No “Weirdness of Being Black” for Me

RobFather X  (face)I can relate to Atlanta comic artist Cory Thomas’ illustration shown in this link but please; after five decades of living and being aware of my world, I see simply a social norm, not any “strange new reality” or “weirdness of being Black” in everyday life for me and other people of color who live and/or work with White people after Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency.

CHECK IT: Though I live, work and play in a valley which consists of any number of closeted and openly racists and bigots, I – unlike some, shall fear no evil mindset, heart, attitude or spiritual character held or expressed by any man, woman or child. For I have been raised, adequately trained, educated, tried and tested to always be on the ready to fearlessly put such people in check and – when necessary, to aggressively further defend myself against any negative mental and/or physical onslaught against my person. In short, one would be most wise not to ever come for me unless I specifically send for them.
#nofear

– RobFather X

_____________________________________________________________
© RobFather X! Productions

TRANSITIONS: Kashif

Kashif (Kashif Saleem aka Michael Jones) – American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, record producer, artist, composer, author, director and educator – transitioned on Sunday, September 25, 2016.

kashif-album-collage_created-by-robfather-x-2016-kashif-center
Kashif was born Michael Jones on December 26, 1959 in Harlem, New York and was raised in the Brooklyn foster care system. Under his given birth name Michael Jones, Kashif was a member of the music groups The Bus Boys and Artists United Against Apartheid, though he was/is best known for being with the 1970s American disco/funk band B.T. Express (originally named Brooklyn Transit Express). It was B.T. Express who recruited him at age 15 to be their keyboardist and vocalist. As Michael Jones, Kashif is credited with performing on B.T. Express song hits such as Express and Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied), among others.

Michael Jones/Kashif initially launched his career as a multi-instrumentalist. Among other instruments, he played the piano, flute, trumpet, saxophone and tuba. Kashif left B.T. Express in 1978 to begin pursuing a solo career in music. It was either during or shortly before this time when he studied Islam and would change his name from Michael Jones to Kashif Saleem. [‘Kashif’ is an Arabic name meaning “discoverer” and “inventor” and ‘Saleem’ means “one who comes in peace”.] While solo, Kashif used his talents to play keyboards for R&B music artist Stephanie Mills before segueing into studio work on projects with other R&B artists like Nona Hendryx, Gloria Gaynor, Melba Moore, Tavares and The Four Tops, among many others.

Kashif, who had already crafted his own distinctive sound (a sound I would know anywhere), would sign with Arista Records in 1983 where he enjoyed success as a solo artist. His signature use of synthesizer technology paired with lyrics of love and devotion helped defined urban sounds following the exit of disco music. This helped him earned several awards, including two Grammy nominations for his second album, ‘Send Me Your Love’ (1984) – which has long been and remains a personally loved, often-played favorite of mine and another nomination for his 1985 album ‘Condition of the Heart’. Together with fellow musical genius and famed recording artist Stevie Wonder, Kashif is considered a R&B pioneer and synthesizer master in urban music thanks to his precise synthesizer technology approach and the introduction of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) in his production work.

Kashif wrote and/or performed a number of successful songs for and/or with artists like Whitney Houston (‘Thinking About You’, ‘You Give Good Love’), Evelyn “Champagne” King (‘I’m In Love’, ‘Love Come Down’, ‘Betcha She Don’t Love You’, ‘Back to Love’), Howard Johnson (‘So Fine’), Meli’sa Morgan (‘Love Changes’), Stacy Lattisaw, Melba Moore, Average White Band, Jermaine Jackson, Janet Jackson, Barry White, Johnny Kemp, Mariah Carey, Dionne Warwick (‘Reservations for Two’), Al Jarreau, guitarist George Benson (‘Inside Love (So Personal)’), Will Downing, The Stylistics and others. Kashif is credited with launching the career of best-selling jazz saxophonist legend, Kenny G with whom he has written, played instruments and/or sang several songs. In addition to his work in music, Kashif is also a successful director and best-selling author of the book Everything You’d Better Know About The Record Industry.

As of this writing, reports say that Kashif apparently died of natural causes in his home in Venice, Los Angeles in California. However, the official cause of death has yet to be determined. Kashif Saleem was 56 years old.

Many of us remember Kashif and his music and are very grateful for the sharing of his talents and influence as well as the many musical and humanitarian contributions he has given to society.

REFERENCE NOTE: Excerpts of this transition biography were adapted or retrieved from various sources, including Soulwalking.co.uk (which, in my opinion, is usually a good “go-to” source of accurate information on R&B artists of color), Billboard.com, Vibe.com, IMDb.com and AllMusic.com, among others.

– RobFather X

_____________________________________________________________

© RobFather X! Productions

Good TV: ‘Greenleaf’

This show called Greenleaf; Wow!!

If you have ever regularly attended or are long-time members of a predominately Black/African-American church or, if you’re like me – a person who grew up in a family of relatives who are ministers and/or who hold positions of power, importance and influence in the Black church, then you might be able to relate to many of the negative – yet often true – aspects of this television show about a powerful and wealthy family who run a huge predominately Black/African-American church.

Greenleaf (OWN network series)

I got drawn to this show shortly after it premiered this past June (2016) from reading some of the Facebook postings of excitement made over it by my friend Christian Mosby; posts which piqued my curiosity about the show. (Thanks Chris. Now I’m hooked!) Some of the scenes and “mini-plots” in Greenleaf remind me of the realities I’ve witnessed firsthand and/or knew about which occurred in a few of the well-known Black churches in Philadelphia that I either attended or had held membership back in my pre-atheist days.

SERIES PLOT: (from  the websiteGreenleaf follows the unscrupulous world of the Greenleaf family with scandalous secrets and lies and their sprawling Memphis megachurch called Greenleaf World Ministries which has predominantly Black/African-American members. Cast members of this well-written show include (click the names to see photo and bio):

  • Keith David as Bishop James Greenleaf, charismatic and manipulative leader of Greenleaf World Ministries. (Keith David has always been one of my favorite actors. In fact, he’s one of the main reasons I’m watching this series.)
  • Lynn Whitfield as Lady Mae Greenleaf, who is Bishop Greenleaf’s wife and the family matriarch;
  • Merle Dandridge as Grace ‘Gigi’ Greenleaf. She is Mae and Bishop’s middle daughter who returns to home twenty years after escaping from the family;
  • Lamman Rucker as Jacob Greenleaf, the eldest, ne’er-do-well son of the Bishop. (Lamman is another favorite actor of mine.)
  • Kim Hawthorne as Kerissa Greenleaf, Jacob’s ambitious and controlling wife.
  • Deborah Joy Winans as Charity Greenleaf-Satterlee, the youngest daughter of the Bishop and Minister of Music. (Yes, Deborah is a member of that famous gospel music family!)
  • Tye White as Kevin Satterlee, Charity’s husband;
  • GregAlan Williams as Robert “Mac” McCready, as Lady Mae’s brother;
    and
  • Benjamin Patterson as Noah Kendall, the Greenleaf Estate manager and Gigi’s ex. (I have long had a man-crush on this fyne brotha (who is also a model), since I first saw him in the recurring character role of Guy, in the now-defunct Noah’s Arc television series years ago.)

Former daytime TV talk show queen Oprah Winfrey is an executive producer and has a recurring role in the series.

Greenleaf premiered on June 21, 2016. You can catch the series Wednesday nights on the OWN [Oprah Winfrey Network] network. Check your TV local listings for broadcast time. Previously aired episodes are on your cable channel’s On-Demand feature and found online at the Greenleaf website or click here. As of this writing, the Greenleaf series is still in its first season. Enjoy!

– RobFather X

_______________________________________
© RobFather X! Productions

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness DAY 2015

National Black HIV-AIDS Awareness Day (Feb 7, 2015)Today (February 7) is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Read more about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day at the links below.

PLEASE NOTE: While HIV/AIDS information and prevention knowledge is important for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, statistics have always shown that Black people – and other people of color, tend to rate among the highest in world society who are infected with HIV, who don’t normally get tested and who go untreated.

This annual campaign is designed and promoted to encourage sexually active men and women of color to learn more – as in the FACTS about the virus, to get tested for HIV regularly, to learn and to know one’s personal health status where HIV – or any STD/STI virus for that matter, is concerned, to practice safe sex and to insist that one’s sexual partner do the same.

Here are the links to check out:
http://nationalblackaidsday.org/
http://gettested.cdc.gov/
http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/02/07/op-ed-how-do-we-stop-hiv-crisis-among-gay-black-men

Keepin’ It...REAL!

The “Power” and “Empire” TV Series: Excellent Writing, feat. Serious, Realistic Drama!

Power (Starz series), Empire (Fox series) (re)In the summer of 2014 I watched, was impressed and very pleased with the Starz network TV series Power, which is executive produced by rapper and actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. The series follows character James St. Patrick, nicknamed “Ghost”, owner of a popular New York City nightclub. St. Patrick/Ghost is also a major player in one of the city’s biggest illegal drug networks. Last season unveiled his struggle to balance his two lives – perhaps three lives, since he is married but has a mistress. The balance begins to collapse when St. Patrick/Ghost realizes he wants to leave the drug ring in order to support his legitimate business and commit to his mistress, an Assistant District Attorney. Each episode of the new Power series was simply awesome. I wait anxiously for Season 2 to premiere this summer!
Here’s an intro-episode clip of Power:

Last Wednesday evening (January 7, 2015) the Fox TV network premiered the new series Empire, created, written and produced by actor/film director/producer, Lee Daniels and actor/screenwriter, Danny Strong. The show centers around a hip hop music and entertainment company called Empire Enterprises, and the drama between the members of the founder’s family as they fight for control of the company. Expect to hear some damn good music on Empire which can be downloaded on iTunes.
Here’s an intro-trailer clip of Empire:

Having watched the first episode of this show I must admit to being impressed and pleased with that show, too. Both Power and Empire feature Black actors in lead and major roles. Each series has a different plot and obviously different characters. I have yet to see more episodes of Empire to ascertain whether I will fully like the show. Considering that I’ve seen the collaborative work of Daniels and Strong before, it’s a safe bet that I’ll be giving high praises to this new series too!

Speaking of giving, I give extra points to Empire for immediately featuring in its first episode, one major character as a masculine Black gay man who is in an interracial homosexual relationship with another masculine man. Sweet! I make special mention of that point because on basic (not cable) television it is rare to see masculine Black gay male character roles, let alone on a show series where a male, same-gender-loving character of color is in an interracial relationship.

In both Power and Empire, I’m pleased to finally see realistic drama television programs featuring a predominately Black cast – with each role specifically written for and fitting the actor or actress portraying their assigned character of the story. It’s especially refreshing to see a cast of Black men and women featured in good quality and serious drama roles instead of always in a terribly written situation comedy or in one of those shitty “reality TV” series shows (click here to see a list of them) that I’ve always loathed. I think those particular television shows are ethnically embarrassing to me as a Black man and wish that every last one of them were yanked off television.

Simply put, I think Power and Empire are (so far) examples of exceptional television writing; something which – as far as television shows featuring people of color are concerned, has long been missing from television. As long as the writers and producers continue the excellent writing of these two television series and keep them realistically entertaining, I’ll keep watching. For another review on Empire, I invite you to click here to read my friend Kris Avalon’s excellent blog article!

Check local television and cable listings or the embedded links in this article to learn more about Power and Empire.

Keepin’ It…REAL!