I’ve been missing you…

November 17, 2011

I knew the Astronomical Kid was destined for stardom way before X Factor. What I liked most about the young passionate MC was that he represents a type of hiphop that you rarely see these days, at least amongst young people. And when I heard he was going to be on X Factor I wasn’t sure how he would fare, not because he lacked talent or x factor (because he has both to spare), but because these types of competitions are dominated by singers, and no rapper has ever made it very far.

However, week after week Astro has proven that he is not only a strong contender, but he is one of the favorites, by far. Amazingly to me, he has  managed to do this without selling out and doing corny club tracks. He’s kept real to who he is and how he wants to represent hiphop, within the perimeter of the show’s box. He’s really made hiphop proud! This week was no different as he took things to a whole new level.

The guitar riff of The Police’s “Every Breath I Take” (also later redone by Puff Daddy as “I’ll Be Missing You”, a tribute to BIG) started, and Astro sat on mock-up Brooklyn stoop, modeled after the very type of New York City porch steps that held up the forefathers of hiphop, as they beat-boxed and rhymed their way into history. And then he jumped in,

“Uh! This is dedicated to her, the one and only girl that’s known all over the world. She’s forty years old but I still try and speak to her. We talk all the time and my heart beats through her. She messed with the wrong dudes and now she’s messed up. Started doing drugs and showing the kids that stuff…”

Before this point I thought Astro might have been talking about his mom, or a really old (forty-year-old to be exact) girlfriend. But when he mentioned the drug part I figured that’s not it, because he wouldn’t put that out there like that. Then I realized he’s not rapping about a girl, he’s rapping about hiphop, and I got chills. What followed was a beautiful ode to what hiphop was, a lament for what it has become, and an honest, raw love song in tribute to this “girl” he cares so much about.

He paid homage to Biggie with a couple of lines, mentioned how he met hiphop through The Sugarhill Gang, and painted a picture of the blinged out mess that hiphop has become. Then he passionately started rapping about how he wants to, “get her back to the old her,” and the beat started to build. Astro threw his hand in the air and said, “But good news for anybody missing her like I do, your boy’s bringing hiphop back!” I believe him! And if this is the direction hiphop is moving again, I couldn’t be happier. Keep doing your thing Astro! Bring that real hiphop back!

 


The Sage Old Man…

November 17, 2011

A sage old man searched the world over for a book that said all of the things he’d always wanted to hear, but he came up short. That book did not exist.

Unwilling to give up, the old man decided to write the book himself, and that he did. He spent years writing down all the things he’d always wanted to hear, and finally, with a sigh of relief, he proudly held the manuscript in his hands.

The old man searched far and wide for a publisher who was willing to publish his manuscript, but none seemed interested. He visited hundreds, if not thousands of publishing houses with not one single taker. And yet they all had different opinions and critiques.

“It’s too long.”

“It’s too short.”

“It’s too deep.”

“It’s too shallow.”

“It’s too based in fact.”

“It’s too fictional.”

Determined not to give in, the old man built a printing press, and printed thousands of copies of his beloved book. They rhythmically popped out one by one until the final book emerged. With a wide, delighted grin, he stood stared at the mountainous pile of books.

The old man began approaching book shops, trying to get his book on their shelves. Door to door, city to city, he had no luck. None seemed interested, not even in the least.

Committed to his cause, and now slightly obsessed, the old man went to the bank and took out all of his life savings. He built a book store from the ground up, and when the final coat of paint had dried, he filled the shelves with his books. He chuckled with satisfaction as he hung the “OPEN” sign in the door window.

He waited and waited, and no one came into his shop. Hours passed and, ever so slowly but surely, customers began to trickle in, but none went as far as purchasing the old man’s book. Some read, some paged through, others merely looked at the cover and put it back down, but none bought it. Not even one.

Days went by and turned to weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and the old man had failed to sell one single solitary book. With a final wave of resolve, the man walked over to a shelf, picked up his own book, and walked up to the counter. He took his very own money out of his very own pocket and bought his very own copy of his very own book.

That night when he got home, the old man built a toasty fire in the fireplace, poured a glass of his most expensive Scotch, put on his most comfortable pajamas, and sat in his favorite chair. He opened his book and began to read. Hours went by and the old man intently read the book without uttering the slightest peep, or making the smallest movement. Page by page, he plowed through.

When he came to the last page, and read the final line, the sage old man closed the book, sighed and said, “Well, I already knew that!” He laid the book on the coffee table, walked back to his room, climbed into his bed, and had the most peaceful night’s sleep he had ever experienced.


UNDUN – The Roots…

November 16, 2011

“Undun is the story of this kid who becomes criminal, but he wasn’t born criminal. He’s not the nouveau exotic primitive bug-eyed gunrunner like Tupac’s character Bishop in Juice… he’s actually thoughtful and is neither victim nor hero. Just some kid who begins to order his world in a way that makes the most sense to him at a given moment… At the end of the day… isn’t that what we all do?” – The Roots

In this era of big money-made, cookie cutter, commercial, plastic artists who just release a bunch of songs and call it an album, it is extremely refreshing to see a project like The Roots’ upcoming album UNDUN, breaking the monotony, and standing out. UNDUN is not just a collection of random tracks. No. It tells a track-by-track story, it has vision, it is conceptual, it is an album. I can’t wait for December 6th to come, but the album can be pre-ordered now (click on the album cover below).

Until the 6th, The Roots have given us a series of short films, to give us a taste of what’s to come. I must admit, I teared up watching the short film for “Make My” (Check the short films and “Make My” lyrics below). I’m thankful for groups like The Roots, representing real hiphop, giving us the music we want with the message we need.

Make My

(Big K.R.I.T.)

I did it all for the money, Lord
That’s what it seems
Well, in the world of night terrors it’s
Hard to dream, cash rules everything
Just call it cream,
Cause when it rises to the top, you get the finer things
Oceanfronts, rolling blunts with model chicks
And saying grace over lobster and steak
Like please forgive us for
Riding Benzes with camera plates
Too busy looking backwards for jackers to pump my brakes
For help sign to symbolize the lives that hunger takes
Addicted to the green, if I don’t ball I’ll get the shakes
I’d give it all for peace of mind, for Heaven’s sake
My heart’s so heavy that the ropes that hold my casket break
Cause everything that wasn’t for me I had to chase

(Hook)
They told me that the ends
Won’t justify the means
They told me at the end
Don’t justify the dreams
That I’ve had since a child
Maybe I’ll throw in the towel
Make my, make my…
Hardship from the world

(Black Thought)
Tryin’ to control the fits of panic
Unwritten and unraveled, it’s the dead man’s pedantic
Whatever, see it’s really just a matter of semantics
When everybody’s fresh out of collateral to damage
My splaying got me praying like a mantis
I begin to vanish
Feel the pull of the blank canvas
I’m contemplating
That special dedication
To whoever it concern,
My letter of resignation
Fading back to black, my dark coronation
The heat of the day, the long robe of muerte
That soul is in the atmosphere like airplay
If there’s a Heaven I can’t find
A stairway

(Hook)
They told me that the ends
Won’t justify the means
They told me at the end
Don’t justify the dreams
That I’ve had since a child
Maybe I’ll throw in the towel
Make my, make my…
Hardship from the world


Astro’s Moment…

November 10, 2011

I want a crisp, white t-shirt with this picture…

…and “Taking hiphop back!” written on it, because that’s what this kid’s doing! What a breath of fresh air in this lame rap generation. I just wish X Factor would hurry up and get over with so the Astronomical Kid can get out there and do his thing full-time. But I wish him all the best as he continues on in the competition, and keeps making hiphop proud.

Dude, everybody’s stopped looking at your mom now (no offense to her). All eyes on you!

That is all.


Grateful…

November 7, 2011

When I was a little kid I looked up to people in their thirties and thought they looked so old, and that they had everything together. I just assumed they knew everything, and understood how all this worked. By “all this” I mean life. Then I became a teenager, and thought I knew everything and adults knew nothing. I slowly progressed from there.

In my twenties I started realizing that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did, and even all the things I thought I knew so well were way more complex than I’d ever realized. It took most of my twenties for me to learn that things are not black and white, and there is rarely such a thing as a simple answer to a big life question.

These days, I look down at the little kids looking up at me assuming I have all the answers, but now I have the insider’s view. How surreal. How crazy. How freaky. And as weird as it feels, I realize all the adults I looked up to probably felt the exact same way I do now. “I don’t know anything, kid. But definitely more than you. So what does that say about us?”

I turned 31 today. Though I’m still working out the kinks of this season of life, and still not exactly happy with where I am, I am happy to have lived these 31 years. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far. In some ways I feel like a cat on my fifth or sixth life. I’m ready for the next one.

I’ve been through some pretty amazing stuff. I’ve also seen my fair share of heartache; all par for the course. Good and bad, I don’t think I’d trade any of the moments in life for anything else, because I realize those moments are the things that are used to make me. And even when some of those moments don’t make sense at a certain point, I know they will all come together at some point and I will be like, “Ah! THAT‘s why!” and I’m cool with that.

All this to say, I’m grateful to be here, and I’m thankful for all the people who have played a role, no matter how “big” or “small”, in helping form, shape, mould, and panel beat me into the version of me I am today. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next, and I’m excited to be in it with all of you. And by “it” I mean life. Thanks!