Friday, June 24, 2011

Concert Review – R. Kelly Love Letter Tour – St. Louis, MO

Last Friday The Love Letter tour graced St. Louis with its presence. I had never seen R. Kelly in concert before and never cared to see him either but my co-worker kept suggesting that I go. One of my new years resolutions was to have more fun and get out the house more, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to enjoy some good music and just kick it with my co-worker and her people.

Marsha Ambrosiss (I’m sure I misspelled her last name). But the chick from Floetry that lost a tone of weight, she looks like a different person, she looks good though. I absolutely loved Floetry so I was pretty siked about seeing her perform. Her set up is pretty basic she has a stair case on stage but they are never used she just suddenly appears. No I take that back I was at the concession stand when she came on so I’m not really sure how she made her appearance. Anyway, she had an electric keyboard and DJ and a drummer on stage with her. Like I said she lost a ton of weight and she was rocking her booty shorts and doing some small dance moves. I was very disappointed that she did not sing any of the songs she did when she was with Floetry. If she did she did not sing the original version but some other rendition of the songs. She sounded like herself for the most part but she also sounded slightly out of breath at times. I’m not sure if she is not accustomed to performing by herself or working a huge arena. With time I think she can conquer that issue. She cursed a bit too much for my taste at times, but it was all in fun. She sang a few cuts off her new CD and then began to sing some old school songs from other artist. I would give her performance 2 out of 5 stars. If she is not going to sing the Floetry stuff, she needs a little more material because I was bored towards the end of her performance and started texting my man to see what he was doing at home.

Next was Keisha Cole. They kept the same stair case they had for Marsha show but added a backdrop that looked like a semi professional air brush artist painted. She had 4 dancers, a drummer and guitarist on stage with her. First let me say you may want to take this review with a grain of salt because I am not that crazy about Keisha Cole. She actually used the steps and descended down the steps. She rocked her booty shorts with some thigh high snake skinned boots and a nice shirt. She attempted a few dance moves with the dancers but it was clear that dancing is not really her forte. Her voice sounded just like her CD….not much variation. But let me add that she was lip singing some of the time. Occasionally she would take a break to sip on some water to sooth her singing voice while the taped part of the song continued to sing. She reminded the crowd that she was now a wife and a mother. The audience loved her top hits like Love, Should Have Cheated, Let It Go, ect. I would give her 2.5 out of 5 star. I would have liked to hear her actual singing voice

Finally R Kelly came on the stage. His stage was set up like a bar and a small city. He even had part of the stage go out into the audience. He wore a nice black suit with a silk read scarf. He started his show with a mini movie in black and white. In the movie he was a black Humphry Bogart when the mini movie ended he was on stage sitting at the same bar he was in the movie. He had a full band and four dancers. He was on stage for two hours. Of course he has enough material to do that, but I forgot how much I liked him. He took us back to the 90’s to the new millennium. I suddenly remembered how I used to kick it with my friends with R. Kelly going in the background. He was a great entertainer and engaged the audience at all times. He even spent time out in the thick of the audience; he performed at least 4 songs in the audience. His dancers were no joke, if you didn’t know better you would think you were at the strip club. He was excellent to see live. I give him 4 out of 5 stars.

Next concert review will be Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton and Mint Condition coming to the Lou 8/4/2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Tupac

I loved him then... I love him now. Oh how I miss your music!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Elmer Gerard “Geronimo” Pratt

Let us remember one of our own. Elmer Gerard “Geronimo” Pratt. How many men do you know are willing to sacrifice their freedom and live for a cause they believe in? I personally don’t know very many. Geronimo represents the fighter gene in the DNA of African Americans. The fight that was bred in us when were living out our lives in Africa. The fight that has since started to die a slow steady death. Now it has been replaced with sagging pants, misogynistic lyrical content, hood rats, high drop out rates, staggering rates of incarceration, single mothers and serious black on black violence. If was born during the time of the Black Panther movement I would’ve been right in the thick of it.

But like many other political fractions the Black Panther party allowed power and outside influences to be their demise. But for awhile they grabbed the bull by the horn and started to take control of their schools and neighborhoods. Did y’all know that Geronimo was Tupac’s god father………how awesome is that. I would have loved to have all that knowledge and revolutionary spirit around me.

If you want a brief history lesson read about our brother Geronimo below. Trust me it’s worth it. Of course I’ve added my own commentary.

In 1968, five of his siblings were living in Los Angeles, and they convinced Pratt to enroll at UCLA, which had initiated a "High Potential Program" intended to help minorities pursue a college education. That fall, Pratt began to attend classes at the Westwood campus. There, he met Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter, ( Is it me or did you have to have a cool nick name to join the Black Panthers) who had also grown up in Louisiana and was one of the original members of the Black Panther Party--a group that Pratt soon joined. It was Carter who gave Pratt the nickname "Geronimo," to honor his fierce commitment to the party. "Being fresh from Vietnam, plus being from the South, opened my eyes to a lot of things," Pratt was quoted as saying in Race and Class Magazine.

After Carter and another Panther leader were killed by a rival organization, Pratt was quickly promoted in the party hierarchy. By 1969, at age 22, he had become the party's deputy minister of defense--bypassing 36-year-old Panther Julius Butler, and causing a rivalry between them. That rivalry would become important later, when Butler became a key prosecution witness in Pratt's murder trial.
As defense minister, Pratt got into trouble with the law several times over the next few years: he was arrested for possessing a pipe bomb and for assault with a deadly weapon, though neither charge stuck. In late 1969, he was ordered by Huey Newton to "go underground" to build a "revolutionary infrastructure" in the Deep South. Pratt spent the rest of that year travelling around Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas, gathering weapons and fortifications for Newton's latest directive for the party: a separate nation for blacks.
By 1970, Pratt was under surveillance by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Attorney's Office. Although it wasn't known at the time, both offices were in contact with the FBI; according to FBI documents released in the late seventies, Pratt was one of the "key black extremists" that the FBI wanted to "neutralize

On December 8, 1970, Pratt was arrested in Dallas, Texas, and extradited back to California, charged with involvement in a 1969 shootout. Later, he was indicted as one of the two suspects in the unsolved "tennis court murder." Two years earlier, on December 18, 1968, Caroline Olsen and her husband, Kenneth Olsen, were about to begin a game of tennis on a Santa Monica court when two men, described as black and in their twenties, robbed them at gunpoint. During the bungled robbery, which netted just $18, Caroline Olsen was shot to death and Kenneth Olsen was wounded.
"At the time that I was indicted, it was just another charge that they threw in to maintain a no-bail situation...," Pratt told Race and Class Magazine in 1992. "Eventually, it became more and more obvious to us that the murder charge was something that they were really going to try and press."

It was something that they were really going to try and press."
Pratt contended he was at a Black Panther meeting in Oakland, 400 miles away, the night of the shooting; but his alibi was substantially weakened when many high-ranking Panthers refused to confirm it. By 1970, the party was split by a bitter feud which would eventually destroy it. On one side were Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, who renounced violence; on the other were Eldridge Cleaver and his followers--including Pratt--who favored more militant methods. While Eldridge Cleaver's wife, Kathleen Cleaver, and two other Panthers testified in support of Pratt, Huey Newton ordered members of his faction not to testify at the trial. More damaging piece testimony came from Kenneth Olsen, who identified Pratt as the killer.

The final piece of evidence came from Pratt's rival, Julius Butler, who testified that Pratt had confessed the murder to him. Days after Pratt had expelled him from the Panthers in 1969, Butler gave a contact at the Los Angeles Police Department an "insurance letter," to be opened only if he were killed. In the letter, Butler implicated Pratt in the unsolved murder--the first time Pratt had been tied to the crime. Later, allegedly under pressure from the FBI, Butler authorized the LAPD to open the letter.

Between the unconfirmed alibi, positive identification, and alleged confession--which Pratt denied to no avail--the prosecution's case was convincing. At the end of the 1972 trial, Pratt was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison

In 1976 in November Pratt’s wife Sandra, eight months pregnant, was murdered – shot five times at point blank range and dumped alongside an LA freeway (perhaps by US militants – the murder was never seriously investigated)., he married Asahki Ji Jaga; his first wife, Sandra, had been murdered in 1971 by the Newton faction of the Black Panther Party.

Pratt spent the first eight years of his sentence at San Quentin, in solitary confinement; but after Amnesty International took up his case, a jury determined that keeping him in solitary confinement was illegal. Several years later, he was transferred to Folsom. By the time he was finally released, Pratt was being held in Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Amador County, California. In his 27 years in prison, Pratt was turned down for parole 16 times, because he refused to admit guilt or renounce his politics.

Shortly after Pratt was jailed, the case against him began to unravel. First, it came to light that Kenneth Olsen had originally chosen another man out of a police line-up. In his sworn testimony, Olsen had claimed that he had positively identified only one suspect--Geronimo Pratt.

Next, the FBI's role in Pratt's conviction came to light. In 1975, a congressional committee released its explosive findings about the FBI's covert counter-intelligence program, COINTELPRO. During the sixties and seventies, the agency deliberately tried to disrupt political groups that it deemed too radical--authorizing illegal phone taps and IRS audits, using informants, and trying to cause dissension within the groups. By 1968, the committee discovered, the Panthers were COINTELPRO's primary target; FBI documents explicitly called for Pratt, along with other leaders, to be "neutralized."
The most significant piece of evidence, however, surfaced in 1980. According to FBI documents, the key prosecution witness, Julius Butler, had acted as an FBI informant--and had denied it under oath during Pratt's original trial. During the trial, neither jurors nor defense attorneys were told of any FBI involvement in the case.
And finally, after Huey Newton's death in 1989, six Panthers came forward to testify that Pratt had indeed been present at the 1968 meeting in Oakland. "It has been on my mind all of these years that I should have testified," Bobby
March 1996 hearing, his case had become a cause drawing support from Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, several members of Congress, Coretta Scott King, and Nelson Mandela. Even members of the original jury that convicted Pratt had joined his defense

On June 10, 1997, in front of a courtroom packed with 1960s activists, Judge Dickey ordered Pratt to be released on $25,000 bail. He had spent 27 years behind bars. "It's the most satisfying victory in my career," Cochran was quoted as saying in Jet. "I've been fighting for this for 25 years."
Pratt was released in time to watch his son, Hiroji, go through his eighth-grade graduation ceremony. Later, he returned to Louisiana to see his 94-year-old mother, Eunice Petty Pratt, whom he had not seen since 1974.
Pratt's stood completely vindicated when in 2000 the city of Los Angeles agreed to pay $2.75 million and the U.S. Department of Justice $1.75 million to settle a lawsuit for false imprisonment and violations of his civil rights. As Pratt's lawyer, Johnny Cochran, told reporters, "This case shows that you can fight city hall and win."

Geronimo passed away on Thursday, June 3, 20011, at age 63 in Tanzania. Pratt has lived in a small village in the country f

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dark Skinned Blues

Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

I originally watched this video on Let me just say I was devestaed and hurt as I listened to the women. I am a dark-skinned woman… no I am not mocha brown, light brown I am dark. Today I have no problem with my complexion but I have not always had the self esteem that I have today. Most of the people in my family are of a lighter skin tone and I have been called everything from darkie, African bootie scratcher, blackie packy, black and beautiful, black satin ect…. Really, I have heard it ALL. Yes it was hurtful, but one day it just didn’t matter anymore. One day it just made sense for me to accept me, I’m not sure if people stop making fun of me or if I just didn’t give a damn anymore.

What is so funny is now I date a guy who loves my dark skin. Honey ….he is always saying how beautifully dark my skin is and how it is becoming. At first it was weird to hear a black man telling me how beautiful my skin was. I am well over 30 and this is the first time in my entire life that a man (other that my dad, or other men in my family) told me that part of his attraction to me was my skin tone.