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 wasn’t born last night,
I know these h**s ain’t right,
But you was blowing up her phone last night,
But she ain’t have her ringer or her ring on last night, oh
Ni**a that’s that nerve,
Why give a b*tch your heart
When she rather have a purse?
Why give a b*tch your inch,
When she rather have nine?
You know how the game goes,
She be mine by halftime…”
There was a time in my life when I would sing lyrics like that with pride and vigor. I would feel like these words were my life. And if it wasn’t, I would want it to be.
If you’re unfamiliar with that song, it’s called “Loyal” by Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and the
wordsmith that deserves every dollar he’s made in the industry, Tyga. The song basically implies that a man with money can have any woman he wants. Yes, even your woman. When a rich dude wants you, and apparently the man that you have can’t really do anything for you financially…those factors result in the obvious conclusion that, “these girls ain’t loyal.” It sounds simple when they lay it out there.
- Female has a man that is broke.
- Rapper man is rich.
- No females are loyal.
- Rapper man sleeps with or takes female.
Where and when did this all start?
Was it back when Naughty by Nature made “O.P.P” or when Slick Rick declared that we should “Treat ‘Em like a Prostitute?” When did it become so popular to get at a girl that was in a relationship with another dude? I remember Big Daddy Kane saying something about releasing tales from the darkside, and separating men from their women like apartheid. I thought that line was ill. I can recall The Notorious B.I.G rhyming, “don’t leave your girl around me,” and I thought about what could make my girl leave me for Biggie. Could it be money? Would your baby-mama consider dealing with a rapper that’s on TV as an upgrade?
Read the rest of this entry »
Complex posted an article breaking down the best rapper of each year since 1979. It was a very interesting and no pun intended, complex piece. The reason I’m mentioning this is because we all have our favorite emcees and guys that resonate with us personally. When we talk about the GOAT, the arguments are slightly different. So yes there will be advocates for Ghostface, Big L, Big Pun, MF Doom, Joey Badass or whoever you believe is at the top of the game. But, “The GOAT discussion is reserved for the chosen few; no rookies or new jacks qualify. It’s strictly for the catalog artists, people who have shifted the culture in previously unmovable ways, artists whose music has permeated and resonated over an extended period of time.”
I feel like they handled a lot of my rebuttal to the hip-hop heads that put Redman and Black Thought above Biggie and Jay. This post isn’t really about the most lyrical lyricist because we would have to try to include everyone from Kool G. Rap to Lupe Fiasco.
With that said, do you include the guys with the strong track records and years in the game? Where do we place T.I., Kanye West, Rick Ross, 50 Cent, Cam’ron, Young Jeezy, Scarface, Jadakiss, DMX and Lil Wayne? Is my generation holding on to the 90s legends?
The new hall of fame class will include Drake, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, Big Sean and Kendrick Lamar. But at what point can any of these men wear the imaginary crown?
Well we have to be honest and consistent when it comes to criteria. Album sales matter, public opinions are a factor, classics under the belt count for something, but most of all when an artist is running the game there is a feeling that we all have. We anticipate their release and when it happens, it is the most talked about project. It comes up in barbershops and ball courts. The question isn’t, “Have you heard Get Rich or Die Trying?”
The question becomes: “Do you think College Dropout is a classic?”
There are certain LPs that you can’t shun or disrespect. You can try and break down Illmatic if you want to. You can argue that there were only 9 songs and two were released early. You can make the case that some of the lyrics in 3 songs are interchangeable. But there is a feeling that you can’t deny when you listen to the album. Maybe it speaks to the youthful rap fan that witnessed a transition from rigid categories like gangsta rap, conscious rap or party rap to introspective street rhymes that were not only narratives, but they were placed in front of a variety of noteworthy producers. Nas was a pioneer in his own right. Just like Scarface was for his sound in Houston. These guys had their moments in time where they commanded the national spotlight. 50 Cent made a valiant case for being top canine but although cases can be made for the guys I listed lets simply cross them off the list.
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 »
Dear Lil Wayne’s Jeggings,
I watched you perform on stage a few weeks ago at the Video Music Awards and I wanted to reach out right away, but I knew my email would get lost in the barrage of letters you were going to receive directly after the show since you got a Twitter page so fast.
You don’t know me and I have no place bothering you on this Monday but I’ve been following your owner/partner/pal for a minute now.
Let me back up a bit. I’ve flip-flopped back and forth for years about your guy. At times, I’ve heard people call him the heir to the throne, the best rapper alive, and the leader of the hottest crew out.
Then I’ve also been around when the word came back to me that he was graded on a curve because he got a whole lot better after a shaky start, that he could never be the king of hip-hop because his subject matter isn’t diverse enough and some folks just said that when it comes to Carters, Dwayne will always be number 2.
How do I feel? I’ve been listening since “Bling Bling,” my ears perked up on Biggie’s Born Again and when Wayne decided that rap was a serious tool on the first Carter LP I was there telling dudes, “you know who can spit?”
But so what? There’s no award for thinking someone had potential, he gradually took over where Busta Rhymes and Ludacris left off and featured on everything moving. Then Weezy decided that he was going to spank anyone that got next to him on a track and made Swizz’s “It’s Me Bitchez” and DJ Khaled’s “We Takin’ Over” his coming out party for anyone that didn’t know Tha Carter II was about him trying to prove he was the Best Rapper Alive.
Then the mixtapes began to make noise, talks of Young Money got louder, New York began to embrace him and all of a sudden, “A Milli” became the foreshadowing record that would catapult Lil Wayne into a superstar that was also an emcee.
It’s not an easy task to be on top of the game while critics praise your pen. Jay-Z sat comfortably on top for years selling records and winning arguments about who was the best to do it. Sure Big and Pac will always have a mention, Nas may get shouted out, 50 definitely had a moment and Eminem will forever be regarded as one of the greatest to ever do it.
But your dude is from the slums of New Orleans, he has fashion dreads, gold teeth, tattoos everywhere, we knew him since he was a baggy T-shirt-wearing adolescent, he was accused of stealing Gillie the Kid’s style and flows and he kissed the Birdman in the beak.
The odds seemed to be stacked against him, but for some reason he prevailed. He signed Jae Millz and we were perplexed a little, signing Nicki Minaj seemed like it could work out, but putting her and Drake out and making them exist on their own was bold and it worked. He put two stars under his umbrella and didn’t let the Kanye-directed (sabotage attempt) “Best I Ever Had” video hurt Drizzy.
He made sure Nicki deflected the Kim comparisons and jabs and remain who she is and voila. Young Money is an army, better yet a navy. So there were some holes in the ship when he showed up to an award show singing about how he wanted to have sex with every girl in the world while his daughter pranced around the stage.
It didn’t matter much that he didn’t really rap on “Lollipop,” became so obsessed with autotunes that he created a T-Wayne moniker, and tried his hands at a rock album. Tha Carter III did a million in a week and not many rappers can say that for themselves. Not many can say they saw it coming either.
And with all that said, there I was telling people again that Wayne was a real contender for the crown. I got Watch The Throne and told folks that it was solid but I expected more.
The jail time and the sobriety were supposed to slow him down but it didn’t. “How To Love” is a good record, “How To Hate” is even better.
Wayne jabbed Jay-Z in a polite way and even let people know it was coming. “She Will” is one of my favorite songs of the year. So why am I writing this letter? I saw the VMAs and every argument I had that hinted to the fact that his latest LP was better than those that came out weeks before, got destroyed after he hit the stage and brought you out.
The autotuned mic was bearable, the off beat live rendition of “John” without Rick Ross and the shirt coming off revealing his boxers was bothersome. But when I saw you with your leopard print all tight and shiny, it just deflated my fanship. It’s not your fault, some stylist grabbed you off a women’s clothing rack and you got a free trip to an award show. I would have gone too.
Every time I see your boy on a major stage shirtless with sagging tight pants jumping around displaying his gold Baby-slobbing teeth, I cringe.
When he goes on sports shows and I have to see that earring in his face and excessive facial tattoos I don’t know why it bugs me that he sounds twisted and he speaks slow in order to sound knowledgeable and it almost works. I want him to win deep down inside. But I can’t help what I feel about looking at him as opposed to hearing his music.
It makes me sad to be a rap artist; I’m almost bothered to belong to the same race. And this isn’t hate…this isn’t even on purpose. It’s like thinking of your mother having sex with your boy. I make that face you just made when I see him take the stage sometimes.
Wait you don’t have a mother, or a face, but you know what I mean Mr. Jeggings. You’re a combination of two things, (jeans and leggings) and I don’t think you should have to be subjected to being with a man, but what can you do? I just wanted to let you know that you helped me decide that Lil Wayne is not my favorite rapper, nor is he the King of the game.
His sales are impressive, his music is strong, his punchlines hit every six out of ten times, it’s cool how he personifies life, death, has sex with the world repeatedly and I love his passion. But like Kreayshawn’s popularity, I just don’t get it sometimes. I don’t know what’s hot and I don’t pretend to anymore.
Jeggings may infiltrate my generation, men may begin to sag their suit pants in corporate offices, but for me I’m bowing out here. So again, Mr. Jeggings, thank you for showing up on my TV screen in non-HD on that Sunday evening, I was starting to lose my way but now I hath found it.
For the 2nd week in a row I’m putting up my ramble on Tuesday. Primarily because I partied Sunday night and got a late start and secondly I couldn’t decide if I wanted to promote our radio show on online dating tonight or talk about the most popular topic taking over barber shops, radio shows, basketball courts and chat rooms; the mystery of Mister Cee.
I don’t have an opinion on this hot topic just yet so as I’m writing this maybe I’ll enlighten myself and reach some sort of point for even bringing it up.
Well people ask what I think about the situation all the time and I’ve said everything from “I feel bad for him” to “I think he wanted to get caught.”
I met Mister Cee a long time ago when I was a pre-teen and he was the road manager for Masta Ace. My brother was a part of Ace’s crew and producer for Biggie and I was fortunate enough to go to the studio and quietly hang around folks like Big Daddy Kane, Craig G and a few times there was Calvin Lebrun.
He was cool, humorous and most of all, he was down to earth.
Years later I ran into the world famous DJ here and there and we spoke about music.
He didn’t remember me but of course he acknowledged my brother, my grind and offered to help me out with my struggles to be heard.
One time at Hot 97 we spoke about the starving artists wanting their songs played at parties while the DJ is focused on keeping the party popping. I understood that point.
Another time at a video shoot, I eavesdropped on a convo he was having about New York rappers always rapping about the industry they don’t get love in, while Southern artists were having fun on records. I got that one too.
What does any of this have to do with his recent scenario?
It brings me to the moment in time where I heard Cee was arrested for being in a car exposed with a man. And I wasn’t surprised. Not that I saw him do anything like that but because I heard stories about him waiting outside of gay clubs and his prior arrests.
I brushed off these tales like I do most of the homosexual stories I hear about industry folks even though I figured anything was possible.
But once the police report was confirmed, plenty of questions arose. Will he confess? Will he continue to DJ? Who will hire him? And most importantly why is it an issue? The industry of music is one where there are plenty of men behind the scenes that secretly sleep with men in order to get further in their careers or because they simply like to.
This same business publicly condemns those who like the same sex and that fact is highlighted by our use of “pause” and “no homo” when we use phrases that double as statements with gay undertone.
So is the hip-hop legendary DJ wrong for his indiscretion or for his public show or is he under scrutiny for not addressing his supporters with a statement?
I say the latter, sure it’s your personal life and yeah you don’t owe anyone an explanation but if you’ve ever said “pause,” or alluded to the fact that “gay” was negative, and then you get caught receiving oral sex from a man, then I think it misleads people. As a public figure, one might feel he should let people know if the accusations are true, especially after his colleague Funkmaster Flex has boldly defended him.
As the line between personal lives and business cross, the listeners are continuing to tune into Hot 97 FM and they may even get a broader audience that’s waiting for a confession.
But what happens with Calvin? Will this just go away like Wayne’s smooch with Baby? Cee can’t put out a hot album and make us forget, similar to what Rick Ross did to his correction officer employment fiasco. R. Kelly was able to sing his way back in our hearts after we watched him urinate on a young woman.
But it was a woman, Ross had a job and Wayne kissed his…father? Oh well, this wasn’t on camera and Mister Cee doesn’t necessarily need record sales to survive.
But let’s think about the next step in this situation. Cee may choose silence, keep his job, endure the jokes and rapper punchlines that will suggest that he’s a man-lover and cleverly include “the finisher” and “going in” (especially in battle raps), but then one day he’ll most likely get disc jockey work again.
He may continue to deny the charges and claim he was alone in the vehicle, that the hip-hop cops are framing him and that the accusations made by Wendy Williams in 2007 were false.
Or things might change.
Maybe Mister Cee could admit that he is indeed attracted to men that dress like women or simply men that are men. Lil B’s ass-raping threats may become acceptable, homo rappers might surface and others will gradually come out, execs will defend him, he’ll DJ for Lady Gaga, gay people will start saying “play” instead of “pause” and homosexuality will really become what “Black” was during the Civil Rights movement.
Charlamagne said, “The hip-hop community, and black culture in general, is homophobic for no good reason; and this wouldn’t even be an issue if he could be who he was, comfortably, without people judging him.”
Some of us appreciate the homophobia that keeps artists’ lives personal and fear that curtain opening. Some of us would probably retire if gay became ok in the hood and behind the mic. But this is an ever-changing world we are in and in this moment, the hip-hop community could change with one arrest of one DJ and allegedly one young man. Stay tuned to see if The Finisher is finished or if he started a revolution.
What do you think he should do?