Let These ‘Coming To America’ Quotes ‘Tear You Apart’ With Laughter

riquespeaks:

Hands down “Coming to America” is as close as I Get to having a favorite movie, from what I feel is the peak of Murphy’s career. Here’s a list that will get you laughing.

Originally posted on UPROXX:

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Eddie Murphy shot to fame as a teenager on Saturday Night Live and solidified his hold on our attention thanks to 48 Hours and Beverly Hills Cop, but while those films are iconic kickstarts to the action-comedy genre, it’s possible that you may view Coming to America as Murphy’s best. Filled to the brim with hilarious characters (many of which were played by Murphy and co-star Arsenio Hall) and a fish out of water story about a prince who comes to New York in search of love and a normal life, Coming to America also possesses that rare thing among comedies — it holds up upon repeat viewings. Which makes it infinitely quotable.

“The royal penis is clean, your Highness.” – Bather

The opening scene of Coming to America does a good job of establishing just how wealthy and powerful Akeem’s family really is. They’re so privileged that…

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Music for the Next ONE 7/25/15 : “Them Changes” by Thundercat

For the second straight week, our weekend New Funk song contains musical elements from the work of The Isley Brothers. Last week it was a straight up cover of “That Lady” serving as the basis for Kendrick Lamar’s “i.” This time, it’s a fresh re interpretation of The Isley’s sound from LA bassist Thundercat. Thundercat is a part of the burgeoning LA new music scene that gave Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” it’s rich, historical Black Music sound bed. “Them Changes”, today’s feature, is produced by frequent Thundercat collaborator, Flying Lotus. Flying Lotus also plays keyboards on the track. The song itself is a grooving, laid back psychedelic funk jam for Thundercat to spin his tale of romantic anguish over.

The song begins with one of the most instantly recognizable drum motifs in popular music, a sample of Ernie Isley’s well recorded, slow and funky, simple one two kick-snare, with half swing/half-straight eighth and sixteenth note hi hats drum beat that leads off The Isley’s classic infidelity groove ballad “Footsteps in the Dark.” The sample plays for two whole measures until it’s joined by Thundercat’s kaleidoscope bass. He plays on a six string Bass guitar, which allows him to lay down funky lowdown basslines, medium register single note syncopated guitar parts, and hold guitar like chords all at the same time. He’s also very fond of bass filters. Here, he has a thick filter on his bass, reminiscent of the Isley’s late bassist, Marvin. So over the “Footsteps in the Dark” drumbeat, he gives u a nasty growling bassline in the vein of Isley’s funk classics such as “The Pride.” The result is one of the best nods my head has enjoyed in a good while!

The verse begins with a COLD opening line: “Nobody move/there’s blood on the floor/and I can’t find my heart!” Thundercat sings in a high fragile voice reminiscent of Shuggie Otis, processed it would seem with chorus effect. He goes on to tell a disappointing love story in two concise verses of lyrics. The lyrics contain vivid imagery, such as this nugget, “Why in the world/would I give my heart to you?/Just to watch you throw it in the trash?” When Thundercat extends his lost heart story to the line “It must’ve fell when I lost my mind”, Producer Flying Lotus comes in with fairly busy piano chords that help fill in the groove, but sit back in the sound picture so they do not become too overbearing. More quacking, filtered wah wah lines are added to beef up the track. The song soon hits a mellow, sweet break with Thundercat crooning “oohs” and “aahs.” The texture of the pretty section reminds you of the type of singing break Stevie Wonder would write into one of his songs, while the harmonies themselves hit an Earth, Wind & Fire vibe on the triumphant “Ahs.”

After that pretty break the deep groove returns as Thundercat delivers the next verse. He uses a higher falsetto to increase the intensity, while also harmonizing some lines. He closes his verse on the line, “Now I’m sitting here/with a black hole in my chest/a heartless, broken mess.” He then sings and moans his “oohs and aah’s”, as if that’s all he could muster with the great pain he’s in. Kamasi Washington plays a texture solo that sits waaaay back in the mix and the band fades out sounding as if it had a hell of a lot more to say!

“Them Changes” hits me on several levels. For one the title reminds me of Buddy Miles smash hit by the same name, and I’ve always loved the old black slang expression “going through changes.” That phrase was one that came over from jazz music, whose songs usually feature a lot of chord changes, and a music in which matching chords to notes in real time represents part of the difficulty. I also love the “Footsteps in the Dark” drums, and the way Thundercat and Flying Lotus build a new song over it, while still containing some feel and vibe from The Isley’s musical styles. The song is a perfect one for lazy summer evenings. I’m also excited about the progress of Thundercat, because it’s been a long time since music in general and Black music in particular have had a star vocalist-bassist in the mold of Bootsy Collins, Larry Graham and Stanley Clarke. Everybody involved did great jobs here as they did on the rest of Thundercats new album, “The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam.” And I’m definitely looking forward to new music from this new bass hero!

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Music for the Next ONE 7/18/15 : “i” by Kendrick Lamar

As Hip Hop moved away from what some call “The Sampledelic Age”, when producers like The Bomb Squad, Prince Paul, Marley Marl and Dr. Dre would layer songs with a drumbeat from here, bass from there, guitar and keyboard hooks from this record, vocals from that record, songs from the legendary group The Isley Brothers began to yield some of the biggest results for beat samples and song remakes. This includes records such as “Today Was A Good day” by Ice Cube, “Big Poppa” by The Notorious B.I.G, “Crossroads” by Bone Thugs N Harmony, and “At Your Best You Are Love” by Aaliyah. The past 15 years in Hip Hop have seen a moving away from samples, as well as a moving away from soul, funk, and traditional forms of Black Music. Something else the music and culture has lacked is artists to pick up the crown worn in the past, the crown of encouragement, motivation and cultural value through music. With today’s weekend funk feature, “i”, Kendrick Lamar accomplished both the reinvigoration of a classic funk/soul sound through hip hop, as well as delivering the type of universal message music the people need.

“i”, produced by L.A producer Rahki and featuring Butcher Brown guitarist Keith Askey, dispenses with samples all together to recreate The Isley’s classic, “That Lady.” Interpolations, or re created cover versions, were a staple of early hip hop, providing the basis for early classics such as “Rappers Delight” and “Beat Bop.” Lamar made the wise creative choice to interpolate rather than sample “That Lady.” The music to the Isley’s classic song sounds reinvigorated as a result, and Rahki uses skillful hip hop oriented production techniques to highlight basslines, guitar parts, and percussion, revealing the intricacy of the original composition as well as the recording musicians performances.

The song begins with the classic “That Lady” intro, a guitar strumming groove over three straight eight note kick drums that sound like heartbeats. Lamar begins in a very heartfelt matter, “I done been through a whole lot/trial, tribulation, but I know God.” As Lamar goes through his verse, rapped in his trademark technique of alternating vocal tones, Askey fires up the lead guitar, exactly as Ernie Isley did. The verse is timed so that as soon as Lamar ends his verse, the hook begins, which also brings in the classic busy funk/calypso bass line, eighth note rock/funk drumming, and classic overdriven lead guitar. It’s to great musical effect that the super powerful chorus “I love myself” is tied to the explosive rhythm arrangement of “That Lady.” Lamar and Rahki solve the challenge of fitting rap lyrics into a busy funk arrangement, setting Kendrick’s raps over a relatively subdued section of the music and the inspirational chorus over Askey’s interpretation of Isley’s soaring guitar. In particular I like the musical section arranged for the last verse, with the bass improvising a busy sixteenth note line, and a drum machine being utilized with sharp horn stabs. The song flows out with busy military style drumming and a fine sixteenth note oriented bass guitar solo.

The throne of relevancy in black music has sat vacant for a very long time. The throne once sat artists such as Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, The O’Jays, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, Earth, Wind & Fire, and P-Funk. Not to mention hip hop entities such as Public Enemy, BDP, Nas, Tupac, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Lauryn Hill. The throne and crown that goes with it of an artist making music that is both funky and musically appealing, while also relevant in its spirituality, humanism, and value for human living. Kendrick acknowledges those links by including funk icons George Clinton and Ron Isley in the video for “I”, as well as asking Isley’s permission in person to use the song before he recorded it. Nelson George wrote once that Hip Hop starts with the word “I”, positioning Hip Hop music as a Muhammed Ali influenced exercise in black self esteem, pride and redemption. Even when the message isn’t there, Hip Hop always has that value by nature. Kendrick Lamar writes his “i” in lower case letters, just as bell hooks writes her name, to emphasize the individual’s connection to other individuals. And that self love should translate into love for ones neighbors, community, nation and world. He goes back to the rousing spirit, Afro-Latin dance funk of “That Lady” because in the black community that ’70s funk, long before there was a thing such as crack cocaine, represents hope, optimism, peace, love, and having fun, as James Brown and Afrika Baambaata put it. Looking at YouTube comments, some youngsters didn’t get it, mainly because they’ve been raised on a steady diet of Playstation music. But there were many things I didn’t get when I was younger either. In the end, I still vote for “i” as the new Millennium Hip Hop version of “The Greatest Love of All”, “Wake Up Everybody” and “Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now.” The new link in a long chain of hope, resilience, and freedom. All Hail King Kendrick!

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Quick Thoughts on Chuck Brown UnSung

Washington D.C Go-Go music has always fascinated me. It’s amazing to me that in the 1980s, while New York D.Js and producers were making records off records, Miami, L.A and Detroit musicians were making music with drum machines and synths, and Prince and his comrades in Minneapolis were paring their funk down to the essentials, there was a full live band funk sound flourishing in Washington D.C. This sound was also probably one of the most Afrocentric musical offshoots that ever existed in the northern hemisphere as well, featuring long extended dance jams, with percolating percussion and soulful party chants on top. And to top it off, the DMV area seemed strong enough for these live bands to make a living and sustain themselves with recording and live shows without really making too much noise in the rest of the country. That said something to me about the strength of the black community in D.C, Maryland and Virginia. The late Chuck Brown was the undisputed father of Go-Go music and the UnSung episode based on his life was a good introduction to his work. What took the episode a little bit further was it also attempted to provide an introduction to the whole D.C Go-Go scene as well.

One moment that was captured on camera that was important for musicologist purposes was to have Chuck Brown tell the story of how the Grover Washington Jr classic “Mr. Magic”, with a drum beat played by legendary studio drummer Harvey Mason, provided the original inspiration for the Go-Go beat. The episode had various D.C community and political figures such as Mayor Marion Berry talking about the social forces in Washington D.C that helped create the spawning ground for Go-Go music. The negative side of those conditions predominated on the Island Records film that was intended to take the music national. That film ended up being one that focused on crime more than the music, which made it hard for the music to thrive.

Spike Lee comes off good here as the loving chronicler of Black American culture that he has been through his career. The music and scene were shown in a negative light in the “Good to Go” film, but got some of it’s highest and most positive exposure ever came from the “Pajama Jam” scene in Lee’s “School Daze.” D.C band E.U collaborated with Spike on the title and dance, and super bassist and producer Marcus Miller for the classic, “Da Butt”, one of the biggest Hits in the music’s history, right alongside Chuck Brown’s “Bustin Loose.”

The episode ends with scenes from the current bands keeping Go-Go music alive today. One thing people forget, when they view Go-Go music as an isolated anomaly belonging solely in the DMV, is how vital it has been to the rest of Black music. Go-Go music was a live funk band sound thriving in the 1980s era of sampling and Hip Hop. From the beginning, it was a fresh, contemporary source of sounds for Hip Hop, with Trouble Funk’s classic record, “Drop the Bomb” being one of the most heavily sampled records of its day. There was something about the slow, percussion heavy Go-Go beats that were as ideal for rapping over as any music that’s ever been created. The list of Hip Hop songs made with Go-Go in mind goes on and on, from Big Daddy Kane’s “I get the Job Done”, to Kid N Play’s “Rollin with Kid n Play”, from Public Enemy’s “Rightstarter”, to Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” to a bonafide Hip Hop classic like Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick’s “The Show.” “The Show” of course had musical contributions from Teddy Riley, who had that unique DMV flavor in his music from the beginning. Of course, New Jack Swing basically gets it’s rhythmic juice from Go-Go’s funky, shuffling, jazzy slow funk feel. That feel was taken by Riley to records as big as Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous.” The episode also touched on what Jill Scott did for the music when she recorded “It’s Love” with D.C Go-Go figures. I could go on and on but I’m really happy the music got some shine here because it’s really been one of the best things going for a long time. When Chuck Brown gets to chanting and rapping over a 15 minute groove he reaches a deep African place like Fela Kuti on his extended Afro beat suites. James Brown occasionally touched that on records like “Doin it to Death” and “Time is Running out Fast”, and George Clinton definitely used to reach it on stage, but that was Chuck Brown’s basic mode of musical expression! For bringing that level of culture and roots to a popular musical form, Chuck Brown and the Go-Go bands still going today are worthy of all the praise and support we can give them and then some!

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Music for the Next ONE 7/11/15 : “Chocolate” by The Time

“Chocolate” is an incredibly unreconstructed, in your face Funk song considering it’s release date, 1990. By the dawn of the ’90s any funk band either fortunate enough to still have a major label contract or soldering on bravely on independent labels, were generally trying to incorporate pre programmed, shuffling, skipping New Jack swing drum beats and digital keyboard bass in an effort to keep up with the contemporary march of R&B. Great hip hop producers like Marley Marl, Dr. Dre, The Bomb Squad and others had made the original funk sounds, sampled bit by bit, the standard in black music already by 1990. It seems the isolation that helped create the Minneapolis Sound, the distance from other sources of black music, worked to their advantage in keeping their funk alive. New bands from Minnesota like Mint Condition would appear in the ’90s, and though he dabbled in all of the new production techniques, Prince would stay as funky as ever, making jams that drew more and more upon the James Brown, Sly Stone/Larry Graham, and George Clinton/P-Funk roots of funk as the decade progressed. As for his MPLS comrades The Time, fronted by Morris Day, featuring super producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, their 1990 album “Pandemonium” would be the first album by the original lineup since 1982’s “What Time is It?” It would also be the last until their 2011 album “Condensate” under the name “The Original 7even. Songs such as “Jerk Out” and today’s feature “Chocolate” would send the band on hiatus with pure funk.

Perhaps the classic funkiness of the song owes to its creation, way before 1990. The word is it’s a song out of Prince’s legendary vault, dating ack to 1983 and the sessions for The Time’s “Ice Cream Castles” album, with an original demo performed by Prince with Wendy & Lisa backing vocals. By 1989, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis themselves were being hailed as great songwriters and producers, so the version of “Chocolate” here is said to contain ideas from the band working with Prince’s original demo ideas.

The track begins with the sound of a car peeling rubber and maniacal pimp laughter. A straight, phat Linn drum beat kicks in, a simple one two drum beat that displaces the kick drum at the end. After a few bars of the drum beat by itself, the funky bass line appears. The notes to the bass line are very simple, but the rhythm is infectious, hitting firmly on the one and then kicking out short, staccato, syncopated upbeat notes, ending the pattern in the second bar with a “Boom, Bomp Bomp”. Which is a bass rhythm featured in other MPLS funk classics such as “Erotic City” and “Free World” by Jesse Johnson. The bass plays accompanied only by the drums so you can hear all the delicious strokes. The bass and drums play on for a full 8 bars until Morris Day lets out a scream that serves as a cue for the full band to fall in.

When they fall in they do so with classic Minneapolis synth horns, and a super funky two guitar arrangement, featuring a guitar playing medium register funky chords with an MPLS sound inversion, and a super funky single note guitar line, in a low register, competing with and complimenting the bass line.

Morris tells a typical Morris type story, commanding his woman to give him some of that “Chocolate.” He’s tired of the bait and switch, and he wants his “thing”, like Joe Tex in “I Gotcha” and James Brown in “My Thang”, not to mention Rick James in “Give it To Me Baby.” The lyrical reference to “Chocolate” reflects the re energized Afrocentricism of the early ’90s era, as well as the fact The Time as a whole had always been the repository for some of Prince’s most solidly black leanings. Here the target of the bands affection is a black woman, but the term “chocolate” could also be applied to any sexual delight being viewed as what Ciara called “goodies.” Also featuring is Morris realization that he was getting to be an older player in the game at the time, as he tells “Chocolate”, “you don’t want no young man you need somebody with experience.” Morris also eschews all snake penile comparisions to stick with the black folk/sweets metahpor and call his thing a “tootsie roll” which the whole band is exuberantly shouting by the end of the record.

The Time has always held a special place for me as an ’80s baby as one of the purest funk bands in my lifetime. Cameo streamlined their image to 3 front men/vocalists, but The Time was always a unit in which the bassist, guitarist, drummer and keyboardists were all important and had an image. In addition to that image, they had a schtick, a definite worldview and attitude their stage show and lyrics contained. As Jerome once told me, “we were up there acting like your uncles.” So today’s song then is a tribute to “Uncle Funk!”

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Music for the Next ONE 7/04/15: “Watch the Dance” by Tuxedo

Tuxedo’s self titled debut album on the Stones Throw label stands right alongside D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah” in terms of funk albums for 2015, if we excuse D’Angelo his late December surprise drop. The combination of singer musician Mayer Hawthorne, who’s work I’ve championed on this blog, along with Hip Hop producer Jake One, crafted a masterpiece of an album focused on music from 1980-1983. Thanks to the music and DJing of LA musician Dam Funk, among others, this time period is known as the era of “Boogie Music.” “Boogie” basically covers a brief period of Funk history where disco was dead, but the standards it set for widely danceable grooves remained, and funk was alive, but the taste in funk was much more streamlined than the era of the big funk bands. “Watch the Dance” is a beautiful boogie funk track that reminds me of the work of Leon Sylvers with Shalimar on Dick Griffey’s SOLAR label.

The song begins with keyboards playing a chord progression with an ’80s “wave” kind of tone. Hand claps accent the second and fourth beat while the kick drum drops in with a pattern that starts on the up beats. Real cool mid tempo, just setting the scene. In the third bar, a palm muted guitar comes in, playing a four note pattern and then playing the pattern again but displaced rhythmically by just a lil bit. The guitar lingers/echoes a little bit like it’s been placed through a delay. The chords move and the synth gets brighter in tone until it finds the key the song will begin in. The groove starts with a solid “one two” drum beat with loud hand claps and the funky one note at a time rhym guitar outlining the chord movements.

The full groove kicks in, with an analog synth sounding bassline and some glossy, high class ’80s digital sounding orchestra sounds. Mayer Hawthorne introduces the chorus, which is one of my favorite parts of the song, “No matter what your circumstance/just turn and/watch the dance!” Hawthorne pronounces both “chance” and “dance” with extra funky soulful twang. The song reminds me of Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards big hits because it spends a lot of time on the chorus and refrain right at the top of the song before the verse comes in.

Hawthorne sings the verse with a subdued dance funk backing, just the drum beat and an acoustic piano tone defining the chords. The synth bass lays out and then comes in with accents. The verse itself is very short and I appreciate the contrasting moods, letting the arrangement breathe. After another chorus the song breaks out a new groove, much more rhythmically aggressive in feel, with the guitar playing along to the rhythm of the vocals. From there on out Tuxedo basically just rocks the joint.

It’s dope to me that as time has progressed, so has people’s appreciation of the various eras of Funk. There was a time Funk meant James Brown, then there was a time when it meant P-Funk and Roger and Zapp. Now, alongside them it also means people like Steve Arrington, Leroy Burgess, D-Train, Shalimar and The Whispers. This brand of funk was specifically confined to the R&B charts in its hey day following the backlash against black dance music under the label of “disco.” It will be interesting to see where this sound will continue to grow as it’s picked up now. If it’s in the direction Tuxedo is taking here I’ll bet more and more people will have fun following it!

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Music for the Next ONE 6/27/15 : “All My Friends Are Here” by Arif Mardin and Friends

The late great Arif Mardin had the most Quincy Jones like career of anybody not named Quincy Jones. That was fitting, as his fellow Piscean Jones encouraged him to leave his native Turkey, allowing him to became the first recipient of the Quincy Jones music scholarship. He might have out Quincied Quincy at times, as he had perhaps less musical success than Jones putting out albums under his own name, and more as a pure pop producer, in addition to his talents as an arranger. He produced numerous hit acts such as The Average White band, Aretha Franklin, The Bee Gees, Hall & Oates, Donny Hathaway, Chaka Khan and David “Fathead” Newman, among others. Mardin was a foremost member of that group of Turkish American music men who contributed to American music through their strong love for black music. Being that Mardin produced music in almost every style of R&B inflected music from the ’50s to the 90s, it should come as no surprise that his funk resume is strong. He was the producer of songs such as The Average White Band’s “Pick up the Pieces” and “Schoolboy Crush”, “Get Ready, Get Set” by Chaka Khan, “Listen Here” by Eddie Harris, and “Rock Steady” by Aretha Franklin. Today’s funk feature, “All my Friends are Here” is big jam session of a track featuring many artists that he produced, coming back to pay tribute to their friend and mentor in the twilight of his life.

The song begins with a super funky slow drum beat with the snare drum accenting the fourth beat, a very common beat in New Orleans music. That slow beat from the drum set is melded with funky accents from the Conga drum. Soon, Lalah Hathaway sings wordless, soulful vowel sounds as the super funky clavinet riff that’s the meat of the song gets going, played by Robbie Konder. Soon a full groove is struck up with sparse Meters like bass, organ, rhythm guitar and an interesting harmony on the horn stabs. The track contains the current lineup of The Average White Band on rhythm, including original member Onnie McIntyre. After the beat gets comfortable, the big chorus melody line of “All my Friends are Here!” Kicks in, and it’s voiced by singers such as the Gibb brothers of the Bee Gees, The Rascals, Hall & Oates, Phil Collins, Cissy Houston and many other artists Mardin worked with. The line itself has a booming, soaring horn part feeling, and it’s answered immediately by a horn phrase, from a section including trumpeter Randy Brecker and Tenor man Fathead Newman.

Arifs son comes in with a bass voice vocal that his father meant to sing but was too sick to do, influenced directly by Larry Graham’s vocals on “Dance to the Music”, saying “I’m gonna do it from the bottom”, to which Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees replies in falsetto, “And I’m gonna sing the top.” The feel is really loose as the choir sings the main line and the great singers ad lib around it. From there, the Mardin writes in a horn interlude with the horns sustaining an interesting harmony with a slightly dark tone. After that the arrangement moves to an interesting funky unison lick, like Stevie Wonder uses in so many tunes, played by bass, guitar, clavinet, and also vocalized by one of the singers, with the drums also playing along. After the lick the song breaks all the way down to drums and conga and the “I’m gonna do the bottom” Larry Graham style vocals. The song goes back to the main line, with the singers having even more room to improvise.

After another go round of the unison lick, Randy Brecker announces his time at the mic, with some “get out of my way” trumpet phrases before playing his solo, with singers ad living as he solos. He solos through the different grooves of the song as Mardin sends the arrangement back to the sustained horn chords for Brecker to blow over. The song ends out in a joyful riot of vocalization.

“All My Friends Are Here” is Arif Mardins last album, one in which he struggled to complete as he knew he was dying. It’s title and theme could well be one that he or any other “super producer” could call their work, emphasizing the connections they develop from the intimate work of making music. For that reason it’s very touching for me that all of these artists would arrange their schedules to do a song for their mentors album. And I like the way he went out, not on a morbid note, but on a funky jam session, rich with the joy if collaboration, peace, unity, and having fun, making the song an epitaph both funky and fitting.

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