Written on September 20, 2015
6:14 is the time my alarm goes off on weekdays. It’s an interesting time and I’m not sure why I chose it but it allows me enough time to do what I need to do and be where I need to be each day.
My life wasn’t always so structured. My days rarely began with the sound of an alarm clock for most of my adult life. Not since high school in Brooklyn did I need a sound to wake me up at a particular time so I could be somewhere. In college, my classes began late and once I graduated I would sleep late because I was usually up late every night. I was either in someone’s studio, at a party, or I was up writing songs with the hopes that those writings would put me in a place that I would never need an alarm clock again.
That part of my life lasted over a decade. It took me almost six years to land an elusive record deal that would satisfy my childhood dream.
Then it took me two years to place my career in a stupor, and my world in a depressed state that would not be relieved until I left the city of New York altogether. Leaving my city of birth actually saddened me more because I felt like the alarm clock life was coming. I smelled it; I assumed people wanted it for me, my mother foreshadowed it, my girl mildly advised it at times, I knew they were correct but I fought it off…until…
Until one day I was waking up at 6:14. Some days I would be upset; I used to get pissed when I hit the snooze button and mad that I was up an hour earlier due to a dream about urination that could have ended really horribly. I would even get down on myself for wasting my talent and not being rich enough to not need this alarm clock. All of that subsided one morning when I just decided to smile after my eyes opened. I was tired, groggy, my allergies were affecting me and I could envision just falling back in the bed without a care, but all I could do was smile. Read the rest of this entry »
Written August 29, 2015
Do you bow your head and close your eyes? Do you speak to your Creator as if He is always watching? Do you ask for forgiveness? Do you bless your food so that it doesn’t kill you while simultaneously taking a moment to reflect on the gratitude you may feel? And what happens when you bless food anyway? Or is that just a comforting move based on habit?
How do you pray? Do you pray when you’re in need? Do you call on God to get you through a time that seems hopeless? When someone close to you passes away, are you asking for strength from The Almighty? How about news of your own sickness? Is that the time when you call on a higher power in desperation? Can you imagine what it’s like when someone undeserving of pain or illness gets dealt a horrific hand? You’ve been there and wondered why. Why are there children with a terminal disease or afflicted with incurable conditions?
Are fatal accidents really accidents? And if they are, does a verbal safety request prior to those tragic occurrences get ignored? Do all prayers get answered in some form? They say we attract what we desire or even what we fear. So maybe when we’re praying for financial relief or some possibly life-altering opportunity, the path we yearn for may have some detours based on an ultimate goal. If that sounds confusing, I mean that a “No” today could be leading you to a greater “Yes” that you already requested. Read the rest of this entry »
Written July 26th 2016
I still remember the first time I purposely sagged my jeans. I was a sophomore in high school at Brooklyn Tech and I had a pair of jeans that were sized 34 in the waist but the length was like 29 or something. I had grown pretty much overnight and these jeans that used to fit me correctly were no longer the right length even though they fit my waist with the correct 90’s bagginess. So anyway, I liked the jeans and I wore them to school with a slight dip below the waist so that they didn’t resemble “high waters” and so no one would accuse me of having on “young” gear. Those were the negative colloquialisms we used for clothes that were too small back then.
I wasn’t trying to be cool but I did think that sagging my jeans intentionally was a bit out of my element. I recall people actually pointing out my inappropriate fashion statement as if they were helping me. Sagging was a style, but it was done mostly by people who were perceived as hoodlums, guys that just came home from jail, and rappers. When Treach said, “my pants always sag ’cause I rap my ass off…” I thought that was brilliant but it didn’t make me want to show off my boxers. When Jodeci took the stage and broadcasted their undergarments whilst going shirtless, that still didn’t influence me enough to mimic the trend. It wasn’t until I began rocking basketball shorts underneath my jeans that cinching my belt super tight around my waist became something I was cognizant of. New York weather forced me to throw shorts on almost every cold day of the winter and fall. It was almost impossible to keep the jeans tight so I let them hang a little bit. My underwear was never officially put on display but I was still considered a free-spirited rebel that got the side-eye from elders, adults, and anyone who wore their pantaloons the way they were intended to be worn.
Years later I became a hip-hop artist and watching Jay-Z and Nas parade around stages with their name brand boxer briefs being a featured part of their wardrobe probably subliminally sunk in my head and made me feel like I had to do the same. I was more conscious of the designer name adorning my waistline when I had a scheduled performance as opposed to days I did not. Fast forward to the present and I am working in education along with dabbling in music and I am around a plethora of youngsters daily that sag their jeans to an all-time low. I assumed this trend might go away one day but instead it has elevated beyond a point I could never imagine. In my days of sagging, we wore belts but they weren’t always the tightest fit. We didn’t sag with the intention of sagging, our pants were a part of our youthful ignorance and our embracing of a culture that did everything in its power to go against what society deemed as proper and grown-up. We wanted to be loud and obnoxious on the train, we made sure we went places in groups larger than four…and our clothing reflected the essence of the hard-edged, sometimes message-driven, and powerful music we loved. Read the rest of this entry »
I have five unfinished Rambles that never made it off the cutting floor over the past few years. Why didn’t they make it? Eh, there’s a myriad of reasons. My ego is probably the real answer. Stats and views and analytics are cruel. So when you think you’re putting out some stellar artistry and you see that a certain amount of people viewed it, and then you look over at something that seems crappy yet it has astronomical numbers…it weighs on you. So you start writing words for your own personal growth but you say things to yourself like, “No one reads these anyway.” Read the rest of this entry »
I never imagined that I would be behind the curve when it comes to social media. Let me rephrase that…ever since I became familiar with how to navigate, and utilize social sites and apps to my benefit as an artist, I always assumed that I would be able to keep up with any Internet climate shift. Of course my mindset back then was that I would always willingly want to promote my music on every site possible. And now here I am, older than I was years ago, because that’s how time works I guess…and I’m no longer throwing music around in an attempt to gain fans at every chance possible. On top of all that, I just learned that Facebook is for “old people.”
Wait a minute, how did that happen? I need a Snapchat with rainbow vomit or doggy face filters to be young and hip?
No, that can’t be right. Well it is factual if I long to be relevant, but I just turned into one of those people that says things like, “What do I need that for?”
None of these apps and sites happen to be true necessities, so what am I really saying ladies and gentlemen? I’m saying that I’m the type of dude that once uttered the words, “I don’t need a computer at home,” I didn’t care that my TV had a humpback, and I kept my Walkman until after the turn of the century because I was convinced that all CDs skip. I had a Discman when iPods existed, and I used my iPod when everyone was stacking their phones with music. This has always been me.
I fought a losing battle against Twitter when I was trying to fight conformity. My reason was that I didn’t want people to know what I was doing all the time. I shunned Facebook because I couldn’t post my music, and Mark Zuckerberg’s site had a friend limit. I knew for a fact, according to my first cyber-friend Tom, that my circle of “real friends” was way over 5,000.
And plus I had just paid someone to do my page over so I had to ride Myspace until the wheels detached on their own.
I’m the same individual that held onto his Blackberry way beyond its lifespan simply because I liked buttons. Yes I said that out loud. And then I got a Galaxy and told folks that I didn’t want Apple to completely control my life…and I disliked the way iPhone people spoke about Steve Jobs’ products like they were part of a cult. Now I look at myself and I am one of these iPhone-toting, Facebook-posting, Instagram-scrolling, black pot kettle-calling dudes that was laughed at by one of my students when they saw the IG app on my phone’s home screen. “Coach you got IG?” she said with honest laughter. “You’re probably one of those people that just posts pics of their baby all the time.” More laughter ensued.
I am? I am. I am!
For the last two decades, the term “hater” has been one of the most overused and unfit labels for any human with a personal opinion. I feel like there are times when I don’t give a certain kind of food, or a television show, or an artist a chance because of something indescribable that just turned me off. Does that mean I’m hating on The Walking Dead if it didn’t grab me like everyone else? I believe when it comes to peanut butter, Tyler Perry programs and Wale, I may just fall into the category of being a “disliker.”
As a coach and an educator, I have the unofficial job of mentor/counselor for students. They often talk to me about social, scholastic, domestic and extracurricular issues. Then there are times when sports and music dominate the convos, and since I’m not completely out of touch, they assume I can almost relate. Last week two young ladies, one a senior in high school, and the other a sophomore, decided to share a musical selection with me and a co-worker. They didn’t only share the song, they sang these lyrics word-for-word:
“I just bought a pistol, it got 30 rounds in it,
Pull up at yo momma house and put some rounds in it,
Wet a nigga block and watch them niggas drown in it,
Hunnid round drum gun a nigga down with it,
I’m on that Slaughter Gang shit, Murder Gang shit
Slaughter Gang shit, Murder Gang shit
I’m on that Slaughter Gang shit, Murder Gang shit
Slaughter Gang shit, Murder Gang shit”
And then they spit the first verse…
“I’m on that Slaughter Gang shit
Take a nigga bitch,
Nigga yous a bitch ’cause I ran off with ya shit
I’m a real right blood and these niggas counterfeit
You don’t pull up on the ave pussy boy you get dipped
I bought a brand new drop and then I poured me up some drop
Young Savage real street nigga y’all ain’t on no block
Bitch keep your legs closed ’cause all I want is top
(At this point my boy and I stopped them to inquire if that last line about keeping legs closed and wanting top were cool with them. They laughed and said that no boy could ever say that to them, but on a song it was funny.)
I pull up and pew pew pew y’all gone call the cops
The hook came back in… Read the rest of this entry »
A few years ago, a high school senior that I coached in Atlanta, Georgia was being recruited by an NAIA school in South Carolina for basketball. I drove the kid out to the school on an official visit so he could meet the coaches, see the campus and get a little workout with the team. As I sat in the room with a few of the college basketball coaches and answered questions about how they could land this recruit, I thought it would be wise to increase my knowledge of the game since it was my first year with a clipboard in my hand. I asked the seasoned head coach of that school a series of coaching related questions. He answered the best he could, and then he got really serious when he told me what he needed on his roster.
He loved shooters, defenders, and unselfish guys, but most of all he needed dogs. “Is this kid a dog?”
He inquired firmly and I wasn’t totally sure how to answer. I said that he had displayed spurts of “dogness” and “dogicity.” They chuckled…but since I was still in student mode, I fired a question back at him: if a player isn’t a dog, can you inject some canine in him? He swiftly replied no. He said, “But if there’s some dog deep down inside him…I can find it.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s used in sports to define a relentless player that has a killer instinct and competitive nature that doesn’t involve backing down. Dogs don’t believe in excuses, they love to be challenged, and they exhibit supreme confidence because they train just as hard as they play. It’s deeper than being a superb talent or having a will to win. Canines are carnivorous beings that will slay their own flesh and blood on a playing field to obtain victory. Think Allen Iverson or Kevin Garnett. Michael Jordan had a cutthroat spirit that carried over into the golf course, the gambling arena, and the boardroom. He made up self-victimizing lies in his head before games so he could be angry at his opponents. Nowadays you see guys like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, and maybe even Draymond Green just to name a few that have a kill-switch that they hit when it’s time to destroy an adversary.
Of course during my own self-reflection I thought about this seemingly natural trait and wondered if I was one of those people with the deep down dog buried within. Shamefully, I attempt to motivate youngsters on the court with a whistle around my neck using encouraging words, but at times, I envy the potential-filled position they are in. And as much as I sarcastically scold someone for “not wanting it” bad enough, I feel like I am speaking to the 15-year-old version of myself at times. I want to tell these students that their coach didn’t play with an edge in high school, he wasn’t a killer, and he knows what it’s like to think he’s really good, but never reach his full potential. Who wants to hear that story as motivation? Read the rest of this entry »