Last night I finally got a chance to attend the 38th-annual Atlanta Film Festival, a week-long event where buzzy independent films, shorts and movie projects are screened at Atlanta's oldest operating cinema, the Plaza Theatre. I missed quite a few showings I really wanted to see (potty training a toddler makes your social life crappy in more ways than one), but catching the photo-documentary Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People made up for everything I didn't get to see. Here's why you too should see this really cool project when it comes to your town.
Did you know there are still people moving to Atlanta for "the music industry"? Seriously. Like, "rappers," people who "can sing," and even folks who make "beats" and have "groups," "managers," and "labels." But truth be told, while entertainment still draws lots of career-seeking creatives to ATL (from music to the increasing frequency of major film productions like The Hunger Games, Anchorman 2 and Dumb and Dumber To) , and the local art scene is spitting that hot fiya (as my man Maurice Garland recently pointed out), the best evidence and biggest reason to get excited about Atlanta is the long-awaited discovery of the city by the tech startup scene. And that's where Choose ATL comes in.
There is more than one scene in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave that's not easy to watch, but like many movies about some of humanity's most historically evil times, there's one that will stand out for most people. Without giving it away, I'll say that it's something that also happened in D'jango Unchained but not quite to the same degree, although I say that while taking nothing away from Quentin Tarantino's film.
People will immediately compare D'jango and 12, and for good reason. Both seem to be opposite sides of the same cursed coin minted from the blood/cotton money that is still owed to the descendants of slaves to this day. However, in one of these films, a character that is not based on any known historical figure kills almost every person involved in his bondage. In the other film, which is based on a true story (reportedly fact checked for historical accuracy by none other than Beer Summit attendee/Harvard professor/pseudo Obama friend Henry Louis "Skip" Gates), the hero receives no such satisfaction. No spoiler alert necessary--all one has to do is look up the story of Solomon Northup.
My favorite beer-drinking time of year is "pumpkin." With that truth comes plenty of side-eyed glances, but it also usually comes with delicious flavor and a rabid hunt for whichever bar, beer store or growler shop still has the dark orange brew available by bottle or tap.
What sucks is that this year it was all sucky, and therefore everybody's tastebuds got all jacked up and thrown out of whack. Take, for example, this Paste Magazine pumpkin beer ranking. And hey, Paste represents Atlanta, so I love them. But there are some numbers on this board that are so ridiculous that you remember that whoever wrote it gets drunk off pumpkin beer, if you will. So I wanted to share some trill thoughts on the subject.
A couple months ago I got to attend a listening party for the new Goodie Mob album, Age Against The Machine, at Tree Sound Studios in the suburbs of Atlanta. Also in attendance were a few handfuls of ATL's elite hip-hop journalists who like me have been around since the '90s, when The Dungeon Family ruled The South and the music was full of black magic.
Fast-forward to 2013, and Cee-Lo Green is a certified celebrity and household name, thanks to his universally popular hit "Crazy" as half of Gnarls Barkley, his equally successful single "F*ck You", and his role as a judge on the televised music competition The Voice. Cee-Lo allegedly started off as an original member of OutKast along with Andre 3000 and Big Boi, before being placed in a four-man rap outfit and being instantly recognized as a standout talent among fellow GM members Khujo, T-Mo, and Big Gipp. His hyper-conscious street sense, inimitable voice, gospelicious singing ability, and bulky, bald-headed, "Trill"-tattooed appearance made him unique to say the very least.
LaFace Records released Goodie Mob's first album, Soul Food, in 1995, and the critical response was immediately and overwhelmingly positive, along with the reception from an adoring public very curious of what these crazy sonic southerners were doing. The album sold over 500k units and was certified gold within a year, which back then was unequivocally considered a success. Next came Still Standing, which almost everyone considered to be artistically separate yet equally as good as their debut. Although the album was also certified gold, it was considered a commercial disappointment to many that expected heftier sales now that they were established and adored. Full disclosure: I'm a former employee of LaFace Records, and as someone that worked for the company before and after Still Standing was released, I recall plenty of blame and speculation as to why it didn't reach platinum (over a million sold) status, from L.A. Reid's absence during the album's rollout -- he was taking a summer course at Harvard as part of the process of being groomed to replace Clive Davis at Arista Records -- to the absence of a commercially viable crossover hit, and even a possible issue with the song "Fly Away", in which member Khujo wholeheartedly rejected homosexuality and invited gays to invite themselves elsewhere than near himself.
What came next was World Party, which one might have assumed before hearing it was a reference to global politics, since Goodie was always very vocal about the inequality, poverty, and the lack of proud and positive influences available in the slums of America. Yeah, but no. World Party was quite simply a reference to the decision from the group, or at least certain members, that it was time to abandon the more hard-core elements of their message and to take a break for the sake of good times. You know, don't worry -- be happy. Ironically, no one was with their third album, and it marked the beginning of Cee-Lo's distanced relationship with the rest of the Mob. Coincidentally, it was not long after the release of World Party that LaFace Records closed and L.A. ascended to the presidency of the record company that funded and distributed his own label's music.
Several projects followed, including two Arista album releases from Cee-Lo, Big Gipp's Mutant Mindframe, One Monkey Don't Stop No Show (essentially a Goodie-minus-Cee-Lo album), 'Lo's "Crazy"-spawning album with Danger Mouse, Khujo and T-Mo releasing an album under the moniker The Lumberjacks (Goodie's original name before the inclusion of Gipp and Cee-Lo), and Cee-Lo's most recent LP, The Lady Killer, which set him up for renewed popularity via "F*ck You" and made him legitimately and unarguably famous.
Now, here we are in the first week of the release of Age Against The Machine, a new album that clearly recognizes Cee-Lo's status but marks an assumed return to where he began, including the rest of the Mob. And the result is a somewhat-unfamiliar voyage into territory where growth is apparent, chemistry is evident but sometimes strained, and the core message still in existence albeit in a friendlier package for those unfamiliar with their revolutionary and rebellious origins.
But is it good? Read more and find out after the jump, and feel free to listen along to the streaming album at Amazon.
Kanye and Jay are two rich black men who are dominant in the business of entertainment and culture, and neither is afraid to remind you of their positioning via utterly ridiculous album titles, cover art, production, and lyrics.
This won't be a long post, partially because it's my first on this site, and mostly because neither of these albums are ground-breakingly good. But they're new albums from Kanye West and Jay-Z, and that matters, because whether you think both LPs are subpar, or they're great, or they're both in the #illuminati or whatever, you care.
This is where Michael B. Jordan shares his thoughts on the world with the world. Share yours back.