I remember hearing Alicia Keys’ ‘Rock Wit U’ and thinking that it sounded very Isaac Hayes-ey. Being all Libran, I read the liner notes to find out who produced the song and while it wasn’t Mr. Hayes, the Isaac Hayes Band were listed as having backed Alicia up for the song. Bemi, one of the guys I used to DJ with in London, used to gripe about Isaac’s sub-Barry baritone but I think we were both in agreement on his production skills. Of course, like many, I encountered ‘Black Moses’ through the soundtrack to a certain Black cinema classic. It was ‘Ike’s Mood‘ that blew my mind off its hinges though, after I recognized the hook Mary J. Blige had sampled for ‘I Love You‘, a track that grew on me from her album, ‘My Life.’ The song was a sampler’s delight. Then I heard his dark, epic take on ‘Walk on By‘ (featured on the very respectable soundtrack to ‘Dead Presidents’), and saw the stylish Hughes Brothers video:
As for Bernie, I am ashamed to say that I never saw the Kings of Comedy, a sin I will repent for soon. I was nevertheless a fan of the man and his very distinct, natural comedy. He was one of those comedians who seemed to float around my teenagehood, starring in Above the Rim, Friday and in Moesha, which I confess to watching and enjoying.
He was in what is one of my top ten funniest films of all time, Bad Santa and of course, I loved what he brought to Ocean’s Eleven, happy that, now that homeboy was friends with George Clooney, all kinds of doors would open. Indeed he got his own TV show where he put his lovable-but-at-the-same-time-liable-to-pimp-slap-you-if-you-didn’t-act-right brand of humour on full display. I even enjoyed Guess Who? although that may have partly been to do with fawning over Zoe Saldana.
I think Bernie was one of those guys who I knew more from interviews on television though. I guess he was even more memorable ‘in person’ than he was in character: larger than life.
I’ll miss ’em both.
PS: did you know had both just finished work on a comedy together, starring Samuel L. Jackson & John Legend?