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Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Lust, of All Things (Black) 1

1. The Black Male Show
Amiri Baraka 9
Wayne Shorter 16
Jimi Hendrix 24
John Coltrane 41
Gone Fishing: Remembering Lester Bowie 44
The Black Artists' Group 50
Butch Morris 55
Charles Edward Anderson Berry and the History of Our Future 57
Lonnie Holley 68
Marion Brown (1931-2010) and Djinji Brown 71
Dark Angels of Dust: David Hammons and the Art of Streetwise Trancendentalism 73
Bill T. Jones: Combative Moves 78
Garry Simmons: Conceptual Bomber 81
The Persistence of Vision: Storyboard P 83
Ice Cube 91
Wynton Marsalis: Jazz Crusader 102
Thonton Dail: Free, Black, and Brightening Up the Darkness of the World 110
Kehinde Wiley 124
Rammellzee: The Ikonoklast Samurai 127
Richard Pryor: Pryor Lives 136
Richard Pryor 146
Gil Scott-Heron 149
The Man in Our Mirror: Michael Jackson 152
Miles Davis 158

2. She Laughing Mean and Impressive Too
Born to Dyke: I Love My Sister Laughing and Then Again When She's Looking Mean, Queer, and Impressive 167
Joni Mitchell: Black and Blond 175
Azealia Banks 177
Sade: Black Magic Woman 180
All the Things You Could Be by Now If Iames Brown Was a Feminist 186
Itabari Njeri 193
Kara Walker 196
Women at the Edge of Space, Time, and Art: Ruminations on Candida Romero's Little Girls 202
Ellen Gallagher 208
To Bid a Poet Black and Abstract 210
"The Gikuyu Mythos versus the Cullud Grrrl from Outta Space": A Wangechi Mutu Feature 213
Come Join the Hieroglyphic Zombie Parade: Deborah Grant 219
Bjoerk's Second Act 223
Thelma Golden 228

3. Hello Darknuss My Old Meme
Top Ten Reasons Why So Few Black Women Were Down to Occupy Wall Street Plus Four More 235
What Is Hip-Hop? 239
Intelligence Data: Bob Dylan 242
Hip-Hop Turns Thirty 246
Love and Crunk: Outkast 252
White Freedom: Eminem 254
Wu-Dunit: Wu-Tang Clan 256
Unlocking the Truth vs. John Cage 260

4. Screenings
Spike Lee's Bamboozled 265
It's A Mack Thing 270
Sex and Negrocity: John Singleton's Baby Boy 272
Lincoln in Whiteface: Jeffrey Wright and Don Cheadle in Susan-Lori Parks's Topdog/Underdog 275
The Black Power Mixtape 278

5. Race, Sex, Politricks and Belle Lettres
Clarence Major 285
The Atlantic Sound: Caryl Phillips's The Atlantic Sound 288
Acocalypse Now: Patricia Hill Collins's Black Sexual Politics; Thomas Shevory's Notorious H.I.V.; Jacob Levenson's The Secret Epidemic 290
Blood and Bridges 292
Nigger-'Tude 296
Triple Threat: Jerry Gafio Watts's Amiri Baraka; Hazel Rowley's Richard Wright; David Macey's Frantz Fanon 299
Bottom Feeders: Natsuo Kirino's Out 306
Scaling the Heights: Maryse Conde's Windward Heights 307
Fear of a Mongrel Planet: Zadie Smith's White Teeth 310
Adventures in the Skin Trade: Lisa Teasley's Glow in the Dark 313
Generous Hexed: Jeffery Renard Allen's Rails under My Back 315
Going Underground: Gayl Jones's Mosquito 317
Judgment Day: Toni Morrison's Love and Edward P. Jones's The Known World 320
Black Modernity and Laughter, or How It Came to Be That N*g*as Got Jokes 322
Kalahari Hopscotch, or Notes toward a Twenty-Volume Afrocentric Futurist Manifesto 330

Sources 343
Index 347

About the Author

Greg Tate is a music and popular culture critic and journalist whose work has appeared in many publications, including the Village Voice, Vibe, Spin, the Wire, and Downbeat. He is the author of Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America and Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience and the editor of Everything but the Burden: What White People Are Taking from Black Culture. Tate, via guitar and baton, also leads the conducted improvisation ensemble Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, who tour internationally.


"Tate has been an important if underread critic for the past several decades, and this collection will allow more readers to discover him. Not a fast or simple read, but a worthwhile one for fans of music and culture." -- Craig L. Shufelt * Library Journal *
"Flyboy 2 will be like no other collection of writing you will read this year, and probably this decade. Refer back to the original Flyboy book to whet your palate, and to note and compare the evolution of Tate's voice and his perception of the world and music around him. Take comfort in knowing that there is a Black writer who has no choice but to be real, poised and dignified, denying all pressures to bastardize the class and power of Black arts criticism and literary excellence." -- Jordannah Elizabeth * Amsterdam News *
"Whether you are new to his work or a longtime reader, the universe of Black magic lovingly curated in Flyboy 2 will do your soul good." -- Steven W. Thrasher * The Guardian *
"Flyboy 2 is an immersive, fluid, and genre-bending collection of commentary, essays, and exposition of the self, a beautiful text solidly grounded in the critical theories of late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century academia." -- Patty Comeau * ForeWord Reviews *
"What Flyboy 1 and 2 show is that Tate has come a long way in the study of this, the feared black planet and, in so doing, came out a more skilful, more humble man. What his style won't let me forget is this: we are simultaneously in command of this world, and others." -- Kwanele Sosibo * Mail & Guardian *
"What made Tate's criticism special was his ability to theorize outward from his encounters with genius and his brushes with banality-to telescope between moments of artistic inspiration and the giant structures within which those moments were produced. . . . Tate has a keen sense for the way that both artists and communities discern where they fit in the world, and what is expected of them, and then either go along for the ride or carefully plot their escapes." -- Hua Hsu * The New Yorker *
"[T]hought-provoking. . . . There's lots to unpack in Tate's writing, challenging us to come along for the ride--if we're up to it." -- David Hershkovits * Paper Magazine *
"A Rolling Stone contributor, Greg Tate's ferocious, slang-tinged salvos and deep-rooted historical analysis have inspired readers and intimidated colleagues for decades. This sequel to the 1992 collection Flyboy in the Buttermilk felt particularly acute in the context of 2016's nonstop stream of racial horror, whether Tate is delineating visual artist Kara Walker's unflinching slavery-era silhouettes or eulogizing Richard Pryor and Michael Jackson. . . ." -- Michaelangelo Matos * Rolling Stone *
"Greg Tate has been responsible for some of the most erudite and energetic cultural criticism of the past thirty years. . . . The book stands as a testimony to the richness and variety of contemporary Black artistic production, and to Tate's restless curiosity and learning." -- Michael Lapointe * TLS *
"Like all of Greg Tate's work, this is required reading for anyone interested in the last several decades of life and culture in the United States." -- Charles L. Hughes * Journal of Popular Music Studies *
"Flyboy 2 collects more pieces that prove Tate, a Rolling Stone contributor, hasn't lost a step, with riffs on young artists like Azealia Banks ('a freaky-geeky, speed-rapping succubus') and forebears such as Jimi Hendrix ('one of our most agile and adept freedom fighters'). It's a dive into what Tate calls 'Black Cognition,' a cornerstone of the American mind." -- Will Hermes * Rolling Stone *

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