Song of the Day: Cloth

As much as I love Common, I’m quite surprised that I haven’t featured any of his music on here. It’s hard to choose from his array of tracks, because so many are so good. He’s one of those artists that I can listen to all day and not get bored of. Which is what brings me to today’s Song of the Day. I like to put my music on shuffle every once in a while to rediscover songs I haven’t listened to in a while. So when a Common track came on, I immediately went to my library and started listening to every track of his I own.

While there’s a lot of tracks I love (I Used to Love H.E.R. is one that comes to mind) I chose Cloth because there’s something so irresistible about the music and Common’s rhymes. From first listen you may not hear it but the song is about Common comparing his relationship with a woman he loves with cloth, and the age-old saying of being “cut from the same cloth.”

I’m so in love with this track that I can never just listen to it only one time. Every time I play it, I have to hit repeat. I hope you enjoy it too.

Radikal Readings: In the Time of the Butterflies

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In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez is often used as reading material in schools, but I guess none of my teachers ever got that memo. Seeing as I didn’t get the chance to read it while in school, when I saw the best seller in a bookstore, I had to finally pick it up.

In the Time of the Butterflies is a fictionalized account of the now revered Mirabal sisters who lived under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. The sisters became revolutionaries and joined the Movement of the Fourteenth of June political group who planned to overthrow the regime. The sisters were called Las Mariposas or the butterflies.

The book outlines how they are harassed, persecuted, and imprisoned while their family and friends suffer from retaliation by Trujillo’s secret police. It’s presented from the perspective of the only surviving sister, Dedé and from the three other sisters: Minerva, Patria and Maria Teresa in different chapters alternating from present to past.

This book is right up my alley – a revolutionary, historical and political novel. I really appreciated  Alvarez’s writing style and her choice of alternating between different perspectives. While I was weary of this being a fictionalized account with Alvarez’s perception of what the sisters’ lives must have been like, the fact that she and her family fled the Trujillo regime when she was ten years old, just months before Las Mariposas were murdered adds authenticity. Her own father had also been a revolutionary and had to escape before being found out.

If you like historical/political fiction, I can’t recommend this book enough.

First book…

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“Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.”

― Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

Song of the Day: One Minute

I have a confession to make – when I was in my late teens, early twenties, I was totally obsessed with Jay Sean. Not the Jay Sean you’ve most likely heard of – the Cash Money Records guy with big muscles singing club/pop tracks. No, the Jay Sean I fell in love with was a skinny, spiky haired R&B crooner who beat boxed and sang songs that more resembled Musiq Soulchild than Jason Derulo.

That Jay Sean came from the British-Asian underground movement that encompassed names like Apache Indian, Panjabi MC and of course Rishi Rich, Juggy D, and Veronica – who made up the Rishi Rich Project. Rishi Rich in fact produced Jay’s first album and gave his music the Indian/Bhangra fusion touch Rich is so famous for.

It’s this Jay Sean that I interviewed and wrote about numerous times as a journalist and it’s this Jay Sean’s first album that I fell in love with. Me Against Myself was a amazing for a Fijian Indian girl living in the States. An Indian guy singing in English with the fusion of hip hop and Indian/Bhangra music, signed to a major UK record label. It may have been the norm for Indian kids in the UK, but in America, we had nothing like it. The Indian/English fusion was ground breaking and done in just the right way without sounding like a novelty.

Forgetting all that, the music was damn good. I don’t know how many times I blasted Dance With You featuring Juggy D in my car. The English/Punjabi track was so infectious. Not only that, it was such a quality album with Jay Sean battling his two personas at times – the rapper/beatboxer influenced by hip hop versus the R&B crooner. It was also completely honest and introspective with social commentary as well – all things that are missing in this new Jay Sean’s music.

For this song of the day I chose One Minute. For me, this track most encompasses the artist Jay Sean always said he was. An R&B singer inspired by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Musiq Soulchild. One Minute is a smooth track about the ups and downs of love. I often caught myself grooving to the beat without even knowing it, and his voice sounds so silky.

So while I know artists have to change and evolve, this is the Jay Sean I loved, and it’s the one I hope he finds again now that he’s no longer selling his soul with Cash Money Records.

Who Taught You?

“Who taught you to hate the color of your skin? Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to so much that you don’t want to be around each other?”

- Malcolm X

Radikal Readings: Siddhartha

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I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything here. That hasn’t happened since I revamped it, yet I have good reason – I’ve been extremely under the weather for a better part of the month, and the other part I was away on business in Thailand. The Thailand part is where this Radikal Reading post comes into play. I took a handful of books with me for the long plane rides, and being that Thailand is a Buddhist country, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse was at the top of my reading list.

Real talk – I had my reservations about it. A novel using Buddhist and Hindu themes about enlightenment written in 1922 by a German man (yes, he won the Nobel Prize, but still). However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it. It’s a quick yet, engrossing read and I found myself wanting to discover what path Siddhartha, the protagonist, would take next in his quest for true enlightenment.

I had read other reviews that claim it was life changing for them, and I can sort of see how that is possible. However, for me a lot of these teachings are already rooted in the religion I practice, so the teachings came across were known and natural for me. So instead of the book being life changing it just ended up being a nice light read while being trapped in a plane for 15 plus hours.