Yardbird Sweets

April 7, 2009 Playlist

Tuesday Morning Jazz Askia Muhammad, Host

April: Jazz Appreciation Month, Poetry Appreciation Month

(Billie Holiday born April 7, 1915; Paul Robeson Born April 9, 1898)

5:00 Sun Ra, We Travel The Spaceways, Live at the Hackney Empire

2. Charles Mingus, Peggy’s Blue Skylight, In Paris: The Complete America Session

3. Charlie Parker, The Hymn, The Very Best of Bird (LP)

5:30 Billie Holiday, Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me/I’ll Get By, V-Disc for Armed Forces Overseas

5. Esther Phillips, I Love Paris, Confessin’ The Blues

6. Charlie Parker, April in Paris, The Essential Charlie Parker

7. Amiri Baraka, I Love Music, New Music-New Poetry

8. Miles Davis, Blue in Green, Kind of Blue

6:00 Billie Holiday, Good Morning Heartache, Priceless Jazz Sampler

10. Gilbert Millstein, segment from Billie Holiday’s autobiography, T’aint Nobody’s Biz-Ness If I Do

11. Billie Holiday, It Aint Nobody’s Business If I Do, T’aint Nobody’s Biz-Ness If I Do

12. Esther Phillips, Cherry Red, Confessin’ The Blues

13. Jayne Cortez, Bumblebee You Saw Big Mama, Taking The Blues Back Home

14. Dinah Washington, It Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do, T’aint Nobody’s Biz-Ness If I Do

15. Paul Robeson, Ol’ Man River, Ol’ Man River

16. Eric Dolphy, Come Sunday, Iron Man

6:30 Paul Robeson, When It’s Sleepy Time Down South, Ol’ Man River

18. Paul Laurence Dunbar, Antebellum Sermon, live read by Askia Muhammad

19. Omar Sosa, Gabrielle’s Trumpet, Across The Divide

20. Sonia Sanchez, Bubba, Full Moon of Sonia

21. The Carter Quartet, Celia, Yesterday’s Tomorrows

7:00 Paul Robeson, Mighty Lak A Rose, Ol’ Man River

23. Louis Armstrong/Billie Holiday, Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans, V-Disc for Armed Forces Overseas

24. Sterling Brown, Ma Rainey, The Poetry of Sterling A. Brown Read by the Author

25. Paul Robeson, River Stay Away From My Door, Ol’ Man River

26. Omar Sosa, Across Africa (Arrival), Across The Divide

7:30 Sonia Sanchez, Catch The Fire (For Bill Cosby), Full Moon of Sonia

28. Billie Holiday, I Cover The Waterfront, V-Disc for Armed Forces Overseas

29. Gilbert Millstein, segment from Billie Holiday’s autobiography, T’aint Nobody’s Biz-Ness If I Do

30. Paul Robeson, Steal Away, Ol’ Man River

31. Billie Holiday, It Aint Nobody’s Business If I Do (Carnegie Hall), T’aint Nobody’s Biz-Ness If I Do

32. Sekou Sundiata, Harlem, Blue Oneness of Dreams

33. Omar Sosa, Promised Land, Across The Divide

34. Omar Sosa, Across Africa (The Dream), Across The Divide

8:00 a.m.


Playlist 3-31-09, Tuesday Morning Jazz Askia Muhammad, Host

5:00 Wynton Marsalis, You’re Blase, The Midnight Blues

2. George Shearing, I Remember Clifford, The Swingin’s Mutual

3. Clifford Brown, It Could Happen to You, Complete Blue Note-Pacific Jazz Recordings

4. Joe Williams, I Was Telling Her About You, The Best of Joe Williams

5. Billie Holiday, Don’t Explain, V-Disc for Armed Forces Overseas

5:30 Anna Maria Flechero w/Cedar Walton Trio, God Bless The Child, Within The Fourteenth Hour

7. Charlie Parker, If I Should Lose You, The Essential Charlie Parker

8. Charlie Parker, Just Friends, Charlie Parker: Ken Burns Jazz

9. George Shearing w/Nancy Wilson, On Green Dolphin Street, The Swingin’s Mutual

10. Rita Edmond, On The Street Where You Live, Sketches of a Dream

11. Wynton Marsalis, Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year, The Midnight Blues

6:00 Clifford Brown, Now’s The time, Complete Blue Note-Pacific Jazz Recordings

13. Joe Williams, It Don’t Mean a Thing, The Best of Joe Williams

14. Byron Morris & Unity, Home Cookin’, Y2K

15. Pepe Gonzalez, Blues for Alfredo, Looking Back

6:30 Billie Holiday, When You’re Smiling, V-Disc for Armed Forces Overseas

17. Georgene Fountain, Retirement Blues, Jazz’n & Blues’n

18. Randy Crawford & Joe Sample, Everyday I Have The Blues, No Regrets

19. Joe Williams, Everyday I Have The Blues, The Best of Joe Williams

20. Nnenna Freelon, I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, Blueprint of a Lady

7:00 Marc Cary, Self Preservation, Focus

22. Anna Maria Flechero w/Cedar Walton Trio, Misty, Within The Fourteenth Hour

23. Charlie Parker, Relaxin’ at Camarillo, Charlie Parker: Ken Burns Jazz

24. Sweet Honey in the Rock, When I Grow Up, Experience…101

7:30 George Shearing w/Nancy Wilson, My Gentleman Friend, The Swingin’s Mutual

26. Randy Crawford & Joe Sample, Angel, No Regrets

27. Nnenna Freelon, Lover Man, Blueprint of a Lady

28. Charlie Parker, Lover Man, Charlie Parker: Ken Burns Jazz

29. Clifford Brown, Lover Man, Complete Blue Note-Pacific Jazz Recordings

30. Joe Hinton, Funny




Playlist 3-24-09 Morning Jazz, Tuesday

Askia Muhammad, Host

5:00 Sarah Vaughn, Nice Work if You Can Get It

2. Roy Haynes/Sarah Vaughn, How High The Moon, A Life in Time

3. Sarah Vaughn, Lullaby of Birdland, Verve Jazz Masters 20

4. Nnenna Freelon, What a Little Moonlight Can Do, Blueprint of a Lady

5. Christian Howes, The Wind, Heartfelt

6. Dexter Gordon, I’m A Fool to Love You, Clubhouse

5:30 Charlie Parker, Star Eyes, Verve Jazz Masters 20

8. Charlie Parker, I Got Rhythm, The Essential Charlie Parker

9. Lizz Wright, Fire, Salt

6:00 Roy Haynes/Charlie Parker, My Little Suede Shoes, A Life in Time

11. George V. Johnson Jr., My Little Sued Shoes, Next In Line!

12. Omar Sosa, Light in the Sky, AFreeCanos

13. Sarah Vaugh, Round Midnight, Embraceable You

14. Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane, Epistrophy, Monk w/Coltrane

6:30 Pepe Gonzalez, Kool Monk, Looking Back

16. Sarah Vaughn, Embraceable You, Embraceable You

17. Charlie Parker, Embraceable You, The Very Best of Bird (LP)

18. Omar Sosa, Iyade, AFreeCanos

19. Abdullah Ibrahim, Blue Bolero (Fragment 1), African Magic

7:00 Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage, Then and Now: The Definitive Herbie Hancock

20. Abdullah Ibrahim, Blue Bolero, African Magic

21. Charlie Parker, Parker’s Mood, The Definitive Charlie Parker: Ken Burns Jazz

22. Sarah Vaughn, I Live to Love You, I Love Brazil

23. Sweet Honey In The Rock, Dream Variations, Sweet Honey In The Rock (LP)

7:30 Rene Marie, It Might As Well Be Spring, Live At Jazz Standard

25. Lorez Alexandria, It Might As Well Be Spring, Alexandria The Great

26. Charlie Parker, Yardbird Suite, The Definitive Charlie Parker: Ken Burns Jazz

27. Abdullah Ibrahim, Joan-Cape Town Flower, African Magic

28. Joe Hinton, Funny

29. Abdullah Ibrahim, Blue Bolero (Fragment 2), African Magic


Daddy Madison

“Daddy” Madison is gone. Long Live “Sweet Daddy”


by Askia Muhammad

Bishop S.C. Madison, the Presiding Bishop of the United House of Prayer for All People has been laid to rest in grand fashion April 14. He was only the third leader of what must be considered the first Black “Mega Church.”My hat is off to the UHOP. May God Be Pleased With You. UHOP members don’t stand out from other middle class, “Raisin in the Sun” type, striving Black folks, they don’t change their names to “El” or “Bey” or Rashideen. Of course their clean, well dressed, well represented. But there’s something else about their strength I admire. The way they worship, their exuberant musical tributes.Bishop Grace–Sweet Daddy Grace–founded his first church in West Waltham, Massachusetts, around 1919. By the mid-1920s he had moved South, and was holding large, popular revivals and tent-meetings around Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1927, with an estimated 13,000 followers, Bishop Grace incorporated The United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith. The church grew rapidly and soon included branches all along the eastern seaboard, claiming some 500,000 people in 100 congregations in 67 cities.

Was he “charismatic” or merely “flamboyant?”

Charles Manuel Grace was of mixed African and Portuguese descent, born in the Cape Verde Islands around 1882. His family came to the United States during the first decade of the twentieth century. In the Cape Verdean communities of New Bedford and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the young Charles Grace worked as a short-order cook, a cranberry picker, and a sewing machine and patent medicine salesman, before giving his life completely to his ministry.

Bishop Grace was said to have been a showman, but he was always a generous benefactor. He sponsored bands and parades, and tossed candy to his followers (hence “Sweet Daddy”) and to this day UHOP marching bands and steppers travel up and down the east coast in bright, shiny, dream-mobile-looking buses where they perform at various congregation meetings and rallies.

Daddy Grace dazzled with his long hair, multicolored robes, and colored fingernails. His followers believed he had the power to bless such ordinary items as soap, coffee, and eggs, and many believed that buttered toast from his plate had the power to heal. Although Bishop Grace did not claim the divinity that his followers assigned to him, neither did he deny it. “I never said I was God,” he once clarified, “but you cannot prove to me I’m not.”


Another thing I admire, is that even though his followers worship Bishop Grace, his successor, and Bishop Walter “Sweet Daddy” McCullough, and now just departed Bishop S.C. Madison as “Daddy.” the followers don’t seem to act like “Babies.” They impress me, from the outside at least, as strong people God-fearing people who know and appreciate the value of life and of “things.”

In his own right, Bishop Madison stood firm against the very ultimate force of gentrification and urban renewal ever faced by any inner-city church leader, the encroachment into the church’s residential neighborhood with the construction of the new Walter E. Washington Convention Center. To his eternal credit, Bishop Madison apparently did not yield an inch to the developers, not one apartment given up at Canaanland Apartments on Seventh Street. God Bless his soul!

The Rev. Willie Wilson said of Bishop Madison: He was a supreme example that churches can play a role in the housing and economic development needs of our community. He as well as the United House of Prayer, continued the historic position of setting up hospitals, banks and stores for the community, and it came out of the Black church. We need to emulate more of what he did.” Rev. Wilson told James Wright of the Afro-American newspaper.

Indeed, that it seems is the church tradition. Sweet Daddy Grace, after all, was known for spending a good portion of his income on his congregations, supplying apartments, pension funds, burial plans, and free food to the faithful.

Long live that great tradition and Great Black Ministry.


The Americanization of Mother Frocker*

by Askia Muhammad

Comedian Redd Foxx always reminded me of my mother’s brother, Forrest Canteberry. I knew my uncle to be a natural funny man long before I had ever heard of the immortal Fred G. Sanford. A couple of things the two men had in common were the source of their nicknames, and their outlook on U.S. the military. Their humor was also riddled with scatological references.My uncle’s nickname was “Cannonball.” His friends called him “Ball” for short. But I don’t know if he came by his sobriquet because he was as black-skinned as a cannonball, or because he had a huge round belly. Like Malcolm Little, another famous alumni of the 1940s New York Night Life, Fred Sanford took his nickname from his complexion. He was “Harlem Red.” Malcolm X, as the other ruddy-complexioned “player” was later known, was called “Detroit Red.”

Whenever I would ask my uncle if he’d ever been in the service, he would always say “Yes. Church service.”

“No.” I would complain. “Were you ever in the Army?”

“Sure.” he would answer. “The Salvation Army.”

My uncle was always telling funny stories.

Redd Foxx said he was in the Army, on the front lines. “I backed up so far, I bumped into a general. ‘Soldier, why are you running?’ the general asked me. ‘I am running because I cannot fly.'”

When I was a teenager in Los Angeles in the late 1950s and 1960s, Redd Foxx was known for his licentious party records. The legendary “Race Track,” in which he mimicked an announcer calling a horse race, with his own field of irreverently-named horses may be the best known of the dozens of recordings owned by the parents of my friends–all of whom listened to the records secretly, even if they never spun any of the Duke Ellington discs their parents owned.

In that era there were plenty of ribald references running throughout the Down Home Blues and throughout all Black music then known in the industry as “Race Music.” There was also the comedian Dolomite, who was down and dirty all the time.

And of course after the “Signifyin’ Monkey” and Stagger Lee, there was the immortal character “Shine.” All of those characters are made famous by verses which sing their praises in songs sung always by others.

Shine was the only Black person on the Titanic when it sank. He was working down in the kitchen when he noticed that the ship was leaking. Shine told the Captain, but the Captain rebuked poor Shine, telling him that the ship was equipped with more than enough pumps to keep it sea-worthy.

The truly “Hep Cats” of the time were able to recite several stanzas of “Shine” under the street lights, even as the crooners warbled Doo Wops in four-part-harmony during nightly, urban, Street Corner Symphonies.

After the Captain repeatedly ignored Shine’s warnings, the Black man jumped into the ocean and started to swim. By then the Captain realized that he was right and pleaded with Shine to save him:

“Shine, Shine, save poor me;”I’ll give you more money than a nigger ever did see.”Shine answered the Captain.”Money is good on land and on sea,

“But the money on land is the money for me.”

Further on, Shine met up with a whale, and then with a shark. The shark said:

“Shine, Shine, you swim so fine;”You miss one stroke and your black ass is mine.”

Shine told the shark:

“You may be king of the ocean, king of the sea;”But you gotta be a swimmin’ Motherfucker to outswim me.”

And Shine swam on, eventually making it back to 7th and T Street here in Washington.But Redd Foxx had a greater gift. He was glib, and naturally funny even if he only gave the suggestion that his humor was forbidden. It enabled him to soar, late in his life, into a very successful television career, where his fictional tv character–a Watts, California junkman–was called by the comedian’s actual birth name.On a number of 1970s recordings of his stand-up comedy act, Redd Foxx goes on for hours telling jokes that demonstrated to me his comedic versatility, and his vocal dexterity, with jokes full of innuendoes, but absent four-letter words.Even as comedian Richard Pryor was able to update the party-genre of Black comedy in the 1970s beyond Redd Foxx’s wine-o jokes to the age of the junkie-drug-addict, using sexual expletives Redd Foxx never really repeated all the time on stage, and as George Carlin took the famous “Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Radio or TV” all the way to the Supreme Court, Redd Foxx walked the fine line between now and then.

Las Vegas where he was often a head liner, Redd Foxx said in one such story, is a town where every manner of convention is held. Two very important conventions took place at the same time, and caught his eye. One involved the manufacturers of the exquisite corks that are required in bottles of fine wine and champagne. The other involved the makers of garments for expectant mothers.

The corks that are used in these fine wines must be specially soaked to perfection before they can be used. It just so happens he said, that the clothing manufacturers–the Mother Frockers–were meeting in Vegas at the same time as those Cork Soakers.

What a time the Cork Soakers and the Mother Frockers must have had in Las Vegas that week. But you would have never heard about them anywhere on the broadcast airwaves.

Today, the forbidden is no longer forbidden. Cork Soakers and the Mother Frockers, are mild by comparison to what we see, not just on some raunchy, cable-tv, public-access channel, but on network sit-coms. There, use of the word “ass” is common. And tv wrestlers today sound almost as vulgar as the heroes and villains who appear–without expletives deleted–every day on premium cable movie channels right in the homes of millions of Americans daily.

I recently saw an advertisement for a tractor-pull contest–loosely defined as a “motor sports” event–on a children’s cable channel that described the competitors as some “Bad Mother-Truckers.”

That’s about as close as I can imagine anyone coming on your basic-kid-accessible television to saying the once-forbidden M-F-word.

“He’s a bad, motha’…shut your mouth. I’m talking about Shaft.”

Well, just Ma-shizzle-my Fizzle then.

The influence of Black life on America has greatly expanded the boundaries of what’s now permissible in polite White society. Can you say Sarah Jessica Parker? Can you say Republican Bruce Willis? That’s M.F. Culture. That’s White trombonist Maynard Ferguson’s album: “M.F. Horn.” Which, by the way brings us to the original inspiration for this essay: the 1960s album by South African trumpet player Hugh Masakela called: “The Americanization of Oogah Boogah.”

Now it is “The Americanization of Mother Frocker” and the process is all but complete.

In the 1960s comedian, civil rights activist, and social critic Dick Gregory wrote a book called “Nigger.” At the time, he said: “I sent a copy of my book to the President so there would be a Nigger in the White House.” Later he said of President Ronald Reagan: “You know ‘Reggin’ spelled backwards is Nigger. And of course author Toni Morrison told us that Bill Clinton was a “Black President.”

Today, there’s probably a nigger living in your house, regardless of your race.

I first started thinking about this phenomenon about 15 years ago. I read an article in Newsweek or Time which quoted Ngyuen Cao Ky, the former Vice President of South Vietnam. He was living in Southern California, and he complained that one day he came home and “found a Negro living in his house.”

The person of whom Mr. Ky spoke was not an African American, but rather his own teenaged son, who had become so enamored of the Black, urban lifestyle–I call it the M.F. Culture–that Mr. Ky described his Americanized Vietnamese offspring as “a Negro.”

Today there are Negroes of all colors living in most American homes. They are wearing baggy pants, their baseball caps are on backwards, their sun visors are on upside down, they are flexing and posing all the time, and trying to “represent.”

Hip Hop music must take much of the credit for knocking down a lot of the old taboos in American culture. Where Redd Foxx said he’d rather be called a “Spook than the ‘Big N.’ you can’t say Niagra Falls around me, without me reaching for my switchblade…” today, it is not uncommon for young Whites or Asians, or anybody else for that matter who’s been acculturated watching M-TV or BET to shout out to an acquaintance: “Hey whassup My Niggah?” Even more surprising, someone will likely answer such a call, and that person may or may not be Black.

The socio-economic difference however is that as White folks mature, they tend to leave the M.F. Culture on the shelf for a while, as they pursue their fortunes. Then, like the Baby Boomers of today who make up 98 percent of the PBS-TV audiences at the fund-raising Doo Wops concerts, or like the Yuppies who can recite Chapter and Verse from practically every episode of “The Jeffersons” or “What’s Happening,” they re-embrace the culture they loved in their youth after they have found the creature comfort level reached by their parents. Parents I would point out, who tend to hate the new version of M.F. Culture each succeeding generation of white youth embrace.

One phenomenon which makes the transition out of the M.F. Culture and into the American Dream Culture so easy was reported recently in a Washington Post article titled: “Hire That Name.” The story referred to a study conducted by two university researchers who sent out 5,000 résumés with virtually identical qualifications, education and experience in response to 1,200 employment want-ads.

Half of the résumés used the first names Brad and Kirsten (or the 20 most popular names White parents name their children according to hospital birth records) and the other half used the names Tyrone and Lakisha, or the 20 most popular names Black parents give their children. And guess what Ward Connerly, Mr. “Color blind Society?” Guess what Mr. Justice Clarence Thomas?

That’s right. Brad and Kirsten got 50 percent more calls-back than did Tyrone and Lakisha. The difference in positive responses to White-sounding first names alone, was the equivalent to eight years more of professional experience for résumés with Black-sounding first names.

But let’s get back to the M.F. Culture. It’s easy for me to point out its presence in the music, even when it walked the streets in a Caucasian body.

Frank Sinatra was America’s first musical Superstar. He sang Black Music. Then there was Elvis Presley. Elvis’s thing was so overt, the Black composer of many of his hits would even send him a tape of the song so he would know how it was supposed to sound, along with the lyrics and the sheet music.

Then came Michael Jackson. He was the first American music Superstar to sing Black Music in a Black body. Just as Elvis one day outsold Frankie, who had outsold all musicians before him, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” outsold everything Elvis had ever done.

Now the circle is complete and the world is clearly coming to an end. The Number One Rapper in the World is White, and the Number One Golfer is Black. If you add in the Venus and Serena Williams, the Number One tennis attractions, you can easily make a strong case that the world has been turned on its head and that the Judgement–at least of the Country Clubs–must be near. Certainly Dr. Frances Cress Welsing’s “Balls Theory” has been turned inside out.

Before there was euphoria among Black sports fans over the stunning tennis victories of Venus and Serena Williams in Ladies Singles and Doubles competition at the All-England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon, sociologists and psychiatrists had a lot to say about why Black athletes were not as competitive on the championship level in “certain” sports.

Psychiatrist and author Dr. Frances Cress Welsing offered her “Balls Theory” as a part of her “Cress Theory of Color Confrontation.” Dr. Welsing argued that in sports with large brown balls–like football and basketball–Black male athletes dominate, while in sports with small white balls–like golf and tennis–Black athletes are not competitive.

So, along comes Tiger Woods, who didn’t just win, but he obliterated the records set decades ago by golf’s legends such as Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus. And then came the victories of the Williams sisters suggesting that these winners may be role models for future Black performers, and not just anomalies the way golfers Lee Elder and Calvin Peete, and tennis stars Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe may have been in their day.

So much for needing “big balls” in order to be dominant in sports. These athletes have transcended race and class in the same way as musician Marshall Mathers–Eminem has done in his field. It’s the Americanization of that M.F. Culture.

In conclusion, let me make one troubling assertion that I believe continues to be true, despite the Americanization of Mother Frocker, and that is this. America has found a way to make commodities out of every single aspect of the M.F. Culture, the Black Culture. Ironically, though rappers like Snoop Dog, and Ice T and Ice Cube and Jay-Z may be averse, White folks have always, and are still making far more money from the sale of the M.F. Culture than we are.

What’s worse, from Jewish merchants in the 1950s, to Arabs in the 1960s, to Vietnamese in the 1970s, to Koreans in the 1980s, to West Indians and West Africans and South Asians in the 1990s, to Ethiopians and Eritreans and Central Americans in the first decade of the 21st Century, every manner of people have come to this country speaking dozens of languages. But all of them have shown that they only needed to know one word of English in order to prosper.

That word, which has been the stepping stone to success for all of America’s recent immigrants, and which translates freely in all languages is: “Nigger.”

That is T.A.O.M.F., The Americanization of Mother Frocker for you.

*Inspired by South African-born trumpeter Hugh Masakela’s circa 1960s Long Playing Album: “The Americanization of Oogah Boogah.”

All of which brings me to Spring 2007, Don Imus, et al.

Don Imus and the ‘Tip Drill’

by Askia Muhammad

April 12, 2007–There is no question, but that radio “Shock Jock” Don Imus should be sent into forced retirement from broadcasting.Despite his high powered friends in politics and the media (and he’s got some really high powered friends, who’ve been guests on his show, and even more who secretly or even openly listen), he is an egregious repeat offender, and his sins have now rendered him a liability to the advertisers who support him.

If the camera-chasing Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton cannot eventually force Don Imus off the air, they will lose all their credibility.

After Doug “Greaseman” Tract went down, after Howard Cossell, and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, and Michael Richards, if Imus is allowed to resume broadcasting, even after whatever suspensions may be applied by MSNBC.com, his cable-TV host, or by CBS, which owns his New York City host radio station, the Rev. Jackson’s and the Rev. Sharpton’s salt will have lost all of its savor, and they might as well hang it up.

Of course the racists, and their Black sidekicks who think Mr. Imus’s disgusting reference to Black female athletes as whores was funny, will all be angry that political correctness will appear to be running amok. But that’s the price we’ll have to pay.

Having said that, when will our chattering class look in our own cultural mirror? How did such expressions as “nappy-headed,” and “ho’s,” and worse enter the common American vernacular?

Black entertainers taught such expressions to ordinary Americans.

For example. As long as there has been an American Kennel Club—the Gold Standard for dog breeding and show-dogs—the expression “bitch” has been used to refer to female dogs. But “our” entertainers are the ones who applied such language to Black female humans. And it stuck. And the term “ho’s”—Ebonics for “whores”—also comes from our own usage.

Snoop Dogg, and Fifty Cent, and Nelly—can you say “Tip Drill?”—are well paid because of their talent for making America’s filthy Sportin’ Life, fair-seeming. I confess, my list is short, because I cop to not knowing much about the subject of Gangsta Rap music.

A “Tip Drill” is apropos here because it comes originally from basketball practice where players line up at the free throw line and tip the ball off the backboard consecutively, one after another. The common street meaning now refers to a group of men “running a train” on (or gang-raping) a woman. First one man, followed by the next man, until each has had a turn.

That’s sort of what happened in this case. So many, many entertainers have had sport with the image of Black women, but it’s the last guy—Don Imus—who got caught…busted.

Howard Stern, for example left the broadcast airwaves after his obscenity-laced program had enormous fines levied against him by the Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Stern is now heard on one of the satellite channels, where he is paid a king’s ransom, and where he has attracted tens of thousands of listeners to fork over $10 per month to listen to his filth without government censorship. Maybe that’s the future for “Imus in the Morning.”

The “musicians” who purvey these misogynistic products call it “Keepin’ It Real.” And let’s not forget, nor excuse the fact that there are apparently, hundreds, if not thousands and thousands of young Black women who appear in the videos produced for these songs, apparently without coercion. Apparently, all 18-years and older. All of whom—like the Rappers—have mothers, and aunts, and grandmothers, and sisters, and many have daughters, proud I’m sure, to see Baby Girl gettin’ it on, in Nelly’s “Tip Drill” video. Proud I’m sure to be the one, whose backside is used by the star as the device in which he swipes his credit card.

I credit the late actor Ron O’Neal for first tapping into our appetite for this kind of Volunteer Slavery, or “Blax-ploitation.” Mr. O’Neal, starring as Youngblood Priest in the movie “Super Fly” changed our paradigm. In that film, we accepted the reprobate, the pimp, the drug dealer, as the hero, because he declared: “I’ve got a plan to stick it to The Man.” “The Man” in this case, being “The White Man,” our former slave master, whom we saw as beneath contempt in the years right after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when his film hit the screen.

So, in the guise of “having a plan to stick it to the man,” we bought into every manner of despicable Black character, and they came at us in hordes, and soon, they didn’t even need a plan anymore. The Black Gangstas became the heroes. It was “Pimps Up, Ho’s Down,” and a new genre of self-loathing became de rigeur, and noone wanted to be smart, a square, a “sucka,” a “mark,” a “buster,” “talkin’ White” anymore.

Exit Black pride. Enter Don Imus, et al.

Unless, that is, Black people who think that the White Shock Jock has committed an unforgivable sin, are ready to apply that same standard to our own children and grand-children who think Snoop, and Nelly, and Fifty, and Def Jam, and Def Comedy are all cool.

One thought on “Yardbird Sweets

  1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day….

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