A few years ago I wrote about the “pee dream” and described it as a frightening experience that creeps in during adulthood with the aim to ruin reputations. It’s the unconscious, nocturnal vision we have where we see ourselves in the bathroom and we’re ready to release urine and if we don’t wake up in time then we revert back to our adolescent days where bed-wetting was right up there with tying our shoes as the top obstacles in life.
But anyway, I bring this topic up because the dreams involving urination are becoming more and more frequent and I am not sure if I’m going to be able to keep on escaping a saturated mattress every night as I get up there in age. As for now, I am thankful that I have my wits and bladder in control.
That brings me to a thought about a dream I had the other night.
It was an interesting dream that had to fall in between the one I had about peeing in a fountain and one where I was at a urinal at a movie theater.
In the dream I was at home, but it wasn’t the home I live in now. It was a house…and it was pretty big… and it was a Saturday…and I was making pancakes. And my daughter walked in the kitchen. She was an 8-year-old daughter. At least I think she was 8. She looked around 8. Now that I think of it, she told me she was 8. She was asking when she could have her own phone so she could Snapchat with her friends. And I pretended I knew what Snapchat was and then I told her she could have one that only had a talk and text plan.
And she asked me how she was supposed to watch videos like her friends did. It opened up a conversation about what videos she had seen and what she thought about them. And since this was my first time being a parent and all of a sudden I had an 8-year-old, I thought to myself, maybe this is my stepdaughter. But she kind of looked like me, and the way she spoke to me, she seemed like flesh and blood. Read the rest of this entry »
I would like to start this piece by saying that I am not good at many things. That sounds a little too negative so let me begin again, I am great at writing words that rhyme, I’m decent at basketball, I graduated with honors from college, I can keep my eyes open for a long time without blinking, I can read signs like “stop” and “yield” from hundreds of miles away, I can heal myself without (health insurance) ever seeing a physician, and I don’t have the best memory on Earth but I have at least two pin numbers, three phone numbers and my own social security number stored in my head. I hath amazed you, I know this, I feel it.
Aside from all that, I think one of my greatest attributes isn’t really an attribute, but I have an innate ability to store toilet paper before I need it. I don’t know how attractive that is or if it would work as a bragging right. I know some guys talk about their cars, or money, or jewelry. Not many of them can boast about having at least two family size packages of no less than 24 rolls of Charmin or Scott Extra Soft unopened in their linen closet as an unmarried dude. If they can, then I salute them. But this is my claim to fame since I am so bad at many other things.
I decided to run down some of my faults, not because I would like to improve on them but because I have time on my hands.
Sometimes I am on the phone with a business representative and after a transaction they give me a confirmation number. Or sometimes they have to spell out an email or a name and this is where the “assigning letters to a proper or improper noun” action takes place. You know the drill, “S as in Sam, A as in apple, B as in boy, etc.”
I don’t know how people come up with these so fast but I assume they go through alphabet-noun training. I love English, I knew the alphabet backwards when I was 38 months old, I’m a wiz at (cheating at) Scattegories, I’m moderately strong at Ruzzle, and I used to pride myself on solving word jumbles in the newspaper when I was young. But if I have to spell out my email or my name or something using nouns to represent each letter, I always get stumped and I feel crazy.
I dropped my new project and the first of The Rent Tape Series January 23rd and you can get it right here
But if you need some incentive or maybe even insight to the words on the project, I am providing them right here. Here’s a breakdown of my rhymes on The Calling.
Volume prod by V Ladian Productions
If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and spoke to yourself in an attempt to discontinue being a character in someone else’s dream then you might feel this record.
Sometimes I need to listen to my own records where I talk about looking at obstacles in my path and remembering the ones from my past. But I am guilty of losing faith, so it comes out in the music.
It’s a gift and curse since the plight of the rap dude on the rise is an old familiar story, yet the daily struggle of the human trying to find oneself is universal so at times you don’t mind hearing it. I just think it’s so easy to lose sight when it comes to your reason for beginning a journey.
It’s like literally getting on the road, getting lost and continuing without knowing where you want to end up or why. Sometimes we let people turn down our volume because the outside forces are what we listen to. The folks commenting, giving their opinion, or telling you how to do what you do can become the force pushing you. And all of a sudden you’re talking to them instead of the ones who truly are listening. This is my way of telling myself to wake up.
“They gon’ tell you that you can’t, won’t
Try to convince you/That you’re wack, broke,
Get in your mental/But you can’t, fold,
Never back down, volume on ten, I ain’t turning back down…”
Me feat LelaBizz prod by DJ Pain 1
Lela Bizz came up with this chorus to the DJ Pain 1 beat. I wanted something that felt like an intro and I think she nailed it singing, “It’s all up to me.”
I just feel like a lot of us forget that we’re the answer to what we’re looking for. I kind of flipped it and decided to call out the thousands of rappers there are out there that you have to choose from, and in the same breath where “Savior” left off, I deduced that the game’s fate is in my hands. So to be honest, I wasted a bunch of bars hoping that someone would figure out that I went from 17, 440 spitters, where 3,000 were corny and 5,000 were bitter, then I continued running down numbers subtracting until they equaled one.
Now I say the word “waste” because if you don’t get that part then it’s just a heap of rap crap about things you might or might not already know. It still feels good to me and the hook means a lot. The Calling isn’t about anything other than looking inside to find what you really want out of life. Music went from a dream to a crutch to me. I became afraid to let it go because I thought it defined me. Now I view it as a tool that conveys messages and has the power to lift anyone’s spirits or make them reflect.
“When everyone is just alright,
I’m what’s left…”
From Me To You prod by Black Metaphor
This may be the most seemingly negative albeit clever song on this disc. Going from Unsigned Hype to unhype signed is funny to me. But my dark humor may get misconstrued as bitterness.
I’m really just shedding the expectations and guidelines of the industry. I went from a point where I really was wearing shades on stage, partying every other night out of what was perceived as necessity, and searching for emotionally unavailable women to being a person that is now a bit more evolved.
While “Me” was also about looking inward, “From Me To You” is about the reason I rap. I still focus on improving, and profiting from my passion but I also have an aim to make relatable songs and tell stories that the average person can identify with. I didn’t start out like that.
“I went from hard to difficult, went from spitting to bleeding,
I was rhyming for money, now I view money as freedom…”
Conception prod by Big Fraze
Conception took me about four minutes to write. The ideology that I was raised by hip-hop is just something that came out so easily. The influences of Run-DMC and Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest were so real. I was inspired to do music but I was also shaped by some of the subject matter. I learned about politics, social content, artists they sampled from, I even got vocabulary lessons from music.
This song is no exaggeration when I tell you that witnessing the rise of some of these people set the stage for what I wanted to do with my career. I observed the power of words, how Queen Latifah and Fresh Prince catapulted from one phase to another. Ice Cube and Ice-T began one way then totally changed their image.
And right in my home was Lord Digga to show me how a young rapping producer could have a vision and turn it into a record deal. This was deeper than just rhyming lyrics to me. This song is a timeline trip through my young mind that was absorbing everything I heard and turning it into fuel that would drive me to this point.
“Nas made his memory lane so graphic,
That we shared a project window where he was seeing the static,
It was just like mine in my mind, dope addicts…”
Walk on Water III prod by Emazin
Someone asked me why I keep doing this “Walk on Water” thing. I don’t really know. It started out as a metaphoric mission to let those that ask me “what’s going on with the music?” know that I’m above it all. Years ago on my second mixtape Follow My Lead, I was in Brooklyn leaving the train station and vibing to beats and I was walking through a puddle with my headphones on and the concept came to me. Sounds corny but it really did happen like that.
I throw in some biblical references just to give the feel that I’m somewhere else with the path I’m on.
It’s also a metaphor for doing thee impossible. We can believe Jesus walked on water because we have faith in Him. But to believe in ourselves that we can make miracles happen is absurd sometimes.
Yet we do it everyday. The small miracles that we experience every time we wake up, breathe, digest food, witness the weather and simply live get ignored. Some circumstance and occurrences that go down get written off as The Creator or luck, but there is so much greatness in us all that we need to reach for the stars and land on a cloud once in awhile.
“You compare me to rappers that’s spitting bars,
While my function is to give you a touch of my gift from God…”
The Realist prod by DJ Qvali
I always felt like rapping came with an image that you have to represent a certain level of thuggery. The hood has to embrace you as one of them. But as I am growing I am also seeing hip-hop grow.
Gone are the days when the Jay-Zs and Fifty Cents set the standard for living criminal lives that spilled into the booth. In today’s world the Drakes, Walés and the homie J. Cole are not selling you anything, killing you or threatening listeners. Wiz Khalifa is Snoop without the murder being a case, Kendrick Lamar is from Compton but he isn’t most wanted by the authorities.
Reality is now in, and it’s ok to be who you are. With that said, there are still some who follow the old blueprint that might is right and fear equals love. And this song is an answer back to the question about the importance of street credibility as opposed to ability and honesty as I answer a kid who wants to know if I’m “real.”
“They say he’s alright but he’s not real,
What if you’re real but you’re not alright, how does that feel?”
Brenda’s Baby prod by Louis G.
I was at a birthday bash for Tupac Shakur in Atlanta when I realized that there may never be records like “Dear Mama” on radio again. Pac’s first single was “Brenda’s Got a Baby” back in 1991 and I sincerely doubt any record company, A&R or homeboy would advise a rapper to put out a record today that is even remotely similar to that song.
But the beauty of not answering to a major is that you can do what you want. And twenty years later I decided to drop a song that is an ode to Pac’s single. I saw someone else did a “Brenda’s Baby” song years ago after a few fans pointed it out to me. But mine isn’t so much of a distinct narrative as it is a reflection of our times.
I’m simply saying that I constantly focus on getting buzz, hotter and watching the throne while even Jay and Kanye are being Niggas in Paris with no real message to the listeners. Not that they have to because maybe living your dream is enough of a message but for me…I just went on an enlightening trip through song that might be more received because of its ties to a legend. Well that is the aim.
“Brenda’s baby is grown and I’m out here watching a throne…”
Dreamgirl prod by Black Metaphor
This was probably the last addition to this CD because I just wasn’t sure if it fit. I also knew it was borderline depressing and possibly a filler if you’re a dude. But there’s something about dreaming that gets me going. I just feel like we don’t reach enough as humans.
I hate when I get complacent and settle for what I see in my face. So whenever I feel a certain way I know others need to hear it. So I created two stories about a girl who gave up on her dream to raise her fam and another who is holding on to a lost child. This is where I get confused about what’s entertaining and enlightening and I am open for criticism when I choose the latter. But I am comfortable with that.
“Passion is the key to finding out the piece to know your calling,
If you want to capture happiness and peace you gotta dream girl…”
Angels & Demons prod by Emazin
The Awakening prod by GZ Beats
My favorite record on this project is a collection of short stories that don’t really end but reach a point where I hope the listener feels somewhat awakened.
I don’t want to give away too much if you haven’t heard it but the reason I enjoy this song so much is because I have no memory of composing it and in the studio I did the whole song in one take. So what you don’t care about that but as an artist I can sit back and marvel at the anecdotes I made up and how I was able to bring them to a close in less than 16 bars. Still not impressed? Well listen anyway and I’m sure you’ll at least close your eyes and see some characters in the stories.
“We all equal but I boldly discriminate,
Each time I say pause that’s exhibit A…”
Call On Me feat. Danny Sky High prod by J. Cardim
I rewrote this record a few times and it started out as me proclaiming to be the man to rescue the hip-hop game. But then I started to think about the spiritual aspect of the concept. And as I went deeper I thought about what it meant to believe in something you may never see with your eyes.
My uncertainty about religion leaked out in the second verse and even though I still feel like saving the game, I need to save myself. So I talk about a trip to church and how it moved me even though I am not a Baptist or anything. The song has a gospel feel and I do speak about God quite a bit on The Calling. I make no excuse for that but I will just say that when you’re looking for your purpose, you tend to look to a higher power.
“The same way you singing out hymns,
Every time you singing about Him,
I want you to feel my music when it’s like you can’t win…”