‘L.A. Arteest Cafe’ is the final song (not counting several hidden bonus tracks) on Stew’s 2003 album Something Deeper Than These Changes. It’s a quirky, playful tune about an ill-fated trip to Los Angeles.
After a trio of winning solo albums and another few with his project The Negro Problem, Stew kind of fell of the map, at least in terms of album releases. He focused on his theater work, and found success with Passing Strange, which hit Broadway in 2008 and was captured on film by Spike Lee a year later.
This is the second Negro Problem song to pop up on Random Weekends in three weeks, not a bad showing considering I own 54 of their songs out of more than 13,000 in my iTunes library.
The odds of them showing up twice in such a short period of time are less than one in a quadrillion — wait, I’m sorry, those are the odds of Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump in each of the four battleground states mentioned in that batshit Texas lawsuit that got laughed out of the Supreme Court.
It’s time for the next installment of my Decades series, wherein I dive into the albums from a certain year across four decades. It’s time to close out the 3’s. After covering 1973, 1983, and 1993, I’ll dedicate the next few weeks to 2003.
As always, I’ll start by counting down my favorite albums from the year, and then turn my attention to some of the critically-acclaimed records with which I’m less familiar.
I opted for random seeding in Montauk Madness, but the other avenue is to seed each particpant based on stature. That’s how March Madness works, with the #1 teams (based on record) facing off against the #16 teams in Round One.
That prevents any heavyweight matchups early in the contest. Ideally, you don’t want the two best teams in a division to battle on Day One.
Going that route in this contest, however, felt wrong. If I were to rank the participants before even setting the bracket, wouldn’t I be defeating the purpose of the game? If a top contender loses in Round One because of an unlucky matchup, well, that probably would have happened in Round Three of Four anyway.
Here’s the third straight 2002 album that I discovered only after its release. It’s probably telling that the albums I discovered when they came out that year are sitting higher on my list (we’ll get to most of those next week).
I learned about Stew just a year later after the release of 2003’s Something Deeper Than These Changes. My wife heard a segment on the album on NPR and suggested I check it out. I was instantly smitten and sought out the rest of his discography.