Tag Archives: children

Father’s Day Hangover Pt. 2

One of the cards I received Sunday…

​Maybe one of my favorite all-time movie dads, King Jaffe Jofer was right when he said “There is a thin line between love and nausea.” I wake up with a hangover every Monday after Father’s Day. I wonder if I’m the only person who feels like this. It’s possible so much recognition causes my body to go into shock and it needs to recover.
The gifts, the BBQ’s, brunches, and what have you are all cool (I’m jealous of you rare dads that get to have alone time that weekend). The reason why Father’s Day means so much to us patriarchs is very simple: validation for our work.

In spite of some issues, Father’s Day was amazing. My daughter Cydney wanted to have a barbeque for me and my favorite people-unfortunately my dad couldn’t make it-in attendance. My nephew wanted to try lemon pepper wings; I made that happen and he loved them. I taught Cydney how to ride a two-wheel bike. I got cards with handwritten notes from my kids and my best friend…and I contributed to a video for Attn: that racked over 100k views. My work was working.

Over the past week, I have been giving the word validation a substantial amount of thought. My good friend, K-Star made a joke in our group chat and it resonated with me. After every clever quip he made, he followed with “Good one, K-Star.” I thought it was brilliant.

K went on to say that he had been giving himself hi-fives all week and it made him feel great. Somewhere between finding it funny and believing my friend, I gave it a shot. I first tried it in the group chat and it felt pretty good. I then tried it out in real life. While working at my desk at a job I’m not too enthralled about, I gave myself these little hi-fives after completing each task. 

K-Star pointed out the elusive obvious, or the thing that was right in front of us and we didn’t see it. How often do we validate ourselves? More often than not, people tend to let their insecurities drive them. Our brains are wired to unconsciously push us into circumstances for us to say “I knew I was _____! See?!” The balance to this is that people have a slightly exaggerated viewpoint of themselves as well. For as much as we try to coerce ourselves into thinking we aren’t good enough, we do the same to say “I am great.”

More often than not, we look outward for this validation. There is nothing wrong with that because we are human creatures. However, we tend to neglect the person who matters the most: us. 

An hour after K shared his epiphany, I felt amazing. As a very competitive person, I wanted to keep finding things to do to tell myself “Good one, Chad.” My mood changed. I began to ask better questions and finish tasks in record time at work. My writer’s block completely went away and I began to pen a fairly ambitious project. Something as simple as giving myself an inner hi-five was the beginning of a paradigm shift.

By the time Sunday came along, external validation had greater intrinsic value. Maybe I felt hungover because my body was in shock from all of the validation. Good one, Chad. Good one, K-Star.

I think all of you reading this should give this a shot. Do it for a day and let me know how it made you feel.


From One Single Father To Another: A Letter To Myself

​I didn’t remember what today was until Facebook reminded me. I have posted the same picture every morning and this year, it slipped my mind.
Five April 4th’s ago, I waltzed out of court with custody of my daughter. My mother-who had breast cancer-related surgery a week before-and I drove from New York to Virginia to disrupt the five months of Cydney living with her grandparents. That was the beginning of my happily ever after and the genesis of my adventures as a single dad.

It no longer feels like a big milestone; it’s been five years. A lot of the traumatic experiences and hardships that made 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 feel like a lifetime ago. Nonetheless, I do feel like it is healthy to acknowledge that time; but keep it moving. 

Hindsight is 20/20 for a reason. If we know where we are going, life would be no fun. However, it feels good to revisit old memories because one’s present is a culmination of past experiences. I’m sitting here asking myself if there was anything 31 year old Chad Milner could tell himself on April 4, 2012, what would that be? Fuck it…here goes nothing:

Ayo Chad,

If you could write me back, the first thing you should say is “Damn, you look good! Facial hair and all the weight off was the move.”

Anywho…You deserve how you’re feeling right now. While it is an uncertainty to us both, I believe Timile is smiling down on ya; shit, on both of us. Remember this feeling.
The reason I’m telling you to remember how you feel at this very moment is because the most important advice I can give you is to treat all victories-big and small-like right now. Not only will that keep you sane, it’ll become part of the charm that’ll continue to bring you good fortune. You attract what you currently are; so gratefulness will bear greatness.

All of these years of writing are finally going to pay off. You have spent almost all of your life writing music, only to feel lost, some resentment towards Timile for the decision, and all that shit, b. It will not be for naught. You have been developing a unique voice and people around the world will “Read it because I-we-wrote it.” Hell, all of that arguing with Timile and losing badly will turn into an asset because you will always stick to your point and back everything up.

You will spend a lot of time alone. Debt will rack up and you will be hustling continuously; but don’t let that stress you out. I know how you feel about being along, especially after we’ve been through. Look at it as well-spent time reflecting. I’m not going to tell you to not smoke because as backwards as it may sound, it’s a cathartic breathing exercise and many of your greatest ideas will come while exhaling poison. You’re going to quit, anyways.

For the first five years, December 9th -the day Timile died-won’t be a good day. Not because you will be sad; but that will be the day everyone will unconsciously deem “Let’s push Chad to his limits.” I’m not even going to tell you to shrug that shit off. Get mad and put that bass in your voice; people need to see that you’re human. As much as people will fuck with you that day, they will understand.

Do a better job at being human. Our experiences have toughened us; but you need to let people in a little more. Most of your articulating how you feel will be through text; but it will make you a better writer and readers will be able to feel you. Everything works out for a reason.

Life is going to get really interesting. What most people think is beyond crazy will just be another day for you. Nothing will ever be too hurtful that you can’t find the humor in it. You will find yourself getting closer to God through your shared twisted and ironic humor.

There will be women…lots of them. But hey, what’s the first word of your brand and site? Single. That shit is going to be lots of fun and a shit ton of drama. Believe it or not, you will learn the most about yourself in these five years through the ones you date. You will fall in love, you will have your heart broken, you will break hearts, you will piss a lot of people off and all of that. No matter what, remember this: whether it’s one date or a lifetime, do your best to treat them how you’d want someone to treat Cydney. In fact, they are all “Cydney” to someone.

Speaking of Cydney, that little girl right there is something else. She’s a wrecking ball. She is you and Timile if y’all had a baby and that’s entertainingly scary. She’s smart. She pays attention to every little thing you do because she will follow you everywhere you go. She’ll be your good luck charm.

Cydney will require a lot of patience. The amount of physical, mental, and spiritual endurance she will require will really make a man out of you. As much as you’re raising her, she’s raising you. Five years later, I’m still wondering what is God’s reason for the amount of fortitude this little girl requires. But you’ve been built and primed for it.

Also, your nephew is watching you. You are the day-to-day male role model for him. You’re going to be hard on him; almost too hard. But fuck it, everyone else is kind of soft and lets him get away with murder. Just keep him from being too smart for his own good. 

You have to let him win sometimes. Nah, fuck that. Actually, no you do. He’ll need that to boost his confidence because he is looking at you right now like “I want to be just like my uncle.” It’s kind of scary because you’re not used to dealing with kids that are his age. It’ll be all good, though. 

Get some words of wisdom from your grandmothers. They are going to understand you more than anyone else will. Stine won’t be around for much longer; but she’s gonna plant some seeds. Connie is still here and is about to be 90…she’s living proof of what life is all about. Talk to Donnell Tyler at least once a week. He’s going to hold you down until 2015. He goes, too; but goddamn it’ll be time well spent.

Live like tomorrow isn’t promised. That is no longer just some phrase to you; it is now applied knowledge. We have no regrets about Timile passing away because we let her know how we felt. Do that shit with everyone, yo. Everyone ain’t gonna do it back but that’s not why we do it.

Take joy in the little things. Annoy Cydney and Courtney because that shit is fun. Work on music with your dad. Your mother can’t take a joke; but keep teasing her. Clean up around the house a little more…that’s her love language. Don’t write your sister off; while you are twins, you have your own paths to walk and hers is glorious.

Don’t sweat the little shit because it’ll turn into big shit and because shit is real, we don’t need any more shit. Stop forgetting all of the little logistical things…

I think that’s all I got for you right now. Yep…no formal closing because you’re me and I’m you, so you know what it is.

There’s no need to right any wrongs; they’re all a part of the process.

Oh…things are going to get really interesting in about a year. Your greatest story begins April 2013. You’ll just know.

The Reverend Mason Betha Devotional: Moses, Aaron, and Blinky Blink

Every Monday I will share an anecdote and/or existential life lesson based on teachings from your favorite rapper’s favorite pastor, Ma$e. This week’s installment is a day late but never a dollar short.
“Now Angelica’s the one with all the exposure. Dil is the one who drop in the stroller. Tommy got the whole world on his shoulders. And Dil cries to sleep ’til his eyes get bleak. I couldn’t be Chuckie, Chuckie to petro[fied]. Chuckie get scared, Chuckie says “Let’s go.” If I was a Rugrat, it would’ve been so real. Me and my twin would’ve been just like Phil and Lil.”

By the fall of 1998, Mason Betha’s platform for had him sitting on top of the world. He even wrote a song about it (That’s for another devotional). Many top acts of the time solicited the good reverend and his ministry of self-love, self-awareness, and prosperity to magnify their own music.  

Somewhere between promoting his debut album and Harlem shaking the sophomore jinx with Double Up, Mase was going through a rough time. His first album had sold four million copies and his flame burned white hot. When mo’ money lead to mo’ problems, the Bad Boy found difficulty listening to his inner voice and preach.

In the middle of penning a piece about following man-made religions vs relationships with God called “Niggas Done Started Somethin’,” Mason received a phone call that changed everything. Legendary producer Teddy Riley solicited Rev. Betha’s services on for a song on the soundtrack to Nickelodeon’s full-length biopic, Rugrats, the Movie. Unsure of his own capabilities, Mase agreed to participate under the condition that his childhood friend, Blinky Blink gets to share the spotlight.

As he drove a car shaped like Reptar the dinosaur, Betha dropped the loaded gem mentioned at the beginning of this post. On the surface, it seems as if he is rapping about the characters of the film; he is referring to himself and how we all are Rugrats.

While he confidently sang, danced, and refused to keep his eyes on the road, Mase felt like Chucky. He was scared and needed inspiration; a Tommy so to speak. He remembered the story of Moses who was afraid to face the Pharaoh and free his people on his own. To boost his confidence, God sent Moses’ brother as accompaniment and the rest is history. In that moment, Blinky Blink was the Tommy to Mase’s Chucky/the Aaron to his Moses.

Being a little transparent, I related to Mase’s words. Had life been a little different, he and his twin sister, Stason Betha. For those who are familiar with the Rugrats chronicles, fraternal twins Phil and Lil did everything together; but fought like cats and dogs. 

Being a twin can make for an interesting dynamic. The phrase “Born alone, die alone,” doesn’t apply to us (I too have a twin sister). Sometimes this can cause difficulty in one finding their own voice and ultimately having more “Chucky” moments than others. 

Mase was so overwhelmed by the sheer mention of the Lil to his Phil, Blinky Blink immediately jumped in to let him know “You’re my little brother that I’ll run wit’.” 

Whenever we step out on faith, God always sends a Blinky Blink. Who is your Blinky Blink?

Thinking B.I.G.

“Biggie got killed,” were my mother’s first words to me on the morning of March 9, 1997. Somewhere between shock and déjà vu, the moment felt surreal. 

The passing of both B.I.G. and Pac felt like the end of childhood innocence. My world was beginning to expand in sixth grade: I went to middle school on the other side of the planet—northeast Queens—and began taking the MTA on my own to basketball practices. My worldview was becoming larger than my parents’ sphere of influence. The onset of adolescence required a different soundtrack. 

Twenty years later, I am the father to a six year old girl and a father figure to my nephew who is in the fifth grade. I have become my parents because I never want to listen to the nonsense my boy is into. They’re stuck listening to as Cydney says “that old school stuff” when they’re rolling with me.

Cydney and Courtney respond differently to my music. My nephew could care less; he’ll opt to blare Drake or something from his headphones. In my head, I still feel youthful; so if I play something like “Unbelievable” and he doesn’t nod his head appropriately, I feel old. He can’t relate and that’s fine…I did the same thing in 1995.

My nephew and I have talked about the difference between our musical preferences. He feels a similar way 10 year old Chad did about Earth, Wind, and Fire. I will tell him “See, B.I.G. was the greatest of all time. The way Hot 97 plays Drake all day, every day, is how they did with B.I.G.’s records.” My nephew will never understand how essential it is to live and die by the “Machine Gun Funk.”

Cydney on the other hand is her father’s child. Whenever I wear my t-shirt with Ready to Die album cover on it, she says “That’s Biggie Smalls, right? That’s the Notorious B.I.G., right daddy?!” 

If I play [edited versions] of the Brooklyn emcee’s songs, she begins to roll her neck to the beat and jam. She loves “One More Chance” and “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” But “Hypnotize” is her favorite. 

“Daddy, can you play “Hipmitize?” You rap the boy parts and I do the girl parts.” I’ll cue it up and she mimics that hefty “Uh…Uhh!” that let us all know the King of New York was about to say some shit in ’97.
Cyd wants to be in and a part of everything I do. She at the age in which I can do no wrong in her book. If I like it, she loves it, and she wants me to notice. In spite of being over my “old school stuff,” my daughter wants to be a part of it with me. She knows that music-especially hip hop-is a very large part of who I am. It’s in my walk, talk, attitude, and how I raise her. She wants to rap to instrumentals and play rhyming games.

Biggie Smalls died at 24 years old; he was just a kid. In my thirties, I have had a very hard time taking most things people in their mid-twenties say with seriousness (not you guys, of course). The concept “applied knowledge is power” is a brand new one because life is consistently kicking your ass. 

Listen to B.I.G. or a ‘Pac interview. They sound like kids who think they know more about life than they actually do. If that was your 23 year old cousin, you would listen intently and say in the back of your mind “Shut up! You don’t know shit!” However, reckless abandonment made that time in our lives so much fun.

For some reason, our generation doesn’t see B.I.G. as a kid we would ignore. His words still sound profound because it takes us back to that time in life when we looked at him as our big brother. The generation before us think of him as one of their homies who shared a similar struggle. We all have surpassed him in age and experience; but that’s the power of music. 

While “Blunts and broads, titties in bras, menage a trois, sex in expensive cars,” still sounds like a hell of a time, I’m listening that shit in an office thinking to myself “Once I get off work, I have fifth and sixth graders to coach, my daughter wants attention, and the other day I had an awesome ass date where we did laundry.” But there’s a brief moment I picture the week when “Hypnotize” went from the new song everyone tried to memorize to learning the words in memoriam.

Twenty years from now, Cydney and Courtney will hear “Juicy” somewhere. At 26 and 30, they’ll recall being the kids in the back of the car that looked up to me.

Assorted Thoughts On January 4th

This morning started like many others: my 6:45am nap on the Long Island Railroad to a soulful soundtrack. As I waited for the A train, I looked at my Facebook account and saw a memory. It was a video of Cydney. It prompted me to shut off DMX’s folk ballad “Niggas Done Started Somethin’,” and press play. 

Three years ago, my daughter wished her mother a happy birthday and blew a kiss. A smirk crept out of the corner of my mouth as I remembered it was January 4.

Five years ago, I was getting dressed to go to court. It would be the first of several hearings in two states over the course of two years. I knew my in-laws would not drive from Virginia to New York to attend that day. 

I wanted them to know I meant business. Timile hadn’t been buried three weeks. For her first birthday in heaven since 1986, the Browns had to deal with me…and I didn’t give a fuck. January 4, 2012 was the day I became fearless.
My time with Timile Brown taught me how to love with no limits and that made me a dangerous person. FDR’s famous quote “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” became reality. If I continuously strived to get out of my own way, what was the worst that could happen? They died of cancer and custody hearings for my child before the body gets cold? Shit, everything else in life was light work.

I was more than prepared to go toe-to-toe with Timile’s parents five January’s ago. Two months prior, my father in-law’s intimidating tactics scared the fuck out of me and I rolled over for the sake of peace. It wouldn’t have happened that day in court. Hell, it wouldn’t have happened today, either. That morning, I decided rarely would I ever lie down in passivity again unless I absolutely had to. If I did, it damn sure wasn’t going to be because I was scared.

How do I currently feel about Timile’s parents? I still don’t like them. I still have trust issues because of them. I absolutely hate that they only call Cydney on her birthday, Easter, and Christmas; that shit really irks me. However, they’re the ones who are missing out. Cydney is an amazing little girl who is happy. I would tell them everything I have written here to their face, as well. 

I have no malice in my heart for Cydney’s maternal grandparents. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean that I don’t love them (I accidentally said it to them last Christmas). Forgiving them set me free from a lot and it might be my biggest act in fearlessness. Forgiveness just might be the most courageous action in all of our lives.

Nowadays I rarely refer to Timile by name. It isn’t because she has become a ghost that I am afraid of or anything like that. It has become a habit. Most of the people I associate with didn’t know her, so to many she is “Cydney’s mother,” or “my daughter’s mother.” 

The main reason I have this habit of not saying “Timile” is because of Cydney. As a Kindergartner, her classmates all live in her neighborhood. She sees all of the kids and their moms; there is a heightened awareness that something is different for her. 

Cyd seems to get put off-guard when Timile is mentioned around her. It triggers something and she begins to feel sad. One day, while driving home, Cydney says to me “Daddy, I don’t want people to mention my mom. Why do they?” Time and time again, I tell her “Because she meant something to many of us that knew her.” It’s the only thing I can think of to say.

Last week, I was in the midst of my morning ritual mentioned in the first paragraph. A creature of habit, I pulled out my phone and opened up Facebook as Dark Man X growled and yelled “Is y’all muthafuckas ready or what?!” A picture of a very pregnant Timile and I showed up in my memory cue. I immediately pulled up a picture of Cydney from Christmas day and thought to myself “Man, Cydney is a perfect blend of the two of us.”

When Cydney was first born, all I could see is Timile. As my daughter has matured, Cydney Moriah Milner has become a miniature version of me but with no filter. 

In writing all of this, I have come to a realization. I’m kind of “over” this. I am-and have for years-been more interested in the future. As soon as I post this, I still have work to do. People turn their past experiences into demigods and elephants in the room. Fuck that. I don’t subscribe to that mindset. Just acknowledge, let the assorted thoughts come, and move on.

Hopefully Alicia Keys’ New Album Will Make People Leave Her ‘Blended Family’ Alone

This is an amazing picture….

Social media: the magical place where everyone is a judge or critic while lacking context, experience, or expertise. I love the creativity it has spawned…even if a lot of the content lacks substance.
Alicia Keys’ newest album, Here, is available in all media outlets (streaming, stores, and iTunes) today (November 4). Rooted in soul, gospel, and hip hop, AK’s newest album is a love letter to people with a New York state of mind. 

Hopefully this album will be the beginning of the end with regards to the internet dragging Alicia Cook through the mud. Here’s first single, “Blended Family (What You Do For Love), featuring A$AP Rocky, is an ode to complicated familial dynamics. On the midtempo track, Keys sings directly to her stepson, Kassem Jr., letting him and the world know how she feels in a manner that many can understand and relate to.

For those that do not know, here is the brief back story: Alicia Keys and producer Swizz Beatz began seeing each other in 2008. At the time, Swizzy was still legally married to his wife, singer Mashonda, whom he had a son with. Keys and Beatz married in 2010 and had their first child, Egypt, a few months later. Needless to say, this timeline can make the transition into a happy family a little complicated.

“I know it started with a little drama. Hate you had to read it in the paper,” the singer begins her second verse. Since the news of Alicia Keys and her now husband became one, she has received some sort of backlash on the internet. People have called her a home wrecker, a word that you’d get if one takes that “m” out of “home,” and a myriad of judgments from people who have yet to understand how complicated life can get. Any little faux pas she makes, note she cracks, or risk she takes, people can’t wait to throw stones and hide their hands while sitting on their high horse.

Men and women cheat. Marriages-half of them-end before death parts the bride and groom/bride and bride/groom and groom; and irreconcilable differences being the cause of most. What almost anyone who has ever been through a divorce can tell you is that the marriage has ended long before the separation or official signing of legal documentation. There is a long period of loneliness in which one’s heart, mind, and spirit has left the union before the body does. How could the classically trained pianist have wrecked a home that was already in shambles? 

Hindsight is 20/20 for a reason. People often don’t realize that we have made mistakes until they look back for perspective. Many people get married and go through hell; only to realize long after it has ended that they weren’t supposed to have united with that person in the first place. We all know people who have entered or stayed in relationships they knew they should have left after several proverbial red flags have been waved. Just because Mashonda and Swizz Beatz wed and had a child together doesn’t mean that they were supposed to.

Nonetheless, mistakes in life are relative. Everything works out the way that it was supposed to. While things may have been complicated for the Dean family, they all seem to be very happy and supportive of each other. It may sound absurd; but many of us are the products of mass confusion and fairly messed up circumstances; and we are all trying to find happiness in our own journey. More can relate to the song “Blended Family,” the story that created it, and ever after they are living much more than the snide comments they make for retweets and internet fodder.

A Tribe Called Quest’s New Album Rollout Brings The Feels

A picture of A Tribe Called Quest at the Kanye show I was too late to see them at.

A Tribe Called Quest is releasing their final album, We Got It from Here, Thank You for Your Service, next week. While I am more than certain that the project is one of love, life and celebration, the title itself makes me feel a way.

I read the New York Times article, Loss Haunts A Tribe Called Quest’s First Album in 18 Years yesterday. It was a heavy, yet beautiful. I had this unidentifiable feeling looking at pictures of Jarobi with a graying beard and Q-Tip-who seemed to never age-beginning to look like a man in his mid-forties. The world and myself have been waiting for “A-E-I-O-U…and sometimes Y” to get it together and lace us with new music; but not like this; but I understand.

A Tribe Called Quest means a lot to me. I’m from Queens. I’m from St. Albans. “Back in the days on the Boulevard of Linden” is not some classic rap lyric to me; it’s my reality. I drive past the block that on November 19 will be renamed “Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor Way” all of the time. My grandfather’s wake was held at the funeral home right across the street from the Nu-Clear Cleaners Tribe stood on and filmed the music video for “Check the Rhyme.” 

The Midnight Marauders’ music was the soundtrack to the hardest period of my life. The October 2011 release of Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest prompted me to listen to their whole catalog repeatedly. Timile, Cydney, and I were in the process of relocating from Buffalo to Virginia. Cyd left with her grandparents October 14, I drove Timile down the weekend of the 20th, and I worked in Buffalo for an extra week, completing the move October 31st. 

Virginia was a very tough time because I was by myself. I spent all day applying for jobs at a Starbucks, visited Timile in the hospital during the evenings (only for a half hour at a time because her parents told me I had to sneak around and hide), and spend time with my daughter at the in-laws with vigilant eyes watching me as if Cydney wasn’t my child. 

Q-Tip and Phife’s words, Ali Shaheed’s soundscape, and Jarobi’s spirit were the only friends I had in Virginia during those three weeks. Living in a place that was nothing like my stomping grounds, the music was all I had to cure my homesickness. I needed their playful lyrics to express what was a complicated time and abstract thoughts. My mother was just starting her first round of chemotherapy, so even there I was feeling depleted because I had spent all of my time being there for others. I had my big brother, Barry, and my good friend Donnell that I could call and vent to. To this day, I can barely listen to the album Beats, Rhymes, and Life in its entirety…its darkness and frustration with changing times give me Vietnam Flashbacks to those evenings.

However, I can listen to “God Lives Through” from Midnight Marauders all day and not get tired of it. It was the perfect ending to a perfect album. That was the victory lap of a time that can never be replicated. So when it plays, you just vibe out and remember the struggle and hard times with a melancholy smile. It’s the welcomed kind of moodiness, if that makes sense. If one asks me how I feel about living in Virginia five years ago, it’s a pleasant sadness I think of very fondly. Timile Brown may have still been alive; but that was the beginning of the Single Dadventures.

*Does litmus test to see if I can write with Beats, Rhymes, and Life playing. Turns Midnight Marauders back on…Beats was too distracting.*

Reading the Times article yesterday afternoon was interesting. Jarobi lamented on how traveling and recording this last album was taking a toll on Phife, who had been living with diabetes since 1990 and succumbed to the disease March 22, 2016. The click bait articles are trolling by using headlines like “The Final Tribe Album Killed Phife” or some shit that I’m exaggerating to get my point across. Some people are just not going to understand; but I do.

The phrase “Now I can die in peace” is often a joke; but the sentiment is a real thing. I truly believe that Malik Taylor knew his time on earth was coming to an end. The only thing he had left to do was make right with his friend since four years old, Q-Tip, and lay down some Tribe music. I have witnessed people “transition,” in which they stick around on earth until a few more things are in order and then let go. They see the world very differently. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is why Q-Tip said that he had a very hard time listening to Phife’s vocals on this new album. Other than him no longer being with us, there is probably something very different about the timbre of his voice. Those who are transitioning sound different. 

The heavy feeling that is sitting with me in lieu of this final Tribe album is one of completion. I have been trying to see them live ever since. I missed them a few times in New York (I was late to when they opened up for Kanye West at the Barclay’s Arena in 2013); but things happen the way they are supposed to. 

I think I was unconsciously searching for a closing to an emotional void. For the past five years, there has been a lack of vulnerability on my end. I am used to my emotional processing being an internal process that even in times of wanting to shed tears I literally can’t. It’s time for things to be different. So I guess with the last album dropping November 11, 2016, I can say to friends that helped me through a very tough time-Timile, Donnell, A Tribe Called Quest-I got it from here, thank you for your service.

Baseball Season Finally Coming to an End

At the end of an undefeated season, my nephew’s baseball coach of three years, Coach Frank, pulled me aside last June. He expressed his concerns that Courtney hadn’t progressed much over the past year. My boy was making good contact; but he wasn’t shifting his bat when he swung and the ball would drop in the infield. During the summer season, he didn’t pitch often because he was attempting to place the ball as opposed to throwing it over his shoulder and putting his body into it.
Courtney had a decent summer season in 2015 and began to show signs of his potential. Playing with a competitive travel team is much different than little league. I told my boy going into that summer that he would no longer be playing against just the best in his neighborhood; but the best in all of their respective communities.

He participated in winter workouts. I didn’t attend many of them but I would take Courtney in the back yard and practice pitching with him. We wouldn’t go inside until he could throw three outs worth of strikes over home plate. He still placed his pitches a little; nonetheless, he was getting better.

When the spring season started, my guy rose to the occasion. Playing in a new division, he led his team to the championship series. At the top of the sixth inning, the Baldwin Red Sox were down by one run. The opposing team loved to cheer very loudly and one of the mothers would pull out an air horn when they scored. The Rockies spent most of the game losing and as soon as they were in the lead it got obnoxious.

With all of the passion in the world, I told the boys to shut that team up. I wanted the Rockies to hear me. At the top of the last inning, my nephew hit an RBI that put our team in the lead. I looked at one of our other coaches and told them to let Courtney pitch. He had been lights out all season and we don’t want to have to play a second game. My nephew took the mound and struck out the side: three outs in nine pitches for the win.

We celebrated for all of four days and it was time to get ready for summer travel ball. Courtney had a decent summer. Towards the end of the season, I showed him how to throw a second pitch, a split-finger fastball—a fastball that drops as soon as it reaches the plate. His arm got vicious. 

By the end of the summer, I would warm up with him by throwing the ball as hard as I could without injuring my shoulder. He could hang without dropping the ball or being scared of it. As I previously wrote, when he practiced with the 12 year old team, he outplayed everyone. 

Slowly but surely, everyone who watched my nephew play baseball noticed his talent. Anyone who saw him recognized that he was hands-down the most talented player on the team. 

My nephew started the summer season as the number five batter in the lineup. He had a little of a slump and dropped to number six towards the end of the season. For those who do not know, the three, four, and five batters are the heart of your lineup. The third batter has the highest batting average, the fourth is the slugger, and the fifth is the other power hitter. Batters six through nine are the lesser hitters; but six is still a decent hitter.

When the fall season started, Courtney continued to progress. By October, my nephew became the number three batter in the lineup. He ended the season with a .750 batting average, .775 on base percentage, and didn’t strike out all season. He twice was one hit short of completing a cycle, ending the season this Sunday with a two-run homer.

I told my nephew last year that while he loves basketball, baseball should and would be his thing. He didn’t believe me and didn’t want to listen. As of now, all he wants to do is play baseball. He always has a glove on and when he has free time, he’s playing MLB the Show. As of now, he can throw three pitches well enough to utilize them in a game.

…He’s come a very long way from that conversation I had with Coach Frank sixteen months ago and I’m very proud of him.

Soccer Dad Chronicles: Season 4, Episode 3


Week three in soccer began with the Burguundy Dragons’ first practice. We were getting our tails handed to us the previous two Saturdays; needless to say the extra time couldn’t have hurt.

I have paid attention in many of Cydney’s other instructional periods over the year and should have been able to think of an hour’s worth of drills for my girls to do. However, I couldn’t think of not one activity to do that Wednesday. I sent Neighbour a text, asking for her coaching expertise to help me drum up some drills.

That Wednesday afternoon, I showed up, attempted to do some drills with the Dragons. They were somewhat done. I didn’t have the highest expectations; they’re five and six years old. The preliminary purpose of practice was for the girls who were newer to the sport to enjoy it a little more. We did some dribbling, passing, and footwork drills. After 30 minutes, I said “eff it” and let the girls run around and play.

I rounded the Burgundy Dragons up Saturday morning. I told them that we were going to have fun and do our best to win today. I told them to pile up their hands and on the count of three, yell “Let’s get busy!”

They lived up to our little cheer. We came out the gate playing aggressively. Even Cydney started the game running as hard as she could. Within the first 15 minutes, we were leading 2-0.

That changed. We are most deficient at the goalie position. It’s understandable. These first graders are playing on a field four-times larger than in the spring and the goals were much larger as well. Before I know it, we were trailing 4-2. 

In spite of our best efforts, we still lost, 6-3. One girl was so tired she just quite. Another had hurt herself that morning at home and needed to drop out, also. God bless my child, she wanted to kick the ball, lay, and play in the grass. This group of girls had their minds a few other places.

After our loss, I was determined to have an even better practice so that we could hit the field and win some games. Since there are only two teams, a rivalry is brewing, with the Burgundy Dragons being the underdog. 

Once again, I texted Neighbour to advise me with drills I can have the girls perform. I would like to say that the results were mixed. One drill was to have the girls practice passing while running. Since all these kids do is run into a cluster with everyone trying to kick the ball, I thought it would make sense for the Dragons to spread out and we could score more goals.

Nope. The girls would run, stop, kick the ball. They weren’t getting it. Since my days start at 4:30am, I was beyond spent by 5:30pm. So once again, I just let the girls run around and told their parents to thank me for tiring out their offspring.

Due to unfavorable weather conditions, our game was cancelled. I sent a max text to parents of my team and did something I never do: got some rest. For me, “sleeping in” is staying in bed until 8:30am. I woke up at 9:45am, ran an error or two, came home, then slept until 3:45pm. That was one of the best Saturdays, ever.

​Soccer Dad Chronicles: Season 4, Episodes 1 and 2

Previously on Soccer Dad Chronicles: I enrolled Cydney into a soccer club in what would become her new school district in the fall of 2016. Playing with mostly kindergarteners, Cyd played very well when she felt like it, scoring at least one goal a game (and a not-so-great goalie). We collectively named our team the Orange Monsters and lived up to the name by wreaking havoc on the other five year olds.

Last Spring was my first experience head coaching. I loved that for once, Cydney and I weren’t the only people of color at the soccer field who weren’t working. I built a little rapport with a couple of the parents and one mother in particular…nothing has nor will it happen; but yeah.

Also, a post that I have written two years ago about Cydney playing soccer became a topic on Fox’s The Real in September. So now that I’ve caught you all up…Season 4!

At the end of the Spring season, I decided that I was going to move Cydney up to play with the first graders; even though she would be in kindergarten in the fall. A few weeks into September, the soccer sign-up sheet was placed in the children’s folders. I read the sheet. After kindergarten, the girls and boys are separated. I knew that Cydney would be a little relieved because she was getting tired of being one of the only girls.

I became a little apprehensive at the second thing I noticed. The first grade girls were being combined with the second graders. Cydney’s skillset is advanced enough to not only play-but excel-against second graders. At five, I was wary of her being fast enough to keep up with seven year olds. I spoke to Cydney’s former coach, Coach Eddie, and asked whether or not I should move Cyd up. Without hesitation, Coach Eddie said she can definitely handle that. So I did.

After registration, there was a coach’s meeting. I looked at my call sheet for my fall roster to see if I had any of my children from last season. Two of the girls from my Orange Monsters would be joining me on my burgundy squad.

Looking at my list of girls, I couldn’t help but snicker. The daughter of Fly Soccer Mom would be on the team and I would have to call her to inform when we would be getting started. With my life being a revolving door of irony and drama…I knew this would happen. I jokingly told a friend of mine “Watch Fly Soccer Mom’s child be on my team.” I either need to 1) Stop jokingly claim things into existence or 2) Jokingly claim four lottery numbers.

I showed up to the field on October 1 a half hour early to hand out uniforms and meet my girls and their parents. I also recruited Cydney’s cousin, Keyanna to play. Keyanna is seven months older than Cydney and played together with Coach Eddie. Keyanna’s father and I are second cousins and very close; so I love the idea of our daughters being just as tight.

I introduced myself to the children and their parents as they funneled in, Fly Soccer Mom was not in attendance. Her friend that I met last June was there for in her place because Fly Soccer Mom’s older daughter was playing on a competitive travel team. While on the phone, Fly Soccer Friend knew I was the coach and I found that a little peculiar. Fly Soccer Friend relayed the message that she couldn’t make it and asking when I would be holding practices. I answered questions and it was then time to play ball.

Because of limited enrollment, there are only two teams of first and second grade girls. As opposed to a rotation, there will be a seven-week rivalry of the green team vs. burgundy. We were beginning to get our asses handed to us. The lime team didn’t have a coach; but they had a second grader that I jokingly told parents I knew from before “I think this girl drove here.” No lie, as soon as she got the ball the just blew past everyone and scored. I started thinking to myself “Maybe I should give this practice thing some thought.”

When our session ended, I asked the girls what we should name our squad. There was a few suggestions; but Cydney coined the name “Burgundy Dragons.” We voted and that was what we went with (that’s some alliteration!).

The Burgundy Dragons/Lime Green rivalry has been beyond one-sided. The Burgandy Dragons have been getting nothing short of slayed. Super Second Grader scored like four goals and only played about ten minutes. The Burgundy Dragons didn’t want to run at all. I had one girl who put in some work while everyone else walked around (and no…it wasn’t Cydney).

Cydney is nothing short of lethargic on the soccer field. She kills the instructional period or kick around a ball doing some fairly amazing shit (Like step around the ball with her right foot then side kick the ball with her left foot crossing over from behind) and then just jog around during game time. During the first week, I took her out for it. 

During halftime: I looked at my group of five and six year olds and said “Here’s a word for today. Liability.” The first graders asked me “What does liability mean?” I told them “When your effort can be the reason you’re losing…go tell your parents you learned what liability means today.” Not only do I coach soccer, I teach them vocabulary.

With my pride and joy being a liability, I looked her in the eye and told her “Hey…you’re the most talented kid on this team and they need you. I need you to run.” She looked at me and said okay. Cydney started giving more of an effort. She had a few breakaways. When she was actually running, no one could stop her. However, the field that she is currently playing on is much larger than before, so she died out right before the finish and didn’t score. I sent Coach Eddie a video of Cyd’s play and he said she needs to work on making moves in front of defenseman. If she could do the things I have been teaching her while running in full stride, Super Second Grader wouldn’t stand a chance.

It’s the beginning of a new season and I have a feeling that I am in for some more interesting tales. Our first practice will be this afternoon.