Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hip Hop Isn't That Political After All: Part I.


Hip Hop isn't that political after all.

You may think that its political, but guess what? It's just music.

Those of us who ARE into "political" hip hop are not learning
anything new from the music that we listen to. If anything
it affirms what we already know. It's confirms our existence
by reminding us that, while we aren't the most mainstream of cats,
there are folks, artist, that think like us as well.

Dead Prez.
De La.
The Roots.

In fact, hip hop is so apolitical that Kanye saying
"George Bush doesn't care about Black people"
constitutes BEING political.

How can that be?

Yes, he was speaking from his heart.
Yes, he had a lot to loose.

But BEING political.

The Montgomery Bus Boycotts were political.
The Freedom Rides were political.
The Abolition Movement was politcal.

Hip Hop, while it has ton's of potential,
while it has a global impact, while it allows people
to unite who would never
be in the same room together is, as we stand today,
is JUST music.


I mentioned this idea a week or so ago
to Filthy and promised that I would write
about it.

So, here we go.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When Did Being Smart Become Acting White?


The first thing that struck me when I walked into my
into my
college prep high school was the
It smelled of new paint, new carpet and
new books.

Books so new that they had never been used yet

In fact, I stopped by there last August
and it still retained that new school smell. Creepy.

The public middle school that I came from?
There wasn't anything particularly NEW about it.

The biggest difference between the schools were the money
spent on each student and the students attitudes towards learning.

Regarding the cost difference, the public school was "free",
but we all know nothing is free. The prep school was $10K/year.

Regarding the students, there was a mixed bag.
Some dudes, came to play, get at girls, and the young ladies did the
same. Others guys came to both learn and socialize as well.
And then there were some known d-boys just passing the day
by until the could grind when the sun went down.

Now that I think about it, it was kind of bugged out to be in
middle school, with cats that were known to sell cracks,
but then again, thats Oakland/Chicago/Philly/Newark/DC....

I thought of this contrast in experience when I read the new
Will Okun post where he discusses being a teacher
and the frustrations that go with the territory

Full disclosure. Will reached out this morning and requested
feedback on his post. I started writing an e-mail response
and before I knew it, I realized that it was way too long,
and that it would be a better blog post instead.

He used Dead Prez's song, "They Schools", to
illustrate his point.

Will goes on to quote a veteran teacher speaking
on what it feels like to teach middle schoolers.
She states,

“We are not teaching them about their lives or their communities because it is not in the curriculum. Instruction is driven by standardized testing. We are teaching testing, not knowledge. No one hears these kids, nor do we try. There is absolutely no respect for these students. These middle schools are like prisons where the spirits of our children are slowly crushed, and I have been an unwilling participant in the destruction of young lives. Simply being witness and not speaking out daily makes me feel the soulful guilt of a thief,”.
Almost every school that I have been in since high
school has been small-
350 to 450 students.

(In fact, that probably underscores why law school, which
was approximately 1500 people, was so difficult for me).

My experience in small school settings has taught me that
only when the school is small, will the transformative, soul bending
learning that needs to take place, actually occur.

I don't cosign on the notion that children can't learn
in environments where there are 1499 other students.

I just know that it is a formidable and damn near impossible.

I also know that public-urban-education
isn't designed to create critical thinkers.

People say, kids need to learn, "In my day...I walked
ten miles...blar, blar blar." I always respond to those statements
with, "If it were YOUR daughter in that school, what would you do?"

In fact, I have often wondered what schools would
be like if state or federal charters required that teachers and
administrators to live in the cities that they taught? What if
they were required to enroll their children in public school system
in which they worked as well?

Can we say "skin in the game"?

Black teachers and administrators had skin in the game
prior to integration. (The other side of That coin is the seperate
but equal learning
that was taking place, damned if you do...)
I always think of this when people talk about our fear of
being told that we are "acting white" if we are high
achieving. Prior to integration, there was no one saying that
"being smart was acting white". There were no (or few if
any at all) white students in our schools for us to be compared to.


Skin in the game and educational systems.

Acting white as a consequence of integration?

Nice combo, eh?

Oh, and I REALLY like the phrase "soul bending learning."


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saying Sexism is Worse than Racism is Like Saying Chattel Slavery is Worse than the Holocaust


I will never forget being in undergrad when we were
reading Beloved.

Someone began drawing a parallel
between Chattel Slavery
and the Holocaust.

Our professor responded cautioning us against making
that comparison saying
that the risk in comparing my
unjust pain
to your unjust pain only serves to undermine
both groups of people suffered.

She went on to emphasize that ultimately, this line of
isn't productive. I have been thinking of this
incident every sense I saw droves of white women and
Black women with Hillary '08 t-shirts on Election day.
I thought, it's one thing to vote for her
its another to be running around with the T-shirt on.

I soon rethought that standpoint.

I am a news junkie, so I have been following the media's
coverage of how the public is viewing this election.

I don't think as a woman that I should be expected to vote for
Hillary, or that as a Black person, I should be expected
to vote for Obama.

That entire line of thinking is racist because white
are never questioned on whether they are
going to vote for one candidate or the other because
they are WHITE like said candidate.

Maureen O'Dowd wrote recently asked the question, who is
the bigger boogie man, Racism or Sexism. Personally, I
collapse the two, which makes for easy and interesting

Elaine Sirkis, 77, an Obama supporter, confided that
she just isn’t sure she’s ready for a woman president
Betty Conway, 83, a Hillary supporter, confided that
she just isn’t sure she’s ready for a black president

As Conway walked away, Sirkis smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry,” she told Berman sweetly about her friend. “She’s a bigot.”

We’re not just in the most vertiginous election of our lives. We’re in another national seminar on gender and race that is teaching us about who we are as we figure out what we want America to be.

It’s not yet clear which prejudice will infect the presidential contest more — misogyny or racism.

Nowhere in this article is that fact that the ism's tend
to travel in package, intertwined and codependent.

My issues with Hillary largely stem from the fact that
made a Faustian deal in tolerating her husbands philandering
in exchange for a chance at the white house.
I understand that all politicians make deals, and this was hers.
I also understand that we all have our demons, yours truly
so I hesitate to point a finger at her, without turning
a mirror on myself. That being said, it was truly out of pocket to hear
this horrible joke repeated in O'Dowds column about her.
The joke goes: “Obama is just creaming Hillary. You know, all these primaries, you know. And Hillary says it’s not fair, because they’re being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And unfortunately for Hillary, there’s no White Bitch Month.”
The joke undermines what Obama has achieved, Black history
and how it has historically been marginalized in this country
and IT is is downright hostile
and verbally violent
towards Hillary.

It reminded me of an incident a month ago, where a white
person made a comment to me about
"those butch looking women" that she see's in the hallway.

I responded, poker faced and changed the subject
as it was neither the time or place to say something.

I did make a mental note to view the person as someone
who wouldn't be beyond calling me that black b-tch when
I wasn't around.

My rationale is that if you talk about one group
then it is likely that you will talk about another.


How do you deal with people when they casually
say outta pocket shit about brown folks?

Haitians? Lesbians? Country Folks?
Black men? Hillary? Obama?

Model minorities in general?

Why do people like to have "who has it worse" discussions?

Its as if the election has unleashed folks willingness
to say sh-t that they would normally leave in the
privacy of
their homes.

So much for "Post Racial America".


Domestic Violence: What Would You Do?


I hate the term domestic violence.

Domestic serves to modify and soften the word violence.
It seeks to make it a less threating more acceptable
kind of violence. And thats a problem.

Think about this fact.
42% of women murdered in this country, are
killed by lovers, partners spouses. This means that
by and large, we get killed by men that we love, men
that we are intimate with.
(I am not sure of the statistics of
women who are killed by their female partners,
but the rate of women killed by their male partners
is currently tracked, so I will go with it for now).

Now me and this dude go hard, he's family,
So if he says, "Yo, you been picking at me",
I knew he was serious.

It all stems from a conversation last week where he
mentioned that he had to break up
a fight between a dude and a girl. He went on to say
that if he see's a dude that is clearly bigger,
and hitting on a woman, he is going to do something.

I responded saying, I believe that if you
are violent You Are Violent, and if you aren't violent
then you aren't. This, "I don't hit girls sh-t" is
for the birds.

Looking back. My answer was too theoretical
and apparently didn't fly with his version of
hood reality.

Earlier today, he mentioned that my response didn't make
sense. He went on to say that after he played his role
and tried to break up the fight and left, the dude punched
the girl in her neck. She was taken to the hospital
for that injury and also because she drank to much.

He was angry at me because I said that it wasn't his role to
get in the middle

My position was that you are either for violence or against it.
This " I don't hit girls sh-t " was some outta-pocket hair

That ain't cut the mustard with him."What happens when you get in it to defend the
girl and the dude comes at you?"

dig dug: "In that case, they weren't gonna come at me.
They know me and they know that I will go bad on them". "I forgot that you have a thick is invincibility
strand". He remains quiet.
I cleaned up my previous statement and said, alright blood,
I should have said that these situations should be judged on
a case by case basis. I also added that my experience has
shown me that you can come in between a man and a woman
and in trying to defend her she starts attacking you,
presumable for hitting her man.

I acknowledged that there is no easy solution to those situations.
dig dug: Yeah, you right about the case by case basis too.

me: Yeah. I should have said that last week. Plus. I think
that the "don't hit girls thinking is dangerous because what
stops a person from saying that YOU CAN DO SOMETHING
to a girl BECAUSE she is female".
He acknowledges what I said with a pause, he doesn't
outright agree with me. I sensed that he knows that I have
a point, but he is going to continue to stick to his Gemini guns
because he can't help it.
dig dug: Plus, I know you different form me, you a liberal. What, I'm a liberal, then what are you then?
dig dug: I ain't no liberal. You probably gonna vote for Hillary Clinton.
I bet you was in Berkeley last week protesting the Marines.
me: ***Cracking up laughing. What. Why you say that? You
are so scandalous. Did you find out your voting eligibility?
Who you voting for?
dig dug: The old dude, the grandpa.
me: McCain? Why?
dig dug: Because he a grandpa, he deserve to win.
me: ***shakes my head, but I am happy the argument is deescalated.
The bugged out thing, is that if I ever got myself into a squabble,
dig dug would be the first person I called because I KNOW he is
that thorough.

That was a hard conversation y'all.


Do you intervene if you see a man putting
hands on a woman?

Does it matter if you know them?

Would you intervene if they were strangers?

Why or why not?


I Just Wanna Be Your Friend and Not Ya' Man. ~Big Pooh


This time last week I was a complete puddle.

Thursday before last, SJ decided to finalize the
status and make us just friends.
I was devastated,
not because it happened,
but how it happened.
At the time there was no room for discussion.

It was just ended. In my head I thought I could
lose the relationship, I just didn't want to lose my friend.

At the end of something, its easy to look around
you and see reminders of the person everywhere.
You know how you walk past
certain streets or stores, and you think about
a person? That is exactly what happened to me
last Friday.

I left work to go to Glide, because I knew that my
spirit wasn't right and that I needed all the extra help
that I could get.

I passed the corner where I spoke to SJ after my
first temp interview, then I saw the bank where I deposited
my first temp check. Over there was the corner where
I called him and ranted about the OTHER Black girl that
was trying to hate on me to the investment bankers.
There was the Staples where I made copies of
Michael Datcher's book and sent them to him.

Everywhere I turned there was a reminder.... to be cont....


What did you do to get yourself out of your last slump?

How long did it last?


Everything I'm Not Made me Everything I Am....


During Puddle Friday '08, I called one
oldest homies, Mean Sexy. She brought
it straight to my dome.

She said, "listen, you failed, school didn't work out
the way you expected, and regardless of whether this
man is in your life or not, YOU have to choose what you

I was like "ouch".

She continued "Listen, I just failed my drivers test,
and I failed my Ph.D test. But guess what. Thats life.
People fail sh-t. I will take them both again.
Honestly, I don't feel like you have been living
in the present. You spend your free time and holidays flying
back and forth. If you want to move to Dallas, move. If you
want to stay, stay. If you want to be in transition, do that. But
choose something and move forward."

Truth be told, I didn't want to hear ANY of that sh-t.

But, one thing that I know for sure, old school
EARN the right to say the sh-t to you that
you don't want to hear


Are you okay with telling your friends
things that they don't want to hear?

Why or why not?
Have you done it recently?


Last Night a B-Boy Saved My Life


On the evening of Puddle Friday '08, I got home and
there was a card waiting
for me, that SJ had sent on Wednesday, clearly before
he had made up his mind.

I took it as a sign, and sent him two cards.

I also did other things that I had been thinking about
but hadn't gotten around to.

I ordered two new LSAT's, to check out how the exam is looking know.
I got some information on Berkeley's Public Policy Masters program.
I wrote a page of non-fiction about my mother and me.
I joined Glide.
I called my homie B who is in Seattle snowboarding, to see if I could
come up and visit him. He has been trying to get me to do that sh-t since
I e-mailed an elementary school principal and offered to help out his
their Saturday school.
I started bumping that new Clipse and Jay Electronica non-stop.

Listening to Jay Elec, he was right in the gristle with me
matching my intensity.

I didn't feel alone.

Peep the lyrics to Departure. Listen here.

As the tears welled up in my eyes, my momma said son what happen?
Sometimes I can't breath because theres so much crap man
I called on God but he don't call back man
I fight to stay sane while the devils laughin'

Last night I was across the tracks
Smoking on stank, sipping on drank
with Freddy and Black Teddy, just playing a crap game
when Brian came flying up the block like Batman
***Breathes, Huf, Huf....Minnie Got Killed, his wig got peel't in the Callie-0
By some 10th ward n-ggas that we barely know

I said hole up, wooh, wooh, wooh, you must be joking, but he wasn't laughing
thats when Freddy passed out in the grass and
thats when his mother came outside and said where's Minne?
I looked down at the ground and said I don't know where he's at m'am

Lump in my throat, I just lost my best friend
Connecticut Minnie with the East Coast accent

And to top it off, my older cousin Mookie
got caught with some
yellow cap vials of crank man
It's time for me to leave home, 'ma thats that man,
It ain't much there left for me to see as a Black Man

Imma spread my wings and pursue this rap thing
Kiss my baby sister and tell her I'll be back man
Im on I-10 Eastbound to Manhattan

Yes-sir thats rap land

A one way ticket, a trunk of clothes

I spent my last 25 cent on Pac Man
Mr. Bus Driver set me free,
Just take me to New York and let me be,

~Departed (c) Jay Electronica


When was the last time you used music
to get yourself through a rough spot?

What did you listen to?
What song do reflexively you skip in the ipod?


Friday, February 15, 2008

Heaven Only Knows: Waking Up with a.....Song in My Head


I woke up last Saturday with Heaven Only Knows spinning
in my head. So I turned on i-tunes, and put it on repeat.
All I could think was how the lyrics nailed that painful
conversation from the preceding Thursday and I was floored.

Last night was the worst night
Beginning of the end
Or maybe it began before
and here we go again

Things got so dramatic

Things got out of hand
We said words we couldn't imagined I don't understand

There you go with the same old thing

When things go wrong you always seem to blame me

Now I would like to find what secrets hide in your mind
Where the end will go Will I ever know
~Heaven Only Knows (c) John Legend.

I then decided to send SJ another note.
Next, I put on that lovely dress sheer dress I just bought.
Went out with mom's, bought some some new headphones.
(Somehow the old ones got killed during January's martini

Besides, I have been 'noid about being on public transportation
with white ear buds. I was an ipod early adopter, so I have never
been shook about wearing them. But now that
everybody and they momma know that the white
ear buds=ipod, I was reluctant to wear them on the bus,
as I am
not trying to get jacked by some young buck who is looking
to cop cell phone bill money.

Getting hip hop back felt so good.

Jay's song, Departure, is so vivid that
I can envision the piece being acted out on stage as one
of Danny Hoch's Hip Hop theater pieces.
Listening to it, I came to the conclusion
that the next piece I am going to write is a fictitious account
of a confrontation that my mother has with my sister- in a
hospital room. Intense right?

There is nothing like good music to help you keep your focus.

Do you remember the I can't listen to Nas post, well, I think this
post is the the book end.

So he and I have been writing to each other.

Out of all of this I was most surprised by my resilience.
I thought that because I was a puddle on Friday, I would continue
to be one, but that wasn't the case.

When I talk to him SJ now, I must
say there is a clear appreciation for the other person that
hasn't been present in our conversations in a long time.

What will happen, in the long run, Heaven Only Knows.

*Whop is indigenous Oakland slang used to illustrate the
convenience of able to do one or more things at once.
"Man, I could have downloaded the new Jay-Z and Ye-ye
in one whop, if I had more drive space".



I am trying to trust my instinct and
be too rash on this one.

How do you quiet to noise so that you
can hear
your gut speaking?

When was the last time you didn't listen
to your
gut, and paid for it in the long run?


2.15.08 - I Wonder What Bill Clinton is Thinking?


Didn't it FEEL like Bill Clinton was running for President
for a hot minute?

I have been blogging for a couple of years now.

One of the things that I have learned is that
it is so much more enjoyable when there is
a media event or issue that arises that get
folks to thinking and talking about what he
discuss here all the time.



Hip Hop.

The first time I saw it was with the Imus event.

The second time I saw it was with the Will Okun

With an Clinton/Obama nomination upon us,
issues such as gender and race, which would
normally be at the periphery of a mainstream
conversations are out front and center.

Take the above video.

And now, peep the following.

Kareem and Common look bugged out.
Who thought to put them next to each other?

It's a little too warm and fuzzy or me.

Not warm and fuzzy bad, but warm and fuzzy
and *politically underdeveloped. I just finished reading
The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner Take All America
by Daniel Brook

I can't tell you the last time I read a book in two days,
but please believe I am a changed person because of it.

I don't even want to start with a half-a*sed review now
because, I need to digest some of the things that
he talks about, so that I can present them to you all
clearly. But, trust. My bird has been blown back by this dude.

Wait, let me say this. From reading this book,
I have figured out that the Baby
mommas and the Lawyer mommas have in common
and what I need to do to get them to see that. I have
a renewed sense of insight and clarity.

Long live election year blogging.

* courtesy of Birkhold.


Do you care about who wins?

Or do you just want the troops to come home?

Or do you just want your tax rebate and
new episodes of Lost?


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Died and Went to B-Girl Heaven


Hip Hop Originals are pure Deliciousness.

Ivan @ Hip Hop is Read bringing his "A" game
the Black on Both Sides Originals, the
DOC originals and most recently the
Midnight Marauders
originals(via lyrics to go).

It was like, I died and went to B-Girl Heaven.

Noz has a link up to which has old Source issues.
Reading that sh-t makes me feel simultaneously
nostalgic and old. I listened to Evil D's pod cast,
every night this week.

SJ and I are in a holding pattern, so what better
than hip hop
to act as a momentary salve?

Oh. And you thought I analyzed the music industry
and the plight of the independent artist with zeal?
Justin at Audible Hype puts me to shame. With
articles such as "Want to be Successful, Stop
Studying the Music Business" and
"Music Business 2.0 Without the Bullshit".

He writes,

We all want to be successful. Nobody who
reads Audible Hype is looking for ways to
continue living in poverty, or working at jobs
they hate. So this article could be the most
crucial piece of advice I give in 2008. It seems
obvious, but given what I read on other sites,
and given the questions I get asked by readers,
it needs to be repeated: the “music industry” is
a multi-billion dollar total failure.
The only
justification for studying how it works is to
get a clear cut example of What Not To Do.
Reading his work is affirming simply because he cares so much.
So often people have soul/spirit/chutzpah beat out of them.
Especially industry folks, so its nice to encounter such
a renegade rebel with something constructive to say
about how an independent artist can manage his/her career.

Nas gave Ms. Info a n-gga t-shirt. Dude is bugged.
N-gga t-shirts during an election year.
Could you imagine cats in the crowd at an Obama
rally wearing them sh*ts. THAT, would be an interesting
moment in history. ( I think my demented side just came
  1. man// Says:

    nas better stop worryimg about album titles and
    t shirts and start makeing some good music like
    he used to do.alot of nas fan base is white and to
    wear a shirt to try to skare whites that had nothing
    too do with slavery isent gonna work too well.enless
    hes trying to skare the dudes who burnt his car down
    back in 92 in queens after he got sign, or camron .
    unless hes calling blacks niggers .but if he wants
    white people to get upset and think thats some
    type of a reverse ploy to makeing them upset i
    dont think its gonna work .they were laughing
    .but i wish nas luck no matter what hes allways
    one of the best. it just sometimes he does things
    to help bad people.figuar it out

The notion that Nas may offend his white fans with n-gga t-shirts,
White people listen Jim Jones, 50, Snoop, Game, Fat Joe etc
call each other n-ggas
all day long is worthy of a Ph.D level analysis.

While I am not equipped for such analysis, I most certainly
miss the opportunity to note the irony.

I have been listening to more hip hop all week. I can't live
with out my...hard drive? I was so space starved, I couldn't even
download photos to use for the blog, without deleting songs.

Thank gawd that era is over.

Why don't I own the new Pete Rock?
I stumbled across a new joint,
Half Man Half Amazing
at culture bully, and its the truth.


What would all these rappers be doing with out Hip Hop?

What would this country be like without Hip Hop?

Hip Hop originals, nice?


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Got One Question, Is You Happy?


Remember when T.I. asked, "Is You Happy"
at the end
of "Why You Wanna"?

The issue of happiness has been on my
bird recently.

The day Heath Ledger died,
I was talking to Filthy and he said that

anyone who kills himself ain't fit to live.

***Insert record scratch HERE.

I responded, saying thats that bullsh-t.

First of all, anyone who takes their own life is in pain
and has been in pain for a long time,

Secondly, people who kill themselves more than
likely reach out to someone. Sometimes the response
is inappropriate.

On top of that, people suffer from mental illness,
which impacts their decision to commits suicide.

I was like, Man, Heath was seperated from and
probably missed his family something terrible.

I would imagine that he was just trying to figure
out how to deal with
it in the way he knew how.

Losing your family will break ANY man down.

Filthy agreed that mental illness most certainly
plays a role and went on to mention that
we as a generation have to come to understand
that PAIN is a natural part of life.

When people ask me about SJ and whether
he is making me happy, I began answer differently.

It has become less about him making me happy
and more about me having someone I can struggle with.

Happiness is a temporary state. I would rather have my
serenity than have happiness.

Don't get it twisted, happiness feels great,
but I realize that I have to consciously think about
the desire to be happy.

Especially for someone like me, who is ambitious,
and is always coming up with this, that or the third thing
to be involved in, happiness can't possibly be the goal.

As of late, the goal has been how to become a more human


Why do you think we trip so hard on being happy?

When was the last time you were happy?

That new Jay Electronica has me feeling tre Happy.


Monday, February 11, 2008

The Cuban Secret


Elizabeth Eckford is depicted in this photograph taken by Will Counts in 1957. It is one of the top 100 photographs of the 20th century, according to the Associated Press. Hazel Massery is the white girl seen yelling at Eckford as Eckford attempted to enter the school on her first day.

When ever I have arguments about educating low income folks,
I dead cats in their tracks with one question.

The question is, why is it that Cuba has a 97% literacy rate,
when most
of its citizens/residents are cash poor?
A true story: in 1960, less than a year after their victory, Castro's government decided to wipe out illiteracy. They recruited 120,000 volunteer teachers, most of them young high school students. Armed only with books and Coleman-style gas lanterns, the volunteers entered the most remote areas, teaching peasants of all ages to read. The grim part of the story was that there were still counterrevolutionaries in the hills -- and they received support from the CIA. They knew the literacy brigades were helping solidify Castro's support among the peasantry, so the young volunteers were terrorized and at least one was murdered. But the campaign succeeded anyway. Practically overnight, Cuba's literacy rate rose to 97%, and it's now a little higher than that. By the way, the average Cuban's knowledge of the U.S. and of world events is astonishing.
Just a little something I want you to think about during this election

Something that I want you to think about while you read the newspaper.

Something I want you to think about the next time you read about
colleges with billion dollar endowments, or schools in the hood
that have landed on the No Child Left Behind "closure/failure" list.

I want you to think about the effect that the failure of integration
has had on our current educational system.


What can a new president do to change the
way our children are educated?

Do we need to send our kids to Cuba?

Our Black boys in particular?


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Jay Electronica is Basquiat on Wax


I believe in Jay the way ?uestlove belives in Tanya Morgan.

Ever since I read Grace Lee Boggs autobiography I have

been obsessed with the notion of becoming a more human, human.

Jay brings multi-layered samples similar to Doom.

Farrakhan samples
Muhammad Ali samples.
Tribe-esque licks.

Come to think of it, I don't think The Nation
has been on a rap song since Death Certificate.

His music is haunted by Jay D.
He brings the hunger of an early Jay Z.
He is comfortable with being weird,
like a sorry Ms. Jackson era Three Stacks.

When you listen to his music, you don't know where its
but you know that you want to go there with him.

In life, you sometimes have to concede that
you don't know where things are going.
It has become painfully clear to me that
being vulnerable is a sign of transformation.
That sense of not being in control,
of going hard in the paint, of giving it your all
and waiting for the chips to fall. It's like Tupac at his best.

Pac wasn't always wasn't right, he wasn't
always wrong,
but he put his heart on it, and at the end of the day
what more can you ask for?

Jay's music reminds me of this vulnerability.

When was the last time you heard an emcee with something
to say? With each new song, you wanted to hear more?

Electronica is that dude.


You listen? What do you think of him?

Why is it so hard to be vulnerable?

Why is it so hard for people to accept
being weird?


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Thoughts on Lauryn Hill & Britney Spears


I have been thinking lately about the similarities
between Britney
and Lauryn.

Off the top of the dome, it would appear as if they
have nothing in
common, but think again.

They are both single mothers, they both have earned
a ton of
money for themselves and their labels, and they
appear to be having a nervous break down
in front of our eyes.

People love talking about them. Its almost as if
derive a sense of pleasure out
observing the fact that Britney
has lost her children,
has been in a mental facility twice in the last two months
and that her estate is in a conservetorship.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Britney Spears and her estate were placed under court-ordered temporary conservatorship Friday, a day after the pop star was taken to a psychiatric hospital.

It was not immediately clear who would act as conservator. The singer's parents, mother Lynne Spears and father James Spears, were in Superior Court for the hearing.

A court creates conservatorships when a person cannot care for themselves or handle his or her own affairs.

The public treatment of Lauryn and Britney tell me
something very particular about society.
Their treatment underscores the fact that our culture
doesn't take mental illness serious.

Its not like it's a knee injury or a back injury where the scar
and source of the pain is visible. It's a a little bit more subtle.

The sad thing about it is that if Britney were to pass away
as a result of her destructive behavior,
I seriously doubt that we would be able to see that she was
in a tremendous amount of pain.


Have you ever had to intervene to help a friend?

Were you successful?

Why don't people take mental illness seriously?


Monday, February 04, 2008

I Wonder What Malcom Would Think of Obama


I am currently read Grace Lee Boggs', autobiography and
she is talking
about organizing in Detroit during the
1963 Uprisings. I just left off where
Malcolm has recently
visited Detroit and gave the Ballot or the Bullet speech.

There was one section, in particular that I found surreal in light

of the fact that we are on the eve of nominating a white
woman or Black man as a presidential nominee.
She writes,

"The Black revolution in he North is less than six months old.
Beginning in Birmingham as a sympathy movement for the South it has now begun to work out its own philosophy...The Black revolution of The North is also confronted more directly with economic issue than the revolution in the south. In the South Negros are still fighting for the right to equal access to public accommodations and for the right to register and vote.....But the North already have these rights..."
Boggs goes on summarizing Malcolm saying,
" ...A Negro Revolution and Black revolution are not the same thing .....A negro
Negro revolution is the kind which liberal whites could accept because it would simply incorporate the back man into the corruption of existing white society...A Black revolution would center around struggle for the control of land..."

Trillion Dollar Budget. Check.
[How you gonna claim you ride for small government and propose
the largest budget in the history of the country].
President Bush submitted a federal budget of $3.1 trillion on Monday, declaring that the spending plan would keep the United States safe and prosperous and, despite its record size, would adhere to his principle of letting Americans keep as much of their own money as possible.

$125B Stimulus. Check.

Cuts to Medicare. Check. What tha f#%*?
MONDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- President Bush's new budget proposal would cut $196 billion over five years from both Medicare and Medicaid -- programs that provide health care to millions of poor and elderly, federal officials announced Monday.

The budget will produce a deficit of 410 billion dollars this year and 407 billion dollars next year, up sharply from last year's 162.8 billion dollars, a five-year low.
How did WE get here?


Oh. Happy Negro History month.

Civil rights demonstrator attacked by a police dog on May 3, 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Prompted by the revived Ku Klux Klan and by the quickly organized White Citizens Councils, the general reaction of the white South to the sit-ins and other civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s was violence. Bill Hudson/AP


Reactions? Thoughts?


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Redemption of a Dumped Girl


So I was single this week. For like a day.
That sh-t hurt.

I could feel the "lets just be friend's" floating
in background of our conversation on Wednesday

You know that feeling you get, when it just
seems like, "You know what, he just don't love
me the same?"

Well, it came out. There we were, two legally trained
negro's going for the
each other's juggler.
That argument was more intractable than
a congressional debate on slavery
no compromise.

I wish it on no one.
To be fair. He was ambivalent about it about making
the call. I was just in the middle of one of those,
"It shouldn't be this hard, why is it like this?" rants.

He just swooped in with "Your right, maybe friends
is the way to go." Now, after last year, with
The Graduate and BL, my position is that a
dude chooses you

If he wants you around, he wants you around,
and if he doesn't he doesn't. It's as simple as
that. So I didn't put up a fight.

I was also grappling my desire to write more mainstream.
This thought was triggered by the fact that the Post
just started publishing a new "BLACK" online
magazine. When I first learned about it I was juiced.
Like yeah, maybe I can pitch them some freelance work.

THEN. I went to the site. I was like man, this is like
Slate lite for negros. No criticism. No analysis.

Yesterday, Illiam was going on and on about Michelle Malakin
and I felt myself getting jealous. She brown, fly and has a
mainstream gig.

This morning,with Michelle on my mind and my desire to
do work around the transparency of public school budgets,
I searched and found a study comparing budget disparities in
Oakland Public Schools. Then I thought, why don't I create
a map overlaying average teacher salaries, current murders,
and home foreclosure for the purposes of showing how
these three things are interconnected? I felt good.

So I got up from my desk and walked to a private area
to call SJ. When I walked back, there was a vase of flowers
sitting there. I thought to myself, why people gotta leave
THEY FLOWERS on my desk. Then I saw my name on the card.
He sent them to me.

I was speechless.
I was disarmed.
I was no longer angry.

With that simple gesture he said to me and others,
I love her. She is worth surprising.

Then I turned to my g-mail and found this note from a reader which said,

As an English minor, I'm captivated by your writing style that combines prose and blank verse: it's a powerful format that punches your ideas into the reader. I read things on your blog that sometimes take me a few days to deconstruct my paradigm and then construct the one from which you wrote but doing this enlarges my soul....
(I had to google blank verse.)

And Poof.
Just like that the tumultuous week, full of
uncertainty ended.

The writing doubts dissipated.

The drive to have intense reparation like
arguments ceased.
Speechless is good. *wink*

(By Saturday sh-t was back to looking questionable.
The emotional arms race
was back on and poppin'
and I was hesitant to even
post this for fear of it being inapplicable.
But I'm going to go ahead and step out on faith and be vulnerable.
This post is my effort at disarmament.)


When was the last time you had one
of those conversation's that made things
exponentially worse?

How do you deescalate arguments?

Whats worse being the dumper/dumpee?



Erykah Badu Now


Erykah, Erykah, Erykah. What can I say.
I remembered the first time I saw her in Vibe,
right before the "On & On" video came out.


Other than Amel Larrieux, no one was on that
laid back, I am going to let my lyrics speak for it self I
don't give a f-ck if you think that I'm
weird sh-t.

It was tight.
She was a nappy, with a big 'ol head
and wasn't "bigger than a minute" as my
would say.

Erykah was a movement.

Erykah sings Happy Birthday to Raekwon. Courtesy of Grand Good.

You may have liked her,
hated her, thought she
was fake, but at the end of
the day you had an
opinion about her.

Openly expressing your life for her put
you at risk for being called, a tofu-eatin',
coffee shop dwelling, boho.

My response was always I like my ignorance,
and I like my light.

From Woody Allen to the Wedding Crashers
I am going to like what I like.

Good art raises questions, so what more
can we ask for from an artist?

To this day, Baduizm, is one of those self-righteous
delicious albums that you can clean your house to,
get your mash in to, ride down Highway 1 to- its simply
that versatile.

Second runner up is Worldwide Underground.

The melodies, the beats and the over all lightness
made that an album enjoyable.

That heartbeat on
I Want You.

I never really got into Mama's Gun, even though
Bag Lady still knocks to this day.

Lets not get into the alleged impact that
she has on men. If you listen to the
homies at Oh Word Baduizm is a disease.

But we all know, if Baduizm were a disease,
cats would be holed up in their rooms
disinterested in a cure.


What's your favorite Badu joint?

You notice how she keeps her children out
the spotlight?


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