Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Mix Tapes: 'Cooing Elegant Boleros' with Y La Bamba, Robert Glasper & Common

I am in so much trouble. Here I am, already juggling multiple girl crushes on Sharon Van Etten, Ana Tijoux, and, yes, SIGH, Lana Del Rey, and then I find out about Luz Elena Mendoza of Y La Bamba.

photo from [here]
It was probably inevitable: Not only does Neko Case make a little guest appearance on the title track of Y La Bamba's new album, "Court the Storm,"  but it seems the inspiration behind the band name comes from Mendoza's six-toed cat, Bamba. From her six-toed cat. Bamba. Over at NPR, Felix Contreras writes of Mendoza:
Ultimately, it's Luz Elena Mendoza's vocals that draw me in. In interviews, she's said that the music she writes will never sound like traditional Mexican music. But to me, her deep, dreamy voice is exactly the kind I used to hear blasting out of the radio in my mom's kitchen — belting out rancheras, cooing elegant boleros or letting loose over accordion-fueled corridos.
I'm not quite sure what I love more—that I completely agree that her voice is deep and dreamy, or this amazing happenings in this kitchen he describes. Belting out rancheras? Cooing elegant boleros? Dude, that never happened in my mom's kitchen. And while I'm not even entirely sure what it all means, it certainly sounds fucking awesome, and reads that way as well. I also really enjoy the earnest-looking dudes harmonizing and playing with her: 

And since NPR First Listen so obviously fuels my Monday Mix Tapes as of late, next up we have the Robert Glasper Experiment.

Take a listen to "Black Radio" streaming at NPR. Lots of familiar guests on there, including Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, Chrisette Michelle, Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, and the artist formerly known as Mos Def. (Side note: I fucking LOVE that I get to say "the artist formerly known as Mos Def"—it's Yasiin Bey now.)

Here's "Ah Yeah," featuring Musiq Soulchild and Chrisette Michelle. It's really a sweet song, with a simple but beautiful and true message. Right from the start:
I think beauty's overrated/cause that's something anyone can be/attraction now that's something different/ah-huh/ and thankfully you're both to me
When Chrisette Michelle comes in, after a lot of lovely "ah-yeah"-ing, talking, "You're sweet/and you see through me/you let me be free/I'm woman/I'm woman"—it's just the bizness. I love it:

And while I really enjoyed the entirety of "Black Radio," this one was another favorite of mine:

Last, but not least, I finished reading Common's memoir last week. I'm glad I read it (even if I now know more than I ever really needed to about his first sexual experiences). I particularly enjoyed learning more about his relationship with Erykah Badu and his thoughts on President Obama.

But his chapter, "Retrospect for Life," that begins with a letter to his unborn, was my favorite part. Being the Chicago man he is, I figured—and hoped— it was not a coincidence that he begins the chapter (after the letter) with an almost direct quote from Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks' poem, "The Mother," stating, "Abortions never let you forget."

As with the rest of his book, I found this chapter to be honest and thoughtful. I've always loved this collaboration with Lauryn Hill, particularly with the Stevie Wonder hook. Common writes about the song: "That was a very personal song for me. It was also a public song in that I wanted to reach out to women by talking about something that matters deeply to them." I'm glad he also admits that his acting in this video is not, um, the best.

The song, however, is something else entirely:

Happy Monday! What's been playing in your ear buds? Tell me about it!

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