Good Bread Alley

B000FDEU4Y.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_V62622762_.jpgTitle: Good Bread Alley
Artist: Carl Hancock Rux
Label: Thirsty Ear
Catalog No.: THI-57168-2
Date: 2006

Carl Hancock Rux, who in 1994 was named by the New York Times as “One of 30 artists under the age of 30 most likely to influence culture over the next 30 years,” is well on his way to fulfilling this prediction. The recipient of a score of art and literary prizes and commissions, this author, poet, playwright, and performance artist shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. Rux has dabbled in a wide range of projects, including collaborations with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co., and Urban Bush Women, and he recently performed in the title role of the Robert Wilson/Bernice Johnson Reagon opera The Temptation of St. Anthony. On the horizon are two operas (he’s writing the librettos) including The Blackamoor Angel, based on the life of an ex-slave and companion to Mozart, and Makandal, about the Haitian slave uprising with music by Daniel Bernard Roumain.

Good Bread Alley is the third CD in the Rux oeuvre and is more musical than his previous efforts. Often compared to Gil Scott-Heron, Rux’s verse is also full of political and social commentary, but on this album he sings his own lyrics more frequently than he raps, and the musical accompaniment samples just about every genre. From the opening title song set over a bluesy background, the tracks run the gamut from hip hop to jazz to R&B and everywhere in between, finally settling on a gospel-tinged cover of Bill Wither’s anti-war song, “I can’t write left-handed” (the only song not written by Rux). Notable tracks include “Lies,” co-authored by Vernon Reid (founder of the Black Rock Coalition); “Black of My Shadow,” which weaves together fragments of spirituals and Billie Holiday’s “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” in and through Rux’s haunting lyrics; “Living Room,” a commentary on domestic violence; and perhaps thrown in just for fun, “All the Rock Stars (for Kurt Cobain).”  Impossible to classify, this CD is both thought-provoking and mezmerizing, definately worth repeated listenings and comtemplation.

Oh, and did I mention that Rux is also a novelist? Continue reading

Eddie Murphy: Comedian

B000EQ47V8.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_V62370689_.jpgTitle: Eddie Murphy: Comedian
Artist: Eddie Murphy
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Year: 2006, 1983
Catalog No.: 82876 81282 2
Genre: Comedy

Eddie Murphy recorded this CD in 1983 at the tender age of 22, and it’s an early demonstration of his true comic genius. This youthful Eddie Murphy is raw, raunchy and extremely sexually explicit, but he is also extremely funny. If you like to laugh so hard that it makes your liver quiver then you will love Eddie Murphy: Comedian. Richard Pryor once wrote that he thought Eddie Murphy’s comedy was too mean and on this CD Murphy is just as crude and rude as he wants to be and nothing is sacred.

Murphy is not afraid to tackle any subject or anyone. All is fair game for his razor sharp wit, from bashing gays, to jokes about modern women and even jokes about Stevie Wonder. His comedy is characterized by frequent cursing and adult subject matter hence the advisory on the label for explicit material. This CD is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended. This is the hungry Eddie Murphy, fresh from his SNL success and movie debut in 48 Hrs. but before his rise to mega star status that came the following year with Beverly Hills Cop.

Eddie Murphy: Comedian was followed by Delirious (1983 video) and Eddie Murphy Raw (1987 film), which firmly established Murphy as the prince of comedy and heir apparent to Richard Pryor, the reigning king. Eddie Murphy: Comedian is a must for comedy lovers in general and for Eddie Murphy fans in particular. I am a fan of the man.

Posted by Clark D. Whitlow