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Story outtakes, celebrity confessions and the latest pop culture news in the Bay Area

About Me
I'm a pop music writer for the San Jose Mercury News. I cover pop, hip hop, punk, rock, dance, and ethnic - well, basically everything you can dance to.

My Articles

CD: Common:"Be"
Music Video Eminem: featuring Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Trailer: The Year of the Yao
TV: Harvey Birdman
Videogame: Fable

Art: The New Art of India
Bar: Boswell's
Book: Jill Scott
Club: Forum
DVD: Kinsey
Movie: Cinderella Man
Music: Sleater-Kinney
Restaurant: The Melting Pot
Theater:The Mambo Kings

Earth and Sun Kiss


1. R. Kelly: "Trapped In The Closet"

2. Weezer: "Hold Me"

3. Bright Eyes: "First Day Of My Life"

4. Ringside: "Miss You" and "Criminal"

  • Billboard Charts
  • Encyclopedia
  • Moviefone
  • Music Dictionary
  • MTV
  • Pollstar
  • Urban Dictionary
  • VH1

  • Adisa Banjoko : San Jose's Bishop of Hip hop
  • Angry Asian Man: Asian American media watchdog
  • Berkeley Blogs
  • Black Electorate : Inside Cultural, Economic and Political industries
  • BLT's Parry
  • Crayone: the trials and tribulations of a graffiti artist
  • Dan Gillmor : Grassroots Journalism
  • Dat Phan : Last Comic Standing season 1 winner
  • East Bay Livin' : Ellen Lee's EB hunt
  • Davey D: Hip Hop Daily News
  • Fortt: black american gen x journalist musician multicultural christian technophile
  • Jeff Chang: fellow Asian hip hop writer
  • Joe Grimm : Ask the Recruiter
  • In Passing : Random Street Conversations
  • Pacific Standard: Bay Area hip-hop
  • Pop And Politics
  • Pop Licks : O-Dub, a cultural critic
  • Scape: San Jose graffiti artist
  • SiliconBeat: News about tech money and innovation
  • Monday, June 06, 2005


    In an effort consolidate all the blogs at the Mercury News - my blog will now be hosted here.

    It'll offer more bang for yer buck!
    Friday, June 03, 2005

    PostSecret and the car show in San Jose with Too Short and Rappin' 4-Tay

    Thank goodness it's Friday!

    Before I go into what spots are hot this weekend, here's some more serious thoughts.

    Ch-check out the site:

    It's a sobering site, an "ongoing community art project where people mail-in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard."

    Many of the secrets are very dark, things you would even hesitate to tell your therapist - like about suicide or incest. While others are silly - like a person who collects all of his/her used staples in a box at work. (It weighs about a pound and a half!)

    The neat theme about the site, is that even though these postcards come from all over the world, it makes you realize that people really aren't so different.

    So I suggest reading it when you're down - it makes you feel less alone.

    OK, onto happier things. Ch-check out what to do this weekend!


    Free Concert in Santa Clara
    WHERE: The Claran Lounge (1251 Benton Street in Franklin Mall), Santa Clara
    WHEN: 10:15 p.m. Saturday 6/4
    TIX: 21+; free
    WHY: Red w/ Envy(10:15)(rock and roll)
    Called to Ruin(11:00) (rock and roll)
    Kungfu Vampire(12:00) (swing/jazz/horror soundtrack/hip hop)
    Shoguns(12:45) (surf/classic rock/funk)
    G Willikers(1:15) (poetical/acoustic/experimental)

    Grand Opening of Monte Cristo
    WHERE: Monte Cristo (4 Embarcadero Center)
    WHEN: 10:30 p.m. Saturday 6/4
    TIX: Free b4 10:30pm, $5 discount after w/RSVP
    WHY: house, hip-hop, mash-ups at SF's newest spot with DJ Frenchy le Freak


    San Jose Super Show
    WHERE: San Jose Convention Center, 150 W. San Carlos St., San Jose
    WHEN: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday 6/5
    TIX: (408) 920-0997;
    WHY: StreetLow Magazine 2005 Tour featuring Too Short, Rappin' 4-Tay, Jay the Butcher, car hop contest and a bikini contest
    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    Hip Hop's Top Ten Albums of All Time

    Recently hip-hop journalist Davey D pointed out the controversy MTV is stirring up when they put out a top ten of all-time hip-hop album list - because it begs the question - What is hip-hop? Social commentary? Gangsta rap? Political strife?

    With hip-hop now a global phenomenon over 30 years old - the age and hometown of the list-maker must be taken into account as well.

    This is MTV's list:

    10 Public Enemy - "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back"
    9 Tupac - "The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory"
    8 Ice Cube - "Death Certificate"
    7 N.W.A - "N---az4life"
    6 Jay-Z - "Reasonable Doubt"
    5 Run-D.M.C. - "Raising Hell"
    4 Notorious B.I.G. - "Ready to Die"
    3 Dr. Dre - "The Chronic"
    2 Nas - "Illmatic"
    1 Eric B. & Rakim - "Paid in Full"

    And this is the list that hip-hop journalist Davey D came up with:

    De La Soul - "Three Feet High and Rising"
    9 Wu-Tang Clan - "Enter the 36 Chambers"
    8 Lauryn Hill - "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill"
    7 Notorious B.I.G. - "Ready to Die"
    6 2Pac - "All Eyes on Me"
    5 A Tribe Called Quest - "Low End Theory"

    Personally, I agree with MTV on Nas but maybe not so high as #2 and I like Jay-Z but I am still debating where he should go as well. Mr. Hova called MTV demanding that he be higher, reports Davey D.

    As for Tupac, I definitely like Davey D's choice of album over MTV's. But I also know that my taste in hip-hop tends to be more pop than grit and gangsta and also very West Coast biased.

    Anybody else have any thoughts on who should be in the top ten of all time hip-hop albums?

    As for tonight, ch-check it out:

    Let's Get Hyped Thursdays
    WHERE: Club Max, DoubleTree Hotel, 2050 Gateway Place, San Jose
    WHEN: 10:30 p.m. tonight
    TIX: $5 before 10:30 p.m.;
    WHY: G-Dub, an intensely political emcee out of San Jose, will be performing at 11 p.m. The rapper also is in talks with Activision to do a video game called Skills about freestyling and dancing.

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    Sean Penn, Naomi Campbell in San Francisco at the Mambo Kings

    Last night, I caught the opening night of "the Mambo Kings" musical.

    Sitting across from me in the next aisle was none other than Sean Penn and Naomi Campbell. I don't know why they were together but they were. Penn wore a smoky dark suit complete with a little goatee. And, Campbell wore a flowy black dress.

    I saw nothing that would make wife Robin Wright mad, but Campbell was drop-dead gorgeous. (Wow, Usher lost out.)

    Maybe the connection was that Penn worked with the one of the lead singers from the musical - Esai Morales (of NYPD Blue fame) starred in his first film with Sean Penn in "Bad Boys."

    The musical was OK. Karen d'Souza, the Mercury News theater critic has a full review out on this link - but her initial thoughts were that it was too sitcomy.

    Here are my gut thoughts coming out of the film:
    • The music was beautiful but the lyrics were a bit hokey. Although, the central song about Maria really warms your heart.
    • David Alan Grier subbed in for the part of mean music mogul that originally Billy Dee Williams (of Lando Calrissian from Star Wars fame) was supposed to play. The Mad TV alum was hard to take seriously, and I wasn't sure he was supposed to be fully evil, or crusty on the outside, and soft on the inside.
    • There was also an unnecessary scene where he argues with his wayward assistant, and on the side two female assistants start to get it on.
    • The sets were amazing. The neon lights transport you to some balmy club.
    • Also the dancing was breathtaking - they move so fast, they take your eyes for a spin.
    As for tonight, ch-check it out:

    A Celebration of Revolutionary Music, Art, Culture, & Vendors
    WHERE: Studio Z, 314 11th St., SF
    WHEN: 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. tonight
    TIX: 21+ $5 before 10 p.m., $7 after
    WHY: Artists include - reMo'Conscious, Orukusaki, and the artists from Colored Ink Theater Group, plus there will be a vegan dessert bar.
    Tuesday, May 31, 2005

    John Cho in San Francisco and Sheryl Crow across cultures

    This weekend, I ate a LOT and relaxed.

    But with last week's busyness, I didn't get a chance to talk about how I listened to John Cho speak in San Francisco.

    One thing he said really struck me. As a second-generation immigrant whose parents came from Korea, he described his parents as "cowboys," who came to the US for a better life, who came knowing nothing, not even the language of this future home. (Here's a link to more from his talk.)

    And yet these rebels couldn't understand when their own children wanted to be rebels in paving their own frontiers that weren't as safe (jobs that weren't the doctor, engineer, or lawyer). This was an irony I never thought about.

    This is an irony I go through every day.

    As a fellow second-generation Asian American, I've struggled against a lot of expectations my parents tried to force on my life. Believe me, pop music critic, isn't one of the things immigrant parents can easily brag about.

    So, in my first year as a critic, I took my mom to a concert, to Sheryl Crow - a performer who wasn't too loud, or too offensive. Before the show, I went through all the different genres on the radio - this is hip-hop, this is rock, this is country, and this is Sheryl Crow, so she could recognize the difference. Then I explained to her what a typical night would be like - what she could expect.

    At the concert, my mom got into it and started pointing out potential people I could interview. She even got down with the music -- well, sort of.

    And the only thing she wasn't really down with was Crow's outfit: some low-riding tight leather pants. My mom immediately forbade me from ever wearing pants like that.

    I ended up writing the concert review about the uniqueness of the night, about bridging cultures and generations. (Here is a link to that story.) And the ironic thing is that Crow's public relations person at the time was someone like me, a second-generation Asian American who brought her mom to concerts in order for the mom to better understand what her daughter did for a living.

    The pr person and I bonded over that.

    Ever since that concert, I've continued bringing my parents to concerts, just so they understand me and my passion. Because of this, I've gone to some concerts I usually would never go to, like Yanni.
    Friday, May 27, 2005

    Madagascar and Memorial Day events in the Bay Area

    I caught a preview of Madagascar on Tuesday. I laughed through the whole thing.

    Now Mercury News movie critic Bruce Newman said the film was meant for kids, not for their parents - but being a kid at heart, I loved it. True, it wasn't the same kind of fun as "The Incredibles" with its dark humor - but it was good clean fun.

    The animals were funny and could be easily transformed to merchandise. (Okay, I admit it - I've already been to Denny's and got the Madagascar masks.)

    Also, the story premise is not formulaic - it's more of a character movie. I never knew how perfect David Schwimmer as a hypochondriac named Melman the Giraffe. And, Ben Stiller plays pretty much himself, the dorky self-involved type, as Alex the Lion.

    The animal who steals the show is a lemur king named Julian, played by Sacha Baron Cohen. (Comedian Cohen is best known as the blinged out hip-hop wanksta Ali G, who starred in Madonna's "Music" video.) Julian is hilarious and makes you want to get up to dance, and move-it-move-it.

    As for this weekend, besides barbecuing, ch-check some clubbin'...


    Grand Openingn of "Super Hyphy Sundays"
    WHERE: Los Robles, 1985 Cleveland Ave, next to Coddingtown Mall, Santa Rosa
    WHEN: Sunday night 5/29
    TIX: 18+;
    WHY: hip-hop, reggaeton, R&B, club classics

    ABZOLUT's Super Memorial Day Bash
    WHERE: DNA Lounge, 316 11th St @ Harrison, SF map
    WHEN: Sunday night 5/29
    TIX: free before 10:30 p.m.; $10 discount before 11 p.m.;RSVP; $5 presale tickets
    WHY: phat Memorial Day party

    WHERE: Club Blush, 261 California Drive, Burlingame
    WHEN: Sunday night 5/29
    TIX: 21+; if graduating, discount admission
    WHY: Memorial mega event
    Thursday, May 26, 2005

    94.9 Bomb Veinte Backstage!

    Bomb Veinte surprised me. (Here's a link to my review.) Usually radio shows are filled with chaos and bad sound quality, but this one was better produced.

    Check out these links:
    I was the ONLY reporter allowed backstage, so here are some moments from the night, some actually quite funny:
    • I bopped D-Roc from the Ying Yang Twins in the grill while trying to record his interview backstage.
    • In the beginning I wasn't even sure if I could get a straight interview from him. He has spent much of the time making funny noises then hollering. But, after I asked him how he keeps his voice up - the rapper stopped and went into a genteel soft voice - and said it was herbal tea. (You can hear the whole interview online.)
    • One headliner (and you can guess who) brought marijuana plants onstage. Here's the line-up list.
    • While Snoop Dogg was performing, The Game came outside the backstage area and greeted folks. I stood next to him for a long time (he's younger and taller than I thought, maybe around 6 feet or so). Then I stuck my hand out and shook his hand. He has soft fingers. (Earlier when he was performing, he passed out a blunt to a member of the audience and told them to share.)
    • While watching Snoop, The Game jigged, and enjoyed two blond girls who grinded in front of him. When fans noticed him, there was a cell phone photographing frenzy. He later spotted a little girl in the stands - made a pouty face, reached out for hand and kissed it.
    • R&B singer Natalie had watched Star Wars the night before. The former Houston Rockets cheerleader watched the blockbuster in a San Jose theater shut down just for her.
    • Backstage in their dressing room while Snoop was performing, The Frontline and EA-Ski were beat. (Their room made up of painted white brick was pretty bare. It consisted of one table of fruit and drinks and a few metal fold out chairs.) The Frontline, made up of Left and Locksmith, didn't want to touch any of the fruit laid out on the table, citing that they didn't know who else had been in there and that the food had been laying out all night.
    Photo of Marian Liu by Stephanie Grace Lim, Mercury News
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