Norah Jones

How to Captivate an Audience Without Using Your Crotch

I hate music these days.

I know I may sound like a crotchety old man at times, but hear me out on this.

The other day I was channel surfing and I came across a performance by some half naked performer singing some factory assembled song, with some over the top crotch in your face dance moves, and I thought to myself, “who is to blame for this?” The thing about that description I just gave you is that it could apply to any number of contemporary “artists”, male or female. It’s become the blueprint to making it in the biz.

The thing is, I can appreciate good choreography, or artists that know how to put on a hell of a fun show, but at the end of the day less is usually more. On Sunday I went to see one of my favorite artists, Norah Jones. My cousins often make fun of me for being such a huge fan of hers, but the reason I love Norah is because she is a musician. Her performances are all about the entirety of the music. The piano, guitar, bass, percussion, and of course her voice all work together. She connects with each of her songs as she performs and that translates to the audience. No huge production value is needed. You don’t pay attention because there are a bunch of shiny flashing lights and shaking asses. You pay attention because someone is up there sharing a piece of their soul with you.

If that isn’t sexy enough for you, then let me turn your attention to the queen of the less is more concept. One of the sexiest woman of all time in many ways if you ask me (and I am certainly not the only one). I am talking about the one and only, Sade.

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Sade live in concert a few years back. I still remember as I left the venue I overheard many people saying exactly what I was thinking. “I can die happy now.” I’m not kidding. She is that good. Sade doesn’t just perform when she gets on stage. Sade holds the audience hostage when she gets on stage.

Sade’s sexiness lies in the subtlety of her movements. A flick of her wrist, a slight raise of her eyebrow, the smallest twitch in her hips. She knows exactly what she’s doing to us. It gives me goosebumps just writing about it. If I ever were in a position to manage some young beautiful singer I would have her watch Sade videos all day and night. Not that anyone could ever duplicate her greatness. Just hopefully they would see more of a role model than any of the nameless clones being shoved in our faces today.

Greatness stands on it’s own.

The Top 10 Albums I Own That Violate My African-American Maleness

Note: Found this in the vault. Thought my cousins (who love to torture me) would enjoy. 

Today I am going to explore some of the albums I own that get me cracked on the most when my boys go through my stuff.

Oh they’re bad. Trust me.

To help me in this endeavor I have enlisted the help of some friends. Aside from some of my boys who have repeatedly talked shit about me, I have asked my good friend Gabe, a respected music expert to many, to help me write this blog.

Now  let’s get started shall we?

10)Radiohead – The Bends
Question: What do millions of poser emo-kids and I have in common?
A: We love Radiohead!
Radiohead is an awesome band. Even some black people know this. I have a friend of who sampled “Exit Music for a Film” on a rap song. That being said,  The Bends is just too pale for me not to recognize here. Also it makes the list as a representation of the eight, count em’ eight, Radiohead albums I own.
Ask a Black Dude: (Phil says): “Yo, why the hell do you own so many Radiohead albums? Are you depressed?”

9) Every Album Norah Jones Has Ever Released
Norah is actually pretty cool by most measures. She has done songs with Talib Kweli, Outkast, and Q-Tip, just to name a few. However I must lose some man points for owning every one of her albums, and wanting to name my daughter (when I have one) after her.

Ask a Black Dude (Patrick Says): “Dave you’s a real bitch sometimes.”

8) Blues Traveler – Four
Well as you can tell by the name of the band, it’s blues so it’s not so bad. And anyone who has ever heard them can’t deny they’ve got some soul. Still these guys are pretty damn white.

Gabe’s Take: There’s nothing so particularly paleface as a 90’s alternative rock band masquerading around as a blues act. Among their work, no album is better known, or more widely available on cassette in thrift stores, than Four. But they’re usually more appreciated by the “acoustic-guitars and coffee shops” crowd, not the “big beats and apple-bottom jeans” crowd.

7) Diana Krall – Love Scenes
Diana is actually not that bad. She is a Jazz singer with a smooth sultry voice. Then again let’s examine this further..

Gabe ‘s Take: She’s got that air of a blond New York career girl who grew up and stumbled into fame as a recording lite jazz vocals. She’s also from the northern wooded lands to which white people always threaten to escape: Canada. She’s famously married to pale snob musician Elvis Costello, who has never been able to decide whether he wants to look like an urbane hipster or a mob movie snitch. Either way, there’s nothing very “hood” about either of these characters, and nothing more decidedly “white suburban mom” than an elevator music vocalist’s collection of love ballads.

6) Daughtry – Daughtry
If there is any, and I mean any American Idol album it is accebtable for a “brotha” to own, this is certainly not it. Ruben Studdard is the only semi-acceptable one.

Ask a Black Dude (Winston says): “You actually own this album?!!! Man, you almost as white as Randy Jackson right about now.”

5) Katie Melua – Call Off the Search
Wow. Now we’re getting down to the real embarassing stuff. I’ll let Gabe take this one.

Gabe’s Take: Katie Melua is a Georgia born singer. Why does that matter? Because she was born in the Georgia of khatchapuri and lobio, not the Georgia of black eyed peas and collard greens. An eastern European who grew up in Ireland, who makes a living being a girly bohemian singer in Europe, who doesn’t even know much fame in the states, might even cause Carlton Banks to bring your “blackness” into question. Even if that weren’t the case, consider your man-card suspended for listening to an artist whose main audience in America came from appearances in the Miss Potter (the Beatrix Potter biopic) and Nancy Drew soundtracks.

4)The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die
Now you may be confused right now, so let me explain. Of course this album is one of the greatest albums in Hip Hop history, so it’s “blackness” goes without saying. The problem is that I own the clean version of the album. This is a MAJOR VIOLATION! I bought the clean version by accident, and never bothered to get the Explicit one. This pisses my boys off to no extent.

Ask a Black Dude (Jamel) – “Wait a minute something’s wrong. We have been listening to this album for ten minutes and I haven’t heard him say bitch once! What the fuck? This is the clean version. That’s a bitch move Dave. A real bitch move.”

3) Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians – Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars
This one would be on top, but it is a sentimental fave of mine. Still it’s off the charts as far as how embarassing it is. No black person I know has ever heard of these people.

Gabe’s Take: Edie Brickell is a Texas white chick who helped start the rash of patchouli-smelling power-woman singer/songwriters that plagued the whole decade of the 90’s and still propels the limp careers of Alanis and Jewel. How did she help to initiate this? By releasing this debut album, which is hardly gangsta. The only thing she’s shooting are the stars. With rubber bands. In short, this is the kind of stuff middle aged white hippie women eat up.

2)Sisqo – Enter the Dragon
The hit single from this album is the Thong Song. Nuff’ said.’

Ask a Black Dude (Maurice says): If I never hear The Thong Song again, it’ll be too soon. As a black man, back in the day he was bad for business… guilt by association. Non-black women asking if I like thongs and such.

1)Sheryl Crow – Tuesday Night Music Club
What? Why are you looking at me that way. I liked this album okay? Deal with it!

Gabe’s Take: Dave, do you know why you’ve been pulled you over sir? No, not because you’re black. Not even because you’re a black dude listening to countrified girl pop by the ex-girlfriend of a Tour de France champion. No. Today your man-card is officially revoked indefinitely, not for the Edie or Katie albums, but for owning and listening to a Sheryl Crow disc on purpose. There is simply no explanation, no excuse that can get you out of this one, sir. If all you wanna do is have some fun, and soak up the sun, I got a feeling you’re the only one. At least, the only self-respecting black male one.

Honorable/Dishonorable Mention
Basia – Time and Tide
Coldplay – Parachutes/ A Rush of Blood to the Head
John Mayer – Heavier Things
Alanis Morisette – MTV Unplugged