Raise Your Voice: Boston Bruins Fans Gave the Best Performance of The National Anthem, Ever

I’ve written before about how Whitney Houston performed the Spar Spangled  Banner in a way no one before her or after her ever could–how she sold millions of copies of the single, how she took a customary pre-game routine and elevated it to another level, and how her version got new life after it was re-released after the events of September 11, 2001. It seemed impossible that any person would ever perform it as movingly or as powerfully as Whitney Houston did.

But last night, during the most Canadian of our sports, the most American thing happened: we found that what might be the best rendition of the National Anthem ever came not from one person, but from thousands of people singing together. It didn’t start out that way: a man named Rene Rencourt began to sing, but then stepped away from the microphone and became a mere conductor, leading the choir of Boston Bruins fans in singing our national hymn. It was spontaneous; people just sung from their hearts, and Rencourt was amazing enough to realize in the moment that his silence was even more powerful than his beautiful voice. It could have been solemn, and in a way it was, but it was more than that. It was triumphant, hopeful, even defiant. It was beautiful. And it reminds you that as much as people mythologize rugged individualism and American exceptionalism, it’s never really only been about any one of us. It’s always also been about all of us, together.

Look, if you’re trying to crush the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong ones to try. The first guy who ran 26.2 miles shouted victory and then died. And these are people  who decided to run the same distance for fun. Some of these people run in groups or push someone in a wheelchair or do it in full firefighter gear or in high heels. These people cheer each other on and give and receive high fives to random strangers. And on top of all that, this is Boston. So whatever those nuts were trying to accomplish, they failed. Just watch and listen.

Just Taste This: “The Light Is Not Afraid of the Dark”-Mos Def

There was a woman who ran a soul food joint I used to frequent, and one day she came up with a new recipe for chicken wings. My friend and I didn’t buy any, but she felt that they were so good she said to us, “I just want somebody to taste this. Just taste it, baby.” We did, and those wings were magnificent. Every now and then, I hear something that I just want people to taste. It might be new, it might be old, it might be just relatively unappreciated. Whatever it is, I just want you to hear it. I know that most of my writing here has been long-form, but in between I’m going to just start sharing thins that I think you should taste. I’m not even saying it’s the greatest song ever…but it was Yasiin Bey when he was still Mos Def, you know? And since Black on Both Sides is one of the best hip hop albums of all time by anyone anywhere ever…well, you can’t blame me for wanting to get close to that, can you? This is produced by Kanyeezy.  Shout out to Okayplayer.


What Happened to the Great Movie Soundtrack?

What happened to soundtracks?

Do you remember how soundtracks used to be extreeeeeeemely dope? The movie would come out, but half the time, the movie went to another level because of the soundtrack. Obviously, y’all know I have a great affinity for the Belly soundtrack. But then there was the Jason’s Lyric soundtrack, which justifies it’s very existence off the strength of “U Will Know” by Black Men United and “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” by K-Ci.  Forget the fact that the soundtrack included Mint Condition, Brian McKnight, Spice 1, Scarface, and Oleta Adams. You can even forget the fact that I’ve already called out K-Ci’s rendition of “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” is one of the great song snatchings of all time. Just think about one thing– “U Will Know” by Black Men United–and how it’s the only song they ever made. It’s like “We Are the World” for the neighborhood. Look at the names: D’Angelo, who wrote it when he was about 19 or 20 years old, plus Aaron Hall, After 7, Silk, D.R.S., H-Town, Gerald Levert, El Debarge, Johnny Gill, Joe, Lenny Kravitz on guitar, Stokely from Mint Conditon, Tevin Campbell, Keith Sweat, Boyz II Men, Al B. Sure, and some more people who are totally underrated. There was Christopher Williams, Intro, Portrait,  Damion Hall, and Silk (whose “Meeting in My Bedroom” was >>>>. I don’t know what happened to that CD.) Thin about how great that was, then think about how today, there are no R&B groups–everybody wants to be solo. And think about how BMU was a group of groups, a choir full of all stars. It’s like when you’re playing NBA 2K and you can draft whoever on your team, so you have a team with Michael Jordan and Shaq and Kobe and Lebron and Magic Johnson and everybody…the team’s so good you have Bill Russell and Larry Bird coming off the bench. Well, that’s what Black Men United did with “U Will Know.” You’ve got stars singing background, just to be a part of this. It’s unfair. Not only did they get people there to record it, but they got them all together for the music video. And they did all this for a soundtrack. Excuse me, I’m going in:

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The Endorsement: Talking Interludes on Songs

Let’s start with a definition, courtesy of Urban Dictionary:

read (verb):

1.To tell someone about themself (sic), mostly used by gay black men.

“That was a read honey!”
“Don’t do it honey, I will read your ass”


2.(noun). a taunt or mockery. A phrase or word used to mock someone in a humorous way.

When she said that you should have taken the receipt with your haircut, that was a read.


I start with this definition because read in this usage is not in my every day vocabulary, and also because there is probably no better word to use to accurately and precisely describe what Oran Jones did at the end of this video. I also confess that I am a fan of what I call “talking songs.” You know, songs in which someone decides to have a conversation or a monologue at the beginning, middle or end. There are so many great ones when it comes to talking on songs, including one of my favorites, “Woman to Woman” by Shirley Brown. She’s so superb that when she calls Barbara on the phone, you don’t even think about the fact that you never even hear Barbara talking. But then again, if Shirley Brown calls you up laying everything straight out like that, you probably would just be quiet and listen for a minute too. Continue reading

I’m Supposed To Be On Hiatus Until Mid-April But…

have you heard Prince’s new song “Screwdriver”? I don’t know how I missed this…but you know how Prince rolls. And because you know how he rolls, you probably need to go listen to it here before it disappears.

Anyway, there’s a future post coming on the greatness of Prince. (And some other really good drafts in the queue about Diddy, Church’n’B, and so much more….but they’ve got to wait. Apologies for the delay, especially to Becca in the UK.)