Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cosmopolitan Cities - Round 1

The weekend hit me kinda hard with bad news. Baatin from Slum Village passed away Saturday and it has affected me harder than I would have expected. Normally the death of a musician doesn't really upset me. I don't really know these people, no matter how much I like their music. But Slum Village was my favorite Hip-Hop group out of Detroit. I remember my friend Cedric giving me a copy of their their first album, Fantastic Vol. 1, and I played that tape everyday. I hung out every Friday night at a club called St. Andrew's in downtown Detroit. The Friday night DJ was Houseshoes but it was no big deal for J-Dilla (back then we still called him Jay Dee) of Slum Village to come sit in on a couple of sets. I even remember bumping into Baatin a couple of times while I was dancing. Then in 1998, Jay Dee was making music for A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde and to the amazement of us all who remember that era, Janet Jackson. One of our own had made it and made it big. Eminem was a regular figure of St. Andrew's around that time too and there was a lot of talk about Em working with Dr. Dre. So we all just knew Slum Village was next in line since Jay Dee was a member of the group. Fantastic Vol. 2 drops and I pack my bags and head to Georgia. Em got huge. J-Dilla became a legend and Slum Village was always one of the most under rated groups in Hip-Hop.
This past weekend while riding to Savannah, Kelly Sugar asked me what I wanted to listen to as we were switching CDs and I cheekily asked her if she had Slum Village's Fantastic Vol. 2, knowing she didn't have it. She, being just as much of a smart ass as I am, responded, "No, I only have Vol. 1." So in a mock surprised voice I tell her, "Is that so? I didn't know Vol.1 existed on CD. I have only seen it on cassette." Well that had me thinking about that album all weekend. When I got home I looked it up and it was recently released on CD. So I have been listening to the songs and reminiscing all week long.
Then the news dropped. Baatin had died. This wouldn't be so bad but just last week I was having a Jay Dee moment and I even posted on Facebook how much I miss his music even though he seems to still be everywhere (you see, Dilla passed on about 2 years ago). So as I sit here and write the first round commentary, I am playing a little tribute to Slum Village and J-Dilla. To the remaining members of Slum V, T3 and Elzhi, hold tight. And here's a little music for you to check out. Baatin. And a classical interpretation of one of Slum Village's instrumentals (and my favorite) by J-Dilla. Yeah, they were just that good that even classically trained artists feel the need to cover them. May your mighty spirits live on in every creative DJ, producer, rapper and musician.

So here we are. Tournament #7. Cosmopolitan Cities. Yeah, places I've been and places I intend to go and even a few places I want to live one day. This tournament I purposely set it up so that in the final we will have a Eastern Hemisphere vs Western Hemisphere battle. I personally think the Eastern Hemisphere is much stronger. Will thinks it is ridiculous to have Macon up against Los Angeles and I agree. However, this is a chance for me to tell the world all about what Macon has to offer!! ... I'm serious. Don't look at me like that.
So let's do it!

#1s vs #8s
New York vs Detroit -
You ever heard of New York? It's a nice little town on the east coast of the United States. If you find yourself there, you should check out this quaint little street called Broadway. You can find some really good theater on and around this street if you look hard enough. No really, we all know about New York. There is all kinds of music, theater, fashion, restaurants. From the more than you can ever afford to the next to nothing diamond in the rough, you can find it in New York. What more do I really have to say about New York in the first Round? Now Detroit. hometown. The city is looking at rough times, but I'll tell you what, there are no people like Detroiters. Detroit is home to Hitsville, USA also known as Motown. Yeah, say what you want about US automakers but you know you still love to look at old cars. The cars from the 50s, 60s and 70s were amazing vehicles and we celebrate them every year with a festival called The Dream Cruise. The Detroit Institute of Arts houses some of the most beautiful art from centuries past and today. Our restaurants are amazing because there are so many different people from all over the world living in the Detroit area. In Hamtramck, you can find great Polish cuisine. Hit the Southwest side of Detroit and get some of the best Latin American food anywhere in the United States. There's wonderful Middle Eastern and Greek cuisine all over the city. The list of different types of food is endless. Even through the hard times, Detroit is full of culture and entertainment and a great place to spend a little time for those brave enough to dare. You'll find that the city is not as bad as our reputation makes us seem. My vote goes to Detroit.

Los Angeles vs Macon - Los Angeles. Home of Hollywood. I hear they make movies there. They have a few other things to share too. From shopping to beaches, great nightlife to great wine, medicinal marijuana to art, you aren't going to run out of things to do in L.A. Macon, Georgia. This is a city full of a rich musical history. Otis Redding was born and raised here. The Allman Brothers got their start here. Little Richard was from here. Member's of R.E.M. spent their teen years here. This was the home of Capricorn Records. Macon didn't play when it came to music, and we still don't. We're home of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. We are also home of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. We just finished our summer music festival, Bragg Jam, and it was a huge success. Macon may be small but it's looking better everyday, doesn't it Maconites? But sad to say, L.A. gets my vote.

London vs Seoul - We all know London is a popping and thriving city. It's got great music, great historical sites, beautiful old architecture. There are people living there from all over the world so there are so many different types of culture to sample. It is as true of a cosmopolitan city as they come. Seoul is a jumping city. The city has a population of about 10 million people. You know with 10 million people there, there is great entertainment and great shopping. And the city is beautiful at night. Seoul I intend to come visit you one day but for now, my vote goes to London.

Paris vs Lisbon - This is almost no fair having Paris in the game. I mean come on, Paris has the Louvre! There's art just all over the streets of Paris. The architecture is so beautiful the whole city is a work of art itself making it the perfect place to fall in love. And millions have. Lisbon is the capitol city of Portugal and lord-a-mercy what a beautiful city. It sits on the coast and has beautiful beaches. Lisbon, I hear you calling me. I would love to come spend a summer with you but the lure of Paris's art got to me first. My vote goes to Paris.

#2 vs #7
Toronto vs Lima -
You can find everything in Toronto. Toronto is full of Caribbean people so they have a huge festival every year called Caribana. Beautiful parades with bright pretty costumes. Good music. Great food everywhere and whoa ho ho...beautiful ladies. But that's not all, Toronto has a reputation for being one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world so you know what that says for a night on the town? You can sample a little bit of everything. Now that's my kind of party. You can be eating authentic Asian one minute and meringue dancing then next. Lima is the capitol city of Peru. Here's another city that just wants to be as beautiful as possible. Let's sit on the coast so we have water and then put this nice thriving city with great old buildings coupled with new architecture between the ocean and a backdrop of mountains. Think the people will go for that? I know I would. Normally I am all about all things South American but this time my vote goes to Toronto.

Miami vs Mexico City - Miami is nightlife central. If you love nightclubs and good DJs like I do, this is where you want to be. Each year Miami hosts the Winter Music Conference and DJs and record labels from all around the world converge to celebrate, promote, and indulge in the best that dance music has to offer. And hell that's just the winter! There are miles of beaches to enjoy in the summer. Miami is really what I think of when I think of a cosmopolitan city. Exotic cars, food, drinks and women all accented by city lights and to the hum of great music. Mexico City is huge dude!! There's almost 9 million people living in that city! This is the home of Frida Kahlo and Deigo Rivera so you know the city must be some kind of beautiful to inspire such artists. Well, it is. The buildings are magnificent. One of the craziest things about this city to me is that most major cities sit on water of some kind. They became big cities because the waters opened them up to trade. There is no water around Mexico City. Once upon a time there was Lake Texcoco but it drained away in the 17th Century. As great of a city as I think Mexico city is, with all of its rich history, I have to go for superficial indulgence here and vote for Miami.

Amsterdam vs Oslo - Come on. We all know why we love Amsterdam. How can you not love a city that is that open minded. But all of that stuff is so obvious, I don't even want to talk about it. That's too easy to sell it on. I tell my friends all the time that I want to go to Amsterdam because I want to go to the museums. NO!! Not that one! This kind of museum. There is such great art to see in Amsterdam. There are also great canals throughout the city. I see a trip in my near future. Time to put that passport to work. Any pretty ladies interested in joining me please drop me an email. Oslo is in Norway and I want to go to Oslo if for nothing more than so I can go here. What man in his right mind wouldn't want to go see that? And this is pretty cool. But my vote goes to Amsterdam and you all know why.

Tokyo vs Delhi - I have never been to Tokyo but I love it already. There is so much going on there. There is an ancient history. A deep sense of honor and respect. There is fantastic technology. Beautiful plant life. And on top of it all they have a deep love and understanding for music. I would love to go DJ in Japan. I'm sure I could rock the crowd. Delhi is full of the most interesting looking buildings I have ever seen I swear. I don't know if I'd ever do anything in this city but look at the buildings. My vote goes to Tokyo.

#3s vs #6s
Atlanta vs Montreal -
You know what Atlanta has? The Center for Puppetry Arts. Yeah I know there's plenty of shopping and partying and great restaurants but to hell with all that. There is a whole museum dedicated to puppets in Atlanta. The gods must love me! Montreal. Wow. Look at that skyline. And peep the area they call Old Montreal. Oh Montreal, you get my vote.

#4s vs #5s
Austin vs Vancouver - Austin is the place to be in the United States right now. It bills itself as the live music capitol of the world and that is not a bad title for Austin. Austin's South By Southwest has become one of the music, film, and technology industries' most important events. And to top it all off, Austin is just a beautiful city. You know Vancouver is banging, its going to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. Another beautiful city. Look at that skyline! Snow capped mountains, a vibrant downtown and water. Can it get any better? Yes it can. Vancouver is full of surprises to see and do.

You all are going to have to forgive me. I have to run out and I probably won't be back until almost 10pm so I won't finish today's update. So if any of you have anything you can add about the cities I didn't get to mention, please feel free. I'll see you tomorrow.


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