My Life in 100 Songs: Queens Day by RUN-DMC f/ Nas and Prodigy

My favorite RUN-DMC song isn’t “Walk This Way,” “Run’s House,” “My Adidas,” or any of the classics that are often associated with the Kings of Rock. It’s an album cut off of their last album and I don’t know many who even know a song with RUN-DMC, Nas, and Prodigy of Mobb Deep exists…but I love it.

“We all glow.  And I’m proud to be all I know. Q, B-O-R-O…”-Nasir “Nas” Jones

Whenever someone asks me where I’m from I quickly respond “Queens.”  It may not have the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the rich history of Harlem, be as cool as Brooklyn, or be the home of the most famous and winningest franchise: the Yankees in the Bronx.  However, it is the largest of the five boros-or counties-and is the most ethnically diverse place on the planet.  More than likely if you are flying into New York, you are landing at LaGuardia or JFK airports which are both in Queens. 

Queens’ largest contribution to society as we know it has been through the arts; black music in particular.  Many notable jazz artists called Queens home because it was a place of refuge while most of New York City was segregated.  There is a neighborhood in southeast Queens called Addisleigh Park, which is one of if not the first affluent black place of residency.  Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Count Basie, James Brown, Lena Horne, John Coltraine as well as other famous blacks such as W.E.B. DuBois and Jackie Robinson lived in the enclave on the western side of a place called Saint Albans.  Saint Albans is where I am from.

While many jazz legends at one time called Saint Albans and neighboring Hollis, Queens  their place of residency; the neighborhood’s largest input into culture as we know it has been in hip hop.  A young entrepreneur named Russell Simmons managed his brother’s rap group, Run DMC and made them a household name.  He started a record label with NYU student Rick Ruben and the first artist that they signed was a sixteen year old from Saint Albans named LL Cool J.   This ultimately set the stage for what is hands-down the most influential culture across the world.  Other notable residents of this area are A Tribe Called Quest, Young MC, Ja Rule, Ed Lover, Razel formerly of The Roots, sports journalist Stephen A. Smith, and Al Sharpton.  

From 1985-1998, I lived at 114-25 Francis Lewis Boulevard.  We lived in the upper level apartment of a two-family home right on the border of Saint Albans, Hollis, and another neighborhood Cambria Heights.  It was and still is a lower-middleclass area that is by all means what we colloquially call “the hood.”  I often stared out of our large window facing Francis Lewis Boulevard wondering what it was that I observing.  I would contemplate what life was like outside of there and what would I become once I was able to venture into this world when I was old enough.

What were those young guys doing in front of the bodega all day?  Listening to rap music and slapping a low-five to many people walking by without losing a stride?  Why would there be a bunch of police cars in front of the bodega or at Andrew Jackson High School on the next block?  Why couldn’t my twin sister and I play on our block with the other kids our age?

My parents did a great job not letting the place that we called home infiltrate and eventually influence us.  I remember being a young child in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s seeing these little plastic vials with colored tops littered all over the street.  My mother said that my sister and I used to like to jump and crush them.  While this was something that we enjoyed, I didn’t know those little bottles held crack cocaine until I was much older.  We only played outside on the much quieter blocks that our maternal and paternal grandparents lived on which were both in Saint Albans.

I played basketball and started taking the bus to different gyms and courts for practice and some of what was in the hip hop I listened to more and more began to make sense.  I recall it being 1998 and I was around twelve years old.  All I listened to was hip hop at the time: on the radio and on my disc man to the bus as I headed to school.  In my head I was beginning to become a rapper but didn’t quite have the words just yet.  The more aggressive the content that would be blaring in my ears began to manifest itself in how I talked and how I dealt with things. 

One night my father was sitting at our computer and I must have said something along the lines that reflected the music I listened to and a lifestyle he was well aware of as a musician and growing up in Queens himself.  He looked me dead in the eyes and said “Get out the hood!”  It was a quick moment; however it was one I’ll never forget.  My father made a loaded statement in which he was telling an impressionable black mind to watch how I listened to music; but as long as we lived there to not become a product of my environment. 

“In some cases the only thing that father and son have in common, is their love for Run.”-Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons

With the exception of kindergarten and first grade, we never went to school in St. Albans.  As a teacher, my mother was adamant about us not being in the neighborhood public schools.  In 1996 my sister and I enrolled into I.S. 227 or Louis Armstrong Middle School.  It was located on the other side of Queens in East Elmhurst; the place where the jazz great our school’s namesake used to live in when he was alive.  It was a magnet school that accepted some of the brightest-or well connected-kids all over Queens and bussed them there. 

As a collective, my childhood friends are an anomaly.  I am the only one out of us who was able to leave Queens for the suburbs and yet the whole gang is intact.  No one is in jail or dead.  Professionally we’re teachers, bankers, work for the NAACP, musicians, barbers, actors, and mentors to youth who were very much like us.  Many didn’t grow up with fathers in their household; yet many of us are husbands and fathers who take care of our children.  In fact, I’m not the only single father who has custody of their child. 

I was telling my friend Boogie that I was writing about everyone and how we didn’t become products of our environment.  He said “I think we are products of our environment.  A product could be a tool or weapon that has forged through fire and is still a product.  Since we fall in the category of tools we choose to build and make things better.”  I couldn’t have said it any better.  We-until last night including me-usually associate being a product of one’s environment coming from a deficit perspective.  We say this like “This is the best that they could become given their circumstances.”  A person from neighborhoods like where we came from are written-off to become the b-students of life.  Nah.  As a tool, Boogie’s iron sharpened my iron and here I am sharing it with you.  Hell, I should know better than that because I started this essay off mentioning people who came from the same streets as I did who became prominent in their respective fields. 

“Been the illest since day one, too advanced to ever be caught.   Who’s more legendary than me?  That’s what I thought.”-Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons 

My parents moved us to Freeport in Nassau County in September, 1998.  It’s about ten miles from St. Albans but was a different world.  It was quiet, you could hear crickets, and we had raccoons.  Our next door neighbors were white.  We went to high school in neighboring Baldwin, which was an ethnically diverse neighborhood. 
It was a place I never fully adjusted to living in until I became a father.  I made some really good friends at Baldwin; but I just never felt that I completely fit in.  My best friend Brandon who I went to Morehouse with, my high school best friend Tre, and maybe one or two other people are all I keep in regular contact with.  Truth be told, Brandon and I became best friends because of Morehouse and not high school.  In a diverse school, there were many blacks who had recently moved out there as well.  Many coming from Brooklyn and Queens and pretended they were hard because they did.  I thought most of these people were corny.  Some had come from neighborhoods where I was from and places where I had known people; but they didn’t know any of the people I knew.  I made the best of those years and couldn’t wait to get far away from it.

I am a father, now.  I wouldn’t want Cydney living in a neighborhood like where I grew up.  If I had the money I couldn’t see myself living in some swanky loft in Manhattan, either.  I would want to live in a quiet suburban place like where I currently call home so she can ride her bike in the street.  I want her to be able to make friends in her neighborhood, and as she’s older look back at her upbringing not put two plus two together and go “wow!”  My parents did a great job raising my sister and me.  They moved us out because that was something they thought was best for their children.  I want the same.

“And if somebody want to test mine, yo watch this: Peter Piper picked pepper…[and Run rocks rhymes].  See, I knew you knew the next line, and I bet you said it.  It’s been a minute, I’m still the king of the world, so don’t forget it.”-Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons

My Life in 100 Songs: Dilemma by Nelly and Kelly Rowland

Last night I was supposed to write; but I was too tired to do so. After the nightly ritual/struggle of putting Cydney to bed I sat down on the couch and started flipping through channels. I stopped on BET seeing that it was 10:35pm and Nellyville was on. I watched most of last season and I thought it was a good show. Well, maybe my opinion is biased because a series about a single black father is must-see television for me.

I tuned in to see that Nelly was taking his oldest daughter and nephew-who he is raising as his son-to Atlanta for their respective 21st and 24th birthdays to party.

As they all were in the VIP section, out came a cake, and Nelly wished his now fully grown daughter a happy birthday. He handed her the mic and they sang his hit song “Dilemma” together. I found the moment to be very sweet.

I have such a soft side for all things father-daughter. I see any of it and I think of Cydney and me. Clearly what I really am doing is seeing myself in these moments. I’ll observe fathers on the subway walking hand and hand with their little girls and I think to myself “I can’t wait to get home to my girl,” or I’ll internally inquire what will Cydney be like at that age” if they’re older. These were my thoughts while watching Nelly and his pride and joy onstage sharing drinks and singing together.

I think Cyd and I will always be tight. We’ll have times where we won’t get along and she won’t like the way I do things. I’m her super hero. She is quick to tell a stranger “My daddy can do anything” with conviction and I can see that she believes that when she looks me in the eye. One day Cydney will realize that I am a mere mortal with flaws and that day will be a little sad for both of us. However, I’d like to think she’ll learn to love me a little more because I’m human. Even then, there will be moments where she looks at me with stars in her eyes as if there isn’t anything I can’t do.

Shortly after I went to bed. Cydney stayed awake. She whispered in my ear “I love you, daddy” and I told her that I loved her, too. She then stayed awake and tried to talk my ear off until I said “Look, go to bed!”

My Life in 100 Songs: A Million and One Questions by Jay Z

Cydney can’t help herself…

She’s no longer a baby nor a toddler. My four year old is becoming a little kid. It’s kind of bittersweet because I miss the infantile days; but I love the little person she’s becoming.

While her hair is getting longer, her features more defined, and taller; it’s her personality that has become the most expansive. Unfortunately, this means she’s in that phase where she asks questions until I want to jump out of the window.

Yes, I am aware that one should encourage this. Questioning everything is how children absorb information. But shit, I count down the hours until bedtime.

“What’s the meaning of bird?”
“Are birds dirty?”
“What’s a dirty bird?”
“What letter does bird begins with a b?”
“How do you spell your name? C-h-a-d?”
“Why is water wet, daddy?”
“Do you like puddles?”
“Do dirty birds like puddles?”
“Do dirty birds take baths?”

Now Cydney being Cydney, if I don’t answer her question she will ask repeatedly until I answer her or just yell in frustration “Alright!” In my head I say “Fuck!” right after.

The question I detest the most is “Why?” I hate that question because anything you answer will be followed with another why. Sometimes I just answer “Tell them that it’s human nature” and begin to ignore.

Cydney means well. I tell myself this is a good thing. Cydney is a really smart kid. I do want her to question everything. I just don’t want them to be asked to me all day every damn day.

My Life in 100 Songs: Can I Kick It by A Tribe Called Quest (#Soccerdadchronicles)

I had to take yesterday off…I was tired.

It was Mid-August of 2012.  My family and I were at our church’s annual picnic at Eisenhower Park in Long Island and it was coming to a close.  Earlier in the day I got a concussion by hitting the back of my head on a low-sitting tree that I was laying under.  I was taking it easy sitting at a park bench and Cydney wasn’t too far from me.  I stood up and played around with her and there was a ball nearby.  Cydney had either just turned or was about to be eighteen months.  Cydney looked at the ball and started kicking it.  She was dribbling and doing well for someone who didn’t know what they were doing and she was eighteen months.  In my concussed state of mind I noticed and thought that this is something that I should pay attention to.

Every once in a while I would take Cydney into the backyard and kick the ball around.  I have very little knowledge about soccer.  I played in an afterschool program at the YMCA, we wore whatever red t-shirts we could find from our respective homes as our uniform, and we sucked.  That was it.  I saw a natural ability in Cydney and as much as I could I wanted to cultivate it.  When she was of age I would begin to enroll her into soccer programs and I would become a soccer dad.

Cydney was three years old when she was first enrolled in a soccer program. The girls she was playing with and against were in Pre-K; so they were mostly four turning five.  Clearly she was the little one but she loved being there.  The first half of her session would be instructional: the coaches would introduce drills to the children in fun little ways.  The second half of the session would be a five on five scrimmages.  Cydney wasn’t too crazy about this part.  She was enthusiastic at first; but eventually became indifferent and then discouraged.  Since she was the little person on the team she wasn’t as fast as the other girls.  She would begin to sulk saying “I’m not fast enough.”  That broke my heart.  As soon as it was over, Cydney would exclaim “We won!” as if she hadn’t been feeling a certain way previously.  Cydney was happy and I wasn’t going to let her quit, anyway.  She may not have liked being the slow one but she loved being out there.

It felt weird being out there.  The program was in an affluent neighborhood in Nassau County.  Everyone was a good ten years older than me.  Of course, everyone was white and knew each other.  It was obvious that the black child, her black father, and the one black coach knew each other.  I always felt weird because I didn’t have a lot in common with these people.  In reality, I did.  I was a suburban parent and my life revolved around my kid than it did going out and/or gallivanting in the city like most of my friends my age.  Being that I was much younger, darker, and didn’t dress like suburban white dads-you know: the plain shorts, sneakers, and polo shirt or something-I just didn’t feel like I fit in.  I didn’t talk to any of the parents except the coaches of Cydney’s team.

Over the course of the summer Cydney and I would practice the drills she learned in the yard.  We watched the World Cup and she has a replica ball that she sleeps with.  I looked up drills on YouTube and practice when I am by myself so that I can teach her.  Hip hop is my thing that she’s getting into and Disney Princesses are her world that I am getting into.  Soccer is the thing in which we are on equal footing and learning together.  Eventually she will be much better than I and I will enjoy watching her from the sidelines.

In September 2014 I signed Cydney up for the program that was closer to our house. That program wasn’t much of a challenge for her and she would find ways challenge herself.  If her coaches ask the children to knock cones over by kicking the ball, Cydney would do so from a few feet back as opposed to right on top of the ball.  Cydney weaves throughout cones during drills effortlessly while the other toddlers still stop the ball with their hands sometimes. 

During their first scrimmage, Cydney stole the ball from one of the kids, dribbled down the field and scored the goal.  Cydney’s coach pulled me aside and said that he was impressed by Cydney’s skill set.  He told me how impressed he was with that and that she makes the other children better.  He’s a black man and he said that as the only person of color and the only girl out there he enjoys having her around.  Ever since, he has found ways to train her and make things a little more challenging.  One week, Cydney’s scrimmage was four-on-one:  Cydney vs. the other kids with a little assistance from her coach.  In a fifteen minute game the score was 2-1 and Cydney won.  That’s my girl.

Cydney has improved drastically in this amount of time.  One time we were out playing at a field near our house and Cydney saw another father practicing with his little girl, who was about seven years old.  Cydney went up to them, asked if she could join, and did drill right along with the girl.  Cydney at three was doing them just as good as she was.  This was my goal of having Cydney play with the children older than her.  My first experience playing organized basketball at seven years old was with playing alongside ten year old teammates and opponents.  It made me one of the better players at my age and this is what I wanted for Cydney as her foundation.  It may have been hard at first, but eventually she would catch on and play up the level of the other girls.  Knowing who she is and who her father is she would surpass these girls as well.

She may not play forever; but this is about Cydney starting something young and introducing herself to a discipline.  The whole thing was to set up a foundation.  She is into something and if she has other hobbies she will have the behavioral process of giving something her all, practicing, working on being the best that she possibly can be, and she started this high level of commitment at her age.

She is currently playing soccer twice a day on Saturdays. In one program, she plays along with some children in kindergarten and first grade. From a technical standpoint, she is leaps and bounds above everyone.

…Spelman College: you have approximately fourteen years to bring back your soccer program.  Cydney and I will make it worth your while.

My Life in 100 Songs: Excursions by A Tribe Called Quest

For all intents and purposes my nephew is my second child. His father isn’t shit and he lives with my mother, Cydney, and me. He turned nine today.

He’s my lil’ dude. He’s right in the middle of that age I can’t stand; but he’s a good kid. When I was working from home I walked and picked him up from school, play basketball, and video games with him. I spoil him and all that. Cydney calls him her brother and although she knows he isn’t, that’s how she sees him.

I’m kind of tough on him. I try to find this balance between being father figure all while still having nuances of being the uncle you get to do things your parents wouldn’t allow. When I’m driving around with him I’ll play uncensored versions of rap songs and he knows not to repeat any lyrics. I’d like to think I’m doing something right, because the songs he tends to like aren’t explicit (with the recent exception of “King Kunta” by Kendrick Lamar).

“Excursions” by A Tribe Called Quest is his favorite. While driving he asks to play it all of the time. I think the dynamic that Q-Tip describes between his father and he fits us accurately. Tip and his father are going back and forth about the similarities and differences between the music of their times. “I said daddy, don’t you know that things go in cycles. The way Bobby Brown is ampin like Michael [Jackson].” My nephew and I are different in our own ways; but he reminds me a lot of myself at his age. I guess that in itself makes him a pretty cool kid.

My Life in 100 Songs: Inshallah by Goodie Mob

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“How can I promise you forever when I can’t even promise the rest of today?  All I know is we started this journey together; hopefully we can make it the rest of the way, Insha’Allah.”

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were conversing on the phone.  She was telling me about her plans for a business she had been slowly developing plans for.  She talked passionately about it and after what I would call as a Christian “speaking things into existence,” she ended her sentence with “Insha’Allah.”

She explained that in the Muslim faith, Insha’Allah means “God willing” that one says when making or speaking about future plans.  The belief is that everything is maktub-or written-meaning that things will only happen if God allows it.  Essentially, it is a practice of submission.

Infinitely curious and putting two-and-two together, I thought about a song on Goodie Mob’s second album entitled “Inshallah.”  The song began to make a lot of sense.  Rapper-turned-singer Cee-Lo sings the chorus three different times.  The first time it is sung softly, the second a little louder, and the last one is belted.  It was as if as the song progressed the singing represented this idea of submission to God’s will.  It was always a favorite of mine off of Still Standing; but this made it the frontrunner.

The next day I found myself listening to the song repeatedly.  I like deep conversation in which I can learn things from others and pontificate about my own place in the grand scheme of things. Whenever I pray on things I go to Him with whatever is on my heart and say “have your way.” I seldom pray for things twice because once I’ve said that I’m putting it in His hands. As my favorite biblical scripture says, I don’t worry about tomorrow, for it will worry about itself (Matthew 6:33).

This is a constant battle. I’m a planner. After gathering as much information I gauge what are the possibilities and based on the variables what will happen based on probability knowing who and what is involved. I am a true believer in Rudyard Kipling’s second to last line in Invictus: I am the captain of my own fate. I don’t think there’s anything I can make happen unless there is divine intervention to circumvent it. For once in my life, I’m trying to just live for a season. I guess I’m leaning a little more towards just doing my part and letting the rest happen. So far, doing all of the above has worked for me. In fact, meeting my friend who introduced insha’Allah to me was me taking fate into my hands and making it happen with keeping in mind God will make things happen and things will fall into place.

Because of this belief I have always had, I take the idea of living for today seriously. For most people my age, “tomorrow isn’t promised” is an abstract concept. My peers and I are young, so the laws of average suggest that there will be a tomorrow. It is not an ideal for me; but practice and applied knowledge because of the journey God has ordained for me. I don’t make promises because my word is everything. If I feel a way about someone today I will let then know. If I love you I consider you a priority that I want to bask in that light. For all I know, I could be gone tomorrow. It is also the reason I don’t hold a grudge. For what?

That’s all for now…tomorrow there will be another song and post, insha’Allah.

My Life in 100 Songs: I Do by Jeezy f/ Jay Z and Andre 3000

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I first heard Andre 3000’s verse a year and a half before the song’s official release. The sentiment generating a relationship out if thin air and actually wanting to spend the rest of one’s life with someone was a new concept for our peers and us. My friends and I were in our mid-twenties so it was the beginning period of our lives where everyone we knew were starting to get married. Of course, Timile was the person I wanted to marry.

When Timile came home to our suburban Atlanta apartment I immediately played the song for her. I always knew we were having a daughter. Three Stacks couldn’t have summed up the way I felt about Timile and our baby-to-be who we had already decided her name would be London.

I had another song I was going to write about today. But I hadn’t gotten to it and on my way home from work, “I Do” popped up on my playlist. The first thing that I thought about was the scene depicted above. The second was me thinking about questions I have been asked repeatedly: 1) Would you want more children? 2) Would you get married again? And 3) What would make doing it all again different?

Of course, I’d do lots of things differently. I would love to have more children as well.

What would be different? Whoever I marry. Due to circumstances, there are parts of the process I have yet to experience. While I had a ring picked out, I couldn’t afford it, so I have never got down on one knee and ask someone to marry me.

I’m a Sagittarius; so I am committed to not being committed. I love to roam and heavy my freedom to do whatever I please. In theory, I’m ready to settle down. However, I’m not quite there, yet.

It’s funny how five years ago this song made me feel very differently. Before, it conjured thoughts of matrimony and all that this particular song is about. These days it makes me think of all menial and ceremonial aspects of commitment. I have lived all the vows one responds to with “I do,” and doing so again would require being nothing short of an amazing. Not because said woman would have big shoes to fill; I’m just different.

Have I felt this way about someone since December 2011? Yes. But neither of us was ready. One day someone will make me an offer I can’t refuse and I’ll be ready to live these vows again.

Until then, I have my own “Love .22″ to raise. Who will love books, and cook, just like whomever I marry all while she looks just like her mother. And maybe in 2030 our baby will be nerdy, and maybe the whole club swoon.

My Life In 100 Songs: Good Good by Ashanti

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I joke around and say that the day I arrive to heaven the first thing Timile Brown is going to do when she sees me is punch me. Why? Because of how I raised Cydney. I think she would be very tickled by our daughter’s personality. However, her personality suggests that she is a little girl version of me. So as entertained as Timile would be, Cydney had acquired all of the traits her mother couldn’t stand about me.

While Cydney is my mini-me, I think that she and her mother are kindred spirits. I mostly see these glimpses of this essence when I play songs for Cydney that Timile loved. We had very different tastes in music, so the songs I tend to play are ones palatable to my ears.

In 2008 or 2009 Timile flew from Atlanta to Buffalo to attend a cousin’s wedding. When she came back home she said that we had to stop by Best Buy to pick up Ashanti’s latest album, The Declaration because her cousin Mashia had been playing it all weekend so she wanted to play it repeatedly and annoy my ears with that girly crap.

The one song she’d play over and over again was “Good Good.” It was a catchy tune that consisted of an E Major 7 and G Major 9 chords. It was simple, bright, and bouncy…it was a good spring song that embodied the early June when she’d run the song through the ground. While I’d be driving, Timile would bounce, and sing along while looking at me inferring that what she has is so good I’m not going anywhere.

About a month ago I was driving Cydney to soccer. It was one of the first nice days of the spring and the song had popped into my head out if nowhere. Probably because fee weather outside felt like a day that Timile would have played “Good Good.” So I pulled it up in Spotify and was curious what Cydney would think.

I know when Cydney is into a song. Within first listen she tries to mumble and sing along. There’s a delayed mentioning of whatever the last word the artists sing that Cydney does as well. Within the second or third listen her timing is perfect and before you know it she knows the chorus by heart. I could hear Cydney utter “Good good. Good good.” Then she’d ask me to play it again. By the fourth go round, my four year old with perfect tone and inflection sang “When my man ain’t home I know he’s coming back. I got that good good. I got that good good!”

I couldn’t help but laugh. Cydney had no idea what she was singing but she performed as if she did. I smiled a little to myself because I knew that moment was all Timile. And then I really laughed because I knew Timile would punch me for playing this for our daughter.

My Life in 100 Songs: The Blame Game

Kanye West’s albums have all coincided with the period of my life when they were released. College Dropout was released my freshman year, Late Registration my junior year, Graduation dropped in the fall of 2007 when I completed my tenure at Morehouse College, 808’s and Heartbreak was when Timile and I had broken up and she left Atlanta to move back home to Virginia and try things out with her “what if” guy.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy arrived in stores November 22, 2010 which was my twenty-fifth birthday. I followed along with the “G.O.O.D. Friday”  releases; but listening to the project as a complete body of work was a different experience. Timile was five months pregnant and her relationship with my family has me torn. Nonetheless, it was the two of us against the world while we took care of the heartbeat she was carrying. I was giving it a first spin while raking leaves and thinking to myself I couldn’t listen to this because it was so dark. I didn’t feel as if I was in the same place as this album because I’m anticipating the birth of my daughter. Less than six months from turning thirty I’m realizing that this album was exactly what twenty-five years old was…the beginning of my own beautiful dark twisted fantasy.

What makes an artist create such an outstanding piece of work? Pain and letting one’s agony become their muse and be their outlet. I guess that is what writing has become for me: my innermost thoughts being placed outward in which reading the words were me literally staring my angst face to face and sharing it with the world.

I think I feared the album because I unconsciously I didn’t want to accept that this was me or what was about to come. Twenty-five was a defining period in my life. I became a father and shortly after was forced to deal with things the laws of average suggest most don’t until they’re at least forty years older.

The song that always stood out to me was “The Blame Game.” Nearly three and a half years after Timile passed away I have had a few relationships. This song reminds me a lot of my dynamic with one person. People often refer to the laws of attraction in the manner that magnets work: opposites attract. The north pole is positive and is pulled by the negative south pole of another. If opposites attract then like poles push each other further back. That was us.

We really clicked. We had a lot in common. We were both the rare combination that was equally creative and logistical. It really was as if looking in the mirror at myself. The core of the reflection was the same but when I would lift my right hand up what I saw looking back was the left hand doing the same back at me.

Our disagreements often were the same thing over and over again. When it was all said and done we ultimately blamed each other for the problems we had with each other and nine out of ten times it was the accuser’s fault. I would say I didn’t like something and it would be taken to level ten when on that proverbial scale almost everything I say and do is at a three. No matter how many times I would try go circumvent this by saying “If you’re not sure what I mean then ask,” or whatever the first thing she’d do is defend herself-right-or-wrong-before trying to hear me out and see I’d be trying to articulate how I felt about something. She would go the passive aggressive route and not say anything until she is furious.

Yet whenever we’d go our separate ways we would be miserable. She would never admit this but I know it’s true. I know her. Nonetheless we’re in a different season, now. So just being friends some of the same problems would arise as if we were dating.

When it’s all said and done it was a love-hate relationship. Kanye’s first verse summed things up perfectly.

“On a bathroom wall I wrote
“I’d rather argue with you than to be with someone else” (else, else, else)
I took a piss and dismiss it like fuck it and went and found somebody else
Fuck arguing harvesting the feelings, I’d rather be by my fucking self
Till about 2 A.M. and I call back and I hang up and start to blame myself
Somebody help”

It was both of our faults…

Day1…100 Days of Music: Intro by The Lost Boyz

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“They say what kinda music you got? I got music the way I am, my man. How you see me is how my music is. Some say I’m ill, some say I be buggin’, some say I’m just chill…that’s how it is.”

Music and writing are a substantial part of what makes me who I am. So much that there is a treble clef that morphs into a pen in hand tattooed on my left arm. I have ten that cover most of the surface area of my shoulders, triceps, inner, and outer biceps. But the unfinished music one is the largest. That’s who I am.

I have been this way all of my life. My earliest memories in life are attached to songs. I’m that guy who can quote a lyric for any conversation that would make sense contextually. I’m always creating something and for the last seventeen years not a day has gone by in which I haven’t written at least two bars of rap lyric in my head. It’s always been my haven and the way I expressed myself the best.

I love to write and always have in some capacity. When I started this blog three years ago I had no idea where it would take me. I just wanted to share Cydney growing up with friends and family wherever they were. In that time the written word with no musical accompaniment has almost become an equal passion.

So that leads me here. A friend on Instagram suggested that I give the 100 Days of Music Challenge a go. I thought about it for a while and in search for a different direction to take this blog I figured not only will I post a song a day but I will write about it as well. It’ll be a random song. I also want to take requests and suggestions to keep things interesting. It’ll be good exercise to think outside of the box by juxtaposing songs that mostly have nothing to do in subject matter to my adventures of a single dad. The process of taking requests and turning them into well thought out posts could make for an pretty cool experience.

No better way than to start off with my favorite album introduction of all time from one of my favorite rap groups: The Lost Boyz. The intro was just them letting the world know who they were over Kool and the Gang’s ever-building “Summer Madness.” By the time the synthesizer crescendos they start clapping for themselves and building anticipation for everything they just said that made them the Lost Boyz. The result was an incredible album with five singles (Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless, Music Makes Me High and the remix; Jeeps, Lex Coupes, Bimmas, and Benzes; Renee, and Get Up). The album had five videos and outside of my hometown of Queens, NY they’re virtually an anecdote and Mr. Cheeks’ “Lights, Camera, Action” which was released seven years later.

“This here is something that has never been done before…So it shall be done.”-John “Mr. Cheeks” Kelly

…Read It Because I Wrote It

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