Derrick N Ashong and Soulfège

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AFropolitan by Derrick N. Ashong & Soulfege is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Love Rain Down - A Short Film "Love Rain Down" is a 2012 Official Entry in the Palm Beach International Film Festival

An animated film based on the song "Love Rain Down" from the album "AFropolitan" by Derrick N. Ashong (aka DNA) & Soulf├Ęge. The movie follows the tale of a little boy named "Johnny" who makes a trip to the legendary "Crossroads" of Robert Johnson fame, and stands down the Devil armed only with a song...


Check out this Unite Against The War on Women video using our song "Fight On" Then DOWNLOAD the Free mp3 of 'Fight On' via SoundCloud
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Pistorius - Stupid is as Stupid Does

Just about everyone I know has been gripped this morning by the South African bail hearing for Olympic and Paralympic athlete and global hero Oscar Pistorius.  Sadly the nature of the charges he's facing have largely erased that heroic image for many of us, and have permanently tarnished if not utterly destroyed much of his legacy.
The tragic shooting last week of Reeva Steenkamp - South African model, soon-to-be-reality-star and Pistorious' girlfriend of three months - shocked the world when it turned out that the man who purportedly loved her was admittedly the one who pulled the trigger.  He claims it was a terrible mistake, the prosecution claims it was cold-blooded murder.  Regardless of who's right here, what is clear is something is terribly wrong w Oscar Pistorius and it has nothing to do with his legs.
For any of you who have been sleeping under a rock for the last few days the basic facts of the case are:
-Reeva Steenkamp was shot through the door of Pistorius' bathroom
-Pistorius claims he thought there was an intruder in his bathroom and shot in self-defense
-Pistorius subsequently entered the bathroom, discovered his dying girlfriend & carried her downstairs
The prosecution asserts it has witnesses who will testify that they heard loud arguing prior to shots being fired.  The defense argues Pistorius had no idea his girlfriend was in the bathroom and fearing for his safety he put a few rounds through the door.  Then there's some drama about a bloody cricket bat and alleged steroid use and other stuff I'm not that interested in.
The bottom line for me is Oscar Pistorius is going to wind up in jail because he's stupid and for the sake of society that will be a good thing.  Why?  Because WTF shoots through a closed bathroom door because they fear an intruder is in there?  Particularly when you know that you are not home alone?  
Was he worried a dude was in there snatching up all his shampoo?  Were the Ogilvy products of such value that he needed to go full commando in order to protect them?  OR did he fear that having snuck into the bedroom without touching he or his sleeping girl, this particular miscreant was lying in wait hoping to have his way with them when they inevitably headed to the crapper?  I don't roll w/ a lot of would-be assasins, but I'm a' go out on a limb and say that sounds like a terrible approach to robbing or eliminating anyone.  
Furthermore, Pistorius claims he assumed his girl was sleeping in the bed next to him and didn't bother to check before busting a cap in the unseen ass of the bathroom bandit.  Seriously??  How big is your bed bro?  Even in the dark it doesn't take much to determine if there's a warm body lying next to you or not.  And if indeed the fear is that you and your lady might be in danger, wouldn't your FIRST concern be to ascertain whether or not your girl is safe??
The bottom line to me is that in the best-case-scenario this guy woke up in a panic, picked up his gun and fired blindly through the closed door of his own bathroom.  Even if there were an intruder in there, I'm not convinced that person would deserve to be gunned down like a dog for stopping to take a piss on his nightly murder/robbery/shampoo-sampling spree.  Calling the cops would be a great idea, particularly if you're armed and know that if things get drastic before they arrive, you've already brought a gun to the gunfight.
Put it another way: ladies, imagine you're at your boyfriend's house and you wake up in the middle of the night to relieve yourself.  While you're in there thinking about what a sweetie he is and how you plan to redecorate the place as soon as you get your own key, bruh gets up and starts blasting hot lead through the door because he heard you flush.  Does this seem plausible to you in your own life?  How many times have you unknowingly been in such mortal danger because you went to the bathroom when it was dark outside?  And of all the men you've ever had sleep-overs with (no judgments maam), how many do you consider capable of doing something like this?
That's why Oscar Pistorius has to go to jail.  As much as it pains me to consider what a waste he has made of his brilliant and inspirational life, it pains me even more to think of the foolishness and utter dumbfuckery with which he wasted the life of an innocent young woman.

The Empire Strikes Out

So the world didn't come to an end today.  This is kind of depressing for those of us who haven't bothered to do any Christmas shopping since it didn't really matter this year.  I also have no idea what I'm gonna' do with all these "The Mayans were right" T-Shirts I planned to share with my ancestors after the apocalypse (having cleverly bought them on a payment plan, it turns out I'm actually gonna' have to pay full-price for all this crap now).

At a mournful moment like this, where for once it looks like tomorrow actually IS promised, the only thing that cheers me up is reminiscing about the year gone by, and the magic and wonderment that the Republican party has brought to the unwashed masses of our nation in these difficult times.  

It all began with the presidential election season, which featured the surreal spectacle of the GOP primary debates in which grown men and woman showed the entire world why Saturday Night Live will never go off the air.  By the time the "inevitable-nominee" Mitt Romney emerged victorious, it was clear that the shining lights of the Republican Party would not be willing to accept a 10-to-1 package of spending reductions to tax increases, had little to no respect for the troops (if they happened to be gay), and were willing to consider "self-deportation" as a serious approach to solving our immigration problem.

Despite my own dashed hopes that a few of these candidates would engage in the age old practice of "self-shut-up-already," the general election revealed a GOP just as beholden to magical thinking as it was to invisible billionaires with bottomless checkbooks.  From fabricating imaginary attacks on welfare reform, to leveling incessant broadsides against an imaginary President Obama (and I'm not just talking about Eastwood), to the oft-repeated-never-proven assertion that lowering taxes for the wealthy increases revenues - embracing the GOP platform this year required a certain belief in elves and faeries, worthy of anyone embarking on a quest for the Ring of Sauron, or bipartisan compromise in Congress. 

And when that magical thinking failed to transform the president's persistent lead in the polls into a landslide victory for Mitt Romney, the world witnessed the meltdown of the modern-day Republican party personified in the antics of Karl Rove during FOX News' election night coverage.  Apparently the 47% of Americans comprised of women, youth, people of color, and all manner of other freeloaders - turned out to be a majority of the electorate.  It's the kind of math that only the GOP of 2012 could imagine.

And today, when the world should have been busy ending, we instead witnessed two more memorable moments.  First, House Speaker John Boehner's failure to win enough support from his own caucus to bring a vote on his proposed "Plan B" fiscal cliff solution to the floor of the House of Representatives.  While this was a surprise for most who've been observing the back & forth from a safe distance, in the end is it really so surprising that Congressional Republicans weren't willing to pass a bill that would put them on record as supporting a tax increase - a bill that could never become law even in the imaginings of its sponsor?

Yet the good times were only beginning to roll.  To cap it all off, this morning NRA chief sharpshooter Wayne Lapierre held a half-hour news conference in which he single-handedly managed to convince the entire nation of the absolute necessity of keeping firearms out of the hands of people as mentally disturbed as Wayne Lapierre.  After what many would argue to be the single most tragic mass shooting in our nation's history - it's horror marked not only by the number of people killed, but by the incomprehensible fact that most of them were children - the NRA declared it's position that in order to solve the problem of mass shootings at schools...we need to have more guns at schools.

I look at all of this and can't help but think that the imaginary world the GOP has created - one where brown people, women, gays and youth either don't exist or don't matter enough to speak to - is drifting apart before our eyes.  While most of the country is still pondering how we can sensibly preserve the rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment while keeping assault weapons off our streets, and out of our malls and schools, the Republican stalwarts at the NRA have determined that video games, movies, music and other fictional works are the sources of the real-life violence we've grown so accustomed to - which is clearly why video-game loving nations like Japan, the UK and the maple-syrup-snorting madmen to our North have a fraction of the gun-violence we do.

In the end it's been a big year for the American imagination.  And who would have thought that ultimately the Mayan calendar predicted not the end of the world...but the end of any connection the Republican Party once had with reality.



Why Obama Will Win - Arithmetic

I tweeted yesterday that despite all the fretting I hear in the media about the election being "uber close," I believe President Obama will win decisively tonight.  Yes, the country is fairly evenly split, but the electoral college math favors the president in a way that may not be good for cable news ratings, but which will nonetheless result in his reelection.  Since some of you have been asking why I'm so confident in this, here is some of my reasoning.  This is an excerpt from an email I shared with some friends on this topic yesterday:

"I think we've all got to assume that anything can happen in an election this close, because that's the name of the game.  That said, I just don't think it's going to be that close & certainly not in the electoral vote.  For one thing as you mentioned early voting has been strong for the President in a number of key states.  The polling has also favored the president and yet standard polling overwhelmingly undercounts young voters who are a) less likely to have a landline, and b) less likely to answer an unknown call on their cell phone.

Additionally, I'd argue that the voter suppression efforts in places like PA, OH & FL has had a boomerang effect against the GOP.  Folks keep talking about a lack of enthusiasm on the DEM side, but I think what they're talking about is the lack of euphoria that accompanied much of the campaign in 08.  Then people voted because they were excited - this time people are excited to vote because they're pissed that someone has tried to take the vote away from them.

I had a chance to interview David Axelrod last Nov...and these guys have been all over the voter suppression issue for a strong minute.  I'm giving NV, IA, WI, OH, PA & NH to the president.  I'm also going out on a limb and giving him VA as well.  NC & CO I'm not convinced he wins, and FL could go either way, but from the math I see President Obama wins big."

I think there's a good chance President Obama takes FL as well, given the ongoing demographic shift in that state (eg. the Latino community there is deep and increasingly "non-Cuban"; the young Cuban demo is not as deeply committed to the Castro issue that has galvanized previous generations behind the GOP).  Additionally, the Obama campaign has a far superior ground game to the Romney campaign nationwide (particularly in the battle-ground states) and ultimately this numbers game boils down to who shows up to the polls & has their votes counted.  

The bottom line is, yes the country is divided but the electoral college will not be.  Tomorrow we'll be hearing the news media all abuzz about how the polls were so bad, of course they couldn't tell it wouldn't be close.  Except for Nate Silver, who's been doing the math all along.



At the RNC - Day 2

Today was my 3rd day in Tampa, 2nd day at the Republican National Convention.  So far it's been a BLAST! First of all, I know maaad heads down here! Mind you, I didn't really know in advance any of these herbs were going to be attending. We've mostly all discovered each other on Twitter & then linked up in person.  Some of these folks are definitely not good Republicans.  I hooked up w/ Baratunde and some cool peeps from WNYC for Cuban food last night & it was like a Communist revival over black beans & rice! Salud Comrades! Pass me another Negra Modelo (I was gonna' write Negro Modelo, but you nerdikins would be so busy correcting me, you'd completely miss the joke).
Definitely had a good time w/ the progressives last night & went home w/ a bellyfull of beer & arroz con pollo.  Today, the fates flipped the script on me & I ran into some of my peeps who are doing varying degrees of some real GOP ish. One of them is a key blogger for the Romney Campaign & the other is the big cheese at We all shared hugs & took pics and I told them that for the sake of their jobs, they should deny any witnesses who saw them smiling all over me. Baratunde on the other hand outed all of us on Twitter already, so here's the pic anyway:
As you can see, no one is foaming at the mouth and none of us is beating the other with a large, heavily-bound piece of legislation.  I know there's a lot of vitriol in our political discourse today, but standing around sharing baby pictures & catching up about music, travels & life since our school daze, reminds you how much we all still have in common.
Speaking of things in common, I also ran into a gang of my peeps from AJStream! I didn't get a pic of them, but they snapped one of me as soon as we rolled up on eachother:
Where am I? And WTF are y'all doing here??
Note the look of surprise as I stumble upon my Al Jazeera crew in the middle of the awesome tunnel of foottraffickery that leads from the media circus building, to the delegate circus building (ie. where all the action is happening). We naturally commenced to ulullating and speaking in Arabic which drew a large & appreciative crowd of Republicans who were excited to meet some real life Muslims, they pulled out their guns & started shooting in the air!
Ok only one of us was Muslim (I don't wanna' be like Shaggy on that "it wasn't me," but since I get accused of all kinds of falsehoods anyway, I'll say for the wasn't me).  And no one pulled out a gun, security down here is tighter than a yellow bear huggin' a honey pot.  And we didn't really speak in Arabic (we ain't crazy now...).
All in all it was another super fun day.  I ran into a well known GOP commentator who spoke to me off the record about some of the challenges facing the Romney/Ryan ticket, as well as some of the mistakes the Obama administration has made from a political strategy perspective, rather than a partisan one.  It's amazing hearing a Republican operative break down what the administration could/should have done early to defuse some of the criticisms that are dogging them now.  When you turn off the talking points, some of these cats are on some real political Jiu-Jitsu.
Something I've been thinking a lot about is the dismal 17% favorability rating for the GOP (72% unfavorable) among African-Americans that was reported in a recent BET News Poll. We interviewed some prominent Black conservatives for Thursday night's broadcast and their comments, combined with some of the off the record conversations I've had, lead me to believe that a significant reason that Black folks have such a dismal view of the GOP is that the party really hasn't made any serious effort to speak to US.  Rather, they've counted on a narrow, xenophobic and often straight-up-racist segment of the party, to drive engagement and play on racial fears to corral and motivate a broader swath of GOP voters, particularly in the South (I know, I know y'all hate to hear me talk about "race" and the "South" but that is where much of this ish goes down so walk up & smell the pork rinds).
If the GOP would actually try serious outreach to Black & Latino communities, not just the playtime efforts of speaking at the NAACP while claiming the first Black President is an illegal immigrant, or claiming that Latinos care about the economy & jobs, while encouraging them to self-deport and find those jobs in Mexico - if Republicans would take a moment and seriously talk to these communities that have historically held a bevy of conservative beliefs, our political landscape might be altogether different.  But then the GOP would be an altogether different party, wouldn't it?
Good thing the Democrats don't take the Black vote for granted...that would be a fatal error if a genuine alternative were ever to present itself.
More to come,

At the RNC with BET

Landed yesterday in Tampa for the Republican National Convention.  I got off the plane and was met with a raft of signs and friendly volunteers welcoming us to the RNC.  In accordance with the whims of the Gods of Travel, my bags didn't arrive on the same flight as I.  Standing in line with a few other gents in the baggage claim office, I must have been looking quite conservative as they asked me what delegation I was from?  "I'm not a delegate," I told them stone-faced. "I'm the Liberal Media."
Actually I didn't exactly say it that way.  It probably went something more like this:
Them: So what delegation are you with?
Me: I'm not a delegate, I'm with the media.
Them: Oh, what media outlet?
Me: I'm reporting from the convention floor for BET.
Them: Oh...
Now I'm guessing a lot of Republicans don't watch BET.  I'm guessing this because of some of the pretty stunning results we found in the BET News poll that will be coming out tomorrow.  I won't leak the info early, but Herman Cain's comments today on a Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll finding 0% Black support for Mitt Romney, pretty well sum it up.
Still, I smiled at the delegates and tried to look Libertarianish.  I'm not that sure what Libertarians look like, but no matter - people kept being nice to me & I couldn't tell who was there for the convention and who was a regular civilian; who was a Republican and who was a socialist, grandma-killing, government-hugging Obamacare baby.
Today I got my credentials and went down to the Convention Center where all the press is camped out, and the Forum where the actual convention is going down.  I've been to govt events, major conferences, meetings of international heads of states etc. - never have I seen the level of security as what is set up in this little section of Tampa right now.  Folks are taking nothing for-granted, and frankly it makes me feel a lot more secure than the images my liberal friends have painted for me, of gun-toting 2nd Amendment adherents walking through the halls looking for an excuse to stand their ground.  
By the time I made it onto the actual convention center I found myself getting caught up a bit in the excitement of all the people around me.  Folks are genuinely happy to be here and loving the communion with their compatriots.  I've seen everyone from Newt Gingrich to Reince Priebus walking the halls, and every political commentator under-the-sun is in full effect.  Turns out a bunch of my my peeps are in town too, so one way or another this is going to be fun.
Friends who aren't here have been tweeting me nonstop to be careful.  You'd think the fear was for my safety from the Hurricane, but I swear most of these tweets have been fear that I will be eaten with a side of fried pork-rinds by the GOP. Never fear, dear readers - I'm here with BET.  We can't all disappear into the Bay...
Seriously though, I'm having a great time and so far Republicans are mad nice.  You should have some over for dinner sometime.  "Zero percent" tells me there needs to be some more breaking-of-bread around here, lest we wind up breaking apart.
More to come...