Saturday, January 13, 2018

LL Cool J At The Kennedy Center Honors | Lefsetz Letter

In case you missed it, I thought you might dig this. I helped put together the segment for the Kennedy Center Honors last month honoring LL Cool J. It was the 1st time a Hip Hop artist has ever been recognized there. Thought you might dig the power of real DJing and MCing, live with no overdubs, like it was meant to be done.

LL Cool J At The Kennedy Center Honors

Heal up, my brother.


DJ Z-Trip

Now I know Z-Trip. We’ve hung in Vail. He does gigs and rides, what could be better? He’s enthusiastic without airs and he told me all about his collaboration with LL Cool J and I figured I’d better watch this clip before I get back to him and…

WHEW! Where was the press on this?

It starts off with Questlove. I love Ahmir as much as the next guy, but he’s become the black Dave Grohl, the one the media continually trot out when the scope needs to be broadened, when there are other deserving individuals involved. Questlove’s got cred, this is no diss on him personally, it’s just that when I see him my eyes start to glaze over.

Although in this case, he seems to be testifying from his heart, saying important things, but it is an awards show, we’re used to superlatives.

And then…

My ears bug out when Z-Trip is introduced by the man at 1:45 and an energy starts exploding from the stage like a late night party and he implores the audience to put their hands in the air and every one of the honorees other than nonagenarian Norman Lear does so and Busta Rhymes and Spliff Star hit the stage and…

You shouldn’t call it a comeback.

We’ve got rhythm, we’ve got power, we’ve got Babyface nodding his head, all the people of color in the audience are in the groove, evidencing soul, locked in.

Meanwhile, the people down front are too startled to even rattle their jewelry. It’s like “Springtime For Hitler” in “The Producers.”

Meanwhile, Gloria Estefan falls right in.

There’s dancing in the aisle, there are eyes closed in reverie and it ain’t radically different from the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Decades of hip-hop compressed into one triumphant victory lap that got no press because we live in a delusional racist country where the whites control the media but the blacks control the culture.

I don’t care if you hate hip-hop, I don’t care if you’ve never heard the songs, there’s a palpable energy that cannot be denied. You’re not repelled, you just want to get CLOSER!

Now you get the memo. While you’re home watching Netflix there’s an entire generation that needs to leave to go party, to be with their brethren, to feel the vibe. They’re drawn to the sound, the tribal drum, to the truth evidenced in the lyrics, you realize immediately why rock is dead and hip-hop dominates, it’s hot, it’s alive, and it’s about the MOMENT!

That’s what this clip is, a moment.

And by time Black Thought finishes so many in attendance have been infected, the aged white people are putting their hands in the air. You see you get carried along, as the entire younger generation has been with hip-hop.

And then DMC hits the state and you’re swirling your head to the music, you can’t help it, even Caroline Kennedy.

Meanwhile, LL is rapping in his box, he’s in his moment, whereas most honorees are usually passive, taking it all in, but he’s ENJOYING HIMSELF!

Ain’t that what it’s all about, ain’t that how hip-hop started? With parties in the neighborhood?

And isn’t that Lesley Stahl at the end totally down?

And speaking of up, the believers stand in an ovation and then the minions rise along, because they don’t want to be left behind, never mind pass judgment, the train has left the station and they realize they’ve got to get on.

Do you?

That’s the interesting thing about music. It keeps going forward. Hip-hop has infected country. It used to be in rock, before that format imploded. You see it’s about energy and creativity and…

The sound of the streets.

You remember the streets, don’t you? Where you’re a nobody other than your personality and your clothes? Where you laugh and struggle to get ahead, knowing it’s a long way to where you want to go?

These deejays and MCs didn’t know they were gonna be superstars. They did it for the love. Meanwhile, the white people, or most of them, isn’t it fascinating that DMC is wearing a Beastie Boys t-shirt, are so busy jumping through rote hoops that they miss the memo. The best and the brightest are pushing paper at Goldman Sachs, all the creativity has been beaten out of them, but these people married to the beat, they’re triumphing.

All these people who cannot get a break. Who are put down constantly. The true “deplorables” of society. The ones winked at on Fox and in Charlottesville. The ones whose lives are constantly criticized as we lock ’em up in jail for drug offenses… They’re the ones driving our culture, just ask your kids.

This video is 9 minutes of pleasure.

But you don’t know what to do with it. It’s easier just to dismiss it.

But no longer.

Z-Trip and his crew rocked the bells.

And these same people are gonna rock your house.

Including the one in D.C. with the representatives.

That’s the power of hip-hop!


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