Tuesday, November 29, 2005


This is a review of Thomas Bess Jr.'s cd, Action Theory. I had a chance to really listen to it over the Thanksgiving break and I feel it is definitely worth checking out. Yes, I would say this even if he wasn't my brother. **smile**

Atlanta's underground music scene has just enlisted another soldier into its ranks. Actually, he has always been a soldier in this revolution of music, but now Thomas Bess, Jr. has been promoted and is swiftly moving up in rank with his debut CD, ACTION THEORY. Thomas Bess Jr., formerly of the Atlanta based underground group, JJason Blackwell, has just released his very first solo project and he has the underground Atlanta music scene teaming and percolating. This acoustically laced creation is pumped and politically charged as Thomas takes the listener on an ontological journey through music and spoken word. Thomas is accompanied with acoustic guitar on many of the tracks by upcoming artist, Donnie "Adonis" Cantly.
Thomas has an eclectic approach which makes it difficult to box his style of music into one particular category. The CD ranges from Hip-Hop to Acoustic Soul and everything in between. “Planet Rock” has a Dirty South appeal while “Jodi” is reminiscent of 80’s style Rock-Funk. The cd begins with the track, “Happy Little Sheep” that sounds like something out of a poetry slam. There’s something for everyone on this CD! Thomas Bess Jr. is no stranger to the Atlanta underground music scene. He first got its start at clubs like The Apache Café (Formerly The Ying-Yang) performing spoken word with Jjason Blackwell. At that time, the Ying Yang was the starting point and fertile ground for talented artist like India Arie and Donnie who performed at the club quite often. JB was a popular group on the ATL club circuit through the mid to late 90’s. The group released a cd in 2000 titled, Urban Experimentalist. The group never really achieved national success, but they were a favorite on the underground Atlanta music scene up until just a couple of years ago. The year is now 2005 and Thomas Bess, Jr. is moving forward with his own urban experiment. I have a feeling that the results will have listeners chanting “Yeah, Yeah.”

If you want to find out more about the new cd, Action Theory just click on the title for more information and reviews.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Welcome To The Land Of Red Clay

Every year I have to decide whether I am staying in DC for Thanksgiving or going to Atlanta. I am certain that my situation is not a unique one. You see, my parents have been divorced since the early 1970's. So, during the holidays I have to decide which holiday I am going to spend with each parent(Mother=D.C., Father=ATL). This year I am going to take that drive to Atlanta to be with my father and my family there. I always look forward to returning to Georgia because that is where I spent all of my college years (class of '94) between Atlanta and Savannah. I'll get to see some of my friends because most of them are from the Atlanta metro area or they moved there after college. I'll also get to hang out with my younger brother. We usually head to East Atlanta, Little Five Points, or to my old spot, Apache Cafe.
Anyway, it will be good to see everyone and spend some time with people that I love and care for. I hope that all that view this blog will have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. If Thanksgiving is not part of your cultural background or heritage then just be thankful for the love of your family and friends.
To my blog-friends, I look forward to corresponding with you after I return from Georgia. Peace & Blessings~

Monday, November 21, 2005

Walking For A Cause

This past weekend was the 18th annual Help The Homeless Walk here in DC. It has been a long time since I've done any walks, sit-ins, shut-ins or any type of physical activity for a worthy cause. The last time that I took a stand or walked for something was back in college in 1992. It felt good to do something for a good cause this weekend. I was invited by a friend of mine who works for Fannie Mae (The sponsors) and although I didn't see her I was in the good company of my special lady, Ntshiuwa. I found out that she can walk waaaaaay faster than me even though my legs are longer.
The weather was nice and cool and the walk was liberating. I think that it kicked me into my 2nd phase of being an activist in my community. It's not out of guilt or lack of charitable contributions to the daily panhandler. I just want to help in any way that I can. It was good exercise too. **smile**

Friday, November 18, 2005

In Memory of Ntate Stephen Biko

Stephen Biko managed to accomplish a great deal while operating as president of South African Students Organization (SASO) since 1968. Biko, operating under the pseudonym of "Frank Talk" spoke of the injustices of the White minority and importance of Black solidarity. Biko felt that solidarity among Black South Africans would instill pride and revive the cultural vitality that Apartheid and racism had almost completely diminished. The South African government soon detected the effectiveness of Biko's political activities and banned Stephen Biko from publishing or speaking publicly. Biko soon took his message underground and continued his campaign against the racist Apartheid system. He preached that Black South Africans needed to come together to "break the chains of oppression." Biko was often arrested and harassed by South African Police who were monitoring his activities.
Stephen Biko was seized and detained under the Terrorism Act on August 18, 1977. The Terrorism Act was implemented in 1967. This Act "allowed for indefinite detention without trial and established Bureau of State Security (BOSS), which was responsible for the internal security of South Africa." This act and various other laws managed to silence and incarcerate over 40,000 Blacks in South Africa since 1950. Biko was held in prison for twenty four days where he was interrogated, beaten, and starved. He was literally tortured to death. Prison doctors finally allowed him be transported to a hospital in Pretoria for medical treatment after he was found unconscious, bound and naked. Stephen Biko died on the way to hospital in Pretoria that was some 740 miles away. The official cause of death was due to a brain lesion caused by blunt force trauma to the head. The officers at the prison were never punished for this crime.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Biko's Influence On Hip Hop

Stephen Biko was and still is an inspiration to South Africans of all ages. The power of his words and actions reached all over the world and the Black diaspora. Biko's message also reached our shores here in America and it landed some where in Brooklyn. I really love this shout that the Tribe gives to Biko. Here are most of the lyrics.

Please review previous post for more information on Bantu Stephen Biko

A Tribe Called Quest

Steve Biko (Stir It Up)
Taken from: 1993 album Midnight Marauders

Linden Boulevard represent, represent
Tribe Called Quest represent, represent
When the mic is in my hand, I'm never hesitant
My favorite jam back in the day was Eric B. for President
Rude boy composer
Step to me you're over
Brothers wanna flex
Youre not Mad Cobra
MC short and black
There ain't no other
Trini-born black like Mia Longs grandmother
Tip and Sha they all that, Phife-Dawg ditto
Honey tell your man to chill, or else you'll be a widow
Did not you know that my styles are top-dollar?
The Five-Foot Assassin knockin fleas off his collar
Hip-hop scholar since bein knee-high to a duck
The height of Mugsy Bogues, complexion of a hockey puck
You better ask somebody on how we flip the script
Come to a Tribe show and watch the three kids rip
Queens is in the house represent, represent
A Tribe Called Quest represent, represent
No tamin of the style cuz it gets irreverent
A Tribe Called Quest represent, represent
Huh-huh, here we go
You know that I'm the rebel
Throwin out the wicked like God did the Devil
Funky like your grandpas drawers, dont test me
We in like that, youre dead like Presley
When we comin through get tickets to see me
We work for the paper so there will never be a preemie
Lyrics are abundant cuz we got it by the mass
Egos are all idle cuz the music is the task
Valenzuela on the pitch, curveball, catch it
I think I got it locked, just smooth while I latch it
Right Now I must move with the quickness
Here comes Shaheed so we must bear the witness
Stir It Up x3
Steve Biko
Stir It Up x3
Steve Biko

Verse 2

New York City represent, represent
A Tribe Called Quest represent, represent
The Dawg is scientific with the styles
I invent A Tribe Called Quest represent, represent
MCs like to meddle, but heres my proposition
I let my lyrics flow, and jumped your whole position
I'm radical with this like the man this song is after
Yo Tip settle down, whats the reason for the laughter?
I really cant say, I guess I laugh to keep from cryin
So much goin on, people killin, people dyin B
ut I wont dwell on that, I think I'll elevate my mental
Thanks for these bars on the Biko instrumental.....

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

SASO and The Black Consciousness Movement

1968 marked the year that Stephen Biko would break off from the NUSAS (National Union of South African Students) to form SASO (South African Students’ Organization). At the age of 22 Stephen Biko seemed to be ordained by God to undertake the task of liberation for South Africa against Apartheid. Perhaps his inspiration and drive came from the likes of Nelson Mandela or Robert Sobukwe who were both already jailed for their participation in the fight for Freedom. Nevertheless, Steve Biko, the President of SASO, launched a polemical campaign to expose the injustices against Blacks in South Africa. He started a monthly newsletter with the organization and wrote a column titled, I Write What I Like. He operated under the nom de guerre, “Frank Talk.”
The writings of Frank Talk were published in the SASO newsletter between 1969-1972. This would ignite the beginning of the Black Consciousness movement in South Africa. Stephen was later silenced in 1973 and forbidden to write or speak in an opened forum. However, the movement had already gained momentum among the people in the townships and squatter camps (especially the students). The Black Conscious movement was not only designed to expose the injustices of Apartheid, but to also kindle and make conscious a beaten and troubled people under an evil and oppressive regime. Stephen Biko would become its most electrifying and devoted soldier.

"The philosophy of Black Consciousness therefore expresses group pride and the determination of the black to rise and attain the envisaged self. Freedom is the abliltiy to define oneself with one's possibilities held back not by the powre of other people over one but only by one's relationship to God and to natural surroundings." (Stephen Biko, I Write What I Like)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Young Steve Biko

Stephen Bantu Biko was born on December 18, 1946 in the Kingwilliamstown, Cape Province of South Africa. He was born the third child and second son of Mr. and Mrs. Mzimgayi Biko. Unfortunately, Stephen would never come to know his father who died when Stephen was only 4 years old. Stephen’s mother was a maid, but she made certain that the young Stephen would receive an education. Education was not free at that time for Black children. Parents had to pay monthly fees to send their children to school. This was often a difficult task for the overwhelmingly poor conditions that existed among many native South Africans. Families often resorted to selling chickens and other livestock just to ensure an education for their children. Stephen received his primary and secondary education in the Kingwilliamstown region before moving on to the Lovedale Institution in Alice. It was at Lovedale that Stephen received a “Bantu” Education. Essentially, a Bantu Education teaches the native how to serve the ruling minority. It was not designed to prepare students for higher education, but to keep them in their place. His formative education was received at the Roman Catholic Mariannhill, in Natal.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Stephen Bantu Biko (1946-1977)

"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."

Speech in Cape Town, 1971

I first attempted to read the work of Stephen Biko, Founder and martyr of the Black Consciousness movement in South Africa, when I was in college in 1991. This is when I picked up his book, I Write What I Like. It was a very difficult read for me because my vocabulary and comprehension talents were not fully developed at that point. I struggled a great deal. I put the book back on my father’s bookshelf and picked up the movie, Cry Freedom starring Denzel Washington (In retrospect, this movie didn’t even come close to representing Biko’s ideologies and philosophies on Black Consciousness…although Denzel did an excellent job acting). I revisited the same work in 1995 and I found out that I actually learned something in college. As a matter of fact, I thought that it was a different book because I was able to grasp the language and meaning of what he said so well. This made me very happy.
I will be looking at the Stephen Biko this week and commenting on his philosophy and how it applies to our lives in 2005-2006. Are Black people in this country or the diaspora still living in an oppressed state? These are very heavy questions and I will be attempting to work through them the best that I can. Perhaps you can help me.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Friday Nite

 Friday is finally here and I am about to hop on the subway to one of my favorite Friday night spots, The Utopia on U street. They feature Jazz on Fridays. It's supposed to be a nice weekend here in DC so I am going to make the best of it before the cold weather returns. Peace~

Photo Source: neonsign.com

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Georgia Plum: My First Attempt At Poetry

When I first arrived in Savannah, the Black women there referred to themselves as Georgia Peaches. Well, in Savannah many of the women are too dark to be peaches so I called them plums. I found them beautiful! They are smooth and soft to the touch. Plus, the darker they are... the sweeter they are.

This poem was written in my English journal in college. I had to share it with the class and my professor thought the poem was erotic because I compared the Black women of Georgia with a Plum. Oooooh! Freaky! :)

Georgia Plum
(English 107 class/1990)

Dark and Sweet
Yeah, that's how I like 'em
Pure-T ecstasy the minute I sight 'em
Lord...thank you for them Georgia Plums
Georgia Peaches are alright
But the Plums are outa sight!
Plump and juicy with a burst of flavor
She's a taste in my mouth that I'll always savor
Lord...thank you for them Georgia Plums
From the top of Stone Mountain
Through midville and Savannah town
I will praise this Black woman
And I will never put her down
My Georgia Plum

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cross Roads

Remember the diverging roads that Robert Frost spoke of in his poem, The Road Not Taken? Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if you had chosen a different path? I truly feel that I have chosen the right road with the help of God and those who have guided me..."And that has made all the difference."

Click Cross Roads for Robert Frost poem

Black Men in Life Space: A Change for the Better

Photo Source: Showtime The late great Chicago soul singer, Sam Cooke sang and announced that "A Change is Gonna Come." On season f...