Black AND White. (And all the colours in between)

This album, Dangerous, turned me into a a MJ fan. A highlight in American African-American pop culture.

A Black Panther, Eddy Murphy, Iman, Ancient Egypt, Michael Jordan... Aka Black power.
Always read it that way!!

I remember going to Chicago a few years later, in 1995, with my English class, and finding the fallen star "black listed", literally. Abandoned by the music pairs and lynched by the press.

Then began my reflection on what journalism should be and shouldn't be. I was 15.

I went back o Chicago in 2003. For a visit at the Journalism School at Northwestern University, with other Sciences Po student. The war in Iraq had just begun. We were trying to remain discreet about our Frenchness at a time when even the fries, usually described as "French" in North America, had be de-baptised and renamed "Freedom Fries". An awkward freedom.

So many lessons in life we learn on the side of the job, the university benches, the stage or the mission. It's about how you look at the world, at what is standing in front of you.


The article:

'Black and White': how Dangerous kicked off Michael Jackson's race paradox

As the King of Pop’s skin got lighter his music became more politicised, and 1991’s overlooked album encapsulated this radical moment in music

All the king’s men... Michael Jackson on the set of Black or White. Photograph: Sam Emerson/Polaris/Eyevine

For a figure as enigmatic as Michael Jackson, one of the more fascinating paradoxes about his career is this: as he became whiter, he became blacker. Or to put it another way: as his skin became whiter, his work became blacker.

To elaborate, we must rewind to a crucial turning point: the early 1990s. In hindsight, it represents the best of times and the worst of times for the artist. In November 1991, Jackson released the first single from his Dangerous album: Black or White, a bright, catchy pop-rock-rap fusion that soared to No 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained at the top of the charts for six weeks. It was his most successful solo single since Beat It. 

The conversation surrounding Jackson at this point, however, was not about his music. It was about his race. Sure, critics said, he might sing that it “don’t matter if you’re black or white”, but then why had he turned himself white? Was he bleaching his skin? Was he ashamed of his blackness? Was he trying to appeal to every demographic, transcend every identity category in a vainglorious effort to reach greater commercial heights than Thriller?
To this day, many assume Jackson bleached his skin to become white – that it was a wilful cosmetic decision because he was ashamed of his race. Yet in the mid-1980s Jackson was diagnosed with vitiligo, a skin disorder that causes loss of pigmentation in patches on the body. According to those close to him, it was an excruciatingly humiliating personal challenge, one in which he went to great lengths to hide through long-sleeve shirts, hats, gloves, sunglasses and masks. When Jackson died in 2009, his autopsy definitively confirmed he had vitiligo, as did his medical history. 

However, in the early 1990s, the public were sceptical to say the least. Jackson first publicly revealed he had vitiligo in a widely watched 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey. “This is the situation,” he explained. “I have a skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of the skin. It is something I cannot help, OK? But when people make up stories that I don’t want to be what I am it hurts me … It’s a problem for me that I can’t control.” Jackson did acknowledge having plastic surgery but said he was “horrified” that people concluded that he didn’t want to be black. “I am a black American,” he declared. “I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am.”

For Jackson, then, there was no ambivalence about his racial identity and heritage. His skin had changed but his race had not. In fact, if anything his identification as a black artist had grown stronger. The first indication of this came in the video for Black or White. Watched by an unprecedented global audience of 500 million viewers, it was Jackson’s biggest platform ever; a platform, it should be noted, that he earned by breaking down racial barriers at MTV with his groundbreaking short films from Thriller.

The first few minutes of the Black or White video seemed relatively benign and consistent with the utopian calls of previous songs (Can You Feel It, We Are the World, Man in the Mirror). Jackson, adorned in contrasting black-and-white apparel, travels across the globe, fluidly adapting his dance moves to whatever culture or country he finds himself in. He acts as a kind of cosmopolitan shaman, performing alongside Africans, Native Americans, Thais, Indians and Russians, attempting, it seems, to instruct the recliner-bound White American Father (played by George Wendt) about the beauties of difference and diversity. The main portion of the video culminates with the groundbreaking “morphing sequence,” in which ebullient faces of various races seamlessly blend from one to another. The message seemed to be that we are all part of the human family – distinct but connected – regardless of cosmetic variations.

In the age of Trump and the resurgence of white nationalism, even that multicultural message remains vital. But that’s not all Jackson had to say. Just when the director (John Landis) yells “Cut!” we see a black panther lurking off the soundstage to a back alley. The coda that follows became Jackson’s riskiest artistic move to this point in his career – particularly given the expectations of his “family-friendly” audience. In contrast to the upbeat, mostly optimistic tone of the main portion of the video, Jackson unleashes a flurry of unbridled rage, pain and aggression. He bashes a car in with a crowbar; he grabs and rubs himself; he grunts and screams; he throws a trash can into a storefront (echoing the controversial climax of Spike Lee’s 1989 film, Do the Right Thing), before falling to his knees and tearing off his shirt. The video ends with Homer Simpson, another White American Father, taking the remote from his son, Bart, and turning off the TV. That censorious move proved prescient.

The so-called “panther dance” caused an uproar; more so, ironically, than anything put out that year by Nirvana or Guns N’ Roses. Fox, the US station that originally aired the video, was bombarded with complaints. In a front page story, Entertainment Weekly described it as “Michael Jackson’s Video Nightmare”. Eventually, relenting to pressure, Fox and MTV excised the final four minutes of the video.

Cat’s the way to do it: Jackson and friend.
Cat’s the way to do it: Jackson and friend. Photograph: Cinetext / Allstar

Yet amid the controversy (most in the media simply dismissed it as a “publicity stunt”), very few asked the simple question: what did it mean? Couched in between the Rodney King beating and the Los Angeles riots, it seems crazy in retrospect not to interpret the short film in that context. Racial tensions in the US, in LA in particular, were hot. In this climate, Michael Jackson – the world’s most famous black entertainer – made a short film in which he escapes the confines of the Hollywood sound stage, transforms into a black panther and channels the pent-up rage and indignation of a nation and moment. Jackson himself later explained that in the coda he wanted “to do a dance number where I [could] let out my frustration about injustice and prejudice and racism and bigotry, and within the dance I became upset and let go.” 

The Black or White short film was no anomaly in its racial messaging. The Dangerous album, from its songs to its short films, not only highlights black talent, styles and sounds, but also acts as a kind of tribute to black culture. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the video for Remember the Time. Featuring some of the era’s most prominent black luminaries – Magic Johnson, Eddie Murphy and Iman – the video is set in ancient Egypt. In contrast to Hollywood’s stereotypical representations of African Americans as servants, Jackson presents them here as royalty. 
Promised a sizable production budget, Jackson enlisted John Singleton, a young, rising black director coming off the success of Boyz N the Hood, for which he received an Oscar nomination. Jackson and Singleton’s collaboration resulted in one of the most lavish and memorable music videos of his career, highlighted by the intricate, hieroglyphic hip-hop dance sequence (choreographed by Fatima Robinson). Again, in this video, Jackson appeared whiter than ever, but the video – directed, choreographed by and featuring black talent – was a celebration of black history, art, and beauty.

The song, in fact, was produced and co-written by another young black rising star, Teddy Riley, the architect of new jack swing. Prior to Riley, Jackson had reached out to a range of other black artists and producers, including LA Reid, Babyface, Bryan Loren and LL Cool J, searching for someone with whom he could develop a new, post-Quincy Jones sound. He found what he was looking for in Riley, whose grooves contained the punch of hip-hop, the swing of jazz and the chords of the black church. Remember the Time is perhaps their best-known collaboration, with its warm organ bedrock and tight drum machine beat. It became a huge hit on black radio, and reached No 1 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop chart. 

Jackson on tour in Rotterdam, 1992.
Jackson on tour in Rotterdam, 1992. Photograph: Paul Bergen/Redferns

The first six tracks on Dangerous are Jackson-Riley collaborations. They sounded like nothing Jackson had done before, from the glass-shattering, horn-flavoured verve of Jam to the factory-forged, industrial funk of the title track. In place of Thriller’s pristine crossover R&B and Bad’s cinematic drama are a sound and message that are more raw, urgent and attuned to the streets. On She Drives Me Wild, the artist builds an entire song around street sounds: engines; horns; slamming doors and sirens. On several other songs Jackson integrated rap, one of the first pop artists – along with Prince – to do so.

Dangerous went on to become Jackson’s best-selling album after Thriller, shifting 7m copies in the US and more than 32m copies worldwide. Yet at the time, many viewed it as Jackson’s last desperate attempt to reclaim his throne. When Nirvana’s Nevermind replaced Dangerous at the top of the charts in the second week of January 1992, white rock critics gleefully declared the King of Pop’s reign over. It’s easy to see the symbolism of that moment. Yet Dangerous has aged well. Returning to it now, without the hype or biases that accompanied its release in the early 90s, one gets a clearer sense of its significance. Like Nevermind, it surveyed the cultural scene – and the internal anguish of its creator – in compelling ways. Moreover, it could be argued that Dangerous was just as significant to the transformation of black music (R&B/new jack swing) as Nevermind was to white music (alternative/grunge). The contemporary music scene is certainly far more indebted to Dangerous ( ie Finesse, the recent new jack-inflected single from Bruno Mars and Cardi B).

Only recently, however, have critics begun to reassess the significance of Dangerous. In a 2009 Guardian article, it is referred to as Jackson’s “true career high.” In her book on the album for Bloomsbury’s 33 ⅓ series, Susan Fast describes Dangerous as the artist’s “coming of age album”. The record, she writes, “offers Jackson on a threshold, finally inhabiting adulthood – isn’t this what so many said was missing? – and doing so through an immersion in black music that would only continue to deepen in his later work.” 

That immersion continued as well in his visual work, which, in addition to Black or White and Remember the Time, showcased the elegant athleticism of basketball superstar Michael Jordan in the music video for Jam and the palpable sensuality of Naomi Campbell in the sepia-coloured short film for In the Closet. A few years later, he worked with Spike Lee on the most pointed racial salvo of his career, They Don’t Care About Us, which has been resurrected as an anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. Still, critics, comedians and the public alike continued to suggest Jackson was ashamed of his race. “Only in America,” went a common joke, “can a poor black boy grow up to be a rich white woman.” 

Yet Jackson demonstrated that race is about more than mere pigmentation or physical features. While his skin became whiter, his work in the 1990s was never more infused with black pride, talent, inspiration and culture. 


For all the songs and their lyrics, my gratitude to this man.

Michael Jackson not only taught me English, but he did teach me the other side of American history. I was only a teenage school girl... But his version of the story was definitely not in the school books.

Basquiat. Bientôt à Paris.

L’exposition "Basquiat. Boom for Real" est à voir à la Schirn-Kunsthalle de Francfort jusqu’au 27 mai 2018.

La Fondation Louis Vuitton à Paris proposera également une rétrospective Basquiat du 3 octobre 2018 au 19 janvier 2019.

Irony of the Negro Policeman - Jean-Michel Basquiat (1981)

Basquiat’s Irony of Negro Policeman is a conscious and sharp critique of how African-Americans are controlled by the white majority in America. He wonders how an African-American could be a policeman, working to enforce rules that were meant to enslave themselves.
The figure in the painting is a totalitarian black mass – a policeman outlined in white with a mask-like head symbolizing  hypocrisy. He wears a colorful cage-like hat which frames his diminished head. It represents, as Basquiat had said, “how constrained the independent perceptions of African-Americans were at the time.”
Although the colours do work together, they are assembled as if to be fighting for the dominant position in the painting. Instead of working together they work against each other, trying to one up each other, creating tension. Basquiat’s wordplay on the side lists “Irony” at the top of the figure’s head in seemingly a cloud, below the brim at eye line “Irony of Negro Policeman,” and to the bottom by his left foot “Pawn” and “Left.”
Basquiat’s career encapsulated the kind of intensity and drama that art legends are made of. Within a period of five years he went from being a high school drop-out living on the streets of New York, to an established painter whose work was in high demand. Shortly thereafter, he died of a drug overdose at the age of twenty-seven, ending his short, but prolific career.


Basquiat - A documentary:

By David Schulman, for the BBC.


Inspiration everywhere, "every when" !

Back to the roots of a movement...

Blondie - 'Rapture'

Official video of Blondie performing Rapture from the album Autoamerican.
Debuting in 1981, the music video was the first rap video ever broadcast on MTV. It took place in the East Village section of Manhattan
Like Blondie on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Blondie Follow Blondie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/BlondieOfficial Official Website: http://www.blondie.net/ See More Videos Here: http://www.youtube.com/user/BlondieVEVO



Toe to toe
Dancing very close
Barely breathing
Almost comatose
Wall to wall
People hypnotized
And they're stepping lightly
Hang each night in Rapture
Back to back
Spineless movement
And a wild attack
Face to face
Sadly solitude
And it's finger popping
Twenty-four hour shopping in Rapture
Fab Five Freddie told me everybody's high
DJ's spinnin' are savin' my mind
Flash is fast, Flash is cool
Francois sez fas, Flashe' no do
And you don't stop, sure shot
Go out to the parking lot
And you get in your car and you drive real far
And you drive all night and then you see a light
And it comes right down and lands on the ground
And out comes a man from Mars
And you try to run but he's got a gun
And he shoots you dead and he eats your head
And then you're in the man from Mars
You go out at night, eatin' cars
You eat Cadillacs, Lincolns too
Mercury's and Subaru's
And you don't stop, you keep on eatin' cars
Then, when there's no more cars
You go out at night and eat up bars where the people meet
Face to face, dance cheek to cheek
One to one, man to man
Dance toe too toe
Don't move to slow, 'cause the man from Mars
Is through with cars, he's eatin' bars
Yeah, wall to wall, door to door, hall to hall
He's gonna eat 'em all
Rapture, be pure
Take a tour, through the sewer
Don't strain your brain, paint a train
You'll be singin' in the rain
I said don't stop, to punk rock
Well now you see what you wanna be
Just have your party on TV
'Cause the man from Mars won't eat up bars when the TV's on
And now he's gone back up to space
Where he won't have a hassle with the human race
And you hip-hop, and you don't stop
Just blast off, sure shot
'Cause the man from Mars stopped eatin' cars and eatin' bars
And now he only eats guitars, get up!

Songwriters: Deborah Harry / Christopher Stein
Rapture lyrics © BMG Rights Management US, LLC

'List of Demands (Reparations)'

New song from the Kills, a cover / reinterpretation of the Saul Williams' 2004 track...
This version is very much more #METOO if I may underline.

The Kills - 'List of Demands (Reparations)' 

-- Official Video

Directed by Ben Strebel Commissioner: Dilly Gent

March 2018 Song written by Saul Williams


Alison Mosshart: 

“It’s a song of strength and empowerment, rooted in the idea of rising above. It was one of those songs you’re almost scared to cover, because it carries so much respect. It wasn’t a straight up love song or a drug song. It was defined, serious, and perfect already. With certain songs, you feel like an intruder trying to sing them, but this one felt like my own.” 

Saul Williams returned the compliment: 

“I always felt envious of the way the 60's generation shared songs and ideologies. Jimi singing Dylan. Rotary Connection singing Otis Redding. The Stones singing the blues. This is all part of the beauty and power of music and it reverberates deeply in me. All this to say, I'm honoured. I liked The Kills before they chose to cover ‘LOD.’ If they can feel themselves in that song, it's because they are as much a part of it as I am.”


"List Of Demands (Reparations)"

(originally by Saul Williams)

I want my money back
I'm down here drowning in your fat
You got me on my knees
Praying for everything you lack
I ain't afraid of you
I'm just a victim of your fears
You cower in your tower
Praying that I'll disappear
I got another plan
One that requires me to stand
On the stage or in the street
Don't need no microphone or beat
And when you hear this song
If you ain't dead sing along
Bang and strum to these here drums
Till you get where you belong

I got a list of demands
Written on the palm of my hands
I ball my fist, you're gonna
Know where I stand
I'm living hand to mouth
You wanna be somebody? See somebody?
Try and free somebody?

I got a list of demands
Written on the palm of my hands
I ball my fist, you're gonna
Know where I stand
I'm living hand to mouth
Hand to mouth

I wrote a song for you today
While I was sitting in my room
I jumped up on my bed today
And I played it on a broom
I didn't think that it would be a song
That you would hear
But when I played it in my head
I made you reappear
I wrote a video for it
And I acted out each part
And then I took your picture out
And taped it to my heart
I've taped you to my heart, dear
I've taped you to my
Heart and if you pull away from me
You'll tear my life apart

I got a list of demands
Written on the palm of my hands
I ball my fist, you're gonna
Know where I stand
I'm living hand to mouth
You wanna be somebody? See somebody?
Try and free somebody?

I got a list of demands
Written on the palm of my hands
I ball my fist, you're gonna
Know where I stand
I'm living hand to mouth

Call the police
I'm strapped to the teeth
And liable to disregard
Your every belief
Call on the law
I'm fixin' to draw
A line between what is and seems
And call up a brawl

Call 'em right now
'Cause I'm about to go pow
I'm standing on the threshold
Of the ups and the downs
Call up a truce
Cause I'm about to bust loose
Protect ya neck 'cause son
I'm breaking out of my noose

I got a list of demands
Written on the palm of my hands
I ball my fist, you're gonna
Know where I stand
I'm living hand to mouth
You wanna be somebody? See somebody?
Try and free somebody?

I got a list of demands
Written on the palm of my hands
I ball my fist, you're gonna
Know where I stand
I'm living hand to mouth
Hand to mouth

I got a list of demands
Written on the palm of my hands
I ball my fist, you're gonna
Know where I stand
I'm living hand to mouth
You wanna be somebody? See somebody?
Try and free somebody?

I got a list of demands
Written on the palm of my hands
I ball my fist, you're gonna
Know where I stand
Hand to mouth
Hand to mouth
Hand to mouth



Saul Williams - 'List Of Demands (Reparations)'

From Saul Williams, the second studio album by Saul Williams, released in 2004

'A Girl Like Me'

We're moving toward spring, Nowruz, the real beginning of the year :)
I can feel the energy building up.

You know this year, 2018, is the year of women. It already started. We're fighting for generations and generations. This battle therefore cannot be lost. And once we've won, we'll allow what men have been depriving this world for so long: peace.

"Your lover, your daughter"...
"It took a girl like me
To bring you to your knees"....

Desert Sessions - 'A Girl Like Me' - with PJ Harvey

Hot skin in the night
In the hour when the animals are born
And crimes of passion are committed
Take me to the morning light
Take me to your leader

It took a girl like me
To bring you to your knees
You took a girl like me

You are my heart
You are my only heart
But this cold air is killing me
And as we make love
The silence, the silence
Trying to find the thread
Of failed romance

It took a girl like me
To bring you to your knees
You take a girl like me

I swing my face towards the sky
You put your hand over my mouth
Oh, take me, take me
To the frozen north
Skating, falling
Falling down, down, down
Into icy water

I'll be what you want me to be
To bring you to your knees
Your lover, your daughter
We'll move in slow motion
Falling down, down, down
Into icy water
You took a girl like me

I might never leave this room again
Shut myself inside the old photographs
The faded light of the young girl
Patterns, shadows on the walls
Painted ladies
They look a lot like me

It took a girl like me
To bring you to your knees
You took a girl like me


"A Girl Like Me" as written by Polly Jean Harvey, Christopher Allen Goss and Alain Johannes.


Banksy returns to NYC

 If I boycott Trumpland, I believe this only good reason to put a foot in The United States of America in these time, it is to add a stronger message, launch an important discussion with the right people... Foster some change.

Maybe that's Banksy's way?

Or maybe he just likes the "vibes" of NYC...?

Banksy’s new rat at 14th Street and Sixth Avenue 
(photo by Luna Park, and used with permission)

Banksy returns to NYC with Bowery Wall mural, 14th Street tag

The elusive graffiti artist returns to New York City

Graffiti artist Banksy is making a foray into New York City once again with his latest work, which depicts a rat—a recurring theme in his work—running along the inner circumference of a clock above a former bank building on 14th Street. (There’s surely some comment being made about the rat race in capitalism, but in typical Banksy fashion, he’s kept mum about the meaning behind the imagery.)
Banksy first notified the public of his latest artwork on his Instagram account yesterday. Banksy’s latest creation adorns a large single-story commercial building located at 101 West 14th Street, which is slated for demolition.
In December last year, a developer filed plans to tear down the building and replace it with a 13-story condo building. The new structure, designed by ODA New York, will bring 45 apartments to the neighborhood along with ground floor retail.

Banksy’s latest work in NYC comes five years after the artist did a month-long residency in the city, in the fall of 2013. It’s not yet clear if this is the start of a new series in the city, but sadly for Banksy fans, his latest work will be lost when the building comes down in the coming months.

The elusive British artist is also responsible for the latest mural to adorn the Bowery Wall; the piece is meant to bring awareness to the imprisonment of Zehra Dogan, a Turkish artist who was jailed for “creating a painting of a Turkish city heavily damaged by state security forces,” according to PEN America


More pictures here:


Banksy is the latest artist to take over the iconic Houston Bowery wall, made famous in the 1980’s by artist Keith Haring. After a 5-year hiatus from New York City, the world’s most famous street artist Banksy is back with a mural depicting the controversial incarceration of Zehra Doğan, the Turkish Journalist who was jailed for simply painting a watercolor. 

Banksy’s black and white mural resembles the jail that incarcerates Turkish artist, journalist and activist, Zehra Doğan, with her trapped behind bars. Doğan painted a watercolor of the town of Nasyabin, which was reduced to rubble following an attack by the Turkish Government’s armed forces. She shared her picture on social media, for which she was then arrested and sentenced to nearly three years in prison.
Banksy’s mural has been timed to coincide with the anniversary of Dogan’s first year in custody, and alongside the artwork is a call for her release. The tallies represent the number of days she has been incarcerated, and at night, above the mural itself, is an impactful projection of Doğan’s watercolor that landed her in jail.

Zehra Doğan Watercolor