Monday, August 15, 2011



I really like Otis Redding. I mean really, really like Otis Redding. When I went to the service at 17, I was really in a serious ‘Dock of the Bay’ period. The line ‘I can’t do what ten people tell me to do, so I guess I’ll remain the same’, has been so ingrained in me that it echoes whenever someone ‘tells me about myself’. Being right or wrong to YOU doesn’t mean that I am undecided about ME. Smokey (Chris Tucker’s character in the movie Friday) was quick to say ‘I don’t give a f*ck’, whenever a person would cast their doubts on his scheme. Otis, I think, was saying pretty much the same thing in this lyric!

But this isn’t about ‘Dock’ but another song, ‘Try A Little Tenderness’. Kanye West and Jay-Z sampled ‘Tenderness’ for their song, ‘Otis’(link to the video here). I hate this song. And ‘hate’ is not a word that slide easily through my mind and out for public consumption. It takes me back to Puff Daddy and his clique rise through the charts on the back of horribly constructed songs that were mushed together.

Why would they even choose THIS song to make such an empty ode to delusional consumerism is beyond me. Now I do have to admit that I don’t care for Kanye or Jay… but I don’t ‘hate’ on them or anything, at least not like I do Kobe Bryant. Not all of their music is terrible to me, but this?? Come on! I don’t think the spirit of ‘Tenderness’ and ‘Otis’ could be further apart from each other!! One is about humbling a cat into treating his lady ‘right’ and the other is… what the hell IS Otis about? (no really, if you know please tell me ‘cause it gives me a ‘brain freeze’ when I try to suss it out!)


Benny Benassi caught a lot of grief for winning the first Dance Music Grammy for this song but why shouldn’t he have? I think that it meets the criteria for the re-imagining of an original piece of music without losing ANY of its impact.

When I compare both the original and the cover of ‘Bring The Noise’, I think the cover stands up well when it comes to content and what the original artist hoped to convey with the song. The self-promotion of ‘Otis’ is in contrast to the humility of ‘…Tenderness’.

Apparently, I am in the minority when it comes to my general opinion of the Kanye/Jay-Z duet. I sort of wonder why that is, but I quickly get over that feeling! Frankly, I don’t care why people like it in spite of it flaws, and in addition, I don’t care to explain why I don’t!!


A few days ago I was ‘listening’ since ‘Anna Renee Is Still Talking’ (and prolly is still!!) about the kerfluffle between Tavis Smiley and Steve Harvey over public support for President Obama. Along with his good friend Cornel West, Tavis has embarked on a ‘the Poverty Bus Tour’. The two of them hope to call attention to what they believe is a lack of awareness of the problems of the poor by this administration. Apparently, many black public figures have challenged and questioned the motivation of both Dr. West and Tavis. There is the issue of egos, hurt feelings and snubs involved. While I don’t doubt that there is more than a little truth to that, Steve Harvey took to the air with his perspective on the ‘Tour’. Steve thinks that the tour is a way for Tavis to strike back at the President.

But how Steve couched his arguments was juvenile. All he did was sling mud and he did not challenge any of the opinion that President Obama has not adequately addressed the problems of the poor. I happen to think that when you start challenging someone on the grounds of ‘their blackness’, it is like using a Hitler comparison in an argument on the internet, it means ‘you lose’. You have nothing of any intellectual worth to support your view and you may as well go ‘I’m rubber and you’re glue…’, particularly when it is this weirdo ‘black on black’ stuff. Steve kept repeating how “Obama is the President of ALL of us”, as though pressing the President on a special interest on behalf of black people is what Tavis/Cornel are doing, or if it is even wrong?


Like Joe Louis, I had my hope of being a credit to the human race but I crapped that up. The reason that I mention this about myself is that I have always tried to not ‘see’ a person’s race unless the question required a solution for race. Also, I did not get the chance to have a thing against ‘white people’ because people of my own ethnic group highlighted my difference from the stereotypical orthodoxy.

That is what Tavis finds himself up against- the public face that the black community hopes to present to society, that we can be united for a cause.

BUT… we also want it both ways. Don’t be critical of the President because he is black but also allow for him to operate in an objective fashion… doesn’t make sense. Just as it doesn’t make sense to sing about alienation, bling, and outsized consumerism, to a song that is about providing the emotional support to another human being.

C’esl la vie said the old folks… just shows you never can tell..!


Anonymous said...

I think "Try a little tenderness" is just too dated to be relevant. Heck, by the time Otis covered it, it had already been done by Jimmy Durante. I think the Otis version appeals more style than substance.

As for "being a credit to the human race," well, you're not dead yet, so there's still time. It'a a little early in the game to say you've "crapped it up." You've certainly been a help and a friend to me, and I know I'm not the only one whose journey you've lightened a little. Give yourself a break!

♥ CG ♥ said...

Steve's been a diehard supporter of the President from day one. He often fails by being strongly opinionated from a "the man can do no wrong" perspective. All of us who've batted an eye at any issue we disagree with the President on are being told we're not being supportive which is nonsense and something I'd go out on a limb to say that even President Obama wouldn't agree with. The thought that Black folks have to be singularly focused in our political views is some hogwash.

Toon said...

Obama has my total support because the option is too terrifying to even think about. On an unrelated note, did you ever hear the cover of "Funkytown" by Psuedo Echo? Not bad in a bad way.

Jonthy, Alice the uppity white cat's babysitter said...

Mark, I saw the Kanye/Jay-Z version of the Otis Redding classic and felt the same way you do. The crass materialism and the destruction of such for fun is something I don't understand at all.

I loved Otis Redding and his music and I think the duet is disrespectful of Otis and his message.

Lovebabz said...

Your reference to Otis Redding stopped me cold. I couldn't go to read the rest of the post. My mother (God rest her soul) was a HUGE Otis Redding FAN! So much so that she insisted that we paluy his music at her funeral. Now mind you my mother dies suddenly on vacation. But she drilled in us her love of Otis Redding from birth!

The fact that you love him is beyond freakish to me. How old are you?

To this day I can't listen to Otis without thinking of my mother and yes, crying. But happy tears. we all should be fans of great music.

I love you just because of your LOVE for Otis Redding. A real soul singer in the truest sense of the word. White Folks just don't get it...OK some White Folks just don't get it...or him. But there are some who did and do. I don't care about them. I know what he meant to my mother and what he means to me.

Uggh you dragged me to a very emotional place unexpectedly.

Thank you. You are quite interesting indeed.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I am so disappointed that we cannot celebrate our president for his achievements. Sigh...