Category Archives: The HIP-HOP PURIST

Trayvon Case Calls for Outrage and Epiphany

"Do I look suspicious?"

“We ain’t the same color when police show up.” – MURS

Before I talk about Trayvon, let’s talk about stigma.

There was a girl in my high school who had a white mother and a black father.  She hung out with the cheerleader, varsity letterman crowd.  Apparently, she was very embarrassed every time her father came to school functions because she easily passed for white.

Not every case of colorism is as dramatic as “Imitation of Life.”  And not every case is American.  The massacres in Darfur were carried out by dark Arabs.  The Dalits in India are very dark.  Aborigines in Australia are treated like shit.  The list goes on and on.

And being a black person in a high school where the faculty supported David Duke, I had my own issues with color.  My teen years were spent mostly in Jefferson Parish, right outside of New Orleans.  I did not sound like the majority of the black population when I talked.  My classmates were mostly white people.  I was an outcast any way you looked at it.

But, my issues were not so cut and dry.  Public Enemy fueled my thoughts.  I started listening to Farrakhan tapes.  I read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”  My issues with black folk involved mostly what I saw as self hate.  Why did the Creole women get all the attention?  Exactly what is “good hair” or “pretty eyes?”

But if I dig deeper into myself, I have to admit I know those issues intimately, because there was a time when I had them myself.  It took effort, but I had to think my way out of them.  Hip hop helped me with that.  It made me self-analyze and come up with conclusions about who I was and about my skin’s societal stigma.  But as a black person, I had no choice but to come to this conclusion if I wanted to see a progression in my self esteem.  Other people do not necessarily have to have this epiphany.

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The Hip-Hop Purist – Nancy Reagan, Weed and the Power of Hip Hop

“I might smoke a spliff, but I won’t sniff” – Grand Puba

I am of the belief that who you are as a teenager is basically who you are for life.

I am dumbfounded when I run into people who tell me they have never been in a fight in their entire lives. But it’s not like I grew up in a horrible neighborhood. Many of my teenage years were spent in Kenner, LA.

I grew up in a place that was below middle class. I stayed off of Idaho and 25th Street, in some apartments that had seen better days. I was a few blocks away from a canal, so I spent much of my time catching turtles and snakes. When I was not doing that, I was fishing either on the Mississippi River, Lake Ponchatrain, Lafreniere Park or the Parish Line. My Parish Line fishing spot was near the home of one of my good friends.

The people in my neighborhood thought I was weird because I liked reptiles and because I had no N’awlins accent. But being cool with my boy in another neighborhood got me in close with his crew, regardless of hobbies or vernacular. My friend had rank because he did some pretty courageous things. He also beat up some people everyone was afraid of. No one really messed with him.

He did all of the dirt during the week. On the weekends, we were out trying to outfish each other. These times were golden. Not only because I was growing into myself, but hip hop was also at its peak.

Everyone listened to hip hop. Everyone was influenced by MCs and the way they dealt with life. Many of us had no father at home, so hip hop acted as a viable substitute. This was the time when it was a noble trait for MCs to be intelligent. I don’t think Chuck D realized how much power he had over us.

I guess Grand Puba didn’t either…

I remember vividly the scene in my boy’s room, when our group listened to and began actively debating the line I began this piece with. We had all been indoctrinated by Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign through our public school curriculum. So it was a big deal for someone in our little crew to smoke weed. One guy had already started smoking, and used the music to somehow justify it. In his mind, Puba was a righteous brother, and if Puba could do drugs and still remain righteous, he too could smoke and remain righteous.

Then Cypress Hill came out…And dedicated their first single to David Duke when they were on Yo Mtv Raps…

Today, my boy and many of the dudes from that neighborhood struggle with addiction problems. Some deal drugs. Some live on the streets. Some are dead. We are ultimately in control of our destinies, so I am not trying to blame Puba for their fates. I’m just saying. There are many weed heads who never try anything stronger. But there are also many who do.

“No I don’t smoke weed or cess / Cause it’s known to give a brother brain damage” – Dr. Dre

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Hip Hop Purist: Contrast Bohemia/Workplace

Far from Krypton: Would You Look Up to Yourself As a Kid?

“Contrast Bohemia to my workplace” – Busdriver

A long time ago, when we were in our late 20s, me and my potna Neil were on one of our many walking excursions around town.  He mentioned that he was not living up to his own expectations.  I asked him what he meant.  He told me that when he was a kid, he knew he would be a superhero by now, and he just did not see THAT happening any time in the near future.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Being the adult that the child we use to be wanted us to be?

Maybe this is why I spend so much time thinking about my younger years.  Back then, I was Playdoh slowly taking the shape of who I am via the experiences I chose to live.  Now that I sit behind a computer in some nameless corporate office eight hours a day, I think I owe it to myself to reminisce from time to time.

Back in college, I use to hang around the hip hoppers.  Humans have a way of grouping themselves.  Like-minded people tend to create enemies of people who think differently.  Many times this brings about group cohesion.  But as the group grows, splinter groups form.  So even amongst the hip hoppers, there were subgroups.  I found myself hanging with the bummy, nerdy, argumentative, artsy fartsy subgroup.  We would debate for the sake of the debate.  We would poke fun at the pretty boy hip hoppers (as I am sure they made fun of us).  Our hip hop standards were extremely high.  We tolerated no bs music in any form. 

So one day, the homie Cosmo got a shipment of tapes from one of his homies on the West Coast.  I remember seeing the trademark Eligh rendition of the Eye of Horus, HAND DRAWN (!!) on one of those tapes.  But the tape that made the most noise in my subgroup was coMURShal.

The quality was horrible, but it was still dubbed and redubbed to the point where the hiss and static were louder than the beats and lyrics on some parts.  Eligh and Scarub had the style, MURS had the content.  We even found time to argue about different aspects of the songs we liked so much.

Then, the homie Thomas got a hold of an online tape catalog ( advertising a new MURS tape.  He promptly ordered it and soon after, F’REAL came in the mail.  The quality was still terrible, but it was the original terrible.  Plus, we got the liner notes, which had been hand-cut at Kinko’s, and the blue cassette alluding to a certain gang affiliation.  The name of the work rang true on so many levels.

Thomas gave it a listen in his dorm room.  He then gave it to me to listen to one fateful weekend in my apartment.  I was all too familiar with the sophomore slump, so I did not really take it seriously.  I put it in the cassette player and let it be the ambient music for hanging out with the first woman I ever loved that weekend.

As the sun peeked through the blinds of the large, energy wasting, plexiglass windows of my apartment, F’REAL was still playing as we woke up.  As fate would have it, we both actually started listening to his words when “The Jerry Maguire Song” came on.  Our eyes widened as the lyrics of that first verse sunk in.  Our first words of that day had something to do with rewinding that song.

“Now most of us could waste a whole lifetime doin shit we don’t believe in/
So I’m retrievin words of gold to expose my soul/
On the sheets, combined with the beat, a song, complete, to compete/
Nah, cause most of y’all won’t understand it/
Takin this existence for granted/
Never goin after what you really want cause you ain’t got the heart/
So your life never starts to have meaning/
Fiending for somethin to fill that void, annoyed/
With the surroundings you picked ‘cause they don’t seem to fit your person/
Rehearsin what they said would make you happy/
Until you realized one day, ‘Damn they trapped me’/
But who are they anyway? To tell you how to live/
A college degree, then a career, the only decent way to raise kids/
But I disagree, see I wasn’t put here to make a living/
My living makes me, so even if it takes me a lifetime/
I’ma write rhymes that I feel/
Some shit for when I’m fired, that shit for when I’m chilled/
And even if I never make that ticket to a meal/
I’ll still be a success cause my purpose will have been filled.”

Moments like that leave an impact. Songs like that leave an impact. Even as I sit in my nameless corporate office, feeling the Playdoh I am composed of harden into the shape of something far from a super hero…

MURS – The Jerry Macguire Song

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The Hip Hop Purist: The Devil and Ms. Monae

“The dichotomy in me knew something was fishy.” – Saafir
I recently went to a Tribe Called Quest show in Atlanta. It was wonderful.
They performed all of their popular songs and then some. Jarobi even came on stage. Of course, Jarobi was supposed to be there. But someone else was not.
At the end of their set, Q-Tip announced the foreigner. I became a xenophobe, hoping for a Trouble T-Roy moment when Puffy grabbed the mic and said “Wassup, New York”. Boos were automatic. So were obscene finger gestures. I even participated in the fun, myself.
Puff, as hip hop’s Antichrist, has more than one reason to be hated (besides cheesecake delivery). He is the sole reason I check for the 7 Daggers of Megiddo on ebay. But this ain’t about him. It’s about his motives.
I recently had the pleasure of listening to ArchAndroid for the first time. This album snuck up on me completely accidentally. I heard good things about it so I decided to give it a listen via illegal download.
I bought Badu’s first album when it came out based on the strength of her first single. She was sneaking 5%-er mythology into mainstreamer-isms. I thought that this might be the thing that would change the R&B genre into something listenable. I bought the album and noticed it was replete with love songs and immediately gave it away. Lauryn Hill did something similar to me. I really want a female MC to be in my top 10 list. Medusa is the closest thing, but she just does not have enough material.
So in steps Janelle Monae. “Dance or Die” has her flowing her ass off over a fast, pop-y beat. I was impressed. I was even more impressed when I read the lyrics.
Then I noticed she had some videos. “Tightrope” seemed to have the most Youtube hits, so I gave it a try, still expecting the worst. Sometimes I love being wrong. The video was dope. I think I get the concept. The mental institution is symbolic of the mind. She starts off in her room and then sneaks into a hallway. She (Janelle) is symbolic of a thought. She is met by more thoughts (her dancers) and they start having a good time. Not sure about the minions dressed up as the grim reaper with mirrors for faces. They seem to be symbolic of convention or pragmatism.

Lyrically, she touches on the balance of emotions. Life is full of highs and lows. You have to know that either is on the horizon at all times. So don’t get too caught up in either the highs or the lows — thus the balance of tipping on a tightrope. She even shows that you can escape your mental state and go other places you have never seen before.
“I learned to relax in my room and escape from New York and return through the womb of the world as a thought.” – Rakim
She danced right through the wall of the institution and into the wilderness while gazing with what seemed to be awe. The mirror-faced minions followed her though and guided her back to her room in the institution.
Even if I am completely wrong about my interpretation of the video, it still provokes thought and discussion. Try to get that from Nicky Manaj (am I hating?).
So after I watched that video a number of times, I clicked on the next one. At first glance, it seemed much shallower than the previous one. It is one take of her singing “Cold War” with different camera angles focusing on her face. But she seems to go through a range of emotions during the take. There is one point where she even starts crying, although she tries valiantly to hold it back. When she says “I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me,” I completely felt her. I, too, was taught that there had to be something wrong with me through elementary, middle school and high school. I met up with a bunch of other weirdos in college, though. But those memories do hit hard and they hit randomly and they evoke an emotional response. She forced me to deal with those emotions while showing her own. Again, I was impressed.
I have not fully digested ArchAndroid yet. I really want to buy the album but I am torn. I want to show this talented young person that I respect her voice and her imagination. But I do not want to put one red cent in the pocket of the Antichrist.
Why would Puff sign her? Is he trying to add some sort of legitimacy to his legacy by promoting someone with actual talent? Naw, he is the Antichrist, and he has no soul. Right? Or could he be trying to prove a point? He signs a person with originality and imagination and throws his marketing machine behind her just to get a mediocre return on investment (on purpose, maybe) to show that the marketplace has no urge to be moved by thought.
I have read on some sites that the record sales have been pretty bleak. Janelle is a superstar. She is a role model for young women. She shows them that they can still be beautiful without being scantily clad. Having an imagination is a virtue! Having independent thought is not a crime! Fuck convention! Be the person you are supposed to be.
She should be selling out arenas. I checked her tour dates and she is merely opening up for other groups in small venues.
When I get my paycheck Friday, I will ask the Hip Hop Gods to forgive me in a moment of weakness. As a crusader constantly compelled to seek justice, I will spend my hard earned money to buy a copy of ArchAndroid, giving Diddy more power to destroy the art form I hold so close to my heart. Hell, I may even buy 2 copies.

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Top 10 Hip Hop Love Songs

I despise love songs, but I have been forced to listen to them all of my life. I know Jodeci songs by heart that I wish I didn’t know at all. The subject has run its course. There are too many other things to talk about on Planet Earth.

One of the things that attracted me to rap in the first place was the range of subject matter that could talk about something other than someone’s troubled love life. Scarub has a song about traveling into outer space as a molecule of carbon. Lyrics Born talks about bobsledding off of the Himalayas. Let R&B deal with the drivel.

But if LL Cool J has taught us anything, it’s that the radio loves love songs.

“All the radio do is dangle / That R&B love triangle” — Ice Cube

“I Need Love” ruined LL. Headz know this. That dude that said “BOX!” on Crush Groove died slowly as his radio-friendly smash single made loads of money. He created the formula and other rappers followed the blueprint: Get women to like it, and the men will buy it to get with women.

I feel it is a badge of honor that I never got caught up in this bubble gum BS.

But at the same time, there are some love songs worth mentioning. Please bear with me, for I am dealing with a subject I am not too fond of.


“No Greater Love” – Blu and Exile
This beat is masterful. Exile put his foot in this one. Puffy, please take note. This is how you use a sample. I never thought Smokey Robinson would get me hyped.

Lyrically, Blu is on point. He talks about loving a woman while keeping his nuts intact.

“Plus a little room for Azulito when the time comes” — Like me, he knows he can only make boys.
“I love it when I tell a chick to chill and give me space but she can’t…”
“Plus, she missed a whole semester fucking around with this peasant named Blu.”

It’s almost like I wrote those lines. I can actually relate to a love song. Who woulda thunk it?


“Passing Me By” — Pharcyde

Jimi Hendrix sample + some horns mixed in the hook = awesome.

The triple-syllable rhyme intro on the third verse brings delight to the ears. Looking back though, this song is kinda stalkerish. Not stalkerish like Scarub’s verse in 3MG’s “Hopeless Romantic,” but only borderline disturbing.

Many young people make fools of themselves when dealing with that hormonal surge called adolescence. Everyone has a first crush that they remember for life. I’m Facebook friends with mine. 🙂

“Makeba” – Aceyalone
This is another beat where a foot is a main ingredient. This is one of my most favorite-est beats of all time. I really wish Acey and Mumbles would collab on another project (PLEASE! — for the sake of hip hop!).

Acey and Makeba used to be in love. Something happened when things were getting a little too close and Makeba left. The song is detailing Acey running into Makeba and reminiscing about their past relationship. Acey leaves a back door open for her, though…without spiraling into the role of sap whatsoever:

“I still got a piece of me to give you
You still got a piece of you to give me
You’re listening but you don’t hear me
We can pick up right where we left at
But, I gotta be me and you gotta accept that
I just wanna be homies
Cause I ain’t got love like Monie
Cause as soon as you got close
You got ghost and you tried to leave Acey Aloney
So hook up with me. If you can, cool
Cause you know I know what you get loose to
And if you play your cards right
And keep your shit tight
Then we might be down like we use to.”

The song is almost a hip hop version of Hello Like Before by Bill Withers

“What’s On Your Mind” — Eric B and Rakim
So the R is on the subway and sees a woman he deems attractive. He tries to politely let her know that he thinks she looks nice and was interested in getting to know her better. She ignores him. Then he says “You don’t really look good; I hope you have a bad day,” and leaves her alone. He gets off at his stop and his Spidey Sense lets him know he is being followed. The stalker is the woman from the train! Unsure if she’s following him or if they just had similar destinations, he ducks into the store to get the universal beer of the 5% Nation. ’Lo and behold, she steps into the same store. Then he lays down the law: “If we’re playin games, then we’re gonna play mine.”
The rest of the song is borderline sappy: He talks about needing to be in tune mentally before he could dance horizontally, then consummating the deal. All of this is tolerable only because the first verse is so strong.


“You Never Know” — Immortal Technique Featuring Jean Grae
The songs on this list are not in any order of greatness. If I tried to put them in order, it would probably change depending on my mood. But this song would always be Number One on my list.

Immortal Technique has a horrible delivery (he has really improved this lately, by the way). This is tolerated because he has some very potent content. This song is an example of that.

I will not spoil it for people who have never heard the song. I would even say this song IS sappy and I still think it’s very good.

“Everything Changes” — Aceyalone
I’m really not sure if this song is about Makeba, but it’s another song reminiscing about a woman he used to love. There is a line in there that caught my attention:

“And I knew they would get her when I let go her hand / And when I let go, the inevitable / So beautiful and susceptible.”

I have been in relationship situations with women where I told them something similar. I let them know that there are lots of bad guys out there. I know plenty of the bad guys because many of them are my friends.

Yes, I can be harsh with my honesty at times. Yes, I refuse to follow societal norms and conventions. If you think the grass is greener, then by all means, sample it. But in the back of my mind, I feel guilty about letting a person into the wilderness who ain’t built for the feral creatures they are destined to encounter.

“Otha Fish” — Pharcyde
This is a sappy, whiny song. Slim Kid Tre thought he found “The One,” but it just didn’t work out. He has to constantly remind himself that there are other fish in the sea as he looks back on their relationship. The reason this song makes the list is because of the delivery. The sing-songy flow, mixed with the beat riding cadence that the Good Lifers created, runs strong on this track.

“Next thing you know we got together
Word, I thought it’d be forever
Didn’t have an um -buh- rell- a
Now I’m soaked in stormy weather”

MCs have a hard time maintaining a consistent flow while keeping the content pertinent. Some abandon any form. Others, like Tre, put the structured flow in where they can but then abandon it for the long, drawn out, melodic transfer of syllables over the beat. All the while, the subject matter remains consistent. Mikah 9 should get a quarter every time this song is played.
“Tough Love” — Devin the Dude

“It’s a give and take
You live and make
Decisions together
And be in it like whatever”

Too many people make the mistake of dismissing Devin as just another raunchy southern rapper. His first two albums are hip hop classics. Sure, he’s raunchy, but there is a message under the Luther Campbellness that many people miss because they can’t get past more than a couple references to gonads.

I know many people are addicted to the honeymoon phase of relationships (see Andre Benjamin’s “The Love Below”). They wonder what the hell happened as the grind of day-to-day life creeps in. When that real person starts showing their true colors and all of the pet peeves that you thought were tolerable become serious issues. Devin lets you know that the grind is inevitable when dealing with him. He lays down some ground rules to let you know he is a willing participant in the relationship, but it will not be easy.

“Love is like a maze and you might get stuck/
We can go thru it, or we can just fuck.”

“44 Wayz” – Paris Featuring Mystic
Paris and Mystic are a modern day Bonnie & Clyde in this love song. They read some books, determine that the poor people of the world are getting the short end of the stick and decide to stick it to the system. Their solution is to rob banks. At the end, of course, they both die in a blaze of glory. But they had each other’s back until the end.

We all yearn for someone to have our backs like that. It feels comfortable knowing someone is willing to die to protect you.


“What Is Love?” — Pigeon John
The break down of the beat at the end of this song is MOTHER-FUCKING-EPIC! Sorry Pigeon, I know you love Jesus and everything. I could not think of a better way to express myself in dispensing props.

The title asks the question I have posed to people who freely use the four-letter word in their everyday conversation. I am not so sure that word should be spat out so loosely.

In the song, Pigeon is having issues staying faithful to his girl while he is touring. He thinks he loves his girl, but he is not sure because he has urges to cheat. So he wonders if he’s in love at all.

Love is nothing but hormones. Oxytocin, seratonin and some other stuff combine in a cocktail in your brain that gets you high and motivates you to make silly decisions. Men feel this just like women do. The issue is, men are not built for monogamy. Faithful men suppress millions of years of evolution to remain that way and their women trip because the toilet seat is up.
Honorable Mentions

“No One Ever Does” — Saul Williams
“So many people ask me who is God, and when I tell them God is love, their reaction is quite mortal” — Brother J

This is not hip hop, it is grippo. This is not a classical love song, it is more universal. Saul really wants to love his fellow human being, but he finds it difficult because of the song’s title. He knows that it is imperative, and he will put forth a valiant effort to do so. Yet, he still laments the title. If you like this one, check out “Heading Home” by Eric Bibb.

“Neglected” — Grouch featuring Eligh
This is also not a love song. Grouch and Eligh want to be in love. Pickings just seem to be slim because the women they keep running into are not up to standard. They would rather be alone than spend their time trying to bump uglies with a physcially attractive gold digger. Like so many of the songs mentioned, I relate.


“Fa sho” — Odd Squad
These dudes love their women, but they decide to not suppress their inherent doggishness and get caught in the process. So it is a love song with a bit of folk wisdom sung by Devin in the hook. After hearing the song, I am left with the impression that these guys might not have the urge to suppress anything. Although they are hurt that their loved ones left, I have the feeling they would probably do it again.

Evolution is strong!
Keep ya head up, Kwame Kilpatrick J


“Glenn Close” — Binary Star
One Be Lo falls in love with a girl then realizes he don’t love her after all. He then hooks up with another woman and drama ensues. The name says it all.

There is even a mention of a well-known hoodoo rumor:

“Now don’t think that I’m petty / but I know what desperate ladies put in their spaghetti / thats why I told her that I ate already.”


“Nowalaters” — The Coup
This is one of the most well-written songs hip hop ever produced. The story and rhyme scheme are top notch. It is too intimate to not be autobiographical. I had to put this on the list because it is a story involving a male and a female and love. Boots never really mentions he loves the woman he is talking about. He loses his virginity to her at 17 in a Honda Civic parked somewhere near Lake Michigan. He then realizes she is pregnant.

“It was me up in the vaginary / And I’mma love my kids, whether real or imaginary.”

He then proceeds to talk about all the things he is prepared to do to get ready for his child to come into the world. Then the baby is born too early, but it has a really healthy weight.

Even though he realizes the child is not his, he still wants to take care of the kid and his mother. Now that is devotion. The only reason he leaves is because she pushed him away.

“There’s a few things I’d like to say in this letter
Like I wish I could have seen him grow
And ask my wife, I learned to fuck much better
And thank you for letting me go.
For real,
Thank you for letting me go.
For real,
Thank you,

Because ultimately, sometimes that’s what love is, too.


“Here” — Brother Ali
Check out more of the Hip Hop Purist at Note: Consider yourself forewarned.

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The Hip Hop Purist: My Christmas Rant

It’s the most wonderful time to be a whore for corporate pirates. Get jingling, baby.

This is my Christmas anthem forever. I know that some hip hoppers prefer other ones. Ras expresses exactly how I feel (although it is dated and he blatantly lies because only me, my homies and roaches should be here now).

I wish more people felt the same way – but isn’t that the plight of having an opinion? I mean Ras goes as far as to call his mom “bereaved.” What is a “mitochondria weave” you ask?

I will not win this battle, so I offer a truce.

Enjoy this time of year with your family. And although the reason for the season is the rebirth of the Sun, try to focus on fellowship with humanity rather than the money shot of capitalistic porn that this time of year actually is.

Here, let hip hop guide you in the right direction:

“I guess everyone would ride
in a benz rather than a bucket
Anyone reside in a crib nestled in a hill
than just to get by in a studio apartment
and live a better life
But don’t all cars get you there?
Don’t all shelters keep the rain from in your hair?
And ain’t lobster and tuna both protein?
And is the price of the shoe what protects your feet?
And ain’t it all just for the next man to see?
And can you take it all with you when your spirit leaves?
And when you’re gone will the people all remember
what you had, rather than who you were when you’re mentioned?” – Gift of Gab

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The Hip-Hop Purist: Bouncer Vs. #1 Mom

If you look at me, you probably wouldn’t think of me as a tough guy. And you’d be right: I’m not a tough guy. I’m average weight and pretty non-athletic in appearance. I do, however, train MMA.
So in my small circle of homies, I am seen as a semi wannabe- tough guy. One of my college buddies even asks me to be the informal bouncer at his house parties. I don’t drink or smoke, so I won’t be tapping the stash. If he decides to charge, he knows I am honorable enough to never attempt to pocket a dime. And I look like a geek, so if anyone wanted to test me at the door, they would more than likely try to use their hands instead of using a weapon.
The last time I played door man, I learned a valuable life lesson:

You gotta let people be hypocrites / count your blessings and mind your businesses. – Slug (Atmosphere), Like the Rest of Us

So I’m standing at the door trying to pretend the crunk music is not wack…trying to avoid inhaling too much cigarette/swisher/clove/weed  smoke…and wondering how this dude convinces all of these women to come to his tiny, dirty, decrepit house. Then up steps a pregnant person. Women got in free that night so I did not have to ask for anything. She asked me for something though.
”Do you have a light?”
As a father, I remember trying to make sure only the best foods were in the house during the pregnancy. I even got a juicer. This future mom making an inquiry like that horrified me. So me in my self righteous grandeur decided it was only right to intervene. I mean, maybe she just didn’t know.

“You shouldn’t be doing that,” I murmured in a low tone, not trying to bring attention to the situation. “You should make every attempt to give the little person the best chance possible,” I damn near whispered.
She, on the other hand, decided to test the volume limits of her vocal cords. All the martial arts skill in the world can’t beat sense into anybody, and when someone is determined to wallow in negative circumstances, trying to force them out just leaves you looking stupid.

She “put me in my place.”
I guess.

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Fishing with Too $hort

“Mad technician / that loves to go fishing” – City Morgue, YZ’s Acid Rain, 1993 

I like to fish. I think I’m pretty decent for a person who has no boat.

In every body of water I cast on, I try to read what the fish are doing, to understand the type of fish I am targeting. Where are they most likely located? What are they feeding on? Do I have a lure that mimics their prey? Can I cast where I need to?

All of this is not something you can just pick up on. It takes years of trial and error to become seasoned. It’s fitting, then, that my seasoning came from Louisiana.

I spent alotta time honing my skills in areas surrounding Jefferson Parish. I remember me and a bunch of kids from the neighborhood using thread, a broomstick, safety pins and bacon to catch gar out of the canals.

As we got older and our allowances started to increase, we started to save up and buy actual rods, reels and hooks. I was in middle school when I got my first Zebco 202 combo. I felt invincible. But as my skill and finesse increased, so did my need for better gear.

The better my gear, the better success I had on any body of water. By the time I hit High School, I was basically a pro (with no boat, sponsorship or notoriety). I had my gear, my lures and my bike.

I lived in Kenner my freshman year at East Jefferson. A canal was the border of the district between East Jefferson and Bonnabel High. My sophomore year, we moved across the canal but I continued attending EJ. Even though I had outgrown the canal, I would still sneak a peek looking for gar every time I crossed it.

The weekdays belonged to school and chores. The weekends were mine.

Depending on the weather and my ambition, I would spend time fishing in one of 3 places: Lafreneire Park, The Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain. Lafreneire Park was cool but it was small. It was a nice place to test yourself though.

The river has a serious current and all you are really promised out of there are catfish. I knew every carcinogen known to man was in there but I heard rumors of catfish the size of Volkswagen.

Pontchartrain was my best bet. The brackish water has the most potential. You could catch bass, but there are also redfish and specks. And everyone wants a big redfish at the end of their line. Although I mostly caught the dreaded hard head cat while there, the potential was the real draw to the location.

As I made that ride on my bike, I would start reciting rap songs to make my trip go by faster. I noticed that one song’s duration always seemed to be perfectly in sync with my riding time. And people wonder how I could like Todd Shaw.

Some songs are the themes of a slice of time in your life. Too $hort’s “Cuss Words” still takes me places.

I saw Too $hort open up for Public Enemy in the U.N.O. Lakefront Arena. It was him, a mic and his dancer. When he performed “Cuss Words”, he let the crowd participate in reciting the lyrics. I remember seeing a security guard falling out on the floor laughing when Mr. Shaw pointed the mic to the audience prompting them to finish the “corn on the cob” line.

I lived off of 25th and Illinois.

According to Google Maps, I was 2.8 miles away from the lake. That song is 7 minutes and 47 seconds long. That is about 2.78 miles per minute or 21.6 miles an hour. That’s a pretty decent pace on a bike.

Of course the land was flat. The only real obstacles were Veterans Blvd and W. Esplanade. Google says it will take 15 minutes by bike. I am not too sure about that. I know people that can run close to that pace. I am on my bike and I am on a mission and I am a non-smoking high school student with decent cardio.

By the time I was saying “Cuss words, just let em roll…,” I was near my destination.

But ain’t a “cussword” just a word?

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a darn,” would have left theater goers in a state of blah when they went to see Gone with the Wind. Instead, the good Christian people left the theater offended in many cases, because the word was so taboo.

That won’t happen today. The word has lost it’s bite. Some say Richard Pryor did the same thing with the ‘N’ word. Of course, Todd Shaw popularized the ‘B’ word (even stringing out the vowel sound to emphasize his point).

Bad words just don’t have that edge anymore because they are so commonplace. So are they still bad?

Language evolves just like my fishing equipment. In recent history, I bet many people would rather be called a female dog, Too $hort-style, than be called “Anti-American.”

In some parts of the country, being called an “atheist” or a “socialist” is almost like being called the N word during the ’60s. In a few years, things will change.

Hopefully, I will see a time when people being called “Christian” or “Republican” will urge them to be embarrassed or offended enough to want to trade blows.

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Fly Like Egyptian Musk…

I swear I can’t remember his first name, but I am pretty sure his last name was “X”. I do know that he worked in the cafeteria at Alabama A&M University my freshman year. I do know that he sold me my first vial of Egyptian Musk. And I am pretty sure he did not eat barbecued pork skins.

That was the year that I realized I was not so weird after all. Other people also hated the songs on the radio. Other people could care less about ironing their clothes. Other people scheduled their classes around Rap City. Freshman year felt like home.

If I could only remember his name, I would tell you that this dude looked at me and talked to me and drew some conclusions. Hindsight tells me he was trying to recruit me into selling The Final Call. But my freshman state of mind thought this nameless person thought I was smart enough to take in extra “information”. So one day, he invited me into his dorm room to meet with a discussion group.

Louis Farrakhan
The Honorable Louis Eugene Walcott

I had a few Louis Eugene Walcott tapes that I would play from time to time so I was familiar with the info. Back then, rappers also quoted and sampled Mr. Walcott. Hell, even Chuck D was a follower.

I felt I was armed and ready for this discussion. He who shall remain Nameless got a question from another group member and the conversation turned to “The Mother Plane“. Nameless dude damn near locked his doors and closed his windows and whispered all info dealing with “The Mother Plane”. I felt privileged to hear about it.

The thing I remembered the most was I had to watch my weight because the beam that was gonna lift me up to heaven could only lift 150 lbs.
For a long time after that meeting, I was afraid to speak about what I learned. I thought the S1Ws might come and murder me in my sleep or something.

I was a pantheist back then. I still played around with the concept of God. So I was always searching for better, more logical answers to my God questions. After the secret “Mother Plane” meeting, I knew nameless dude could provide no answers.

Years later, I ordered Freestyle Fellowship’s first tape “To Whom It May Concern” because I was so impressed by their second tape “Innercity Griots”. Two songs stole the show on “To Whom..” On a song called “For No Reason,” P.E.A.C.E. detailed killing people because they provoked him in ways only he could understand:

I’m on the next block, murderin’ nonstop
saw some fools in a flock so I threw a rock
to see if they would move, but they didn’t
BANG! good riddance.


The second song that garnered much accolades from me was Mikah 9’s “7th Seal”.

When I first heard the song, I was transforming into the atheist I am today. I had long abandoned the concepts in the song. I somehow misplaced my Mr. Walcott tapes. I even misplaced the name of the Egyptian Musk seller. But that song was bumped then and still is bumped now because of the subject matter and how it was so artfully handled. Ellay Khule mentioned that song as a turning point.

7th Seal blew everybody’s mind for at least 2 years straight. People studied that shit backwards and forwards — even we don’t know all those words. That made everybody say like ‘I gotta get a tape out’ or ‘I can’t rap like so-and-so no more. I can’t be in 80s, now we movin’ to the 90s.’ That totally transferred our musical thought.”

It is funny how certain songs unintentionally document so many things. That song came out in 91. The secret meeting took place in 93. My memory maps that song to that meeting every time I hear the beat. To this day, I am always tempted to ask the stouter members of the Nation if they are aware of the mother plane’s tractor beam. I never do though, because I’m still afraid of Professor Griff.

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The Hip Hop Purist: In Search of….Music (back in the day)

I was a fiend…

Back in my college days at Alabama A&M University, I became the Internet junkie I am today. I started out chatting on I even battled on and argued in the forums on But the thing I was most interested in was hearing hard-to-find music.

I would scour campus looking for the best computers with the best connections. I hated when my wbs chat sessions were halted because of ram or connectivity issues. Eventually I found some computers that were worthy of my time. They were in one of the chemistry labs and in the physics labs. I knew some people so I would stay in there after hours, continuing my argumentation sessions. These computers were nice and fast. And I soon discovered they had some software installed on them that the other computers did not have. Something called RealPlayer.

During this time of my life, I was a serious Freestyle Fellowship fan. These dudes could do no wrong. Around this time I just got my copy of “All Balls Don’t Bounce.” I remember the excitement of having the cassette tape in my Walkman for the first time. But what was even more exciting was being able to listen to the unreleased stuff that was out there.

The name of my favorite site has escaped my memory, but I had daily sessions with RealPlayer listening to obscure underground music from the West Coast. Every time I saw “buffering” show up on the little interface, I got angry. These computers were fast enough to let me chat freely and they zipped from site to site with lightening speed, but my songs had to pause because of something called buffering.

So one day, I go to this site and it has been updated with a Mikah 9 song. My eyes widened as my mouse clicked — more buffering! I had to have spent an hour listening to “The Fruit Don’t Fall” in bits and pieces. The sound quality was terrible (mad hiss and mad static). All of this did not matter. For the longest, I devoted time to try to listen to it daily.

Mikah impressed me probably more than any other Fellowship member (Mikah and P.E.A.C.E. are probably tied in reality). He was the one always trying to be different. He would sing a song (“Park Bench People”), mix singing and rapping (“Mary” — where Bone Thugs got their style from), then rap fast while still remaining lyrically potent (“Way Cool”).

“Fruit Don’t Fall” had no video, no radio play. It was not for sale. I could not listen to it on my headphones or in my 88 Ford Tempo. My only access to this song was via an Internet-connected computer with RealPlayer software on it. I don’t even think I actually heard “Fruit Don’t Fall” uninterrupted in it’s entirety until I bought the Timetable album years later. Guess what? Worth it.

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