February 2007 Archives

Freestyle: Then & Now - Lil' Suzy & Nelly Furtado genre: Tuned Out

Freestyle is a loosely defined music style that can be interpreted in a number of ways and has been attributed to numerous artists that one might otherwise fail to connect. Nonetheless, I think once a person hears a song that is clearly defined as part of the freestyle genre, it isn't that difficult to identify songs and artists that fit the category. The Urban Dictionary defines freestyle as follows:

The music first developed in the early 1980's primarily in major cities like the New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey area of the Eastern United States of America. It was a fusion of 70's disco and 80's break dancing music, influenced also by sampling found in Hip-Hop. The genre can be further subdivided into Old School and New School. Old school was generally made before 1991.

Freestyle music in general is heavily influenced by Latin music, especially with respect to rhythms and brass/horn and keyboard parts. The Latin "clave" rhythm can be felt in many songs. The tempo of Freestyle music is almost always between 110 and 130 BPM (Beats per Minute), typically around 118 BPM. The keyboard parts are often elegant and clever, with many short melodies and countermelodies. Again a strong influence of Latin music.
The electro funk sound was changed and refined adding Latin American rhythms and a totally syncopated drum sound. That was definitely a reason why the style came to be very popular among Latinas as well as Italian Americans. Hence, the names "Latin Hip Hop" or "Latin Freestyle". Now, the more neutral term "Freestyle" is generally preferred.

The theme of the lyrics is usually romantic with a positive message. The topics developed so far have not been overly complex, and are based more on a purely emotional response.

The following Nelly Furtado videos (the actual music video as well as her live AMA performance) are a great demonstration of freestyle's influence in today's music. I've also included a video by one of the most notable freestyle artists, Lil' Suzy to give the listener an opportunity to see the connections. Furtado's latest CD, Loose, is garnering Furtado a lot of attention and is a clear departure from her previous work...although if one looks at her background, it makes a lot of sense that she has created a CD with this type of music. The following review is from Amazon:

The buzz for Nelly Furtado's Loose began before the music was even recorded, with the announcement that legendary hip-hop knob-twirler Timbaland (Missy Elliott, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake) would act as co-producer. The question on fans' minds: what would it sound like when a hip-hop kingpin collaborated with an artist who culls inspiration not just from pop music, but also her own Portuguese roots?

As it turns out, Loose incorporates a number of different styles along its journey, but is--surprisingly--primarily divided between '80s-influenced electronica and Latin-infused pop. This disc is very different from Furtado's previous CDs, a fact immediately evident from track one, the new wave-affected "Afraid." A strong opener, the song is the beginning of a 1-2-3 punch of up-tempo, infectious dance floor beats.

The second cut, "Maneater," also proves to be incredibly catchy, but the verses and keyboard sound too much like they were plucked from electroclash artist Peaches' tree, and originality is lost. The perfect summer pop song follows…the massive hit "Promiscuous," which features clever interplay between Furtado and Timbaland on their sassy duet. From that point, Loose oscillates between the Miami-affected sounds of R&B, Latino pop, and reggaeton ("Showtime," "Te Busque," and "No Hay Igual" respectively) and the aforementioned '80s vibe ("Glow," "Do It"). Fans will hear Furtado at her vocal best on "Say It Right" and "In God’s Hands"--two of the most lyrically compelling tracks on the disc. --Denise Sheppard

In my opinion, this Furtado CD draws upon the many influences found in her background and clearly represents her best work to date.

Nelly Furtado - Say It Right (Music Video)

Nelly Furtado - Say It Right (AMA Performance)

Lil' Suzy - Take Me In Your Arms

Daniel DiRito | February 28, 2007 | 11:20 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Laugh Work genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

Business signage in Munich - 2004
If You Have To Work At It, Can It Be That Funny?

Daniel DiRito | February 23, 2007 | 10:19 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Nova: Brian Greene - The Elegant Universe genre: Nouveau Thoughts

The following video is from NOVA in which Brian Greene, the author of a book called The Elegant Universe details what he calls "String Theory"...an attempt to explain the universe in a comprehensive way such that it accounts for everything. His work follows up on the efforts of one of the most respected minds...Albert Einstein...in an attempt to provide a unifying law that can connect everything in the universe.

Daniel DiRito | February 21, 2007 | 9:40 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Can Love Be Wrong? genre: Rhyme-N-Reason & Uncivil Unions

Since it is Valentine's Day, I thought I would post the following picture and poem. I wrote the poem while traveling and thinking about relationships. Sometimes it's possible for people in relationships to feel more alone than if they were actually not in a relationship. Unfortunately, our society places such a value on being in a relationship that people are often in one without ever examining whether or not it is beneficial to their well-being and if it is actually a source of happiness.

To answer my own question, "Can Love Be Wrong?"…I think the answer is yes it can. The poem explores how it is possible for people to sacrifice themselves for love only to find that the pursuit of love has actually inflicted harm. Facing the pain of knowing that the love we may have pursued or engaged in may actually be far more difficult than coming to grips with the reality of living alone without a love partner. Sometimes learning to be happy alone can be a far better endeavor than struggling through the contortions required to make a bad love relationship seem acceptable and rewarding.

When all is said and done, love is one of those human complexities that will always be explored and studied...though likely never fully understood. Notwithstanding, it will always be sought.

Display signage in Amsterdam - 2004

Can Love Be Wrong?

I’d die for love
And so I will
I’d die for love
Yet love you still

Your chin a quiver
Your brow a frown
Without a word
The curtains down

Tears of travel
They meet your lips
The bond is broken
They seal the script

Mere seconds pass
For years remiss
Life is altered
In just a glimpse

You spoke in silence
The message spilled
I died within
I love you still

And in departure
Your gaze affixed
My eyes were empty
The rain eclipsed

I’d die for love
And so I will
I died in love
I love you still

Where did love go?
Can love be wrong?
I died for love
When love was gone

Daniel DiRito | February 14, 2007 | 12:23 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Nancy's Flight Of Fancy genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been the focus of sharp criticism from the Republican National Committee and many Republican politicians regarding which plane she will use to travel between her home in California and her work in Washington DC. Dennis Hastert, the former Speaker, was the first to begin using private transportation in reaction to 9/11 and government security concerns. Given his proximity to Washington DC, the issue of a larger plane never arose.

The current issue surfaced when it appeared that Pelosi would be utilizing the much larger C40...a plane with a laundry list of luxury amenities, a large crew, and a hefty operating cost. Pelosi quickly responded that she hadn't requested the fancier plane but did feel justified in seeking a non-stop flight. She went on to state that she would have been fine with traveling commercially. Nonetheless, now that the elections are over, both the Democrats and the Republicans are looking for issues that might assist them with their 2008 objectives.

Thank goodness our politicians are working on the most important issues facing our country during this time of war and the ongoing threat of terrorism. I found the whole brouhaha overblown so I decided to offer the following visual perspective on the situation.

Nancy's Flight Of Fancy

Daniel DiRito | February 9, 2007 | 12:23 PM | link | Comments (3)
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Richard Dawkins - The Virus Of Faith genre: Hip-Gnosis

The following video segments comprise The Virus Of Faith, episode two of a documentary called The Root Of All Evil?, featuring Richard Dawkins...in which he explores the impact of faith and questions its influence in modern society. The first episode, The God Delusion, can be found here.

The Virus Of Faith - Part One

The Virus Of Faith - Part Two

The Virus Of Faith - Part Three

The Virus Of Faith - Part Four

The Virus Of Faith - Part Five

Daniel DiRito | February 8, 2007 | 7:28 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Anna Nicole Smith Dead at 39 genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Happy Remembrances

It has been reported that Anna Nicole Smith has died in Florida at the age of 39. She was apparently found in her hotel room and was not responsive when discovered. Smith was rushed to a local hospital and pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

The following photo reminds me of a picture of Marilyn Monroe previously posted here at Thought Theater. Clearly, Smith sought to look like Marilyn Monroe and in a strange twist of fate; she had a similarly tumultuous life and has also now died at a young age...only months following the nearly simultaneous death of her son and the birth of a new daughter.

Back in June of last year, her adversary, E. Pierce Marshall died an unexpected death and I wrote a lengthy posting on Mr. Marshall and the years of legal wrangling that had transpired between he and Smith in their efforts to claim the fortune of Marshall's father and Smith's husband. Sadly, it now appears that neither party will have succeeded in obtaining the huge sums of money at dispute and the battle will have to be waged in absentia. Sometimes reality's tragedies far exceed those found in fiction.


If you are interested in reading additional biographical information about Anna Nicole Smith, check out this article at www.QuickOverview.com

Anna Nicole Smith

Daniel DiRito | February 8, 2007 | 3:05 PM | link | Comments (5)
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Rush Rises To The Occasion genre: Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

With the news that the Landmark Legal Foundation has "nominated" Rush Limbaugh for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, it seems appropriate to honor Rush here at Thought Theater...although it would seem he might be better suited for an award that recognizes his knowledge of "medicine".

Rush Rises To The Occasion

Daniel DiRito | February 2, 2007 | 8:48 AM | link | Comments (2)
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Most Votes in 2000... Oscar...Nobel...What's Next? genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

Al Gore has been on a roll this year. He received an Oscar nomination for his movie An Inconvenient Truth and he has now been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. It seemed like an opportunity to have some fun with his recent streak of success and notoriety...especially given his bad luck in the 2000 presidential election.

There are a number of politico's who would like to see Gore run for president again in 2008. We'll have to wait and see if he'll settle for that prize or if he has "loftier" goals.

Al Gore - The Sky's The Limit?

Al Gore - The Sky's The Limit?

Daniel DiRito | February 1, 2007 | 5:53 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Mother Mary's Words Of Wisdom genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

Mary Cheney's pregnancy has been criticized by many evangelicals and those aligned with the religious right. Her public defense of this pregnancy was reported yesterday in the New York Times. While I fully support Mary and her partner and any other loving homosexual couples right to have and raise children, I couldn't resist having a little fun with the situation. When I read Mary Cheney's quotation contained in the graphic below, I instantly saw the comic value.


Daniel DiRito | February 1, 2007 | 2:07 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Falling Star genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

Poster in Barcelona - 2004
Does Anyone Reach For A Falling Star?

Daniel DiRito | February 1, 2007 | 12:47 PM | link
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