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Music: Why Would I Watch The Throne?

Posted in celebrities, entertainment, hip hop, ranting, review on August 9th, 2011 by Hannibal Tabu
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Just listened to Kanye and Jay-Z’s new “supergroup” album, “Watch The Throne.”

Meh.

I appreciate some of the complimentary points made by film maker Ava DuVernay while appreciating Chuck D’s points that gross consumerism and flashiness in times of great economic hardship may be a wee bit insensitive.

All that’s true. However, my take on the album (which I posted on my own website and not on the Black geek website I run or anywhere else, is closer to the perspective of my good friend Jason Thompson.

Meh.

The lyrics do, in fact, show a kind of resurgent politicism (which fans of early music by both artists would remember, but it’d seem new to people who only knew The Louis Vuitton Don and Hova) as they name check Fred Hampton and discuss Black power, fatherhood and Black on Black crime. However, they sprinkle these tidbits inbetween black Maybachs and the glitterati lifestyle that they’ve both come to know as an everyday existence. If you’ve come for politics, you’d be better served with Malcolm & Martin or dead prez. Nothing wrong there, and some lyrical moments of actual dexterity, but a far cry from the finest showings for either man. I remember even saying that the lead song “Otis” would have been better if it was just Kanye, as Jay-Znot make the impact that his reputation demands, getting outshone by his “little brother.”

What’s weird is the music. It’s sparse and uninspired, tepid where it should be amazing. Even with Pete Rock and the RZA, most of the album (“Otis” is an exception, as is “Murder to Excellence”) have beats that just kind of show up for work but don’t do anything exceptional. Given the profile of this project, that’s a shock. Kanye’s beats alone — “Diamonds from Sierra Leone,” “Stronger,” “Run This Town,” “”I Changed My Mind,” “I Wonder,” “School Spirit,” “Slow Jams” and so many others — can freaking levitate. Even on his own recent album there were tracks like “Runaway” or the anthemic “All Of The Lights.” Here? Even the hottest tracks wouldn’t crack the top 25 instrumentals for either artist.

What happened? Did ‘Ye exhaust himself on his Dark Twisted Fantasy? Was Jay-Z more focused on business than delivering shock and awe as the so-called “best in the game” (which I’d definitely question). No idea.

This isn’t a bad album at all … but it’s also not a great album at all. It happened. It’s fine. A good DJ could make several songs work in the mix. But as a work on its own merits? It’s not a G.O.O.D. ass job …

Playing (Music): “Otis” by Kanye West and Jay-Z

NOTE: Why have I not been blogging? I’ve done hundreds of posts at Komplicated, writing for other things and staying busy. #musicmonday and the Commentary Track moved there. Sorry. I failed at National Poetry Writing Month (#napowrimo) by … four or so poems. If I can figure a way to regularly work this back into rotation, I will.

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Comics: The Commentary Track for the March 2nd Buy Pile

Posted in 104, awesomeness, bad ideas, blame society, buy pile, comics, comics reviews, dc, entertainment, marvel, review, whimsy on March 3rd, 2011 by Hannibal Tabu
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Every week I do a column full of comic book reviews as I’ve done since March 2003 and currently published at Comic Book Resources. Then, after the reviews post, I try to come over to my blog and expand on the thoughts and ideas listed there. Sometimes it’s profound, sometimes it’s gibberish, but it’s always about comics … let’s see what we get this week!

What? This week’s reviews

BRING ON THE BAD GUYS: I noted that — with the exception of the unmentioned Handbook I bought — all my comics this week featured bad people. Individuals who viewed murder as just something they might do today, ones who considered little before committing acts frowned upon by polite society (such as it is).

I’m an admitted nihilist (and no, I see no dichotomy between holding those beliefs while also being a devoted father and husband), so do I just glom off the world-enders the way kids who get picked on found heroism and righteousness in Peter Parker? Admittedly, as a child I rallied behind the banner of the Rebel Alliance, but breathing down on my fortieth year, I am happier to admit that the Empire made the transports run on time, and man did they have a great design aesthetic.

Many actors have noted that they relish playing antagonist roles because the room for performance is often greater — heroes and “good guys” are often played or written as stoic, selfless … boring, essentially. Say what you want, but nobody in Secret Six is “boring.” Zack Overkill may be nonchalant, but he lives a deeply fascinating life. Wade Wilson … well, say no more, there, his adventures make Charlie Sheen look like a Tibetan monk (yes, I worked that one in, deal with it).

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the work of heroes — I latched on to the first issue of Steve Rogers, Super Soldier, I adore the Legion of Super-Heroes and despite the current issue, Misty Knight fascinates me in Heroes for Hire. However, even there, it took Steve setting down the shield to become a spy, it took Misty’s voice whispering into a microphone as violence was done afar, it took Querl Dox adopting the impatient mannerisms of his great-grandfather for me to get me going.

It’s framed like this for me: I like bad guys (like, say, Darth Vader, who essentially believes he’s making an omelet worth eating, despite how many eggs he has to break) not bad guys like, say, Dick Cheney.

Or Charlie Sheen.

The latter have no grander purpose outside of self aggrandization and a naked lust for power. That’s harder to latch on to.

DR. ROOST VS. THE TURD BURGLAR: So there’s this guy Isaac who comes to Comics Ink and has been designated my “sidekick” because he mimics my “spread the pile, read the pile, pick from the pile” modus operandi, except he doesn’t write anything about it (which might be a shame, because despite his callow knowledge base, he’s kind of brilliant).

Anyway, he was late last week, so store owner Steve LeClaire said he’d be punished by having to wear a chicken suit. This inspired Quislet (whose name is actually something else, but he has to be called Quislet until 2014 due to a ruling handed down against him) to draw Isaac in the chicken suit on his “ISack” (the paper bag his comics would be placed within). This led to a weird conversation strung throughout the evening, whereas we decided Isaac’s poultry-based alter ego needed an origin story (Isaac’s afraid that there’s too many chickens in the world, and we should view them as delicious enemies, so he and I assumed he was undercover in the suit), what sort of name his character would have (“Dr. Roost” was the lead contender, beating out “Dr. Cluck” and some lamer options) and then, of course, arch enemies.

As one of his offensive weapons, Steve figured he’d hurl chicken sh** as tiny “turd bombs” (which was less dignified than my idea that his wings extruded tiny blades and he could spin around to attack with them). Quislet then realized he’d have an enemy who stole said things, and Steve dubbed this idea “The Turd Burglar,” who “profits off of terrorism” by selling the fecal matter to terrorists for bombs. You know, why not? Then we realized Isaac could play both parts, in a Winklevoss-styled performance.

“Just when I thought I was becoming respected around here,” Isaac said as we left the store at closing time, “now I’m wearing a chicken suit and literally taking crap.” Poor guy …

This wasn’t even one of the weirdest conversations we’ve had this year, but we sure laughed about it a lot. Maybe you had to be there.

IT’S MY BIG SECRET: What’s the big news I’ve been sitting on for … wow, maybe six or seven months now?

I'm coming for you

I'm coming for you

I am working on a comics project with Glyph Award-nominated Genius artist Afua Richardson, which will be published by Stranger Comics. I won’t tell you the name of the project, I won’t tell you much about it (it’s a science fiction political thriller set in the near future) but I will tell you that (apparently) it is happening (she starts in earnest as soon as Genius is done, I’ve even got paperwork this time) and this is a glimpse of what the main character will probably look like. If you’re all good children, maybe I’ll post more of her sketches. Maybe.

I’m so freaking excited about this it’s insane.

“At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have our revenge!”

THAT’S THE NEWS, AND I AM OUTTA HERE: Work to do at MIMCO, so see you soon.

Playing (Music): “Naturally” by Huey Lewis and The News

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Comics: The Commentary Track for the December 15th Buy Pile

Posted in 104, awesomeness, bad ideas, black panther, blame society, buy pile, cheap publicity, cobra, comics, comics reviews, dc, g.i. joe, norse, ranting, review, shameless pandering, wakanda on December 16th, 2010 by Hannibal Tabu
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Every week I do a column full of comic book reviews as I’ve done since March 2003 and currently published at Comic Book Resources. Then, after the reviews post, I try to come over to my blog and expand on the thoughts and ideas listed there. Sometimes it’s profound, sometimes it’s gibberish, but it’s always about comics … let’s see what we get this week!

What? This week’s reviews

THOUGH THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL: Before we get started, my pals over at Stranger Comics are doing some cool stuff with the release of their new project, Ruining Christmas. When that leads to madness like this …

Do we really want to know what's happening here?

Do we really want to know what's happening here?

… well, you know something wonderful is going on.

As well, comics artist Afua Richardson (in her alter ego as “Candie Canes”) rocked a version of “Winter Wonderland” (purchase MP3) described thusly: “It is raspy. It is sexy. Let’s hope the elves, who sit upon red velvet couches, sucking on her namesake, appreciate all of her talents. For they are many.” Nice! Even Warren Ellis liked it.

She also did the art …

Candie Canes sings 'Winter Wonderland'

Candie Canes sings 'Winter Wonderland'

… as she should, as she should. A very talented young woman, and a very fun project from the upstart company that’s working on their first big screen movie for The Untamed with Watchmen producer Lloyd Levin, Shopgirl producer Andrew Sugerman and Eureka creator Andrew Cosby.

WE SHALL OVERTHROW: I’m not gonna lie like I haven’t been waiting for more answers from DMZ for some time, and this issue finally whetted my appetite. I’m a real deep continuity guy, so getting into the nuts and bolts of building the world matters to me. The fact that civil war could happen in the United States is not hard to believe — there’s a lot of weapons out there, there’s a lot of frustration, and everybody won’t be satisfied by some nutjob candidates getting junior legislative positions. I’ll never rule it out as a possibility.

Anyhoo, so I liked getting a look inside the mechanism of the Free States here, their Tea Party-esque origins (and yes, those parallels are interesting/frightening to me) for instructive purposes as well as entertainment ones.

JORMUNGANDR: The visuals needed to grow on me, but I gotta say I am loving the subtle understatedness of IDW’s Cobra Commander. His seduction of Chuckles (and it is a seduction, despite the fact that technically Chuckles hasn’t done anything outside of his mandate as a Joe, and killing people isn’t a big deal) is a thing of beauty, especially when you consider all the other plates Cobra keeps spinning (their Scientology-styled cult The Coil, sucking in cash like crazy, Crimson Guardsmen in politics and banking, military forces deployed all over the world, secret antarctic bases and huge submarines). How could such a huge organization ever really be beaten, permanently? I love that, and could honestly make with seeing a lot more of it. Not that I don’t love the Joes — I do, Stalker is my dawg, I love the possibilities in Sci Fi and Flash, and even Cover Girl has developed into an actual character — but Cobra is just so … much … yummier.

HERE BE SPOILERS: Sorry, need to go off the deep end past this point. You’re welcome to step out …

… or not. Here we go.

THE ONGOING INSULT: I just can’t get over how angry I am about T’Challa.

I gave a friend of mine the TPB of Enemy of the State for Kwanzaa (since I found out that The Client is out of print — thanks Mouse House of Ideas!) and, in rereading it, remembered how much I came to love the character despite his flaws. He was A Man Called Hawk, James Bond, Captain America, Batman and Barack Obama all rolled up into one vibranium-encased bundle of whup ass.

Now? How could he ever be called anything buy T’Challa the Weak, T’Challa the Failure, T’Challa the Foolish? Under Jonathan Maberry’s direction, T’Challa did what no Black Panther ever did — let Wakanda be conquered from without. Not just like his rope-a-dope with Reverend Doctor Michael Ibn al-Hajj Achebe, which was actually a move of strategy that could have been considered brilliant despite the chaos that ensued. No, in his struggle with Doom (and if you’re gonna lose to somebody, Doom’s the one, I’ll admit), he destroyed everything that made Wakanda — and by extension him — wonderful, all the gifts that Stan somehow created.

Now? On the word of a man who he has a passing acquaintance with (Daredevil? Really?), he abandons his wife, his shame, his company, his nation in need, his family, his responsibilities, his people and his friends … to “test” himself? T’challa was never so selfish, he was never so stupid, he was never so self-involved. What Marvel is doing with “Black Panther: Man Without Fear” is wrong politically, from a creative and narrative standpoint, culturally and intellectually. It makes no sense, and I could not stand more strongly against it.

REALLY? So Chaos War: Thor expects me to go for the following …

  • Thor can combine more than one mortal into himself, Firestorm style, to share the power.
  • Thor, in his hour of darkest need, would pray to a non-Norse god that he’s never met … and it would work.

Get the hell out of my office. Get that garbage out of here. That’s disgusting.

TABU OUT: That should hold you for a while, my little sandwich spreads. I’m on vacation days from my job at MIMCO, my first paid vacation in my entire adult life. I hope to finish my latest novel by year’s end and have some other fun stuff to drop on your brain in 2011.

Playing (Music): “I Need A Doctor” by Eminem feat. Dr. Dre

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