Today I want to share with you a few of my favourites from the fourth quarter of the year. Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year when it comes. I’ll see you in February!
Slam is dub poetry minus the African drum beat. I think slam is what poetry was meant to be until paper got in the way. Porsha O. introduced me to the art form with the genius piece that is, ‘Angry Black Woman’ and ‘Damn Right’ (Damn right I pay eighty thousand dollars for a education and still walk around stupid…); I keep a printout of ‘How To Cure a Feminist’ by Kait Rokowski on my bedroom door as the last thing I see before I walk into the world, it helps me to cope with just trying to be a woman; when I saw some pictures from Davianne Tucker’s series this month, her words reminded me of Dominique Christina’s, ‘The Period Poem’; Edwin Bodney’s ‘When a Boy Tells You He Loves You’ will always come to me before love itself…
What I’m saying is this:
I dare you to listen to slam and not feel your blood rushing to your skull a new, I dare you to listen to slam and not think differently about your world, your art and why you aren’t doing more in both areas, I dare you to listen to slam and not feel a little bit more wiser, a little bit more complete and sadly a little bit more stony… the truth tends to do these things to us.
Taken from his fourth studio album, War & Leisure, these songs prove that Miguel has found the formula. Every, single, song on the album is perfect but these two are a stand out for me. The video for ‘I Told You So’ features some political images, like clips from Trump protests, and Miguel mentions protecting his girl in ‘Banana Clip’ (There’s a war on love/ Just look around you/It’s hard to know who to trust) these things make the album socially and politically conscious without losing the Rn’B power. I feel like that is so rare for modern artistes. I think that this shows the maturity in Miguel’s songwriting and I guess this is why the album is so great to me. He’s not trying as hard with digital funk beats and overt sexuality like he did before, he just lets the dreaminess and the truth of the music happen. Miguel’s truly the amalgamation of M.J. and Prince for our generation, the only (distant) competitor to the throne is The Weeknd.
Equals film poster (2015).
To find this piece anywhere is a b!tch, mostly because it’s a part of the soundtrack to the 2015 futuristic romance film, Equals, that came out to a limited release. The film itself is really very pretty and heartfelt, but it’s this piece that I want you to focus on. This music genre I found out is called, Atmospheric Electronica/ Ambient Pop, it’s soothing and freeing so much so that when I wake up and listen to ‘Express Yourself’ with headphones on my mind becomes instantly clear. It’s like I’m being washed by rain on a quiet night on the first day of autumn every time I listen to this. Which is everyday.
The song, ‘Saved’ by Khalid from his debut album, American Teen, for capturing the sad torture that is heartbreak (the whole album is like this, honestly) for Millennials which is kind of scary for a dude who just graduated high school last year– he’s 19 now– and is already up for five grammys next year. Like, what am I doing with my life?
Erykah Badu and D.R.A.M. perform, ‘WIFi’ at the 2016 Soul Train Awards (image source: Mindy Small/ FilmMagic).
The song, ‘WiFi’ by D.R.A.M. ft. Erykah Badu for being the funniest and weirdest love song I’ve ever heard in my entire life. D.R.A.M opens with the seductive Rn’B whisper, “Do you got Wi-Fi?” and by the time Ms. Badu answers, “Boy I got Wi-Fi!” You’d think she said “Of course!” after D.R.A.M asked her to marry him. In a way the song perfectly sums up what the Wi-Fi password status in modern relationships mean, it’s more than a hallmark of love, exchanging the Wi-Fi password says, “This a new level, I trust you now.”
The song, ‘Hold Me’ by Janine and The Mixtape taken from her 2014 EP, Dark Mind, for giving me a haunting, distant yet emotional sound about the fear of strong love fading. I call Janine the softer version of Jessie J.
Vox and The Verge
I have this vision of creating the Jamaican version of these two channels in the near future. I am obsessed with the content quality from the both of them. This is what news should look like, Vox particularly uses wonderful graphic design to illustrate and simplify complicated news stories and The Verge is practically the benchmark for quick and brutal tech. reviews in my opinion (runner-up: MrMobile). These two channels to me represent the YouTube future that Jamaica should pursue.
Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk for its style and ambition only. The manipulation of time seen from the air (1 hour), the sea (1 day) and the land (1 week) is the star of the film. There is this old fashion sentimentality that you feel whilst watching it, it’s less about blood and gore and the horrors of war and more about one man’s will to survive. That was really refreshing to see. However, the trade-off is that by the end of the film when they return home I didn’t celebrate with them because they never entered war so catharsis never occurred for me therefore any kind of celebration felt half-baked.
A scene from the film Bad Genius (source: Cinema Scope / DCP, 2017).
The Thai film, Bad Genius for giving a face to what The West translates as horror stories about the seriousness of Asian school examinations. Some years ago I remember this picture circulating on Twitter and I remember thinking, if parents would do this, nothing is far-fetched. In Bad Genius a young girl cheats in her exams for those who can pay. The story is entertaining and poignant because after the thriller element thaws you realize that the poor will always be bottom feeders because a lot of times money can always trump hustle and academic brilliance.
The documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work [watch it here] for showing that aging in Hollywood is a really death sentence but that comedy is one of the few professions that gives you a thicker backbone as you age. Joan says half way through the film:
“It’s such a hard business… this is the one business in the world it is total rejection. I’m 75 and I’m still rejected. In this business you are mud your whole life.”
This was released in 2010 but I wasn’t interested in Ms. Rivers then but, I dunno, I was watching an old interview with her the other day and it surprised me because I felt like she wasn’t dead and so I went looking for her. She’s one of those people who puts up a front for everybody but she’s a real one, and her soul really shines through in this documentary. God rest her soul.
The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby
I suggest you read The Anatomy of Story [read a chapter by chapter synopsis here] if you are an aspiring writer who wants to start your journey to actually sounding like a real one. Truby is a teacher and screenwriter so the book gives an exhaustive map of story structure through character and plot. The first 7 steps fleshes out your characters with things like ‘weakness and need’ and ‘desire’ and towards the end the book Truby zooms in on the intricacies of plot focusing on things like ‘theme line’ and ‘moral argument.’ You get homework too as The Godfather, Casablanca and Tootsie are the main examples used to drive home the points.
Disclaimer: read this with a grain of salt. Don’t swat the rules else your writing will become stiff, but don’t forget them entirely else your writing may lose or lack momentum which is something that has to be learned. I am no expert, trust me, more anything after reading this I realized how difficult writing really is.
Barack Obama and Donald Trump during the inauguration. (image source: Damon Winter. The New York Times, 2017).
The New York Times’ ‘The Year in Pictures 2017′ for showing that the world is bigger and more troubled than we can ever imagine but that through the timelessness of photography every issue has a voice and every issue has beauty in it. — Bless.
[cover art by: Shevon Johnson]