MNR: Year in Review
The match.com commercial with Satan and a certain lady named 2020 was the ultimate euphemism for the most hectic year of many of our lives (not to mention the best commercial/ad I’ve seen in a long time). I’ve really thought about all 42 of my years on this earth and tried to compare the worst of the worst. To be absolutely candid, I tend to reflect internally when I think of the absolute worst. There’s 1985, highlighted by that crack cocaine shit, my dad’s obvious addiction, and him stripping me of any type of birthday sentiment (for life) in a small apartment in Hempstead, NY on 9.10.1985, my seventh birthday. Seven is my favorite number. Always has been, ever since I could count to seven. Shareon and I had some bad days in that apartment. I’ll leave it at that. There’s 2001, for obvious reasons. Then there’s 2017, the year I lost my mother Shareon. I said all that to say that 2020 has far exceeded those three years put together, personal sentiment excluded. COVID has permanently changed our lives in only nine months, the amount of time usually mentioned with regard to new (human) life. Coldly yet optimistically, time and life go on. But before we slingshot the year 2020 into the depths of Hades, let us reflect on this year, a year that will forever stand out in the lives of all who endured it. Here’s to 2020. Light that shit up, and let’s fucking go.
Speaking of lighting that shit up, here’s my top three strands (in order) of 2020: White Runtz, Ice Cream Cake, and Gary Payton. Honorable mention: Khalifa Kush. As your personal consigliere, I advise you to cop all fo’ and roll ALL that shit up. Let’s get superhero high. Strap in, put your reading glasses on, and let Monday close out 2020 as only I can.
Rest in power to all those we’ve lost in 2020:
MAMBA MENTALITY FOREVER PLUS A DAY. 24/8 FOREVER PLUS A DAY. We both entered this world in 1978. You beat me by a month. We both graduated high school in 1996. You were my mom’s favorite. WE LOVE YOU GIGI. KOBE AND GIGI BRYANT FOREVER PLUS ONE DAY.
My queen’s favorite Uncle, James “Sonny” Townes, George Floyd & Ahmaud Arbery (FUCK ALL PIGS & DEVILS), Chadwick “T’Challa Black Panther Mr. James Brown Jackie Robinson Thurgood Marshall” Boseman, Little Richard the Architect, my brother Senator John Lewis (meeting and polying with you was a true blessing), Tommy “Tiny” “Deebo” Lister, Justice RBG (The Notorious), Fred the Godson, Pop Smoke, King Von, MO3, Ceybil Jeffries (‘90s NYC dance music legend), Sir Sean Connery ( 007 James Bond AND Jim Malone from The Untouchables), Rocky Johnson (The Rock’s pop and WWF/E legend in his own right), Kirk Douglas, Kenny “The Gambler” Rodgers, Bill “Just the Two of Us” Withers, Jerry Stiller (Ben’s pop AND Frank Costanza, one of my all-time favorite television characters from Seinfeld), Ronald “Khalil” Bell (Kool & The Gang founder), Eddie Van Halen the Great, the enigmatic Diego “Los Manos de Dios” Maradona, Phil Niekro, all the loved ones we’ve lost, all 350,000+ lost because of COVID, and anyone else I failed to mention. Champagne tears for our people no longer here.
Man, fuck COVID. And yes, I’m taking the vaccine. I have several pre-existing conditions (keep abusing drugs and neglecting your health y’all, ignorance really is bliss). We’ve got a Vegas trip in April and I’ve got Yankee Stadium late summer. Y’all keep kicking that old-time nigger shit. I’m going with science and my own discernment.
MY FIRST LOVE (SPORTS)
DODGERS LAKERS LIGHTNING CHIEFS LIVERPOOL BAYERN MUNICH LSU STORM King James - Zion - Mookie Betts - Patrick Mahomes - Breanna Stewart - Mohamed Salah - Nikita Kucherov - Naomi Osaka - Bubba Wallace – Rafael Nadal – Novak Djokovic – Lewis Hamilton – Chase Elliott
BLACK LIVES MATTER
I love y’all. Thank you for going as hard as y’all have these past nine months. It ain’t over. It’s never over. I can’t join y’all in the field, but y’all got my allegiance and mouthpiece. I’m repping y’all until I am no more. Much appreciation to all the good folk of other races who have joined us in the struggle. Here’s to our youth. Fists in the air, proudly. Keep ‘em high like natural mystic or smoke when the spliff’s lit. God bless us all. FUCK THE PIGS.
45 TO 46
You lost…you cheesy face, xenophobic, bigoted, misogynistic, habitual lying, pedophiliac (allegedly), evil ass reptilian. Give it up you piece of shit. There was no widespread voter fraud. There was only a widespread ass whooping. Take your hot L and wait for Ms. NY State Attorney General Letitia James and NY County (Manhattan) District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. to holla at you and those uncouth chirren of yours. PS: you won’t be able to pardon your/y’all way out of what’s coming. Tough titties, but somebody gotta suck ‘em.
And oh yeah…Sleepy Joe, don’t shit on the MF who got you in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. I’m not quite the eternal pessimist many of my folk are regarding politics, but I’m not Van Jones’ punk ass either. I studied political science in-depth at university, and I’m knee deep in the Associated Press, Reuters, MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, and Politico errday (literally). Translation: I stay on my shit and I’m ‘bout my issue. Further translation: I know how this shit works. Keep your word Sleepy Joe. Keep your word.
It was a tough year for rappers, whether death, prison, or court cases. RIP to all the rappers we lost this year in addition to those I mentioned earlier. Big ups to my nigga Rowdy Rebel. Welcome home, family. Big ups to the GOAT Nasir Jones and his King’s Disease album. It was my favorite album of 2020.
100 BLOCKS STORIES II
If you haven’t scooped a copy of the best work of realistic fiction of 2020, is it that you’re really functionally illiterate? Or is it that you’re a career hater and flat out just refuse to support your friendly neighborhood poet? Or is it that you just haven’t heard the good word yet? Well, if you haven’t, let me tell you. 100 Blocks Stories II is the shiznaheee. Scoop like ten copies pronto, ya heard? INFINITE THANKS TO ALL MY READERS AND SUPPORTERS, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU SCOOPED A COPY OR NOT.
Shit…damn near errthang got put on hold for 2020. Most of our shows won’t come back until 2021. Big ups to Law & Order: SVU for coming back in 2020 and coming back strong. I’m looking forward to the rest of this season. Of my favorites, SnowfallFX has provided the only definite release date of 2021, slated for 2.24. Let’s get it. The only movie of 2020 we were pressed to see was the latest incarnation of Candyman, and that too was pushed back to a 2021 release date. I thought Antebellum was good; a lot of y’all trashed it. Soul was excellent. I think it may win an Academy Award or three next year. My brother Kevin told me about Chadwick’s new film and how great his performance is. To be honest, I’m still dragging my feet because it’s hard to face the fact that this is the end of Chadwick’s extraordinary body of work. I really loved 21 Bridges, by the way. I don’t watch current movies more than once. I’ve already watched it twice and plan to watch it again.
MONDAY’S CLOSING NOTES
If you know me, you know I perpetually look for the story within the story. It’s the journalist in me. I’m borderline obsessed with the thirst for knowledge and understanding, especially pertaining to current (political) events and history. This COVID thing has so many layers to it. There’s been so much suffering. Add the fact that we live in an “instant” and “microwave” society where new news is old news within a matter of seconds and desensitization and apathy are at an all-time high, and no one seems to give a fuck. I alluded to 9.11.2001 at the beginning of the blog. That was the single most catastrophic day of my life before 2020 (mama prepared me for her ascension). I’d never seen a death toll that high in a single tragedy (day) on American soil. Well, to put 9.11 and COVID in their proper perspectives, we’ve already had more than 10 days THIS MONTH where COVID deaths virtually matched or even exceeded the death toll of 9.11 (forgive the relative vagueness of the statistics, they literally update daily). On December 16, the last day of statistics that I was able to retrieve from the net, 3,448 people perished from COVID. That’s more than the 2,977 killed on 9.11 and the 2,500 killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor on 12.7.1941. We still commemorate 9.11 every 9.11. We still commemorate Pearl Harbor every 12.7. We largely ignore the fact that we have had a month full of 9.11’s and Pearl Harbors with this COVID shit. Yet, the band plays on. No one gives a fuck until it’s a family member or one of their favorite entertainers. Then we gotta bear witness to their bloodclot cryin’ on the blogs. Shut the fuck up. Every life lost is a tragedy. Wear your fucking masks and socially distance. I don’t bring my personal sentiment into your situations, so I’m not going to cheerlead for the vaccine or youse taking it. I mentioned that I plan to, and that’s that. I have no right to impose upon your personal feelings/ethics. But I can judge your dumb asses for failure to wear protective masks and socially distancing. Stop being a damn brat and look out for your fellow American. Sheesh.
I’m still getting used to Teams, Zoom, etc. It’s weird. I guess that’s why I’ve shunned Club House. I’ve already spent half the damn day in (not at) work listening to several people attempting to speak at once, as well as one exceptional young man who has no concept whatsoever of shutting the fuck up. I’m good after I punch out. And there’s no visuals in Club House. The voices just come out of nowhere. I’m good. To each his own.
The true tragedies after the lives lost from COVID and the plight of healthcare & essential workers are the mom-and-pop store closures and the death of Main Street across the country. WalMart already flatlined Main Streets. COVID damn near obliterated ‘em. And we can’t forget about the restaurant business. I’m not concerned with the chains. I care about the stand-alone restaurants all across this country, from greasy spoons to breakfast spots to pizzerias to burger joints to any place serving a good and hearty plate. These businesses are the backbone and true identity of American cuisine. Shit, they made Guy Fieri and Adam Richman a damn fortune. Some continue to fight on. Sadly, many have closed their kitchens forever. Support your mom-and-pop stores and local eateries. They need you.
For all the bullshit 2020 has put us through, we are yet blessed. If you are reading this blog, you are blessed. If you are breathing, you are blessed. Irrespective of how many times you hit the mat, all that counts is how many times you get back up. Having said that, I wish you the best in 2021. I’m counting all my blessings. It’s coming upon the one-year anniversary of me almost checking out of this earth on 1.1.2020. I’m still here, y’all. Better than ever. All praises due to Christ the King. Time to shake a leg and get up in the wind, sugar. To the projects I’m ghost shorty wop, one love.
#MNR: Christmas Edition
“Merry Christmas niggas!”
Hello all. It’s your friendly neighborhood oracle Ty Monday, illegitimate child of Yaphet Kotto, back up in your ass crease with the blog you love to love. And before you ask, he never claimed me because he woulda had to admit to the world that he actually slept with a Black woman. The irony of this coming from a man so Black that he has his very own shade in the Crayola box: Yaphet Kotto Black. I could be lying, but it could actually be a shade of Black in the 128 count super-duper-box. Most of y’all just don’t know cuz your mama was too cheap to cop the super box. But hey, it’s not too late. She still has three (by the time you read this) shopping days to make that happen. But all jokes aside (for this sentence only) It’s that special time of year. Happy Holidays to you and yours. Merry Christmas to all of my associates: hustlers, Vvillains, ladies of ill repute, cutthroats, mercenaries, scammers, con artists, lowlifes, and errbody else, except rapists and pedophiles. Fuck all y’all. Now, gather around the fireplace and let’s all light up this Christmas tree at the same damn time. Let’s get this yuletide ciph going.
I had a seven of some Khalifa Kush for the first time. I’ll say this…I see why some niggas call their cheeba satin: smooth, great taste, solid high. Wiz definitely has a winner with this strand. I’m still putting the White Runtz at the top of my personal list, but that KK is definitely official. Talk to your friendly neighborhood plug and see if it’s on her/his menu. And even if you don’t partake…it’s the ultimate stocking stuffer.
I’ve all but given up on trying to acquire a PlayStation 5 before Easter. They’re selling out before the average consumer can click the buy button on every site when and where they’re available. The resale prices are beyond crazy ($1K-1.5K). It’s not that I’m too good to stand and wait on some Game Stop line, it’s just that I’m too damn good to stand and wait on some fucking Game Stop line like a Depression-era soup kitchen in Chicago. I can live without a PS5 for the first quarter of 2021, but I’m more than perturbed that the same fuckery is happening in the sneaker community. It doesn’t matter if you have the Nike Sneakers app or Footlocker app or whatever. It’s the same thing. The app teases a sneaker for a month solid after MONTHS of word on its release date from various sites on the net. The anticipation is absurd levels of high. You get your money up or credit card on deck and impatiently wait like a dope fiend for 10:00 to arrive on release day. You even have your card and size info saved to avoid the shaky typing fingers. You just have to press/click buy. You do it less than three seconds after Apple time strikes ten. AND IT’S SOLD OUT. What in the entire fuck?
Unless you live in one of those areas where information is generally shunned, you’re most likely aware that these gaming systems and sneakers and damn near anything else of high resale value (with the exception of game/concert tickets) are largely hoarded and snatched up via bots. Bots are software programs that allow users to, among other things, purchase large quantities of items that are available at retail price on the internet without manually having to enter card information, almost always to resell and yield insane profit margins. In a millisecond, a bot can do what it takes a human a considerably greater amount of time to do, relatively speaking. Even if a human has her/his information stored, a bot can put the item in its owner’s checkout before a human physically can press/click buy. My bro Pyrex, a resale/retail/cannabis legend and the first person to put me on to bots about three years ago, told me back then that, “I can have 40 pairs of Jordans in my checkout before you can hit buy.” Rumor has it that one person was able to cop 400 pair of Jordan Flint 13 on drop day. 400 FUCKING PAIR!!???!! To add context, the average pair of Flints in any size were going for about $300 on resale sites like StockX or GOAT immediately after release day. They retailed for $190 if I’m not mistaken. I don’t quite remember because even though I had my card on deck and counted down to release time, they were sold out before I could press buy. I read a tech article that addressed bots as pertaining to consumer strife over failure to acquire the next gen PS and Xbox systems on sites like Wal Mart and Best Buy. The article spoke on bots at length, basically wasting time explaining what I just did in far less words. But what it did reveal is that companies are well aware of the problems. I know at least three of youse is like “no shit Sherlock.” My reply? FUCK YOU WATSON. Of course, I know that the companies are aware. I’m pissed because I don’t feel they’re really doing much to curb the bots. I at least know that the Nike Sneaker app only allows one purchase per card. I know they (allegedly) and other sites also only allow one shoe to be shipped to an address. But professional bot users are able to sidestep this (even on the Sneakers app) because they have multiple addresses to ship to. And no, I’m sure most don’t have scores of addresses to ship their purchases to. But does it matter if it’s a release like the Ben & Jerry’s Dunks (which retailed for $100 and resell for as much as $3.5K)? So what if I can only ship to ten addresses? That’s potentially $34K in profit!!! Ok, more like $14K (they typically resold at about $1.5K), but still…that’s the craziest up since all the cut rate pure yay the real Alejandro Sosa wholesaled from Bolivia to the rest of the world a few decades ago. Profit out the ass. Now, before you get visions of sugar plums dancing ‘round in your drug-infested minds, the best bots typically sell from $1-5K. The less expensive ones tend to fail before they get a lot of use. Some never work to begin with. But hey – no nuts, no glory. I don’t give a damn if you get a million of exclusive retail releases via bots. Just make sure you sling all the size 15s to me. Please and thank you.
Speaking of sneakers, should I devote one blog a month exclusively to sneakers? It would discuss the hottest upcoming or just released sneakers. I’d pick a Sneaker of the Month and have occasional flashbacks to the time and era when many of today’s popular retros were OG releases. We’ll see though. Feel free to leave a comment when you see the blog mentioned on either my or the Crew IG pages.
That’s all for today folks. Be sure to check out next week’s 2020 year-end blog. I just pray I’ll have something to talk about. Wasn’t much going on this year, was it? Guess you’ll have to see for yourself. Once again, I wish you all a blessed and peaceful holiday. One love.
FTDC: SAT Day
“My nigga, can you hurry the fuck up? You act like we going to prom or some shit. This is the fucking SAT’s. Shit. I don’t even know why the fuck I’m taking these shits. I’m not going to nobody damn college! But you T.O., you talked me into this shit. Only you, my nigga. Now hurry up so we can meet Steez and get this pre-SAT ciph jumping, please? We gotta get to school by eight. It’s damn near 7:30.”
“Being that you said please, and only because you said please, I’ll hurry up. But understand something Montoyae: perfection takes time. Now, how ‘bout you make yourself useful and twist that fucking Dutch my nigga? Please? Respectfully.” T.O. replied as he continued to stand in front of his dresser mirror and brush his shoulder length hair to the back, finally putting it into a long ponytail.
“Fuck you.” Monty would literally have stabbed damn near anyone other than his mother or the rest of FTDC (maybe) for talking to him like that.
“Yup. The Dutch is on the dresser. It’s not gon roll itself,” T.O. reasoned, absolutely unbothered by Monty’s harsh rebuke.
An outside ear would swear that a conflict, skirmish, or misunderstanding were eminent, but they wouldn’t have been more mistaken. In fact, this was the language of the closest of friends, brothers in essence. It was the language of Gen Z.
As soon as Monty grabbed the Dutchie off of T.O.’s dresser his phone rang. It was Steez, right on cue.
“Yo…I know nigga, I know. We coming right now. Bat cave? Aight, bet.”
“Steez, I presume?” T.O. asked Monty, still in front of the mirror being the Adonis he was.
“Affirmative. He’s already posted in 210. Let’s go, Pretty Hardaway.” Monty swiftly split the Dutch and dumped the guts into a black bodega bag T.O. had on his door handle as his makeshift trash can. He already had a sack on him. He could dump it and twirl the L in no time.
“Aight, bet. We out.” T.O. made moves toward his room door and waited for Monty to exit first. “You got pencils my nigga?”
“I got you, nigga. I already knew you was gon be lacking. I know exactly how my son move,” Monty replied with a rare grin.
“Whatever nigga,” T.O. uttered as they made their way toward the apartment door. “I usually get a pencil from one of my bitches,” he continued. Hearing his voice, his grandmother came from the kitchen to greet him before he left.
“Buena suerte mi amor. Me amo. Here, here!” Nana insisted as she passed Tory a hot Jimmy Dean sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich to take along with him.
Tory thanked his nana as he received the sandwich. He leaned over to hug and kiss his nana, who was easily a foot shorter than her only grandson. “Espérame!” Nana exclaimed as she scurried back into the kitchen. She returned with the other breakfast sandwich she’d prepared for herself. “Monty! Cómelo!” she insisted as she motioned for Monty to take it.
“Oh, no thank you abuelita. That’s yours,” Monty meekly replied. He damn sure was hungry, but he didn’t want to deprive nana of the breakfast sandwich he figured she’d prepared for herself.
“Ya!” she replied, forcing the paper towel protected sandwich she’d prepared into Monty’s hands. It almost crushed the Dutch leaf he’d hidden in the palm of his right hand. She motioned for a hug and kissed Monty on his forehead. “Adios mis niños. Buena suerte!”
Monty couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear as he quickly attacked his unexpected meal, almost half finished by the time the elevator arrived. He was certainly hungry as fuck, but his true happiness came from the love nana showed. It was the love she’d always shown him since he and T.O. were shorties. She knew that Monty was her grandson’s closest friend and of the genuine love T.O. had for his pal. She also knew of all that Monty faced in his own home on a daily basis. In turn, Monty knew that her love, although completely genuine, almost bordered pity, for Nana knew that this type of love was missing from Monty’s everyday life. He didn’t mind. He cherished the love that came from 6B.
“Damn my nigga! Don’t choke on that shit!” T.O. barked at Monty jokingly.
“Listen sir,” Monty began in a voice mimicking Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol, or perhaps one of his cousins, “the cupboards are bare. Mommy hasn’t made groceries yet. When Nana passed that sammich to you I was on my OD stalker shit. I’m surprised y’all ain’t see me damn near slobbering. I’m so hungry I’m left-handed. Nana came through though, all jokes aside. Clutch city. I was trying to be courteous, but I was really like ‘good looking out abuelita.’ I was on my Cockroach shit that episode of The Cosby Show when Theo played the gump when there was only one spot on the dance show. I wasn’t declining twice. Sheeitt. So fuck you, Ricky Retardo.”
The two PALZ laughed way too loud in the project hallway at 7:35 am on a Saturday as they entered the elevator. T.O. broke off half of his breakfast sandwich and gave it to his brother. T.O. wasn’t much of a breakfast person, but he was definitely an A-1 pal. In addition to Monty explaining that there wasn’t any food in his crib, he knew Monty hadn’t had time to hit the bodega for a breakfast sandwich before coming to his apartment. He would better appreciate the extra half.
T.O. and Monty exited building #2241 to a beautiful early May Saturday morning in Spanish Harlem. The sun was brighter every marquee and billboard in Times Square shining together, high on sour diesel, casually blowing large puffy clouds throughout the satin blue sky. A slight breeze swept through the project plaza as the two began to walk toward building #210. It was already 72° in the barrio.
T.O. and Monty both simultaneously glanced to their right to see who let out the project call (think Bat light or Bat phone). It was none other than the homie Mambo, strolling out the B-Stairs exit of building #230 with the patented Mambo bop. He was smiling from ear to ear. Yup, he’d no doubt just bust a stop. Judging from his exuberance, he might have just sold a damn half a brick of heroin (five bundles, ten glycine baggies to a bundle). Or he may have been leaving one of his slides’ apartments. Or maybe both. Regardless, it was Mambo all day, every day, and twice on Sunday.
“Tory! Monty! Que pasa locos! Light that she (shit)!” Mambo exclaimed as he approached, dapping both of his young niggas.
“What up my nigga,” T.O. quickly replied. “That’s what’s up though. We on the exact same time. We bouta head to 210 right now. Steez there right the fuck now waiting on us. We gon ciph real quick before we go take the SAT and shit. Perfect. I need to see you anyway, ya heard? Just a lil bundle and shit. Quick flip. It’s a security nigga at Manhattan Center who fuck with it. Nigga already hit my line. I’m a tax that nigga, word.”
“Bet. I hear you Frank Matthews Jr. I got you when we hit the building. I’m holding,” Mambo replied. “I needed to see Steez anyway. Bet. I can kill three birds with one stone!”
“Three, my nigga?” Monty quickly asked, wondering how he got to three. It was usually kill two birds with one stone, so he figured.
“I can see Steez for smoke. Needed a few of those husky dubs to start this Saturday off official anyway. Then two, we gon catch this ciph, so my L turns into 4 L’s. And I just so happen to have a Owl on me. I’m a be wild blunted before breakfast. Then three, I can hit my nigga T.O. off with some work and put more money in my pocket. You know how we do. It’s all about that next flip. There you go. Three birds, one stone. Easy. Eastside, ya heard?” The project griot had spoken.
“Nigga you still smoking Owls? This nigga dangerous, T.O.” Monty immediately disregarded Mambo’s explanation after he heard mention of a White Owl cigar.
“I bet you smoke that shit when I stuff a whole dub in that shit and pass it around, sí or no?” Mambo bluntly (pun intended) asked Monty.
“Fucking straight,” Monty replied as he nodded and dapped the big homie up.
“Aight. Aight then, so bet,” Mambo began as he glanced at his black Timex Ironman watch. “I took those [SAT] shits too. I remember the format, feel me? They want you there by 8, but they give niggas until like 8:15, 8:20 to find their class, especially if that’s not their building. Cool. Vamanos.”
TO BE CONTINUED
#MNR: Classic Holiday Bangers
“On December 25th I knew I wasn’t gettin’ jack.”
Keith Murray, “Santa Baby” (Rev. Run remix)
For many, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. There’s family, gifts, and plenty of food. Some of us even celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, although contextual history suggests he was born closer to April in the modern twelve-month calendar. Throw in a large shot of happiness and everything is kind of story book this time of year. It all sounds pretty normal. It’s the format that many of us follow. But the bitter reality is that the holidays are the worst time of the year for many, far out of the reach of Madison Avenue/Silicon Valley geared advertising and America’s capitalist, romanticized view of the holiday season. Some have no family and/or friends to fellowship with. Some receive no gifts. Some go hungry during a time when goodwill to all men is largely just another romanticized whim. I have everything to be thankful for. I’m loved. I’m in love. All of my bills are paid, all of my needs are met. And yet I’m a person with a healthy amount of compassion and empathy, so my heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to all, who for one reason or another, aren’t able to look at this time of year as anything to be happy out. I truly wish I could take all your pain away. I wish you had plenty of loving family and genuine friends to share the holidays with. I wish you had presents galore under the tree and a full tummy every single day and night: turkey, stuffing, mac and cheese, collard greens, candied yams, hog maws, pig’s feet, errthang. My humble offering is a good and merry blog to take your mind off your troubles if you have any, and what better way to do that than to talk about and listen to some soulful music? Exactly. And it’s the holidays, correct? Word. So, let’s make it about holiday-themed music, my people’s style. White folk, y’all are more than welcome to browse and take notes. It’s all good. Blessings to all this holiday season. P.S. – you can also try the Lord, free of charge.
I come from a musical family, as some of you already know. There was always some type of music playing in the days of my youth. Make that double time for the holidays. Beginning with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (which my mommy and I attended several times when I was her lil pumpkin) through New Year’s, Shareon had the Christmas music on consistently. It played all day on Christmas. All my clairvoyant readers know what’s coming: here is my all-time Top 5 Christmas songs list. I even threw in some that just missed the cut. I hope your yuletide tree is already lit. Let’s get it.
#1: “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” The Jackson 5 (1970)
Off rip, I know a lot of the Mike faithful are butt hurt because I didn’t include this song in my actual list. I’m going to preemptively strike your bloodclot cryin’ with a shut yo’ asses up. The fact that Mike, Jermaine, Tito, dem are even mentioned is because baby Michael’s voice was so silky smooth and full of cheer on this dumb ass track. Let’s be honest: this song sux ass. It’s stupid as shit. If Tyrone or (later) my step pops were the one to see my mom kiss Santa, let’s just say that for humanity’s sake, I hope Santa has a male heir to take the reins (pun intended). Plus, I’m not big on some fat white dude getting all the credit and free cookies for mom dem busting their ass all year to put something under the tree in an attempt to please their ungrateful and trifling ass Black chillen of the ‘80s and beyond (self-included). Case closed.
#2: “Someday at Christmas” Stevie Wonder (1967)
Few artists could ever make a political statement with such care, mercy, and compassion. Even fewer could do it on a Christmas song. Stevie was the first, three years ahead of The Temptations’ seminal interpretation of “Silent Night” (we’ll get to that later). “Someday at Christmas, men won’t be boys. Playing with bombs like kids play with toys. One warm December our hearts will see, a world where men are free…” Lord, help us all. Stevie made that song 53 years ago, only three years after the Civil Rights Act and only two years after the Voting Rights Act. It’s still as poignant today as it was then. Perhaps more.
#3: “Sleigh Ride” TLC (1992)
Fresh off the success of their 1992 4x platinum debut Ooooooohhh…On the TLC Tip, the legendary trio made a contribution to the Home Alone 2 soundtrack. Their energy, as always, leaks through the speakers and intoxicates the ears and soul. T-Boz’s sensuous alto and Chili’s songbird voice combine ever so lovely with Left Eye doing her usual with the bars. It’s one of those songs that will get Auntie dem up and dancing at the holiday function. One of my personal favorites.
TOP FIVE CHRISTMAS SONGS OF ALL TIME:
#5: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” Luther Vandross – The Classic Christmas Album – 1995
Yeah. You’ve heard this song sung by plenty of artists of diverse genres over the years. But no one else sang it quite like “The Voice.” Luther’s version is the quintessential version because quite frankly, it’s the damn best. The arrangement was perfect, and the saxophone background only added to Luther’s velvety, flawless voice. Luther, as was often joked about, really could sing the alphabet and make it a hit record. So, it’s only natural he took one of the all-time Christmas classics and “Luthered” it, like he tended to do from time to time. Ask Dionne Warwick about “A House Is Not a Home.” Even she said his version is the signature version, AND IT’S HER SONG! Anyway, Luther was on 10 with this one. It’s one of those songs you wish never ended while it plays.
#4: “All I Want for Christmas Is You” Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas – 1994
Depending on how you feel about Mariah, this is either a spot-on choice for the list or the worst take ever. We all know Mariah has a well-documented proclivity for being polarizing, especially in Black culture. But say what you say. Her voice is pure fire, and she puts numbers on the MF board every damn time. Hint, hint…not only was this song #1 when it dropped during holidays ’94, it also reappeared on the Billboard Hot 100 at number MF one last year, 25 MF years later. Shit, even the white folk praised it. The New Yorker (magazine) called it “one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday cannon.” Umm, ok. I don’t even know what the fuck that means. But the song was, err umm, is fire. Still.
#3: “Let it Snow” Boyz II Men featuring Brian McKnight – Christmas Interpretations – 1993
Before I begin, it’s imperative that I say that THIS IS MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONG OF ALL TIME. I mean, it dropped when I was in high school, so it’s actually from my era and I can actually comment on its impact. You’ve gotta understand that this song featured arguably the best male R&B group at the time AND the best male R&B singer at the time (voices AND Billboard), MJ excluded. Both acts were as hot as the Baja, so their link up was perfect and right on time. Now, if you’ve never heard this song, it’s not the elementary school holiday program version your mama had to take off work to see your shook ass hardly even open your damn mouth as one of thirty kids on the stage singing the damn song --- off key, off tempo, and not at all together. Wasn’t no damn, “oh the weather outside is frightful…” It was, “Oh, come over here, and help me trim the treeee. I wanna wrap you up, baby then they’ll see, you’re the only present I need…” Nigga (Kat Williams voice)!!! I was only 15 and I damn sure did not have a girl. Sheeittt, I was yet to even sniff any coont noont, but I damn sure wished I were every single time that song played. I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m not 15 no damn mo’ (sinister grin). All jokes aside, that’s my all time favorite. And keep it a bean: can’t no damn body freak the end of a song like Wanya. That boy good!!!
#2: “This Christmas” Donny Hathaway – This Christmas (single) – 1970
Now, if #1 ain’t your favorite (this obviously gave it away), this is. The genius of the great, late Donny Hathaway is that, as much as he could sing blues and sorrow and touch the very depth of your soul and being, he could also do the same damn thing when he sang joyful songs. Simply stated, his voice in tandem with the passion evident in every note can only be touched by Marvin and Mr. Mayfield. “This Christmas” may in fact be the #1 sung Christmas song by Black folk in America all-time. I’m deadass serious. You know you’ve belted out an off key “Hang all the mistletoe, I’m going to get to know you better. This Christmas…” after you hit the Henny two times more than you really should have. I’m not gon call you out, but I know. Salute to Donny. Lalah too (I love you girl). If someone were to object and call it the GOAT, I certainly would not argue.
#1 “Silent Night” The Temptations – The Temptations Christmas Card – 1970
“In my mind, I want you to be free. For all of our friends, would you listen to me? Now hear what I say. We wish you a merry Christmas (to each), to all of you…” Smack dab in the middle of the Vietnam Conflict, on the outskirts of the Civil Rights Movement, the greatest male R&B group of all time began their seminal song with Dennis Edwards’ seemingly simple yet elegant wish. But it was far from simple. There was also Eddie Kendricks’ brilliant falsetto and Melvin Franklin’s soul stirring baritone, both equally as moving as Edwards’ solo. They intertwined three lead solos and perfect harmony; they took the best parts of the original song and blended them with poignant political commentary veiled as lyrics. The message, the harmony…it was far more than a song. It transcended music. It was a social statement. It was political theory. It was humanitarian. “As I sit around by the fireplace, watching the gleaming tree. If I had one wish in this world, it would be that ALL men would be free.” We’re talking about rich Black entertainers in 1970. This wasn’t anywhere close to being as simple as it sounds. SHUT AND SING. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU COONS SO UPSET ABOUT? SHIT, YOU’RE MAKING BIG MONEY. YOU UNGRATEFUL NIGGERS. You think I’m capping??? Ok. SHUT AND DRIBBLE. SOUND FAMILIAR? Making a statement like this in the middle of the Vietnam Conflict and amidst the civil unrest and peril back home in the States could have had its own set of consequences, not to mention that they took the lily-white classic and put their own special flavor on it. Shit, this mighta been the first ever remix (did baby Puff get executive producer credit?). But all jokes aside, The Temptations coulda dropped any damn thing with a Christmas theme and sold a million records at the time. I’m going to say it one more time: they did not have to do this. But they did. And it’s indelible. And it is untouchable for all those reasons I mentioned. #1.
Love you mommy. I’m spinning all these records for us this holiday season.