Praying For Aliens…Again

I write raps, prose, and poetic pieces at times that reflect my thoughts at the moment. Most of the time when I share my views with the world I hope to provoke thought and possibly spark some kind of emotion. When I look back at the words I composed, it’s interesting to think about where my mind was. I hate getting emotionally attached to my own songs. It’s almost scary when I actually like something I’ve done, or I think to myself that people need to hear the joint.

The fear comes from the fact that the work will not be well-received. And in my line of work, well-received is inaccurately defined by visibility. So if I am excited about a video, and the views and/or likes are lower than another song that I think is not my best effort…I get confused. This particular piece, entitled “Praying For Aliens,” seemed like a wonderful idea at the time. I initially wrote and recorded it in 2012 when I was putting out monthly EPs. This was a part of The March. The songs on that EP were influenced by the Trayvon Martin case, Obama’s possible re-election and the ongoing police brutality issue that continues to plague us all.

There are points in time where I feel like doing music that is all about heritage and pride. But when I did this song, I was thinking globally. I was sitting and contemplating about the fact that in a few scores, race and ethnicity may not be defined too easily. Today, as we all cling to our labels, and racism is breaking out of hiding more and more…I wondered if I still felt the same way I did when I penned this composition. Yes I still imagine how we as humans would handle a threat that had to combine us all, but I have to admit that with every burned church, each filmed proof of Black hatred, and all the media distractions meant to keep us talking about coonery, I am not always feeling like the most congenial earthling. Nowadays I write with a bit more pain, I feel affected by disturbing headlines, and I want to do more than provoke thought…I want to spark action. Allow me to reflect on these words that still resonate and if you have time, join me and check out the visual I made as well.

pray aliens

Tupac said this is a white man’s world,
I don’t necessarily agree, I do think people look at color and we judge one another,

But the most important one is probably green,
Slavery was less about racism, more about paper,
Negro workers giving up free labor,
Similar scenario happened with all the Natives,
When Americans took over their land, and they got raided,
Hitler killed millions, based off of pure hatred,
And white folks comedy was wearing black faces,
Nowadays we mesh cultures, we’re integrating,
And the color lines are destined for fading, but not today,
‘Cause even if we had Stevie’s eyes
We would still find a way to have our peeps divide,
And if we all looked the same, you would be surprised,
There’d be crews wearing colors to keep beef alive,
We’re all human, but if humans had to fight a losing battle with another race,
Like joining the military but up the stakes,
All countries and nations no matter what the case,
Would have to pull out their weapons to keep each other safe,
Damu that was guarding his block, claiming his set,
Has to build with killer Eses from Watts, avoiding death,
Palestinians that love throwing rocks, instead of lead,
Would have to team with the forces that bust shots in your head,
I don’t think you understand, a whole lot of misery,
is based off what’s your nationality, ethnicity,
Right now I’m worried about a Black man killing me,
And that thought is literally killing me,
There should be Martians, maybe Plutonians,
Come in a spaceship, bringing their soldiers in,
Tell me the game plan,
What would it take to put the Ku Klux and Wu-Tang in the same clan? Read the rest of this entry »

The Greatest Rapper Of All Time Part 1


So once again I’m revisiting my opinionated post identifying Biggie as the greatest. My affinity for hip-hop has actually fallen off slightly so this may be a more objective analysis of these artists. I’m playing more and more D’Angelo and Sia these days and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I wanted to take a closer look at the arguments I would make for some of the guys that may challenge Biggie for the crown. Since so many of us have our “top fives,” there will never be a clear victor. But I will say that there are popular and unanimous vote-getters in the GOAT department.

Let’s start with Jay-Z.

Shawn Carter is the most iconic hip-hop artist of our time in terms of truly coming from the bottom and evolving into a wealthy entrepreneur right in front of our eyes. He is the quintessential American Dream for rap artists. While rappers like LL Cool, Ice Cube and Queen Latifah have enjoyed much success transitioning to Hollywood, Jay was always in the “best to do it” convos and he is still a relevant artist and businessman…or business, man.

Why Jay-Z is the greatest:Jay_king
He did it on his own. When the labels fronted on him, he invested in himself (well maybe Kareem Burke helped) and created his own company which allowed him to spit rhymes about being able to match a triple platinum artist buck by buck with only a single going gold. He picked up where Biggie left off and infused the street life, drug talk with radio friendly hits and eventually began to sell records. Hov then became the number one trendsetter and wherever his sound went, the industry followed. Whether it was Swizz’s sample-free keys, Timbaland’s futuristic synths or the soulful backdrops provided by Kanye, Bink and Just Blaze, he led the followers year after year.
Read the rest of this entry »

Page: 1 2 3 4

Monday Ramble # 25 Feed back

So the last few weeks, I recorded my thoughts in front of a camera instead of writing them and I received extraordinary responses. I kind of contemplated making video rambles permanent, if not for the folks that hit me saying they missed actually reading words in their own voice. Either way, I’m just thankful that I get any kind of comment about what I do outside of rapping.

I never read comments on my music online. Why you ask? Because once I record something and I’ve decided to put it out there to the world, it is what it is. Sure I could learn what people like or dislike for next time or take what someone says as constructive but no thank you. One “please die” comment and my day is ruined. One guy hit me on Twitter and told me he followed me just so he could say he “unfollowed” me because I suck so bad and need a new hobby. It was hard not to respond and spark a back and forth about who he was a fan of and then inquire what he does for a living and find some way to insult his existence but I left it alone.

This is an opinionated business, you can’t win ’em all, blah blah blah, long story short, I have concluded that I’m not the best at receiving bad criticism. I come from an era where we listened to music, read the credits and wondered what the artist meant or what their life was like. And I didn’t get that info until I saw them on a Video Music Box interview, or Soul Train, or Arsenio or something. Even though I may have wanted to tell Big Daddy Kane that his love songs were out of place via Myspace, or go on Facebook and ask Rakim why he didn’t smile or use inflections in his voice, or maybe even read a Tupac Tweet, I couldn’t because those things didn’t exist, and I survived.

Nowadays people take their opinions and force them on others but that’s not enough, they find the human being that they have the opinion about and inform them as well. “Hey you, I’m not a hater but if you were to discontinue life, I wouldn’t be mad.” How does one respond to that? I’m not opposed to criticism; I think it can be very helpful. In the studio, tell me what you think about my verse…if I send you a song and I say, “I’m working on this, how can I improve it?” feel free to chime in with your advice. Or if I wrote a piece, tell me what I can do to get my point across more efficiently. But I find myself similar to a singer that only croons in church because I know no one’s gonna boo from the pews. You never hear “Hallelujah he stopped singing, thank you Jesus it’s over.” Church has the protective artistic shield that boosts your confidence, and I am admitting that I need that love.

The reason I’m not a good receiver of critiques is not because I think I’m perfect, it’s actually quite the contrary. I believe that I have thought of everything wrong or faulty possible with each writing, song, video or whatever content I put out and when someone says something negative I cringe because I knew they were gonna say that. Why didn’t I correct it then? Ah and here we have the ever elusive point. Perfection is not my mission…expression is. I am not interested in trying to improve as an artist as much as I want to get better as a person…so on both paths, I make mistakes. Or maybe a better way to put it would be that I make moves that aren’t universally accepted. And that is fine.

I know you know a few people that are chasing dreams you wish they wouldn’t chase, but you don’t know how to tell them. Or maybe you’re one of those people that aren’t getting the hints. Let’s say someone plays you a song or sends you a Youtube link and asks, “What did you think?” Here are some good responses incase you draw a blank. And if you’re the rap guy wall-posting and link spreading, maybe you should be aware when your homie hits you with one of these. I get ’em all the time…

1.“What did you think?” Turn it back around on them, they’ll have to do a quick self-analysis then you follow with, “Me too, I feel the same way.”

2.“How long did that take you?” Time is always a good tactic. Artists love to tell you about how long something took to create.

3.“I like the beat.”

4.“I didn’t like the beat.” Always blame the beat…unless they did the beat. Then you’re on your own.

5.“Reminds of this Jay-Z song, or was it Eminem, I can’t remember which song though.” All he’ll hear are the letters J, Z, and M; you’re off the hook.

6.“I like this more that the last one.” Hopefully there’s a last one, improvement is big for artists.

7.”Aight!!” This only works for email. It’s hard to read a yelling “aight,” looks like, “alright you’re doing your thing,” but it could really mean, “Alright that’s enough.” CAPS are optional.

8.”I have to listen again, I heard it on computer speakers.” This only works if it’s not an in-person listen but it buys time. Then you implement whichever one you like.

9.”You got some shyt!” This can be perceived as a positive or negative if stated correctly. I got caught with this one once or twice. I said, “Thank you” when I should’ve been saying, “Eff you.”

10.”I like it, it’s hot.” Everyone knows that if you ask someone if they like something, if he or she has to tell you they like it…then they don’t like it. People hunt you down to give you feedback if they’re feeling something but most of us don’t get the hint. I give CDs out all the time, and when someone doesn’t say anything about it, I know I’ve got work to do.

Then there’s the truth. The sugarcoated truth, the hurtful truth, the compliment sandwich truth, I’ve received ’em all and dished them all out. And honestly my day has been brightened and my career has progressed simply because I took note of other people’s opinions…so maybe criticism and comments aren’t all bad, feel free to leave yours.