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Welcome to Ask Willie D, Rocks Off's advice column where the Geto Boys MC answers reader questions about matters, in his own words, "funny, serious or unpredictable." Something on your mind? Ask Willie D!

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Photo by Mario Jaramillo
WHAT IS WRONG WITH SOCIETY AND WHY IS THERE SO MUCH DYSFUNCTIONALITY?

Dear Willie D:

Why is there so much division in the world? Maybe I'm naïve but I am 53 years old, and I don't recall ever feeling so helpless about the state of humanity. Everyday all day all you hear and read about is crime, hate, confrontations, pain, and illness. Yes there is the occasional soft and fuzzy good story thrown in, but overall the world is a sad place.

There was a time when I trusted the police, but law enforcement in America seems to have lost its way in terms of respect for the citizens they serve and the badge they wear and our government is just sitting on the sidelines eating popcorn. I feel for the future generations to come. I'm a licensed gun owner, but I still fear for me and my family's safety. What can we do to fix this societal dysfunctionality?


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Wow..."We Are the World" Is 30 Years Old

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Michael Jackson, looking appropriately regal in the "We Are the World" video
If you '80s children need a reason to feel extra-old this week, here's a good one: "We Are the World" is exactly 30 years old. In 1985, the evening of the American Music Awards -- which back then were in late January instead of right after Thanksgiving -- Quincy Jones emptied his Rolodex, partially at Michael Jackson's behest, and stars from Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson to Hall & Oates, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis & the News and Bruce Springsteen turned up, among a host of other stars at the time.

Inspired by Band Aid, in which Sir Bob Geldof invited/guilt-tripped a who's who of mid-'80s UK pop stars (Duran Duran, Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, Sting, Bono) to record the seasonal pop song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and donate the proceeds to help fight famine in East Africa, mainly Ethiopia. The song was an instant hit and one of the biggest media events of the decade, although some critics later argued that those most in need actually received a shamefully low percentage of aid compared to the millions of dollars that were supposed to have been raised.

Nevertheless, to date, Geldof has updated "Do They Know It's Christmas" three times for various causes, including last year with a cast topped by Sam Smith, One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Ellie Goulding, etc., and recording as "Band Aid 30." The funds raised were earmarked to fight Ebola this time.

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Fred Eaglesmith's Traveling Circus Hits the Mucky Duck

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Photos by William Michael Smith
Fred Eaglesmith's tour bus is as rock and roll as he is.

Fred Eaglesmith
McGonigel's Mucky Duck
January 27, 2015

Nothing renews the faith in rock and roll like a Fred Eaglesmith show or a visit with the man himself. Just the sight of his beat-up Woodstock-ish, school-bus tour ride parked in front of the Mucky Duck is like seeing a big middle finger raised at the music business as it exists in 2015.

Eaglesmith is blissfully oblivious to industry trends. Mention Sturgill Simpson and he gives you that "Who?" look.

Shinyribs?

"Who's that?"

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Slim Thug's Guided Tour of His Hogg Life

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Photos by Marco Torres
Rappers Propain, Slim Thug, Chedda Da Connect and Killa Kyleon pose at the premiere of Slim's new documentary Hogg Life: The Beginning.
Slim Thug is exceptionally tall. I am not exceptionally tall. I'm moderately below average height.

The obvious had to be stated first. The complimentary statement behind that is Slim Thug backing into your foot when he's overwhelmed with joy immediately renders you still. You have to smile next to Slim Thug after he inadvertently steps on your foot because he's Slim Thug. If he's in a celebratory mood, so are you. That's how life sort of works around him.

Tuesday night people flocked to a Monroe Houston, a posh new club on Waugh, to watch not only a documentary but indulge in a brand new Slim Thug album. Club attire was proper; coming as you are was proper. Making sure you at least wore one piece of gold jewelry with the face of Christ on it was proper. The main aspect of seeing Slim Thug telling his story on four jagged screens is pretty interesting, even when on paper it shouldn't work.


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A Recap of How Run the Jewels Got So Huge

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Photo courtesy of the Windish Agency
Run the Jewels are the hottest duo in hip-hop, but both men have been around a lot longer than you'd think.
If you had asked me who the hottest rappers in the game would be in 2015, I'd never have guessed two previously underground dudes like El-P and Killer Mike, aka Run the Jewels. Yet, here we are as the duo keeps exploding, making the covers of Marvel comic books and raking in enough funds to make Meow the Jewels, a cat-themed remix of last year's breakthrough album, Run the Jewels 2.

Obviously, El-P and Mike are seasoned underground-rap veterans who have put in years of work at this point, including 2013 debut album Run the Jewels. But what some newer fans might not realize, especially the kids I see walking down the street wearing their T-shirts, is that these guys have been around for ages, and RTJ2 is only their latest masterpiece.


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Five Brand-New Houston Acts on Bandcamp Worth Hearing

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Anywhere from 250 to 1,000 new songs, mixes, EPs and albums are uploaded to Bandcamp every day. Investigate the tag "Houston" on the site alone, and the numbers are likewise staggering.

With so many musicians from Hustletown attempting to plant their flag in the 713, discerning good from bad becomes increasingly difficult. In the past, listeners too often relied on corporate imprinting, music journalism and word of mouth to declare a band worthy of 30 to 60 minutes of our lives. But today we no longer have to rely on limited resources and self-professed experts to choose what to listen to.

Here is this month's batch of (almost) random selections from Houston artists on the verge of emerging from Bandcamp's virtual black hole.


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Part 1 of Slim Thug's HoggLife Hits the Big Screen Tonight

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photos by Marco Torres
Slim Thug (center) walks with his Boss Life Management into Houston City Hall on Slim Thug Day, February 25th, 2014.
Some titles are self-appointed, and some that are earned. In Houston, nobody else has earned the right to be called "The Boss of All Bosses" more than Slim Thug.

"Since '98, I've been straight, started shinin' out the gate, reppin' that Nawf on tape!" he raps on the opening track of 2013's Boss Life. Slim has performed at Free Press Summer Festival multiple times, including last year's monumental "Welcome to Houston" set, and has even been awarded his own "Slim Thug Day" by Mayor Annise Parker. It certainly looks like Mr. Stayve Thomas has survived the recession.


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Upcoming: Helmet, Jimmy Buffett, Mötley Crüe, Noel Gallagher, Rush, Sufjan Stevens, X, etc.

Categories: This Just In

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helmetmusic.com
Alternative Metal band Helmet visits Fitzgerald's on March 4
2 Bit Palomino & Libby Koch: Fri., February 13, 8 p.m., $15. Main Street Crossing, 111 E. Main, Tomball, 281-290-0431.

Al Staehely: Thu., February 19, 7 p.m., $20 to $22. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, Houston, 713-528-5999.

Alejandro Escovedo: Sat., February 7, 7 & 9:30 p.m., $30 to $33. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, Houston, 713-528-5999.

Alex Napping: With Deep Cuts, Young Girls, Kay Weathers. Sat., January 31, 9 p.m., $8 to $10. Walters Downtown, 1120 Naylor, Houston, 713-222-2679.


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Downtown Houston: A Love Story Set to Music

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Photos by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
There is literally music in the streets of downtown Houston.
Late last year, my day job moved its offices from Woodway to Downtown Houston. Even though it meant a 60-mile round-trip commute (no, I never get to work on time), I was excited to be leaving the sleepy boredom of Tanglewood for the thrill of life downtown.

I couldn't have been better matched if Tinder had hooked me up with these sometimes pensive and sometimes wild streets, dressed in their long, sexy shadows. OK Cupid couldn't have connected me quicker to these sauntering Houstonians and the rushing crowds of urban professionals they share the sidewalks with.

I'm smitten. And because any romance I've ever embarked upon that's been worth a damn has included music, I've begun to notice just how much courses through downtown's two square miles.


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In the Beginning There Was Genesis, and It Was Good

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Gelring Limited/Eagle Rock
Watchers of the...stairs? Classic-lineup Genesis today: Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Peter Gabriel

Genesis: Sum of the Parts
Eagle Rock, 118 mins.
$24.99 Blu-Ray/$14.98 DVD

Originally shown on BBC Television, though not without controversy from one of its subjects (more on that later), Sum of the Parts is a comprehensive, detailed look at the story of Genesis: a 47-year journey of a band whose evolution in musical styles and lineup has buoyed rather than destroyed it.

More importantly, the filming brought together the five members of the group's classic lineup: Peter Gabriel (vocals); Phil Collins (vocals, drums); Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford (guitars); and Tony Banks (keyboards, guitars) together in the same place at the same time for the first time since 1975.

And, like the band's story, that interaction isn't always pretty or comfortable in their combined interview segments. They are freer with the tongue when filmed individually.


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