Wednesday, April 18, 2007 

Lately, I'm Finding Natasha Nice & Bree Oslon More Addictive Than Nicotine.

I'd like to tell them both...

The Venetian's Circle Bar, at least during the Adult Entertainment Expo, serves as the unofficial base of operations for the denizens of the porn community as long as they are in town. Every night, swarms of horny bees buzz around and skirt its fringes, paying $6 a pop for a Corona that they can get for $4 not fifty yards away at the Grand Lux Cafe. But it's all about location, location, location. If you can't find (or rather, can't gain admittance to) another party and are desperate to rub shoulders with or drunkenly pester your favorite "jerk before work" piece of ass, this is the place it'll likely get done.

Natasha Nice did her first scene on Oct. 12, 2006. Here she is in "SURFER CHICK WITH BIG TITS" and "NATASHA NICE", both courtesy of the Bang Bros Network site, Big Tits Round Asses.

It was there, surrounded by porno luminaries in the form of everyone from Mike John, Tim Von Swine, Jake Malone, Kevin Moore and Ava Rose to Manuel Ferrara, John Strong, Jazz Duro and Tricia Devereaux, (not simultaneously, mind you) and contemporaries like Skronker and pwing, that I first saw her. A tiny, extremely cute and incredibly busty girl literally bounced by me barefoot, rushing up to a friend on the other side of the bar. "Oh my God, who was that?" I thought. I didn't ask aloud and I hardly wanted to make a big deal about her with all the other hotness constantly strolling by and in most cases, standing nearby. "I'm sure I'll catch her later," I told myself. Well, I didn't. Maybe as the week flew by I didn't even realize who I was looking for or somehow got otherwise sidetracked (the most likely explanation). Either way, the next time I saw Natasha Nice (the girl on the far right of my blog's banner) it was at my house (in "Teens with Tits 9") long after AEE had ended. But l'affaire de Nice' had just begun. From the moment I saw her I knew there was something special about N-Squared.

"I am on a nastier level of nasty than anyone I know. In fact I am so sick in the head sexually I can’t even say everything I’m into because it's just so forbidden and illegal!" Bree Olson in Smash Pictures' "WHALE TAIL 3" and Elegant Angel's "BIG WET ASSES 10."

Equally as hot and an early favorite to go head-to-head with Natasha for Best New Starlet honors in January is a girl whose bandwagon has grown to mammoth proportions since her debut; so massive it's definitely on some "standing room only" shit. Over at the Smash Pictures booth sat the do-it-all blonde phenom, Bree Olson. Every year a new girl comes along and changes expectations of what a "new" girl is supposed to be like. Bree Olson effortlessly carries on the proud tradition typified in recent years by the likes of Gauge, Aurora Snow, Taylor Rain, Jenna Haze and lately, Sasha Grey. It's impossible to postulate what young Bree needs to do to improve her performances at this stage in her career...she's absolutely perfect as is. At a time where the game is getting stale and there are few truly unique personalities and talents to invigorate or hold consumers' interest, The Greatest Freakshow on Earth is a revelation; anyone watching Bree for the first time will find she serves as a sobering reminder of why you ever watched porn in the first place. She's not the next big thing -- she's a sure thing.

Sunday, April 15, 2007 

The Pursuit of Nappyness

It seems that rap music is under fire again. Now it's playing the role of scapegoat for Don Imus' ignorant-ass comments about the Rutgers Women's Basketball team and likening their contest versus Tennessee's Lady Volunteers to the "Wannabees vs. Jigaboos" in Spike Lee's School Daze. This has inevitably led to heated discussions with various friends of all races all over the country about not only Imus but hip-hop and race relations. Not all chats ended well, I'll have to admit. At any rate, I present something I feel like I wrote eons ago (more like two years ago, if that) after reading Chris Rock's Rolling Stone piece highlighting his personal Top 25 Hip-Hop Albums of All-Time (yes, I do read Rolling Stone on occasion. I even consider Peter Travers one of my favorite movie critics). It's a work in progress and in bringing it over to this blog from the messageboard where it originated, I've already added comments that weren't there before. More are probably coming. When it comes to music, I'm never at a loss for things to say or colorful, vivid memories and stories.

CJ's Top 25 Hip-Hop Albums of All-Time

1. Eric B. & Rakim, Paid in Full
The undisputed king. The R. Rakim Allah. The 18th Letter. Whatever you wanna call him or know him as, Rakim was killing cats with his slow, monotone flow and dropping five-percenter knowledge, converting more Christians to muslims with 16 bars than Farrakhan ever did. He inspired so many imitators and people who tried to emulate his style, his flow, his subject matter. It's a shame that collaboration with Dr. Dre, Oh My God, never materialized. Not only is Paid In Full filled from front to back with classic songs but if you know this album, there are verses you remember like it was yesterday from each individual song. "My Melody" might be my favorite hip-hop song EVER. Legend has it that Rakim recorded his vocals while standing in Marley Marl's SHOWER. (Nas and DJ Premeir recreate the mythological scenario in Nas' "Nas is Like" video) Incidentally, I just recently read an interview with Marley Marl and he sounds pissed about that "Make A Girl Feel" song by Teairra Marie. He feels like instead of just listening to "My Melody" and trying to artificially recreate it, they should've just called him (in other words, PAY HIM) to clear a sample. Nas owes Rakim a great debt obviously (and went a long way to repaying it with the track "U.B.R. Unauthorized Biography of Rakim" on his last album, Street's Disciple) and is often hailed as the modern version of The God (long before Jay-Z crowned himself the God MC, Jay-Hova).

2. Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded
Were KRS-One a slightly more charismatic emcee (and damn, that sounds odd to say considering how animated Kris is compared to the stoic "nobody smilin" image of Rakim) these number and number two spots would be interchangeable and constantly up for debate. I guess Rakim is just more...mysterious. At any rate, KRS-One is the living embodiement of hip-hop (and won't hesitate to tell you so). He's the definition of the young lion coming up to snatch the crown from the old people on top. His battle with Marley's entire Juice Crew is the stuff of hip-hop legend. Right behind "My Melody" would be "The Bridge Is Over" on my all-time list of favorite songs. After that, you've still got "South Bronx", "Super Hoe" and the title track (you can hear the hunger in his voice) to bang. He's full of contradictions, sure (he's gone on to preach about stopping the violence while this album cover features him and Scott La Rock brandishing an entire arsenal of weaponry) but I chalk that up to people changing as they age. KRS-One is STILL that nigga. I give him props just for throwing PM Dawn off-stage. That's gangsta and it was done in the name of hip-hop.

3. Run-DMC, Raising Hell
Chris Rock said, "Raising Hell is the first great rap album ever. I like Run, but I LOVE DMC. No one ever sounded like DMC; no one looks like DMC. He's like a superhero. "I leave all suckers in the dust/Those dumb motherfuckers can't mess with us." It was actually the first time I heard a guy curse on a record."

Sure enough, that was the case for me, too. "Hit It Run" (which that lyric comes from) was one of my favorite songs because it's DMC emceeing and Run doing the beatbox, a clear and obvious departure for him. Run wasn't exactly known for his beatboxing skills nor will he ever be. I don't think he ever tried it again. The curse came through so loud and so clear, DMC put so much emphasis on it, like he KNEW it was the first time you'd hear that word in a song and he wanted to make sure you heard him right. But back on topic, Raising Hell is THE album that brought hip-hop to the mainstream. Without Raising Hell there is NO HIP-HOP. Anywhere. Period. Everyone owes a debt to Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay. EVERYONE. Real heads'll cite "Peter Piper" as their favorite track on here likely but it was "Walk This Way" (with equal credit owed to "My Adidas") that was the atom bomb that catapulted these guys to worldwide superstardom.

4. Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
The most individually influential album for me would have to be Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back. Even though they had an album prior to this one (Yo, Bum Rush the Show!) and the lead single ("Public Enemy #1") hit kinda hard, it wasn't until "Nation" that people stood up and took notice. This group, specifically lead vocalist Chuck D, opened my and so many other young black people's eyes to things that we weren't being taught in school at the time. There's only so much knowledge you can drop in a song but Chuck was so great at planting that seed and making me curious enough to go out and learn in-depth about what he was rapping about on my own. I actually owe Chuck, Flav, Terminator X, Prof. Griff and the S1W's for me being a seeker of knowledge, an independent thinker and pro-black. Without them, I don't know where my interest would have come from or who would've taught me.

And then there's their sound. Hank Shocklee, Eric "Vietnam" Sadler and the rest of the "Bomb Squad." They can't even...

"Nation" features abrupt sequencing and violent sonic compression of rapid-fire samples, slamming-jail-door percussion, DJ Terminator X's tornado turntable work and Chuck D's outraged oratory; listening to it is like having your brain hot-wired into emergency TV broadcasts, with the apocalypse playing on every channel. - Rolling Stone

Combine that with "The Mouth That Roared", Chuck D...

"...their producing team, the Bomb Squad, creating a dense, ferocious sound unlike anything that came before. This coincided with a breakthrough in Chuck D's writing, both in his themes and lyrics. It's not that Chuck D was smarter or more ambitious than his contemporaries -- certainly, KRS-One tackled many similar sociopolitical tracts, while Rakim had a greater flow -- but he marshaled considerable revolutionary force, clear vision, and a boundless vocabulary to create galvanizing, logical arguments that were undeniable in their strength." - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

How on Earth could a 12-year-old NOT be positively impacted and influenced?

5. Nas, Illmatic
I was so ready for this album to come out (am I the only person wh remembers Sony running those ads with Nas and Kurious, calling Nas "half-man, half-amazing" and touting the half-Cuban, half-Puerto Rican Kurious?). I was anticipating more than anything in the world and at the time, most of my friends didn't even know who Nas was. I remember falling asleep at night, listening to "Memory Lane" in my headphones. How many winters did I get through, playing "It Ain't Hard To Tell", picturing Nas "sneaking an uzi on an island in his army jacket lining...hitting the earth like a comet, INVASION, Nas is like an afrocentric asian, half-man, half-amazing." The guy was so nice with his that every major East Coast producer was lining up to give the dude tracks. DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Large Professor, his man L.E.S. And other than AZ's verse that starts "Life's a Bitch" there are no cameos. "New York State of Mind" might be the best lead-off song on a debut EVER (even if I'm super partial to "What Up, Gangsta?" on 50's Get Rich or Die Tryin' but we'll get to him in time).

6. The Notorious B.I.G., Ready To Die
If you didn't have this album when it came out you just weren't a real fan of hip-hop. Too many classic joints to list and the majority of them aren't even fit for radio play. Fuck "Juicy", "Big Poppa" and "One More Chance." Niggas in the club was trying to hear "Warning", "The What" and "Who Shot Ya?" That's where Biggie excelled: he managed to be wildly popular in the mainstream and still be gutter enough to hold it down in the streets, all while being overweight and unattractive. I had a friend who, up until LAST WEEK, still believed it was two different guys rhymin' on "Gimme the Loot." Life After Death is equally as good and I think, a better double CD than 'Pac's All Eyez on Me but I can only choose album to put here.

7. Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt
I don't know why I should have to explain this one. You may like Jay now, but this was Jay at his absolute best. He was so far ahead of his time. The lyrics contained here are eons ahead of what he's spitting now but back when this came out, it was too much for niggas. He had to dial it back and dumb it down for the rest of y'all to catch up. I recall hearing "Dead Presidents" late one night while I was out clubbing and I STILL pulled myself out of bed early the next morning and was standing at a local record store door BEFORE they opened to buy the single.

8. A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory
The early '90s was a cool time for hip-hop. It was more "light" and alot of that was due to Tribe's influence. Hard beats were out the window and more melody invaded the songs from that period. The Native Tongues posse ruled this era and opened the doors for silly songs like "Helluva" by Brotherhood Creed, "We Run Things" by Da Bush Babees, "Fudge Pudge" by Organized Konfusion, "Blue Cheese" by the UMC's and many others. I've got a soft spot for '91-'93. All this noise got killed when RZA's grimy and sparse basement production captivated NY again with Wu-Tang's Enter the 36 Chambers but it was fun while it lasted.

9. Dr. Dre, The Chronic
I remember seeing one ad for this CD on Rap City one afternoon and I just KNEW it was gonna be a dud. It was a plain black van on an empty set with smoke streaming out of the windows. A few guys hop out, coughing and choking. That was it. Not only that but out of all the members of N.W.A., who expected Dr. Dre to be the first to release a solo album, much less a successful one? He wasn't even a rapper. Little did we know. Dre enlisted Snoop Doggy Dogg (whom the world first got a taste of on the Deep Cover soundtrack and was literally fiending for more) and a gang of then-unknown rappers: The Lady of Rage, RBX, Kurupt, Dat Nigga Daz and others and put together an album so tight, it had the East Coast reeling for YEARS until Biggie dropped Ready to Die. This is the first brick in the foundation of Death Row records and the opening salvo that started a West Coast stranglehold on rap until the label imploded and Tupac was murdered. No one even made the differentiation between West Coat and East Coast hip-hop that much or used the term "G-Funk" until Dre dropped this.

10. De La Soul, 3 Feet High & Rising
Imainge a hip-hop album that's so good you don't skip the pointless skits.

11. N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton
I don't believe I know ANYONE who isn't a fan of N.W.A. I was watching Chasing Amy a few days ago and even Jay acknowledges Ice Cube, saying "Life ain't nuthin' but bitches and money!" Hip-hop might be all misogny and materialism nowadays but back in the day these guys (Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren & DJ Yella) were the first and as their manager "Trustus Jones" says about the group CB4 in the movie of the same name, "the iller they got" the more popular they became. "Fuck Tha Police" and the subsequent attention from the FBI were the best things to ever happen to them. Their influence on modern hip-hop is indisputable and I don't believe there's been one successful West Coast act since that has broken out that hasn't been affiliated somehow with one N.W.A.'s former members.

12. Slick Rick, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick
People didn't really respect Rick's (or any rapper's) storytelling abilities until Outkast made them obvious and had the world's ear. His British accent is unmistakable. His air of class, "I'm better than you" attitude (he often called people "peasants" or "crumbs") and his excessive gold jewelry gave you the impression that he was truly rap royalty. "Teenage Love", "Mona Lisa", "A Children's Story" and "Hey Young World" were great. "Indian Girl" and "Treat Her Like a Prostitute" raised the bar on "blue" humor in hip-hop. "Lick The Balls" is SO HARD, a definite party rocker; uncharacteristic for the usually laid-back Rick. "The Moment I Feared" is the best, most effortless and fun story he's ever told.

13. Beastie Boys, License to Ill
Rick Rubin's production MADE this album. They tore shit up at least year's Hip-Hop Honors performing those songs.

14. EPMD, Strictly Business
I had "It's My Thing" on this mixtape when I was a kid and I couldn't stop listening to it. I was actually UPSET when I heard Jay-Z jack the beat for his funky ass collaboration with Foxy Brown, "Ain't No Nigga."

15. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, He's the DJ...I'm the Rapper
It won a Grammy. Back when rap didn't win awards. When people didn't even consider rap "music." They were the first to do it and you can't front on how fun this album is. I still listen to it today. Proudly. I'll bust out "Brand New Funk" anytime.

16. LL Cool J, Bigger and Deffer
Remember when music videos weren't on every channel, every hour of the day? Back in the days of NBC and the late-airing Friday Night Videos? I fought off the sandman for hours to catch (and of course, record) LL's "I'm Bad" video (well, that and Janet Jackson's "Pleasure Principle") to WALK it individually to each of my friends' houses to make sure everyone heard and saw it.

17. Ice Cube, Amerikkka's Most Wanted
This is EASILY far and away my favorite Cube album. It was his big "fuck you" to N.W.A. and Jerry Heller, who all thought he couldn't make it solo. This was Cube at his angriest and where did he go to get the soundtrack to back his rage? That's right, New York, baby, straight to Hank Shocklee and the Bomb Squad.

18. Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the 36 Chambers
They formed like Voltron and after unleashing their blazing sword on hip-hop in late '93, they broke down into eight individual lions and continued their reign. Method Man, Ghostface Killah, The RZA, GZA/Genius, Ol' Dirty Bastard (R.I.P.), Inspecta Deck, U-God and Masta Killa are hip-hop's last supergroup and for a good long while, there wasn't a stronger or more popular collective in the game.

19. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Doggystyle
Chris Rock likened having Straight Outta Compton to having crack. Doggystyle was my crack for A MINUTE. I had just got my license when this came out and I remember skipping out of school early and going half on this album with a friend just to LISTEN TO IT. We didn't worry about who would buy who out later, all we knew is that the album came out that day and that together we had enough to go get it. I don't think I've ever been that geeked about an album since. I mean, me and this dude went back to my house and just sat and LISTENED to the whole thing from beginning to end. No television, no video games. We sat and didn't say a word until it was over. I believe Snoop was the first person to attempt a hip-hop cover when he re-imagined "Lodi Dodi" and due to that song's classic status, alot of East Coast heads were pissed he did it. To us, rap is about originality, and alot of cats still considered covering a song "biting" because no one had done it before.

20. Outkast, ATLiens
The beat to "Elevators" is one of my favorites of all-time. The title track and the "Jazzy Belle (Remix)" are right up there. I love these guys for having the courage to be on some different shit, especially considering where they come from and how they started out. This is so far away from their first album, it's crazy. Actually, conceptually all of their albums are far away from their previous effort and I suppose that's what keeps them relevant and popular.

21. The Fugees, The Score
I have this white friend from York, PA and when "Fugee-La" came out, I remember having this long, drunken discussion with him in my car in a hotel parking lot about how dope L-Boogie was for a female emcee, just on the strength of her verse on that track. Never before had we heard a lady so easily outshine her male peers in a group. And sang the hook! We wanted a solo album. Bad. And we got one. Just wasn't what I was expecting. I wanted more L-Boogie. We got Lauryn Hill. Fuck. I gave the CD to my girlfriend. Then I TOOK IT BACK.

22. Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
The day I got this album (August 8, 1995, yes I remember it VIVIDLY), I recall listening to it in its entirety in my headphones because my roommate was asleep early for an important appointment the next morning. I WOKE HIM UP to listen to it (specifically "Guillotines" and "Verbal Intercourse"). Fuck his appointment. This is the best Wu-Tang solo effort.

23. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Mecca and the Soul Brother
One of my favorite producers ever. "Straighten It Out", "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)", "Lots of Lovin'", not to mention all of Pete's remixes to these songs...I can't think of a better produced album. Except maybe their follow-up, The Main Ingredient.

24. 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin'
I remember being in Best Buy at the time this was coming out and little old white ladies were looking for it. I'd NEVER seen that before.

25. Mobb Deep, Murda Muzik
Clipse, Lord Willin'
Big Punisher, Capital Punishment
Group Home, Livin' Proof

Monday, April 09, 2007 

Sex, Violence and Lots of Blood?

Welcome to the GRINDHOUSE.

Anyone and everyone who knows me knows I'm a Rodriguez/Tarantino head to the core; on their collective dicks way before it was cool to do so AND before the Quentin backlash began. So you know I was in line as soon as humanly possible on April 6th to see the nostalgia-laden GRINDHOUSE, a combined effort between the two that harkens back to '60s and '70s drive-in B-movie double features. With hilarious fake trailers starting the event and suturing the two films (purposely marred by "missing reels" and print damage) together in the middle, I had the time of my life or at the very least, the most fun one can have in a movie theater without being blown.

One could consider the Tarantino-penned "From Dusk Til Dawn" a dry-run for director Rodriguez's PLANET TERROR. Containing an almost absurd amount of gore and gross-out, stomach-churning moments, Robert's segment takes place in a sleepy Texas town suddenly overrun by flesh-eating zombies. El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), a truck driving wrecker with a secret past and go-go dancer Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan, my boo since "The Doom Generation") are the heroes in a cast that also includes Dr. Dakota Block ("Sugar & Spice" and "Sin City"'s Marley Shelton) and a slew of credited and uncredited cameos I'd rather not spoil.

Most enjoyable for me was DEATH PROOF. I'm not much into horror or zombie movies so Tarantino's dialogue-heavy ode to female empowerment entertained me endlessly. Some will say it drags and it may even bore some others at times because it seems to be going nowhere fast but have trust, the ending is completely worth it. Be patient. The first half focuses on a group of girls, Shanna (Jordan Ladd, looking much blonder and thinner than she did in Gregg Araki's "Nowere"), Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito) and a smoking Austin-based DJ, Jungle Julie (uber-hot Sydney Poitier), letting their hair down during a night out on the town. Little do they know they are being not-so-silently observed by Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) and his reinforced "death proof" Hollywood stunt car. After successfully stalking them, Mike moves his attention to a quartet consisting of Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), Kim (Baltimore's own Tracie Thoms in a sort of "Rent" reunion with Dawson), Zoe (Zoe Bell) and Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). But Mike just may have met his match when the girls fraudulently acquire a 1970 Dodge Challenger. The subsequent car chase segment not only proves that Tarantino is more than capable of directing action sequences (not that "Kill Bill" didn't already answer that question) but he creates something (and I have no doubt this was his intention) that can proudly stand alongside all the classics he has his self-professed "gear head" stuntwomen refer to, like "Vanishing Point", "Dirty Mary Crazy Larry" and the original "Gone in 60 Seconds."

For fans of Rodriguez and Tarantino there is so much to take in, so much to love. Rodriguez satisfies his fans, stays true to his Mexican roots, employing all the regulars you'd expect and keeps his body-snatching undead story firing on all cylinders by constantly and consistently providing shock after blood-splattering shock. Tarantino's dialogue was so engaging and real it had me talking back aloud at the screen, interjecting and wanting to take part in the conversation. His white-knuckle thrill ride is well worth your time and money. Like the old monster truck show ads used to say: "$9.50'll get you the whole seat, but all you'll need is the edge!"