Kill Our Demons

It’s taken me a full week to digest this new KOD project from one Jermaine Cole and now it’s time to discuss. 

Firstly, this album isn’t getting the mainstream recognition that I thought it would. It’s been, what? A good year and a half since we’ve heard from Cole, I thought the anticipation alone would be enough to get the buzz up. 

But as I’m slowly realizing, a lot of folks are just allergic to depth and thoughtfulness.

Screenshot 2018-04-24 06.58.03

On first listen, the first thing I noticed was the trap influence. Cole’s got some slappers on this record and seems to adopt that Migos-style flow over some absolutely infectious beats. “KOD,” the first full track on the album sets the tone for the rest of the project.

If practice makes perfect, I’m practice’s baby

My life is too crazy, no actor could play me

The visual for ATM was giving me vintage that Busta Rhymes/ flipmode era style and I live. Not only does ATM slap, Cole’s also trying to put you on game to a few things he’s learned about this green stuff we call money.

The only feature credited on the whole project: kiLL edward, thought to be a monicker for Cole’s alter ego. In both, we get a sounds like a distorted version of Cole’s voice, but instead of raps, kiLL edward is giving us some soulfully distorted crooning. Considering  the rest of the project, they are a bit darker in tone, but still find their place in the overall soundscape and meaning of the project. 

Motiv8 is definitely my favorite on the project for the fact that it’s really been a mood for me since we came into 2018. It’s simple and catchy making it the perfect anthem for keeping those demons of doubt at bay. 

The shinning moments of the album come when J. Cole’s at his most introspective and thoughtful. Records like “BRACKETS” and “Once an Addict (Interlude)” are some of the most poignant comments, yet, on the pitfalls of having new money and the emotional turmoils of drug addiction. “Window Pain (Outro)” is another contemplative record where Cole reminisces on his life and grapples with some things that could’ve been done a little different. 

1985. 1985. 1985.

Sonically, I’m getting Midnight Marauders lost cut vibes. This beat is so groovy and inviting and Jermaine had a word for the girls with this one. 

Check my track record, I actually like some of these new kids on the block. The Migos, Yachty, Lil’ Uzi, Rich the Kid, Cardi… Now these XXXtension cords, Take-A-Seat69s, and lil problems – y’all can keep, but for the most part, I really don’t have a problem with these kids that are popping right now and they will tell you themselves that their really just out here for this money and having a wang dang doodle. 

All these niggas popping now is young
Everybody say the music that they make is dumb
I remember I was 18
Money, pussy, parties, I was on the same thing
You gotta give a boy a chance to grow some
Everybody talkin’ like they know somethin’ these days
Niggas actin’ woke, but they broke, umm
I respect the struggle but you all frontin’ these days
Man, they barely old enough to drive
To tell them what they should do, who the fuck am I?

They’re here for a good time, not a long time, which is understandable. But Cole’s got some jewels to drop in their ears that they can either decide to take or leave.

True, you got better shit to do
You coulda bought a crib with all that bread that you done blew
I know you think this type of revenue is never endin’
But I wanna take a minute just to tell you that ain’t true
One day, them kids that’s listening gon’ grow up
And get too old for that shit that made you blow up
Now your show’s lookin’ light cause they don’t show up
Which unfortunately means the money slow up
Now you scramblin’ and hopin’ to get hot again
But you forgot you only popped ’cause you was ridin’ trends

Yet again Cole delivers a project that is interesting and thoughtful and at the same time, effortless and not overly preachy. Cole’s an OG with wisdom to share, but he’s not about to force you to listen to him or beat you over the head. I don’t know if I could even name a stand-alone single for this project. Cole makes a body of work that is cohesive and dense, each song building on one another. One of a kind.

I give it 9/10.

 

 

 

 

Peabody’s, Pulitzer’s, and the Time100 – Oh, My!

All my favs are out here kicking ass and taking names and I live.

Peabody awards and Pulitzer Prizes were something I was taught to believe only old white men got. Earlier this week, the news came out that Kendrick won this year’s Pulitzer for music.

Now, the receipts will tell you that I have been a stan from time. I’ve been a fan of K.Dot’s since high school. I was really into the music blogs and things back then and I remember my first time hearing of his music was on Pitchfork.com. My good buddy at the time, Lev, one of a handful of white boys in the whole school district actually put me on.

I just remember him coming up to me, going “listen to this,” and handing me one of his ear buds. And I just remember the beginning of Backseat Freestyle and my mind just being blown.

I can go on and on with how much this dude’s music has meant to me over the years, but when I heard damn., I knew it was going to be one for the books.

And look at that: A mfn Pulitzer.

Then, just last week, a host of tweets actually brought me to tears.

Time’s annual “100 Most Influential People” edition that I’ve appreciated for  a long time. As far as journalism, they’ve been a favorite of mine for as long as can remember reading and appreciating news journalism and writing. And somehow, growing up, I’d somehow gotten my fingers on a copy every year since senior high school, no bullshit. The list has featured many people who influence me, personally, and who have changed the game in their respective lines of work. Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Kanye West, Lin-Manuel Miranda… Beyonce – nuff said.

This year, Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, and Ryan Coogler made the list.

I’ve written, before, on the feeling that there’s truly a renaissance happening within Hollywood and, really, in the creative zeitgeist of the 21st century. And there’s all these beautiful black folks are leading the charge.

Issa’s been giving me life since Awkward Black Girl. Lena’s been moving calm for a while now and finally dropped “The Chi” on all our heads earlier this year. Ryan. Coogler. Black Panther. We’ve already been through that one.

Seeing how these three have been moving for so long has truly been an inspiration to watch. And now, some validation that if you really want and work for it, the world is yours.

The biggest bomb was dropped shortly thereafter.

My bitch, Issa Rae, has a Peabody. Like I said, folks, SINCE THE ABG DAYS. We been rockin strong.

Let’s pause on this for a moment. No, in theory, these constructed institutions that evaluate social and cultural value like the Oscars, the Grammy’s, McArthur Awards, Peabody and Pulitzer awards – they don’t validate us as black creatives. We know that racism is systemic and has found it’s way into these particular systems and that it’s not set up for us to win. But it’s a fact that times must and always do change.

To have the Peabody’s and the Pulitzer’s of the world acknowledge creatives of color is frankly, a big fucking deal. Because these are the things that inform the culture, the names that will be written indelibly in the cultural canon.

So shoutout to Kendrick, Issa, Lena, Ryan, and everyone else honored in this year’s round of awards and recognitions. They deserve and it’s about damn time.

 

 

 

 

Beware of that wyt hot confidence

Storytime: The confidence of a white man is unparalleled. There is no other race and gender that can be so consistently and vehemently wrong yet still be trusted sources of information.

So I’m at work. It’s about 10 o clock, which is closing time for my restaurant. It’s cold out so I decide to go crank my car up so the engine can warm up. After closing, it usually takes 30 to 45 minutes to shut down the line and wash all the dishes. Right? Right.

I’m about to run trash. I parked my car close by the dumpster so I go to crank my shit up before I take the trash. Low and behold. The engine won’t turn over, which means that the battery is dead. Whatever. I go back in and finish closing. I’ll just have one of my coworkers jump me off when we all leave. I got some jumper cables in the trunk.

We close and my coworker’s ride agrees to help me jump the car off.

These are whites.

I give him one end of the cables and hook the other end to the terminals on my battery. It’s dark outside so all I can tell is that the cables appear to be hooked correctly on his battery. We try a couple times and my shit still won’t turn over. Tf?

I turn on my phone flash light and find that this wigger has hooked the positive clamp to the positive terminal, but the negative clamp, he had simply grounded to the metal underneath the hood.

giphy

That ain’t how this works.

I say, “oh, you need to put the black one on the negative terminal.” He replies, “If you put it on the negative terminal, it’ll short my battery.”

After that, I washed my hands of it. I just unhooked the cables and told them to go home and that I’d call someone else. Plus, I also know some people are weird about their cars and I wasn’t going to hook the cable to the battery if he really didn’t want me to. This bitch had the nerve to tell me my battery might be shot.

No bitch. This battery is brand fucking new. YOU just don’t know what the hell you doing, but want to act like you do.

I did call someone else. And we hooked both ends of the cable to the positive and negative terminals of each battery and what do you know, my car started.

Moral of the story: Don’t trust these wyt folks and their wyt hot confidence cuz they love to be wyt and wrong.

 

Tsunami Season

Summer 2018 is looking like a hot one and I’m not talking about the weather. Bop after bop keeps raining down from the heavens above and the recent catalog of music to hit the charts this year has me in summer mode already.

An ANTHEM! Yara. Issa. Tracey. Latitia. Misty. Black Girl Magic. And they all looked gorgeous. I.S.S.A. R.A.E. That bitch is gorgeous. She has the most beautiful smile to me… and her skin lawd! Ugh… but I digress.

I’ve sincerely been an Aubrey “Drake” Graham fan since the jump, like since “Best I Ever Had.” Coincidentally, Drake has also always managed to release music at pivotal moments in my life. Nothing Was the Same came out the year I graduated high school. If You’re Reading This, when I made the decision to change my major, change universities, and change the direction I wanted my career to go in. Drake, for me, is synonymous with growth. It’s just like he and I have been on the same wave from jump.

As his music has changed, it has stayed the same, yet he always manages to come back sounding fresh and in-pocket. “Nice for What” is no different – an anthem for all the girls out here getting it.

As I gear up for some major changes in my life while also coming into my own, this new single will be a mainstay on my summer soundtrack to remind me to continue to keep piping up on these niggas and that I don’t necessarily have to be nice to these niggas.

Janelle Monae came in hot with a new single, “Pynk.”

A new project “Dirty Computer” is expected at the end of this month and the singles she’s released thus far have my expectations on ten.

“Pynk” is a sexy, erotic summer jam, an ode to pussy if there ever was one and I’m here for it.

Tessa Thompson made yet another cameo in the video, adding more fuel to my growing suspicion that Tessa and Janelle are an item.

When Tessa’s head popped from between those lips aka Janelle Monae’s legs…

 

I knew.

Best friend and I are headed back to Afropunk this year. We were both a bit skeeved after last year’s festivities but, y’know… a bitch will be in town or whatever so why not? The lineup looks absolutely amazing and Janelle Monae is one of the names headlining so I know her set is going to be out of this world.

Last but not least, the generous queen has come bearing gifts. After an interview with Zane Lowe, Nicki dropped two new singles and from what I heard, it looks like we’re about witness the second coming of Nicki Lewinski.

Bars. For. Your. Ass.

The general consensus seems to be that we’ll be receiving an album from Nicki just in time for the summer. At least I sure hope so. The 2018 summer sound wave is already gathering steam and in effect and something is telling me if we get a Nicki album, on top of everything else, it’s gone be tsunami season.

Ducks in a Row

As this semester draws to a close, the clock is ticking for me to get my shit together.

Graduation. A move. Grad school.

We’re now 4 weeks out from graduation and at this point, I’d really just prefer they hand me my things so I can just go. No need for the pomp and circumstance of a graduation ceremony.

As I type, I’m listening The Friend Zone and they have the Budgetnista on as a guest. I can’t say I was familiar with her before listening but she had some valuable info to share. Numbers have just always sort of made sense to me since I was young, so finance, on the face of it, was pretty easy for me to get.

Don’t spend more than you make.

Don’t take out unnecessary loans. It’s not free money.

Ideally, save half your check and live off the other half.

Simple enough in theory.

But oh bitch, when life starts life-ing, it’s a little bit more difficult to align practice with theory.

She gave an amazing tid-bit about student loans.

Income. Based. Repayment. It’s a thing. Basically, should push come to shove and you broke but still have that loan bill, you can essentially have your monthly balance reduced to $0.

I had a notepad out the whole episode. Can’t be caught out here slipping, especially in New York City. Of course, I’m planning for everything that I can plan for, living situations, jobs, a budget. I’m considering everything that I can think to consider. Obviously, shit will come up that I simply cannot account for, but that’s life. Unplanned things will come up whether I’m in Oxford, Hattiesburg, or New York City.

Overall, I’m stressing but I’m not. In my heart of hearts, I’m at peace. Change doesn’t really scare me. Of course, I’m going to put myself in the best and safest situations that I possibly can, and if some shit hits the fan, we gone chalk it up to the game of life and keep it pushin’. Ain’t no monkeys stopping this show.

It’s full steam ahead.

 

Slow Claps for Cardi: An Album Review

 

Cardi B’s got a new album and y’know… I can appreciate it for what it is. A bop here and there, I fast forwarded through a couple. Overall, I wasn’t disappointed.

From the top, Get Up 10 is brazy. Cardi’s coming out the gate with bars for that ass. I love a good Migos feature and “Drip” is no exception.

“Bickenhead”: a bop.

I can never hear Bodack Yellow ever again in my life, I’ll be just fine.

Now, a lot of folks on the twitters and the grams and the shade rooms had a lot to say about “Be Careful.” Cardi, herself, addressed the flac she got after releasing the single in an interview with The Breakfast Club. But I loved the song the first time I heard it. The Lauryn Hill sample really won it over for me. And to hear that Lauryn, herself gave Cardi the blessing to use the sample – validation.

If you check my track record, I’m clearly Chance the Rapper’s biggest fan. Upon scanning the track list and seeing his name, I actually started the album out of order with “Best Life.” Talk about a personal anthem.

Anything with that Caribbean/hip hop flavor immediately has my attention. “I Like It”: I love it.

I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m not saying it’s right but I really just loathe Kehlani’s voice so that really shot “Ring” in the face for me. Skip.

“Money bag”: it was cute the first time, but it’s a skip 8 times out of 10.

“Bartier Cardi”: it goes off in the gym.

I suppose the last three tracks were cute. It got a little more reserved, a little more introspective, which was nice. You can’t go wrong with a little SZA… And just like that it was over. I say it was a good show and a solid debut. I didn’t not like it. I thought it was cohesive. There are certainly some bops for the summer time.

giphy

I’ll give it to her. I sincerely hopes she keeps going. She’s already begun cultivating a lane of her own and I definitely see room for growth. Perhaps, the new baby will kick the creative juices into a new gear. That seems to be a thing. Regardless of all that, she’s apart of the canon now. If you can’t find it in some part of you to commend this woman on a job well done, regardless of if you like her music, I contend that you are simply a hater.

*Kanye shrug*

That Was Wild

Among the titles from this year’s Sundance that have made it to my Netflix recommendations, Wild Wild Country is the first that I’ve sat down and watched so far.

Now off rip, I wasn’t swayed by the title. Wild Wild Country: I didn’t know what I’d be getting myself into with that. But after reading the description and learning that the Duplas brothers had a hand in producing the series, I reconsidered. The Duplas brothers, Mark and Jay, have been working in film a long time and I’ve been an admirer of theirs for some years now.

So I said, “fuck it, I got some time to kill” and pressed play.

This series has me feeling all kinds of ways.

The doc is about this “cult” of Rajneesh. Baghwan Shree Rajneesh a.k.a Osho. I certainly wasn’t familiar with the title Baghwan, but Osho I was familiar with. People like to quote him a lot on Instagram and Tumblr. Osho was a spiritual teacher who believed that utopian society was possible and developed a whole spiritual teaching based on this belief. He had an ashram in India, but where this series starts is when he and his followers decide to pick up and leave Puna, India and set up shop in Oregon, near the town of Antelope, Oregon.

Already I’m like, “Oregon, tf?”

But it gets crazier. Evidently, the Baghwan had bags and he bought several thousand acres of land – 80,000 to be exact – to build his new utopian city. And oh, did people come out.

These “sannyasins” were out in Oregon deep af. ENTER Ma Amand Sheela. personal secretary to Osho who managed the newly established Rajeeshpuram in Wasco, Co., Oregon.

You can say a lot about her but all I’ll say is that, she was strategic in making sure that her job, as the “spokesperson” for the Baghwan and his ashram, was done efficiently and effectively………. even if those methods were illegal/not entirely ethical.

List of charges against Sheela:

  • Attempted murder
  • Voter fraud
  • Wire tapping
  • Arson
  • Conspiracy
  • Immigration fraud

In a timeline of about four years, Ma Amand Sheela and her “cabinet” of sorts, transforms this sex-positive, peace promoting, truth seeking sannyasin movement into an army, having so much control over those closest to her that she could talk them into murder. MURDER.

It’s truly an enthralling tale and it all went down in little ole’ Wasco County, Oregon.

I don’t know about y’all, but I must have missed this page in my history books. Or maybe it was conveniently left out, who can really say?

Moral of the story: The series raises philosophical questions and grapples with some seemingly contradictory forces: hippies strapping up, Christians being intolerant, the nature of conviction vs. control. Sometimes, in life, there are moments where I’m like “Y’all serious right now?” Real life is often times more fantastical, frightening, and unexpected than what any imagination can conjure. The world is as frightening as it is fascinating. Even if you couldn’t care less about the philosophical implications of this whole Rajneeshpuram debacle, the series is sure to make you think, “What the fuck,” on more than one occasion.

 

 

Moving On Up

Though I can’t yet afford the deluxe apartment in the sky, I’m actually beginning to plan for this big move to my own little “east side,’ or what will more likely be somewhere in Harlem.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that this ain’t about to be all roses. In life, you have to take the crookeds with the straights, right? Right. Financial woes will come. Inconveniences will come. General life fuckery will come…. and that’s fine because the good times will be just that much sweeter.

I’m starting this move on a good foot, though. The line up for Afropunk 2018 is out and after last year’s experience, Reuben and I were kind of side eyeing this year’s proceedings. But the line up is fire and I’m gonna be in town or whatever *flips hair* – #gradgang, #gradstudent – so we said why the fuck not. Afropunk, here we come! Back like cooked crack! Here we go like Mystical!

Alright, I’m done.

Now, check back in with me in a few months, and I might not be singing the same song but I’m gone continue to keep on keeping on. Now that I’m actually in the MFA program at The New School, I want to get my master’s. I want this next notch on my belt. I’m charged up. So, it really isn’t too much that will make me stray from this.

By hook or by crook, come hell or high water, I’m making the move to NYC and I’m bout to get this degree.

The Kids Are Alright

I was at work earlier this week, closing shift. It was around 7 and I went outside to smoke a cigarette. (A nasty hobby, I know, but food service will do that to you) Naturally, I’m scrolling on my phone, Facebook, Instagram, email. And when I saw that @newschool.edu domain in my recents, my heart stopped. I could only see the first line of the email cuz I didn’t have any data, but that was all I needed.

“I wanted to personally congratulate you…”.

I literally gagged. I ran back inside and yelled, “I just got into grad school,” to which everyone rejoiced loud and black-ily.

I’m moving to New York City and iss about to go down!

I’m too excited! With graduation just weeks away, I can’t help but feel like I’m on the precipice of the dopest era of my life. Firmly in my twenties, I’m out for adventure and new experiences. In the months leading up to getting my decision letter, I started coming up with plan B’s for if I didn’t get in. I was determined to get to NYC by hook or by crook and started researching job prospects in the city and cheap living arrangements. Even if I had to pound the pavement to stay there, I would do what it takes to sustain a life in my dream city. But now that I know plan A came through, I’m even more excited to move to a new city.

For someone who is quite introverted, being in a space where peer-to-peer interaction is a encouraged, like a classroom, really helps to lessen my social anxiety. And what better way to meet new, progressive-minded people than in the heart of Manhattan at The New School?

Momma, look I’m grown now, iss about to go down, my heart beating so loud…

 

giphy-1

I’m sliding into my season like ole’ buddy, here.

It’s Showtime

It seems like Showtime’s The Chi just premiered yesterday and now the season finale is upon us. When I first heard about the show, I was hype af to tune in because one of my favorite names in Hollywood, Lena Waithe, was the brains behind the show. But I’ve stayed loyal for nine episodes because I’ve fallen in love with a place and with people who are just trying to make it through their day like everybody else.

Kevin, Jake, and Poppa

(right, left, and center)

This group of guys has really grown on me since the first episode. We knew Kevin would be close to the action after the first episode, but the way his two bros, Jake and Poppa, have grown this season has been interesting to watch. Poppa is my fav, a true renaissance man. He’s got the moves, he whittles, and when it comes down to it, he’s a true blue friend.

Jake, Jake, Jake. So young, so misguided, so foolish and the sad thing is, he can’t even help it because his only guardian, his brother, Reg, is just as misled as he is. His boys are trying their best to look out for him but he might just be a little too hard headed to listen.

The Block Boys

Trice: Lieutenant

Trice is established as the HNIC early in the season. Trice’s block is the center of the action of The Chi. In many ways he’s your typical dope boy: flashy clothes, nice car, intimidating but he also likes yoga and apple juice.

Reg: Commanding Officer

Reg might not be my favorite character but as is the case most times, once you get to know him, you can at least begin to understand where he’s coming from. With a dad doing a bid in prison, an absentee mom, and a little brother to look after, that pressure would drive any well-meaning person to desperation.

The Outliers

Ronnie

tumblr_p1gudaz1CA1ucje5do2_1280

What we know of Ronnie from the first episode is that 1) He and Tracy (Jason’s mom) used to talk and refers to Jason as his son on several occasions. For this whole season, Ronnie’s been on a mission to get to the bottom of Jason’s murder, but he just might get himself killed in the process.

Emmett

If you’ve been following the season, Emmett is not the irresponsible, teen father we met in the first episode. He’s still got three baby mommas but when he’s forced to deal with the reality of having a child, after a baby is literally left on his doorstep, he begins to show signs that he has potential to make a great dad someday.

Brandon

The definition of a good kid in a mad city, Brandon, played by Jason Mitchel aka Easy E, is really a light in a dark situation. He’s just lost his brother Coogie, but he can’t let that stop him. Fuck a piece of the pie, he just wants his own thing, but no matter how much he tries to stay out of trouble, it seems to find him anyway.

Quentin aka Q: OG

Q’s back and no one knows why but everybody’s on guard. We don’t know much about Q when he’s introduced other than he used to run the block that Trice now runs and he doesn’t like what he sees.

The Mothers

The women in this show are phenomenal. This show is really a testament to the strength of black women and the integral ways that they hold entire communities together.

Jada: Emmett’s mother

Jada was my favorite from episode one. Not only does she lay down the law when it comes to her knuckle-head son, she’s resourceful, caring, and funny.

LaVerne: Brandon’s mother

Having just lost her son, LaVerne is just trying to start fresh but her biggest challenge is her own son, Brandon. She’s simply doing her best to hold her head up as she goes through the unimaginable reality where her youngest son, Coogie, isn’t with her.

Tracy: Jason’s mother

The murder of Jason Roxboro is the point of entry for the series and the woman left to deal with the fall out is Tracy Roxboro, his mother. She wants answers but has none. She’s searching for

Nina: Kevin’s mother

C’Mon LGBTQ representation! Though Kevin’s moms don’t make many appearances, it is understood that Kevin has two moms. Nina, the woman who birthed him and Karen, his mother’s partner. More than anything, their portrayal on screen goes to show that same sex partners are just as capable of raising smart, well-rounded kids as anyone else.

Ms. Ethel: Ronnie’s grandmother

The only silver lining in Ronnie’s life. She’s the only person that Ronnie’s got left and he looks after her best he can. Ms. Ethel is something of a moral compass for Ronnie, and though he takes the scenic route (i.e the entire season) to get there, he ultimately does right by her and as a result, everyone else in the neighborhood who he’s wronged.

This show is one of the most well-written, well-cast, and straight up well-done shows on television right now. It’s new, it’s refreshing and exciting. For people like me, who grew up in the South and only know of Chicago what I’ve seen on the news, this show is important.

A bullet doesn’t just hit the person it’s aimed at. It hits their families, friends, and community and alters their trajectories forever.

The Chi was renewed for another season earlier this year and I cannot wait to see where these stories go and how these characters continue to grow and evolve. As for season one, we’ve only got one more episode to try and put the rest of the pieces together. Last week’s episode gave us some answers, including who murdered Jason but the fallout of that initial murder has yet to be resolved. It’s been a stand out season for Lena Waithe and The Chi, and regardless of how it ends tonight, they’re just getting warmed up.