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 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 »
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 »
I wrote this maybe 2 and a half years ago when I was in a space where I may have felt like a relationship guru. I think it was at a time where quite a few of my female acquaintances were going through the same ordeals with men. And I remember being at a house gathering and hearing multiple complaints about my gender and their lack of dating skills. I almost created something stupid like this:
Luckily I didn’t. But anyway, this is what I came up with and it may apply to some people and be helpful…or it may not make sense and sound like gibberish. Check it out though.
Ladies, are you mildly bothered because the dude that you met recently or the guy that you’re somewhat interested in, is just texting you here and there with a kind word and a slight suggestion about getting together?
Does he just want to “hang out,” “meet up,” or find out where you’re going to be so he can “show up,” or invite you to bring your friends?
Do you get offended when you get asked out on a “date” via text
message as opposed to a phone call like Steve Harvey warned you about?
And what about an invite to his home or the request to visit you? What the hell is that about? You’re not a Netflix and chill girl. How come you guys haven’t really gone out? He hasn’t spent any money on you or showed you how much he’s really curious about you, yet he wants you to come over and “get to know him” so soon?
You’re a lady. He should know that if he wants to see you, he should
make a plan. And that plan should be in advance. He should be prompt,
he should follow up, he should express interest in you and whoever
else is involved in your life, (your kids if you have some) and this
series of dates should lead you guys onto a path of serious
relationship consideration at a moderate speed. And if not, at least
you get to spend some time out of the house, get a few free meals, and
maybe even get some physical contact if the chemistry is there.
Is that too much to ask? Why hasn’t this happened yet? Why hasn’t
this man offered to pick you up and go to a museum, or to dinner, or to
a play, or to one of those outings that would let you know he’s original, thoughtful, and cultured?
I don’t know.
I do know. But first you must understand that Steve Harvey’s book had
some truths and some helpful tips, but it was written in the voice of
a hater. And He’s Just Not That Into You was brilliant, honest, and
raw, but it did not explore the psyche of men in detail.
I am not writing a relationship book…yet. I don’t think I know
enough, and generalizing men and women is just bad practice. However,
I have done enough research to know why men might hesitate or move
slow when it comes to dating. Hit the numbers below and check out ten reasons I found after interviews and conversations with heterosexual dudes about dating.
One interesting fact about me is that I write rhymes, blogs, and scripts in my sleep. I guess that means figuratively because “writing” is actually replaced by typing in my phone, and I don’t do it while I’m unconscious. Maybe the word I’m looking for is “compose.” I don’t know how rare that is, or if it makes sense to people, but the process always tripped me out. I’ve been doing it since my collegiate days. If I had a song or concept I was working on, I would simply think about it as I was close to falling asleep and start to put words together.
Whenever it worked, I imagine that I must have had a dream about the song, and amidst dozens of dreams involving everything under the sun, somehow whatever I was trying to compose would sneak in and take form. When I would wake up, which was usually in the middle of the night, there would be whole verses and compositions already written. And my mission was to remember them. So if you’ve ever heard a song from me, or read one of these rambles, 82% of the time that I came up with them, it was in between 3 and 6AM and I was literally trying to recall lines and phrases that seemingly already existed.
Earlier this week, I got the news that a homie, colleague, and I hate to throw the word “friend” around but I’ve known Pumpkinhead aka Robert Diaz for so long that we weren’t just rap buddies…I learned that he passed away suddenly.
He wasn’t a victim of police brutality or some random shooting, or a car crash, or anything wild that can cause his friends to aim their frustration about his passing at one specific place. It was apparently a pain in his stomach that led to a hospital visit that would be his last.
Just the thought of him being a few years older than me, with a child on the way, and leaving the earth without warning is instantly frightening. It’s alarming because it wakes most of us up to focus more on our health, our family, and the importance of our impact while we’re here. Well that’s what it does for me.
Read the rest of this entry »
I wrote this post almost a decade ago. It’s interesting to read where my head was back then. Recently a bunch of people have been celebrating the life of Christopher Wallace and every time his birthday or death anniversary rolls around I see the posts and specials and I think about his impact. Just seeing footage of the people outside his funeral stirs my soul.
At the age of 25 this man was a legend. With two albums under his belt, The Notorious B.I.G became an icon. But was he really the best that ever did it? Was my post premature, slightly inaccurate, or maybe just incomplete?
Has enough time passed that we can further analyze the factors that I presented and find fault in them? Or was Biggie simply just a product of his time running out before he could actually fall? I reread everything I wrote and after careful analysis I can safely say that I have evolved as a listener. The ears that didn’t mind “nigga” and “bitch” and admired the tricky use of wordplay to describe murder threats and sex acts are a bit older and more aware.
With that said I had to really take a look at my current playlists and see how many of my favorite rappers are in my rotation. And then that thought got quickly tossed out as I realized that I probably don’t even have my five top rated emcees in my phone. Although I did win some One Musicfest tickets last year by having Nas’ “Life’s a Bitch” in my phone when I was out at an after work function (I deleted all of the Nas catalogue out of my phone since then). Don’t feel bad Mr. Jones, Hov got erased as well… especially that Magna Carta thing. Some new Kanye exists, along with a couple of Marshall Mathers’ songs and even Tupac’s “So Many Tears” gets some spins. So what does that say about who I believe is the greatest of all time? I still believe Biggie provided the greatest influence on this generation of rap artists. I still count all of the factors I mentioned as reasons that he ruled way beyond his passing. But I have to admit that at some point there will be a new crown holder. While Jay-Z ran the table for years, his last few efforts including the throne watching collaboration could have truly placed him in an untouchable position if those projects were outstanding.
So allow me to repost this, feel free to skim through it and in a few days I will revisit this idea and take a look at a few other candidates. Read the rest of this entry »
Monday Ramble #52 – “The One”
I wrote this post over three years ago. I think I was pondering marriage and considering being single forever at the same time. I was speaking to people about the topic, gathering information and searching for the answers to help me decide if I was going to be one of those career-driven, offspring-less, successful moguls or if I was going to be a vulnerable human sacrificing financial freedom to join forces with some woman that I believed would remain in love with me forever.
The combination of having a family and experiencing wealth is what I desired, yet it didn’t seem possible. How was I supposed to tear down my ego to let someone in, and simultaneously shed that same ego to find income and explore the true root of my passion beyond music? It’s interesting to review my old thoughts and see where I am today. I can smell the uncertainty in my written words as well as the spoken ones on songs. Who knows what I will feel like in another three or four years?
A few of my boys and I were having a conversation about love and crap like that, and one of them posed the question, “How do you know when someone is the one?”
I said, “You just know.”
That wasn’t right. Then I said, “If you sleep with a girl and you don’t want to teleport to another universe afterwards, then most likely you’ve found her.”
I didn’t really have an answer at the time, so that was the best I could come up with.
The rest of them chimed in (I’m paraphrasing) that the mission is to find a woman who you want at home to raise your kids, be your wife and your best friend initially…until the friend part goes away, the passion diminishes, and she just becomes your roommate and bill paying-partner that is the most tolerable out of any other women you’ve been with while you still do your thing on the side discreetly.
I didn’t like that scenario.
My other friend said that when you find “the one” you feel love in your soul in a way that can’t be explained in words. He said when he met his wife it was inexplicable and he knew she was “it” for him. He was confident that he had experienced his last first kiss, and that he would give up anything and do anything in the world to make her happy. He said she was not without flaws but perfect for him, and her expectations of him were just what he wanted in a relationship.
I haven’t spoken to him since their divorce but I would love to know whose fault it was and how that changed.
This elderly man told me “the one” is really you and in your life there are counterparts, companions, and partners that you meet along the path that you have connections with at certain points in your life.
He said the person you date when you’re 24 might not be a match for you when you’re 31, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t right at the time. Then there comes a time when there’s a person that you find that you would like to share your bloodline, time, thoughts, memories, family and space with. Read the rest of this entry »
Whether it’s high school basketball or cheerleading or the school play or the dance recital, there’s something scary and equally exciting about a tryout. Even the word “tryout” sparks a bit of anxiety. It’s the youthful version of the audition. It places people in a position of authority and can crush dreams, inspire greatness and introduce politics simultaneously.
Now that I am assistant coaching high school basketball I have a different appreciation for tryouts. I am on the other side of the curtain. I can respect the fear in the young players’ eyes, the worry they have about doing well and the power that the coaches have when making decisions about who makes the team.
When I flashback to my first tryout I was in 8th grade and I had just started playing basketball. I was pretty terrible but for some reason I thought I could dribble. I got cut.
And the funny thing about it is that I wasn’t upset. I was so driven to make the team and it had very little to do with basketball. All of my boys were on the team. In fact, anyone that was popular was on the team. It was like a rite of passage for any dude in Philippa Schuyler middle school with some type of social status to play on the basketball team. We only played about three games, with the student-faculty game being the biggest event of our season. Making the team was truly imperative for me.
With that said, I marched in Coach Davis’ office and demanded that I be on the team. I tried out as a forward and I told him I may be better suited to play guard. So he let me try out again and ultimately I made it. I did it. I didn’t accept no for an answer when I was probably not good enough to make it.
A year later I tried out again but this time I was a freshman at Brooklyn Technical High School attempting to make the J.V team. I didn’t even imagine trying out for varsity. I played all summer in preparation for that moment, but to be honest I just didn’t know how to play. I watched guys play in the park and I emulated them but no one taught me how to shoot, I never did a dribbling drill, and I had no idea how to play defense. I was 5’7” and frail. The only people I knew that were trying out with me was my boy Kijana who lived around my way and he was much better than me. And my other boy Steve who went to junior high with me was also at the tryouts. Steve was taller and bigger than me, he was also better than I was and he didn’t seem scared at all. To make matters worse I was unsure about what to wear to the tryout. I remember Coach Davis saying that he knew Mr. Rock, the JV coach at Brooklyn Tech so maybe it made sense for me to wear my Schuyler jersey at tryouts. Nah that’s thirsty…I thought to myself. I decided to wear the t-shirt from a tournament I played in over the summer thinking that would show that I had some experience.
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I get asked every once in awhile why I discontinued releasing music at the moment. My generic answer is that I need to take a step back or I’m not in love with the hip-hop genre anymore. Those answers are honest but they might be incomplete. The dream I once had as a youngster has changed. Music has changed, its popularity has reached new heights but the characteristics of a star artist with fans and respect are not the same as they were before. I don’t view any of these differences as negative.
Well maybe the lack of wordplay and substance can be described as a drop down from what was going on years ago. And possibly hip-hop’s obsession with mollies, combined with the lean-sipping sensation fused with an all-time high of auto-tuned sound alikes could be deemed as a far cry from the golden era.
But for the most part there are new artists creating waves of music that cross genres, leap over stereotypical boundaries and they redefine what rappers sound and look like.
So why did I pause my progression? The real question I have been asking myself is what was it all for? Read the rest of this entry »