Is there a pot o’ gold at the end of the Reading Rainbow?

28 08 2009

Yes! It’s called literacy, love for books, bibliomania, uber imagination, increased vocabulary and other goodness you won’t pick up from the average afternoon show. Reading Rainbow was my first book club. I remember watching an episode and forcing my mom to remember the titles so that we could pick it up either at the bookstore or on our library runs.

But like all good things, Reading Rainbow, on air for the past 26 years (all of my life), the third longest running children’s show, the show with the first theme song I learned, is coming to an end.

Read or listen to more here on NPR.

In honor of Levar Burton and Reading Rainbow goodness, watch Jam Master Jay spit.


The Educated Rapper

26 08 2009

Rapper, mother and now Dr. Roxanne Shante recently completed her PhD from Cornell.

“This is a story that needs to be told,” Shante said. “I’m an example that you can be a teenage mom, come from the projects, and be raised by a single parent, and you can still come out of it a doctor.”

My favorite Roxanne Shante line: “You think you are God, but you do eat lard.” VB

The C1 Section: Os Gêmeos

4 08 2009

The challenge to the longevity of urban art forms is to embrace the title of urban while rejecting the negative connotations that sub-urban folks place over. The graffiti of Os Gêmeos does just that.

As stated on their website, “Graffiti, skateboarding, punk rock and hip-hop undeniably gave rise to the current climate of popular culture, but their true substance is so often missed by a simple name check. Do the research. Know the history. Recognize originality.”

Blood brothers Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo from Brazil work in large scales and vibrant colors. Their pieces possess the air of children’s book illustrations through their color pallets but the stories told are comments of Brazil’s culturally and politically rich landscape.

Os Gemeos

Os Gemeos

On July 17, Os Gêmeos took Manhattan on the corner of Houston and the Bowery. As a result, an article was written in the New York Times C1 section, A World Springs to Life on an Urban Wall 4 Aug. 2009, Roberta Smith.

The C1 section.

To see more of Os Gemeos work, visit their Flicker Fan page.

If you haven’t visited 12 Ounce Prophet yet, you should be clicking here right now. Once you get there, hang out and click around. You won’t regret it.

Then go back and read this piece.

Lastly, the ideas expressed here are those of VB.

Music Monday #1 :: Mos Def :: The Ecstatic

15 06 2009

Mos Def :: The Ecstatic

It seems as if Mos has always been living to the max beginning with his first independent album, “Black on Both Sides,” in 1999 and he did not pump the breaks for his third independent effort “The Ecstatic.” With 16 short tracks that top off at 4:35, it is a fast 45 minutes of strong music. The Ecstatic is a body of work, uncommon in today’s hip-hop efforts. You won’t find the template party track or the R&B hook and sing songy bars (Roses featuring Georgia Ann Muldrow barely comes close), you will instead find an artist simply creating music. He does not work to hit you over the head with a message but he does manage to create a cohesive body of work with an underlying theme of intelligence. “The Ecstatic” is full of worthwhile listens produced by innovative producers like Chad Hugo (Twillite Speedball) Mad Lib (Auditorium featuring Slick Rick, Wahid, Pretty Dancer) and of course J Dilla (History featuring Talib Kweli). You might skip The Embassy, a nearly 3 minute commentary on the state of flying post-terrorist attacked America the second time you give it spin but you will be forced to allow your ears to dissect the varying layers weaved between his rapping, singing on all the tracks.

Speaking of singing, you know that Mos is going to give you a run per song. On Workers Comp,. he comes out the gate singing but again with tracks on the shorter side, he does not get to hold notes long enough to get on your nerves. As far as comparisons go, it is not quite accessible as his first release “Black on Both Sides” and of course, he also has your familiarity with this style working against him with this third release. Yet in still, it is a strong effort that quiets the whispers about his inconsistency and answers the questions of rather or not he can create music for the listeners without Kweli.

Favorite track: Roses bcuz the message
Dark Horse: Casa Bey, one of the longest tracks that didn’t catch me the first time but now rounds up the piece nicely.
Banger: History– featuring Kweli and Dilla, the stats sound like it should be a winner and it is!