Monday, January 05, 2009

TAN Party Crash: OkayPlayer Holiday Jammy

So after doing the Jewcy jawn the night before, the Okayplayer Holiday Jammy provided a nice compare and contrast opportunity. And while getting ready to go I had my first ethnocultural epiphphany. wanna hear it? well, here it go: at caucasian parties, clothes/fashion etc. matters from the waist up. At urban hip hop parties clothes/fashion etc. matters from the waist down.

It's true! As I was getting dressed for okay I was rocking these new jeans and sneakers (pumas for $25 @ Woodbury Commons, holla!), and felt like I wasn't quite able to nail the upper portion of the ensemble. But then I said, wait a minute, it's a hip hop party so no one was going to look at anything other than my jeans and sneakers anyways.

See hip hop parties, I think, are the only parties where you could actually abide by such a seemingly ridiculous rule of fashion. Your cashmere hoodie matters less at a hip hop show where it just blends into a sea of hoodies and parkas and whatnot. But those high contrast sneaks will steal the show. On the flip side, the ladies will rub all up on that cashmere at the more traditional office party. And the sneakers will only identify you as having a likely history of credit issues.

Moving on .... my team for the okay jam was a strong one. We had a multiculti assortment of ladies in tow, natch. Someone from Gawker. A girl who is friends with Quest. Plus me a former blogger for the site. So while, amazingly enough, the line stretched long in to the vast deep cold, we were able to slide right up in there.

That was just a quick aside before getting revealing Ethnocultural Epiphany #2: The patter for an Okayplayer crowd has to be of a certain standard. The host was cute, but relatively weak in terms of controlling the crowd, or providing any witty, funny form of banter. And I realized this is another big difference between cauc and negro parties. She was probably doing well enough for a Jewcy (or other media) soiree. All people demand from you there is effort and honest intentions. But for a crowd of assimilateds it's a different challenge because 1. the more NYC black people in the crowd, the more folks who think of themselves as capable of doing the hosting/performing better. Even if it's the furthest thing from the truth. It's like the stereotype of black people dancing, even if it's not true, we're still steeped in believing that we should know how, so a big crowd of black folk will think they can dance even if they're hit-or-miss on an individual level. 2. Because we were raised on pointedly witty/smart lyrics, the usual ol' corn ball jokes for a big crowd don't work. You have to step your host game up. It's like the difference between a network sitcom and HBO crowd. You need that extra edge to get over...

One of the opening acts, Tanya Morgan, performed to a somewhat hostile crowd. The Roots actually opened the show with a song, maybe two, but then Tanya Morgan came out, so it was a little confusing in that how-come-the-superstar-group-has-been-replaced-by-these-no-names sort of way, and I suspect TM suffered because of it. They got into a classic amateurish moment of yelling at the crowd who was heckling them. sigh. Point #1 above applies extra hard when it comes to rapping. Anyways, I gave them another look and thought this video they have was cool, creative, and well worthy of my html.

Here's the Tanya Morgan myspace again. I remember always seeing VonPea on the okay message boards back in the day, so glad he's been able to stick to his guns etc. etc.

Next up was an act with serious veterans of the game: Idle Warship, fronted by emcee Talib Kweli and urban singer/songwriter Res. Now this proved it was a tough crowd, because i don't know how Kweli and Res struggled to get love from a crowd that was in part born of their DNA. My best guess is that fools were tight over standing out on line in the cold to see The Roots for the five millionth time. In any event, here is a video for an Idle Warship song called "Black Snake Moan"...

Video's cool. I like this other song, Industry Diary, even more for its transparency in airing out beefs with the business.

Ethnocultural Epiphany #3: A song going pop can shade your image of an artist. I say this because Estelle came out and held down a nice set, complete with the 2008 summer jam of the year. But boy must I be one programmed son of a b, because she came out and I was like, yoooo, Estelle is mad dark, yo. She don't look like no Beyonce or Rihanna or nothing. sigh. yes, i deserve your shock and shame for that.

Finally, as I move through my notes here, I have jotted down: is bilal a crackhead? A question i did not ponder specifically, but was forced to make note of after my table engaged in a somewhat heated debate over the possibility of his crackheadedness. My crew was obviously in snark mode a little, but he also did one of these assimilated old 60s-70s performances where you end up sweating and yelling the same song riff/refrain for ten minutes to a rising crescendo of music by the backing band. And he had a fro-hawk, and shredded clothes (i think), so if you're thin-slicing the situation the possibility of crack being in the mix is something you have to consider.

Personally, I liked it. I like when the artists zone out. But I can't deny "the zone" is sometimes a euphemism for "the crack". So I don't know, I guess it's a thin line between crackheadery and genius or something.

All in all, 'twas a good show. But after seeing The Roots six million times over the course of an assimilated career, I must admit to being more intrigued to see how they do as the first hip hop house band on network television. Whose karma will win out, the good of The Roots or the evil of Jimmy Fallon? Now that's something to watch out for in the 2009.


  1. Anonymous1/05/2009


    I don't know if the "capable of doing better" feeling you mention is a black white thing. It might be a New York City thing. A lot of white part-time guitarists, drummers, singers feel the same way when they see bands play.

    What can you say, it's a city endowed with a lot of talented people.

  2. Anonymous1/06/2009

    I have to go with "yes" on the crucial bilal crack question. But true he was still jammin, so NO JUDGMENTS.


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