Tag Archives: Fela

Get Back! Take a trip down the AfroBeatles rabbit hole.

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Its been almost a month since Yoda placed me on my AfroBeatles mission.

He planted the seed and I have meticulously tended to it.

Day by day, I’ve given the AfroBeatles my focused attention.

Fast forward to today and I’m steeped in AfroBeatles lore.

I’m subsumed by the Fela Kuti Beatles collaboration in this alternate universe.

As I learn more about Fela, the individual, the prospect of this imagined group, The AfroBeatles, is even more intriguing.

Its been made all the more real, by my examination of the actual people.

Every day, I’ve been listening to the music, watching videos and researching.

I’ve queried my relatives on their impressions of Fela coming up in Nigeria.

Probing to determine what they thought of him as a person, musician and revolutionary.

I even downloaded This Bitch of A Life by Carlos Moore onto my ipad.

Its an auto-biography of sorts on Fela.

Fela This Bitch of A Life

Fela’s candid impressions of his life, and his experiences, told in his own words and from the perspective of those closest to him, provide a real depth of understanding for who he was.

It gives insight to why he held the convictions he did and what made his message so controversial.

Yoda gave me Revolution In The Head, the definitive “must read” on The Beatles.

Revolution In The Head

The first 20 pages put the Beatles in a light I had never previously considered.

As opposed to being a bunch of guys putting messages into their music, music was their message, and their lyrics an afterthought.

My targeted Google searches on both Fela and The Beatles unearthed troves of information, casting more light on who these guys really were.

And I’m not the only one.

Every day there are more blips on Yoda’s mental radar.

I’ve been manning the AfroBeatles online and social media command center, and the blips are there too.

A steady stream of blips congregating around certain AfroBeatles properties.

Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, are all seeing clusters of regular activity and steady growth.

Which tells me that AfroBeatles is sticky.

It could be a bunch of Yoda’s little disciples, doing his online bidding…

But hey, blips are blips.

Eventually we’ll arrive at a tipping point.

Right now, I’m listening to Get Back vs Colonial Mentality.

And once again I’m tapping and typing.

When the Beatles recorded Get Back in 1969 the song just came to them.

Over the course of a few days, they followed an idea for a song.

A rehearsal and twenty-something takes later, Get Back was here.

By contrast, Colonial Mentality came from Fela’s observation of African behavior over time.

Colonial Mentality became a scathing critique of the African adoption of English ways, to the exclusion of their own cultural traditions.

The mashup of these songs and their messages forces me to ponder how we are all trapped in constructs not of our own making.

Like Yoda’s little experiment.

Sometimes, we are creatures of accident.

But at others, we are conscious cognizant willing participants to these constructs.

I know I sound crazy when I talk like this, but stay with me.

Take this trip down the rabbit hole with me.

Watch Get Back on YouTube…

Or listen to the special Independence Day playlist on SoundCloud…

And tell me that you’re not intrigued.

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Celebrity schlebrity. Vita Chambers has a guardian angel.

vita_chambers_fix_you

I’ve never been used to the concept of celebrities.

Folks treat them with such…reverence…as if the fact that they can sing or dance or dribble a ball makes them somehow, better?

I find cats fawning over pure strangers…odd and distasteful.

I just don’t get why girls swoon over Usher, or Michael Jackson or Justin Bieber.

Falling out, really?

Perhaps it’s because I’m Nigerian.

Or maybe it was being born into a diplomatic family.

It could be pure vanity.

I can’t sweat you if I think, I too, am fabulous.

But most likely, it was my cousin, Stevano.

You see, growing up, I had this younger cousin who was a rapper from DC.

During the summers and every Howard homecoming, I would make my sojourn to DC to chill with him.

Hanging with my cousin usually involved tooling around the city in a 911, Beemer or Benz.

It meant VIP access to any and every party spot or event of note.

More importantly, it meant unbridled access to a butt load of celebrities.

I was routinely in the company of Nas, Mary J Blige, Biz Markie, A Tribe Called Quest, Jay Z, Herbie Azor, Wu Tang Clan, Davina, Eve, Brand Nubians, Cisco, Drake, Sean Kingston, Marlon Waynes, Michael ‘Blue’ Williams (of Violator), Talib Kweli – and that’s just off the top of my head.

Don’t mind the generational jumps – I’m talking past and present.

We’re not even going to get into the models.

Although most people outside of DC have never heard of my lil cousin, he is a don in the music industry.

Limos would routinely pull up outside of the house on Rittenhouse (the house he bought at 18).

And we would be whisked off to some private party being hosted by Marc Barnes or some other DC night life luminary.

His phone stayed ringing, and I would hear him giving heavyweights – heavyweights – advice.

I used to get so annoyed with him.

Usually because these calls came at the most inopportune moments – like when I wanted his introduction to some hot dancer, back-up singer or groupie thinking we were famous.

I had no problem with sloppy seconds back then.

But what drew my annoyance – beyond missed booty conquest – was the fact that he just gave away valuable information – for free!

The stuff he knew about the entertainment industry – getting labels to come off that dough, securing video budgets, working with established producers, touring – were things I felt he should be getting paid for.

And things that most cats his age (and older) just didn’t know.

For years, I urged him to flip the paradigm, set up shop and get paid for his services.

When Aftermath wanted him to write for Eve of Destruction (aka Eve), this new artist they were grooming from Philly, I prodded him to get a fee for his services.

When Fela’s daughter invited him to talk about bringing her late father’s music to the stage, I urged him to confirm that the deal was on the up-and-up.

When <name of artist/label/producer> came seeking his help, I implored him to get paperwork to secure his stake in the transaction.

Invariably, his heart controlled his head, and he rarely took my advice.

Time after time again, I watched as countless artists benefited from his immense creativity and lackadaisical business attitude.

As he moved from DC to LA, to the UK, to Miami and then to Vancouver, Canada, I would infrequently hear about these instances.

And as my life turned increasingly from the entertainment industry to technology, and being separated by time zones and distance, I heard about them less and less.

Recently, however, he reached out to me to talk about the latest artist to have found a way into his heart – Vita Chambers.

If you haven’t heard about her, it’s okay.

She’s only 19.

She was discovered by SRP (the same label that found Rihanna) and signed by Sylvia Rhone in 2009.

Vita soon found herself on tour with Justin Bieber, performing at Lilith Fair in 2010, the Bamboozle Road Show, PopCon, touring with Forever The Sickest Kids, and performing with Estelle at the 2010 Soul Train Awards.

But she’s spent the last two years on hold as Universal Motown’s reorganization worked itself out.

Fast forward to 2012, and SRP finds themselves without the momentum that accompanied her initial signing.

Enter cuzzo, stage left.

Working with Vita’s parents, her de facto management, he took ‘Fix You’, remixed it, and the girl you’ve never heard of is taking off with a chart climbing single.

Now since I’ve been here before, I know how this plays out.

Stevano goes balls to the walls for Vita and her team.

Vita gets back on the trajectory she was before the Universal debacle and achieves untold success.

And cats bid my cuz auf Wiedersehen.

This time, though, I’m helping cuzzo get the biz right.

I plan to be the guardian angel to Stevano that Vita is the poor child in the Fix You video.

They’re going to be in LA for the Grammy’s.

And then a quick stop in NY to sit with the folks at Universal Republic.

I plan on meeting this young artist in Stevano’s good graces.

And hopefully convince them to formalize their relationship so that they mutually benefit.

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2012 Will Be a Blogging Year (and what I didn’t tell you about 2011)

I just looked at the end-of-year summary that WordPress sends to folks who use its blogging platform, showing me what 2011 looked like.

Sooooo….last year I authored exactly 14 posts.

14!

That’s abysmal.

I. Am. Ashamed.

I am constantly extolling the virtue of regular blogging to my clients, and in 2011 I was thoroughly remiss.

And unlike 2010, where I was a blogging superstar (relatively), in 2011, I was a friggin blogging hermit!

And it’s not like I didn’t have a lot going on to blog about.

So to make up for my total lack of posting, here is my 2011 in review.

December: Art Basel Miami

Hotness was all over..even on the walls.

I attended my first Art Basel Miami, which (if you didn’t know) is the largest international art festival in the United States. I spent four days hanging with some of the hottest contemporary fine and street artists in the game, partying at Miami’s most exclusive night clubs and meeting with clients in a whirlwind where days and nights seemed to blend together. Big ups to Sanford Biggers, Martin Luther, Rich Medina, Sapna Lal and all the good folks at Bardot, Townhouse, Gigi and Bond Street.

November: Jump N’ Funk After Experience at Red Rooster

The After Experience at Red Rooster was the bomb!

If you’ve never been to a Jump N Funk, then you’ve been missing one of the best parties ever. Literally. Jump N Funk is an afrobeat party, celebrating the life and music of Fela. The first time I attended a JNF, at WMC 2005, I left the event sweating like a slave. I was hooked. 2011 was the 10 year anniversary, and Rich Medina was in top form as he tore the roof off of the Red Rooster in Harlem, after the anniversary show at Harlem Stage.

October: The Digital Strategist

I was the guest of David Muhammed, the Digital Strategist, on his public access show on SoMa TV. In the renovated studio at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey, I was interviewed about my experiences in the technology and mobile space. I posted a short piece about the interview, which lasted about 50 minutes, but felt like five, earlier, but if you missed it, here it is again.

September: Born To Shine

I spent some time with Rich Medina in September, who was fresh off of the show Master of the Mix (produced by GTM Central and presented by Smirnoff) on the set of Time Warner Cable’s new program, Born To Shine. Rich was the resident DJ for the show, which was recorded on the 106 & Park set, and provided his unique banter and musical je ne sais quoi to the show.

August: Q3030

I started consulting a tech start-up out of Atlanta, called Q3030. The brain-child of Marq Sears, a serial entrepreneur, Q3030 had developed an new technology, called The Cube, an interactive platform that enables brands to place interactive branded advertisements on a number of highly trafficked websites, like MediaTakeOut.com. I was brought in to help map out the strategic direction for the company, content acquisition, capitalization and branding. They’re actively seeking angel investment, but are moving forward.

July: Martha’s Vineyard

In what has become somewhat of an annual tradition, I took a working vacation and spent a week in Martha’s Vineyard with the family. We rented a quaint three bedroom house on a lake in Oaks Bluff.  Every day we hit the beach, the strip, the lake or some other outdoor destination. Now my kids are now hooked on the place, and it’s looking like this IS, in fact, going to be an actual annual tradition.

June: The Marksmen

I rejoined Marksmen Productions, a company I had worked with for several years, and immediately jumped back in the fray working on some really innovative projects. Several years ago, the Marksmen developed DOT.TUNES, a web-based application that gave users the ability to remotely access all the content of the iTunes library remotely over an internet-connected device. Since that time, they’ve developed several applications that run off of the DT platform, including HookUp (remote sharing over multiple DT instances), ReVenue and !mpulse. Stay tuned for the developments on this front in 2012!

May: Cannes Film Festival

Free Angela, the documentary film arrives in 2012.

I took my second trip to the South of France for the 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival, where I put to use everything I learned on my first trip. I attended a few premiers, ate frogs legs, partied in a castle…and…on the beach…and…on a yacht…and…well you get the picture. I also met with some of the hottest up-and-coming film-makers, directors and producers. I also started working with Free Angela, the documentary film on Angela Davis by Shola Lynch, in association with Canal Plus, De Films En Anguille, and BET (yes, BET).

April: The Today Show

I'm waxing eloquent about going grey!

The highlight for April (aside from my 41st birthday) was being invited to participate in a focus group that was being taped for the Today show on NBC. The focus group was assembled to talk about perceptions related to aging, and whether grey was sexy or not. The segment, which aired shortly after taping, can be seen here. Check me out in my 2 seconds of fame, when I say “I love her with the grey.”

March: Winter Music Conference

I attended my third (or was it fourth?) WMC in Miami at the Miami Convention Center. It was my first WMC off the strip and in the convention center, and the mood was noticeably muted. I sat on a panel discussing the future of mobile with some mobile industry luminaries and hung out with Benzino and Dave Mays (the former owners of The Source Magazine) at their posh recording studio in downtown Miami (out of which they also publish their new publication, Hip Hop Weekly). I also spent a few hours at the King of Diamonds, the…ahem…’gentlemen’s club’, but we can talk about that later.

February: Morgan 4 Congress 2012

The new look of the M4C website!

If you followed me in 2010, you know that I was working with Vincent Morgan, a Democratic Candidate for Congress, running against Charles Rangel in the 15th District of New York (what is commonly referred to as Harlem or Upper Manhattan). Although he lost, it was a learning experience, and in February of this year, he assembled his inner circle to strategize for his 2012 run. We relaunched his website, created new marketing materials, and put together a strong team for his next run. Look for his formal announcement soon and repeat after me: “Morgan for Congress 2012!”

January: KiwiTech

I joined KiwiTech, a Washington, D.C. based mobile application development firm, that was moving from developing apps for the publishing sector, into the media space. This small family owned and operated outfit has developed over 600 iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad apps to date, and shows no signs of slowing down.

If you’ve made it down this far, let me say that one of my resolutions is to blog at least once a week in 2012. Which means that if I actually do what I say I’m going to do, you can expect at least 52 posts from me this year!

Yaayyy!

Now lets see how long it takes me to fall off the blogging wagon this time!

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Stephen Chukumba says: “Jump N’ Funk”

I’m blogging about the Jump N Funk party, which was celebrating it’s 8th anniversary, cause I just got home (about an hour ago), and I’m still buzzing.

8th Anniversary flyer

8th Anniversary flyer

I should have come home and gone to bed to prepare for tomorrow (or today, rather), but it was Jump N Funk, and I was already in the city for a whirlwind round of meetings (the last few days – LOVING IT!)

And I’m glad I went!

The party was at Le Poisson Rouge, @ 158 Bleeker, and the joint was popping! If you’ve never been, LPR is a great space. Designed and optimized by true audiophiles, LPR has arguably the best sound system you’ll find in NY.  Full disclosure: I may be a bit biased because it was designed by my peoples, but the acoustics are banging!

The minute I walked in I saw Rich Medina, our DJ & host, and gave him a pound. From there I made my way straight to the dance floor, to shake my groove thang, cause he was spinning Lady by Fela and I LOVE me some Fela – okaayyyy?

After working up a sufficient sweat, and seeing that Rich’s turntable game was as tight as ever, I spied my frat brother (and fellow digital conspirator) Mark Hines up in the control booth, manning the visuals.

The plan was to give him a pound and head home.

But when I got up there, this is what he was doing*:

Is this picture with my 2G iPhone too grainy? Where's the flash Apple?

Is this picture with my 2G iPhone too grainy? Where's the flash Apple?

Mark in profile getting bizzizy

Mark in profile getting bizzizy

View overlooking the crowd. Check the screen (if you can see it). Umm Apple?

View overlooking the crowd. Check the screen (if you can see it). Umm Apple?

*I promise that the next time, I won’t use stills to illustrate a dynamic point.

and I stayed a little longer that I should have. But damn, I was transfixed. Have you ever seen someone mixing video? That sh*t is ILLLLLLL!

Needless to say, Rich and Mark did their thing, I got my dance on and now I’m up blogging! (Can you believe this guy?)

If you get a chance to go to a Jump N Funk party in the future, I highly recommend it.  I’ll definitely keep you posted on the next one.

Little side note to Dan: If my game is a little off tomorrow, this is why.

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