The first rap I ever wrote won a talent show in summer camp when I was 10 years old. The song was called “We’re Fresh” and it was pretty horrible. Or maybe it was just really elementary. My cousin Dre Knight and I sang the repetitive chorus on stage rocking Hawaiian shirts on our way to victory. We beat a team of older dudes with better bars and flows…later on I found out that they borrowed some of their raps from Big Daddy Kane’s “Just Rhymin’ With Biz.”
At the time we didn’t know where their verses came from so when I heard a young kid spit, “If rap was a game I’d be MVP, most valuable poet on the m-i-c…” I figured we were cooked.
But as fate would have it, originality and the Hawaiian theme must have won over the judges. When we got back to school Dre bragged to everyone about how nice I was at rap.
Unfortunately I had not written another verse after that win, but the rep I had led to me being on the school bus one day with my classmates prompting me to rhyme. This was a very long time ago before a rap song entitled, “The Symphony” hit the mainstream. I don’t even know if it was released yet because my brother was working with Masta Ace and he may have given him an early copy which I dubbed and listened to everyday.
Maybe it was something subconscious in my mind that told me that those guys we beat in that talent show had the right idea. Maybe I felt like it was all about impressing people first, then working on your craft later. That indecision and improvisation inspired me to borrow 8 bars from Big Daddy Kane’s killer closing verse from the aforementioned classic Juice Crew anthem,
“Setting it off, letting it off, beginning,
rough to the ending, you never been in
to move the groove with the smooth rap lord:
like a bottle of juice, rhymes are being poured
down your ear, crisp and clear, as I prepare,
to wear, tear and smear, then I’m outta here…”
The bus went crazy, I was considered great and my legend grew. That night I went home feeling the pressure and decided to write my own rhymes. The only positive thing that came from my thievery was that I actually believed I was good and my only hurdle was that I just hadn’t taken time to write. My first rap won a contest for God’s sake, it’s not like I needed to steal Kane’s verse. That was how I rationalized what I did. It didn’t make sense but it did set off my music career.
Fast forward many years later and I am in the latter part of an independent music journey that started out mainstream and probably has one more undefined chapter left. Recently it came to my attention that a rap artist out of Sacramento took some of my lines and reused them as his own. I had never heard of the guy until it was brought to my attention on Twitter and my response to the news was simple: Not again?!
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 »
Monday Ramble #59 “Angels & Demons”
I thank everyone that purchased, thought about buying, told a friend, or looked at the ad for my book online. We moved some good units for a pre-release and I am truly blessed to have an idea turn into reality. This blog was created for the book and now it has become more than a blog but a chance for me to vent, share and connect with people across the globe. Every comment holds weight, every page visit means something and outside of music I exist in another world that many people couldn’t foresee. With that said, I have lyrics to share:
I wake up with the voice in my head that says God’s watching,
Studied scriptures and even skimmed thru Allah’s doctrine,
Minutes later I’m thinking of killing haters, and ways to bring in some paper so having faith is a hard option,
My moms told me that praying will get me far in life,
And anytime it gets hectic just give ya heart to Christ,
But I don’t know if the Lord can help my bars get tight
Or make the fans think I’m a star that’s nice, I’m an artist writing
Real shit, real feelings, angels in my ear
Like, “Do better, be better, pick a new career,
Maybe teacher, preacher, counselor, physicist, engineer,
Someone doing things with meaning for people,”
Read the rest of this entry »