Day 344: Grammy Museum

The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur

The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur

We took our trip to the Grammy Museum tonight and it was amazing. My wife and I scored tickets from Yelp as a perk for being part of their street team this summer. (Thanks, Yelp!)

The hour-long drive into L.A. was totally worth it since we got to explore the museum for an hour before the show. The second I learned there was a Tupac Shakur exhibition on the fourth floor, I knew where we were going first.

The exhibition featured some of Shakur’s original writings, including the poem, “The Rose That Grew From Concrete,” which was the title of his posthumous book of poetry. 2Pac was always an enigmatic figure: he was a brash hip hop figure, but also an introspective and intelligent young man. The exhibition did a good job of showing this more thoughtful side of him without denying his controversial side.

Afterwards we walked around the third and fourth floors, exploring different styles of music and learning the history. I could’ve easily spent hours here, but time was limited.

At 7:30pm, we went back to the second floor to the little theater for an Ukulele Beatles show. We’d seen Jake Shimabukuro last year and were blown away, so we thought tonight would be a nice little concert. It started off that way with Ryan Imamura, as the young man played some medleys and then individual Beatles songs. He was great, but then Ryo Montgomery took the stage and proceeded to rock the house.

Yes, he killed it with his ukulele. We were absolutely impressed, as was the rest of the audience.

Montgomery reminded us a lot of Shimabukuro; not only his otherworldly talent, but his stage presence. He was a natural up there and just owned it. He brought back Imamura for a few songs and they were awesome together. We loved how they ended the set with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” using Shimabukuro’s famous arrangement.

It was a mind-blowing experience tonight, looking back at hip hop’s past before looking forward to the ukulele’s future.

Day 338: Hollis-day Music

Peanuts Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas

I can only take so much of KOST 103.5’s 24-hour, 7-days-a-week Christmas music programming, which starts earlier every year. I’m far from a Bah-Humbug type, but let’s just say that I don’t look forward to when they start broadcasting holiday tunes two weeks before Thanksgiving.

Thankfully, there’s one song that I always gets me into the holiday spirit: Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis.” It’s even better when it’s been mashed up with A Charlie Brown Christmas, as seen below.

Day 242: Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

My wife and I finally got around to seeing Straight Outta Compton today. We’d tried to see it on opening weekend, but ran into a sold-out theater.

I’m still somewhat amazed that a movie about Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, et. al., could be so popular. N.W.A. and the West Coast gangsta rap artists were a huge part of my late teens/early 20s; the music was always present at parties and in our cars during road trips. I expected the movie to be a modest hit.

But to think their story would be a box office smash? No way.

I liked that they didn’t clean up any of the lyrics for the movie because they’re still hard-hitting to this day, especially in light of Ferguson and other violence. Like N.W.A. and the world it it portrayed, the movie isn’t perfect. Straight Outta Compton covers a lot of ground, but doesn’t always cover everything well. Thankfully, the stumbles are few and far between.

The actors were well-cast, particularly O’Shea Jackson, Jr., playing his father, Ice Cube. It was surreal watching him on the big screen: he looks and sounds just like his dad. It was easy to get caught up in the movie, reciting lyrics I haven’t heard in years.

It seems like a lifetime has passed since those times, but the music and the story endures.


Day 62: Three Fresh Things

Fresh Off The Boat

Fresh Off The Boat

1. I missed last week’s Fresh Off The Boat due to a previous commitment, but tonight my wife and I weren’t going to miss our favorite television family. It was another hilarious episode, with so many highlights: Eddie suffering the indignity of having his neighbor babysit him as he goes overboard on the sriracha, Jessica’s quotes from Caddyshack, Louis’ Coming-to-America-like McDowell’s move, Eddie’s dream sequence, the billboard, and “Buffalo Things.”

2. The only complaint I have so far about the show? The entire season isn’t on Netflix so I can binge-watch to my heart’s content.

3. There’s a Spotify playlist of the show and there’s plenty from the Golden Age of hip hop. Listen here for your dose of 90s music (Warning: some NSFW language).

4. I know I said three things, so consider this a bonus: A must-watch after each episode is Fresh Off The Show, hosted by Phil Yu and Jenny Wang. It’s a live recap of the show and it’s funny and informative. Check their twitter accounts on Tuesdays for the link to the live feed on youtube.