Giant Step’s Resident 23: Little Jackie, Brazilian Girls, Platinum Pied Pipers, Wale and Blu

Photo of Wale at SOB’s © Antwan Duncan

By Mawuse Ziegbe

On Thursday, I learned something: Steve Madden is a real person. I just never saw that coming. But he is real and showed up to the Giant Step Little Jackie party at the Steve Madden store in the L.E.S. He and other non-imaginary people came to see Little Jackie perform acoustic renditions of their playful repertoire from their new album, The Stoop. Little Jackie’s wily frontwoman Imani Coppola, who often misbehaves in concert (much to my personal glee), played a restrained yet enjoyable set, including songs “Guys Like When Girls Kiss” and “28 Butts.” She seemed like she wanted get into some trouble (maybe knock over a sandal display or throw a bag of peds in the air) but she played the good girl role quite well.

On Friday, a girl I know, let’s just call her Bawuse, had a horrible time at the Brazilian Girls show at Prospect Park. She went out with a nice enough fella whose friends deployed one of the most effective cock-block campaigns in modern history. He introduced Bawuse to one friend who gave her the side-eye. Bawuse learns later, that she’s the friend of an ex-girlfriend which made Bawuse an enemy most foul. Another friend took creepy pose pictures and grilled her on reasons why she and her date weren’t going home together. You know those great, successful people who are chronically single? Bawuse learned there is no easy way of saying, “if you ever want to get some, throw your friends off a bridge.” As far the Brazilian Girls’ actual show, Bawuse thought the cavernous annals of Prospect Park engulfed the ambient rhythms and frontwoman Sabina Sciubba’s subtle and cozy vocals. But Sciubba was all types of fierce in a dress that looked like an angular cream-puff and the pillars of smoke that flared up from the crowd when Sciubba sang “pussy, pussy, pussy marijuana” made Bawuse giggle.

I spent most of Saturday getting my sloth on. I blew a couple hours gossiping in the park and then I got some cake. Cake with frosting. But for serious, I really got going when I saw Platinum Pied Pipers at Southpaw. They were dressed in pimpalicious shades of Dover like they just left a white party thrown by Sly Stone. And they brought the partaaay with three live-ass singers and bucket loads of joy. They rounded out the half-hour performance with their clangy cover of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.” Mostly, I had fun because they had fun. So snaps in a circle to artists with job satisfaction.

Sunday, I hit the Afropunk block party featuring The Ceasarz, J*Davey and Kudu (Oh, and am I the only one starting to feel out of place at summer shindigs because I don’t have an Afro and a toddler?).One of my favorite underrated bands, The Carps brought their crazy Canadian ways to Clinton Hill. They had this weird robbery interlude that they reenacted live which made my head hurt. They sang their Bel Biv Devoe-meets-Poison track “Compton To Scarboro” and some new ish I didn’t recognize. They bounced between instruments with Jahmal singing and drumming and Neil strumming and tinkling. Snaps in a circle to the duo for embodying the colloquialism “hold it down.”

Later, Wale and Blu tore up S.O.B.s. Blu had the audience swooning over his snappy rhymes and Exile flashed his turntabling skills. Skillz threw down with a surprise performance and Talib Kweli jumped in the last song. But Kweli didn’t like, rap or anything. He just yelled a few “yeahs” and left the stage like nothing happened. Awk-ward. Then Wale came out. For someone whose image is so swaggerific, he was refreshingly democratic with his stage show. He kicked his rhymes, including his verse from his Roots collabo “Rising Up” but he was mostly recounting the history of go-go and letting his band and DC group UCB shine. At one point he stopped to answer a text but I didn’t mind, because he set up a machine of musicians who kept it jumpin.’ I’ve been to many shows where I’ve stared at some rap music singer pacing about and have wanted to shoot a crossbow in my eye. So, snaps to artists with the confidence to let the music take center stage.

Giant Step’s Resident: The City, The Sounds, The Soul Part 9

By Mawuse Ziegbe

The origins of rock music have always been entangled in the African-American experience. Musical idioms like blues and to an extent jazz have laid the groundwork for rockin’ and rollin.’ For several reasons, over the years, rock music has no longer been considered “a black thing.” But there have always been the Lenny Kravitzes, Meshell Ndegeocellos, Bad Brains, Living Colours and many others who stand up and represent. Today, there’s a blitz of new kids pickin’ up axes and making new noise that shoves the boundaries of rock music and cultural identity. Below are a couple of kids who are bringing that certain “I-don’t-know-what” to the rock game.

The Carps
The Carps is the Toronto duo of Jahmal Tonge and Neil White that punches up warbling electro with splashy garage drums. Tonge’s vocals invoke the gleefully cheesy, Activator-powered soul of say Rockwell or early Michael Jackson. “All The Damn Kids” is a dizzying hybrid of punk and Soca (expect to see dirty Union Jacks waving in the air on Eastern Parkway this summer). And “Compton To Scarboro” opens up with a drum riff lifted from Bel Biv Devoe’s 1990 acidic banger, “Poison.” Currently, they’re on tour, blowing minds across Europe with throwback rappers The Cool Kids.

Apollo Heights
This NYC-based group makes my feet tingle with its fuzzy electro rock and makes my heart smile with its latest project “White Music For Black People.” The collective is anchored by twins Danny and Daniel Chavis and they make a lot of poppy epic rock that would make The Smiths and whoever made the music for the finale of The Karate Kid proud. They demonstrate their prowess for revamping classic ‘80s sounds on their remake of Madonna’s “Dress You Up” and piling up heady percussion and pouty vocals on “Missed Again” with
Mike Ladd.

Dragons Of Zynth
Critics have been wetting their pants about the psychedelic-Afrobeat-soul brew that Dragons Of Zynth have been stirring up so well. Another set of twins, Aku and Akwetey, work their magic from the epicenter of a sensual glam-rock enterprise. Their debut, Coronation Thieves is wall-to-wall disjointed rhythms and well-placed explosions of noise. They’re also been endorsed by the ever artful TV On The Radio and Thieves is produced by TVOTR’s David Sitek. But DOZ is more like TVOTR’s over-amped kid brothers who are still obsessed with wizardry and getting into trouble. And thank goodness for that.