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September 07, 2006


Maybe the title of Lupe Fiasco's LP, FOOD & LIQUOR, isn't so dumb after all??

By David Lieberman, USA TODAY

NEW YORK — Vivendi's (V) Universal Music Group put itself in line to become the world's No. 1 music-publishing company on Wednesday after its $2.1 billion offer won a widely watched bidding war for Bertelsmann's BMG Music Publishing Group.

If approved by antitrust officials in Europe and the USA, Universal will pick up more than 1 million copyrights for an eclectic array of songs from artists including Coldplay, Barry Manilow, Christina Aguilera, R. Kelly, the Bee Gees, Elvis Costello, Puccini and Ravel.
Universal already has about 1 million copyrights, including those of Paul Simon, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Motown's Holland-Dozier-Holland, Madonna, Prince, Leonard Bernstein and Kiss.
Other bidders weren't disclosed.
In addition to getting revenue when CDs or downloads are sold, music publishers collect royalties every time their songs are performed on radio, TV, movies, ads, concerts, online or even built into toys.
That has made it a coveted arm of the music business even as anemic album sales and piracy have staggered record companies.
The acquisition "is a unique opportunity to grow our music-publishing business and enhance the value of Universal Music Group," Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said in a statement.
While the deal would give Universal the most copyrights, it still would have major rivals: In the second quarter, EMI controlled 19.8% of songs played on U.S. radio stations monitored by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems. Warner/Chappell had 13.8%, Sony/ATV 10.5%, Universal 10.2% and BMG 7.3%.
"Only a handful of copyrights really matter," says Larry Mestel of Primary Wave Music Publishing, which has rights to Nirvana, Daniel Johnston and music from movies including Ben Hur. "The rest just clutter up the system."
Privately owned Bertelsmann put its music-publishing unit on the block to help repay loans it used to buy back a 25.1% stake owned by Belgian billionaire Albert Frere.
But BMG chief Thomas Rabe said in a statement that "Bertelsmann remains fully committed to its recorded music business through its partnership with Sony in Sony BMG Music Entertainment."
BMG publishing generated $234 million in revenue in the first half of 2006, about 2% of the total for Bertelsmann, the company reported on Wednesday.
While that's flat with the same period last year, operating cash flow for music publishing grew 30% to $38.4 million.
Separately, Bertelsmann settled the Vivendi piece of a lawsuit by several music companies.
The lawsuit alleges that loans Bertelsmann made to Napster helped the file-sharing service operate longer than it otherwise would have. Universal will get $60 million, while Bertelsmann admitted no liability.

September 04, 2006


I was supposed to see my friend on Thursday. Then Friday. Then Saturday. When Sunday finally rolled around, and he said we'd see each other "for sure" that day, I got up, I got dressed, I called him again, and I left a message. "I'm going to see Idlewild at 1:25 pm at Magic Johnson theater, so if I don't hear from you before then, that's where I'm at, and when I'm done I'm going inside the mall to pop at dudes." (That last part was a joke.) I ended up at The Grove instead, but of course I was by myself at 1:25.

As soon as the movie started - after a really crazy preview for a movie called Black Snake Moan (go to the movies now just to see this preview) with Samuel L. Jackson, (fine ass) David Banner, and Christina Ricci - I was instantly transported into another world. The first shot of a vinyl record spinning on an old phonograph, focused on the grooves, tighter and tighter until the grooves become snapping, moving, dusty, old-school black & white film strip. The movie is inside a record, get it?

Idlewild is the best movie I've seen in years. It is the best "musical" film I've ever seen, bar none. Bryan Barber, the director, is without question the best "music video director" to ever cross over to the big screen. The costumes in this film are blow-your-mind (Delfonics) amazing. The casting brilliant - cameos from Macy Gray to Cicely Tyson to Miz Patti LaBelle - are perfect characterization. And, like most MCs who are really, really dope MCs, Big Boy is an excellent actor, his big personality seems made for the silver screen. Andre 3000 (or as we call him, Andre 9000) is obviously the musical catalyst for Idlewild, seeming to control the score, the soundtrack, the piano, the grooves, and the soundwaves themselves.

Yes, there are obvious similarities between Purple Rain and this film, or at least between Prince and 9000. A couple of don't-I-remember-that from Harlem Nights moments. But that's part of what makes this film great. You can tell someone from my generation made this movie, and don't kids today deserve to grow up on their own stars? The answer is that the mere existence of this film will steer young people down paths of greatness - screenwriters, music supervisors, costume designers, directors, dancers, musicians - which means that this next generation will have a few less rappers and a few more superstars.

Idlewild is so good, I saw it twice in one day. My friend finally materialized on the phone during the final act of the movie, he picked me up at the Grove, and after delicious Italian food (I had some Melanzane Rolatini stuffed with roasted red pepper, carmelized red onion, and goat cheese - but that's another story) we headed to the Avco in Westwood and I fell right back into the grooves of that record.

The moment I remember most was a musical scene, where Big Boi is rhyming about relationship issues slash babymama drama. He's suited and booted, the shake dance girls are decked out in feathers, sequins, and glam; and he delivers a line in his rhyme that reminds me I never want to do the dating-the-artist thing again in my life. "I'm married to the music, dedicated to the wax".

September 03, 2006

An Unrequited Love / A Lust Unresolved

I remember the way you looked at me the first time we met.
I remember feeling the same way. Together we left it unsaid.

Years passed. We reconnected, in a sense. I remember the first meal I cooked for you. Jerk Chicken, Mofongo, Plantano Dulce, Yellow Rice, Black Beans, Smothered Cabbage. I remember the way you looked at me while you were eating that plate.

Years passed. I saw your face in my dreams, your photograph in a magazine, your image on the television screen, your music came through my stereo speakers, even though it was few and far between.

Years passed. I had a chance to learn your ways. You told me I was an angel. I cooked breakfast, lunch, dinner and breakfast. You thanked me. I was honored.

I remember the smell of garlic cooking would bring you running to the kitchen, just to stop and check me out. I reminisce on feeding you those meals. I think back at the times we touched, ever so briefly, the time we kissed each other's cheek.

Sitting at the table, I felt you standing behind me, but I didn't turn your way. When you reached over and touched a lock of my hair, your fingers brushed the nape of my neck. It made my heart leap in my chest, and it made me jump in the chair. You told me at that moment, I'm sorry, I would never want to touch you wrong. My eyes held back tears, and I said nothing, my thoughts louder than a bomb. "Don't open the doors to heaven, if you won't let me in."

I remember walking by the room where you lay on the couch, just barely asleep. To look at your face in that moment was to see a perfect angel, fallen to earth, in the form of a man. The first time you ever saw my face made-up was in that room. I came around the corner, our eyes met, and you did a double take. You always thought I was beautiful, at that moment you knew.

I remember when you told your child to make sure that I didn't leave. I would never have left, had you asked me to stay. Especially if you had asked without speaking.
I remember talking about our Grandparents, and family, and the uselessness of bitches, and the possibility of the meaning of life. You always asked about my Mother. You're the only one I could ever have brought home to her, even though without having seen you she told me to watch out for you.

Now it's only what I recall. The day you picked me up. The night you brought me home. Neither one of us wanted to part. I couldn't be the one to make the first move. You wouldn't ask me to stay with you. Deep down, aside from all the flirtatiousness, all your women, you're still that young, shy boy. So I leaned over and kissed you on the cheek, I didn't know it was the last time. (Is it the last time? When I pray, I pray that it wasn't.)

All I have is these memories to keep me faithful. Before you came along my heart was cold. You showed me I could love again. In you, for the first time in my life, I truly saw my reflection. It was a revelation to me. I'll never forget you.

You made me feel brand new. The love we (almost) had stays on my mind. You must have put a spell on my mind, I'm (still) under your power. I found love on a two wa street, but lost it on a lonely highway. It was just like heaven being there with you, you are like an angel, too good to be true...but after all, I love you, I do. My sunshine has faded away, baby.

The light shot diamonds from your eyes. I'm in the wilderness, you're in the music in the man's car next to me. You could see it in my pride, and the raven in my eyes. You tried to show me a better way...I didn't know what I'd been missing. When you spoke to me (with your eyes) I was always listening. No place for beginners or sensitive hearts. Sentiment is left to chance. No need to ask.

His eyes are like angel's.

But his heart is ... cold.