Tag Archives: Flashback Friday

#FlashbackFridayVideos – D’Angelo’s Untitled (How Does It Feel)

Welcome to #FlashbackFridayVideos where once a month we will break down classic music videos, classic sports games and general signature sports and pop culture moments from back in the day. We’ll have a quick rundown and explore all the angles that come to our minds. With that said…..

I am a huge fan of D’Angelo’s music. The man plays the piano, the guitar, he produces, he composes, he writes, and most importantly for music lovers, he can sing his ass off. He struck a perfect balance between having ALL the ladies love him, while getting respect from the fellas and the streets when he released his Brown Sugar album almost twenty years ago. Five years later, he released his 2nd album, Voodoo, a timeless masterpiece that pushed his talents into “Revered Superstar” status, and was legitimately being compared to legends like Prince, Marvin Gaye, & Stevie Wonder. If that wasn’t enough, he changed his body to the point that he started making waves as a sex symbol.

Now, most women would tell you, prior to Voodoo they all though he was a great looking guy as he was. Even with the cornrows, the baggy clothes, the fact that he hid behind the piano in most of his videos and award performances, women would still willingly throw themselves at him. When he dropped his “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” video, it was a seismic explosion. ALL women collectively lost, for lack of better words, their mothafu**in’ minds. Us men completely hated on his ass, refusing to watch the video more than once, while throwing up a collective middle finger at the whole experience. Even to this day, you mention this song &/or video to a female that remembers it, & a perverted smile etches their face. On that note, I’ve decided to go a different route on this one. I’ve decided to get an all-female perspective & responses from a collection of my friends, my friend’s wives, relatives, shit….. even “The Wife” threw her 2 cents in like a dodgeball throw. It’s only right that they give you their qualified reactions instead of me. I think the song is great, and it’s a certified baby-maker, but it’s been 15+ years since that video debuted, & I still refuse to look at this video in its face. Anyways, please enjoy…..

 

So Ladies, how did this video “Make You Feel?”

Dee aka “The WIfe”: Listen, one night whilst sitting on the couch perusing through the tv channels, slightly tipsy from the glass of Reisling I had just enjoyed, up on my screen appears this sexilous specimen of a man! (Yes! I said sexilous). And he wants to ask me with his lips in that infamous curl and penetrating eyes, “How Does It Feel?” Have mercy Jesus, as my heart pulsated, and an incredulous heat invaded my body, with a sly smirk on my face, I was willing to show him how it felt. If only I could miraculously appear on screen with Mr. D’Angelo, but then he would have to release, “Untitled Part Deux”! Because I would have gladly showed him, and the cast and crew would have ran out of film. Please believe me!!! An oldie, but DEFINITELY…a goody.

(Me: I hope you know you sleeping in the guest room tonight. Cuz uh…….)

Cheryl: Well, well, weeeelllll!! That video definitely makes you feel good all over!! What a yummie, yummie man! You just want to reach out and touch him!! Angie Stone (that’s her name right?) was a lucky woman!! LOL!!

Sasha: Well….. Here’s my 2 cents on that vid:

I had to do a quick replay of the vid because it’s been a minute! But after the replay I think I still had the same feeling I did many, many moons ago… HOT DAYUUUM (sigh)!!!  Good Lawd he’s beautiful… in a manly sort of way. Lips, body, muscles, abs (that can qualify under body), skin and he can sing like that….. sweet Jesus.  It was perfection!  I guess the jaw-dropping audacity of someone doing a video like that, to then go along with the sensuality of the song was ground breaking, and had all the ladies dumbfounded in lust!  I found myself mesmerized like I did back then, trying to tilt the screen down to see a lil’ more.  Some guys must have liked the song, then saw the video and probably hated it, Lol! Then again maybe some didn’t but it was never a song for the guys. I have to really commend D’Angelo on putting out a tune like that with a video that is incomparable.  So many years later you ask ladies about that song, it gives us a trip down memory lane, as well as an excuse to watch it after so long. Thanks! Well worth the trip…..

Eboni: I heard the song “Untitled” before I saw the video and loved it. D’Angelo’s work brings me to a place of elevation and peace. But when I saw the video, I don’t think I exhaled nor did I close my mouth until the very last line. I later found out the video was inspired by his grandmother’s cooking. That made me respect the many layers of his artistry, and how his raw talent fused with his musicality and radical religious upbringing created a riveting sound. With his clothes on or off, D’Angelo is still one of my all-time favorites.

Tania: I think I was at Western University with my girls when I first saw the “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)” video.  We were all about that Neo Soul movement and definitely had the Brown Sugar album on repeat for a long time. But I don’t think ANYONE was ready for this video! This video…..Oh this video… I don’t think I even heard the song the first time I watched it.  I don’t think I even knew who was singing the song when I first saw this video.  Let’s just say I certainly gave that body the appreciation and admiration that it deserved!  Untitled didn’t need a title! That body spoke volumes. Did everyone else hear what he was trying to say??? Well…. that’s another issue.

After I shook out my head, wiped the drool off my mouth and watched the video again, I became embarrassed. If you allow yourself to get beyond the hot body and fall into the lyrics of the song, the body language of the close up shots, and the emotion of the video you start to feel like a creeper!  It is such an intimate moment.  Basically this sexy naked man is trying to seduce a woman (maybe all women) into having sex.  This was an open and raw proposal stripped down to just the body and the words.  It was really a unique and creative production. Although, I don’t think it was initially recognized for these artistic reasons. Instead, we all talked about how good D’Angelo looked compared to when we last saw him. He went from a smooth singing, piano playing artist to a full-fledged sex symbol.  There was speculation (lots of inappropriate speculation) as to what was behind that coy smile and lip licking, just a lot of overall focus on all things six-pack.  Ultimately, all this attention and physical infatuation is what drove D’Angelo away from the spotlight and that makes me sad. As time passed, and the novelty of the shocking “Untitled” video wore off, at least we were still left with a provocatively beautiful song.

Marissa: I was like “whoa” (in a very good way) he definitely left a lot to the imagination of anyone watching it. It was a different direction he took and I was amazed, in awe, and drooling. I’m sure like the rest of the female population.

I think that video was naturally artistic. No filters necessary. No video chicks, or material things, he just put himself out there and it “made you feel” sexy just watching him.

I don’t think anyone may have expected him to go there as we all knew and loved his other songs. So I really enjoyed what he displayed musically, and I left the rest to my imagination. **wink-wink**.

Aisha: How does it feel… it feels just about right! If I think back to when I first saw this video, I believe I was in high school. If anyone can appreciate, high school was an awkward time, especially when it came to issues of sex, sexualness (clearly this is not a word but I am using it!) and sexuality. This video was like forbidden fruit…here was this fine ass black man, shiny and smooth singing about how it felt. At that time, I had no idea how it felt, but based on this video and assuming that every grown man looked like that, I certainly wanted to know how it felt! This song, like many songs during this musical era remains etched in my mind. Personally, it was when music was about emotion and not just about twerking, gold and CoCo!

At the mature age of 35, I still get goosebumps when I hear this song. The only difference is that I know your average man does not look like that!

Tricia: It was first in the Black Men United’s video for “You Will Know” off of the Jason’s Lyric soundtrack, when I first set eyes on the cute piano player who I’d later find out went by the name D’Angelo.  Thanks to Da Mix or Xtendamix (or whatever it was called back then) I quickly purchased and fell in love with the instant classic album “Brown Sugar”.  When it came to D’Angelo, I was a huge fan.  The music was great, but those curly lips were up there on the same level as LL Cool J.   Being absolutely boy crazy, I did not even care that word on the street was that he was mad short.  So when I heard that there was another album on its way, I was thrilled.

I heard the first release, “Devil’s Pie” and thought “okay”, but then I started to hear people talk about that D’Angelo video where he is naked.  Say what?  Having to wait for the video to pop up on the TV, I eagerly waited for the Much Music VJ to introduce “Untitled”, and finally it happened.

There was that sexy specimen, singing that sexy song. The boy was cut!  How could you not look at those abs and those muscles that only the really, really cut guys had?  And then there was the way the camera shot him, just high enough to make us think if we just kept looking a little lower we could see more.  Man, was he really naked — like completely butt naked?  If everything was lookin’ all good up there, I am sure as hell, it was all good down there.

Everything stopped when that video came on TV.  No matter how many times I watched it, it got better and better.  I loved waiting for the end of the song as he would crescendo and belt out every “Ya ya!  Wooh!”  while slyly looking down at whoever she was.   I did not even care, the man was just too fine.  Woman across the world wished he was looking at all of us that way.  Want to see a room full of girls break out into a sisterhood of high fives? Just play that video.  “How does it feel” you ask??  It feels greeeeaaaaaaat!!!

 

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to The Baseline Blog, click onto the Follow button or by entering your email address. Very special thanks to Dee aka “The Wife”, Cheryl, Sasha, Tricia, Eboni, Marissa, Tania, & Aisha for their generous contributions to this post.  

#FlashbackFridayVideos: Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks”

Ok, here’s the thing…..

……each and every last Friday of each month, we were supposed to be posting #FlashbackFridayVideos, a segment focusing on classic music videos, classic sports games and general signature pop culture moments from back in the day. While the spirit is there, I’ve changed the parameters a little. We will post at least one of these segments, once a month instead of the 4th Friday of each month. So in case the spirit hits me (or us when I tag-team the segment with someone), I don’t want to have to wait until the end of each month to post it. We’ll still have quick rundowns and explore all the angles that come to our minds on each video when it comes to sports moments and videos, cool? Cool. Phew! Now that we got that out the way, let’s walk with Jesus….

Before the spazzing-out episodes about getting deeper into the clothing industry, before the paparrazzi, before the Kardashians, the Yeezy kicks, the Adidas deal, even before Katrina, we had “College Dropout” Kanye. This version of Kanye used his first album to bring out some of the fallacies and pressures of college life, which was completely different from anything that was heard from Roc-A-Fella Records. He sounded different, looked different, dressed different, and acted different. This was a dude that would show up on the scene in a pink polo shirt, a blazer, and a backpack (usually Louis Vitton-affiliated, but still). He was as “clean cut” a rapper, as you were going to get out of the Roc. Kanye didn’t have a drug dealing background like Jay-Z, wasn’t from the Marcy projects like Memphis Bleek, wasn’t a Broad St. Bully like Beanie Sigal (who was the first rapper to use Kanye’s production), wasn’t about the grimy life like Freeway, and wasn’t hustling until the sun came up like State Property’s persona. For all intended purposes, Kanye seemed like a regular (if not cocky) guy that happened to be able to rap and produce. He had insecurities, flaws, & even if he loved to floss, he wasn’t afraid to deal with his issues in his raps. Then on the production side of things, he was building a catalogue that was helping to change the landscape of Hip Hop. Between him and Just Blaze, their production helped to extend the life of the Roc and even Hov in particular, in the early 2000’s.

Once Kanye stepped out, started rapping not with his labelmates, but with guys like Talib Kweli, Yaasin Bay (forever known as Mos Def), Common and Twista, & they co-signed his rhyming skills, he started to become official. He put out the videos to, Through the Wire” & All Falls Down”, but had a song bubbling on the low that was going to change everything in his career up to that point……

“Jesus Walks”, even at that time, was not only one of the most original songs that Roc-A-Fella ever put out, but was one of the more original records that we ever heard from an artist. We never saw someone talk about Jesus as blatantly as Kanye did in Hip Hop. It was thought-provoking, it sounded dope, it shed light on his relationship with the Lord without sounding preachy, it sounded dope, it was hella-artistic, and again, it sounded dope. A Hip Hop record speaking about religious beliefs doesn’t work unless it aces the test sonically. Let’s face it, people may love the Lord, but the masses don’t want to hear about it in 16 bars or more over a boom-bap beat. If that was the case, the Christian rap game would be huge right now. It’s probably one of the reasons why we haven’t heard a song like this since. With that said, this song & video represented the best examples of Kanye as an artist & where he was headed. In the video, he touches on many different kinds of people in different scenarios struggling through their lot in life. The white supremacist/clan member cutting down a tree to carve out a cross; the prisoners in a chain gang; the drug dealers fleeing from the feds with the stripper in the backseat; and the disenfranchised youth skipping, all share the common denominator that the Lord walks with them through thick & thin.

He represented all different facets, while showing his greatest strength, which is to never fear the opportunity to veer left when everyone is heading right. He wasn’t afraid to promote his message (he put out THREE different videos for Jesus Walks for goodness sakes!), wasn’t fearful of challenging the status quo (“So here go my single dog, radio needs this / they say you can rap about anything except for Jesus / That means guns, sex, lies, videotape / But If I talk about God my record won’t get played, huh?”), & it was expensive as hell (1st & 2nd versions costs $1.5M combined). No one in Hip Hop would have dared tried to make this song, much less his labelmates. They might have tried to sautée their Roc-A-Fella chains, & eat it with some pasta before they’d cut a record like this.

It’s a shame though, because personally, I miss “College Dropout” Yeezy. Someone who made his own soulful beats, shared his experiences of his college days & his desires of making it big (even if he was already at the time), & also shockingly holding his own with some of the heavyweight rappers that guest appeared on his album. This album dropped around the time my friends & I were still in University ourselves, so for a lot of us, this album was our personal soundtrack. Shit, one of my boys even had a customized Jesus Walks Blazer back when wearing a Blazer &/or Button-up with a fitted cap was the way to go. Like many of us that have moved on and matured from those days, Kanye has graduated from his talents back then, to be one of the biggest superstars the genre has seen to this day. So much so, that outside of Jesus Walks, he barely performs any of the tracks off the College Dropout in concerts or other live events. Considering some of the controversies that we’ve seen from him since this song dropped (his mom’s passing, fighting the ‘razzi, “Imma let you finish”, etc.), maybe this song was a prophetic affirmation that HE would continue to walk with him through all his trials & tribulations (self-inflicted or not). I mean, how else do you explain the fact that he still remains so hot to the masses, with all of his public missteps and large portions of the public hating his guts because of it? He still hasn’t cracked yet, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Maybe in some way, this song is the one from his debut album that is still relative to his life nowadays, who knows really. All we know is that a song about God sent him on his way. Considering how dark Hip Hop can sometimes get, that’s probably an underrated blessing in itself.

 

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to The Baseline Blog, click onto the Follow button or by entering your email address.