Marty K. Casey, Kenny Lattimore and Alyson Williams

Marty K. Casey with headliner Kenny Lattimore and featured artists Alyson Williams for the Herb Middleton & Friends Comedy Blast Peace Tour Sunday night at Casa Loma Ballroom. The national recording artists were happy to lend their talent for the worthy cause of the Michael OD Brown We Love Our Sons and Daughters Foundation.

Honorable in memoriam 5th anniversary activities. I just wanted to take a moment to issue a “job well done” to all of the people, organizations, institutions and media outlets that reflected upon the five-year anniversary of the tragic death of Michael Brown by celebrating his life and paying homage to the community that stood up on his behalf. It was a beautiful thing to show his family how much his life mattered to the world. A certain glowstick-holding racist who shall remain nameless – tried to drum up some mess – but the weekend was otherwise extremely positive, despite the day being rooted in tragedy. The fact that the piece of filth feels like he has license to be divisive during such a sensitive time in the region and not be worried about his job, is quite telling. I’ve given him too much space already, so I will leave it at that. Let me end on the positive note of how wonderful it was that the region lifted Michael Brown’s family and those who shouted so loudly for justice that the whole world heard them.

Hammer is still hurting them. Friday night I made it my business to get to Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre to check out M.C. Hammer’s House Party. The last time I saw Hammer, I rode the 90 Hampton bus to the Arena to see him with Jodeci and Boyz II Men – and may or may not have crouched in the bathroom of what is now the Union Station Hotel waiting for my opportunity to sashay to the lobby and seduce Shawn Stockman. Y’all bet not (yes, I said bet not) be judging me. Okay, enough with the Hammer history, except to say that here and now, Hammer still has all those same moves nearly 30 years later. But before I get to the main attraction, let me talk about the openers for a few minutes. First of all, let me issue a public apology to any of these little mannish millennial rappers I may have judged. After hearing 2 Live Crew’s lyrics performed live as a woman of a certain age, I was downright shame. I really don’t remember them being that raunchy. Do y’all? I also didn’t remember those other members of the group. It wasn’t until I saw them that I realized that the only two members of 2 Live  Crew that I actually knew were Luke and Fresh Kid Ice. When they came out after being announced, I was like “2 Live Crew….more like 2 Live Who?” I knew who Tone Loc was out the gate though. Those vocal cords are as ashy as they’ve always been. Now I will shade the new-school rappers by saying that if he can power through with that Weezy Jefferson voice without vocal tracks, then they have no excuse. And the same goes for Sir Mix-A-Lot, even though his vocals are substantially more moisturized. He got up in the crowd and performed. And who else was Friday years old when they learned that he wrote “Don’t Cha” for The Pussycat Dolls. He put on a great little set. My only regret is that I didn’t assemble my high school dance crew and make a reunion out of the concert. Mix-A-Lot and the rest of the folks would have gotten their whole entire life from the routine we made to “Posse On Broadway.” And who else was thrilled to hear him say “My Hooptie” was inspired by a car he bought in East St. Louis? Okay, now back to Hammer. Listen, he had me so jealous of his agility. Every time I try to muster up a simple twerk, my knees crack like knuckles. Perhaps all of that dead space between songs was a form of recovery. I can’t think of a show that had worse transitions, but it was worth it. I really enjoyed his set and was hometown proud when STL’s own Gentry Kozia was singing alongside him. But for the life of me, I don’t understand why he didn’t end with “U Can’t Touch This.”

Bates and some talented strangers. I slid through Pop’s Saturday night to see Bates and the Strangers, but many in her roster of openers (most of whom I had never heard of before) had me giving them a second look. Shout out to her for giving them a platform. A lesser artist wouldn’t have let folks so good go up ahead of them out of fear of being shown up. Oops was in the building. I was nodding to the Pharcyde vibe Hayzie P & Louis Confliction served with their portion of the show. And that Nando STL had the crowd on lock. I didn’t know what to expect when he stepped on the stage in a choir robe – and I still don’t understand why (hint, hint…lose it) – however, by the end of his set he had me and everybody else in there checking for him. His stage presence and energy were everything. And you already know how Bates gets down. My only wish is that there had been a bigger crowd to see them all in action.

The cutest cultural kickback. Ohun.Ashe and the rest of the For The Culture STL crew had the Cortex courtyard looking like a baby Afro Punk Sunday afternoon with their Culture Kickback. I mean it was absolutely lovely. It brought out plenty of folks from the Ferguson and Stockley verdict protest movement for the sake of fun and fellowship. I was so thrilled to see some self-care recreation in action. It was if all the woke folks in everybody’s family decided to come together and have their own cookout/reunion. Biko was on the tables. Shea butter and other naturalista needs were being sold by vendors. And they closed things out with an Electric Side to “Before I Let Go (and yes, it was the Maze featuring Frankie Beverly version).

Another turn at Tani. Since I’m on the subject of reunions, let me tell y’all about turn up situation at Tani Saturday night. I ran into folks I hadn’t seen in years – including Craig Blac. It was that time of year for him to come through with his Community Cuts for Kids, and he took a few minutes for himself to step out. I was glad we chopped up for old times – and caught a cackle at the “Flipside” cover Isis Jones posted on her page featuring the Q 95.5 FM family. He wasn’t the only one who came out of the cut to kick it with Shadzilla, DJ Reminisce and the rest of the crew. I really enjoyed the vibe.

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