Thursday, January 29, 2015

Producers Notes: Building The GROOVALOTTOS Album Pt. 4

Bob Yen engineering as Redbone thumps the groove
Albums always take me a long time to produce. That is to say, I take my time producing them. I'm big on letting tracks season before I go back and adjust or overdub. Once I had the basic tracks on a CD, the CD lives in my car and I'll listen to it throughout the production process. First, I like to get a great take and build from there. As the production evolves the sound and feel might shift slightly, but the basic tracks are always the foundation.

Eddie Ray's drum tracks are about as funky as you can get. After redoing my keyboards from the original scratch track, it was time to bring in Redbone and do the bass lines. Redbone and Eddie Ray have been playing together for years, having been in the legendary band, West Side Soul together in the 1990's, they are a bass an drum unit. Listening to the basic tracks and then listening to other records with great, funky bass and drums I began to get ideas that would lift our sound into a new paradigm rhythmically.

Producers notes on playback. As usual, Redbone nailed it.
My sensibilities had been colored with the work of great jazz musicians playing on soul and funk records as well as the 1990's era of hip-hop where producers like Pete Rock, Ali Shahid Muhammad, DJ Mark the 45 King, and DJ Premiere created some remarkable sounds from their sampling and looping work, juxtaposing swing beats against straight time beats. Ironically, virtuoso jazz players and untrained DJs turned producers have similar ears and concepts that escape conventional concepts of how music should be performed.

Listening, for example, to the bass and drum work of James Jamerson and Benny Benjamin of the Funk Brothers/ Motown studio band of the 1960's. On several records, like "Hitch-Hike" "This Old Heart of Mine" and "Baby I Need Your Loving", you can hear the bass and drums are rocking two different time signatures against each other; giving the songs their edge. In the movie "Get On Up" we see a depiction of James Brown brow beating his musicians when they question his mixing of time signatures on the song "Cold Sweat". In this scene, we see Brown encouraging his musicians to the ink of their instruments as drums, similar to the philosophy that Eddie Ray brings to The Groovalottos, grooving is a counting game.

Redbone is a natural born talent and genius of the bass; being self taught on the instrument and growing up singing doo-wop on the street corner as a kid. From the first time that he came to a band rehearsal, it was clear that he understood and felt the groove and could make us feel it too. You see, a soul-funk record is about feeling, and the ability to convey that feeling to the listener. I would put him up against most conservatory trained jazz or rock bass players any day, as he comes with the kind of soul in his playing that they aspire towards. As a band, one thing that we often do in rehearsal and at gigs is play around with time signatures on tunes. One night, while playing a tune in 4/4, Eddie Ray decided to go into 6/8 while I went into 2/4 and Redbone stayed in 4/4. It's a math problem along the lines of solving equations and looking for the common denominator.

With the use of technology and 'industry standards' the differential between a band's live show and their record has grown wider and wider. The standard for recording is that the music is turned into a matrix of time corrected loops sewn together. Steely Dan used to do a version of this pre-looping. For the studio version of the album, they'd record in California, with California studio musicians who are in the pocket and predictable. For the tour, they'd put together a band of east coast guys who are wild and unpredictable. James Brown had bands that could do both. The same can be said for Sly and the Family Stone.

Also taking a page from Motown's studio band, they were all active jazz players who would record in the studio all day and play out at the clubs at night. The jazz clubs provided them with an opportunity to experiment with grooves, feels, and chord voicing. Elements of these experiments would often find their way into the arrangements of the songs they'd record the next day. In gathering footage for our documentary, "The Song Keepers" we ended up collecting hours of footage of our live performances and audience reactions. Pin-pointing elements that made particular performances stand out and translating them to the studio was how we created our basic tracks.

For any organic player, the studio can be a very restrictive environment. Most of my work as a producer has been trying to find ways to be organic in the studio, even when dealing with the electronica approaches of my last couple of albums. The production challenge here was getting Redbone to play like Redbone at a gig who can play in, out, next to, under, over, in front and behind the pocket naturally. Today, he was making the mistake of trying to lock himself to Eddie's kick drum. What I needed him to do was respond to it.

Since we were recording the bass DI, Redbone was able to sit in the control booth and record to the playback on the monitors instead of through headphones. I was able to sit behind him and be the annoying voice in his ear, coaching him through the bass parts. The end result: 12 of the best bass track recordings that I've heard in quite some time. "Ask Yo' Mama" is on it's way to being an instant classic album.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Keeping Traditions & Saying Goodbye: Leslie Lee

Leslie Lee - Playwright & Teacher 1935 - 2014
It's been a little over a year since the passing of one of the most important, yet grossly under recognized, contemporary playwright's in American theater as a whole and Black theater in particular. was a wonderful playwright, teacher, and friend.
Leslie Lee

Back in 2000, I was invited to see a play at the Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn and took my grandmother as my date. We very much enjoyed the show and in the lobby got a chance to meet the playwright, a chubby, dark-skinned man with a kind face and pleasant smile. I knew he was the writer because tucked under his arm was a valise, likely containing the text to the play so that he could read along, make notes and changes as needed for future performances. In my grandmother telling him how much she enjoyed the play, she also noted, "my grandson asked me to come. I told him that any descent old lady would be in bed by now; but I guess I'm not one, so let's go." We all had a good laugh. Little did I realize that this same man, Leslie Lee, would become one of my teachers and mentors four years later at Goddard College's MFA program.

I have had many blessings in my life, but among them are the theater artists and dramatic writers who have taken me under their wings, not just as their students but as an apprentice to the point of adoption. When I joined New African Company, Lynda Patton took my rough, from-the-hip sketch writing style and helped me craft it into actual dramatic texts and scenes. Also working as her research assistant for her historic dramas, I learned how to bring the past to life on stage; as well as use the stage as a vehicle to explore the social and philosophical world of our past.

New African Company, Lynda Patton and Leslie Lee were all part and parcel of a social and intellectual tradition defined by Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal as the "Black Arts Movement" which was a slightly revised form of the Afro Post-Modernism pioneered in the 19th Century and further developed during the Harlem Renaissance: the writers and dramatists who depicted Black life outside of the stereotypes that were fostered and encouraged by the mainstream as the kinds of images that Black people wanted to see. The struggle between Black reality and white fantasies of Black realities.

Thank you for all that you imparted to me, now is my time to continue to pay it forward.

How America inspired the Third Reich | News | The Week UK

How America inspired the Third Reich | News | The Week UK

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Storm Juno and Wamps Rolling in the Snow

Juno the name of the storm?
Yeah, what?
The storm's called Juno.
I don't know, I was asking if You know?
Yes, I know; it's called... Juno.
No, I don't know...

Demonstrate my Wamp snow rolling technique
Today, we got hit hard! We must be at 24 inches and it's still coming down. I love a snow day, especially one that becomes 2 -3 snow days at once. I particularly love a snow day where we don't lose power, which almost always happens with a Cape Cod blizzard or storm, as NSTAR believes it's better to have above ground wiring and spend the money on crews and overtime rather than bury the cables, which would probably pay for themselves after the next three storms, but I digress.

Juno is one of those compacted snow storms. This afternoon my son had shoveled the porch. A couple of hours later and it looked like no shovel had ever seen the porch. "This is not good snow to make snow angels in," my fiancee Kim said, once inside the house, "I tried. Didn't work too well." I decided to go back out and dig out my truck just incase I had to go someplace ion the night or early morning. Even if the snow keeps falling, at least I'll have the heavy, wet stuff up and will just need to shove the other stuff.

I was in 4th Grade during the blizzard of 1978, where my friends and I spent days building endless snow tunnels and a couple of igloos around Section One and Three of Co-op City. We even made a few bucks helping people dig their snow-bound cars out. Somebody's father helped us clear a bit of
School was already cancelled, so I let him wear clothes
the hill near the basketball courts next to Building one so that we could sled. In the winter, the maintenance folks would flood the ball court so that it would be an ice rink in the winter. We used to love sledding down the hill next to it, as our sleds would have a bit of a jump at the end, and we would glide across the ball court into the snow bank on the other side.

Out and playing in the snow today with the family, reminded me of an experience about 20 years ago when I worked as a Teaching Artist. As a TA, I would make presentations or hold workshops and residencies at schools around New England and New York City. Most of my presentations were storytelling for elementary and middle schools. As a young man, I did not have the tolerance for stupid things that school teachers might say that I do now. It troubled me that so many young minds were being molded and shaped by ignorant bigots in positions of authority, a reflection on many of my own experiences as a student where I realize that my 3-8th grade social studies lessons were pretty invalid. Again, I digress.

Wamp women roll in the snow too
After making a presentation of some 'authentic' Wampanoag stories to an enthusiastic 4th grade class (some of these stories can be found in my book, A Mixed Medicine Bag: Original Black Wampanoag Folklore). The teacher asked me if I was related to the Russell Peters who wrote the book about the Mashpee Wampanoag. "Yes. He's my uncle." She went on to ask if it were true that Wampanoag father's roll their children in the snow naked to toughen our skins. Without missing a beat I replied, "Yes and if the boys couldn't feel the ground, it meant we wouldn't have school that day." The students thought that was really cool. Watching the teacher's face, I could see that it took her a minute to process what I'd just said. She gave me a look of disbelief and I just smiled and winked at her. She was referencing one of the stories that the late Chief Sly Fox (Vernon Pocknett, Sr.) of the Mashpee Wampanoag used to tell of his own, personal childhood and somehow ascribed this to the entire tribe. So much for reading comprehension. Chief Sly Fox, or 'Uncle Vern'n" created and led a survival camp for the young boys of the tribe back in the 1970's and early '80s. Some of the activities I had the fond experience of participating in; to this day I know how to identify a myriad of edible plants, berries, roots, insects (haven't tried one... in many years... don't judge me...). I know how to make a shelter out of branches and bark, and keep a fire going in the rain. Granted I was in New York during the winter, but I don't recall that as one of the camp activities, even in the winter.

Yes, it's a snow day in Mashpee and I'm going to miss my lunch bunch with the Indian Education kids  and jamming with the jazz band at Quashnet Elementary School tomorrow, but there is also something nice about looking out your window at the absolute beauty of the snow and winter and saying to yourself, "I'm not going out there."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Upcoming Tribal Elections: A Winning Tribe and a Solid Council

On February 8th, members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe will gather to cast their votes to fill six seats on the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council. There are 12 official candidates and a couple of folks running as write-ins. To see this many folks trying to have a voice or bring a new voice to the leadership of the tribe is encouraging and positive. However, what comes with elections is another issue.

Factions can be a serious red flag in any community, especially one with a leadership tradition and history that pre-dates the European model. It's especially self destructive when you are looking at a total population of under 4000 people, with a eligible voting body of under 2500, and an actual turn-out that is even lower then that. When dealing with a small population and it's divided into factions, what's recognized is that the voting and candidates has less to do with the good of the tribe and more to do with agendas and takes on the elements of a high school government election-like popularity contest.

A quick Mashpee history lesson about factions: In the late 1860's and early '70's as the tribe was divided, our territory became a town under the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, run by tribal members. In the 1960's and 1970's the tribe was divided into factions. As we bickered and stymied each other, outside forces came in (primarily realtors and developers) and took over the town. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Likewise, the concept of slates are a bit dubious with such a small voting population. We live in a world where many things are packaged for our convenience; from variety packs of cereal to fast food value meals. Slates signify unity and coalition, but once in office, rarely offer or even demonstrate those ideals. Slates only really work to the advantage of the constituencies when the candidates remain mutually accountable to each other, once in office. Otherwise, it's just a quick way into office in the form of a package.

In an ideal world, there are three texts that every contemporary leader should have read and digested before coming into office: The Prince by Machiavelli, The Social Contract by Rousseau (both are available for free as downloads), and How To Win Friends & Influence People, by Carnegie. All three are available in audio book form as well. Knowing that many folks don't have the time (or desire) to read, as a tribal member and voter, I look at five elements in selecting a candidate:
1) What are the main important issues effecting the people our community?
2) What are our progressive goals and plans for preservation?
3) What are clear and precise means of addressing these issues?
4) What do the candidates bring to the table to address the issues and help our community reach these goals?
5) What is the public service track record of the candidate?

Saturday, January 24 is the candidate forum, an opportunity for the tribal community to hear and speak to the candidates about the issues, platforms, plans and goals. For those who pay attention beyond the campaign and related rhetoric, it's a wonderful opportunity to observe the authenticity of people skills and respect for constituency.

Having had an opportunity to visit and work with a number of tribal governments throughout the Eastern region, I've learned that we are all more similar than different. One thing that is common for us all is tribal elections and the internal competition. What we should not lose sight of is the fact that ultimately tribal elections are are not supposed to be about the tribal body winning as opposed to the candidates. As a tribal council member, you are not merely a politician in the traditional western sense, you are supposed to actually be a voice of and for the body, the clans, the councils, the future generations.

Based on my observations and interactions, allow me to share the images of my top five pics, based on the fore mentioned criteria. With all honesty, the jury is still out on the sixth candidate, which is not a reflection in any way on the character or qualities of the other seven candidates. When one cooks a stew, not all of the spices and ingredients on the shelf are going to work well with others. My sixth vote is simply my last minute notion of what the council might need a pinch or dab of.

On we go... on we win.




A consistent voice on the council that has endured many administrations. This consistency has been one of the true strengths of the council and a benefit to the tribal community as a whole.

I strongly and heartily endorse Yvonne Avant

For Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council
Here we have a voice on council that exemplifies leadership that walks among the people. She is about family and tribe and youth. This is some of what we need more of.

I Enthusiastically Endorse Winnie Johnson-Graham for Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council

A strong, gentle spirit on a council, gives the council a powerful blend of the traditional function and contemporary, westernized land of leadership. The flexibility and willingness to go the distance for the people. Definitely the right ingredient in the stew...

I Strongly Support Trish Keli'inui for Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council
 — at Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.


A strong voice for the community and occasionally the voice of contention. Contention is good, it gives dimension and forces a body to consider an alternate point of view. A strong council needs voices with courage of character and conviction. We need true advocacy for the positive self-development of our youth and elders. She has been and should remain this voice on council.

I Enthusiastically Endorse Laura Tobey-Miranda for Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council


The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and Council are at a social crossroads and we are in acute need of as much healing, loving spirit on our leadership as possible. There are people among us who have provided that gentle loving insight, nurturing, encouragement, and inspiration; there leadership has been effective without title. Bringing her onto the council would be a win across the board.

I Strongly, Enthusiastically and Heartily Endorse Robyn Roseblossom Tobey for Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Re-Living The Good Old Days: Roots Remake on Horizon

Allen Hughes, one half of the Hughes brothers, noted identical, tag-team directors of such films as
"Menace II Society", "American Pimp" and "Dead Presidents," has signed on to direct a remake of the mini series "Roots" for the History Channel. On one level, I realize that Hollywood's obsession with slavery is probably fuel by an inner yearning for the good old days, the same way that most Black History Month themes in public schools focus on slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, with little to no reflection on what happened before between or after these events.

I can also understand why they would want to remake this classic program for another reason. I remember being in third grade when "Roots" first aired on ABC. The show was a monumental event on a number of levels and ended up setting records for awards and ratings. At the time, it was an amazing and moving story, except for one line that would bring my Grandpa to hysterical laughter: the scene when Ben Vereen asks Chuck Connors, "Is you my daddy?"

Finding the mini series in Ocean State Job Lot for $4.99 a few years back, I remember re-watching it and realizing that it was a better parody of slavery and slave movies then anything I'd ever seen before or since. Dave Chapelle couldn't have done a better job. The high lights:

  1. Africans in Gambia with southern accents.
  2. O.J. Simpson running down Kunta Kinte the same way that he ran through the airport in the old Avis commercials ("Run, O.J., run!!!")
  3. Ed Asner feeling bad about the fact that he's about to rape an African captive.
  4. Young Kunta Kinte not being able to speak English, growing up Muslim, and still recognizing what pork looks and smells like, as well as reacting to the word when Fiddler brings his dinner.
  5. Robert Reed swishing through the scenes and is supposed to convince us that he's carrying on with a woman.
  6. Kunta Kinte is from Gambia, had been through the 'man training' program but seems unable to read or write in Arabic, which a Mandingo warrior from Gambia would have been able to do.
  7. Kunta Kinte's wife, Belle, keeps slipping between a Jamaican and southern accent.
  8. Lawrence Hilton Jacobs playing the character Noah with the same swagger that he used as Freddie Washington in "Welcome Back Kotter" and Cocheese in "Coolie High".
  9. Redboned Leslie Uggams and blonde haired and blue- eyed Chuck Connors are the parents of dark skinned Ben Vereen (who I believe was older than Uggams).
  10. Working the Amistad revolt, Nat Turner's rebellion, peonage, and the formation of the KKK into the story line, implying that Haley's ancestors were like the Forrest Gumps of the slave era.

It's rather funny when you consider that almost 30 years ago, Robert Townsend and his film "Hollywood Shuffle" make fun of the elements of Hollywood that are doing exactly what Hughes has signed on for: Black people can only be slaves or gangsters and with the exception of one post-apocolyptic tale, slave and gangster stories are pretty much Hughes' stock and trade. It would be too much to ask him to work on a film about Toussaint Louveture, Denmark Vessey, the fore mentioned Nat Turner, Marcus Garvey or Noble Drew Ali. 

I can't wait to see the casting for this film. Don Cheadle as Kunta Kinte, Will Smith as Fiddler, Kerry Washington as Kizzy, and Drake/ Aubrey Graham as Chicken George.

Cant' wait to see it... or maybe I can...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

IMANI - 7th Day of KWANZAA

The Seventh and final day of the Kwanzaa observance is Imani or Faith. This reflects faith in higher powers, faith in ourselves, families and communities. Why do you do what you do? What do you believe in? What motivates and drives your actions? I have a friend who's a Buddhist and her favorite sayings is that, "faith is to fear nothing." 

Often times, we allow fear to keep us from dreaming or doing things: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of losing. On the other hand we have people who resign themselves to blind faith, which in reality is not faith at all, but simply putting things up to chance.

All great social and religious movements of the Black communities in America have been the result of the faith of it's leadership in the vision and the faith of the followers and workers in the vision of their leaders; whether it's the AME Church, the Prince Hall Masons, the Nation of Islam, the NAACP, or the Black Panther Party, it's all the result of great faith.

True faith is never the result of chance as much as it is rooted in observation and contemplation. Taking the time to consider what you believe in and why is the basis of faith. Faith can be based in logic. However, the bottom line of all progression is rooted in faith, and without it we are lost.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Day Six of the Kwanzaa holiday is all about creativity, and leaving the world a more beautiful place than you found it. However, this is not just in the art-for-arts-sake sense, as much as in the form follows function sense of aesthetics. Consider that in the 1960's and 70's, during the Black Power Movement, you had an entire branch called the Black Arts Movement where Black writers, musicians, and visual artists used their talents to support and convey the social, political and cultural concepts of the movement as well as encourage Black people to re-embrace many of the aesthetic and cultural values of African cultures.

Creativity also leads to paradigm building in the social and political sense as well. The vision, planning and creation of new institutions or ways of resolving issues faced by the community is also creativity. Peope like the late Elma Lewis and the late James Spruill in Boston or the late Rosetta LeNoir and the late Edmund Cambridge all understood this principle as all of them founded schools and training programs for up and coming performing artists. It was not just about their own desires to be actors, dancers, directors, playwrights, musicians, and singers; but they found a way to provide training and experiences in these fields for the next several generations. In turn, many of the artists that they trained went on to train other aspiring artists. That is true "Kuumba" in motion.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

NIA - 5th Day of KWANZAA

The Fifth day of Kwanzaa is a focus on service to your family, and community. It's a day of recognizing how your talents and abilities can be used for the purpose of service, not just commerce. It's the force that inspires use to build schools, houses of worship, organizations, and community programs. This is not necessarily about charity as this is the benefit of the community as well as ourselves that we engage in these activities.

In the late 1700's, in Boston although free Blacks were expected to pay taxes, their children were not permitted to attend public schools. In answer to this, community leader Prince Hall secured the services of two divinity school students from Harvard and started a school in the parlor of his home. After a while, the school moved to the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill. This was not an act of charity on the part of Hall, as much as a recognition that the future of the legislatively unrepresented Black community was in the hands of our children and that an educated community was our best hope.

Likewise, among the most important work of the Black Panther Party in the 1960's was the free breakfast program for children in the Black communities. A mind cannot focus on the task of learning if it is hungry. Feeding the future leaders of the Black community was an important need that was otherwise not being met, as many parent could not afford to have breakfast food in the house or left for work in the mornings too early themselves to feed their children.

Today is a day for us to contemplate our purpose and how we can be an asset to the collective.

Monday, December 29, 2014


The fourth Day of Kwanzaa is about cooperative economics. The pooling of resources as well as the decision to invest in businesses within a community as share holders and/or customers. Let us say that there were ten people who wanted to own businesses; stores, shops and offices. Alone, none of these folks have the resources to actualize their dreams. However, if they pool their resources as investments into the most viable business idea, eventually they would have the resources to support each business' start-up costs. As members of the community, if we make the decision to spend our money at these businesses and support them, we are keeping our money within the community. Both of these are examples of UJAMMA.

One example would be what I observed of some Vietnamese and Cambodian families, who came to the US after the wars, in New York City and Dorchester, MA. Several families would pool their resources to secure housing and eventually a store front. As the store made money, they could rent another store front and more housing. After a few years, each family had a home and a business.'

The creation and maintenance of a small, local business district in a community improves the social and economic quality of life in the community as well.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

UJIMA- The 3rd Day of Kwanzaa

On this third day of Kwanzaa, we reflect on Collective Work and Responsibility. For the individual,

An extremely simplified, yet effective example: your group decides to organize a bake sale to raise money for an project. Not everybody can or knows how to bake, but some folks know how to make signs and posters, some folks know how to draw customers,  some are good at negotiating good locations for the sale to take place, and some are good at setting prices for the baked goods, commanding top dollar for items while remaining competitive. Taking this same model and applying it to a macro concept; the same basic principles that it takes to organize and implement the bake sale are the same principles it takes to organize and implement anything on any scale.

This the central principle thesis in Plato's 'The Republic' where he offer a Socratic contention that the best societies are those organized in such a way where people are allowed to do what they do best, using these skills to contribute to the maintenance of the societies growth and development. In Rousseau's writings on, "The Social Contract" we find examples of collective work and responsibility within a society, whereby people on all social and economic levels become equal contributors to the betterment of their society.

It's a time to review your talents, abilities and goals and see how they fit into the larger picture of the community/ collective. Once one has created council (UMOJA) and set their policy (KUJICHAGULIA) it is time to figure out who is who in the organization: the leadership, the intelligentsia (which is not always the same thing as the leadership, but often the advisory body) and such. For any organized body to get from point "A" to point "B" all members need to look at the tasks at hand and see what they can do make it happen.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

KUJICHAGULIA - 2nd Day of Kwanzaa

KUJICHAGULIA is The second day of Kwanzaa is about Self Determination; a collectives ability to define themselves as a community and a culture. Older examples in the US, although not Afrocentric, can be seen with the existences of such neighborhoods as "Little Italy" in the Bronx and Lower Manhattan sections of New York City and "Chinatown" which can be found in almost every major city. Places were people of an ethos not only lived together, but maintained their own businesses, languages, cultural traditions, leadership, etc. The rejection of "assimilation" into the so-called mainstream and the embracing of "acculturation" where we as a people borrow aspects of other cultures that work within the frameworks of our lives. Within the Black community, such groups as The United Nation of Islam and the Twelve Tribes are religion- based examples of Kujichagulia within the Black community. The lasting impact and effects of the Black Arts Movement, from the 1960's to the present is an aesthetic based examples of the principle.

One of the unfortunate aspects of Black people in America is our inability to accept diversity within our own community. We tend to draw and maintain deep lines based on place of origin (e.g., Caribbean, American born, African, etc.), religion (Christian, Muslim, Rastafarian, etc.) and a myriad of other differences that we use as a basis to divide ourselves. Being able to embrace these differences, qualities and contributions; and recognize them for the depth and beauty within our larger community is part of what Kujichagulia is about.