26 June 2010

Reminiscing on the 80's

I had a Texts from Last Night moment the other day.  If you don't know what that is, Texts from Last Night is this crazy website where people submit the most hilarious text messages, usually related to hangovers, weird sexual escapades, and the like.  People wake up in strange places, doing or wearing strange things, or sometimes nothing at all.  It's great if you need a few laughs and it also serves as a free form of therapy.  If you think your life is bad, you'll feel a lot better when you realize that there are people out there who are way more screwed up than you are.

My Texts from Last Night moment came after the 80's Flashback Party at Arielle's this past Thursday.  There was nothing crazy involved, its just that I had so much fun that I was too tired to properly prepare for bed.  I woke up still wearing an armful of silver and black bangles, there was glitter all over me, and the deep plum MAC lipstick that I wore-a sharp deviation from my usually light colored MAC Lipglass, was smeared onto my pillowcase.  And before your mind starts wandering, yes I was alone!

I've been sitting here wondering why everyone there seemed to enjoy themselves so much.  Of course, the music was great.  DJ Hydro and DJ Silence were on point, taking requests and getting even the most diehard sit-in-the-corner-play-on-the-Blackberry folks out onto the dance floor.  I had never seen Twist West and Chubby perform before, but I was impressed with their 80's music covers as well as their original tracks. And of course, wearing my publicist/photographer hat, I have to give shouts out to The Prolegend Movement, who closed it out and with Whodini's "One Love" and then one of their own songs, "Take Me Home (One Too Many)" with Lady Blaundee taking the stage.

We danced like it was 1985 at Eastside High.  The Running Man, Kid n' Play, the Cabbage Patch, you name it, we did it.  We even busted out with the Electric Slide (shouts out to Kim Norris for starting that one).  And there was this one bad sister who took over the dance floor and did a Michael Jackson segment that was simply awesome, complete with moonwalk and all.

A few of us serious 80's kids dressed the part as well.  One brother came in with tight rolled jeans, a jeans jacket, high tops and a boombox.  He looked liked he had stepped straight out of Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" video.  Yours truly was rocking leggings, high heels and legwarmers, and a ponytail pulled up and to the side.  Laf Legend from Prolegend had on a blazer, white pants, and shoes with no laces.  It doesn't get much more 80's than that.

But when I really think about it, it wasn't just the music, or the clothes, that made the 80's so special to us.  It was the feelings.  Looking back, we now realize that the 80's was the last decade before our world changed in many ways.  Timothy McVeigh was unheard of and we couldn't even spell Al-Qaeda.  9/11 was just another day on the calendar and liquid soap and shampoo were toiletries in your luggage, not potential bombs.  The King of Pop was moonwalking his way to superstardom and we were planning our MJ outfits to wear to his concerts, not to his memorial tributes. We were not witnessing the slow death of an ocean due to an oil spill. Closer to home, Duval County wasn't the murder capital of Florida or one of the counties with the highest HIV/AIDS rates, and if you lived on the Northside, Gateway was a real mall, and not just an almost abandoned shell.

The world just seemed simpler.  Children weren't turning into miniature mass murderers, no Columbine or Jonesboro, Arkansas.  We still played outside until the street lights came on and rode our bikes to the corner store.  Boys passed notes to you that said, 'do you like me?' and girls played Teddy Bear and Hot Peas on jump rope. We still minded our teachers for the most part, and didn't curse around adults.

Yes, we had our fears.  We wondered what would happen if the Cold War with Russia turned hot, and this new thing called HIV had us afraid to go the dentist, and banning innocent little boys from school because they had the unfortunate luck to have hemophilia and get tainted blood during a transfusion. No, in those respects, the 80's were definitely not perfect.

But what the 80's did have, was a lot of fun, a sense of hope, amazing music.  Artists still looked at their music as just that, an art, and not just simply a quick way to make money.  People went into the studio and did jam sessions with live bands.  You could spend your money on an album and know that the whole thing would be worth listening to and not just the tracks they played on the radio.  We fell in love with hip-hop, and like the end of Brown Sugar, it loved us back.

I don't think that the guys from Prolegend realized the irony of their song choices the other night.  I play Black Diamondz to no end and "Take Me Home" is one of my favorite tracks, so I'm perfectly aware that the song refers to a woman at the club, but for the purposes of the 80's party, it had a deeper meaning to me.  I think we went home to the 80's that night, to the last decade of a semblance of normalcy and innocence.  And what better way than to describe the great feelings that we had back then than with the words, "One Love"?

So I say, if you had the privilege to experience the 80's, then you were truly blessed.  Lipstick stains on my new sheets were worth the fun that I had recreating that time period.  Now its time for us 80's kids to recapture some of that magic today.

23 June 2010

The Prolegend Movement-Supporting and Inspiring the Jacksonville Community

I write about music partly because of my dad.  Ironic, given that his interests in music usually fall into the 'easy listening' category, while I mostly cover reggae and hip-hop.  You see, my dad is old school.  He would pull out a belt and tear our behinds up growing up, then say, "stop all that crying and straighten your face up".  He always said things like, "you better not waste that food, children in Africa are starving to death".

And he disliked constant complaining with a passion.  I inherited that trait from him.   So instead of constantly whining about the foolishness that some of these artists call music today, and the corporate-controlled radio stations that feed us this mental junk food, I'm out here doing my best to write about artists with real music, real voices, real messages.  One of my favorite local groups, The Prolegend Movement, falls squarely into that category.

Take yesterday for example.  It poured down raining in the afternoon, but when it cleared up, it still felt like 208 degrees outside.  Instead of chillin' indoors under the a/c, though, I was down at The Jacksonville Landing for the Summer Kick-off.  The Prolegend Movement came out and put on a free, family-friendly show to benefit the community and to support a local dance group, the Jacksonville Starz.  This wasn't Grind to Shine at Endo Exo, it wasn't about ticket sales or swagger, although Prolegend has plenty of that.  Yesterday was just about the music, the kids, and the community. 

They did three sets, "Get it Everyday", "Not Average", and "Ladies Choice", from their Black Diamonds mixtape.  "Ladies Choice", one of my personal favorites, was dedicated to all of the single moms that work hard everyday to provide for their families.  That got a great response from the crowd.  By the end of the performance, even the cloggers that were scheduled to go on later were clapping and rocking. At the end of the show, people came downstairs out of the balcony specifically to shake their hands, ask about cd's, and get their contact information.  The audience seemed very appreciative and grateful for them taking time out to come support and inspire the community.

Watching and photographing the performance reminded me that for every Wacka Flocka out there, there is a Prolegend Movement, artists with something real and original to offer.  Most importantly, they have a heart for the community.  If you're like me and you're tired of feeling like you need an anti-depressant after watching the 6 o'clock news, then you need to start supporting them and artists like them.  Music has the power to heal wounds and build bridges in our community.  So don't let a little heat or rain stop you from coming out to the next show, this Thursday at Arielle's for the 80's Party.  Last time I checked, the rain didn't stop Noah.  He built an ark and kept it moving. 

So lets put our money where our mouths are, Duval.  Let's keep it moving and join the movement. 

20 June 2010

Time to do the Cabbage Patch-80s Flash Back Party

The Cabbage Patch, Gumby haircuts, M.C. Hammer pants,....what are your favorite memories from the 80's?  Come relive them all on June 24 at Arielle's as brings the 80's Flash Back Party.  Doors open at 8 p.m. and the event is being hosted by Bow Tie.  DJ Hydro and DJ Silence will be spinning all the tunes from back in the day so make sure to brush up on all those old dance moves.  You know, Da But, the Running Man, the Kid n' Play.  Don't act like you don't still do them at home sometimes!

Start digging in the back of the closet or head down to Goodwill to find those old 80's get-ups because there will be a cash prize for the best costume and FlaImpulse will be in the building getting it all on camera. Live entertainment will include performances by Mr. Mac, Twist West, Chubby, and The Prolegend Movement.  For you Prolegend Nation out there, if you want to know what Laf Legend, J.Co, MassPro, Lankdizzim will be up to, you will have to show up and see for yourself!

$5 Grey Goose and well drink specials will be offered all night.  Get your tickets in advance, and they're only $10, wait until you get there and the price is $15.  Arielle's is located at 7707 Arlington Expressway.  (Us 80's babies  remember that spot when it Red Lobster back in the day).  For more info, call (904) 405-0055, or (904) 962-4499.

10 June 2010

93.3 The Beat's Easy E Giving Local Artists Chance to Shine at Community Fest 2010

D.J. Easy E of 93.3 The Beat is known throughout the city as a colorful radio personality as well as a strong promoter of local music artists.  Heard weeknights from 7-12 p.m., he regularly spins singles from mixtapes of Duval rappers and singers and does in-studio interviews with them in order to help them gain publicity. 

Easy E is currently giving local artists yet another promotional opportunity by allowing them the chance to open for Community Fest 2010 on July 17 at Metropolitan Park.  Community Fest, which most of us Duval natives know as Come Together Day, is an annual event held to bring the community together for a day of fun, food, and great music. Past performers have included rappers T.I., Trick Daddy, and Trina, as well as R&B singers Kelis and Pretty Ricky.  This year's lineup includes J.T. Money, Ice Berg, Young Cash, and Diamond of Crime Mob.

The deejay has been telling listeners each night on his show to get their best song together and send it to him. He will review them and select the best act, who will open the July 17 show.  This is a really great opportunity for some local talent to get serious exposure.  So, if you're a local artist and you're still sitting here staring at this page, what are you waiting for?  Get your track together and email it to Easy E.  Maybe this time next year, I'll be doing a blog post covering the contract that you've signed with Grand Hustle or Bad Boy.  You've gotta dream big to make it big!

08 June 2010

2nd Annual Tupac Birthday Celebration at Endo Exo

I know this is 904 and we represent all the way for our Dirty South artists, but we as members of the hip-hop nation must take the time to remember our past and honor our fallen great ones regardless of geography. 

That's why you need to be at the UDS Promo's 2nd Annual Tupac Birthday Celebration on June 16 at Endo Exo.  It's been 14 years since Tupac's life was tragically cut short, but his legacy lives on through the vast catalog of work that he put out, including music, movies, interviews, and poetry. 

Local musicians and artists will be on hand paying tribute to Pac by performing some of his best known songs and poems from his book of poetry, The Rose that Grew from ConcreteThe Prolegend Movement, Hann from Vendetta, and VIP Squad are among the musical acts performing, and local spoken word artists, including yours truly, will be reciting poems such as "Liberty Needs Glasses" and "Can U See the Pride in the Panther".  We will also be remembering Tupac's critically acclaimed acting talents with showings of Juice and Poetic Justice.

The event begins at 7 p.m. and admission is free until 8.  After that, the price is $10, however ladies wearing a Tupac shirt get in half price, as well as college students with ID.  For those looking to get their drink on, there will be $5 Thug Passion, 2 for 1 Wells, $5 Hennessey and Coke, and $5 Goose and Cran. 

As a special incentive, Dream Works and Stone Grfx will be giving out artist discounts on photography and video services.  It's not too late to sign up to perform, either.  Just send an email to  We would love to see many more performers come out to pay tribute to one of the giants of hip-hop.  Part of one of my favorite quotes says, "what is true of an individual without memory is also true of a people without history: they cannot become wiser or better" (I.L. Peretz).  So, hip-hop nation, let's come out and honor a part of our history and celebrate the life of Tupac Amaru Shakur.

UDS Promo's 2nd Annual Tupac Birthday Celebration
Endo Exo, 1224 Kings Ave. Jacksonville, FL 32207
7 p.m. until

06 June 2010

The Prolegend Movement Took it Home at Endo Exo

There is a cliche in writing, usually used in reference to some great event or performance that goes, 'you could feel the energy in the room/building/fill in the blank'. 

Like any writer, I like to think of myself as original and not prone to the use of worn-out phrases such as this.  However, I can honestly think of no better way to describe The Prolegend Movement's performance at Endo Exo this past Thursday.  You could truly feel the energy in the place.  You may have listened to their mixtape or some of their songs online, but to see them perform in person is to truly understand the talent that they possess as well as the dedication and commitment that they have to their craft as well as to their audience. 

In addition to MassPro, LankDizzim, J.Co and Laf Legend, reggae artist Mosiah Jones and singers Blondee and Lyric Raines were onstage doing their thing as well.  Mosiah (in the center of the photo wearing white-trimmed shades) sings the hook to "Ayo Teaser" on the Black Diamondz  mixtape and the live performance of the track was a real crowd pleaser.  But that shouldn't come as a surprise to those of us who grew up in Duval during the Cool Runnings era.  We love our reggae in 904!  Blondee, looking stunning in a yellow dress, sang her heart out on the hook to "Take Me Home (One Too Many)" and Lyric Raines left no doubt that The Prolegend Movement is out to "Get it Everyday".  And when they broke out with "Last Call Wasted", some people got so excited that I thought they were going to hurt themselves!

Ironically, I think that the success of their performance and their ability to connect with the crowd was best measured by the reaction of the supporters of other groups.  The cool thing about Endo Exo is that they pay the independent artists to perform, based on the number of supporters that they bring in.  So when a new group hits the stage, those supporters come to the front and make sure that they rep hard for the performers.  I had to smile to myself when I saw other groups supporters begrudgingly nodding and giving silent props to The Prolegend Movement.  They easily had the most hyped and polished performance of the night.  Watching them take control of the stage, they gave you the impression that they could be performing in someone's backyard and would still go at it just as hard.  For them, its about the music first, something that I wish I could say about every artist out there. 

If you missed the performance, then you really did miss out on a great night.  However, there will be many more opportunities to see The Prolegend Movement in person.  They will be performing again on June 16 at Endo Exo as part of the second annual Tupac Birthday Tribute and will also be a part of the upcoming 80's Throwback Party.  I will be covering both events in upcoming blogs so be sure to stay tuned.  In the meantime, check them out on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, and be sure to listen to Black DiamondzWe have to support our local artists because there is a lot of talent here in Duval that could really put 904 on the map, but it starts with determined artists like The Prolegend Movement and continues with dedicated fans.  Come be a part of the movement.

01 June 2010

Black Diamondz Mixtape Performance and Video Shoot 6/3/10 at Endo Exo

I don't know where everyone else will be this Thursday, but I plan to be at Endo Exo, representing with The Prolegend Movement as they perform hits from their latest mixtape, Black Diamondz.  If you're down for some great live hip-hop music, then you need to be there too.  They will also be shooting part two of the video for "Take Me Home (One Too Many)", so make sure you come dressed to impress.  Guest performer and reggae artist Mosiah Jones will also be in the place, adding a little Caribbean flavor to the scene.

The Prolegend Movement is a group of four guys straight from Duval who are making big moves in the local hip-hop scene.  The more I listen to their music and understand the drive and passion that they have for creating a unique sound, the more I am impressed with them.  Lafeyette Williams (Laf Legend), Langston Williams (Lankdizzim), Randolph Harris (Mass Pro), and Jacorie Johnson (J.Co) mix great music with murderous skills on the mic to create a sound that's going to put 904 on the map for sure.  The first time that I heard "Take Me Home", I thought of one my favorite movies, Brown Sugar.  Sanaa Lathan's character, Sidney, was a music writer/editor and she started each one of her interviews by asking the question "when did you fall in love with hip-hop?"  "Take Me Home" reminded me of when  I fell in love with hip-hop.  The track took me back to what hip-hop used to be-great emceeing and mad sounds, before much of the genre fell prey to played out samples and tired verses. 

So if you feel like I do, then come be a part of The Prolegend Nation, because this movement is going forward with or without you. 

Black Diamondz Mixtape Performance and Video Shoot-Endo Exo 1224 King St. Jacksonville, 32207
Show starts at 10 p.m., $5 at the door, "tell 'em you're with The Prolegend Nation".  18 to enter, 21 to drink.