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Archive for the ‘United Arab Emirates’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MASTA ACE-Tiny Desk Concert #723 (March 30, 2018).

Even though Masta Ace tells us that he had a huge hit on the radio a few years ago, I had never heard of him.  Turns out he was…

An early member of producer Marley Marl’s iconic Juice Crew.  The Brooklyn-bred Masta Ace emerged shoulder-to-shoulder in the late-’80s with a host of iconic emcees, including Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Craig G and more. When Ace showed up at the Tiny Desk, he brought with him stripped-down versions of the concrete-shaking classics that built his legacy, backed by the impressive Lee Hogans & Pursuance band.

I really enjoyed Masta Ace’s flow and his lyrics which were thoughtful.  I especially loved “Son of Yvonne,” which is about his mom and his childhood:

Son of Yvonne, better get the best grades
Couple of B’s, a C and the rest A’s
Not top of the class, but not nearly last
I beat your ass if you think you gon’ barely pass
But all my best friends, they be ditching school
Every week is like a Friday ritual
You got a mind of your own, so let it be known
Son of Yvonne, sharp as a kitchen tool

The live trumpets [Lee Hogans and Anja-Christin Nielsen] are a nice touch and “my man Dave” [David Stolarz] plays a pretty piano solo.

In the elevator, minutes after wrapping, one of his bandmates noticed that he’d gotten a little emotional during the performance. Ace relayed that the intimacy of the Tiny Desk set had allowed him to hear anew the personal nature of the lyrics he’d shared about his late mother; a bittersweet nostalgia that’s palpable during his performance of “Son of Yvonne.”

Introducing “Born To Roll/Jeep Ass Nig**” from the 1993 album SlaughtaHouse, he says, “I had one big record on the radio in my career and I think its only right that I bless you all with the one opportunity for me to be on commercial radio.  You know you hear Drake all the time well there was a time when I was on the radio that much too.”

The first verse has a specific almost sinister sound to it.  Weird little horn flourishes and creepy descending keyboards dominate the sound.  But after the first verse when everyone claps, he says, “hold It, we ain’t done yet.  That was only the first verse.”  He explains that what they played was the remix for radio.  But the original “version of that joint is this joint right here and we’re going to do the second and third verse like this.”  Its more funky (a cool funky bass solo from Rob [Rob Collazo] and a lot more interesting.

I really liked this verse:

Black boy, black boy turn that shit down
You know that America don’t wanna hear the sound
Of the bass drum jungle music go back to Africa
Nigga I’ll arrest you if you holding up trafffic
I’ll be damned if I listen, so cops save your breath and
Write another ticket if ya have any left and
I’m breaking ear drums while I’m breaking the law
I’m disturbing all the peace cause Sister Souljah said war
So catch me if ya can, if you can here’s a donut
Cause once you drive away, yo I’m gonna go nuts
And turn it up to where it was before nice try
But ya can’t stop the power of the bass in ya eye
I wonder if I blasted a little Elvis Presley
Would they pull me over and attempt to arrest me
I really doubt doubt it, they probably start dancing
Jumpin on my tip and pissing in they pants and
Wiggling and jiggling and grabbing on they pelvis
But you know my name so you never hear no Elvis

In the final song he looks back on a life lived in the public eye on “Story Of Me.”  This joint takes you through my entire journey in a three verses–a song from the time I got in to the time I got out.  There’s backing vocals from Pearle Gates who is apparently a little sick so Masta Ace [whose real name is Duvall Clear helps him out].

Once again, there’s some great lyrics

A product of the same and when I got into the game
Initially my moms was really shocked and ashamed
She was like: “Boy you got a Bachelor’s”
And I was like: “Why they call it a b.s?”
Bullshit walks as far is what I was taught
Yet I ain’t had one job interview and she stressed

There’s some very cool sounds on the guitar [Jameison Ledonio doing all kinds of interesting things].  The song slows down and it feels like it’s going to end.  But he introduces: “That’s Biscuit on the drums y’all.  He gets down.”  James “Biscuit” Rouse plays a mean drum and at that moment he is playing the snare drum with his hands.

The song starts up again with the third verse.

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a song that detailed a person’s career before, but it’s a good primer if you wants some information about the guy.

[READ: January 10, 2018] “I am Here Only for Working”

William T. Vollmann goes on fantastic expeditions to get stories.  I have no idea who pays for these trips (he seems to always be on a tight budget) but he is always writing a (usually very long) book about his experiences.

He has lived with homeless people he has visited war zones.  He has written all kinds of investigative journalism.  But he never seems like a reporter or a journalist, exactly. He seems utterly human and he is always looking for the human angle on a story.  That’s what makes his essays about subjects that I don’t care about not only compelling but also really enjoyable.  Well, enjoyable may not be the right word exactly.

For this trip Vollmann went to Dubai. Ooh! luxury at last.  But not exactly as he is staying in a 1 star hotel.  It was so hot that his laptop malfunctioned.  Of course he slept in air conditioning, but he says he would turn it off when he left (like a good Californian), but the staff would always turn it back on.  He went to the famous indoor skating rink a prodigious show of energy consumption

But mostly Vollmann wanted to ask people: Is oil good? (more…)

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