Logan, An Old Man Beasting One Last Time


Still from Logan‘s trailer | c/o 20th Century Fox


I’m beyond geeked for this Logan movie. From this trailer, I love that it’ll really zone in on present day Wolverine. I prefer one developed character than umpteen underdeveloped heroes, which is the trap the last X-Men movie fell into by teasing us with appearances from several noteworthy faces without giving them shining moments or backstories.

That SUPER Feeling, X-Men: Apocalypse and Drake

There’s a film noir/ Mad Max feel here. From the looks of it, there won’t be any sunny days in this movie. No gloss or sheen of cheer. Hugh Jackman’s final run at Logan is weathered, old and beaten up (they even have miserable-ass Johnny Cash singing in the trailer. A perfect pairing.).

He’s gotten a haircut and the grays have come in bunches. And it will be R-rated, which means violence will reach savage levels.


from Logan‘s UK trailer | c/o 20th Century Fox UK


I CAN’T WAIT! But first, a few questions:

  • Why are his hands trembling? Is he sick?
  • Whose funeral is Logan attending? “Mutants, they’re gone now,” Logan says to Professor X. Reminds me of this scene from the old animated series.
  • Why is he scarred up? Does his healing power not work? Does it work just enough to heal himself, but not get him back to 100% like it used to?
  • Who’s the little girl?
  • Who’s blank face? And does he know Schoolboy?

All answers will come on March 3, 2017 when this flick comes out.

Flowers From Soft Glas



Late Bloom cover art | c/o Soft Glas


Here’s an opportunity to be early on someone. Soft Glas just released his Late Bloom album. And it’s gorgeous. I use that descriptor specifically because it’s too thoughtful and developed to use a lighter one.


Full disclosure: Joao “Soft Glas” Gonzalez is a buddy of mine. He was the photographer and second shooter for my Ro James docu-short. But trust me when I say a friend could not make me write something positive about their art just because we’re chums. If this album was wack, I would have patted him on the back via text message and said, “Looking forward to the next project!” Thankfully, Late Bloom is good!

So I’d love to be your entry point to the world of Soft Glas. Before he’s an indie darling on Pigeons and Planes or Pitchfork. Before Genius annotates all the lyrics to his work.


Below are some thoughts I had as I’ve played this album over the last couple of days. These notes also give you some insight into what I write down and pull from when I’m working on proper articles before they’re turned into cohesive stories/reviews/think pieces/hot takes/whatevers for magazines and publications.

  • The album excels with simplicity. Never sounds overdone/produced. Understated cool. If the music was a person, Bloom would be someone that makes a plain t-shirt and jeans look as cool and chic as possible.
  • Bloom is smooth. Lyrics don’t come often. The grooves do most of the talking.
  • The sounds of human nature?
  • The subtle switch-ups on “Humid”!
  • “Latency” –  Sultry. Some alt-R&B 2016 “Sexual Healing” vibe at the end.
  • “Round” – Chords are sexy. Cool how vocalist slips in halfway through the track.
  • Great baselines all over.
  • Horn play!
  • “Yosemite” – Chargaux killing it on the strings.
  • “Dealing in Hypothetical” – Madison McFerrin with the vocals. THE HORNS. THE HORNS!!!
  • “Come Down” feels like there’s a story to it. Would like to know what inspired it. What scene in his life or a movie it would/does relate to.
  • “Bloom” sounds like a good hug after a bad day.

Making Music for Power Man


Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad | c/o Netflix


Like many, many people, I’m watching Luke Cage on Netflix. I could write a bit about how timely a series about a bulletproof Black hero is, but I don’t feel like stating the obvious today.

What I will say, however, is how much I’m enjoying Marvel’s latest streaming blockbuster from a musical standpoint. More so than its lead-in shows Daredevil and Jessica Jones, Cage showcases music as if it’s an actual character. Its blend of classical, funk, R&B and Hip-Hop are more than just precursors to specifics moments and precise fill-ins for fight or love scenes. They encourage a physical reaction. It’s rare that you’re watching a TV show or movie and it’s score grabs you to the point of forcing a head bop or foot tap. That means there’s a soul somewhere in those violin strings and bass strums.

Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad on Making ‘Unapologetically Black’ Music for Netflix’s ‘Luke Cage’

I spoke to Luke Cage’s composers, Adrian Younge and A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammed about scoring the show. The night before, I hit Marvel’s Luke Cage: The Live Score Concert at the Ace Hotel Theatre to watch the two lead a 40-piece orchestra with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson acting as maestro. The last (and maybe only) time I’d seen an orchestra rock was when I saw Nas perform Illmatic with one as part of Dave Chappelle’s stand-up residency at Radio City Music Hall in New York City a few years back. Without the rhymes of a legendary rapper, Luke Cage was a great night that incorporated all the aforementioned genres of music.

Check out my interview with the guys here. We talked about how they embodied Harlem through the score, being employed by Marvel, and Ali told an emotional story about how his Tribe brother Phife Dawg—may he rest in peace—inspired a song on Luke Cage’s eighth episode.

p.s. “Power Man” is an alias Luke uses in the comic world after apparently hanging out with Iron Man and other sensationally named crime-fighters. Hence the title for this here blog article.

Bruno Mars’ Pop Gold

Bruno Mars does pop music so well.

A lot of acts fail because their music’s solely made with the intention that people like. So it ends up feeling contrived, cookie-cutter, or formulaic. Where’s the flavor?

Bruno’s “24K Magic” is special  because it’s firmly rooted in something real, fun, and pure. There’s west coast funk, Hip-Hop, R&B, soul and then that pop sheen and fairy dust that’ll inevitably help make it a Hot 100 hit. A little call and response here, a cheeky, swagged out pre-hook there. Not to mention a beat breakdown and the open area for us to dance and chant.

I can’t wait for his 24K Magic album in November. This and the other newbie he’ll perform this Saturday on SNL will have to hold me over until then.

Solange and the Sounds of Blackness


A Seat at the Table album cover | shot by Carlota Guerrero c/o Columbia Records


Master P’s commentary is spread throughout Solange’s A Seat at the Table album. “If you don’t understand us and understand what we’ve been through,” the entrepreneur and No Limit general proclaims at the set’s halfway mark, “then you probably wouldn’t understand what this moment is about.”

Table is Solange’s moment to happily be exclusionary, because being Black is a hard, particularly lonely experience and that’s what Table is about. As is said verbatim on its “F.U.B.U.,” “this shit is for us” and that goes for our struggles and the set’s 51 minutes. It’s basically the album’s mission statement.

On “Don’t Touch My Hair,” what some might see as a triviality becomes a loaded issue. “Don’t touch my hair/ When it’s the feelings I wear,” she both orders and explains. “Don’t touch my soul/ When it’s the rhythm I know/ Don’t touch my crown/ They say the vision I’ve found.”

Solange’s voice is lithe and nimble, but her lyrics speak loudly to familiar troubles. On “Cranes in the Sky,” she sings of trying to drink, sex and spend away the ongoing pain she’s experiencing as a Black woman. “I ran my credit card bill up/ Thought a new dress would make it better,” she explains. “I tried to work it away/ But that just made me even sadder.”

A Seat at the Table feels like Solange is huddling a bunch of like-minded, like-skinned individuals and talking to us (Hi, reader. I’m Black) specifically.  On “F.U.B.U.” she hopes her teen son will play the song loud enough to make his walls rattle because it encourages Black pride and his kind is growing up in a world where Trayvon Martin-like tragedies eerily happen too often.

Alton Sterling and The Talk

What I like so much about Table is that it’s quiet and elegant, like Mom or your homegirl is talking to you with love and care. It’s not aggressive. There’s no stirring, crowd-rowdying “Fight the Power”-esque anthem. Just conversations that galvanize a hurt and wronged “Us.”

I’ve seen some criticize Table for its lack of originality. Solange isn’t talking about anything that hasn’t been said ad nauseam. And that’s true to a point. She ain’t the first sister to talk about her hair before. Nor is she the first Black person to talk about the anxiety of driving with brown skin.


But each artist’s perspective is unique. I appreciate Solange’s tender, mellow soul. Shout out to Raphael Saadiq for putting his foot in a chunk of the groovy productions. Table is the answer to “Why am I angry?” and “What am I sick and tired of?” We’ve spent a lot of time reacting with screams and tears. Now it’s time to sit and talk this out.

There’s a fearlessness and a commendable level of vulnerability that comes with the ability to say, “I’m scared, just like you. It’s okay. We’ll get through it to together.” as Solange expresses through 21 tracks. Like church and a hearty Sunday dinner, Table’s comforting.

It’s no wonder that Kendrick Lamar loves Solange’s latest so much that he shared it with his Twitter followers. In 2015 his To Pimp a Butterfly spoke to the same despair Table does. Kind of like TPAB’s most popular cut, listening to Table makes me feel like “we gon’ be alright.”

Usher, Not Sounding Like Himself


Usher’s Hard II Love album cover c/o RCA Records


It’s no fun when one of your favorite artists puts out a record that you’re not into.

Usher dropped Hard II Love two weeks ago and I had some comments about it. Sold them to Billboard. I’ll start first by saying I absolutely love three tracks on it (“Need U,” “Missin’ U,” and “Crash”) and there are—fleeting as they may be—some moments that feel really good to me. But overall, I didn’t enjoy it much and, essentially, my biggest gripe is that it didn’t sound like an Usher record.

Usher Sounds More Like His R&B Contemporaries On ‘Hard II Love’

Art is a representation of where its creator was at the time they made it. So if Usher ever reads my thoughts on his latest work, he may think, “What do you mean it doesn’t ‘sound like an Usher record’? I sang all that on purpose with my voice!”


Fair enough. If he’s happy with the art he made, good on him. I will always respect a creative that gets their vision out.

Anyway, here’s the piece. I’m such a fan of his that I kind of felt bad being so harsh. I’ve been to at least three Usher concerts and will gladly go to another. So if you see me grinding up on my girl at one of his shows in the future, know that all criticism came with love. Like when one of the homies says your outfit isn’t as good as it could be, then suggests better options. Cool? Cool.

Lady Gaga, Dropping the Illusions


Lady Gaga’s “Perfect Illusion” single artwork c/o Interscope Records


The last time I saw Lady Gaga in person, she was wearing a massive blonde wig, a flowery red leotard with a matching keytar around her neck and closing down New York City’s Roseland Ballroom.

The time before that, I saw Gaga artRave performance at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in front of a larger-than-life sculpture of herself custom-made by Jeff Koons. On that same night I reported on how she debuted Volantis, a flying contraption that she hoped would spark the minds of thinkers and maybe propel her to being the first artist to perform in outer space on some one small step leads to pop music on Pluto ish. Gaga’s a woman that’s no stranger to eccentricities.

I’ve always been a fan. Though as she became one the biggest pop stars ever, I wished for her to show people her talent without the frills. Not because I didn’t like or enjoy Lady Gaga, The Spectacle (I have a thing for oddballs, weirdos and theatrics). I do. But more as a middle finger to folks who credit her success to her antics and not her skill. When most people think of Gaga, I’m not sure what comes to mind first. Is it the egg or the meat dress or the smash records? Is she a pretentious Broadway nutbag or a great creative mind with pipes that could blow the roof off your house?


A photo posted by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) on


After three LPs worth of kookiness and as many years without a solo album, Gaga returns this fall with Joanne. On this set—its title coming from the singer’s middle name—she’s about to give me what I’ve been wishing for.

In the interview above, she seems to be very aware of just how out there she’s been and how people perceive her. “I’ve always kind of wanted to make things that were kind of absurd and interesting and melding pop culture with technology and fashion and art and music,” she tells Sway Calloway. “So I did beckon for [the perception that I’m from outer space].”

Joanne‘s first single “Perfect Illusion” is a rock love story where Gaga realizes that the object of her affection actually doesn’t love her at all. The romance was all a rouse. On a macro level, the song could be applied to the facades we all often face and how it’s important to recognize that people aren’t always being their true selves. “Not everything is what it seems” is not a new phrase, but we’ve all fallen for the okie-doke. Great song, better message.

But what I’m more-so talking about right now is the visual aspect of this 2016 Gaga. In the “Illusion” video she just dropped, her look is bad-ass basic. In a black tee, cut-off jeans and Doc Marten boots, she looks like she could be in a #MyCalvins ad. It’s a performance video with her (along with Joanna executive producer) playing to and moshing with an audience. There’s no dramatic narrative or costume changes into peculiar get-ups. But the video’s still worth several viewings. Gaga told Sway that this is who she is now.


still from Gaga’s “Perfect illusion” video c/o Interscope Records


“I’m 30. I want to wear my jeans and some flat shoes,” she says. “I want to take my makeup off and I want to sing at the top of my lungs on my piano and the guitar.” The outfits never made her. And while Gaga’s on this run, she’ll be proving it.

Sign me up. I’m in.