Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Evil

No New Year's Party, I got a pen and a pad scribblin'
Rhymes that keep me calm like 10 bad kids on Ritalin

some people shoot guns, other people cook chitterlings
Me, I'll take time to try and fit some new lyrics in
Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest no longer pleases me
I turn off the Tv, Turn up the beats please
Not standing in the club when the calendar changes
the pen quenches my pages, people drinking champagne
The ball's gonna drop even if I don't watch
Midnight gonna come, I ain't lookin' at the clock
We've exceeded the Jetsons, 2000 and 10
Still can't fix the diff between men and women
Tasmanian Devils dying, Yemen niggas trying
sneaking bombs in they drawers, when they try to fly and
wait for 72 virgins,
no balls, no dick
but Fox News still calls 'em insurgents
3 more years with a black president
really don't matter 'cause they're all politicians
not really hatin', but he ain't Jesus or an angel
just another politician, and they all got angles
but fuck that Obama's still cool with me,
just sayin' fuck that ain't nobody foolin' me
so i'm sayin' ya'll can pray for a re-election
but, me i'm 'bout to move to a whole different section
so i'll say it for facebook, youtube, and the cameras
3 years, ya'll can find my black ass up in Canada

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Autobiography Of Me and This Thing Called Hip Hop, part 2: Post Graduate Work

Finally I graduated from BGSU and came home to Dayton with a new group pretty much already started and waiting for me to join. PRIME, Moe Beats, DJ K-Money and myself called ourselves MADSKILLZ (the tripped-out part about the name comes later). I wasn’t home very long when I got a letter inviting me to compete in The New Music Seminar MC Battle for World Supremacy. I had mailed an acappella audition verse off on a whim, and I couldn't believe they picked me. I quit my shitty job that I had just started (substitute custodian-five dollars an hour) and got on a plane to New York while Moe Beats and K-Money drove up to meet me. I lost in the first round to the eventual Champion, Supernatural, who won in the legendary final round against Skillz, then known as Mad Skillz. I'll be brutally honest, I didn't just lose, I got destroyed, ass-kicked, merc'd, I was great at written rhymes, but my freestyle chops weren’t developed enough. This dude was doing impressions of other MC's, underwater rapping, sound-effects, all sorts of shit. Nevertheless, being in the midst of all these other MCs, DJs, B-Boys, and producers famous, up and coming, and in-between gave us a since of belonging to something bigger than ourselves.
We came back home full of energy from being in the home of Hip Hop and began working on songs with PRIME. Our style was non-Gangsta, but aggressive and energetic and fun. We had two DJ's with PRIME and K-Money and all four of us rapping on various songs. Production was sort of a collaborative effort, but PRIME usually had a head start because he had more equipment in Columbus to get the ball rolling. I was made to play the MC role, so I would try to write the standout verse whether it was the first or the last in the song. I wanted to contribute more ideas musically, but studio time costs money and I was the poorest of the four at the time, the “Good Job” you are supposed to get after graduation was eluding me. To be honest, we all were bubbling with ideas, it was like having almost too much creativity in the room. Imagine Dr.Dre, DJ Premier, Kanye West, and DJ Pooh working on the same track, every time. We cranked out songs, but there weren’t many venues to perform in at the time in Dayton. We did the making and sending demo tapes thing. We tried to rock a bogus “Talent Showcase” for some so-called “record label representatives”, but I pulled us out at the last minute. PRIME began to gather MCs to his roster of artists, and Moe Beats started to do the same. They began working more closely together as a production team and collaborated on songs Soon, the weekly studio session became less about MADSKILLZ and more focused on other projects. I was going insane with ideas for beats and songs that had no room on the crowded production schedule, so was K-Money.
We formed a group in order to have an outlet for these ideas burning in our heads. Naming ourselves ABSTRACT, we commenced to go the studio ourselves when we could afford it. We performed one show, but I never recorded any vocals. I was not ready to be the only MC in the group, I didn’t want to write three verses. I started out solo, but I wasn’t ready to go back to that. K-Money was interested in perfecting his DJ techniques, but he couldn't find anyone else in Dayton that was into scratching and tricks on a competitive level like some of his idols, Jazzy Jeff, Cash Money, DJ Miz, and Aladdin. Enter Ike B. (Issac Blake a.k.a. DJ X a.k.a. Stoneface), a local DJ who was just as into turntables and the art of DJing as he was. He was a choice DJ for house parties of the West Side of Dayton with a large record collection and videotapes of DJ battles so he and K-Money became close. Ike had been profiled as DJ of the month in Rap Sheet, a West Coast based but nationally distributed Hip Hop magazine. As a result he gained the attention of a Richmond, Indiana based teen rap group who were looking for a DJ. The boys were also seeking production so when Ike B when to meet them, he brought me along with K-Money. I laid two or three ideas down on someone else’s MPC-1200 at a home studio the act’s manager (and one of the kid’s father) and left it with them. The project didn’t go anywhere, but it opened up Richmond for Ike B to exploit as a freelance DJ on weekends, K-Money and I traveled as back up and we briefly named ourselves Funkdemons as a 2 and half man DJ crew (I was the half, I could never scratch that well).
to be continued

The Autobiography of Me and This Thing Called Hip Hop, part 1.

Firstly, this is not written simply to massage my own ego, or boast of monumental earth shattering accomplishments in the world of Hip Hop. It occurred to me when I thought of rewriting my bio, or at least finally finishing it that I've been performing, writing, producing, promoting, selling, critiquing, sweating, bleeding, and crying for Hip Hop music for over twenty years. In this Logan's Run meets The Matrix rap world, where over the age of 30 artists are almost considered obsolete or irrelevant, I'm not ashamed to be how old I am anymore. I am proud of what I've done, and where this music has taken me, sometimes high places, sometimes low places, the trip has been worth it. It hasn't made me rich or famous yet, but if that's what you are ultimately in this field for, you may want to reconsider your decision. I've placed this on Facebook and Myspace to give my friends, acquaintances, former classmates, ex-girlfriends, crushes, stalkers, stalkees etc. an insight in to this thing that motivates me, and obsesses me. The love I have for this music and the creative process has cost me much. A look at my job resume shows a history of jobs held for only a few months, and gaps in time without a job. Too many times calling in sick, or coming in late due to a nighttime show, or long overnight studio session. I still haven't been able to return to college and get the Master's Degree I desire or even go back and get a damn Associate Degree in something. But I feel that in some respect I have at least a PH.D in the study of this art form. I have yet to get married or even produce at least one grandchild for my parents who have put up with their not-keeping-one-job-for-more-than-two-years-coming-back-and-living-with-them-periodically-son. The songs I create are my children, good-bad-ugly, I love them and I am just as proud of them as those of you who are parents of flesh and blood children. Hopefully, you'll get to know my children as I know some of yours one day. well here's the beginning, the truth, at least my version of it.
PART ONE: "Since Kindergarten I Applied The Knowledge, And After 12th Grade I Went Straight To College."
From the beginning: been in love with hip hop since Sugarhill Gang. Couldn't breakdance, graffiti not widely practiced or known of in Dayton, and my parents were not going to buy me DJ equipment, guess what I chose. Rapped mostly to myself until a Mother’s Day after church thing that my mom made me enter (note that I am not a Christian Rap act). More rapping mostly to myself until senior year (Colonel White) high school talent show. Decided to enter with broken Mattel Synsonics drum machine, recruited human beatbox @ the last minute, rocked the crowd but didn't win. Went to college (Bowling Green State University) got no ass because frat boys and jocks and rich boys took it all. Decided @ Christmas Break in freshman year to get seriously back to hip hop, wrote rhymes to Big Daddy Kane's "Get Into It" instrumental and Stetsasonic's "Bust That Groove". Came back to school found Shawn Smith (DJ Shockin' Shawn) from Cleveland and entered a talent show on campus. Won 2nd place.
More importantly, hooked up with more hip hop heads. Found PRIME (formerly known as T'Sta, the Prime Minister, then just Prime Minister until 3rd Bass came out) from Columbus, Ohio and World T from Michigan (Flint/Detroit) and DJ J-Rock (Toledo, Ohio). PRIME and World T went by the name BG Posse (you know, Bowling Green), but combined with J-Rock they were called IBM - Incredible Beat Mechanics/Intelligent Black Men. I got down with them, watched them record one song and got to record a song (my 1st ever recorded shit). EQUIPMENT USED: two turntables (not Technics 1200s, not even Technics), Roland 909 drum machine, Radio Shack mixer, 2 tape decks, 1 Radio Shack microphone. EXPERIENCE: Priceless. Fast Forward to Fall 1989. Somehow met more hip hop heads who were freshman cats from Cleveland. Went back to some dorm room and free styled, immediately called PRIME. These guys were the rapper Hi-C (Clarence Bass, a.k.a. Kra-C-Bass), Danny Dan The Poet Supreme (Daniel Kontar Gray, a.k.a. The Beatnik a.k.a. rep life), and S.P.I.C.E. - Specialized Pro In Crucifying Enemies (Tyre Davis a.k.a. KILO KING a.k.a. Brotha Laylow). .Hi-C and Rep Life were in a group called Poetry In Effect with their partner T Dash. Brotha LayLow had his crew in Cleveland. Hooked them up with PRIME and World T, Brotha LayLow came up the name Black Minds Of Musik and we became a group/crew/family/movement and the New York Yankees of BGSU hip hop. We added a four-track cassette recorder, PRIME finally got some Technics 1200s, and we added two more drum machines (one was an Alesis 16-B that I bought with my very first credit card). Did many shows on-campus then spread to bars and clubs off-campus. Turned into Bowling Green State University's best/only hip hop group, added dancers (5 S.T.E.P.P. Theory) and singers (Erika “E-Sharp” Warner) and even a promotional/multimedia audiovisual specialist (Al Taylor a.k.a. Lo-Key) into the mix. PRIME showed us how to sign up for recording technology classes in the music department to get free studio time so soon we all turned into producers. Opened shows for X Clan and Louis Farrakhan. Brotha LayLow left BGSU and released an album with a group called Strugglin' Souls.
PRIME was a DJ @ WBGU 88.1 FM, then got promoted to the Urban Programming Director position, Kra-C-Bass and I decided to get FCC certified and be DJs at the station too, so soon we were all over the airwaves. While we were covering the bases on the airwaves, I and another member of the crew broke ground in the journalistic field. Replife and I became contributing writers for The BG News, the campus newspaper. Then we both rose from the ranks of being contributing writers to Editor and Assistant Editor respectively for The Obsidian, the campus' minority newspaper. I parlayed this experience into briefly becoming a contributing writer for The Bomb Hip Hop Magazine which was based in San Francisco, ca. PRIME graduated, Kra-C-Bass left school and I became the Urban Programming Director. During this period new hip hop heads were coming to BGSU, most memorably my nigga JoeSmpte (a.k.a. J.O.E. Boston/Dorschester, Massachusetts), who let me use him as a guinea pig on some of my early experiments as a producer/beat maker. J.O.E. and I began making trips to Cleveland to write and record with his newly-found rap partner Shawn C. for their group 6 'Pho (they're both some tall-ass dudes). I mostly served as an engineer as a majority of their songs were produced by Archie Blaine, who later became an in-house producer for Bone Thugs N Harmony's Mo Thugs Records. PRIME had been wanting to stay productive after he graduated so I introduced him to two of my best friends from high school, Moe Beats (Moses Montgomery) and DJ K-Money (Kyle Ellis a.k.a. Khryst). PRIME began traveling from Columbus to Dayton to work on songs with them while I finished one more semester at BGSU.
to be continued