Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To Tell the Truth

One of my biggest pet peeves is irresponsible journalism. So many newspapers and news services are guilty of the practice on regular basis. Some of it stems from the rush to make sure their product is sold, no matter what it takes. Another explanation probably comes from a personal dislike for the particular subject/person, which then clouds any form of professionalism. The rest of it lies in sheer ignorance. Ignorance was in full bloom Monday morning on ABC's "Good Morning America" and several other media outlets labeled Brown as a "rapper" and the "bad boy of rap". Excuse me, but I thought Bobby Brown was the "Kang of Rrrr-ra and Bee"?

I always find it interesting how mainstream media somehow finds a way to associate rap with seemingly every problem of the world today. Ok, I know its a LOT of utter trash out there... some of that stuff makes ME wanna go Van Gogh and cut off my ear or something. Anyway, I know Bobby Brown has been by NO MEANS a saint during his career. But to actually call him a "rapper" is a clear indication of what "they" really feel about rap and hip hop, in general. Also apparent in all of this is image clearly means everything, regardless of the product. A good PR machine can expand longevity many years beyond actual physical existence. An bad one or an ineffective one will cast you in several sterotypes and controversy for years.

For those that don't know, Bobby Brown was a member of widely successful R&B group named New Edition. After being kicked out of the group for questionable behavior on AND off stage, he went on to an even more successful solo singing career. Did Bobby "attempt" to rap on a song or two here and there? Certainly. But so did Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Teena Marie, and Montell Jordan. I don't think any of them could ever be mistaken for "rappers", especially with Montell Jordan saying things like "every since I was a lowercase g" or Madonna talking about "drinking a Soy latte", or "doing yoga and pilates". Laughable.

With all that being said, Bobby Brown shouldn't be blamed for Whitney Houston's death. Not only did she have her own set of problems before they married in 1992, they separated in 2006 and divorced in 2007. Yes, they had a tumultuous relationship. Clearly. But to place the fault on him for her unfortunate death is insane. One thing I'll say is I've yet to see the media flat out place that blame on him... but of course, delusional fans worldwide will accept that as fact and theory.

Like many other Hollywood celebrities and entertainers, they both had problems. Major life-altering problems and life-threatning problems. But to sit back and paint Houston as an angel and Brown as the devil is absolutely absurd. Her death is tragic. Any human death is tragic. That reality is something that Brown may not get over for quite sometime, especially with the mental and physical state of their daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who was rushed to the hospital as a result of the news of her mother (she's also had her well-documented issues, as well). And don't forget Bobby lost both of his parents in less than a year. I can only imagine what he's going through right now. Amazing he's even still alive, to be honest.

Understand this is not a plea or an attempt to reward him a medal, trophy, or plaque for good behavior. I'd just like to see stories reported with truth and a little more integrity. Instead of sensationalizing a story and placing undeserved blame, stick to the facts. I'm sure they probably had a genuine love for each other but realized the actual relationship was too much to deal with... so they divorced. They both entered the relationship with their own personal baggage and definitely picked up some more along the way. But they both moved on. I think we should, too.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Death is Certain

"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone"...

Those are a couple of bars from the ultra-famous tune by Joni Mitchell, "Big Yellow Taxi". On Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, those words never rang truer for me, as I experienced the loss of my father, Augustus Greenleaf. "Gus G" (or Daddy Gus, as I've heard some others call him) passed away at the age of 77. Cancer was the cause, as it attacked his liver, lungs, colon, bladder, and kidney.

Honestly, his passing was s'thing I prepared myself for several years ago. He suffered a severe stroke less than 10 years ago... and that's when I saw the changes coming. The little things he used to do like watching "Looney Tunes" and "Tom & Jerry" everyday, going to the spa, and reading the Sports section all changed. Dates and numbers he would be able to recite easily... gone. But the thing that let me know my Dad wouldn't be with me to much longer is when he gave me his collection of jazz tapes. I ain't talkin' that bs smooth jazz crap that we both loathe so much. I'm talkin' about classic material like Bobby Timmons, Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, Ahmad Jamal, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, Yusef Lateef, Lee Morgan, and my favorite musician of all time in any genre... 'Trane. My Dad played music around me all my life. But it was something about the jazz, man.

Jazz and sports were our main connections. The jazz was heavier, though. It spoke to our soul. I remember many days he'd call me and see if I was listening to the Ed Love show WDET 101.9FM. Or how he'd call me and read off the list of tapes he wanted to go buy at Dearborn Music. He'd come pick me up just for the experience. After the purchase, he'd excitedly rip open the packaging and put the tape in before he put the car in drive. Once the tape got goin', he'd use the dashboard as an imaginary piano. I'd just shake me head and laugh knowin' damn well I was as into it as he was. Those are the memories of my Dad I'll remember the most.

I prepared myself for this day a long time ago. But until it happened, I never really know how I'd feel. I still don't know. Feb. 6, 2012 at 5:13 am was the beginning of his transition and probably the beginning of my transformation. The timing of it was so odd, considering I've been in the midst of planning a tribute to my good friend and music associate Titus "Baatin" Glover, who passed away in 2009. Add to that the fact my Dad's funeral is the same day as the soon-to-be legendary "Dilla Day" in Detroit, which honors the incredible producer/emcee/composer James Yancey. But the fact that those events are shaped around my Dad's passing push his transition closer to the forefront. It magnifies everything I've done and everything I'm about to do. Even still, I'm praying for strength and guidance because honestly... when the music stops I have no idea how I'm gonna feel. Now synchronizing headphones and pushing play....