Lupus?! A wha dat?!

Just another emcee who gets free. Vessel of philanthropic vision fueled by theophilic purpose.

Nothing to Shmile About

bobby-shmurda-shmoney-dance

Bobby Shmurda makes me feel like shutting my blinds and telling everybody to get off my lawn.

Not everything is for everybody. I get that. I try to follow the new waves in the culture without chasing it. Rap is a fountain of youth that often doubles as an HD mirror. You see what’s in and can’t help sometimes but to feel old and out of it.

There’s a bunch of interviews and articles covering Bobby Shmurda and the energy around the “Shmoney Dance.” The conversation on Hot 97 really stuck out to me.

I’m watching this brother with several lenses.

  1. The inner teenager living vicariously through the tough talk on my playlist.
  2. The emcee parsing every bar and remaining unimpressed by the lyrics but can’t front on the presentation.
  3. The activist is going upstream to find out who’s responsible for this.
  4. The minister who knows the reach of redemption and counts nobody out.

My first impression is that this brother is young but has seen some stuff in his lifetime. Selling crack in the 5th grade?! The Brooklyn he describes has had no parts of gentrification. He makes East Flatbush sound like District 12.

His partner Rowdy Rebel talked about his father’s raps and why he never felt his father’s music. Yeah, a lot of people aren’t with the “lyrical miracle” rappity raps but it shook me when Ebro essentially told him that young cats don’t care about lyrics.

Music gotta be more than catharsis. Feeling good is important but it ain’t like you have to give up substance for style.

I went down a mini rabbit hole on youtube yesterday watching video clips and interviews. I keep waiting to see Aaron McGruder’s name in the credits after the videos to no avail. He’s equal parts boogeyman and catnip. It doesn’t surprise me that his music is getting so much attention. He’s lyrically simplistic and doesn’t seem too interested in punchlines but his charisma is undeniable. I went to school with brothers like him, taught kids like him, shook my head at kids on the train just like him.

I get mad at how basic the message in his music seems but then part of me is like “Yo he’s talking his experience? Hell else you want him to chat bout?!”

I’m looking for growth even though he’s just getting started. I see a lot of artists and industry types embracing Shmurda but I hope people aren’t just playing parasite hoping to benefit from the energy.

Young rappers need mentors. I have no doubt that he won’t always rhyme about what he sees on his block everyday but he doesn’t need to join the league of rappers robbing poor people of dignity. Keep it real, suffer from success and all that, but be about uplift.

Where’s ya sting? (Sicker than a sickle)

I was 25 when I decided I wasn’t gonna die anymore
Told death, “Don’t come by
For at least 55 years.” No handshake,
No peeking round, just living without the albatross.
I figured it won’t be weighty around 80,
Won’t embrace the cold like an old friend.

It’s just a doorframe.
A window pane.
I reverse Revere not to fear it.
Riding through life Maranatha like,
“King Jesus is coming! King Jesus is coming!”
Praying to meet me is to hear it.

I wanna leave oil everywhere.
Tryna Valdez your life,
BP your situations,
Soul Glo your strife.
I got discharged
Feeling more bitter than swiss chard.
Though I missed hard always knew I was a missed star.

I executed Him, hung with him.
I died with him
He descended.
I rose with him
There’s no prison.

Nor condemnation cuz I’m living in Christ.
Don’t see me shining?
Think I’m living in strife?

Small potatoes pared to emboli.
Pneumonia.
Night sweats.
Prison of the mind.
(How serrated this life gets.)

At 24 death sat on my front door.
Won’t fit in my pouch,
No room in my house anymore.

Without Works

For Patricia.

 

When does politeness solve poverty?

Can saying “God Bless You” solve a rumbling belly?

Is there solace in your sincerity that you don’t carry cash?

Or is it just plastic?

Patricia asked me if we talk about poor people in my studies.

“Only in electives,” I said regrettably.

(Like my ivory tower tears quench thirst.)

 

I get heartbroken hearing about Chicago’s southside.

Eyes welled up on Newark’s Bergen Street.

But survivor’s guilt ain’t helping nobody live. 

My Mind On Shuffle: Ol’ Time Sumting Come Back Again?!

Dancehall a nuh hip hop. Di ting a get wack.”- Bounty Killer

Although Vybz Kartel’s initial arrest and incarceration were severe blows it felt like dancehall had been dying for quite some time. Too much island pop and imitation of American hip hop counterparts had left the genre severely lacking. As rap knows all too well, nostalgia can be a suffocating prison and many dancehall fans and observers concluded that its best days were in the past.

As a fan this grieved me as I found myself longing for the next big riddim. Dancehall has had solid moments in recent years but none comparable to the last great era in dancehall (2001-2007). That era saw Sean Paul and Elephant Man become household names, birthed timeless riddims like Coolie Dance and Diwali, but was nearly a decade ago and any honest assessment would attest that there was no hope on the horizon.

I found solace in the rise of conscious artists bringing “culture” to the forefront. I-Octane? Sign me up. Damian Marley’s “Gunman World”? Masterful. Chronixx denouncing colonialism and making clean eating fashionable? Dread and terrible indeed.

But dancehall for its intents and purposes was dead to me. No one could supplant the energy Kartel brought to the arena. Artists had their lane but none could be the dancehall hero that Kartel portrayed. In truth it felt like Kartel too was incapable of filling the larger than life pole position he created for himself. Was he merely becoming a caricature? Would he be unable to keep fans attention without further stunts like bleaching and controversy?

The release of “School” is perhaps the last gasp of influence in Kartel’s career. A nostalgia satisfying tune released in 2013 it is full of positive vibes and felt fresh on the heels of dancehall giants Supercat and Shabba returning to the public conscious. Maybe that would be the key. For dancehall to survive it had to return to the roots.

So where are we now? Several mixes and radio shows will show dancehall in the full throws of nostalgia. The biggest riddim out right now is “gwaan bad”, a call back to the “bruk out” riddim featuring a rejuvenated Elephant Man and a diss tune from Mavado to his former mentor, Bounty Killer, that isnt scathing but may be the crown jewel of this particular riddim.

Coupled with the popularity of Answer Riddim 2014, nuh fraid riddim and greatest creation riddim, 2014 well may be the year dancehall gets back on its feet. Dancehall has heroes in plenty supply but with the resurgence of classic vibes one must worry that without exciting young artists doing the heavy lifting, the genre’s late nostalgia is merely a snake eating its tail.

If Dancehall is to thrive it will do so with elders and young champions in tow.

Senator Morrison Commends the Lupus Awareness Group of Guam

Lupus Walk for A Cure- South Carolina

Lupus Walk for A Cure planned for Saturday

5.13.14 STCDNW

In this episode of STCDNW Di Baddest Chaplain discusses misogyny, celebrating others’ success, and what to do when jokes go too far.

“Songs that can do no wrong” is hosted by Di Baddest Chaplain on the globe, Chris B. Only on #Soundbooth Radio 1. http://www.soundboothradio1.com

Stay connected. @ChrisB06 on Twitter, @dibaddestchaplain on Instagram AND dibaddestchaplain.tumblr.com

New episode of STCDNW. Talking with Donnie Smith, executive director of Donda’s House.

Listen to “Songs that Can Do No Wrong” every weekday at 2pm/6pm (EST) on http://www.soundboothradio1.com

Five Things People with Lupus Should Know Before Starting a Springtime Exercise Routine

http://www.lupus.org/blog/entry/5-things-people-with-lupus-should-know-before-starting-an-exercise-routine

Talib Kweli & Ma Dukes J. Dilla Episode by The Combat Jack Show

http://soundcloud.com/thecombatjackshow/the-j-dilla-episode

Great interview with Talib Kweli and Ma Dukes, mother of the late great J Dilla. About an hour and ten minutes in, Ma Dukes speaks about Dilla’s battle with lupus. As I’ve shared before, Dilla was one of the first people I thought of when I was diagnosed.

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