Meme Crush Monday: We’re All Teenagers At Heart

 

This Monday is dedicated to the one meme I’ve seen flash across my timeline the most…

“Dating in your 20’s: Do they like me? Will they call? Dating in your 30’s: Are we doing this or not?  I got shit to do.”

Bullshit.

After seeing this what feels like dozens of times, I felt the urge to do some research.  I asked my single friends in their forties and fifties if the aforementioned statement was valid or not.  Every last one of them called bullshit as well.

Why?  The most secure of men and women want to be liked, appreciated, and loved.  We are wired that way and weren’t designed to be alone.  Everyone also has insecurities that stem from putting one’s self out there and the feelings not being reciprocated.  We are all seeking validation in the form of appreciation from those that we care about.

In the present day, we are a product of our unique experiences.  Our outlook on life is shaped by what we have been through.  Some of them are great experiences; others hurt like hell and it takes a very long time to heal those wounds.  When things end, it feels like the end of the world; but at one point or another, we try again.  We want to experience those highs again, with more appreciation for them because of the lows.  Your brain literally collects all of the data and locks away most of the hurt into our unconscious memory for the sake of us not dwelling on them.

Nonetheless, those painful and traumatic experiences still show up in how we interact with others.  We meet someone new and put up the best representation of ourselves.  Even the most cynical of people (read: me) go into the next time around hoping things turn out differently as we put our best foot forward.

Usually in this beginning phase, there is the euphoric feeling that  makes meeting a new person exciting.  It’s virtually all optimism.  After telling your closest friends and confidantes “I met this girl/guy,” we get to thinking.  The old shit seeps from the back of our minds and it comes out.  Hell, it’s all there in the beginning, as well.  Your biggest emotional insecurity might as well be tattooed on your forehead.  It is part of the reason why we attract the kinds of people that we do.  If you have a “type,” that’s who winds up biting because we are subliminally throwing bait to a certain kind of person.  At first, neither we or our counterparts paying attention to the proverbial adornment above our eyebrows because they too, are experiencing said euphoria.

Time ensues and we establish trust.  Or we want to; but we aren’t quite sure if the person is worthy of it.  Or they are, and we are afraid to because of our pasts.  Walls get put up and sometimes we run.  The person who stands out is generally the one who chisels through the wall without getting tired because they are continuously being encouraged and appreciated for doing so.  It establishes a bond rooted in trust.

No matter how old we are, men and women still have that awkward teenager in them that needs to be catered to.  Sometimes that itch gets scratched by hanging with our friends in an immature fashion that in no way, shape, or form should happen but does.  It manifests itself in many ways.

Many of the “situationships” we find ourselves getting into are because of this.  There’s the people-usually men-who were rejected by that one girl in high school and sleeps around until they find someone worthwhile, leaving a trail of tears behind them.  There’s the person who fills their voids and fears of loneliness by getting themselves into temporary circumstances-hoping they aren’t but in retrospect, look back and knew that’s exactly what they were doing-because nobody likes being alone.  There is the person who wants the courtship process to develop organically and be friends first, not realizing that what they want is an ideal and not at all how men or women operate.  All of this perpetuating the myth of “I got shit to do;” but really there’s a virtually impenetrable wall put up.

Time-tested relationships go from “I wonder if they like me” to “I wonder if they still like me.”  No matter how confident a person is, they know that there is someone out there who is better than them.  The mindset is “I may not be perfect; but am I still perfect enough for you?”  Husbands and wives accidentally reject their partners all of the time…and the fears can cause the other to act out in a manner that is rather childish.

To be a little personal, I definitely have a “type.”  In a few relationships, I have been reminded that I do.  One girlfriend felt as if she was just the next in line, was she just the one who bit on my bait; and even if I think she’s the most amazing girl that there are prettier girls with less hangups and more in common.  No matter how many times I told her otherwise, I still would have to prove it through actions.  Even if I thought it was ridiculous, I understood.  There have been others who didn’t quite fit the “type” and it seemed as if they were constantly searching to see if I found them desirable.  Someone I dated on and off for years was a dramatic train wreck and knew it; but in all honesty, that was something I loved about her.

With some of those same women mentioned above, I wondered whether or not I was enough.  I like to think I’m good looking and pretend as if I have my shit together; but I have wondered whether or not I made enough money, was established enough, if I could provide for them, and many other little things.

This is my personal solution.  I recognize you got “shit to do.”  I personally try to treat those I’m into is “You and I are both fine enough to have many other options…so I’m gonna do my best to make sure I remain the one you choose.”  Sometimes it works out and others, it doesn’t.

Ps: We all have a petty side.  That in itself is acting like a teenager.

 

Cydney Being Cydney Podcast 20-13, Episode 12

 

 

Hello Everyone!

On this week’s episode, Cydney talks about our trip to Manhattan to visit her cousins, Ari, Morgan, Kim, and Mashia from Buffalo.  Mid-story, Cyd decides to switch gears and tell the tale of the Three Little Pigs in a manner that only she could.  Per episode eleven, I let Cydney spit a few more bars, as promised.  While trying to wrap it up, she then begins to sing a whole song her class sang in her Spring Fling Show.

Listen.  Enjoy.  Share.  Follow.

Reunited and it Feels so…

I received a phone call a little over a week ago. It was Mashia, Timile’s first cousin who lives in Buffalo. She was reaching out to let me know that she was taking the train from East Canada (that’s what I call Buffalo) to New York for her daughter, Morgan’s ninth birthday.

Cydney and I haven’t returned to Buffalo in a little over three years. The last time we saw anyone from Timile’s family-with the exception of her parents-was at as wedding in Maryland in the summer of 2013. It has been on the to-do list; there has just been more than a lot going on, so making the trip never happened.

I genuinely love the family in Buffalo. As much as possible, they made a very rough time in my new family’s life just a little easier. Sure, there were a few hiccups and an altercation or two; but shit happens. They have always treated me as if I am blood and not just Timile’s boyfriend or Cydney’s father. I can’t say the same for Timile’s parents. If my “in-laws” were to ask me why do I keep in contact with-or visit the family up north-that would be the reason why.

Last Friday, Cyd overhears a conversation in which I state that I am taking her with me to Manhattan. She associates our trips to the city with seeing someone else, so she was beyond excited when she got wind of this. The whole day, she would jump around saying that we’re going to the city to see a certain person…hell, she said it the whole way there. No matter how many times I said “No, we’re going to the city to see your cousins from your mom’s side of the family,” she had her mind made up that we were doing something else.

We met up with Mashia, Morgan, their older cousin Kim, and Kim’s daughter, Ari. Mashia and Timile were first cousins at the Sheraton Inn on 51st St and 7th Ave. Their grandmother and Kim’s mother are sisters. They’re a big family, yet very close-knit. It was refreshing to see them. They were familiar faces I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Cydney didn’t remember them; but everyone remembered Cydney. We briefly caught up on life and such before heading to dinner.

At one point, Kim paused and asked me “Do you have a girlfriend?” I found that to be a very interesting question because while I am well aware that life goes on and I’m expected to do so, it feels a little weird talking to Timile’s family about another woman. Well, that’s part of it. The reason why that question was struck a chord with me was because the last time I saw her at the wedding, she was one of the people encouraging me to get up and attempt to catch the garter, signifying that I could be the next one to get married.

While eating, Kim, Mashia, and I shot the shit while the three girls played. We talked about how the family was doing, Timile’s mother, and without realizing it, we were there for nearly three hours. It didn’t feel like it.

I really enjoyed watching Cydney interact with her cousins. For starters, I remember when all three were born, because I’ve been around for almost a decade. I saw all of them as little kids-babies at that-when we lived in Buffalo, so seeing everyone growing up is endearing. Also, it is very often that I get to see Cyd be a girl with other little girls. That always makes me smile.

Morgan and Cydney both look like their mothers, so I know as much as I was taken aback, so were Mashia and Kim. I could see Mashia looking at the two of them and think to herself “I remember when…” Cydney and I aren’t the only ones who lost someone they loved in December of 2011. Since I don’t see the others who were directly affected so often, times like this are a reminder.

On the forty minute drive home, I kept thinking about our visit. Seeing Timile’s family is something else that feels familiar, yet unfamiliar at the same time. I know the faces, voices, and even the personalities involved. But how I know them seems like such a long time ago. I remember being in all of these places and life being an incredibly dark place. None of that is who I am, now. It’s bittersweet.

I was happy to see everyone. I don’t want to make any promises; but I almost promise that Cydney and I will return to Buffalo sometime this summer.

Return of the #SoccerDadChronicles

If you looked up and clicked on the hashtag #SoccerDadChronicles on Instagram, the first post you will see is from Kevin Hart. If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know that I first coined the phrase over two years ago.

In the spring of 2014, I enrolled my daughter, Cydney into her first soccer program. It was a program that my friend, Neighbour, was one of the instructors; which would have made things a little easier for Cyd because of the familiar face.

While I have my personal reasons for regretting this decision, it was all worth it for my little girl. Every Saturday, I walked a total of four miles and two buses with Cydney on my shoulders to get there. She’s been talking about how much she wanted to go back to Team Frozen up until last week.

Cydney was the youngest person on the field, and that had her feeling discouraged during scrimmage time; but she took the drills seriously. She may not have been completely enthralled with it at the time; but it paid off. The next fall, I enrolled her into a more intimate instructional program. We met Coach Eddie, who has been nothing short of amazing with the children, all while recognizing Cyd has a special talent. He noticed that while the other three and four year olds were kicking over the cones-as instructed-by placing the ball right next to it; and Cydney was doing so kicking the ball from about ten feet away.

For two years, Cydney has been in instructional soccer year-round; only taking the summer off. Last spring, she was in two programs every Saturday. I hated that second one, so I started looking for another program to supplement the tutelage of Coach Eddie.

Last week, things came full-circle. I had enrolled Cydney in a soccer club in our town of Baldwin, NY. Since she’ll be in the school system, I figured this would be a good chance for her to meet some kids she might be in class with come September. Coming off the high of being my nephew’s basketball coach (I have a post about this coming soon), I decided I’m going to volunteer and become one. Yep…I’m the coach!

I was excited about the first coaches meeting. I’m finally coming to the realization that I am a suburban-Long Island dad and I find shit like this more exhilarating that going out at night in the city with my friends. I got the call sheet for the kids on my team and started a group text. Good, right?

Of course, there’s that one mom on the team! Before our first game, she sends a text asking about practice. I reply stating that we don’t need to have one at this point, because the kids are in pre-k and kindergarten…all they’re doing is instructional with thirty minutes of scrimmages. She came back with her son has been playing since he was two and they’ve always had practice. Slightly getting annoyed because it’s 1PM on a Wednesday afternoon and I have work to do; I tell her that in the coaches’ meeting, we were told that at kindergarten, we didn’t need to have any practices. I left it there and would hand out uniforms on Saturday.

This past Saturday was the day! Cydney was TOO excited. I handed Cyd her uniform first, giving her the number seven, because she wore that in Garden City and Liverpool forward, James Milner also wears that number. As the other kids and their parents came and introduced themselves, I was happy to see that Cydney would finally be playing with some kids of color. Out here, soccer Saturday mostly consists of children of color and their fathers. I loved that and was also excited about not being the only black parent…and as a voice for black fatherhood, I LOVE that. The first thing two of the fathers said to me was “So…we having practice this week?” and laughed. I took a sigh of relief that people understood me because they too thought it was ridiculous. It was as if they knew I was black from how I responded to the mom’s texts.

During the instructional period, I was extra excited because one of the teachers was a former assistant of Coach Eddie. That made the transition even easier.

During the scrimmage, the boy who had been playing soccer since he was two-per his mom-cried the whole time and didn’t want to come in the game at all. That’s why I ignored her. Nonetheless, the other kids had a great time. We scored a bunch of goals and Cydney had two herself; the first one within the first two minutes of play. They “won” their game and everyone was happy.

At the end of the game, I told the kids “Okay, the first order of business…we need a name. Any suggestions?” No one raised their hands except Cydney. Cydney said “The Orange Monsters!” I asked for any other suggestions and then let them vote. So now, we’re the Orange Monsters. We put our hands in, shouted it on the count of three, and that sealed the deal.

Because I’m assisting my nephew’s baseball team, I caved in and bought a Red Sox hat. As a lifelong Yankee fan, that disgusted me. While I was at the store, I thought about it and said, I need a vintage New York Giants cap, so that I can wear one to match my Orange Monsters. I found one.

Tweet Through It: A Parent’s Experience Through Their Child’s Preschool Spring Show

 

It’s about that time again…Cydney’s preschool had their annual Spring Fling show. My daughter nor I couldn’t be any more excited than we were for it. I couldn’t wait until see my baby showcase her talents at this this particular school before starting kindergarten. Unfortunately, that means that I have to sit through all of these other kids doing shit, too. A few months ago, I posted my my commentary of both Cydney and my nephew’s Christmas shows and thought I should do it again. Soooooo here we go!

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An Introduction to Meme Crush Monday

 

Like many ideas I have-including to some extent this blog-this started off as something I said to a friend of mine in jest.  I was making a joke about how people often let the world into their lives with one little quote they post on social media.  I proceeded to talk shit and quoted the picture above in a dramatic tone of voice for hilarity’s sake and said “I’m gonna rip into these dumb ass quotes on my blog and call it #MemeCrushMonday!”  I talk so much shit with my friend, Natrina, that I know when she pauses for a moment…I’m onto something.  As a creative, you learn to listen for that silence.  Those are the ideas one must explore a little; because someone thought deeply about what was thrown out there.

Creativity is part narcissism and crippling self-doubt and I live in the latter.  Come to think of it, there’s a good chance that my crippling self-doubt is what fuels my internal narcissism….but I digress.  I sat on the idea for a while because I know that my muse for this would primarily be friends and associates of mine who are simply just sharing.  I ran the idea by to my editor, Kweli, from Madamenoire.  As a veteran in the business, I trust when she thinks something is a good idea.  So fuck it and here we go.

I think it is hilarious when people post quotes on social media.  From the rise and grinders, the iPhone revolutionaries to want us all to stay woke by posting thirty times a day and posts 13-18 contradict the first one, the men giving unsolicited relationship advice to women, and of course, the Instagram honeys hustling tummy teas with the deep quote all while standing with a hip angle to poke their ass out (I love all of you…you make my mornings).  I appreciate you all.

If one pays close attention, what people post says a lot about them.  The content they share with the world demonstrates a behavioral pattern that even they aren’t aware of.  Without realizing it, I look at some of this and think “Your insecurity is showing!”  There’s nothing wrong with this.  Shit, I do it.  And because I’m fair, I’ll say mine: I’m afraid of stepping into a spotlight by myself, so I mostly post pictures of my kid and very seldom will you find a solo pic; and it damn sure won’t be a selfie.  I also am a guarded individual who hides behind layers of sarcasm and will preemptively make myself part of the joke to even the playing field so no one can say I’m unfair.  So if anyone at some point thinks I’m being a jerk, they can be redirected to this paragraph where I threw my insecurities out first.

My absolute favorites are the heartbreak quotes.  We’ve all been in the moment in which we are feeling heavy because someone has wronged us, bursting at the seams, and we need to let something out.  Often, we do this hoping that the one we are hurt about sees this and thinks “I want them to know I’m talking about them,” all while hoping this outlet gets them to think twice about their actions and do better.  Or if it’s the end, it’s that last ditch Hail Mary of saying how we feel.  The truth of the matter is, that person doesn’t give a fuck.  They may see it and feel a way; but they have already acted in a selfish manner, so you can’t help anyone who has done ill to you to see the error in their ways.  It’s damn near impossible to help people grow holding them accountable for their actions.

Very rarely am I laughing at the person in distress (well, there was that one time I was; but it was more or less in disbelief of “Nooooo, not you, too!” than taking joy in their misery…they had to tweet/post through it).  The silver lining in it all is that down the line, we can look at these moments and remember how we felt.  In order to know where one is going, we all need to take a glimpse in the proverbial rear view mirror.  People are less likely to make the same mistakes multiple times being able to look at themselves.

So, now that I’ve thrown this out there, I kind of have to post one of these every Monday.  My intent isn’t to be petty or make fun of anyone; it’s all for entertainment purposes while shedding a light to those little things we all pay attention to and yet it goes over our heads.

To my friends: I’m not making fun of you or what you post.  I’m not even thinking within the context of what you’re going through.  If there’s one you’d like to see me lampoon write about, send them my way.

 

Cydney Being Cydney Podcast, 20-13: Episode 11

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I haven’t posted Cydney’s podcast on the site in a while…I mean well.  Cydney decided to change the name of the show from Cydney Being Cydney to The Cydney Being Cydney Podcast 20-13. Why?  I have no idea; but eff it because it’s her show.

This week, Cydney talks about her upcoming show at her school and laments about the hard time she has explaining to her classmates about why she doesn’t have a mother.  Shortly after, she gives her best impression of a WWE wrestler.  Enjoy!

#FOH: TVOne Greenlights ABFF Screenplay Competition Winner, ‘Deadbeat Dad Rehab’

abff

Blackfilm.com reported that the winner of the 2015 screenplay American Black Film Festival (ABFF), ‘Deadbeat Dad Rehab,’ has been greenlit for production, and will be aired on TVOne in July.  The ensemble cast features names that black households recognize such as Malik Yoba (New York Undercover), Robert Ri’chard (My Cousin Skeeter…unfortunately, it won’t be cousin Skeeter), Wesley Jonathan (The guy with the ponytail who has been playing teenagers since City Guys), Robert Riley (Hit the Floor aka the space filler between the premier and rerun of Love and Hip Hop every Monday), and Rick Gonzalez (Old School…#RIP Blue).

The movie-to-be is about four men who are apparently not the greatest dads in the world who undergo  unconventional, yet pertinent methods on how to be better fathers.  I assume Yoba is the therapist, pulling from his experience being married to therapist Janet Dr. Jackson-because I’m nasty-in ‘Why Did I Get Married.’  The screenplay was chosen by the ABFF the writing creatively looks at absentee fatherhood by focusing on the “why” instead of the being absentee.  It was well written, too.

I understand the process and the mindset of a writer.  Essentially, one is drawing from their own experiences that are usually rooted in some kind of darkness.  I’m happy for, proud of, and will watch the film in hopes that it sheds light on an epidemic running rampant in black communities…but fuck outta here with that bullshit.

Can we-as a black community-STOP this?!  Nobody else does this much tearing down of their own people.  Yes, many of us don’t have fathers in our lives; but come on!  Are there white, Hispanic, Hasidic Jewish forms of entertainment who are producing so much content about absentee fatherhood?  No.  But black people do; and statistically black fathers are more involved in their children’s lives than any other race in America.  Let’s cut the shit.  There are plenty of shitty mothers of all races out there.  Do we talk about that so much?  Nope.  Then again, I also realize that statistics mean nothing to the individual.

For the most part, this medium of entertainment doesn’t bring families together; it isolates.  We shine the proverbial spotlight on the faux-pas in our communities when anyone who reads a book knows that in the game of power, you never show your weakness.  But we do…because it makes the have-not’s feel better about themselves.

I’m a single father with a daughter who’s mother is dead and the father to my nephew–his father is a deadbeat.  Both children are happy as fuck and barely think about what’s missing in their lives.  I have plenty of friends and their children don’t know who their paternal grandfather is for whatever reason; but that drives them to be the best parent they can be and some of them have fucked up relationships with the women they conceived with.  I just want us to shine more of a light on these people.

My beef isn’t with this particular film, the writer, ABFF, TVOne, or anyone involved with this film…It’s with us.  Props to whoever started the #FatherhoodChallenge that has been all over my Facebook feed since yesterday.  I love seeing that.

*steps off soapbox*

The Caveats of 10 Reasons Why The Best Relationship Of Your Life Will Be With A Girl Who Loves ‘Too Much’

 

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I love the internet and all of its subjectivity.  Social media allows us all to read whatever we want and share whatever we want displaying the parts of our identities we ultimately want to believe about ourselves.  Very eloquently, Leonard Mlodinow explained this concept in his book Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior.  He states that one’s brain is part scientist and part lawyer; but it is much better at being the latter than the former.  What he means is that we all have an ideal sense of self and will look for all of the evidence to convince ourselves that it is true.  In other words, we become who we think we are.

Last night, my friend Keya shared via Facebook an article from Thought Catalog entitled Ten Reasons Why he Best Relationship of Your Life Will Be With a Girl Who ‘Loves Too Much.’  It was a well-written piece.  However, the writer/cynic in me saw it as a piece in which an ideal that was written for women to relate to and of course, post repeatedly.  There’s nothing wrong with this.  Nonetheless, the woman that was described was nothing short of a unicorn.  There’s a yin to every yan that gives balance.  So as a guy, I’m going to point the tidbits that jumped out to me effortlessly.

FOR THE RECORD: I personally love this kind of woman.  For every quality we love about people are also roots for the things we cannot stand.  BOTH contribute to the charms that we love about them.

1. She will bring incredible positivity to your life…And for all of the positivity means taking everything to heart which leads to drama.

Loving hard means being emotional.  Being emotional means that one [usually] has a very high emotional IQ.  Having heightened senses means said person very sensitive.  Emotions and logic are oil and water.  That is why we have two sides to regulate the other.  In the heat of the moment, shit can and will get very real.

2. She will get you over any past relationship, hurt, or trust issue…But she won’t be over hers.

Generally speaking, we all give advice that we don’t necessarily adhere to.  When others do it, we call it being hypocritical.  When we do it, it’s called “being human.”  Classic case of the brain pulling a “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit” on ourselves.

3. She will show you what love really feels like…And love suffers long.

The biblical definition of love starts off with “Love suffers long.”  In other words, love means putting up with someone’s shit.  We put up with someone’s shit because they suffer through ours.  It’s a perpetual circumstance that makes us all appreciate others.

4. She will never let you feel empty…And will let you KNOW when she feels empty.

People who love too much are very self-aware.  They are very in-tune with their feelings and can articulate it to a tee.  Because being emotional is an “in the moment” kind of thing, one must express their unhappiness while they are feeling that way…otherwise they will burst at the seams.  This isn’t even including all of the times they have talked everything out with their friends and the proverbial battery has been put into their back, WITHOUT consorting with the person first (a top three killer of relationships).

5. She will teach you forgiveness…and not forget a damn thing you’ve done.

You must forgive and forget…but they won’t.  In a period of happiness and tranquility, there will be “I think it’s funny that…”

6. She will be fiercely loyal to you…for a price.

Loyalty always costs.  State Farm will be there like a good neighbor because you pay them to do so.  Said contracts and bonds between two parties have all kinds of clauses that are steeped in double-standards that benefit both.  You can’t flirt but she can and when it’s called out, you get the “So what?!”  But those same caveats work in their parnter’s favors in other ways.

The author states that “She will value you, so much that she would never do anything to hurt you.”  I couldn’t help but laugh at this.  Nobody on earth will hurt you or disappoint you more than your spouse will; quantitatively and qualitatively.  It goes both ways.

7. She’ll open your heart to emotions…HER emotions and there will be many of those.

Respond to them the wrong way and there WILL be a “talk.”  No man ever likes “the talk.”  Said dialog is really a monologue in which must respond correctly because their mind is made up on what one should say or there will be a fight because their feelings are hurt.  The problem with this is that there are expectations which means one can’t think from an objective point of view.

8. She’s going to fight with you and more importantly, for you…and she will fight YOU.

‘Nuff said.

9. She will always choose to work through problems rather than walk away…Working through=Her way or no way.

Sometimes she will humor you and give the illusion to make you think they’ll try it your way.  However, the game is rigged and it will ultimately fail so that they can say they were right and you must forever do things their way.

10. She’ll love your darkest places…and will use them against you.

There was a Kevin Hart bit in which he said that worst thing a man can say is calling a woman the “b” word; but she will cut so deep just to hurt your pride (“Yeah, whatever, you pissing in the bed ass boy…BOOYAW!  Right in front of your mom [on Christmas].”).  Accurate.  If she’s pregnant, multiply that by infinity and then raise it to the infinity power…there may be a reduction to this; but what’s the square root of infinity?  Infinity.

I say this all in love and humor…but I did run this by a few who “love too much” for validity.

 

Put One Out For the Phifer

 

For me, the passing of Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor hits home in a very literal sense.  I grew up in the St. Albans area of Queens, New York.  To this day, I pass the Nu-Clear Cleaners on Linden and the one-nine-two-where A Tribe Called Quest stood atop in the “Check the Rhyme” video-regularly to take my grandmother to the bank.  To me, Tribe isn’t special because of their nearly flawless catalog of music; they are because they too called St. Albans home.

We all grew up on those five albums.  There are flashes of moments that are forever ingrained in my mind based around songs of theirs.  I recall being in first grade, crossing Murdock Avenue from Allen Christian School to St. Albans park and a group of us singing “Here we go, yo.  Here we go, yo.  So what’s so what’s so what’s the scenario?” when The Low End Theory was scorching.  My mother used to play “Electric Relaxation” at least three times every Saturday afternoon as we cleaned up our two-bedroom apartment on Francis Lewis Boulevard.  I remember starting middle school in the fall of 1996, and listening to “Stressed Out” on my walkman as my cheese bus got on the Van Wyck Expressway from Northern Boulevard and feeling like this moment was the beginning of a new chapter in my life.  Sixteen Novembers later, that song would be the soundtrack to the hardest time in my life.  I’ll get there.

Tribe’s 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest was released in October of 2011.  After watching it several times, of course, I was prompted to revisit ATCQ’s whole catalog repeatedly.  After dropping Timile and Cydney off in Virginia, I listened to “God Lives Through.”  It’s the last song on Midnight Marauders, the album in which the kids from Queens pulled off their three-peat of flawless and classic albums.  The musical bed of the track is moody and looking back, it’s as if Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Phife knew that this last song was the end of an era.  The perfected chemistry of the trio would forever be thrown off and nothing would be the same.  Enter the Beats, Rhymes, and Life era.

Beats, Rhymes, and Life doesn’t get the props that it deserves.  It’s an incredible album; but I can’t bear to listen to it.  During my three week residency in the Tidewater Area, I gravitated to the album’s darkness.  Listening to it was an outward reflection of where my mind and spirit was.  It was soothing to me.  After having to sneak visits to Timile in the hospital, I would vent to my friend, Donnell while driving to my not-so-well lit apartment to go to sleep on the green couch my in-laws had donated.  Shit, just thinking about that moment is giving me chills.  Picturing the moment where Phife raps “From Linden Boulevard down to Cascade Road” on “Mind Power” to my good friend who is no longer with us about someone I loved dearly who has passed on while writing a reflective piece based around the music of someone who just died.

I listened to “Stressed Out” the most while living in Virginia.  The version that’s on Beats, Rhymes, and Life only features Q-Tip and newcomer, Consequence.  I think that was well-fitting, because the two cousins only rapped about being frustrated.  That moment in life was missing Phife coming in and reminding me to be thankful for those who have supported him in the midst of all the bullshit.  In that period of life, I could have used his blunt delivery with a dash sense of humor as balance.

Yesterday afternoon, I took Cydney and my nephew to St. Albans to visit my dad.  Cydney’s school is off Linden in nearby Elmont.  After picking her up, I felt as if I needed to drive all the way down past Nu-Clear Cleaners instead of taking the quicker backstreets.  I had to for my man, Phife Diggy who always had something to say.

…Read It Because I Wrote It

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