Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Senior Prom Nightmare

The year?  2004.  The Place? Senior Prom.  Here we go.

I went to Remos in Century III Mall, in Pittsburgh, PA.  I wanted to get this fresh ass powder pink tux.  Pink head to toe.  Hey, it was 2004, Pink was in and I did win best dressed my SR year. 

I tell my date, Jana Southwick, this is what I was gonna wear, you gotta match me, and bon bon, it'll be dope.  She gets a colour which herein will be referred to as "dumb bitch pink". Think of collegiate pink highlighter combined with country time lemonade pink.  I digress.

I snap out, had to get a new tux because she wasn't changing her dress ... sucka for love, sucka for love ... smdh.  It was my prom, not hers, why did I have to change my tux? So it goes. 

I end up just going with a plain white tux with a pink tie, vest and flower.  Nigga, I was still fresh. 

She copped an attitude because she cheated on me through out our whole relationship and none of the girls at my school liked her.  Shouldn't of been a whore.  Let that be a note to all you perspective whores.  Go to some one else's prom with your whore status known?  You'll be subjected to mucho scrutiny. 

Our prom was on The Majestic, the sister ship of The Gateway Clipper.  We get there, her attitude is terrible.  Really trying to fuck my night up.  I'm like fuck it, I'ma go pose for some pictures, cause I was looking uber fresh and all the mansthem were too.  After about 20 mins of posing, dinner is finna be served so I go back to eat with her.  She's know where to be found.  I find her about 2 hours later with some random nigga on the deck.  We didnt even dance to our song "If I Aint Got You" by Alicia Keys.  I did however have some fun and my girl Sade Jones, kept me company and made sure I got what little dancing I could do, on. 

Time to leave.  Jana - no where to be found ...

Take in the fact that she was mad "friendly" and I found her with another dude on the deck - you do the math. 

So I'm bugging out - I snatch up one of the knives - try to stab this dude, I'm snapping, I go off the leash, I cuss her out the whole way home, I really got vulgar - rightfully so.  That shit hurt, that was my girlfriend at the time, my senior prom, I'll never get another one ... sigh. 

My Jr. prom was wack too.  I went to Quigley Catholic's prom.  My date and I were the only black folks there.  She was a cock blocking arrogant over achieving bitch. 

The Ayatollah Has Spoken. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dominique Larue Interview

's 2010.  Rap is global.  Every knows some one who raps, or they rap themselves.  In this day and age nothing is uncommon for an MC to do or say.  Nothing that is, except for the voice of a prominent DOPE female MC and what she has to say.

Dominique Larue is quite possibly the best thing out.  Period.  Delivery, lyrics, beat selection, and a poise on the mic that makes the gender barrier disappear faster than a big mac in Gabbie Sidibe's hands.

D Larue just dropped possibly the best Hip Hop release of 2010 with her "HerStory" EP produced entirely by New York to Pittsburgh transplant Idasa Traiq.  So I sat down with the Ohio native to discuss a little bit of everything, with a whole lot of perspective.

Peace and blessings!  What's gwanin, D? Formerly introduce yourself for all those who aren't in the know.

Dominique Larue, Ohio Native, Columbus to be exact, the Test Taste Food of America, whatever it's called, just know we're mad fat here.

"Herstory" is the other side of the same coin, "Let Em Know" definitely illustrates that.  In one sentence, from "Ohio With Love" to now, give me your story.

I am a self-educated, no nonsense mother but fun loving woman wrapped up in a beautiful body who happens to make music.

Rap is a contact sport, through out its HIStory, it's been gender specific. Is what you're doing going against the grain, or just taking a detour through the course?
Depends on whose grain we're referring to. Commercial's grain? By all means and its not because I have flow or lyrics or even rocking a dope sample on some boom bap drums. It's because I'm doing ME, easy as pie. I can rock any joint and rock it how I feel best, not because they want me to rock it a certain. I wanna remain independent because I want to do me, so in essence, I'm going against the grain.

Where are all the Female MCs?

We're everywhere!! Man, I see these articles asking that question and I'm like it's bull because we're every damn where! DMV, NY, Chicago, TX, ha every state!  Plus I'm not the only one rockin here in Columbus, not the only one in Ohio neither!

Black Thought said "to mc requires skill, I demand some shone" - what element of your game needs the MOST work?

Patience, sometimes I rush my creativity and end up redoing everything because it all sounds rushed. I've been making a conscious effort of telling myself you can't rush greatness. I've also been working on being poetic and lyrical at the same time. To me it's two different things so and my whole life I've been nothing but lyrical. I want to use a crazy flow but the lyric game is proper ya know and to me poets have crazy flow game.

Let's be honest.  Every MC, male or female has an angel, a gimmick, a niche.  What makes you unique?

Well it has to be my angelic smile or smirk rather or my vibrant humor!! Haha, nah for real image wise it gotta be my head wrap; flow wise I feel that I have a lot to offer, whether is straight goin in on tracks, story telling and I mean beginning middle and end. I also love to write about love, love songs are my shit and I can say that's my niche!
In the grand scheme, Ohio never has really been a breeding ground of MCs so to speak.  Sure respect is giving where it's due; but is Dominique Larue in a class of her own?  Not just in your location but do you consider other Female MCs in your class?

In essence yes, I feel have something different to offer than every other one which is a good thing. I feel that all the female emcees who are dope and we all have something different to offer such as RA the MC, she's dope and she's in her own lane. I'm in my own lane as well, here and all over. I always try to come better than what I previously did and use music as a means to speak my mind and to separate myself from others.

I had asked you before what you thought about Lil Kim and Fox Boog, about them over-sexing their image and you said "they closed the door right behind them".  Elaborate.

They changed the game in terms of female rappers promoting sex appeal and no one has been as successful at as them. Now we're all tired of it and when albums drop from other female rappers, no money is made. To be quite honest I fux w/ Kim and Foxy, Hardcore and Ill Na Na will get play from me til this day! But nowadays the consumer is looking for something more.

Jean Grae did "Love Thirst" and you know, some people really liked it, others, not so much.  Do you think that was her succumbing to pressure or just branching out?  Do you feel the pressure to, you know, appeal to typical female role?

Well to tell you the truth, I haven't heard the song but it seems like from the title she's talking about sex? To be honest, who cares? Just because we represent hip hop in a special way, we can't talk about sex?  That's bullshit. I'm a mom, my son is not an immaculate child! He came from some good lovin! Haha but for real he did. But it all depends on how you do it, I feel you can do it in a nice way as opposed to, "nigga you can suck my pussy!"
"Bitches aint shit but hoes and tricks".  That's you know, status quo for alot of rappers.  What say you?

I agree! Haha nah I'm playin but to be honest does it matter? We as women don't care because we refer to ourselves as bitches, hoes and tricks. If we do respect ourselves then we can't expect anyone else to give it. I don't refer to myself as either of those names, I demand respect and I get it.

Is being a role model for the sisters a bullet on the agenda or the platform of the campaign?

More so the platform, it comes with the territory. I've never put it on my things to do list but it seems like it made its way on there anyway. In this business, people look up to you and that's cool and I
always encourage them to find their own way, be your own person, have your own identity. Don't try to be like me or anyone else, that wouldn't make you who you are.

Let's switch gears.  How would you of made Harlem Nights end?

With me on top of course!!! Quik would've got clapped as soon as the door opened, fuck the small talk, haha.
Haha, alright, Dominique or Whitley - who was your favourite of the two?

Now I know this, but others may not  know you're a die hard NFL fan.  You think the Bills will leave Buffalo?  Can the Saints *scoff* repeat?  Will the Browns EVER be good?

Bills need to win games period, if they win games then people would show up! Saints won't repeat because they have 29 players to resign (GoColts!!!). The Browns winning? I can't see it right now, Delhomme is done for and his career will not end but die in Cleveland! Go Cavs!!! Haha

Final words.  Dominique Larue is?

Saving Hip Hop, one listener at a time.

Check out these fine, fine releases from Ms. Larue

End of Regulation

Follow Dominique @DlarueMusic

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"The Sea" Album Review

Imagine having everything absolutely perfect in the world as you know it. Becoming some what of an overnight phenomenon, Grammy nods, millions of records sold, being heralded as one of the best voices in music, tours, and a bevy of international music awards to your credit after only one album.  Now fathom if you can, tragedy. The death of your spouse.  A sharp descent and sudden stop from the mountain of fame.  This is what Corinne Bailey Rae has been dealing with the past few years. 

In late 2006 I met Corinne ever so briefly in London, England.  I was huge fan before this and getting the chance to encounter some one as charming as her, I consider a true blessing.  I left with sense of overwhelming realness after the two minutes or so that we spoke.  I highly doubt she remembers it but I do. 

So when I caught wind of her finally getting back into the studio to record the follow up to her debut self titled album, to say I was enthused would be the understatement of the decade. 

The album opens with a taste of classic British rock that has helped shaped so many generations with subtle guitars that seem to blend so effortlessly with Corinne's voice.  "Are You Here" turns from soft indie rock to soulful ballad with a haunting falsetto about love lost.  "It's hard to recall the taste of summer/ when everywhere around, the chill of winter/ it's so far away, are you here?"  the emotion in that line is chilling. 

What the album lacks in length, it definitely compensates for in substance.  "Feels Like The First Time", "Loves On Its Way", and "The Sea" are exceptional stand outs that not only combine personal experience and convey emotion, but have particularly memorable melodies that definitely lay the groundwork for the soundcape of the album. 

Honestly, there are one or two tunes on the album that I half pay attention to, not because they're bad songs, they just kind of sound a little to dated to blend as well as they should or could with the overall sound. 

On the contrast, two songs that really blow me away are the albums lead single "I'd Do It All Again" and "Closer".  The former wrote after an argument before her husband passed is relatable to every one whose ever been in a relationship that, no matter how many fights, no matter how many disagreements, you'd do it all again, because you'd rather spend the time fighting with them, then happy with some one else.  "Closer" just has that, night club/lounge jazzy feel to it that is undeniable.  It's almost a sequel to "Trouble Sleeping" off of her first album. 

Those familiar with Corinne's previous album will recognize the artist development immediately.  The first album showed Corinne's true musical prowess by playing most of the instrumentals and being completely hands on with the production.  The Sea has a live band on tap to provide an astonishingly smoother ride that provides a variety of notes, both low and high effortlessly. 

The sophomore jinx is always the looming fear of every artist in the music industry.  It's safe to say that all worries were cast aside through the creation of this album.  Though riddled with feelings and confessions of love lost, there is a certain sense of confidence and sure footed demeanour that is represented in every song.  The Sea is a dope ass album in short.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Ayatollah's Top 10

Peace and blessings. 

It's been a grip, init?  I'd like to thank all of you for supporting me and staying interested in both of my career endeavors, my music and my writing.  It means a lot.  For my first post, I wanna ease into it and give y'all something basic but it's in response to me running into the same question a lot.  As I become more popular, I'm getting more press, doing more interviews and the question comes up both on and off the record, "Jaxx, who is in your top 5 or top 10?" Most people actually gotta take time to contemplate that.  Not me.  My list has been etched in stone since around 2006.  So for all those curious I'ma break it down for you.  The who and the why.  The Ayatollah's top 10.

*DISCLAIMER* These are my favourites, mind you.  I'm not necessarily saying they are the greatest of all time, but they hold firm to me. 

1. Big Moon Dawg.  You may know him by another name, Big Punisher.  To me, Pun was the definition of an MC.  There wasn't a style he couldn't deliver.  From Beware, to You Came Up, to 100%, to the iconic single Still Not A Player to the legendary remake of Dre&Snoop's Deep Cover, Twinz 98Twinz set the bar so high for MCs from then on out, with one infamous, spectacular lyrically insane line: "Dead in the middle of little Italy/ little did we know that we riddled some middle man who didn't do diddly/" - nigga please.  You aint nicer than that on your best day. Pun was the MC that made me make up my mind and say "yeh, this is what I wanna do with my life".

2. Ghostface Killah.  Ghost is actually my favourite rapper of all time.  I'm an aggressive, very forward type of person with a very vivid vernacular.  If that doesn't sum up GFK, I dunno what will.  Initially the most enigmatic of the Wu, Ghost made his way in no time flat to be the most consistent and arguably the face of the Wu.  Pretty Tony paints the most opulent pictures with words, he literally takes you right there in his songs.  Boundaries are non existent to Ghost.  The same man who did the classic Supreme Clientele also dropped one of the illest albums of the 2000s, Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City.  I love rap records with R&B hooks.  Ghost recognized that ladies love hip hop as well.  He went hard for the ladies and the fellas, always.  Ghost always kept it gully no matter what the theme was. 

3. Nas.  Nasty Nas to Esco to Escobar even to Nastradamus.  "Streets disciple, my raps are trifel/ I shoot slugs out my brain just like a rifle/..." that line will for ever mark the moment hip hop witnessed a living legend emerge.  Nas' catalouge to me represents the true definition of a man.  Nas came under fire for being a hypocrite and doing a lot of "wack" shit.  But bottom line is, he kept it funky to himself and that's what counts.  I remember when Nas "rip the Freeway, shoot through Memphis and Money Bags/ stop in Philly order cheese stake and eat Beans fast/".  Nas went toe to toe with every one worth mentioning.  Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, 50 Cent and B.I.G.  No matter what, Nas will forever and always be King of New York.  Until he willingly vacates the throne, niggas just gotta be patient.  Bottom line.  Pun made me wanna rap, Ghostface made me learn how to rap, Nas taught me the importance of being a fan. 

4. Kardinal Offishall.  Huh, what?  Toronto stand up?  What? Yeh, hoe.  NO ONE in the history of hip hop can or has done what Kardi has brought to the game.  Kardinal is the EPITOME of versatility and the antithesis of boring.  I've been a concrete fan and supporter of Kardi since 00.  I was in grade 8.  Kardi conveyed to me, battle rhymes, radio hits, party anthems, all topped with socially conscious commentary that never came across as preachy.  This was all infused with the raggae, dancehall sound now synonymous with Toronto.  Lyrically, in my opinion there are few on par with Kardi.  Off wax his live show is just phenomenal.  He delivers a concert like no other.  Hip Hop's diamond in the rough is Kardinal Offishall. 

5. Black Thought.  Honestly, Riq and The next MC always switch places but I think I've locked this position in, pause.  Black Thought in my opinion is the most underrated MC ever.  He's so much more than the front man of The Legedary Roots Crew.  He's so much more than the celebrated underground champion.  Thought is hip hop's tour guide and walking example of talent. "You wanna be a man, then stand your own/ To MC requires skill, I demand some shone/".  I feel Thought has the best delivery in hip hop, it's so comfortable, he's always in the pocket no matter the beat.  Your favourite MC wants to be him.  I promise you.

6. Mos Def.  Four words.  The Mighty Mos Def.  What more do you really have to say?  Black On Both Sides, Black Star, The New Danger, The Ecstatic.  Damn.  Mos is one of the most prominent voices in and out of hip hop and it's been that way for the better part of a decade.  Mos Def represents the other side of Brooklyn.  Mos aint a gun man, but he can take you there if you want.  Black Dante conveys the emotion, truth and realism that few have been able to.  Mos Def crafted the legendary status and made a footprint in conscious/underground hip hop that every MC will forever live in the shadow of. 

7. Common. The boney homie from stoney is easily hip hop underground's cinderella man.  Just when you counted him out, he smashed you in the mouth, took the title, gotta SAG card and went to become a house hold name.  Com is easily hip hops most insightful lover.  A lover of the culture, lover of the music, lover of the knowledge and lover of the women who love the art.  Common built classic records before Kanye and pioneered the Mid West movement when no one else was around or able to do it.  Like Water For Chocolate solidified Com's presence in my life.  From an MCs perspective, Com made me hate my delivery and my flow so much.  I learned so much about the art of rhyme just by listening to Common's catalouge. 

8. Rakim.  Rakim is the godfather of modern rap.  Aint nothing else to say about it.  Ra laid the ground work for every nigga on this list.  The only reason I don't have him higher, is because I didn't grow up with Ra like I did with these other MCs.  Ra's legacy was all but finalized in hip hop history by the time I made it my true love.  However, I overstand his prowess and recognize the impact he left on the culture and the game.  Rakim's name demands respect and as a serious MC you are obligated to pay homage to him.  In all truthfulness the first song that made me entertain the thought of MCing was "Microphone Fiend" and is my favourite song of all time.  Ra's rhymes from the 80s still rock harder than 80% of the shit that's out now.  Fact. 

9. Lupe Fiasco.  Lupe Fiasco immediately caught my attention as being the most gifted lyricist of my generation from the first time I heard him.  His lyricism, wordplay just everything blew me away.  I knew he was on a sure fire path to greatness after he dropped the CLASSIC Lupe Fiasco's Food&Liquor.  A lot of people consider him a nerdcore rapper, I say they're mad.  A lot of people consider Lupe a hipster, I don't agree, however, he pioneered that lane for both of those sub-genres of hip hop to exist.  With out Lu, there'd be no Wale's no Kidz In The Hall, no Ayatollah Jaxx'! Not only does Lu step up to the plate on lyrics but his image is impeccable.  A Muslim kid from the hood who showcases his religious beliefs, his upbringing and most importantly, self respect. 

10. Kanye West.  Kanye West.  Mr. West is easily the most prolific voice in hip hop since Chuck D.  Kanye has the most complete album catalouge as any one on this list and from where I stand, in all of hip hop.  Kanye says some of the realist shit in life, ever.  All Falls Down, Jesus Walks, Crack Music, Gold Digger, Through The Wire, Heartless, I mean, if that isn't what hip hop's about, I dunno what is.  Kanye symbolizes the hip hop icon, the hip hop superstar, the hip hop legend.  His production game inspired hundreds of thousands of carbon copies and the only thing to outshine Kanye is his own ego.  That's what rap is.  Rap is a contact sport.  I've said that for years, rap is about at face value who can appear bigger and more important.  Kanye takes the cake easily. 

The Ayatollah Has Spoken.