Posts Tagged With: music

Complex T.O.N.E.z – One


Part I – The Journey

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I thought it never rained in SoCal?

It was an unusually heavy downpour that dreary Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles. Unusual in the sense that this was the most significant amount of rain we’d had in L.A. County since drought conditions were declared just a few months earlier. I was on my way to meet T.O.N.E-z at the studio where he was shooting the video for his latest single, “My Baby Girl, ft. Alicia Witt”.

My oldest son, Maurice Jr., and I drove under ominous looking gray skies – and among even more ominously questionable drivers.  We marveled at the transparent sheets of rain as they drifted across the highway, casting a thick layer of water against the windshield with a dull swoosh. My frantically swinging windshield wipers were desperately – and sometimes ineffectively – trying to push away the water and provide a safe field of vision. Being born and raised in Los Angeles, I’ve seen my fair share of rain. I was pretty confident of my ability to get us from the South Bay to our final destination – an unmarked studio tucked away in the small upscale neighborhood of Windsor Square.

40 minutes into what would normally be a 15 minute drive, I asked my son if we should trudge on or turn back and head home. I called Joel and asked him if the shoot was still happening. Yeah, the rain was coming down THAT hard. But he assured me that everything was still a go, and to be honest, the rain was actually fascinating. There was so much water everywhere that we almost felt like we were in a submarine. Plus, I wanted to meet T.O.N.E-z, whose family includes pioneering MCs T La Rock and Special K of the Treacherous Three. And so, we pressed on…

I was able to expertly navigate the flooded intersection of Western Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard before coming to a stop on 3rd Street. I turned to my son and watched him as he shot brief glances through the water pouring down the passenger door window before turning his attention back to his marathon texting,  while also periodically checking to see if he’d had any increase of followers on Vine.

When we arrived at what I thought was our destination, we couldn’t find the building. A quick call to Joel and we discovering that the address he was initially given was wrong. So after a little finagling, we figured it all out and finally pulled up to an unassuming, brick, storefront building just as there was a break in the rain.

Getting out of the car, I saw a guy leaning against the stone wall of an inset door frame. “Is that the guy you were talking to on the phone?”, my son asked pointing out the window. “No,” I said. “That’s not Joel. That, is T.O.N.E.-z,” I said, recognizing him from his Facebook page

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Check out his Facebook page! Click the photo!

“T.O.N.E.-z?,” I said as we approached him. “Yeah,” he said coolly, with a friendly nod. “Glad you guys made it. Come on in.”

And so, we did…

Categories: music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Death Comes To Award Shows


Music is the biggest passion in my life. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I scrutinized the American Music Awards in a way most people probably would not. Most probably wouldn’t care in the first place. But I can’t help it… I care. 🙂

Okay, enough of the babbling. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the fact that there is a very real possibility that music awards as we’ve known them will become obsolete. They’re dying a slow death. What makes me say this? Partly because there’s been a trend in the music industry where the lines between genres are routinely blurred to the point of being nearly unrecognizable.

floridageorgialine_nelly_video_hFor instance, long ago there was a clear distinction between country music and pop music. So much so, that the country music industry felt the need to establish its own awards ceremony, the CMAs, in 1967 (there are currently 4 major awards shows specifically for country music). But let’s be honest, the crossover of modern country music into mainstream is pretty much a done deal. Aside from the occasional slide guitar or a lively fiddle, a lot of what is considered to be “country music” sounds a great deal like “pop music” (hello Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift).

Of course, the same can be said about R&B/Soul music. If Justin Timberlake can win the AMA for BOTH Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist and Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist, it really makes you wonder how those genres are actually defined. If one person is simultaneously a Pop/Soul/R&B/Rock artist, then what really is the point of having a category at all? 2013_11_25_AcsfrXBMWMjevnp1ocVtd1

As it is, the whole thing seems rather farcical to me when you’ve created genres and award categories, like “Gospel” and “Contemporary Christian”, that are based solely on subject matter. If that were to hold true across the board, we would have to add categories like “Favorite Misogynistic Single of the Year” or “Best Sexual Exploitation by a Band, Duo or Group”.

Personally, I think the days of Awards ceremonies are numbered. I give it another 10 years before it gets to the inevitable point of being discontinued. Besides, when it’s all said and done, good music is good music, regardless of any box society may want to place it in. 😉

Categories: commentary, current events, music, opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Act Like A Girl aka I’m Overthinking Again


I have no problem admitting that I like Demi Lovato’s music. I think she’s a pretty good singer, not to mention very attractive. But that’s beside the point.

What is my point?

Lyrics. See, she has this new single out called “Heart Attack” which basically talks about her fear of falling in love again. She sings that if she ever did that, she’d probably have a heart attack. Yeah, cute. 😉

Anyway, there’s one part of the song where she says “But you, make me wanna act like a girl…” and every time I hear that part it kinda bothers me. What bothers me is the implication that there’s something wrong with a girl acting like a girl. She says nothing specifically about being a tomboy or perhaps a butch lesbian. But in the context of the song, wanting to wear perfume, high heels or paint her nails is considered a bad thing. Or at least something you would only do to impress a boy.

Yeah, yeah… I’m overthinking the lyrics for sure. I KNOW that she simply means that being around this guy makes her want to do things that she doesn’t NORMALLY do. I get that. I just don’t understand why she chose THAT particular phrase as a way to demonstrate  uncharacteristic behavior.

I mean, c’mon… the truth is that if the gender tables were turned and a guy sang, “But you, make me wanna act like a boy…” it would be nearly impossible to spin that implication into something trivial. You’d probably have ongoing debates about social emasculation, metrosexuals and discrimination against effeminate heterosexual men.

And yet, with songs like this one, girls are being told that you don’t NEED to act like a girl as if there’s something inherently wrong with being girly. I’m not knocking girls who prefer trucks and army men over dolls and dress-up. I just think there should be positive reinforcement of either choice instead of making one out to be better than the other.

The irony? In spite of all that I’ve said, I really, REALLY like the song! lol

Okay, okay… I’ll stop now. Turning my brain off. 😛

Categories: commentary, music, opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Who Am I?


My name is Maurice. All of my family and many of my friends call me Riis (pronounced Reese). So please, if you’ve friended/followed me or have been friended/followed, feel free.  I was born, raised and still reside in the County of Los Angeles, California.  I come from a Pentecostal Christian family with parents who have been happily married for 48 years. Their story is from where I draw my deep understanding of commitment and devotion. I am the youngest of 4 children with 2 brothers and one adopted sister who’s exactly 6 months older than me. I grew up in what used to be called the infamous South Central part of Los Angeles. Yes, I’ve seen drive-bys. I’ve been shot at. I’ve been involved in school brawls that included more than 50 people. And I’ve had family members murdered. But neither me, nor anyone from my family has ever been in a gang. Your learn quickly to adjust to your environment and how to survive the set of circumstances you’re dealt.

I am a husband and father. I have 5 children, 4 boys and 1 girl. My oldest 2 boys are from a previous marriage that lasted from June 4, 1994 to March 3, 2001. It was especially painful to be in court on Valentine’s Day 2001 as the judge handed me the papers granting us a dissolusion of marriage that would take effect in less than 3 weeks time. I have always been, and continue to be an advocate for marriage. My current marriage began on August 7, 2004. Dre and I will be happily celebrating our 8th anniversary this year. The difference between the two is like night and day. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating… I used to think relationships like this only existed in movies. You know, the flirty looks, giddy teasing, full of adventure, romance between two like-minded people who began as best friends and ended up as lovers. That’s us. She is, in a word, extraordinary. In my eyes no woman will ever compare.

I am a musician. Music is my passion. I dream music. When I hear music I can literally see the movement of the notes, the syncopation and the various instruments used. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a type of synesthesia. Music literally conjures images in my head. It is a part of me as much as breathing. I began playing the piano at age 7. It wasn’t that my parents felt that all of us kids should learn an instrument. No, that wouldn’t be interesting at all.  It all started because the brand new piano my parents bought for my older brother to practice on, sat in our living room untouched because he grew bored with the lessons he previously begged for.  I, on the other hand, was fascinated by this monsterous noise maker and decided that since no one else was using it, I’d teach myself to play. And I did. Slowly but surely I went from finger pecks to two-hand quad-chords. I have never had a formal lesson, but I’ve been a studio session musician, played in a few bands, and on good days I can play circles around some trained musicians. I have also taught myself to play the drums, guitar and a little trumpet.

I am a thespian. I won a trophy in a Cal-Poly Pomona Shakespear Festival in the Male Monologue category at age 16. I was Marc Antony from Julius Caesar. I have been in plays, on TV and even in movies. Never as the lead, but with enough exposure to put together a pretty impressive bio if I wanted to pursue it full-time. But I don’t. It’s not the life I wanted to lead, although it was fascinating getting a glimpse into that world.  Plus, it afforded me a SAG card which comes with its own perks. The acting comes in handy with everyday life at times. I can be quite convincing when I need to be, but I never abuse this talent.

I am a writer. I’ve been blogging since early 2001. Writing is probably second on my list of passions. I love to write and express myself in the written (or typed) word. I am not a grammer nazi, but my eyes are often automatically drawn to what I consider blatant typos in professionally published material.  I know the difference between accept and except, and I can give you the what-for in regards to new words being added to the dictionary, like noob, l33t or bootylicious.

I could go on and on about the various ingredients that were combined to make me who I am today. But at least that’s a beginning. If there’s anything that may have stirred up a follow-up question, feel free to ask me. My life is transparent.

Riis

Categories: personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Reflection On Gift Giving


Sometimes giving a gift can be one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. You never know how much you’ll touch someone… and you never know what opportunities will arise from unforeseen angles.

For instance, I have a friend who is a highly accomplished artist and he creates tapestries for very wealthy clients.  I mean, some of his tapestries sell for thousands upon thousands of dollars… so it ain’t cheap.   Anyway, almost exactly 10 years ago today, he tells me that his friend Lucille (Shaq’s mom, I learned) had a birthday on the 14th of July.  He said he would be seeing her on the 21st and he asked me to write a song for her that would honor her, for her birthday.  (It’s part of what I do… writing, producing, arranging, etc…)

Seeing this as an opportunity to present my music, I agreed.  He told me this on Wednesday the 17th and said he was leaving at 5am on Saturday the 20th.  So I’d have to work fast.  I’m pretty good at writing and creating music and figured I had plenty of time before he left.

Well, life (as usual) got in the way and I didn’t get a chance to even start working on the song until Friday… and I spent all day writing, re-writing and recording it until I finally had something I was proud of.  By the time I was done the entire day had passed.  So I burned two copies on CDs and drove it over to his house at about 1:30am.  We listened to it a few times after I got there and he thought it was just wonderful and he was sure she would love it.

I told him to make sure and let me know what she thought of it.  He said that he’d call me after she’d heard it and would let me know what she said….  So here I was on my way to church the following Sunday morning and my cell phone rings…  and my friend is like, “Hey, someone wants to talk to you!”  And guess who gets on the phone?  Yep… it was Shaq’s mom calling to thank me for the song. She told me how much it meant to her and that she hoped we’d get a chance to meet face to face.

We talked for about 10 minutes or so and she mentioned that she wanted Shaq to hear it, etc.  She really was a very pleasant woman.  The whole experience brightened my day… and I was exceptionally proud of how well I’d done in less than a day.  Anyway, it made me think about the fact that despite everything else, deep down inside everyone is human and everyone treasures a sincere gesture of appreciation… even if their son is an international superstar.  To him, she’s just… MOM.

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