Thursday, March 27, 2008

Help Yourself to this!

Yes, I said I was going to put those auctions up on Monday. And yet, today is Thursday and there are nowhere to be found.

"My bad," is all I can say... Computer problems and other technical issues (as well as a good measure of busyness and yes--I admit--a smidgeon of good old-fashioned sloth) hamstrung me for a little while, but the auctions will be up by 3 pm ET tomorrow, I promise!

For now, I'm gonna hit you with a little preview track from the new Nigeria Special compilation.

Mind you, when I say "the new Nigeria Special compilation," I speak not of the collection that came out last month but the one that is coming out next week.

Talk about being spoiled for riches--I've been grooving out on the first part for the past month, and only last week did I start really seriously listening to disc 2! (True talk: I once spent like two whole days just listening to the Sahara All Stars Band of Jos's sublime but too, too short rendition of "Feso Jaiye" in a continuous loop!)

So yeah, it's almost overwhelming to think that before I'm even halfway through completely digesting the compilation, a piping hot second helping is already on the way!

And I do mean "hot"... As we have come to expect from Soundway, it's a solid set of tracks that are both hard and hard to find: I have no idea how Miles digs up these obscure LPs and lost 45s by forgotten artists. (I mean, Jay-U Experience? Voices of Darkness? And who knew SJOB Movement released a second album? Not me!)

The track I'm previewing over here is by an artist who is much less obscure, though the album this is taken from (1976's Tell My Girl) is less remembered these days and has been appearing on collectors' want lists these days.

(I might be putting a copy of the album up for sale tomorrow, by the way. We'll see.)

Bongos Ikwue & the Groovies - "You've Gotta Help Yourself"

So yeah... Help yourself to some of this disco funk on April 1 (March 31 in Europe)!

Oh yes... I nicked this link from Matsuli: Miles on the Belgian podcast, playing some selections from Nigeria Special and talking about the soul-crushingly tragic destruction of a whole heap of great Nigerian music from the 1960s and 70s. Check it out here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sellin' out returns! week, that is.

Haven't been able to get any new eBay auctions up as I've been so dad-blasted busy. I tried throughout this past week to put some stuff up, but I just haven't couldn't find the time. So it'll have to be Monday.

Here's a preview of a couple of the goodies you might see then:

Kris Okotie - "You Are My Woman"

Prince Nico Mbarga - "Happy Birthday"

Margaret Singana - "Where Is The Love"

William Onyeabor - "Love Me Now"

Bongos Ikwue & the Groovies - "Groovies Funk"

One World - "Mind Searcher"

I'm still sorting things out and working my way from the outer edges of the crates inwards... So keep checking back, because I will be coming with more rare grooves as time goes by. Also, feel free to hit me up with requests; if I don't have it, I will try to find it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mo' Mandy

MsMak requested this song:

Mandy - "Breakthrough"

but I just decided to throw this one up too, just because:

Mandy - "Working Girl"

Gah... Every copy of this record I've ever owned, this song's got a skip on it! Albeit in different spots... What's up with that?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

And now for my next number, I'd like to return to the classics...

After writing about Martha Ulaeto yesterday and how her career was jumpstarted by an appearance in Adam Fiberesima's Opu Jaja, it occurred to me to dig out my old copy of (highlights from) the opera to see if I could spot her on it.

Of course, that proved a futile pursuit for one whose ear for the nuances of operatic sopranos is as tin-plated as mine, but I figured I'd post a little bit about the opera, since I've never blogged about Nigerian art music (though I have for some time thought about a post on "serious music" composers like Ekundayo Phillips, Fela Sowande, Ayo Bankole, Akin Euba, Samuel Akpabot, Joshua Uzoigwe, Lazarus Ekwueme and Okechukwu Ndubuisi).

But for now we're talking about Adam Dagogo Fiberesima. I'll go ahead and paste in the bio from the back of the LP:
Adam Fiberesima is one of the few gifted Composers of our time. Born in Okrika, in the Rivers State of Nigeria in the year 1926, he developed his musical interest when his father gave him lessons on the piano. He proved himself by giving surprises to his father's friends who thought there was something unusual about his musical gift.

As he grew older he taught himself how to play the trumpet, and other brass instruments. And later on formed a dance band "THE SKY ROCKETS" which was the most popular band in the then Eastern region.

When he finished at the Okrika Grammar School, he went to the United Kingdom to study Electrical Engineering which he did for four years. And at that time within his studies he found time to write short stories for the British Broadcasting Corporation coupled with his piano playtime in the programme "Calling West Africa". The urge for his natural calling was still looming over him. At last he decided to study music and then entered "Trinity College of Music", London, where he decided to study music and Fellowship in Composition. He is now attached to Voice of Nigeria where he heads the Department of Music.

He had been quoted by Afro-American Musicologists as one of the greatest African Composers born at the time when the black man is taking his place in world history.

Apart from "Opu-Jaja", he has written four Symphone [sic] work, Two Concert Overtures, Two Operas, many works for piano and voice, Two Operattas [sic], Choral Music, and works for Brass Band and Wood Wind.
One thing this bio does not mention is that while Fiberesima was studying in London in the late 1940s and early 50s, he also played piano in Ambrose Campbell's West African Rhythm Brothers, the band that introduced African-style dance music to the United Kingdom with tunes like

We Have It in Africa
Oba Ademola II and
Lagos Mambo

Fiberesima's other works include the opera Ibini Ukpabi, and the operetta Edi Ke Marina, but he is most famous for Opu Jaja, an Ijaw-language opera restaging the story of Jaja of Opobo, the Igbo merchant king who confounded the British in the late 19th century with his domination of the lucrative Niger Delta palm oil market (long before the Nigeria Delta became the scene of conflict over a different kind of oil).

The sleeve notes on this Decca issue of the opera are very strange. While it's clear that they were going for a pretty classy package, the libretto on the back reads like it was transcribed by a caveman:
YEAR 1800

Opu Jaja is a 3 Act Opera based on the exploits and supremacy of King Jaja of Opobo. The King is threatened by the British Consul about trade monopoly on the Island. He proves to the British Consul that it was wrong and refuses to comply to the various trade agreements signed earlier on.

After threats of war between the Islanders and Europeans in Opobo, King Jaja decides to send a delegation to see Queen Victoria. The delegation to London met with failure, because there was nothing definite to ensure protection to the Islanders. After a long stay during which they got themselves acquainted with many English Sports in the fields of Surrey, e.g. Cricket, Tennis, Golf and Billiards, they arrived home safely greeted by their Country men in 1884.

War ensued after their arrival, because King Jaja made sure his Son and the Chiefs landed on Opobo soil before waging war against the British. A skirmish took place but King jaja was not satisfied with the attitude of the British Consul who pretended to be friendly. At last the British Consul tricked him to a private dinner on board the British Man o' War and there held him captive. He was later sent on Exile to the West Indies (St. Vincent)
I mean, what the hell?

Anyway, I've included two selections from the opera.

The London Symphonia with the chorus of the English Chorale singing in IJAW
Conductor - MARTYN FORD

Act II Scene I

Monday, March 17, 2008

Martha, Martha, Martha!*

When I was around nine years old, I nursed a simmering schoolboy crush on Martha Ulaeto, who was a rather popular singer in Calabar. She was a local girl who had achieved considerable heights as one of the few trained operatic singers in Nigeria at the time, and her primary repertoire comprised jazzed-up arrangements of traditional songs drawn from the area's folklore. As such, the people of what was then called Cross River State took much pride in her large-scale projection of their culture and she was a mainstay on Calabar's Cross River Radio and NTA Channel 9. I remember seeing her on TV singing "Everlasting" and "Ije Lovu" surrounded by a bunch of dancing kids, looking like a sexy music teacher. I begged my mom to buy me a music magazine that had an article about her in it (I can't remember what the magazine was called but I do recall that the cover of that particular issue featured Eddy Grant wearing an uncomfortably tight pair of football shorts). Most of what I know about Martha Ulaeto came from that article:

She fostered her passion for singing in cultural arts tournaments while a student at Cornelia Connelly College, Uyo before going on to the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) where she studied under Samuel Akpabot, singing the title role in a 1971 rendition of the redoubtable composer's Cynthia's Lament. After an appearance in Adam Fiberesima's opera Opu Jaja, she won a scholarship to the National Conservatoire in Athens and subsequent voice training in London. Finding few outlets for a prima donna of the opera upon returning to Nigeria, she turned to the Efik ballads, work songs and children's rhymes she had heard growing up and found success amidst the blossoming vogue for female folk singers. However, when it came time to release her first album, 1981's Love Me Now, Martha determined to prove that (as she put it in the sleeve notes) "I can also freak out."

Love Me Now was recorded in London with Akie Deen (who mostly underlayed gentle calypso-tinged production, but floored the pedal on a torrid disco scorcher or two) and released on Olu Aboderin's Skylark Records.

She swiftly followed up her debut with 1982's Everlasting, a more boogie/modern soul-flavored set featuring more original compostions. It was produced by Mike Abiola Phillips and released on Martha's own ULA label. She had a very interesting sound on this album... Singing R&B with an operatic vocal style occasionally made her sound uncannily like Miss Piggy, but it totally worked for me. Maybe because I loved The Muppet Show and the production was so damn pristine.

("Everlasting" was the song on which I first heard slap bass. Well... I mean, not really. In retrospect, I can think of a score of songs I had heard before that which are dripping with slap bass, but this was the first time I really noticed it--along with the reverb on the handclap--and went "Huh? How'd they do that?" It was probably the key moment at which I started thinking about record production and after that, I kind of sought out those kinds of sounds... That is, until I vigorously forswore them during my funk purism phase in the late 90s.)

She released two more albums on ULA between 1983 and 1985; I really can't remember if she put out anything after that, though. I believe she lives in London these days and is still involved in musical education and her great love of the opera.

Here are a couple of tracks from her first two LPs.

And Martha, if you read this, holler at your fan!

"Nti Eweb (I Remember Eweb)"

"Nne, Nne, Nne! (Mother, Mother, Mother!)"

"Music Alone"**


"Ije Lovu (Love Trip)"

"Love is Best"

* The only thing perhaps more execrable and groan-inducing than played-out Brady Bunch references is a lame pun playing off of a played-out Brady Bunch reference, but I really couldn't think of another title for this post, so give me a break, willya?

** I have no idea why this track is coming up truncated... I'm working at trying to fix it, though! (2/18/08: FIXED IT)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

R.I.P. Essien Akpabio (1948-2008)

A little less than two months ago, after I blogged about the funk-rock band Aktion, Ambrose Ehirim informed me that one the band's key members, Essien Akpabio, was based back in the Cross RIver/Akwa Ibom axis--my own occasional stomping grounds--and I looked forward to interviewing him the next time I was in the area.

So I was quite saddened to hear that Essien Akpabio passed away shortly after I posted that entry. Of course, there is no way to compare my disappointment to the enormous sense of loss felt by his family, his friends, and those who worked with him. By all accounts, he was a really warm and generous guy who was much beloved by all who had the privilege of knowing him.

I was in contact with his daughter for a bit over the past month or so, and while she is a bit too young to remember the days of Action 13 and Aktion, it turns out that Dr. Akpabio remained active in the music scene even after the band broke up. For instance, I had no idea that he was the man behind Terra Kota, a pioneering reggae artist who made some waves when I was a kid and played a big role in charting the direction Nigerian popular music would take in the 1980s.

I found this obit in The Independent. It could have done with some editing and proofing, but it still provides a nice overview of Essien Akpabio's life and achievements.

Musicians Bid Farewell To Akpabio

By Charles Okogene, Group Life Editor
Wed, 12 Mar 2008

For the people and residents of Ukana Ikot Ntuen town in Akwa Ibom State, commercial and social activities will stand still on Thursday and Friday, March 13 and 14, as musicians bid the remains of Essien Akpabio farewell with concert.

Akpabio, one of Nigeria’s foremost entertainment promoters and musicians, transited to higher glory last month in Ikot Ekpene after a protracted illness. He was aged 59.

A member of the defunct, The Aktion Funk Ensemble, Essien will be fondly remembered for his contribution to the growth and popularisation of popular (pop) music in Nigeria, a feat that spanned a period of three decades. He played a key role in the formation of Aktion, which at the height of its popularity had a huge fan base. He was at a time the group’s lead singer and later leader.

Aside his contribution to the development of pop culture in Nigeria, which took roots in Eastern Nigeria after the 30 months civil war, history has it that Essien, who was educated at Zixton Public School, Ozubulu, and Dennis Memorial, Onitsha in Anambra State, played a huge role in the development and nurturing of young talents in the entertainment industry when he bowed out of active musicianship in the early 1980s.

Among the young talents of the late 1970s and early 1980s that drank from Essien’s fountain of knowledge were Wictor Essiet (The Mandators), Ras Kimono, Ortis Williki, Tar Ukoh, Adu Deme, Rev. Kris Okotie (now of the Household of God Church), Jide Obi, Felix Leberty, Mercy Adichi, Alex O, Feladey, and Chris Mba. He also promoted Terra Kota’s Sodom and Gomorrah, which was the first indigenous reggae hit after Sonny Okosuns Papa’s Land and Fire In Soweto.

As a young man growing up in the Eastern part of the country, Essien was an ardent viewer of TV Review, an entertainment programme on the then Eastern Nigeria Television (ETV), Enugu, which had Mrs. Mary Umolu as presenter.

“Aside making it a point of duty to attend the programme, he was also a regular face, the same way he attended Ukonu Club. In Onitsha, which was the hub of entertainment after the war, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of the late Eddy Okwedi, Celestine Ukwu, and Osadebe. According to his younger brother, Isong Essien, “Sonny Okosuns’ Postmen, which was the first pop group in Nigeria, further fueled his interest in pop music.”

Essien, who started his music career as a road manger (roadie) shocked the entertainment industry in 1980 when he promoted Terra Kota of Sodom and Gomorrah fame (which was the first major indigenous reggae hit in Nigeria) and recorded a capacity crowd at the National Theatre. He followed up by promoting the Eastern leg of the famed Fela/Roy Ayers concert, and promoted Third World concert in Aba at the end of which the reggae group released an album entitled Lagos Jump in which they narrated how they met a friend called Ikechukwu in Aba.

According to Isong, the late Akpabio’s love for music was so strong that, when he venture into full time music, his father who was at a time in the 1960s the acting Premier of Eastern Region and minister of education, and later internal affairs minister in the same region and who was credited with partial free education in the region, did not raise any objection.

“ I don’t think he would have done anything else,” Isong, who was in Lagos in connection with the burial, told a select group of journalists.

At the dawn of the current democracy coupled with his immense experience, the government of Akwa Ibom State under the able leadership of Obong Victor Attah invited Akpabio home to midwife the state’s musical band, which was later known as The Millennium Band and in which he later served as director.

As part of activities lined up for the interment, a concert vigil tagged “Legend Concert: Essien Akpabio Lives On”, which will feature 25 musicians, will take place tomorrow.

Among the musicians expected are Feladey, Victor Essiet, Charly Boy, George Ema, Chris Mba, regrouped One World, regrouped Aktion, Saforo, Chief Zebrudaya, Etiene T. Boy, Effi Duke, Emmanuel Ntia, Sonak, Emma Ogosi, and Tony Grey.

Akpabio until his death was the head of the late Dr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio House of the great Akpabio family of Ukana Ikot Ntuen in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. He will be buried in his family house. He left behind a beautiful wife, Funmi, and a daughter who is a pharmacy student in a U.S. university.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Nigeria's Nashvillian Number One

In the United States, conventional wisdom regards country & western music as a uniquely American cultural product imbued with inherent negro-repellent qualities. In fact, in popular culture the sticky sweet twang of the pedal steel guitar has become synonymous with--to poach a phrase from Randy Newman--"keepin' the niggers down" (much like clawhammer banjo has become an aural cue for images of forcible sodomy and tender-lovin' incest).

Therefore, I've always found it paradoxical that country music has enjoyed enduring popularity in predominantly black nations such as Jamaica and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

In Nigeria, for example, the most popular singer in the early 1980s was probably Jim Reeves. Every household had a couple of his records, and like 2Pac, he seemed to drop a new release or two every month in spite of having died in a plane crash in 1964. Insanely large blocks of radio time were devoted to playing his tunes, as well as other singers of "sentimental music" like Skeeter Davis, George Hamilton IV, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, John Denver and Don Williams.

This country & western saturation obviously exerted an influence upon homegrown Nigerian music. In some cases--such as the integration of the pedal steel into the juju of King Sunny Ade and the highlife of Celestine Ukwu--the influence was subtle. In others it was much more overt, as in the music of Emma Ogosi.

When Ogosi released his debut, Nobody Knows in 1981, he largely seemed to be an acolyte of Bunny Mack's slick, leisure-suited discolypso, with a couple of nods towards the folksy lyricism of Bongos Ikwue. However, his 1982 follow-up It's Not Easy found him more clearly defining his goal to craft a uniquely Nigerian flavor of country music: "the African Don Williams," they sometimes called him, or "Nigeria's Jim Reeves."

Ogosi rode that wave for a while, but mostly put his own singing career on the back burner in the latter part of the 80s as he dedicated himself to producing and managing his (now estranged) wife, reggae superstar Evi-Edna Ogholi-Ogosi. He released a reggae-inflected album himself, Weekend Show, in 1990 but he's been silent since then. He's promised to make a comeback soon, though.

Here are a couple of cuts from It's Not Easy, produced by Laolu Akins, featuring his BLO colleague Lemmy Jackson on keys and Monomono's Kenneth Okulolo and Friday Pozo on bass and congas respectively.

"Going Back To My Wife"
"Don't Break My Heart"
"There's No-One Like You"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Stoop to Conquer

Original Wings International- "Stoop to Conquer"

A bit of crackle on this one; I just found it in some nether-corner of the crates. Didn't even have a sleeve.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Daniel Viglietti y el Grupo de Experimentación Sonora del ICAIC - "Construccion"

A seminal nueva canción by a Brazilian singer-songwriter (Chico Buarque), recorded by a Uruguayan folk singer (Daniel Viglietti) in Cuba and released on that country's state-run record label (EGREM).

Welcome to 1972.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Omoge in Yoruba translates roughly as "fine girl." It's a very urban word, resonating with style, swagger and even a bit of danger.

Mike Okri - "Omoge" (1989)

Dizzy K. - "Omoge" (1983)

I always kinda thought Mike Okri's song was a bit derivative of Dizzy K's, though Dizzy's was a side 2 album track and Mike's was a hit single that went on to become a modern classic. In fact, rising MC Sauce Kid made his name (and resurrected Okri) with a 2006 tribute to the record:

Just kinda wanted to say that because it's been on my mind for the past week. Otherwise, there's not much of a point to this post. Sorry.

(Thanks to Naija Jams for hooking me up with the high quality rip of the Mike Okri LP, by the way... I always only ever had really shitty mp3s of 2 or 3 songs.)

(Edit 3/9/08: That Dizzy K. mp3 I posted last night was a rather rough rip... I've cleaned it up now.)

A lil' bit of boogie for Saturday afternoon

T-Bones Family were, I believe, an Aba-based group that was active in the 1970s and 80s. The incarnation on this album, Eat the Apple featured lead singer "SamBrown P.E.," "Jervis M.U." and "Allens I.E."

SamBrown still records and performs (albeit in Norway) under the name SamPeace Brown. He calls his style "hilife soul." (I don't think he has a website but Google him and you're likely to find something. Better yet, just go here.)

This track is from 1987, which means you can expect keybs plucked straight off the Velveeta platter but still enough muscular bass to keep things interesting (courtesy of Basil N. Barap, who also produced).

T-Bones Family - "Eat the Apple"

Monday, March 03, 2008

¿Cómo se dice en español, "Africolombia is making it rain on these hoes"?

You remember a while back when I said I was not convinced that the African music-worshiping champeta scene of Colombia was real, as in "not a meticulously contrived hipster fan fiction"?

I would now like to say, for the record: it is real, mi gente. Es muy, muy real.

Over the past couple of months (and largely thanks to the influence of Samy and some others), I have been immersing myself in the prickly pleasures of la musica afrocolombiana. I think I can safely say that at this point, Colombia has joined the Benin-Togo axis as the region of the world whose modern groove-based dance musics I most desperately want to explore more deeply.

Therefore do I thank the heavens that since the beginning of the year, our amigo Fabian Altahona Romero has been blasting away on all cylinders on his Africolombia blog.

Fabian is not playing around when it comes to kicking out the jams: You want cumbia? Highlife? Merengue? Rumba? Champeta criolla? Salsa? Afrobeat? Mbaqanga? Makossa? Ziglibithy? He puts it all out there, accompanied by essays (en español, naturalmente) illuminating the history and cultural context of the artists and their music.

I love the way our little "Afro sounds" corner of the blogosphere has been exponentially growing over the past year, and while there have been so many great new additions, this has been one of my favorites. So do yourself a favor and check it out!

While I'm plugging other blogs, I might as well urge you to check the recently concluded "Black History Mumf" series that Odienator ran over at Big Media Vandalism.

Yes, yes... I know February is over, but if we are going to celebrate the consummate character actress Regina King, the esoteric delights of Coming to America or the awesome inspirational stature of George Jefferson; to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Don Cornelius or the deleterious agenda perpetuated in the black community by the Kool-Aid Man; or just take in an all-sangin', all-dancin', all-cullid double-bill of Cabins in the Sky and Stormy Weather, and other kinky cinema and TV arcana from the soul of African-Americana, tell me--can we truly restrict ourselves to just one short (even in a leap year) month?

(My only beef is that Odie never got around to delivering his promised eulogy to Kimberly Elise. My Lord, the torch I carry for that woman could light the tenebrous recesses of Hades.)

The "Black History Mumf" compendium can be found here.

Lately, I've also been into The Rawness, which blogger T. describes as "a blog about human nature and social behavior. Especially from the viewpoints of evolutionary psychology, social dynamics and economics."

While that might sound slightly academic or intimidating, it's really a laid-back, conversational and quite funny exploration of the reasons why we people do the things we do, the way we use language to obscure our motives from others (and ourselves), and, of course, one of my obsessions: taxonomizing life: Take this analysis of the difference between nerds, geeks and dorks (a conversation I myself had many times during my years laboring in that mecca of geekery, the record store):

Geeks can range in intelligence to average to very bright, but they rarely hit the genius levels of nerds. On the bright side, they are usually nowhere near as socially inept as a nerd either. They are usually good at one or two things, but it’s rarely something useful. Their expertise is more likely to be along the lines of an encyclopedic knowledge of something like film, music, television, comic books, sports or history, but from the consumer’s side. A geek is more like a high level hobbyist than an expert genius. Since his area of expertise can often be of little real world use, it’s not uncommon to find geeks toiling away in obscurity or sometimes even mediocrity. However when the geek is lucky enough to combine his hobby with his career he can end up becoming quite successful, and even attain a level of minor celebrity. His level of knowledge comes more from a monomaniacal dedication to a subject more than high intellectual aptitude, even though geeks can often be fairly bright. Policy wonks, the pickup artist community and bloggers are geeks. Fantasy football addicts are geeks. They will dedicatedly digest every piece of knowledge out there about a topic, but aren’t likely to synthesize it into anything new, innovative and groundbreaking. They mostly tend to memorize and regurgitate, although the best of them are often capable of some very novel insights. Making this primer differentiating between nerds, geeks and dorks is something a geek would do. Analyzing the differences in physiology and brain structure and environment between them and coming up with a plausible hypothesis as to the source of those differences, however? That’s something a nerd would do.
The Rawness lives up to its name, though--it can be exacting in its mission to strip human nature down to its base, primal instincts. Sometimes it's too much to take in all at one time, and I can only check in every couple of days. But it's always entertaining and offers great insight to those who want to better understand people so as to better manipulate them!

Last but not least, here's one I discovered just last week: Stuff White People Like.

There's been a lot of buzz around this one--it's pretty much the new Black People Love Us!--an ongoing catalogue of the oddities, peculiarities, eccentricities, and comicalities of the Alabaster Genus of Humanity, rendered in a dry (yet wry) anthropological tone.

Noteworthy items: "#71 Being the only white person around" "#62 Knowing what's best for poor people," "#44 Public radio," "#60 Toyota Prius," "#36 Breakfast places," "#61 Bicycles," but of course, one of my favorites has to be

#69 Mos Def

In the olden days of white culture, people used to look up to Kings and Princes. These were the people that they adored, and every night they wished and hoped that somehow they could wake up and be just like them. But with Royal Families crumbling, that role has been filled by one man: Mos Def.

He is everything that white people dream about: authentic (”he’s from Brooklyn!”), funny (”he was on Chapelle show!”), artistic (have you heard “Black on Both Sides?”), an actor (”he’s in the new Gondry film!”) and not white (”I don’t see race”).

He has done an amazing job of being in big budget movies (The Italian Job) and having one of his songs become a white person wedding staple (Ms. Fat Booty) but still retaining authenticity and credibility.

If you find yourself in a social situation where you are asked to list your favorite actor or artist, you should always say Mos Def. This way you can name someone that everyone has heard of and you don’t look like you are trying to one up anybody. The only possible negative consequence is some white people might think “I wish I had said that first.”

The comments on Stuff White People Like are perhaps even more entertaining than the posts themselves, as readers debate the extent of the veracity of these alleged Causasoid behaviors and try to decide whether or not the very premise of the blog is offensive. ("Imagine if I, as a white guy, started a blog called “Stuff Black People Like”, and filled it with watermelon, fried chicken, dancing, gold teeth, cheap beer, pimping, etc. Can you feature the shit-storm of righteous indignation that would rain down upon me?")

I'm on the fence about it, really... The blog is at the very least racialist, if not outright racist, but I also feel fairly certain that the authors of the blog are themselves white (which I note only because of the unwritten caveat that makes it okay for persons to lampoon their own race in manner that would be unacceptable from outsiders). Essentially, the basic conceit is really the same as the "White people eat like *this*... while black people eat LIKE THIS!!!" gag that was fresh and hilarious when Richard Pryor did it 30 years ago on That Nigger's Crazy! but got worn out over the course of a million iterations on Showtime at the Apollo, HBO Def Comedy Jam and BET Comic View, except this time it's rendered through the screen of bone-dry irony... which is (let's face it) well, a bit of "white" thing to do, isn't it?

Anyway, when you get right down to it, this blog is really not so much about white people in toto, as it is about a certain subset of white people. As one commenter put it: "This blog isn’t about all white people. It’s skewering a certain kind of upper middle class, urban, liberal arts educated white person- and it does a pretty good job."

Still, maybe I shouldn't even be promoting this kind of racially contentious material here on With Comb & Razor, where we play a lot of old African records but the real theme music is an old American traditional called "Kum Ba Yah." Still, just in the interest of balance, I'll plug this spinoff blog my girl Fredara turned me on to just this afternoon:

Stuff Educated Black People Like

Anyway, peep Talib Kweli's new video, "Hostile Gospel," shot on location in Lagos by my sensei, Andrew Dosunmu:

I don't think the clip does much to showcase Andrew's signature sensual, postmodern Africana classic aesthetic, but I'm sure this is the kind of rugged vibe Kweli himself probably wanted.

The cele worshippers writhing on the beach during the "gospel" chorus is a nice touch, though.