1 of Dead Prez rushed passed me through the corridor.
Black August will be released on DVD this October. Stay with us for more details on how you can snag a copy of the film.
For more information on how you can bring awareness to political prisoners and support the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, visit http://www.mxgm.org
Donate now to lend your support!
This blog is in response to Jay Smooth’s brilliant video blog, Dance You Into The Sunlight.
Recently, I had to confront something. Ever since that confrontation I’ve done some reflecting, asked myself a few questions, and toiled a bit with honing in on a perspective; all in efforts to learn a little more about two kindred concepts: creativity and love.
In watching Jay’s video, I had to (re)member (as in recall and reorganize) my feelings about MJ’s passing, my response to it, and how it all coincides with the ideas of virtual communication and consumption.
From my Facebook update and Tweet immediately after seeing Drake’s new video for his (old) song “Best I Ever Had.”
From an artist stand point, I appreciate the way he built his buzz by hustling mix tapes BUT his latest interpretation of femininity at its “best” is THE worst. Cliche premise + slow moving clips + paternalistic imagery = annoying.
@MBtheREMIX and so it begins: Drake’s artistry tainted by KanWeezy, Dwayne Carter and the rest of the egos. Happens every time.
**UPDATE 7/2/2009. This just in. A fellow YouTube user created a “duet” video using my interpretation of MJ’s “Human Nature.” Check it out. I’m always so flattered when folks send me shout outs on YouTube.
I was up late last night – like every night. But instead of watching re-runs of Roseanne, I decided to do something a tad bit more productive and creative. So I made some new videos.
“Biddy Bum Bum” is an original cut I composed using Garage Band and iMovie. Yes, I indeed have an unhealthy relationship with my Mac. Check my melodies!
Next, is a classic cut with a twist. I attempt a go at Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.” I know, I know, crazy. But I came across this really awesome acoustic rendition and I wanted to lay my vocals over it. While, I’m singing in a key lower than normal, I think it comes off well…let’s just say, organic.
So, without further adu.
Yesterday while I was perusing the gossip blogs, I came across JoJo’s remix of Drake’s “Houstalantavegas.” No doubt this joint is already hot, but I think JoJo’s lyrics and voice made the song even more dramatic as she sort of answers Drake’s seducing stripper prose with a cautionary warning to women who seek out, or are forced into, the fast life.
Download JoJo’s version via Concrete Loop.
Sit back and enjoy my version of JoJo’s remix to “Houstalantavegas.”
So, I’m reading through my YouTube messages for the first time in months and every now and then someone send me a sweet note saying how much they enjoyed my Youtube video, or the famous “Why aren’t you signed yet?” message, or the ever-so-interesting marriage proposals. But one viewer, Adrena, sent me this very personal note recently and I want to share it with everyone while sending her a lil shout out in the process.
hey i just wanna tell you thank you. you help me get my man back we been havin some hard times and i was done with trying, so i put your ‘i am ready to love’ on his voice mail and i sent a text that said “i love you but i dont know what is wrong with us but i have done all i can to fix it, and i think its time to walk away because i dont think you are ready to love me the way i love you. so im sorry but im done. i dont wanna hurt” SO THAT WAS SAT. AND TODAY MONDAY EVERYTHING HAS CHANGE AND I KNOW YOUR VOICE WAS A BIG HELP THANK YOU. NOW IM YOUR NUM 1 FAN MAKE MORE MUSIC MUCH LOVE. – ADRENA H.
Thanks, Adrena! It means a lot knowing that folks are not only listening but also taking the time out to show their appreciation in the most personal way. I wish you all the happiness in the world. You inspire me to pay it forward!
In addition to being the first video I ever made on YouTube over two years ago, “Ready For Love” remains my most popular video to date with over 80,000 views – not much in the “Evolution of Dance” world, but pretty cool nonetheless.