Layback Music

Mr.BrainWash's Ross Cover

A Nap with Rick Ross’ Mastermind.

I’ve never been one who’s easy to drift into slumber. I’m not that guy who sits under a shady tree, flops his brim over his face and gets some shut-eye for a spell.–I have to work hard at sleep, often relying on benadryl, whiskey, Tylenol p.m., and backrubs from your chick to lull me into the night. And now that Rick Ross’ highly-anticipated Mastermind dropped, I no longer have to rely on aides to ease me into sleep.

Thank you, Mastermind! Pop this shit on iTunes (which I downloaded for free), and count zzz’s.

Straight from Ricky-Rose’s kind heart, Mastermind is the new hip-hop sleep-aid that has none of the carryover of popping a few Tylenol p.m. My recipe for successful shuteye now includes throwing on this underthought, rushed yawn of an album, and I’m off to dream land.

With music seemingly devolving since 2009’s Teflon Don, the Maybach Music team has slowly seemed to moved solely selling yay, instead of skimming some off the top for personal use; that teeth grinding edge that’ll keep them hard working in the studio is truant.–The tempos are down, the production is trite, the beats recycled, and the lyrics…well, I keep listening for lyrics on this album, but maybe I just downloaded the instrumental version. Boredom seems to the be the route to their routine, with none of the pop that some good blow wouldn’t fix right up.


While some key ingredients of Mastermind rouse your fancy–features from the likes of The Weeknd, Kanye, Lil Wayne, the album only does that–rouses. It’s a false alarm of fly-0ver state b-sides–the best of which are probably a tie between the all-killers-on-deck, “War Ready” featuring a solid showing by Jeezy and the sample-heavy Jay-Z feature, “The Devil is A lie.”

The Jeezy track hosts an impressive chopping-verse from the Atlanta rapper, while Jay’s track  brings an expected strong showing on his outing; it’s as if, his camp was like “Aye–this is the only beat Hovy likes. We doin’ this one.”–And it was inked. While definitely more yawn inducing than the Dr. Dre produced “Three Kings” of Ross’ previous release, “The Devil is a Lie” is hoisted by Ricky attempting to step outside the realm of fat-boy, and actually switch up the flow. Ross put his verse on the treadmill and the cadence came out nice. (Oooh Killem!)

The decent tracks almost bring me to life after ingestion with their agreeable beats and guest verses that outshine the hero Ross, but fortunately for my purposes, I need yawn material from the sandman…

…which is why my favorite track is “Supreme.”

Laying right at the album’s midpoint, if you’re looking for that tempurpedic sleep experience, skip right to track 10, “Supreme,” where Katt Williams opens and closes with forgetable musings, and a studio Jodeci copycat laces a laughable chorus. This track has everything you want to sleep on: advice from a one-time comedic hero who had several very public crack meltdowns with no rebounds.–This is how you keep your diminishing persona looking large by comparison–put a leprechaun dope-fiend on the bookends of a mediocre song.

The Diddy-produced “Nobody” hosts an appropriated Biggie flow, with none of the lyrical talent, and a shrug-inducing ride-along beat. To make the yawn potion potent, Ross supposes he’s like Notorious B.I.G., with a Ready to Die-esque mentality as the chorus boasts the lazy witted line “you’re nobody, until somebody kills you.” Maybe Ricky supposes being fat and black behind a mic makes you Biggie-like, but that would also equate him with the dude on youtube that sings about cheeseburgers in his car. You’re nobody if you like this bullshit song.

But it’s really lethargic lyrical efforts that set Mastermind apart. At one point Ross raps, “Like Trayvon Martin, I’m never missing my target,”–except for with that punchline, which insinuates that the murdered youth was actually the gun-wielder (?!), or Ross is just a big fan of Florida’s infamous Stand Your Ground law. It’s arrogance on my part to assume Ross doesn’t route for the victor.

It has been proven time and again that playing to the cheap seats is effective for sales, and since Ross nearly has a release annually, we see a Double-R focussed, catering to mid-level employee rap fans. Fans who, because of their ability to recognize a Kenneth’s Williams shoutout, and connect that with The Wire, they’re wholly above grammar school intelligence, where, if I recall correctly was the place I last was when Gangster Rap was still popular.Omarcomin'

But don’t discredit Ross as an artist–he doesn’t completely repeat himself. Absent from the album is one of his better ( and my favorite) characteristics: that dog’s growl ad-lib that laced the last several titles, because you know, you got to switch it up; give the people something fresh.

So I’m left to thank Rose’ for such a showing of humility and an ability to share some low-brow musical cupcakes. My nights are now as as restful as sleeping in a freshly made king-sized equipped with memory foam. I just pop on a dose of the most boring rap album in recent memory, open my dresser drawer, pull out onesie jammies, climb into my race-car bed with the Star Wars sheets, and doze to the tunes of his truly sincere layback-music, Mastermind.


New Miguel: “Simplethings”

Thinkin' about kickin' hoes.

So, since you’re Lena Dunham, you can just do shit like write, star, and produce your own show loosely“ based on your life. You can be the (always naked) female lead in a hit series and not have a Miami Beach body-type. You can have Judd Apatow stir a teaspoon of sugar into your cereal.

And you just have your people call indie R&B sensation, Miguel‘s people, and be like, “Lena would love for you to dial up a track for the show.” Because that’s what happened.

still not Miguel

Now, we have this distortion-backed “Simplethings” single, set to appear on the hit show, “Girls” soundtrack. And in the fashion of the current groove, the song is airtight. In keeping with the title and lyrics, the beat never fully drops, but keeps a simple backing beat with some inter-mixed highs, while our hero croons about wanting someone to smoke with, laugh with, and lay with.

When you hear this track, you’ll hope that person is someone you can sing along to it with. Enjoy.

(Btw, thanks Lena D; I don’t watch “Girls” because I’m afraid of being character on the show one day).


The Nights

Solange Jessup

I’m thinking about you today, Solange Jessup.

 An old lady sat in my office and had wide eyes when asked to describe the novel she was reading; two lovers in distant places who shared a secret: In the night’s sky they could see two moons. The only such people alive.

 Later, the fall-tilt spilled light into my office. I wished for dusk, so I could race out and hope for two moons humming in the back of the sky. This same tight-eyed wishing that’d never worked at bringing Christmas sooner, or summer vacation.

 It is night now and two college kids are hashing it out, both with wristbands from a bar. It’s happening in public outside of the sushi spot. The young woman has repeated herself three times, “None of that shit matters! None of it matters, though. None of it matters at all!”

She crashes her hands together–a reflex of rage. Her eyes affixed on him, his toward his feet.

 I feel sadness for both of them as they learn on one another in public. It appears that the young man will be the one to cry over this later; headphones and songs of despair, at his desk first, then on the floor by a pile of jeans.

 Who did you do this with, Solange? Was it a summer evening when your pride was full because all of your friends were there? That park by the lake where families camp to watch 4th of July fireworks. Scraggly kids run about with sparklers. Grandparents in lawn chairs. College kids sear meat on grills. Young lovers duel about time spent and not spent:

Effort. One-sidedness. The fireflies buzz on in the evening, making the most of their two week life span.

You had green flats you called feet lasers for their neon. Fingertips smelled like Parliaments and barbequed corn. Crying in the car while your best friends tossed a Frisbee a few feet away.

 Did it happen after a dinner out on date-night, where, in the heat of passion he commanded, “Get the fuck out of the driveway. Leave.” But he caught you before you could pull away to plead. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m so sorry.”

 He held the driver’s side door open and pleased and pleased and pleased.

 You hated his hat–print and all. Detested the orange bill. Made him look especially like a boy. His pleading eyes were void of a confidence you had like once liked so.

 And in your pleated shorts, dashboard lights illuminating your face with blue, you were finally able to close the door.

 They ask me, “What kind of name is Solange?”

 “I don’t know,” I tell them. I look across the water for the emerald green light letting me know you’re beyond the sound just there. Any tuxedo, lavish party, and debutante company could fit for my push to close the gap where the harbor ends, and I claw for your affections.

 But I am there with you and those almond eyes atop a picnic table where you dance a jig by the harbor. The pink of morning where your eyelashes bat softly to a close, and you exhale into the safety of the arms and skin behind you. Comfortable intertwined fingers and scent. Willing to crawl across a warm body, regardless of the poison, the monster, the shadow, another uncomfortable drive, the vacancy stewing in the pit of your chest.

 I am thinking of you, Solange Jessup. The trip-trop on the dark trail where stars shoot light through the trees as proof of anybody’s heaven, where your elongated fingers clasp a new hand, the other holding a lantern that illuminates the way into the brush, where,  out there you bite your lip at the painted moons and you don’t need a jacket.

Django Tells Spike Lee To Start Free-balling

Jamie Foxx as Django

I’m black, shootin’ in the snow.

That is, don’t get your panties in a bunch, Mr. Lee

It’s been almost a month since Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” was released nationwide, and I’ve yet to stumble upon an organized protest of the film. I haven’t been in line at the post-office and heard two black women on either side of me strike up a conversation about whether or not its content is appropriate. The so-called New Black Panthers haven’t even held single four-person news conference to make a statement about it (not that I’ve seen, anyway).

Sure black barbershops are gabbing about the movie’s contents, but those conversations are more along the lines how awesome it was when Django stood atop the grand staircase in Candie-Land and blasted Lara Lee Candie (Laura Cayouette) out of the shot, and effectively out of the known universe. And yes, that was a mashup of James Brown and Tupac playing behind that savage gun battle.

It has come to pass that the most obnoxious aspect of Django’s release into the wild are the reactions of megalomaniacs like Spike Lee and L.A. Reid. These vainglorious basterds and their barrage of public comments speaking on the behalf of the black intelligentsia against the film and its contents has become more than a mere eye-roll.

L.A. Reid–who apparently liked the movie–stated that he felt the n-word should have been “approached…more sensitively.” As if slavers didn’t say the n-word more than Trinidad James does in any one song.

How L.A. Reid believes slavers talked in the 1800′s:

“I’m fixin’ to get up and go sell me a couple strong African-American migrant-workers today!”

“Hey boy! What’s a young black employee such as yourself doing on the porch before supper?”

…Phrases like these were widely used, well…never. In Reid’s more perfect Django, the slaves would have sported Camelbaks with lemon Gatorade–hey, it’s got electrolytes. Slavers trusted in the honor system, so Django and the six poor souls that open the movie would’ve been shackle-free. Whippings? No; Bart Simpson blackboard sessions of ‘I’se not fixin to runs noweya eva agane’ in repetition.

Then there’s Spike Lee.

I will first qualify my undying devotion to Lee’s film career; I think his movies are underrated and vastly important in the American film canon; actually the slept on “The Miracle at Saint Anna” may even be my favorite. With that acknowledgment, I know school-yard haterism when I see it. Lee’s Pedestrian and trite critique of the use of the n-word by Tarantino’s slavers in the film is a lion’s yawn.

Spike says:

“I have a definite problem with Quentin Tarantino’s excessive use of the n-word. And let the record state that I never said that he cannot use that word– I’ve used that word in many of my films – but I think something is wrong with him.”

Lets do some homework in a device used in art called “irony.” In 1994′s “Pulp Fiction,” there’s the famous scene where Samuel L. Jackson’s character visits a buddy of his, played by Tarantino, to help dispose of an unfortunate gunshot victim. The n-word is said in reference to the dead guy to Jackson’s character an obscene amount of times. Moreover, what’s more peculiar is that Tarantino is talking to a vicious black hitman. The irony and humor hits an apex when we learn that the wife of Tarantino’s character, “Bonnie,” whom he decries for her bad taste in coffee, is a black woman!

(As an aside for those long haven forgotten this sequence, there’s an implied cut to the near future when “Bonnie” is returning home from a night-shift at the hospital to find a dead guy waiting for her when she gets home. Bonnie is portrayed by a black actress.)

Lee told Vibe Magazine that he didn’t intend to watch the movie because it was “disrespectful to his ancestors.” We’re in agreement somewhat here: African chatel-slavery certainly was disrespectful to his/mine/our ancestors–understatement of all-time. But a revenge flick where the protagonists spend the majority of the film cartoonishly mowing down slave-drivers, can hardly be called disrespectful.

On Christmas night at the screening I saw of “Django Unchained,” half of the seats were occupied by people whose ancestors were portrayed as slaves–black people. No black folks left in the middle of the film. Instead, the numerous bouts of applause that took place during the film often masked some of the dialogue that followed. So much for disrespect, Spike.

So let us call his sentiment about “Django Unchained,” what it is: Hating. Or Jealousy; jealous that you weren’t the one to make it. We’ve seen “Roots” and “The Color Purple” enough.

Spike Lee is not the official notary of the black populous. The ticket-sales speak for themselves.

Spike, buy smaller panties if they ride up too high.


Los Pura Vida dos: Volcano Town



Our travel service picked us up the next day to head off to the volcano-Arenal, which is some amount of hours drive outside San Jose. First we stopped on the outskirts of the city to pick up a vacationing couple who spoke Castilian Spanish like the aristocrats they were. The woman and Erica had a moment in English where she asked if we’d mind if they cut the blasting A/C off in the frigid tour van. They briefly bonded over always being cold–something women would find camaraderie in.

A few hours later on the same drive the regal Spanish lady broke a tranquil countryside silence to bark at the driver in Spanish, demanding that he turn the A/C on because she was burning up–emergency status.


The journey was on some winding back-country shit and carsickness washed over me like a dick. I tried to sleep it off and when the road straightened out a bit, the country landscape was crowned by Volcano-Arenal straight ahead of us in the distance. It is the unmistakable hot-friend amongst less impressive, more typical appearing ridges. Arenal is the tits and ass of volcanos–fine by anybody’s standards. It’s that v-shaped part of a fit body that points itself down toward the crotch, that both men and women like in their partners.

Arenal is remarkably proper. It’s perfectly conical like a 6th grade science project volcano, crested by a halo of clouds. It looks like Bob Ross drew the shit and even dabbed trees among the splendid falling hillside. If Arenal were a man, he’d be well-off with a flashy car and a big dick. Were it a woman, she’d never buy her own drinks. Arenal is its official name but were I a lucky indigenous Costa Rican native, I’d have named it “Mount Tippy-Tippy Top-Top.”

Los Pura Vida–A Tale of Getting Grammar Wrong in Costa Rica

So–I went to Costa Rica this summer before it was dick-slapped with two serious earthquakes. Aside from having some kick-ass signage and lime-mayonnaise as a standard table condiment, it’s just like America–Our Mayo is just less, well, limey. 

Excerpt from my travel journal:

Stay Classy Korean Market in San Jose

Costa Rican July aint so bad. Of course, it’s June still technically, but the first thing I noticed about the weather was that I hardly noticed it. Aside from being more humid than the Bay Area, it appears to be pretty temperate on a late June afternoon. You will not die if you’re wearing pants, as I’ve always believed about being in equatorial tropics.

You could die, however, if you stand in the middle of the town square at the Teatro Nacional, where hordes of suspect individuals can sense your foreignness and expensive electronics. Their heads turn in the general direction of your iPhone photo-shoot like mosquitos to blue lights, except they aren’t interested in your pictures.

San Jose has a lot of fucking people and looks like a whole city-sized version of the Mission district in San Francisco minus the lesbians and white hipsters. And since there are so many more people than just about anywhere, it follows that some of them may want to rob you, so best to keep it moving. I guess a bigger sample size means more of any sort of society’s “characters”.

There are also cops everywhere in downtown San Jo–I’m calling it “San Jo” because we are cool like that–but it appears they operate a tad different than the chase-the-skateboarder suburban cops of the homeland. From our tour shuttle I saw the most blatant cocaine transaction happening on the sidewalk, a mere fifteen-feet (five-meters) away from a cop. These two sketchy dudes played hot-potato with a baggy filled with white powder as if to trade cigarettes; either that, or the one guy was assisting with the last portion of flour for the world’s loneliest cupcake.

There are Koreans there, too. They run the same sorts of shops they do at home. One of the shops had such knock-off goods as the all-purpose plastic clogs known as “Cross” instead of Crocs, all kinds of tupperware, and cute little Sambo babies to put atop your dashboard for luck. All cultures need lucky sambo-trinkets, it appears.

More the Words

He thought that surely they would invent more words. More ways to say what he meant with precision. Certainly there had to be a better way to describe a pair of failed children like his.
There are more. More.
More of what was left to get absolutely correct when standing over the sink, he would think. He would think this is how I will name them, this is what I will attribute to myself. There will certainly be more ways to tell how he failed them, and his arms flail as he sits in traffic as his coffee loses heat.
His childhood quandary; why aren’t new biblical miracles happening in his day? Well, he reasons, those things simply don’t happen anymore. Just like how there’s no more room for more words.
More for description so the doctor’s nod would be sincere understanding, not a supposition. I have described it perfectly. Make me more better.
There will be more ways to say how the gadgets light the room up when he’s sad. Sadness is not it entirely–He has overeaten because fuck it, that’s why.
More popcorn words for the work world. A new word finally has an opportunity to be used in a public setting at a luncheon at the main office. The meeting is a “learnch”–”lunch” and “learn” combined. It used to be a teach-in. He will be telling more of the same from his presentation from the previous learnch, just rearranging the order.
He will not be more desirable any time sooner, or those many times later, and the bartender by the antique register will never find him more attractive. He does not need more words for this.
There are more Tuesday’s before payroll goes out, and it’s whatever’s in the cabinets for dinner.
More instances of less speaking as utensils clank on plates. More passing with intention to not bump hips, or rub arm hairs. More hours in the thick dark where sleep won’t visit.
There will be less talking, but surely, surely there will be more words, at least–More, many more words.

-The Butcher