18th Sep2008

Fall Out Boy Mixtape and An Insider’s View of Diamond

by Will

“We believe in Barack Obama! He loves you and he loves your mama!”


Could it be? Is that an Obama endorsement from Williambrucewest.com? No, it’s not. But it does lead into this little tidbit: Major props go out to my man, Marcus, for recommending “Welcome to the New Administration”, the new, FREE mixtape from Fall Out Boy. A thinly-disguised prObama project, the collection not only drops snippets of the upcoming Fall Out Boy album, Folie A Deux, but it also introduces you to the music of some of their musical friends, like Panic at the Disco, Tyga, The Cab, and others. The new FOB album sounds tight, and I certainly wanna hear more from Tyga. EVERYONE should download this package, and you can get it free right here: http://www.friendsorenemies.com/web/foe/users/falloutboy/ It’s worth it just for Luda’s interlude alone.

Did y’all realize there’s a rapper named “Niggalas Cage”? I shit you not! In fact, he’s even got a track with Akon right now, called “You’re the Reason”. If you ask me, they should’ve recorded a track called “Kon Air”.

Speaking of Akon, he’s on one of the hottest tracks on NKOTB’s new album, “Put It On My Tab”. I recently posted a Facebook status saying that the album “doesn’t suck”, but after repeated listenings, I’ve got to admit that it’s HOT. It’s got that ‘NSYNC circa “No Strings Attached” vibe going on. And the guests on it are pretty surprising: Akon, New Edition, Pussycat Dolls, Lady Gaga, Ne-Yo. It’s a great dance album, and one of the best pop albums released in recent years.

While we’re on pop, TRL is shutting down. Man, that kills me, but it’s time. The TRL model isn’t appropriate for what passes as “pop” these days. Before, it was a crowd full of screaming teenage girls, clogging up Times Square, for the chance to catch a glimpse of dye-job, curly-q Justin Timberlake. TRL works best when pop is at its most “bubblegum”. Sure, you can still have Chris Brown drop by, but Daughtry and the rest of Top 40 radio are more suited for VH-1. Even the teen stars being cranked out, like Jordin Sparks, are more suited for an older crowd. TRL, like the early WB, used to MAKE stars. Now, it’s merely a shadow of its past self. MTV claims the show is just “going on a break”, but anyone who’s ever been in a relationship knows what that can mean. I think it’ll reappear, though. The UK had a similar show, Top of the Pops, which was on the air for over 42 years (!). Eventually, the formula got stale, and they put it on time out. Like TRL, the BBC promises it, too, will one day return. Maybe their returns will coincide.

That BET R. Kelly interview is priceless! I love the look on Toure’s face. The entire interview, his face is screaming, “Is this nigga for real?!”

So, last night, I watched The Temptations for what must’ve been the 10th time. I don’t know if VH-1 planned to show it all along, or if it was to honor Norman Whitfield, the prolific Motown writer/producer who passed away yesterday. Let’s hope the reason is the former, as the miniseries doesn’t exactly portray Whit in the best light. Hell, I just realized that it doesn’t portray anyone in a positive light…except for Otis Williams. Seeing as how Otis is the only surviving founding member of the group, the movie was written from his perspective. That said, it took me all these years to realize that it is the most masturbatory, self-congratulatory thing I’ve ever seen. There are WAY too many private scenes between Otis and random characters, as they have heart to heart talks where the other person thanks Otis for being the force that holds the group together, or thanks Otis for putting on the pressure when the less-disciplined needed that sort of monitoring. Everyone dies in the most heart-wrenching, tragic ways, even though most of the Temps’ families have disputed the accounts of their relatives’ demise, especially in the sensationalized account of David Ruffin, who’s shown thrown in front of an emergency room, from a moving limo, after overdosing. They say karma’s a bitch, so it Otis did make this stuff up, I’d say he’d better watch his back. Nothing like having 4 ghosts in leisure suits coming to get you, dancing slowly in formation. That reminds me, though – I’ve been working on a Leon/David Ruffin post for the better part of 2 years now. I should probably do something about that.

Watched Baby Mama the other night. This comes as no surprise, but I LOVE Tina Fey. She’s pretty much playing Liz Lemon from 30 Rock, which is what I’ve come to believe is the real Tina. The sexy, smart, insecure funnywoman. This movie, however, not that great. It’s not bad, but it’s not good. I don’t think it makes the most of any of the cast’s strengths, and it could’ve been better, Honestly, it’s about what I’d expect from an SNL movie, but I kinda wanted more, considering Tina wrote it, and she WAS head writer of SNL for about 9 years.

Got a lot on my mind, but I’m gonna wrap things up with this thought: a lot of people go through life with a dream. They go on with their day-to-day lives, but in the backs of their minds, they have a “what if?” idea that they never act on. Now, what happens when you act on that, and you find you’re not good at it? Are you better off knowing that? One of my dreams was to work in comics. I felt that it was something I was BORN to do, and I’d kick ass at it. 2 years later, and I realize I wasn’t that good at it. I always said I’d write a book about that experience, called Diamond in the Rough: My Life in Comics, but I don’t have the patience, plus nobody’d want to read it except those in the industry, and it’s gonna piss off most of them. Instead, I’m sure my ideas for said book will probably trickle onto the site over time.

Anyway, how did I come to this conclusion? Well, if any of you have ever read the Previews catalog (NOTE: Previews is a catalog that ships ever month, informing retailers/fans of upcoming comic books so they can place orders – I used to help make that catalog), you might’ve seen a segment in the middle called “Featured Items”. Those were the 16 items, NOT from Marvel or DC, that we felt “every store should buy”. We’d have monthly meetings where we’d sit down and go to war over who should receive this honor, even though John Q. Public really didn’t give a shit. Us giving an “FI” to Red Sonja #25 isn’t gonna make retailers buy more copies. If Sonja dies, or flashes a tit, THEN retailers are gonna buy more and sell them for 3x cover price right out of the box – they ain’t doing it because of some faceless company in Maryland.

These “discussions” (and I use the term lightly) always got heated because no one respected anyone else’s choice. Plus, there were the politics. Certain publishers are guaranteed a certain amount of FI’s due to their contracts with Diamond, so our hands were a bit tied at times. I can’t tell you how many times we gave an FI to Dynamite for “To Be Determined”. They might have this book ready, but it’s more likely it’s gonna be late, so we’ll give it to Book X. We got into the business of supporting companies rather than books. We were given the explanation that certain companies were poised to be the next Marvel or DC, so we needed to support those. I understand the need for growth and encouragement, but who would replace those companies that were about to “graduate”. We were so focused on Dynamite and IDW becoming the next Marvel and DC, but I always felt we lost sight of the fact that someone would need to groom the next IDW and Dynamite (which ain’t necessarily a good thing – grooming the “new Dynamite” is akin to discovering Super AIDS). I like to think a lot of my FI choices were focused on “the next generation”, yet we were always told that we “weren’t looking at the bigger picture”. Eventually, it got to the point where the meetings were no longer seen as productive, and were done away with. Instead, we had to send our choices/arguments to the team managers, and they would decide based on the evidence we’d provided. Seeing as how this took place behind closed doors, we never really knew what went down. We were simply to trust that they’d make the right decision. That’s how things were when I left.

Well, the other day, I found out that the FI meetings had been reinstated. It seems that the main reason the meetings had been done away with was because the FI picks submitted by me, as well as another former brand manager, weren’t seen as strong or deserving. Now, I don’t know if that’s true, or if I was easy to blame because I’m no longer there to defend myself. Even still, it kind of hurts (and somewhat surprising) that I was divisive enough to derail a process that had been working for years, which is magically reinstated the minute I’m gone. I stand by my decisions, as I think some of the most surprising, engaging stuff is going to be coming from the Oni’s and the First Second’s. Because so many of those situations were presented in vagueries, I had no idea it was my ideas that were hindering the process. If someone had just told me… That said, I still think Scott Pilgrim 4, even though it’s the 4th in a series (a bestselling series, mind you) trumps the adaptation of some videogame sequel that’s delayed by months. That’s how I played the game, and how I felt it should be played. I don’t know if it’s the bloggers or the small press crowd getting to me or what, but I thought I was looking out for the industry, while the gatekeepers of the industry weren’t on the same page. So, was I truly born to work in comics? I don’t know. I don’t think so. If I was, it certainly wasn’t in the capacity in which I was working before. Langston Hughes once pondered what happened to a dream deferred. I, on the other hand, am trying to figure out what happens to a dream deflated…