Ghosts, Bones, and Bears

I accidentally became a Spoek Mathambo fan.

Last summer, my sister and I were briefly semi-illegal immigrants, broke, and living in New York City! In what I will assume was more of an attempt to get alone time versus trying to lift my spirits, my sister told me about a free b-boy showcase at the Lincoln Center. I took the hint, left the house and wandered around the Upper West Side (no gossip girl)

For the life of me, I could not find the B-boys,  but I found people setting up for a show in one of the Lincoln Center galleries. I checked out the bill and saw South Africa, that was enough to get me to stay. That’s where I found Spoek Mathambo!

Fast forward to Feb 2012, I found out Spoek was set to play a gig in Boston, down the street from my house, I was THERE. Then I found out his set was at 11:30pm on a Sunday night…I reconsidered, thought rationally, and decided I WAS THERE!

The weekend of the show I was recovering from THAT weekend in New York, now suffering from flu like symptoms, overdosing on dayquil, and barely eating. Somehow I soldiered on, and made it to TT the Bears in Cambridge, to see the man, the myth and legend, up close!

All pics are poor quality because I was mesmerized by the performance 😉

Spoek is signed to Sup-Pop records, a label made famous for signing Nirvana in the late 80s. Well, like his earlier label mates, Mr Mathambo injects a new awakening into the music world. His music has been coined as Afro-Futuristic, but in my opinion we can drop the hyphen and just call it futuristic. He’s music is fresh, a true by-product of his multiple influences and galavanting across the globe. I  love the fact that you cannot box him into a genre!
I traded in an outdoors show in NYC for a more intimate venue. TT’s is a great place to go if you love your concerts small, personable, and a place to meet people.

The show was great high energy fun. The room mixed by age, race, and variation of drug influences, people were captured by the music. Some danced the night away, some stood mesmirized, and others listened intently, soaking up the lyrics, drums, synthesizers, keyboards and technologically generated beats. I did a little of all three.  He played songs from his older collections, like the more popular “Mshini Wam” and “Put Some Red on it”. During his set he also inter-weaved songs from his latest CD “Father Creeper” including the slick new “Let Them Talk”  – if you haven’t heard the song or seen the video let me do you a favor:

By the look on the crowds face, they were pleased by the show. Damn, I was more than pleased by the show, I even forgot that earlier that day I could hardly stand on my own.

Just before the show, I had the pleasure of meeting Nthato “Spoek Mathambo”. He’s a cool chilled out dude, and remains modest even though he doesn’t have to. After our encounter, I can tell why he does as well as he does, why his music is as eclectic as it is, and I know he will continue to catapult into musical awesomeness.

Nothing Odd About Their Future

On the fly, I decided to buy a ticket to see Odd Future, I wanted to experience the cult following these kids have. I went back and forth for about 10 minutes. To buy or not to buy floor tickets that was the question. I went with balcony seats.

On a random Wednesday evening, I was transported to the set of the David Chapelle show.

Walking up to the House of Blues (aka my second home) the crowed was everything I expected it to be. 15-25 year old, mostly white, Urban Outfitters’ poster kids. . I mean thanks to the ipod, headphones, and plush private rooms, most of these kids parents do not know what they allowed their children to see. I mean heck, I wouldn’t dare allow Momma and Daddy phoofs listen to OF with me.

There is something beautifully ironic about  having the kids from OF with all their gory, crass lyrics perform in front of a crowd of middle to upper middle class children who could not be any more removed from OF’s stories. In some ways the beauty of OF is when you don’t take them seriously. They are a bunch of kids who say outlandish things about subjects they aren’t really about but stereotyped to be. They are the stereotypical cool black kids who sometimes allow you into their circle  and you, from the “outside”,  are fascinated by how different and other they are, yet, they are just playing on your naivety.


I imagine they are having a laugh at the crowd who takes them seriously. Like, how can I fuck with their minds today. E.g. Tyler calling out that there are too many white people at the show and making fun of them being there, then telling all the black people he’s there for them and we’re the coolest mofos.

Musically, I thought their performance was like what old Wu Tang concerts were like (what I imagine old Wu concerts to be, because let’s be honest, I was singing along to Lion King back then) It seemed like they had no plan, just to wing it, and see where things went. They would stop half way, cut off the music, talk among each other, smoke a blunt, just pure mayhem, and in that confusion there was something truly entertaining and you could tell this kids just love having fun, at their own pace, not ruled by anyone or thing.

The concert was short lived though. Between, blunts smoked, crowed surfing, mash pits, Jasper trying to jump off the balcony, another member being beat up in the balcony, and an OF assistant getting arrested outside the HOB. The po-po shut it down. Like cut off Tyler’s mic shut it down.

Kids spilled into the streets summoned their inner protester, and were screaming F**k the police. HOL’ UP we are NOT that free. I laughed soo hard. Like to them the shut down of an OF concert was the highest form of police brutality…it must be nice to be privileged.

The kids in OF are talented no doubt about it. Who knows what’s next for them. I only feel sorry for those who take their lyrics literally because you either hate them out of disgust or love them for their mysticism.  The ones who understand their play on all things “status-quoy” enjoy the ride. I enjoyed the ride!

Why I Will NEVER Party With Southern Africans Again – Pt 1

Katt Williams has a sketch about needing friends of various races and backgrounds. Within this sketch he mentions partying with your Mexican friends, and how the party never ends. He even goes as far as saying you feel like you’ve been taken hostage.  Well, about 3 weeks ago, I was in a VERY similar situation, instead, I wasn’t partying with Mexicans, I was with my own, Southern Africans.

I have now cleared myself of that trauma, and am brave enough to tell my survivor story.

It all began March 9th. I received a legit facebook notification from a friend inviting me to a House party in New York (I’m talking about the music here). Part of my really wanted to go. I needed a home rejuvenation, and what better way than to be in the midst of Southern Africans and South Africa’s top DJs?

That Monday I thought, heck, why not. But logistically it didn’t make sense. Where was I going to stay? Is it really worth the bus ride down to NYC, what if my friend flakes, plus it’s St Paddy’s day weekend and I NEED to be in Boston.

So this was my game plan

  1. Go To work
  2. Take 6:30pm Bus to NYC
  3. Party till 4am
  4. Take 7am bus back to Boston
  5. St. Paddy’s day Saturday
  6. St Paddy’s day parade Sunday
  7. SLEEP!!!!!

I mentally prepared myself for the weekend, I was about to go where no Lebo Phoofolo has gone before.

Friday, I went to work dressed for the night. I appropriately covered my top with a blazer fit for the office, I had my bag with a change of shoes, ipod, ipod and phone charger and make-up essentials. I was ready to begin my journey.

March 16th finally came along, and I launched the weekend with:

 

I hopped off the China town bus, breathed in the stagnant air, happy to be back in NYC. As I walked down the street, I transformed my hair from the tied bun for work, to a little fro for the party, some passersby gawked at this transformation 🙂 . I went to the bank, deposited my paycheck, withdrew cash for the event, and troded to the venue. In line I recognized and finally met a familiar Facebook face. I said hi, we talked, complained about the line, and struck a bond.

let’s talk about the line…. meu deus do ceu!

Okay now to the gig. Slow clap with a grin to the DJs. I’m not a house head, so I’d only be lying if I tried to tell you which songs were played. What I can tell you though, all DJs laid it down, no lies.

The music went through everyone’s body and soul, there is no denying that.  People’s faces lit up and party goers and Djs were feeding off of each others energy. There was a release, as if our bodies were trying to communicate some type of longing for the homeland which the DJ’s happily received the calling. People weren’t there to floss, and those who were were quickly turned into mere commoners.

We partied in a freakin basement and it was AWESOME, it just added to the shut the rest of the world out feeling of being in that space during that time! The split second you made it downstairs you were slapped by the heat exuding from the people, room and heck music was hot too (all puns intended). Southern Africans of all ages adorned the venue, by the time I actually got into Sullivan’s some of the more ‘”mature” attendees had battle wounds, as they sat there, sunken on the couches around the room, leaving the fresher army to kill off the party, which we did!

For the 4 hours I was inside it was straight dancing.  People breaking circles every 3 minutes, and almost ALWAYS, I’d find my friend Musa in the middle of one! I could tell I was at a House party by the almost non-existent grinding, and it’s a small almost *cough*.  But at the end of the day it was just fun for fun’s sake.

The disadvantage was, my friends, who had arrived earlier than I, decided to party in the front of the venue, just below the DJ’s booth. As a result, people were snapping pics every 3 seconds, I was ducking and diving, trying to escape all the random pictures clearly not targeted at me. The worst part was people were snapping pics from both directions, party goers and DJ’s alike. As much as I pulled the matrix, there is concrete evidence that I was there. The only  evidence of my being there, and it is 1 too many, crept up two days ago:

Things like this will prevent my candidacy for President

 

Overall, the party was banging, game plan 1-3 pulled off like a charm. 4-7 on the other hand….

Lenny Kravitz

Last night I was able to cross something off my bucket list:

See Older Twin Brother in Concert

I got a glimpse of life back in the late 60s early 70s, when Rock Stars roamed the earth. These mystical creatures I only heard about and saw on youtube videos. The highest echelon of cool, a cool you either had or you didn’t. Commanders of the stage, and people we fascinated over in our day to day lives. Oh what it would be like to be a Rock Star, to be without a care in the world.  I met a real life breathing Rock Star.

I need to invest in a camera!

Lenny Kravitz’s home coming.

I have been to hip hop, jazz, R&B, and pop-rock concerts, and they all have their own stage presence. Rock is no different. The way Lenny slung himself across the stage exuded Rock Star swag, and I’m not using the word lightly. For the two hours he was onstage, the man had an untouchable aura around him. I stood on the floor in awe!

Looking at the crowed from last night, Lenny should have named his latest album, “White, with a Fairy Dust Sprinkle of Black, in America” The largest concentration of black people were the people on stage. I swear the average age was about 42, because of outliers such as myself, median..I’d say 48. Clearly I was a double minority, but BOY did I enjoy myself.

The show opened with none other than R&B extraordinaire, Raphael Saadiq.  Quick question…Does this man age?

Back to the music

You could tell that most of the crowd was there to see Lenny Kravitz, and I BET if I held a poll 89.76% of the attendees would shamefully NOT know who Raphael Saadiq was. The room was slow to fill, but as more people waddled in, the more animated Raphael got.

I think that my reading of Blue’s People by LeRoi Jones, facilitated my transportation back to the 50s era during Raphael’s set. He twisted and jigged all across the stage, and had people doing the soul clap all over the place. He strummed a very metallic blue electric guitar, playing songs off his critically acclaimed “Stone Rollin” and “The Way I see it”.  He even got the crowed dancing to the Lucy Pearl hit “Dance Tonight”.When he went into his Blues set, it was game, set, match!

Raphael and his bassist went into a very elaborate play off. It was a very intimate feeling. You could have honestly placed them outside someone’s shack in the Mississippi bayou, surrounded by food, and familiar faces at one of those all night long jives. I am a Raphael Saadiq believer!

After a half hour intermission, and stage clean up, my older twin brother hit the stage, looking ever so much like the Rock god that he is. Last night I understood why Lenny always wears sunglasses, his stage light game is no joke.

From flood lights, beams, and strobe lights, I was blinded!

This was NOT Jesus's homecoming, it's Lenny's lights!

 

Lenny belongs on a stage. People are not lying when they say he has elaborate stage performances. Top Notch!
He played almost all his hits from across the decades, began with a few songs off his latest album, and ended the night where it all began, with “Let Love Rule”. The crowed went BALLISTIC when he sang “American Woman” and “Fly Away” and swayed when he went into “Flowers for Zoë” He mixed the ballads with the funk, rock with the groove, and through it all exuded the sexiness that he is. There is NO denying how freaking attractive Lenny Kravitz is, and onstage he radiates with ease.

He even had old women swooning. Highlight of my night (and envious moment too) a 60+ year old woman dressed in skin tight clothes and furry boots, found her way on stage and started dancing in the corner. Lenny made his way over there and just grooved with this woman. He engulfed her in his arms and just swayed. At the end she opened up her arms looked up to the heavens and  free fell into the crowed and the security guards took her away. I was FINISHED!

At the end of the night I was DETERMINED to see my Older Twin Brother close up. So I went to the venues back door and waited about 30 minutes, and it was WORTH IT!

I was unable to take a picture, but he was signing autographs. I only had my printed ticket and my passport, and when you are told give me your passport, you listen, and the result is:

Ironically signed below my Bahama's stamp (where his mom is from, and where he has built a recording studio)

Now I dont know if I will be able to return to Lesotho (or travel anywhere for that matter)

Thankfully this passport is about to run out of pages soon 🙂

The Roots

I’d be LYING if I told you I was a huge The Roots fan. I think I can only name 5 or less songs by them, I own 0 of their CDs and just recently found out that Scott Storch was a former Rooter (I don’t even know what to call a person from The Roots)

The Roots are unfortunately a crew whose reputation carries them further than their music does. No I am NOT trying to diss The Roots’ music, what I am saying is we generally know more about The Roots than we do CD/songs specifics. They are the most popular underground hip hop crew (take that however you wish)

So why did I go to their concert??? Because I like things (direct translation) and I am semi obsessed with Questlove (an obsession that began with Joss Stone)

Questlove is a musical GENIUS. Not trying to sound cute, but he is to music what Einstein was to physics. If society truly understood the complexities of music, how it can be understood and taught as a social science, and the greater influence it has, Questlove could EASILY, landslide victory, win a Nobel Prize!

That’s why I went to The Roots concert, and I was BLOWN AWAY!

I wondered pre-concert how the show would begin, would they all walk  on stage and begin, would they close curtains and re-open them and they would all be there. No, they walked on one-by-one Beginning with the Key Board, ending with the voice Black Thought.

Throughout the night the played their own hits, covered and distorted songs only music snobs know (I’m not at that level  yet…it’s a goal though), and brought out other acts like Bilial to accompany them*swoon*

In that single night, The Roots redefined what a band means to me, and what it means to be a hip hop crew.  Before the concert, I always saw band members as support for the lead voice. They were secondary in importance, replaceable. And yes to an extent that is true with The Roots, given the many changes they have gone through. But to say the band is secondary to Black Thought is blasphemous.

Yes Questlove and Black Thought are the nucleus of the group, but they are not the group. I did not see Black Thought and The Roots, or Questlove Black Thought and The Roots. They are simply, and beautifully, The Legendary Roots Crew.  Outstanding as a collective and extraordinary in their isolations!

I do not understand how these guys know to make their instruments sound the way they do. Poyser and Gray made me sad that I stopped playing the piano; F. Knuckles made me want to move back to Salvador and sign up for drumming lessons;  Husband Horn AKA Damon Bryson AKA Tuba Gooding Jr had my swooning over the tuba (what I know learnt he plays the Sousaphone); Mark Kelly had me thinking Bootsy Collins birthed him; Captain Kirk Douglas made his electric guitar sound like Yo Yo Ma’s cello; Questlove… aye voetsek, no man, what he does to those drums must be illegal in over 40 states, and it goes without saying that Black Thought is one of the most gifted lyricists.

One of my favorite parts of the show was when Captain Kirk got DIRTY with his guitar and had a play/sing off with Bilal. That ish was CRAZY

Also I do not understand how The Roots have been around for as long as they have, toured as much as they do, play every night on Jimmy Fallon, and still emit sooo much passion for what they are do. They were having as much fun as if they were playing these songs for the first time, or better yet practicing like they were alone in someone’s basement. They were joking with each other on stage, oohing and awwing at their isos, screaming adlibs…just beautiful.

Overall it was a tremendous evening. Hands down my second favorite concert experience, after Hugh Masekela. Any chance I get to see them perform I will, and I DEFINITELY recommend that you see them live if you ever get the chance. Now excuse me as I go buy The Roots’ CDs

Miguel

The good news is I am not deaf!
The better news is Miguel knows how to rock a show!

I must admit that the man is innovative. During his set he told the story of how he began. At age 15 he had visited all major music labels with his music, and they all slammed the kid saying there is no place for his music in this industry. 10 years later, the man is nominated for  an AMA for best new artist!

Why do I call him innovative? Well I understand where music exec where coming from, here is a man with a voice of a god,singing over futuristic sounds. The obvious trajectory for a man of his vocal talent is a revamp of the “classic” R&B star. However, the man knows what he wants. Throughout the night he laced rock infused, techno beat ridden, R&B tracks with a sultry voice and the outcome was GREAT!

Without a doubt Miguel is influenced  by R&B/Soul Greats, James Brown, MJ, Prince, (heck even Elvis) and there is no better place to see this manifest than in his live performances. Slicked out in MJ inspired pants, tucked in white tee, and blazer, Miguel slid across the stage to a mash of My Piece. And the ladies…and gentlemen…went crazy!

 He performed most of his hits from his debut album “All I Want Is You” including my favorite “Girl With the Tattoo”. I damn near fainted when he started singing that song, and standing in the front row, and the little bit of eye contact that we shared did not help either.

Miguel is a cheeky fellow too. A man after my heart, he strummed his beautiful electric guitar (The guitar alone could get it) and sang his devilish “The P***y is Mine” and he later  demonstrated what he is *cough* sexually capable of doing *cough* to said female(s).

The Sexy Guitar

Before his “acting” session he asked the crowed if what he was saying was age appropriate, the crowed’s reply… YES. I was the lone voice of reason to say no, however fully understanding I took no objection to it. But we didn’t know what was to come. In the end the whole room was left astounded, blushing at life’s possibilities, and at the end, all tall the cheeky protagonist could do was give a tongue in cheek smile, turn around and stroke his head (get your mind out the gutter)

*Sidenote* I’m also in like with his bass guitarist Drew, in actual fact I have found myself falling in love with the bass guitar lately. Drew is another cheeky bastard 😉  (picture of Drew and I to come later)

 Overall, Miguel was another great concert experience, I am 2/2 for the month of November. I highly suggest you BUY All I Want Is You if you havent already. Especially for those who say the feeling is lost in music. And secondly, see him live if you get the chance!

PS Miguel: yes it’s yours

Childish Gambino

I have NEVER hidden the fact that I am in LOVE with Childish Gambino AKA Donald Glover!

I am a relatively  late comer to the Childish Gambino fan base. I first heard about him and his music while sitting in Mount Holyoke College’s Ham Hall computer room, with some friends back in March. Needless to say it was love at first sight and listen. I call him my musical husband, he just doesn’t know that yet.

I finally got to see him live in concert, swoon. 3rd time really is the charm. I first wanted to see him in May, but my thesis screwed me over. Then I had plans to see him at Rock the bells, but between moving and the eventual cancellation of RTB Boston, that didn’t happen either. So when I heard that “The Sign Up Tour”  was coming to Boston, without hesitation I bought a ticket.


The crowed at the show was both unexpected and expected, especially for Boston. Mostly teen-aged wanna be hipsters, mixed in with college frat boys.

To say Childish Gambino is good/better live is an understatement. Simplistic set, dressed in blue jeans and a plain white tee, and an eargasmic voice (goosebumps when he sings) was all I needed. He performed my favorites: Freaks and Geeks, Do Ya Like, and So Fly back to back, and I didnt think my musical soul could take it.  Childish Gambino also teased the crowed with a couple of songs off his new CD, playing/singing/rapping to

 

Bonfire (above)
All The Shine
and Crowed Favorite, You See Me

But Camp wasnt the only thing Childish Teased the crowed with…well this one is more so for the ladies….

Yes Please

For the encore Childish Gambino came out top less, and booooiiiiiii stop! Obviously the picture above does him no justice…

okay swoon fest over!

If you have not downloaded Pointdexter, Culdesac or EP yet, stop torturing yourself
And Nov 15, go get Camp!

If you are not convinced or impatient,  you can listen to Camp  on NPR for free!

My verdict post concert: Fell more in love with him, and I was DEEPLY sad that Jason (his bodyguard??) would not allow pictures post show, but my paparazzi skills came in semi handy.
Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino….I Corazón You!