Category: What I’m Working On


Free time is always a question these days, but if not next weekend, I’ll be catching this movie as soon as I’m able.

Even to be much more of a John guy than a Paul guy, I have to admit I was never as crazy about this song as others. Maybe because the first version I heard was the Boyz II Men cover? Who knows.

But this is a nice cover. Even let him sing it at Abbey Road. OK…

What? No, I’m not jealous anymore. Really.

Also, me watching this…

Related image

Enjoy!

Advertisements

This will be short (I think.)

I’m not going to try to name check everyone who helped me get to this point, cause someone would be left off.

What I will say, to both my ‘day ones’ (or whatever the kids are saying these days) and to the communities I’m here to represent: I’m one man, telling one story that comes from my experiences, but I’m also respectful of the opportunity and the platform (and the potential reach). I think every religion/spirituality has some version of ‘God does not place a burden on you beyond your ability to handle it.’ Whatever people have thought of my ‘potential’ over the years, this is happening now, I feel, because I’m truly ready for it.

Looking forward to you all seeing ‘1/30’.

Obama opens this doc by saying ‘Some people are attracted to the power that is part of being in the spotlight, others work best behind the scenes. Clarence Avant is the latter.’ Truer words never spoken, cause 99% of the audience of this Netflix doc will surely have never heard of this man…

Like a shadow version of Quincy Jones, Clarence Avant has been in every part of entertainment (and politics) for decades (and of course him and Q seem to be best friends.) Unlike Quincy, there is no sense of flash about the subject of this doc (which has the perfect title). Can’t possibly go through every story mentioned in the two hours but a few of my favorites…

In the early 70s, Clarence got the heavy hitters of the time together for a benefit concert. That meant Sammy Davis Jr. got the call. The black crowd boo’d the hell out of him (this was shortly after he hugged Nixon). Sammy said his piece, performed ‘I Gotta Be Me’, and at the end the crowd was cheering again. Sammy is clearly touched. It’s a moment.

I’m old enough to remember the E.T. storybook narrated by Michael Jackson. Apparently that was done without getting clearance from all the parties, legally. But the guy everyone got along with was Clarence, he stepped in and got everyone on the same page. And Michael was so impressed, he asked Clarence to help him put together his first solo tour. Yes, the ‘Bad’ tour. I mean, come on…

Clarence was on board super early when a young man based in Chicago was rising in the Democratic Party. He was asked to speak at the convention, but not in prime time. Clarence fixed that. The rest is history. Even though Clarence really didn’t think that guy would really run the Presidency in a few years. But no one saw that coming. Even though Obama still teases him about it apparently…

Super educational, super informative journey through pop culture. Worth streaming.

‘Oh Allah, if you know this matter to be good for me in my faith, my livelihood, and the end result of my affair, then decree it for me, make it easy for me, and then bless it for me. And if you know this matter to be bad for me, my faith, my livelihood, and end result of my affair, then turn it away from me, and me away from it. Decree for me what is good, whatever it may be, and then make me satisfied with it.’ – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

I have a warm relationship with both of my parents in their twilight years. ‘I Love You Black Man’ is both a statement and a way to live among my inner circle. That feeling of ‘I got you, you’re not alone’ between myself and my allies in the Community is stronger than ever.

This has been the first year, where 24/7/365 I’ve met my own standard for who I aspire to be, as a Muslim, a Black Man, a world citizen. Insha’Allah (God willing) the first of many more years still to come. Many of you have picked it up in the way I talk, the way I carry myself: I will not lose my family, my friends, my allies, my people, or my reputation by doing something I know I shouldn’t be doing. Not anymore.

Even when everything in this country, in pop culture, in this specific life I’ve chosen, has been designed to turn me against my own identity and question my self-worth, every time I’ve gone (or been advised) to go over a line that had the very real potential of permanently turning me against the people I love, or the people who love me, I knew to stop. I’ve made references over the past couple of years of my struggle to understand my own fortune. Now the answer is obvious.

Faith. And this was the year my faith became absolute.

I’ll borrow from one of Malcolm’s signature statements to describe the full ownership of my Calling as I enter this Ramadan:

If I die, knowing I have left the vast majority of people who have crossed my path in a better place than I have found them; if I have made just one person looks at Muslims, and the religion of Islam, in a more positive light, than all the credit is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds. Only the mistakes have been mine.

Sincerely,

Abdul-Malik Raushaun Abdul-Aziz

(Malik Aziz)

Ramadan Mubarak.

My words are coming Sunday night.

In the meantime, one of the Office homies just put this video in one of our chats. Good people man. Again, I’ll speak on that Sunday.

In the meantime, this PSA…

$1.2 Billion. You’ve all seen it by this point but as usual won’t be too detailed…

Someone half joked they should go ahead and give Kevin Feige the Thalberg at the Governor’s Awards this year (which is basically the Academy acknowledging someone has had a Hall of Fame career as a producer). It’s a funny line but I mean… he’s got to get it someday right?

We’ve all been trained to think of the great film series as trilogies (Star Wars, the Godfather, the Lord of the Rings, etc.) We’ve just witnessed a nearly universally agreed upon great film series told over TWENTY PLUS FILMS. It’s absurd. We’re all even conditioned now to not get up until after all the credits are rolled. They’ve changed the movie going experience.

As far as this film on its own, ‘The Dark Knight’ is the last time I remember everyone (film geeks, hardcore fan boys, casual fans, adults, kids) ALL being this happy with a sequel walking out of the theatre. The nitpicking can begin after repeated viewings, but as I started telling people Friday morning, ‘It’s as fast a three hour film as I can remember.’ From the first scene to the last, you’re in. The payoffs feel earned all the way through.

What’s really scary now is what’s next. The last ‘Skywalker’ film is coming out this year, and it’s lot of ‘Well OK’ right now. This generation of Star Wars is supposed to be ‘we have women and diverse leads now’ but the MCU can very easily take that thunder. DC seems to have found its way by finally saying ‘Don’t worry about a ‘Universe’; this is this story and sure we’ll reference other characters in this world from time to time.’ You’re telling me the next generation of Marvel films can’t start being true one-off stories (and probably do it much better with an already well established Universe)? My, my, my…

Genuinely looking forward to seeing it again in the theatre…

I’m about…80 percent into ‘Malik X’ mode as the homies call it (bring on Ramadan 2019…)

I have a good feeling ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is going to bring me down. I have a good feeling this Sunday’s episode of ‘Thrones’ is going to bring me down even more.

So let’s go into the weekend with something sweet and positive and innocent before we get our feelings hurt.

Have a good one gang; movie review Sunday night.

Like most of everyone in the KU circle, I was shocked when word got to me that Justin Vanoy passed yesterday.

We weren’t close. Different fraternities, different inner circles. But the black social circles at KU are pretty small; and if you’re in the Greek life, you absolutely knew of each other if you weren’t hanging out. I can still clearly see Justin dancing when I walked into the Burge like it was only a couple Saturday nights ago.

Time has passed; our last connect was surely my birthday and his. Hope you’re well, glad you’re healthy, that type of thing. I’m about a week or so away from the annual social media vanishing, but I have to say it was nice to see how many of you posted pictures and kind words about your memories of Justin. I went through this with my Frat brother passed, but we should all hope when our time comes, the people we leave behind have really GLOWING memories of how we left them.

This was definitely a jam from our youth. I don’t even remember this video but the song takes me back. Enjoy.

Rest in Power Justin.

Oh yes…

So, other than giving me bittersweet flashbacks of the young Moroccan girl who was the first one to call me habibi, I can’t say enough good things about the new Hulu series ‘Ramy’.

The premise is super simple, Ramy is a young Muslim American living in New Jersey trying to find his place in his own culture and his place in the world while making his way in modern day society. ‘Master of None’ came to mind for some obvious reasons but you quickly have to put that comparison away. Aziz’s story was/is about a young New York actor with only passing references to his Muslim heritage.

‘Ramy’ goes all in.

All in to the point where I know there are words and phrases and customs used for in jokes here that killed me that many of you may not realize why it’s funny. All in to the point that the personal life history of the character (the Muslim girl whose maybe ‘too’ traditional for you, the Jewish girl you connect with because, ‘not celebrating Easter’ for example, is a better bonding point than you would think, the white person whose a little too attracted to your ‘otherness’ and not interested enough in you as a person (the sister’s story), there was a lot of ‘Oh damn’ as I worked through the ten half hours. Let’s leave it at that.

The cliffhanger at the end of episode ten…I don’t know where we go from here. But I want to find out.

High recommend, even with my obvious bias.

I mean…

This woman is my generation’s Michael. There’s no more debate. I’m old, that might not have been up for debate for a while. But this concert film closed the book on that. Michael, mixed with Tina Turner. I’m also the product of HBCU grads, my childhood had the Homecomings and the Bayou Classic trips, so the visual themes she used for this show; I was one of those people sitting at home saying ‘Yeah, ya’ll don’t know about that.’ But it’s still super impressive. To say the least.

Another common link, which some of you share: I know how many months go into a crisp, ‘perfect’ live performance, whether you’re talking about a step show or a play for the theatre. So the part of the film I enjoyed the most personally was seeing her show how much goes into the ‘one night’ you actually see. Even if you’re not in the Beyhive, how can you not respect the damn work ethic?!?

Final point from me, which Very Smart Brothas devoted a whole post too: she covers one of the most iconic Black songs of all time at the end, ‘Before I Let Go.’ You didn’t know you wanted it. You didn’t even think anyone would have the guts to even TRY to cover it. Then you hear how she modernizes it and personalizes it for how soul has evolved since Frankie Beverly and Maze first did it, and even now I’m just listening to this like…

COME ON!!!

The movie is well worth the public discussions we’re all having.

Here’s her cover. I dare you not to enjoy…