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Archive for the ‘Jerry Seinfeld’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: WALE-Tiny Desk Concert #935/Tiny Desk Fest October 30, 2019 (January 21, 2020).

This Tiny Desk concert was part of Tiny Desk Fest, a four-night series of extended concerts performed in front of a live audience and streamed live on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Back in October, NPR allowed fans to come watch some Tiny Desk Concerts live.  October 30th was rap night featuring Wale.

Washington D.C. rapper Wale stands as one of the most distinctive figures in hip-hop today. More than 10 years ago, the man born Olubowale Victor Akintimehin created a local buzz in the D.C. area through a host of mixtapes showcasing his skills atop popular instrumentals. What separated him from the hundreds of hopeful MCs trying to make names for themselves online was his ability to fuse go-go music — D.C.’s homegrown spin on funk — with hip-hop.

I’m always amazed when I have never heard of someone who is objectively huge.  So Wale (whose name I didn’t know how to pronounce until he said it) is a hugely popular rapper.

In 2011, Wale joined forces with Rick Ross and his Maybach Music Group and had a real breakout with “Lotus Flower Bomb,” the lead single from his sophomore album, Ambition. It went on to earn him a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Song in 2013.

A native of the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area (or DMV), Wale’s calling card remains the rap ballad, a streak he continued on his 2019 album, Wow… That’s Crazy, which debuted at No. 7 on Billboard’s Top 200. It reveals a man more self-aware than ever, exposing flaws and struggles while keeping his self confidence fully intact.

One of the things I really like about Tiny Desk is hearing rappers performer with a live band.  In this case, the band is

Tre And The Ppl (formerly UCB). Tre is Wale’s right hand on stage and their effortless chemistry has been intact since the beginning.

Tre was founder of the go-go band UCB which almost succeeded in “introducing go-go’s hyper-local rhythms to the rest of the planet.”

Tre sings mostly choruses but some leads to Wale’s rapping.  And Tre sounds just like Aziz Ansari when he sings.  I guess Tom Haverford would have supported UCB back in the day.

What really struck me about Wale was his frankly astonishing ego for someone who is somewhat understated.  Things like

This is a big stage but luckily I’m a giant as well.

and

I’m at an important place in my career … and I got here because of this city.

He is full of love for D.C. (“don’t mute D.C.” he says at the end).  And when he introduces

“Lotus Flower Bomb” he says, “Have you heard of this before?  If you haven’t, you can leave now.”  He’s very funny, making amusing mellow jokes throughout the show.

This song is really pretty with gentle keyboards from Glenn Cobb and some quiet guitar licks from Stanley Thompson.

Wale asks, “Are you all allowed to clap in here? I saw Lizzo got you clappin'”

“LoveHate Thing” has a cool five-string bass line from Daniel Bennet that jumps to a funky middle section.  I love the addition of the percussion from Jerry Venable throughout all the songs.

Wale shouts out to D.C. and says, “I hope the Nationals win tonight.” (They won the world series that evening).

He says he wants to introduce “some of my b sides.”  The song “CC White” [Cocaine White] is “written in metaphor about something that plagued this city since the 80s.”

As the song starts he holds up a little Washington D.C. flag that he wants to “put here for aesthetics.”  The little flag won’t stand up after several tries.  He says, “I knew that wasn’t going to fit … that was a gag by the way.”

He takes a sip of tea and then says “how many of you think that’s tea in there?”

Up next is “Sexy Lady” which is sung by Tre and which Wale says “is one of the classic songs that came out in any genre.”  Tre encourages everyone to “feel free to dance if you want to.  Feel free to get close to each other if you want to.”  People sing along right from the start.  I enjoyed the dirty but not lyric

“I’m gonna pick you up on Saturday, maybe you can give me some whats her name.”

For this show, Wale gets more than three tracks,  He gets six, in fact.  The second to last song is “Sue Me”  which he says “is special to me.  I feel like I’m a next level person when I get to the last verse.”  I was pretty fascinated by his lyrics

Maybe ’cause I was searchin’, I found me the perfect person
But me and her didn’t work out, she buried what she worked for
And I carried the bitterness of a kola nut
Nigerian shit, my parents never showed much
Womanizer, probably could’ve been a feminist
‘Cause I respect ’em, but Lord, I got polygamy problems

But it’s the chorus that is so nice:

Sue me, l’m rootin’ for everybody that’s black

He also says “pro-black isn’t anti-white” which a lot of people forget.

There’s some cool guitar and keyboard soloing in this song some cool soloing.  And I like the open hi-hat sound that Eric Curry uses on this song and some others.

He ends the set by saying, “I got one of the biggest songs in the country right now so let’s get into it.”  Again, I’ve never heard of it, I guess the music world is horribly siloed.  Before the song starts he thanks the audience for their energy:

It’s not like a show live crazy turnt up energy.  It’s more like a I gotta get to work in the morning, I’m not as turnt up as you.  And maybe like some of my superiors are watching me so…  shout out to everybody with a Finsta who can show they here

For “On Chill” he encourages everyone “You ain’t gonna get in trouble for clapping for yourself.”

Wale really won me over by the end of this set.  I went from never having heard of him, to hoping for more success for him.  And I’m not the only older white guy to feel that way.

Wale‘s Seinfeld-inspired The Album About Nothing an extension of his 2008 The Mixtape About Nothing, marks the first time the comedian has featured on a Number One album.   You can hear about the 60-year-old comic’s unlikely friendship with the 30-year-old rapper and what attracted him to the Wale’s music in this NPR interview.

[READ: January 26, 2020] “You Will Never Be Forgotten”

This story starts out in a shocking way: “The rapist is such an inspiraton that he started a newsletter to share his story.”

I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

The rapist chronicles his transformation from a nerdy ducking into the muscular entrepreneur swan he is today.

It turns out this newsletter began “as a motivational tool for his annual charity triathlon” but it is now a meditation on health, tech culture and “of course, pushing through limitations and not understanding the meaning of the word ‘no.'”

Then we see the whole story: “the woman has been following the rapist on social media since the rape, though her accounts don’t officially ‘follow’ the rapist.”

I love that the story  doesn’t let up on calling him what he is.

But I also loved that the story is about more than this.   For the woman works as a content moderator at the world’s most popular search engine, in a room with no windows or ventilation system. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: March 2017] The Organist

organistAfter really enjoying The Organist in 2015, the season ended and I hadn’t heard that there were going to be anymore.  So I stopped looking for them.  And then the other day I got an email reminding me about recent episodes.  Well, sure enough there had been an entire season last year and they were already part way through this year’s season.

So I’m playing some catch up here.  But they are timeless, so it’s okay.

Each cast has a section in brackets–this text comes from the Organist’s own site.  The rest is my own commentary.

The Organist is a free podcast from KCRW & McSweeney’s.  As of this writing, they are up to episode 82. (more…)

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wackySOUNDTRACK: BOB NEWHART-The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart (1960), The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back (1960) & Behind the Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart (1961).

newhart1We started watching The Bob Newhart Show on DVD (the 1970s one, not the one set in the inn).  I was surprised how much I liked it and how well it stood up, for the most part.  And it made me realize how much I liked Bob Newhart in general.  So, I figured I’d try some of his stand up and see what it was like.

newhart3I was delighted to find out that a joke from Mystery Science Theater 3000 was finally explained to me: the “Mrs Webb” joke that is muttered whenever an old lady is driving a car comes from the “Driving Instructor” joke on the first album (hereafter known as Button-Down).  It’s only taken a decade for me to get that joke!

newhart2But really, what do you get when you listen to a Newhart CD?  And what would a reviewer write about in a review of these CDs?  Well, I think it would go something like this:

[Reviewer]: Yea, hi, ha ha.  Hi.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: I was just listening to these Newhart CDs.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: No.  No, they’re not new, they’re almost 50 years old now.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Ha ha, right.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: No, they’re basically telephone conversations.  In most instances Bob plays a character listening to the person on the other end whom you never hear.  So, it’s almost entirely reaction shots.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Yes, they’re very funny.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: A few are dated.  The one about Khrushchev, “The Khrushchev Landing Rehearsal” (Button-Down), for example is pretty funny but was probably a lot funnier in 1960.  And “Driving Instructor” (Button-Down) is sexist in set-up (it’s sort of a joke about “women drivers” but once you get past that it applies to any new driver) but the joke is probably the funniest thing on any of the discs.  I was also concerned about “The Africa Movie” (Behind the Button) as it seemed potentially fraught with inappropriate humor, but it turned out to be very very funny, and a wonderful twist on expectations.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Yes, the skits do run pretty long.  Most are over 5 minutes, but he packs a lot of jokes into that time.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Well, sure there are a few that are only about 2 minutes long, and one that even comes close to set up/punchline: “TV Commercials” on Behind the Button (the dentist commercial in particular).  But even on that disc, the one sided nature of the conversations persists.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: There’s a Khrushchev skit on Behind the Button as well (“Tourist Meets Khrushchev”), but aside from knowing who he is, the jokes in that skit aren’t dated at all.  It’s all about an annoying tourist running into him somewhere…and the resultant consequences.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Yeah, Yeah. Boom!
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: It’s not violent, just implied.  Another potentially violent one is “Bus Drivers School” (Strikes Back) as he notes that it takes a certain type of sadist to drive a bus, if you know what I mean.  But, uh, well, the only one that gets somewhat risque is “The Uncle Freddie Show” which shows Newhart’s intolerance for kid’s TV show hosts.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: What?
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Well, Uncle Freddie doesn’t seem to like kids.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Oh.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Well, no, some other topics are “Nobody Will Ever Play Baseball” (Button-Down) because how could you possibly market it [“Why four balls, Abner?”]?
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Yes, a lot with marketing.  Like “Abe Lincoln Vs. Madison Avenue” (Button-Down) [“Keep the beard, Abe], and “Merchandising the Wright Brothers” (Button-Down) [“Where will we put the john, Orville?”].
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Precursor to what?
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Well, he does predate many, many comedians by having airline jokes.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: No, nothing about peanuts. But “The Grace L. Ferguson Airline (And Storm Door Co.)” (Strikes Back)” pretty much negates the need for any future airline humor.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: No, I’m not saying the new comedians aren’t funny.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: I do like Seinfeld.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: No, Newhart’s bit is about an airline run out of someone’s house.
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: It’s totally….
[ ]:
[Reviewer]: Oh, forget it.

All three discs are very funny.  I was under the impression that he only had these three discs, but I now understand he released four more discs through 1967, all of which are supposed to be funny, but which are unavailable right now.

[READ: Halloween 2008] Wacky Packages

So you don’t really READ this book.  This book is a collection of images from the Wacky Packages collection of trading cards that circulated from 1973-1974.  There were seven series of cards that ran during this time for a total of some 232 cards.  According to the site I link to below, there were 16 series in total, which makes sense, as I was only 5 when these 7 series came out, but I distinctly recall getting the packs myself. (more…)

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