Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year, Bitches!

First & foremost, I want to extend peace, blessings, & prayers to all of you reading this. May your higher power be with you as we begin a new season of earthly life. Secondly, if you are reading this, congrats! You've survived another year on this God-forsaken planet, successfully navigating death, despair, poverty, disease (hopefully) & dozens of other misfortunate happenings that plenty of folks have succumbed to. So, no matter how bad things may appear, rejoice in your apparent resilience, & rest assured that, though another person's existence is by no means a measuring stick, there's always someone who's worse off than you. Whether that makes you happy or sad is your call. I'm just here to point shit out & provide commentary. All other assessments are yours to make. No need to thank me, but you are welcome, just in case.

However, I will thank you, for fucking with me. Pause-if that makes you uncomfortable. As I've stated several times, there's no tangible reason for cats & dogs & birds to come & read my words. I appreciate the fact that you deem me worthy of your time. Time, being the most expensive asset in the world, because once it's gone, it's gone, even if you're Marty McFly. When I was a kid, I was adamant on building a time machine, so once I got to a certain age, I could go back in time & do it again. When I grew up, I realized that even if I did that, I'd still grow old, but perhaps I'd be able to warn a youthful Tony Grands about avoidable missteps. Then I remembered some movies I'd seen about flux capacitors & space-time continuums, & my high started coming down, & I was off that. But anyway...

I want to share a few things I've learned this year, if I may. I've learned that the majority of your family has no blood relation to you. I've learned that life is short as hell, & if you're a Black man, over the age of 35, you are middle-aged. I'm creeping up on 34, so, yeah. I've learned that anger is a heavy burden, & forgiveness is an elusive state of mind, & the two cannot occupy the same space simultaneously. I haven't quite learned yet how to make the transition between the two, but I'm working on that. I'll keep you posted.

I've learned that women are easy to please, but men are too stubborn to see it. That one was actually a couple of years in the making, but now I have the solidified happiness to show & share with the world. I've learned that being a good parent is usually the deciding factor in the child's victories & failures. As well, I've learned that being a good parent is a trait that is born from humility, experience & a willingness to step back sometimes & let nature take it's course. I've learned that my parents aren't super heroes, or robots, but rather normal human beings, just like me. & no matter how hard I try, I'll never be a super hero, or robot, either. I've learned that mustard is good on any type of meat. Pause. I've learned that most adult humans can't digest milk, & those that can have a mutated gene. I've learned that A LOT of people don't really read the Bible, they just skim through to the "good" parts. I've learned that "the truth" is dependent on the eye of the beholder, like beauty, but actuality never, ever changes.

I've learned that more people love & respect me, than hate & despise me. I've learned that I love & respect more people than I hate & despise. Actually, I've learned that I really don't hate anyone, & quite possibly never have. Hate is a strong emotion. Stronger than most people can truly fathom. It's just such a fun word to toss around that it's lost it's edge, like "nigga". I've learned how gullible people fall in love over the Internet. Personality is the axis of attraction, even if physical qualities distract us. If one's personality is genuine, assuming they're being true, how could a bond not be formed, even without physical contact? I've learned that you don't have to meet someone in person for them to be a friend. & I've learned that a personal relationship with someone doesn't mean they're your friend, regardless of what they say. "They" always have something to say...

Don't you just love how Black folks love to end any ceremonious event with a shout out? On Court TV, I actually saw a dude rattle off "shout outs" as he was being escorted away for life imprisonment. Roffle mayo. Oh well, he'll think twice before he murders a prostitute again. But anyway, there's far too many cats who supported me over this last year or so, but I love y'all motherfuckers. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! Thanks for the support, for believing in me, for the kind words, the intelligent exchanges, the real talks-when necessary, & basically being there for me, as well as giving me a reason to be here for y'all. Really though, I appreciate the appreciation.

Brand new year, brand new bullshit, same old nigga...Happy New Year, Bitches!

[tony's note: keep your goddamned gun(s) in the house tonight...please]

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


There's nothing wrong with having a down ass partner. & rightfully so, there's nothing wrong with being said partner. We all need those people, or need to be those people in life. It creates & sustains balance. Yin & yang, so to speak. A king isn't a king without servants & council, & thusly, servants & council are formless without a figurehead to fall behind. In the Hip Hop world, the main dude, commonly known as the star, the breadwinner or simply "the boss", has an entourage, full of various characters; yes men, "security", barbers, gophers, groupie getters, "the gay guy", etc. But at the top of that hierarchy of hanger-oners is the weed carrier. One doesn't become a weed carrier overnight. It takes years of unsolicited, fellatious behavior with no regard for one's own dignity, esteem, & in some cases, manhood. Most often, the weed carrier's career begins as the sidekick, the go-to man who has stayed loyal, & risen through the ranks of come & go faces, to be crowned the coveted spot next to the breadwinner of the operation. Benefits include: standing directly behind the star in most videos, accompanying the star out on stage during performances to cover all ad-libs & forgotten verses, spokesperson for the star when the star's not available, laughing at all the boss' jokes-especially in public, & lastly-carrying drugs, guns, &/or anything the star has no business carrying on his/her person. A faithful, studious weed carrier can parlay his/her skills as a professional lackey into various careers. Notice the similarities between the words "carrier" & "career". Just saying. Plenty of today's celebrities began as weed carriers, most noteworthy is Flavor Flav, who eventually shucked, jived, & cooned his way into super stardom, surpassing that of his boss, Chuck D. Flav single handedly changed the game, & epitomized the role as mega-sidekick extraordinaire, dancing &"Yeaaaah booooyeeeee"-ing his way through Public Enemy videos, albums, & concerts, eventually dropping lucid verses on politically charged songs that he had no business yelling on. The crowned jewel of that leg of his success being a cameo on Ice Cube's 'Only Out For One Thing', in 1990. Also, see umbrella holder Fonzworth Bentley, back seat rappers Tony Yayo & Spliff Star, & Memphis Bleek. When Flavor stepped into the limelight on his own, he left a big ass pair of clown shoes to fill. Enters Memphis Bleek. With Jay-Z on his back (sort of) & the future on his mind, fleeting success is an ad-lib & a co-sign away, & Bleek has perservered just long enough to see it through. Maybe.

Bleek is the consummate weed carrier. Actually, I'm sure Jay-Z traded weed for illegal cuban cigars sprinkled with hobo ashes a couple million dollars ago, but for conversational purposes, Memphis is a weed carrier. & a damn good one, at that. When discussing with others about business dealings with the boss, integrity should never take a backseat to humility. "We ain’t do nothing yet [for my new album]… One thing about me and Jay, we don’t do forced music… If that’s the case I’da been all over these last [Jay-Z] albums." Now, while he could've said, 'Nah, Jay won't call me back, but it's all good 'cuz he be busy & shit," he opted for the more diplomatic approach, so as not to step on toes &/or make himself uncomfortable the next time he asks for a "loan". That's a smart, well mannered man, undoubtedly with a plan. "It takes a while; you can’t just take over a empire overnight."

"I got this joint called ‘Forever Roc Boy,’ [and] he might, he might wanna get on that because where I’m going on that, man, niggas gonna be mad at me, baby." Any good weed carrier knows that he must not only taunt other possible baggage handlers as often as possible, but keep the boss guessing by wafting blanket statements of what he's got going on. If the boss thinks the weed carrier is growing complacent, he will surely, & swiftly replace him with the next eager beaver in line.

A weed carrier's position does come with some confusing times. One's identity is usually sacrificed in the process if they're not careful, cautious, & cognizant. Truly, only the strong can survive in such a menial capacity, all the while still looking forward to a grander scheme. "Being that Jay’s my brother, and we represent it and we really got that love for each other, he blessed me with the right to [be able] to own [the] rights to everything of Memphis Bleek right now and do my own thing, and where I would own my own masters and all that. Ain’t that what we worked for? So, that’s the best thing. If he achieved it, why not show me the same light. That’s my brother, right"? Notice the rhetorical questions & the symbiotic rambling, so he doesn't forget that he's still his own man, while haplessly suckling the teet that feeds him. That's nothing short of genius. Up & coming weed carriers should note the poise & grace demonstrated, it could be the difference boning the groupies, or going to get them more liquor to drink.

A legitimate weed carrier finds opportunities to praise the boss, simultaneously showing other's why he's the chosen one. "If you really pay attention, man, everybody running around like as if Jay owed us something. That man did all he could do for us. So it’s like, once everybody got they contracts terminated and went to make they own decisions and wanted to go they own way, you had to pick up where you left off and do your thing." Indeed. & his thing is, sticking close to what's good. How can anybody be mad at that?

While the fickle public observes the weed carriers role as useless, somewhat of a dead-end job for kiss asses, the weed carrier is intently focused, careful to pat his own back as much as he strokes the necessary amount of balls. "Like, my loyalty to Jay, definitely that’s something lost in the game. If you really just pay attention to my career, I been down with Jay from before Jay was Jay, when he was known as Shawn in the projects, I been rollin’ with him, ‘til now. We went from borrowing sugar from each other house to this dude - “Yo, let me hold a G5.” And nothing changed. That’s my dude". With the exception of Flavor Flav, & blame the rumors of crack smoking if you must, a weed carrier's responsibility always allows wiggle room for association. As often as possible. Such leverage exposes opportunities for self-promotion, without appearing mutinous. Tony Yayo once used such manuevers, until he decidedly opted to glamorize 50 Cent non-stop, which is clearly the more lucrative decision. Why waste time rapping, when you can be another man's live action billboard. In a perfect world, that's gotta count for something.

The basic element of weed carrying, which is somewhat of a lost art in today's cannibalistic rap world, is Kool-Aid sipping. Though it has evolved somewhat since (the real) Jim Jones perfected it decades ago, the premise remains unscathed. Love your leader, follow him blindly, & hold on tight, no matter how much he strings you along. That's the only way to be granted admission into the spaceship, per se. "I never been the guy who made a mistake, took a L, then be in the public eye whining about it, blaming, pointing fingers. I never been that guy neither. From all you ever seen me is, whether my homie’s right or wrong, he always been right in my eyes, and I’ma stand 100% by him". The sky's the limit when eggregious co-signing has no boundaries. If the book 'The 48 Laws Of Power' had an ass backwards, Bizzaro-world, dyslexic edition, it would surely be the weed carrier's survival guide.

When it's all said & done, the weed carrier's job is to make his boss shine, & let people know that, while somebody has got to do the waxing, it's all for a greater good. A feel good story about self-affirmation, with the breadwinner as the nucleus, is the weed carrier's best friend. It's like a publicity hand grenade, for when the talent bop gun gets low on ammunition.

"Like, let me tell you something that just happened recently, right, you know they just did the tenth anniversary photo shoot for Roc-A-Wear? So they called me to come down there and do the picture or whatever. The Roc-A-Wear people tried to pay me, like they had a check for me at the photo shoot. And I’m like, “Nah, I can’t take that check.” I think the check was like for between I think like $7,000 to $10,000. And I’m like, “I can’t take that check.” And the dude he like, “Yo, why not?” I’m like, “Nah ‘cause this my homie's company. Why my man gotta pay me just to take some pictures? Like, this my nigga! We from the [same] projects. You don’t have to pay me. [Doing] this is nothing.” So then Jay called me the next day like, “Yo Bleek, why you ain’t take the money?” I’m like, “Yo Hov, that’s like me stealing from you, just taking money from you, c’mon. What I did for you yesterday took 15 minutes out my day, you don’t have to pay me for that. I’ma get the money some other way.” And that nigga said to me, “Yo that’s why I love you, you one of the realest niggas ever, you would never meet nobody else in the world who would do that...And that’s just the loyalty I have to my team...I’m always for my team first".

Nowadays, niggas are quick to jump to the head of the class. Gone are the days when a dude would politely sit back, & wait, & wait, & wait, & wait, without any obvious signs of his time coming, anytime soon, but still hold it down for the team. Or more specifically, the boss. Memphis Bleek deserves a special place in Hip Hop for that sheer determination. He realizes that if he can't drive the Maybach, he can at least ride shotgun until he get's dropped off at home. & not a lot of hangers-on can say that, with misguided-yet adament pride, & still look in the mirror as men the next morning.

Giving credit where credit is due, Memph Bleek is...the GOAT (of weed carriers).

*with assistance from*

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

*no thinking cap required

No shots. Not even warning shots. Just saying...

Hip Hop, rap music more specifically, is mad mundane nowadays. That statement alone is one of the reasons Raekwon's 'OB4CL2' & Slaughterhouse's self-titled albums were so well received by the critical public at large. Also, this is why they didn't sell an ass load of albums, either. More on that later...

The Hip Hop fan has grown accustomed to a certain formula. Brainwashed, perhaps. We've graduated from accepting a mediocre beat, if the lyrics were hot (the '90s) to accepting a bland mixture of okay rhymes & so-so tracks (the '00s) to now, the end of 2000's first decade, & rap music is boring as fuck, for the most part. Sans a handful of artists who genuinely craft witty raps without a bunch of unnecessary violence &/or fantasy lifestyle, & it's the same song, over & over again. It's common knowledge that to be a successful rap guy, your chains, your guns, your cars, & your ability to get bitches ranks higher than your song crafting skills. If we get nothing else, that we get. Multiply that complete lack of originality by some trunk-thumpage that the hood rats & socialites alike can shake their tail fur at, & best believe, somebody somewhere will play your shit, loudly & often, however uninspiring it may be.

"Rewindability" is virtually non-existent at present, unless we're talking about DOOM, Slaughterhouse (as a collective), U-God & Ghostface Killa. Ghostface, not so much because he astounds with the verbiage, but because I don't smoke dust blunts. & even with some rewinding, most dudes still have no idea what the hell he's talking about, unless it's his dick. Pause. If I did smoke the leaf that dare not speak it's name though, something tells me he'd be the illest MC ever to grab the mic. I guess Eminem earned a spot in that group as well, but unlike most rap fanatics, I'm willing to admit that somewhere along his audio journey, Marshall Mathers hit me in the brain with so much awesomeness that I'm now hard pressed to be in awe at the majority of his current masterpieces. His genius has leveled off into normalcy, so to speak. He's more Kobe, less Lebron, if you smell my cologne. Once "greatness" has ascended to such an unattainable altitude, we come to expect nothing less than the best. Which, oddly enough, is detrimental to a degree. I guess that's why you don't mack a female with unmitigated A+ game in the first few months. God forbid you two fall in love, & you used all the heavy artillery just to score some trim. When she gets bored, you can't blame anyone but yourself.

Of course there's more than just who's on my preemptive list, but I'm only attempting to scratch the proverbial surface, not take roll call. This is literally a conversation that could last days, & thousands of words, which neither I nor your attention span is willing to commit to.

Now, you have some artists who by all means have the propensity be great, but operate under such a self-defeating agenda that they refuse to let their own light shine. Lupe Fiasco comes to mind, but he's so much smarter than the rest of us that maybe all this is part of a plan, & his plan is coming together like 2 lesbians on a double-edged deluxe gyrating vibrator. Ha! Kid Cudi is cut from that same cloth, also. In a strange turn of events, his quasi-depressing, melancholy approach at Hip Hop music has become his way of life, knocking cats the eff out & getting thrown off of ridiculously lucrative tours all in the name of anti-love. Toss in a Charles Hamilton, & not only do we see the dark side of "the Force" that Kanye West exposed to the world, but also the reason gangsta rap is on life support. Emo-thuggery is running rampant. Skinny jeans may not be able to conceal weapons, but man-bags & Louis Vuitton backpacks can carry guns, as well as plaid ascots & cashmere mittens.

I, for one, miss the days where I almost had to concentrate on rap music to enjoy it. As of late, it's more like having public conversations with some of my terribly less intelligent homeboys, over loud-ass 808 kicks that only muffle their ignorant jaw-jacking, but unfortunately not quite enough to drown them out entirely. There's no imagination, no drive, no real competitive spirit, outside of viral campaigns, tasteless personal attacks, & episodes of 'Candid Camera', with *insert your favorite rapper* doing his best Alan Funt impersonation. Hip Hop has allowed itself to go from two young, amped up tough guys smoking weed & intensely playing Chess, to two lethargic older cats drinking cheap cognac over a game of Checkers, in between nods & space-out moments. Even when they pick up a piece (no pun intended), everyone knows their next move. It's no wonder people get bored & stop watching them play.

Before the hoopla starts, I'm not one of those golden age veterans, who rubs miscellaneous bottles in hopes that I can wish us back to 1992. Hell, in 1992, I was still a virgin, so, yeah. But, I do wish that more effort would be put into making today's rap a sport again. Not a contact sport, because niggas don't fight any more, but a battle of wits, war of words, per se. Legend has it that, in their hey day, MC Ren & Ice Cube would sit in the studio & write against each other, for the same song. Whoever won that impromptu challenge, won the right to pen Eazy-E's verse, in addition to their own. Or, picture Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney working on 'The Girl Is Mine'. Cats may not hit the bowling alley for beer pretzels & White chicks after the studio session, but best believe they pushed one another to do their best, even if their best was only second place. I'll take second place over last any day of the Christian week.

There seems to be a growing surge of rappers who embrace the basic ethos that separates entertainers from MC's. That's a good look for the culture, plus it's not like folks are running out to drop hard hustled recession dollars on physical albums anyway, even when the record is a genuinely good buy. Ask Raekwon & Slaughterhouse. Might as well give the people what they need, because what they want isn't always what's best for them. Like prostitute sex, regardless how good she looks, she's still a hooker, & we know you can do better than that, mayne.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blood In The Water

"Controversial rapper Eminem has agreed to refrain from performing homophobic lyrics during an upcoming festival in the United Kingdom next summer... Eminem agreed to sign up after he was assured there would be no protests at the show, according to spokesman David Allison...Eminem also reportedly agreed to both parties demands that he censor his lyrics, to avoid confrontation with the gay rights groups in the country." - organizers of the Wireless festival, via

The thing I liked about Em when he first came out was that he was White. Let's be clear; who doesn't enjoy a frantic, nut-bag White dude in their crew? No homo. Not one who's under the misconception that he's somehow been transformed into a Black guy by magical association, but one who genuinely embraces his role as "the White dude", free to smoke ounces of hairy-ass electric blue grass from his bong & guzzle cheap, domestic beer until he passes out. That was Marshall, circa '93-'94, when I first got wind of him. He didn't want to be a nigga, & he made that clear. White ignorance is galaxies away from Black ignorance, but it's all the same cup of idiocy. Gucci Mane & Eminem are like kindred spirits, really though, both eager to capitalize from their willingness to be the eye of attention, at all costs. The only thing that truly separates them is skill level. Em, genuinely talented, & Gucci, well, not so much. & for the record, if Marshall Mathers were Black, don't kid yourself into thinking that he would have been equally as successful. There's plenty of Black rappers who are more talented than Em, but would never reach such a level of prominence. Racism is real, folks, like it or not.

The Eminem we all know & love unofficially died to me when I read this statement. Censorship? Word? Say it ain't so, Marshall! Isn't this the same dude he said something about beating Octomom to death with her fetuses, or something like that? & let millions of fans know that his step-dad diddled his glory hole? Surely a few fag references can't be bad enough to make him swallow his artistic expression. & if anybody fathoms the difficulty in swallowing, it would certainly be some-never mind. Regardless, what true artist allows his tongue to be tied? I could understand if Em was hungry, but dude's not starving at all. Just because he doesn't rap about the finest linens & crab meats & golden chariots doesn't mean he's not indulging. I mean, sure, he refuses to stop wearing those God-forsaken Jordan track suits, & until a year ago, he was the only White guy in America with enough balls to still be wearing a wave cap under a teamless fitted cap, but don't let his humble appearance fool you. What's the use of being one of the nicest rap dudes if you're so easily persuaded to edit yourself? I was under the impression that he "just don't give a fuck". How bad could a gay protest be, in the UK? No shots. Perhaps old age & sobriety have caught up with our proverbial bad guy. Expect Vanilla Ice to emerge from his Floridian cocaine binge & challenge Em to a rap-off in the near future.

I tend to stay away from Eminem conversations, because he has a very Tupac-esque following, but I think even the most adamant Shady follower would agree that such back-pedaling is tantamount to bleeding in a shark's den. I was completely fine with him orchestrating a face full of man crotch on national tv. I thought it was funny, except for the part where he attempted to have us believe it to be true, & that he wanted to kick Sasha Baron Cohen's Armenian camel saddle for waggling his snake charmer where Em's mustache should be, only to be outed by an Mtv executive online. To go through all that trouble of Spider-Maning that dude from the ceiling, dressed as Cee Lo Green, only to back pedal was a waste of a good publicity stunt.

On one hand, I do believe that once a celebrity reaches a certain level of exposure, at least a scant amount of responsibility should be taken for what's released to the public. But I'm a realist, & if motherfuckers are too dense to raise their own children, then don't be mad if they come home with eyelid tats & sexually confused behaviors. If Em wants to rap about whatever he sees fit, then as a man, he should stand by his original thought process. Why waste so much time & money, only to let a crowd of ambiguous stone-throwers decide what's best for the rest of the listening populous? When he did that performance with Elton John, to show the homosexual community how harmless he was, it made sense that he slowed up with the gay bashing afterwards. At that point in his career, it was a good move. A couple of records down the line, & one would be a bit hard pressed to find the same homophobic hatred that had existed on the 'Marshall Mathers LP'. But, to release 'Relapse', which was probably his most "important" album, rife with some of the most offending lyrics of 2009, & be tethered by a threat of limp wrist revolt is astounding. What I would do is, make them think I'm going with the program, hit the stage & go all out, possibly doing some new music, full of the most offensive lyrics I could think of. Not only would that be great publicity, but it would be a glimpse into part of the reason the world fell in love with Em to begin with. He could even take it a notch beyond, & get drunk on stage. What's the worse they can do to him. Not buy his records? Any existing fan of his music is sitting patiently by their computer's waiting for a hard body moment to restore faith in their musical messiah. Why not now?

Let us take a moment to notice the power & momentum that the gay community is achieving in the world today. Just saying...

Part of the charm of the Eminem phenomenon was his unwillingness to conform, & the fact that he could say things that the average young rap star couldn't. Imagine the alarms that would ring if Tony Yayo said he wanted to rape Brittany Spears. Not that he's a star, but you smell my cologne. Popular White females are the Holy Grail of Hollywood, & Marshall has made violent, sexually perverse threats at all of them. Had he been Black, he would've been White-balled for sure. Em should embrace that power & continue to pillage the world for their monies, like he's been doing.

Fuck biting my tongue, that shit hurts. & if you've ever tried to put a Band-Aid on your tongue, you know how much that sucks.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Are You Guccified?

Gucci Mane is easily the most popular rapper right now. Ugh. Next to the dump truck loads of hate that T.I. is receiving for an early, early release, Gucci Gucci stays in people's mouths (no prison humor).

Not since Lil Wayne's proverbial apex roughly 2 years ago has there been such an even playing field of adoration & loathing. Really though, Gucci is one of only 2 rap acts on the Billboard top ten, as of today, or something like that. Don't quote me. Funny thing, I've only heard his music twice; on a family trip to Shreveport, Louisiana, where I don't necessarily expect them to know any better (no shots, but you should see some of their street lights), & at a DMV picnic, the perfect culmination of food, liquor & ignorance. Imagine the horror that surged my veins when I saw 8 year olds shaking their future thong holders to Gucci explaining the different ways he can beat up a vagina. My word, not his. Actually, there was one other time, but I didn't know it was Gooch until later. There was 3 extremely greasy young cats, smoking weed in their car, bouncing around & repeating "I'm the shit, bitch!" in time with the music. They couldn't have been older than 18, with their neon clad t-shirts & untamed multi-mullets. But, they looked like those 90 year old ladies who, when they get the Holy Ghost, James Brown up & down the church aisles. Silly, out-of-touch me, I had know idea what the big deal was, but my curiosity was piqued as they drove away in their Kia Sportage. Yeah, a Sportage, so they were probably gay too, in addition to being receptive to awesomely horrid "music". When I found out that was a Gucci Mane song, the puzzle pieces began to take shape. Those poor kids were being Guccified, right before my very eyes. Had I have known that then, I would've lunged into that little car, & attempted to rescue them from their fate. By now though, they've probably already gotten eyebrow & neck tattoos, & more neon shirts. Raekwon help us all.

I believe, in order to be a pop icon, there has to be an unlimited amount of ignorance within ink-covered arms distance. Remember how there was that one retarded kid at your school who EVERYBODY knew? Even the bullies, barely above him academically, had mad love for that critter. It's that same neanderthal appeal that draws massive amounts of clearly sane people into these pop culture phenomenons, subsequently lowering their standards & expectations to become part of the movement. Gucci Mane is as clearly a celebrity as he is a fool, so why would his celebration be any different? Answer: it's not.

Congratulations! You've been Guccified.

Nowadays, all the things that made a rapper an "MC" have been forsaken, lost, forgotten & replaced by the cloak of douchbaggery. Skills have taken a back seat to finance. When the argument is made that Gucci obviously lacks said skill set, the response in most cases is a warm-hearted, "Stop hatin', bitch! Gucci gettin' all dat paypah, fuck boy!". Or something to that effect. Talent is now overshadowed by appearance. Like a preacher; never mind how sincere his message may, or may not be, what truly matters how nice his suit & watch are, or in some cases, how fancy his robe is. Gucci is so high up on the "look at me" ladder that he doesn't even need to wear shirts. No clothing manufacturer's wares/wears can exemplify, or contain, such a tremendous amount of nigganometry. Seriously, Gucci is so hood that his magical tattoos probably incinerate shirts as soon as they touch his canvas-y flesh. Or maybe I'm over thinking it, & to him, it's not worth the hassle of pulling a $500 scmedium tee over your arms when they're covered with Wonder Woman bracelets & 2-3 divers watches.

[tony's note: gotta love that irony of divers watches on niggas that don't swim...]

For all Gucci Mane's mono-syllabic word play & modernized shuck & jive (complete with "chains & whips"), he seem cognizant enough to have embraced the concept of "hate". There are hordes, legions if you will, of anti-Gucci Maners, who spout nothing more than his hopeful demise. Publicity is publicity, whether good or abundantly bad. & on some level, he must understand that if one takes the time to say, or type "Fuck Gucci", then they have, in essence, taken the time to say, or type "Fuck Gucci". If he doesnt, then he wouldn't have so much zing in his voice when he scoffs at the haters who make him so, umm, popular. Dig, if X-amount of people continuously tell me how bad something is, at some point, if only out of sheer boredom, I'm going to try it at least once. Like the time I boned a really skinny girl just because I'd heard how unsatisfying an experience it would be.

[tony's other note: do not try that at home...]

My big homie Combat Jack had a drop on about how enamored he'd become with Gucci, against his will. Although I value his opinion as much as Dallas Penn's, I wasn't quite sold on giving G. Mane a voluntary listen until I got to the comments of the drop. "Wow", I thought aloud. 95% of the responses made this guy sound like the worst rapper ever. So naturally, I set aside any preconceived notions one would have about a nigga named "Gucci Mane", & gave him another shot. The music wasn't that bad. The music, meaning the instrumentation, production & mix-down of the song, mind you. The lyrics, however, made me feel like I forfeited my junior & senior years in high school. I found myself thinking twice before using any words with less than 3 syllables for the duration of that day. In his defense, though, I've never heard him say that he's the best rapper alive, or anything remotely close. I'm sure he'd confess to being extraordinarily mediocre, if his lexicon allowed either word. & I'm positive he couldn't care less about not having that accolade. Him receiving the newest cover of XXL doesn't help matters either, because there's undoubtedly a nation of under achieving up-&-coming rappers who'll follow his mold, without ever once attempting to be clever on the mic. & every time they see him count a stack of dough, or yank one of his slave chains in gaudy, tastless defiance, they'll lick their lips, knowing that the rap game ain't what it used to be.

Gucci Mane's success stems largely from his buffoonish behavior reaching comical levels. One would be hard pressed not to note that everytime he has an important album release date pending, he has an equally, if not more so, important court date looming as well. Coincidence? Possibly. Hilarious? Without a doubt. America's love affair for such stupidity is nothing new, but Hip Hop was an untapped resource for such idiocy about 15 years ago. Now, rappers provide just as much levity as Wee-man & Steve-O, back in their hey days, putting raw chickens in their adult diapers while wading a river chock with crocodiles. Imagine, as entertaining as "we" thought 50's online antics were over the last year or so, just imagine how funny it was to a room full of caucassian stuffed-shirts, who'd enjoy monkeys jumping around cages & throwing shit at each other just as much. If the monkey's hump trees, that's a bonus.

For what it's worth, God bless Gucci. I hope his success is long lasting. His kids should be straight, his bills should be paid, & just maybe he'll put all his profit to good use in his community. Yeah right. That nigga needs more jewelry & cars. He says so himself like, on every song. Even still, good luck & Godspeed Radrick, Dredrick, or whatever his momma named him.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Night Before: A Holiday Poem By Tony Grands

'Twas the night before Christmas, & all through da hood,
one time stayed on watch for cats up to no good,
The stockin's were hung up with tacks by the door,
'Cuz it ain't no damn chim-a-neys on the first floor,

All day there was clamor & noise in the street,
'Cuz the gas man done came & he turned off the heat,
But that's not enough to stop niggas from blazin',
What potheads will do to get high is amazin',

They gathered their quarters & counted their nickels,
But left out the pennies 'cuz the weed man is fickle,
Who cares 'bout the weather-the rain & the breeze,
As long as there's Swishers & bags full of trees,

Egg nog is for squares & the taste makes 'em squimish,
So real nigs celebrate by sippin Olde English,
All they want from Santa is intoxication,
& not to get knocked for parole violation,

Too high to sing carols-the words they'd forgotten,
Called up a few hoodrats & asked 'em what's poppin',
"Ain't nothin'" the rats said & bid them farewell,
Cuz broke dudes can't help them with their hair & nails,

No gas for the heater-but they still had power,
& all the Doritos 4 dudes could devour,
They played PS3-Madden 10 as always,
Then heard heavy footsteps stomping down the hallway,

The rent was past due & the landlord was comin,
They sobered up quickly-tried to think of somethin',
He banged on the front door confusin the thugs,
That spent all their rent money on booze & drugs,

"Hold up!" they yelled out & started to panic,
Not knowin' what he said 'cuz he's speakin' spanish,
"It's Christmas, amigo-show us some compassion!",
What he said translates into "Fuck your Black asses!",

"By this time tomorrow you'd better be gone!",
"Or you'll sit on your couch while it sits on the lawn!",
They pleaded but he wasn't moved one iota,
They offered him weed, chips, even a soda,

He said "Never mind this-I'm calling the cops!",
Then a noise from the roof caused the landlord to stop,
"On Dancer, on Cupid, on Donder, on Blitzen",
Niggas ran to the broken window in the kitchen,

"On Dasher, on Prancer, on Comet, on Vixen!",
The landlord was too shocked to continue bitchin',
"Whoa Rudolph" the voice said-it sounded so odd,
& niggas was so high they thought it was God

The voice started laffin'-so seemingly jolly,
One nigga said "That's Joe the Crackhead, prolly",
They opened the door & looked at the front entrance,
A White man? Around here? That's quite suspicious,

No badge on his jacket-no gun in a holster,
He had a big velvet bag over his shoulder,
He said "Ho Ho Ho"-they looked 'round for Renee,
But that Hoe was home, she don't work holidays,

The niggas stared at 'em-wide eyes & dropped jaws,
One said "What the fuck? Is that Santa Claus?",
Just then Santa waved-turned around & he vanished,
The landlord amazed, mumbled somethin' in spanish,

The landlord just walked off, clearly in awe,
& the niggas couldn't figure out what they just saw,
Went back inside-looked at the clock & their watches,
12am, then they saw all types of boxes,

With laughter so nervous-like something was funny,
First box that they opened had bills & rent money,
They counted & counted it-like they were rich,
That really WAS Santa? Damn-ain't that a bitch?

They called up the landlord & told him no worry,
Your money's right here-come get it & please hurry,
He said he'll be there in the mornin'-"I'm tired",
That shit freaked him out-he went home & got wired,

Just then they heard *pop pop*-a thud in the bushes,
They ran to the window-all shovin' & pushin',
Some car tires screechin & somebody yellin',
Laid out was poor Santa-got shot in the melon,

Headed to the rooftop, he started to fly,
Just as some young knuckleheads did a drive-by,
The reindeer had fled-scared away by the sound,
& their master-dear St. Nick-was dead on the ground,

They dialed 911, but what could they tell 'em?,
That Santa caught a hot slug in his cerebellum?,
Even when it's real people cops take 'bout an hour,
So they got Santa's corpse & put him in their shower,

Some hours passed by & cops finally came,
They told them what happened-with no one to blame,
So the cops called for back up & pulled out their cuffs,
No witnesses either, they were shit outta luck,

In back of patrol cars-headed down to the station,
Charged with murder one & parole violations,
The coroner took Santa to the morgue in his van,
To perform the autopsy that was part of the plan,

But when they arrived & opened up the back,
The stretcher was empty & the white sheet was flat,
"This is some kind of joke, it must be" it was weird,
But the joke was on him, Santa just disappeared,

But still, the cops kept them niggas in cages,
They been doin' this type shit to Black folks for ages,
The moral of this story-to say the least,
is follow your gut & don't trust the police.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Some Coal For Your Stocking.

Or Merry Christmas, Motherfuckers!

How would you feel if, as a kid, you heard rumors of a happy, fat, possibly drunk White dude who, on Christmas Eve, goes from house to house to drop a load of goodies on good kids? To add to the legend, this guy has countless movies, TV shows & sightings, starting the day after Thanksgiving, so there's no doubt in your young mind that he exists. You may even see him at the mall or the grocery store with a friendly smile & an inviting lap, & even if your parents warned you about personal contact with costumed adults, they make an exception with this cat, even leading you by hand to receive his embrace. Really though, I'm not too partial to my own kids sitting on my lap, so one can't help but wonder about this type of guy's agenda. Never mind the fact that your "house" is covered in security bars & devoid of a chimney, urban mythology says that this clown will be there, satisfying all you material needs, no matter the obstacles. My aunt used to tell my cousins that Santa had a spare key, & that's how he got in. No dice. My uncle had the spare key, & in between crack cocaine binges & trips to the pawn shop, he was nowhere to be found. Anyway, if Santa's not there to deliver the goods, you're left with 364 days to ponder your apparent wrong doing, & correct your mistakes.

I was never allowed to buy into the Santa stereotype, as a kid. My father & mother worked damn hard all year long, too hard to hand over credit to some imaginary character for any possible happiness I may receive. That would be like if I was complemented on how cute I was as a kid by a stranger, them pointing at me, & saying "hey, he did all the work!" Some of my fondest Christmas memories are me looking at my gifts, & always finding a few that said "from Santa". Word? To my mom's credit, though, she used to drink a lot. Personally, I think the real reason the Santa myth was created was to be a convenient scapegoat for the masses. Not only could immeasurable amounts of children's behaviors be modified, but if mom &/or dad can't afford gifts, blame it on Santa, or in essence, the kids themselves. That's some fucked up shit.

"Sorry Propecia, I guess you were bad this year. Santa didn't bring you anything."

Maybe my parents did themselves a disservice by not letting me believe; perhaps they would've saved tons of money Hot Wheels race car tracks & gadgets that wouldn't survive to see the summer. I've always been fascinated by how America chooses to "control" it's child populous by means of boogie men, but fear is indeed a powerful tool in brainwashi-I mean leadership. Santa may have been the lower classes "get out of Christmas free" card, & they didn't know it. Goes to show the long reach of capitalism, word to Valentine's Day. The whole ideology behind gift-giving is for the gifter to express to the giftee whatever sentiment is implied. In laymen's terms, I want you to know that it's from me.

Or, as my dad always said, "Santa Claus my ass..."

& to think, on a day sanctioned to celebrate Jesus Christ, we expected to buy our bad ass kids $200 worth of reward. I say, fuck Santa, fuck Christmas, & buy your kids all the bull shit they deserve when they deserve it, i.e. good grades. If, as a society, it's up to a stranger to motivate our kids to be the best they can be, we are failing miserably.

When my kids were small, we would go outside & look at the neighborhood Christmas lights on our block. One year, one of them asked me where our Christmas lights were. I pointed at our house, & said "you see those lights on in the house? Merry Christmas." A little later, they unwrapped dinner. All jokes aside, although I've never celebrated what some would call a traditional Christmas, I've always attempted to make sure my kids were happy when they woke up that morning. My parents did it for me, so if nothing else, it's a learned response. Condition stimulus, if you will. A psychological reaction to ambient jingle bells & faux snowfall draped over anything from store window displays to front yard nativity scenes. But, also, as tradition demands, my kids have never received a present from Santa. You haven't lived until you've watched a requisite Christmas movie with a sarcastic six year old who knows better than to believe in this St. Nicholas dude.

Sometimes I forget how gullible & naïve people can be, in regards to what real life is. My son & I were having a rather detailed conversation one day, in a Burger King, about how & why people allow their kids to believe in Santa. I never stopped to survey the folks around us, which there was quite a few, & a mother decided to not only listen, but include herself into our conversation. In front of her kid, she started actually rationalizing why Santa might be real. Instead of dismissing her with a "crazy bitch" label, I engaged in the conversation, with the same intensity as I did with my child. Her final statement, obviously out of sheer frustration was, "Well, you gotta let a kid be a kid though, right?", to which I replied "True, & I teach mine not to lie. What type of example would I be if I didn't follow that simple instruction?". He son was intently listening the entire time. End game.

Happy holidays, people.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

...word to David Blaine.

It's almost that time, people.

ATLien ex-trap rapper Clifford Harris d/b/a T.I.(P.) is set to be released from federal custody within the next several months. Appropriately, the 'Net is buzzing with his name again. If you're not familiar with his year-ish prison term for attempting to purchase a mexican village's amount of firepower, then congrats! That means that you actually have a life rife with things of genuine importance. Unless, of course, you're a denizen of the world wide Hip Hop community, & it's surrogate attachment to the World Wide Web, where information is never limited or scarce. & in that case, you know almost every detail of this man's life.

In reality though, none of us truly know what this dude's been through over the past couple of years. A chain of events that more or less began with his best friend/personal assistant Philant Johnson being shot & killed in front of him. An act that T.I. has shouldered the responsibility for. So much so, that immediately following, T.I. apparently decided it was necessary to take matters into his own hands. Or at least take the steps to do so, attempting to purchase said weaponry for speculated retaliation. Fast track to today, with his pending release date from a mid-west federal facility being tossed back & forth between gossip websites & teenage girl's big mouths. After his conviction, but before his "leave of absence", Clifford went balls to the wall on a campaign to change the lives of at-risk young adults, even going so far as to having a reality show geared toward their self betterment. A proverbial road to redemption, as opposed to their obvious roads to perdition.

With being a spectacle, comes backlash. T.I. has been called a snitch, bitch & everything in between since his relatively light sentence was handed down. Even some of the "fans" he had turned their respective backs, based on nothing but second hand rambling & mere speculation. For legal insights, though, email Combat Jack. It's always entertaining to read/see/hear all the negative energy hurled at this man out of sheer ignorance, or a half-assed "knowledge" of how the legal system operates. Of all the derogatory slurs thrown around in regards to T.I., who most of these critics have never met, & won't ever meet, "fraud" is my personal favorite. In the last 3 days alone, I've read/seen/heard him called a fraud more times then the requisite "snitch".

Word? What exactly did he do to be labeled a fraud? Please, someone clarify this for me. & really, save the "keep it real" speech for underage pot heads who believe the government is tapping their cell phone & AIDS is only a Black man's disease.

Case in point; Bernie Madoff. He lied, schemed, scammed, shimmied, fanagled, hornswaggled & nigga-rigged his was to a fortune, ruining thousands of unsuspecting lives along the way. Bernie Madoff is a fraud, really though.

Arnold Schwarzeneggar. He lied, mislead, made empty promises, proposed change, ran smear campaigns, all for the sake of becoming California's governor, only to turn around & destroy it's economy, ruin it's job market, punish hard working citizens with layoffs & furloughs, etc. Arnold Schwarzeneggar is a fraud, really though.

Milli Vanilli. God bless the dead one, with their awesome lip-syncing, horrible hair extensions, & those ridiculous biker shorts/sports coat combos, was a fraud, really though.


If anything, from my vantage point, he seems to have fallen victim of not being able to make the discernment between real & fake. Although, I believe that now, it's an easier task to accomplish. Prison has a way of enlightening cats beyond their perceptions of themselves. After all, it is intended rehabilitation, & I, for one, think that it works, for the most part. I've said it before, I predict he'll reemerge anew, with a story to tell & a lesson to teach. If I'm wrong, he's a douche nozzle, & deserves every bit of ill will he receives. Somebody's gotta take a stand against negative lifestyles & fabricated realities. So, why not somebody millions of misguided kids, & their equally as misguided parents, listen to?

But, beyond his ordeal, is the fact that so many rap fans take Hip Hop music as some sort of tutorial for life. It's not. Not one iota. Especially the rap dudes who make truck loads of money by pimping their perverted fantasies. In all realness, what they say can be 100% truth, but by no stretch of imagination does that qualify it to be studied, followed, & executed like some sort of history lesson. If I believed everything rappers said, I'd have dozens of kids, millions of ill-gotten dollars & multiple charges on me, from kidnapping to drug trafficking to murder. I used to listen to Eminem heavy. That alone would have had me in a padded room, word to 'Bonnie & Clyde'.

Just because T.I. had some street-worthy lyrics about a lifestyle that he may or may not have partaken in, doesn't make him a role model. Therefore, why does anything he says have any weight? My dad used to tell me all the time, as a kid, "don't smoke cigarettes." He did this, as he...smoked a cigarette. Did I call him a fraud? Was he fake? Or a bitch? Of course not, & this is a man that I've loved all my life. Clearly I'd be hurt if he didn't practice what he preached. So, how is it that a complete stranger, who the only connection I have with is through anonymous music, can hurt me so much with words without any tangible girth? Well not me, but you smell my cologne.

Maybe it's the lack of things the youth have to grab on to, that makes us gravitate towards bull shit, then cry "Bull shit!" when we knew it was bull shit all along. Or maybe, since there are no more heroes, we turn to bright & shiny things, like moths, in hopes of something that's not really there. Entertainment is the biggest optical/auditory illusion ever. Everybody involved in it is no different than David Blaine as far as I am concerned, & I know damn well that nigga can't fly, catch a bullet in his teeth or hold his breath for a week straight, even though I've seen him do all those things with my own eyes.

[tony's note: weezy might prolly wanna get in touch with blaine right about now, & learn the art of invisibility...]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Douche Nozzle of the Decade

'Entertainment Weekly' just announced that Kanye West's debut album, 'College Dropout', is the album of the decade. Whether I agree or not is unimportant. What is important however, is that I'm always suspicious of a bunch of White people telling me how good something is. I'm almost positive the exact same thing happened in Africa, some half a millennium ago, when a bunch of filthy, underweight, scurvy-infected pirates convinced a handful of tribal patriarchs that their servants & field hands would enjoy a trip on their big, shiny boats. You see where that got us, right? If I was a (bigger) douche nozzle, I'd say that by that same standard, people should've been leary of Barack Obama. Just saying. Anyway, these so-called "Best of..." lists are always funny to me, because who decides who wins & loses? Somebody somewhere is always winning some type of award, but who the fuck has the say so?

Case in point; Flo Rida's album 'R.O.O.T.S.' was nominated for a Grammy. Dude, the only people I know that have his album are horny fat chicks & openly gay guys. Not that I condone either lifestyle, but I don't judge. I'm not to familiar with the Grammy nomination process, but I know Flo Rida's music is shit biscuits. No shots, but I just don't get how his music is worthy of such a prestigious accolade. That 'Low' song is at least a year & a half old, & it's not even on this 'R.O.O.T.S.' album. It would appear he's paid a visit to those homo's & hippo's, but what do I know? The closest I've ever been to a "Grammy" was not being able to pronounce my mom's mom's name correctly as a toddler, so eff my opinion regardless.

I don't know if Kanye's album was they best of a ten-year period, but it was damn good. & I don't need a bunch of soccer moms who think fist-bumps are cool to convince me of that. Hip Hop-wise, I'd be more apt to say it was 50 Cent's 'Get Rich Or Die Tryin', but I like my music with a little aggression. Kanye, even when he throws out a curse word or two, is always a safe bet. On the other hand, I'd definitely give him the "Douche Bag of the Decade" award. The only possible way he could be more of a jerk is if he shaved off his mustache. Only a tool bag would carry around man bags & wear a shag long enough to trick uppity negro babies into thinking it was cool, then swiftly cut it off. Only an asshole would walk a red carpet holding a bottle of Hennessey, swigging away like he hated his liver, on camera. I know hard body alcoholics, with no morals or standards, who wouldn't do that, because they know how pompous they'd look. Poor & dirty, but pompous nonetheless.

Many have said it before, but Kanye's "life threatening" car accident was indeed the turning point in his life, & career as well. But, the audience missed the point. The song 'Through The Wire' wasn't about overcoming adversity to become a champion. It was a direct slap in our faces, an advertisement that he was now transformed into a bigger, stronger Kanye. & he's better than everyone. That's the kind of impetuous attitude one must have to walk into Louis Vuitton's home building & demand an internship. Shit, niggas wouldn't walk into Macy's & demand a job, so that's an example of the elephant balls dude's got tucked away in his mandex jeans. Let us be reminded that this man went on record, research if you choose, saying that he would prefer to be referred to as Martin Louis the King, Jr. Wtf?

I'm positive Kanye smokes clove cigarettes. If you've ever met anyway who smokes clove cigarettes, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

One has to wonder, if you will, what types of shenanigans this cat has up his sleeves for 2010. He'd be hard pressed to top schmedium mohawks & sunglasses that resemble window blinds. If he & Amber Rose get married, like they're rumored to do, then he will have legitimately become rap music's David Bowie. A misunderstood sonic genius, trapped in shiny, too small clothing with an exotic, overrated model by his side. & before Brad Garrett & Mike Tyson made it trendy to spaz on paparazzi, Kanye was in Europe, surrounded by what seemed to be flamboyant superheroes, screaming at the top of his shirt-constricted lungs about his right to privacy. The same privacy one forfeits once they decide to tread down the road of popular music. The same privacy that douches expect to have, as you go out & support their products, even when they do their best Peter Frampton impersonations.

[tony's note: peter frampton was using the vocorder long before roger troutman...]

Since these "list" are so important to modern society, unlike homelessness, disease & poverty, I'm sure he'll end up on some "People to watch" compilation with other like-minded doorknobs. Expect him to buy some African kids, move to Russia, get a reality show, or stop wearing shoes altogether, within the next 10 years.

[tony's next note: if i left out any jackassery, feel free to remind me...]

Monday, December 14, 2009

Man Talk Mondays

Sometimes it's amazing to me just how much my baby mom's hates me. It's like some movie shit, going uproariously out of her way to make me miserable. It doesn't work, by the way, if only because I'm fully aware of how good God is & I love my wife. Still, I'm baffled by the amount of energy she puts into despising me, even though I haven't had a conversation with the broad in months, really though.

At one point, I blamed her poor sense of logic & actuality for her ultra resentment. But that was when I was full of myself & liquors & spirits & couldn't think in a straight line. Now that I'm professionally sober, I see that her extreme disdain for me is far & beyond any place that I touched in her soul. Likewise, most women suffer from the same affliction, a void that can never be filled, & any attempts will be: scoffed at, then accepted, then rejected, then hated, in that order. While my uncles were busy telling me what type of women I should be going after, they never bothered to tell me which ones to avoid at all costs. I'm not the only guy in this position, & my proof is the volume of dudes who talk bad about the mothers of their children. I should start an online support group for us. We could all log on simultaneously, & watch 'The Maury Povich Show' in hopes of catching glimpses of the holy grail of paternity; "you are NOT the father!". Sweet vindication. & then I get jealous towards the lucky, bullet-dodging son of a bitch. Stupid ass nigga will probably be back on the show in another year though, sitting on stage with another, yet somehow less attractive floozie, yelling & screaming about how this kid isn't his either. Some niggas never know when enough is enough.

I should've known better than to become so emotionally intimate with a woman(?) without a father, who had a child at age 14. Instead of red flags & sirens registering, I allowed animal instinct to take control, as I hunted my prey. It's like black bears who die from rattlesnake bites. All the bear sees is a meal, completely ignoring any possible outcome, aside from the one he creates in his mind. Time is of the essence as he feverishly bounds about planning to pounce, instead of studying his prey, looking beyond the fancy package & zeroing in on the possibility of the unknown. &, as the venom warms his blood vessels & darkens his vision, he remembers the barely visible warning signs, the signs that most likely spelled "detour", & more appropriately, "nah, this the wrong one, homie!". Ultimately, the bear gets his meal, & a lifetime's worth of headache & unnecessary bull shit to wash it down. Natural selection can be a beast if burden, if you will. Just saying.

This reason this is on my mind is because, as men, we have to make better choices in mate-choosing. & if we happen to be in the percentage of those who effed up, we have to teach our children that time is fleeting & to make the best decisions possible. "Future" is a word that many people don't use, lest it be in a negative way. The average person, regardless of social status & communal upbringing, hinges on the present. When said future does rear it's head, what usually comes to fruition is the unexpected, & I don't know about y'all, but I hate surprises. It's always so easy to blame the woman for being screwed up or bitter, but somebody's making them this way. Chances are, that broad you meet at the club, exchanged numbers with, invited over & boned had a lifetime subscription to issues of a magazine you couldn't understand even if you really wanted to. It's not your fault she's a bag lady, but by default, you have to sustain the cargo she's incurred. Have you ever brought home a stray dog/cat/billy goat, & it was cool at first. Then, you accidentally step on it's tail & Hell is unleashed. There's a reason behind that "emotional" outburst. You not first person to take the stray in, & surely not the first to mistreat it & cause it pain. So, even though it was far from intentional, the sum was no different.

I believe women are naturally loving & compassionate. Men, as boys however, are taught to be just the opposite. What happens when we meet at the adult intersection is a moral clash, which results in providing the perfect amount of negative energy to push a woman's love over the thin line of separation into hate, & thats an irreversible event horizon, unless you walk around with a flux capacitor in your pocket, or know how to bend the time space continuum. Shit, I don't. I know about as much about quantum physics as I do about cloning sheep.

More specifically, we, as men, can't be too mad at the women who we lazily give children to. If the Bible's right, & the man is the Head of the Body, then we can't be mad if all other "parts" falter on our watch. I believe a good amount of dudes who loathe their baby momma's are truly mad at themselves. They might as well have gotten hit by a diesel truck traveling 8 MPH. In other words, that shit could've been avoided with the proper consideration. Hindsight is 20/20, no doubt, but to just think, it was so simple, it became complicated. For this reason alone, I admire animals, in the sense that they don't compromise their "fight-or-flight" instinct. If something even kinda looks askew, they bolt, & don't stop until they're positive they've fled danger. Men look at that feeling as a challenge to themselves, & as a result, have to endure whatever backlash it subscribes to.

See, I hate hearing young cats already deterred from marriage on account of tasting some bad Kool-Aid, per se. Or seeing their brothers & uncles on the business end of a horrible relationship, & judging their possibilities based on that. Trust, it's not as bad as it seems. For every 2 chicks that are hopelessly lost, there's 1 who's worth all the time & effort living will allow. I know what I speak. One of the best things about life is finding a woman who has your best interests at heart, without all the unnecessary complication. Those are the ones you find when you think with the big head, as well as the little one. Because that little one will lead you to seemingly happy times, but ultimately abysmal places. Again, it's that word "future" that needs careful consideration.

It's times like these when a parent hopes that the whole "do as I say, not as I do" mantra holds some type of weight. One would like to think that showing their seeds the outcomes of bad decision making would help them steer clear of any grievance. Yet, how many of us actually listened to the fables our parents piled up on the dinner table, right next to the vegetables we didn't eat either? Fuck being healthy & strong, I want cake. & lots of it. & I'll deal with the stomach ache later.

Really though, there's some shit that Pepcid can't help you with.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

emo thugs>gangstaz

Being born & raised in the real Los Angeles, California (as opposed to cities that are just part of Los Angeles County, no shots), I'm partial to my gangster rap. Always have been. I was in the 3rd grade when my friend Eric snuck Ice T's '6 n da mornin' 12 inch into our class. Yes hetero. That day, we went to his house & enjoyed the smug posturing of Tracy Marrow, the OG. My uncle introduced me to King Tee's music not too long after, before the release of his debut 'Act A Fool', & the day my dad took me to the Slauson Swapmeet to buy N.W.A.'s 'Straight Outta Comptown', & Eazy-E's 'Eazy Duz it', it was a wrap. For those unaware, this is where west coast gangster music was spawned. Every one of those covers had at least 2 things in common. Niggas & guns. Gangsta, indeed. & don't get me started on how slept-on Compton's Most Wanted & DJ Quik are.

That gansta music spead like wildfire. Everybody's city had there own brand of realness to share with the world. & it was all good; every hood has a story to tell. But, let the records show that it started in California, & it looks like it came home to die. The only man I see trying to administer CPR right now is Game. There's only one problem. He's not a gangster rapper. For all intents & purposes, he's more emo-thug than gangsta. Granted, he influenced the Blood nation more than DJ Quik & Mack 10 combined in the 90's, but everybody's a gangster these days. Notice the ratio of rappers to gang-bangers now, versus 10 years ago. 15. Anytime before that, if you claimed it, you had better be living it. Not just throwing on blue or red & gathering every loser you grew up with for your video shoot.

Game's sole purpose is, & always was, to revitalize the west coast by means of what we know. Gangsta music. But, in between willingly putting a whole coast on his back, it seems he didn't learn enough from the forefather's, especially with so much emotion-charged Hip Hop dominating the scenes. Seriously, he would have done major damage had he put on some skinny jeans. Same name dropping, same butterfly tattoo even. It's not even an issue of why or why not emo-rap is popular, it's just that gangsta rap is dead.

Today's Hip Hop fan has evolved from the mindless music fanboy who found excitement in the caveats of hardcore 80's war stories. But, don't tell Game that. He's still hanging with the boys in the hood, driving around aimlessly in his lowriders, & gang banging like this was Little Rock, Arkansas. For the record, Game is as talented as the rest. I like his music, but there's only so much repetition one man can stomach. I couldn't care less about the authenticity of his gang affiliation. It doesn't matter to me if, however comical, he was a pole dancer. [||]? What matters is that, unless you troll the covertly hidden underground scene--which is actually awesome out here, Hip Hop is homeless in L.A. I wouldn't mind a dude taking a stand for the city, or the state, or the coast. A man who's not scared to be a mouth piece, regardless of the hate. But also a man willing to admit that relevance is tethered to what's current, like it or not.

Alas, Game can't save Cali Hip Hop. Neither can Snoop. Not even to sure about Glasses Malone & Bishop Lamont either. Ice Cube even knew that, that's why in the mid 90's, he did what the Clippers need to do-move out of Los Angeles for better opportunity.

Let the 'Nets tell it, & there's no such thing as a regional bias, so this sentence alone could blow my whole theory to smitherens.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bran Flakes

For what it's worth, Nicki Minaj is eye candy. Don't know how bright she is, not really concerned about how well she raps, but if nothing else, she can take her shirt off & do some jumping jacks, & all would be good. Can I get an amen? That's the role of the female rapper these days. Soft porn with a voice over. & who knows, maybe Remy Ma is penning super-raps in between doing push-ups & taking soups & spreads from lesser hoes, but with all the bitchassness in Hip Hop, we really don't NEED females to rap, per se. I, for one, can only spend but so much time in a sausage factory, & would appreciate the ladies touch, but these days it's either skank skeezer or dyke butch. Or, an odd combination of the two, which just takes me right back to all the rap dudes who have vaginises.

[tony's note: vaginas + penises =...]

So, what would you do if you were a semi-famous, out of work r&b starlette? Well of course, try to satisfy Hip Hop's feminine void. That's where 'Bran Nu' steps into the game. Y'all might remember her as Fredro Starr's jump-off, Moesha, from the "hit" TV series 'Moesha'. The show with the two fat chicks & the post-Urkel, pre-Jordan geeky black kid with huge ears. He never did grow into them joints. Brandy Norwood, Rodney Jerkins' ex-wife, is throwing her weave into the ring as an MC. Why, you ask? It may have something to do with 'Moesha' not being in syndication anymore, or that song 'I wanna be down' was a cry for Hip Hip acceptance. Either way, I don't see much transpiring from this.

Maybe she saw Drake singing, acting & rapping, & figured she's a big enough star to pull off the trifecta as well. She has a rappity-rap song on Timbaland's latest release, 'Shock Value 2', but where the hell is Magoo? I'd much rather hear him humpty-dumpty his way across futuristic triple-time drum sequences than the other girl from 'The Boy Is Mine'. Monica has a TV show. & so does her brother, Ray J. Just saying.

“What I’m doing on the album is a little bit different than what everybody knows me for. It was a great experience. I got a chance to be another part of myself,”- Brandy via

If I was her, I'd get some breast implants & the best ghostwriter coochie can buy. Otherwise, this may go down as a horrible career move. Again, Monica has a TV show. Mediocre rapstresses are nothing new, plus it's hard to follow behind the imprints left by Lyte, L-Boogie, Lil Kim & Fox Brown. The main factor in being a femcee is "sexability" these days, & in all my years of watching 'Moesha' (y'all niggas watched it, too!), I never once thought to myself, "word, I wanna hit that". Yes hetero. What's she going to rap about anyway? Gunning down fellow lady rappers? No dice. Sex? Eh. Women's liberation? Look, if I wanted to hear a Black chick yammer about the fruits of equality, I'd call my grandmother while she's watching Oprah Windbag.

Think about it: Jean Grae can't make it because the game doesn't respect her. Nicki Minaj won't make it because the people don't respect her. Where would Moesha fit in to this cycle? If I don't like Coke & can't stomach 7-up, then I damn sure don't want that generic grocery store sugar water. Watered down r&b songs are user-friendly. However, watered down Hip Hop is an attack on my intelligence. Then again, she could be opening up a whole new market: Menstrual flow. & for a week each month, while women bleed, bloat & bitch, she can provide a soundtrack. Kind of like how 'Coke Rap' comes off really well between the 1st & the 15th every single month, no doubt about it.

Being a female rap star is hard enough with certain aspects working FOR you. I guess she doesn't follow rap music that closely.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hip Hop for Vegetarians

I really hope this rumor about Jay-Z doing the 'Empire State of Mind' remix with NaS AND 50 Cent isn't true. Think of the possibilities...

Is this where it's headed? 2009 was the year of the emo-rapper, I get that. I kinda figured 2010 would find us with more emo-thugs, like Game. Imagine how I felt when my dude Don McCaine dropped this info on me last night. For the sake of conversation, I'm just going to consider it true, not to mention it's plastered on the interwebs. & we all know everything on the 'Net is factual.

After a less than excited Young Jeezy made amends with an incarcerated Gucci Mane, & "Freeway" Rick Ross wrangled a handful of unimportant Hip Hop "stars" for a peace summit (via telephone--do people still use those things?), I guess I should've expected so much. Well, maybe not something of this magnitude. NaS, I could see him squashing all unnecessary beefs, for the sake of making all the dough he can. Hell, he might want to start making some new friends while he's at it. Just saying. But if this is Jay's way of being the bigger man, I fear it will backfire in a most unattractive way. As much as I'm a fan of Curtis Jackson, I'm aware that he's not to be trusted further than he can be thrown. & Jay's never appeared terribly muscular to me. There are just certain things you can't do, when it comes to disagreements.

My nigga Federal Ranga ( addressed "beefs" on his vlog, & made some good points as to when not to bow down. This, for Jigga Man, is one of those times. Even if, as I read on the grossly misspelled pages of, this is for the unification of New York, 50's a bully. This move would be the equivalent of buying your ex-wife's boyfriend lunch, after you found out she was pregnant by him. You're already kind of removed from ground zero, but it still stings enough to where a handshake is about as far as the relationship can go. & as he sips his Ice Tea, & makes small talk about sports, all he's thinking is, "Ha ha, that's my uterus now, punk!". If Jay wants to prove to the fans that he's bigger [||], than have lunch with the nigga at one of the L.A. spots that the paparazzi seem to sleep outside of. But, to put him on a song with you? That's just too close for comfort, no Monroe.

To the outside world, that would just seem like a chump way to go out. Granted, 50 hasn't launched a furious attack on Jay (yet...), but he's made it clear that he takes him for a joke. I applaud Jay for not lowering himself to such standards, but he hasn't responded on wax at all. If you've been on that high road all this time, there's no reason to deviate. Really though, if Beyonce had've kicked Kelly Rowlands' ass the other day at court, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

For the record, I don't believe it to be true, but I also laughed when cats told me that Jay was taking Oprah Windbag to the projects. Imagine my surprise when I saw footage of them sitting on some steps discussing why he smelled so good. It was probably a crack house nearby, & we all know Oprah used to-never mind.

This takes me back to my initial this where it's headed? Is "friendly guy" the new "mad rapper"? I hope not. It's not that I like beef, but put it this way; would you watch football if all the players were buddies, & knew each other's moms' & shit? Hell nah, because than it would be like a flag football game. Same with Hip Hop. If everybody's "cool" with one another, then where's the competitive nature? "Friendly competition" is an actual phrase simply because there's nothing "friendly" about wanting to crush your opponent. & let us not forget Laws of Power #3, #14, & #21, because I'll bet my collection of porn that Curtis hasn't.

[tony's note: yeah, you need to get that book...]

This could set off quite the chain of events, & rest assured Game would be the first link. This collaboration would certainly be enough to set his ADD/Bi-polar disorder into over drive. Dude might kill himself in the vocal booth, while recording a song, just to let niggas know he serious he is about his beef. & Beans would most likely just stop rapping all together, & take it back to the block, literally & figuratively. Them dudes would need MORE security at that point, because I imagine Beanie would be at every show he could, waiting to rob them cats time after time. Like the industry's personal Deebo.

I'm sure we've all heard that LOX are releasing their next album on Bad Boy, after quelling their feud. & Puff & Jay have been hanging out with each other lately. & Puffy Combs is the devil. & Jay-Z worships the devil. If Jay is bringing 50 into this realm, do the math. If Beyonce starts singing Aaliyah songs, I'm getting the fuck out of dodge.

Stay tuned as this drama unfolds.

D.I.Y. or D-I-E!

You guy's remember Drake? Yeah, the rap dude from Canada with the prosthetic knee. I bet you been waiting on his album to drop, haven't you? You ain't gotta lie, that's why we use screen names & shit. 'Thank Me Later' was pushed back twice already this year, despite the overwhelming buzz, the major label re-release of his mixtape 'So Far Gone', 2 grammy nominations, & countless features throughout the latter half of the year. After January's date was shafted, It was scheduled to be released on Valentine's Day of 2010, but again, no dice. Drake was selling out shows & doing PR work before he even signed with Young Money. Some might say, including me, he was a bigger star without "anyone" helping him.

Drake is what you call a Grade Curve Axis. Like it or not, 2009 success was graded according to what he did. If you had an album on a shelf, & weren't as popular as this dude, with his only offering being a mixtape, & then the rehashing of said mixtape, then you didn't do well enough.

In industry terms, dude was the complete package: built-in fan base, good looking [||], penchant for crafting music teenagers can get pregnant to, & he had the co-sign of Lil Wayne, arguably the most relevant rapper of the last couple of years. Yet & still, he received as many album releases speed bumps as the most established dudes. Odd, no? He was rap music's poster boy, & with the snap of some old White guy's fingers, he's in limbo, much like your favorite rapper.

I predict that 2010 will see many more artists going the independent route, permanently. Before, indie was the yellow brick road to major stardom. I don't see that staying the same, what with the industry climate, & recession & more wack rappers getting shine than I can shake a wack stick at. Guys like Charles Hamilton, who had the right idea but failed miserably, will become the norm. After all, an artist's dream is to be paid for their masterpieces. That's not going to happen though, as long as the entertainer allows record executives to have sex with their futures. Might as well masturbate, so to speak, & be solely in charge of the outcome.

[tony's note: ha! i didn't notice that zinger until I typed it!...]

Wanna be rap stars beware. These labels aren't playing fair, have no interest in your prosperity, & would quicker leave you a penniless bum than make you a star. When I was younger, phase 2 of being a "rapper" was trotting your demo tape into an office & meeting some douche nozzle A&R, with the hopes of tickling his fancy [||] enough to be considered on their roster. Nowadays, the requirements are hoops & hurdles so extreme that, by the time you make a name for yourself, what would you need a label for. It's pimping & pandering, & niggas are lining up to go pro. Or, maybe not.

We can all thank Soulja Boy for having the balls to go for broke on his own laurels & scruples. This one goofy kid turned to 'Net into his personal billboard, & that move took him to the top of Billboard. Anybody who doubted him is surely kicking themselves in the ass while their great-grandparents "superman that hoe" at their 50th wedding anniversary. His was a definite game changer, & not a trend as the big whigs hoped it would be. Maybe if they wise up, the recording industry can salvage whatever control of our ears they have left. People don't want to hear what "they" want us to hear, & that's why radio is dying as I type. Even satellite radio is catching a bad rap. What happened with the radio was tasteless program directors, payola, & a tainted musical gene pool, offering little-to-no talent. Who the fuck wants to hear a Flo Rida song, much less in constant rotation between 4 different shows? Those with the talent were relegated to the underground circuit, or the DJ mix shows that only spun real rap from 12 to 2 AM. They would've been better not playing those albums at all, because when the people noticed that there's still good music to be had, they demanded it. & when those jerks refused to play "good" music, opting instead to shove overwhelming amounts of monkey shit down our collective throats, the radio lost all credibility as a reliably source of music. At that exact point, the 'Net became the place to be. & has been ever since. The last time I listened to urban radio, G-Unit was still selling records.

My dad always said, "If you want something done right, do it yourself". Word. Once rappers truly understand how easily that can be achieved, labels better take notice or get turned off, just like the radio.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

small things to a GIANT...

50 Cent's last album, 'Before I Self Destruct', isn't moving Fiddy's usual amount of units. Blame the downloads from the 'Net prelease(c), blame the egregious, self-centered behaviors exhibited by Curtis over the last 5 years, blame the decline of physical record sales for most artists, hell, blame the Hip Hopper's ear finally growing deaf to mediocre lyrics & less than stellar word play--just don't tell Gucci Mane that, because he won't believe you. But, I'll bet there's one thing that no man can possibly blame his current, lackluster status on.

Any. Other. Rapper.

In all seriousness, Curtis Jackson is a giant. Maybe not by Yao Ming implications, but definitely in his presence. People say his name like Candyman. Let it be the wrong nigga doing so, & the after effects would mimic those in the movie of the same name. There's no denying that 50 Cent is arguably the most popular rapper in the world, in the same weight class as Jay-Z, Eminem, & Snoop Dogg. Having such stature avails one's self to copious amounts of high self esteem, at borderline toxic levels. This is evident in his career-long taunting of lesser opponents, starting with Ja Rule who, coincidentally, hasn't been the same since. Those who chose to bite his bait, usually find themselves in a battle that's 20% rap records, 10% aggression, & 70% real-time humiliation. It's not so much that he defeats his enemies, per se, but their lives, played out for the public to nitpick & dissect, implode & cave around them. If there was some type of WBF-esque record, he'd be like 9W, 0L, 1T. That "tie" would go to Rick Ross, just because 50's flailing record sales coincide with their on-going rivalry. Indeed, 50 pulled all the punches in attempts to discredit Ross' existence, like any good bully should, but ultimately, Ross released the better music. & after all, this is the music industry, no?

Besides, something as small as record sales isn't going to stop Curtis from running his trap about how great he is. He's a "musical" monolith, word to the Washington Monument. The only man surly enough to knock him down to mortal standards isn't responding to his teasing. & rightly so, because as soon as Jay-Z utters the smallest non-subliminal word about 50, there's a more than slight chance that 50 would rip Shawn Carter's personal life to itty bitty pieces, then lay them out, one by one, for the (rap) world to see. I don't care how tough a rap dude believes himself to be, no cat (or kitten) wants all his backyard business sitting on front street. So who then, if anyone is in a position to strike a blow? David, thats who.

"David? Fuck is David, sun?"

I don't mean a nigga named David, unless it's sheer coincidence. I mean "David", as in 'David & Goliath'. A smaller, lesser known, everything to gain, nothing to lose-type guy, who can actually hold their own weight, lyrically, without a closet full of skeletons pining for release. The first name that comes to mind is Drake. Now, I'm the first one to tell you never trust a nigga without a mustache, but in his defense, this fella seems relatively harmless in the real world. What's the worse thing he could've done in his life? Aside from not concentrating on growing said mustache. Broken a few Mulatto hearts in Ottowa? Not answered some 'Degrassi High' fan's emails? He doesn't rap about anything that could be misconstrued as "lies", so where would that leave our protagonist? It would leave him with no choice but to actually have to engage in a rap battles, as opposed to making sitcom's based on celebrity lives like the MTV. Because, contrary to popular belief, if Drizzle puts down the vagina monologue & empty bragging, he can actually string some cool verbiage together. Maybe after it's all said & done, they can co-star in a remake of 'Forrest Gump. Lead role optional. No homo, just in case.

If not him, I've been hearing about this dude from Gary, Indiana. Word is he was addicted to Oxycodone, used to rob trains (yes nigga, trains!), has a few gun charges on his resume, was a certified hustler (which can mean a bevy of things these days), & was honorably discharged from boot camp for selling dope & getting drunk. Oh, & dude can rap a taste, also. His name Freddie Gibbs. Don't let the name fool you. Dude's tearing up the mixtape circuit right now, & the mere fact that he has facial hair makes him a more formidable opponent than Aubrey Graham, before he even starts rapping.

See, Ross went at Fiddy with the weapons he had. Rhymes, however unimpressed. Had he not had the team of producers (J.U.S.T.U.S. League), & instead just some home grown talent, looking to make a name for themselves, I doubt Rick's impact would have been so noticeable. He got "lucky", so to speak. Ross is far from a good MC, but good production is like an expensive weave. That shit can fool you long enough, & by the time you find out how bald her head really is, you're already knee-deep in fornication, so that shit no longer matters anyway.

Plenty of 50's targets either ducked & dodged or plead the fifth. Jadakiss was one of the few who decided to spar with the champ, & after they exchanged a few blows, the "fight" was over. Maybe 50 got scared? Maybe 'Kiss decided it may not be worth it. NaS found himself on the business end of a Curtis dis, & he maintained his solidarity until Fif got bored & found something else to sniff around. Of course, there's more people who had the sheer coconuts to stand up to him, but I think Fif knew when he was realisitcally out-"skilled". Like I've said dozens of times, he's a smart motherfucker.

My big homie Combat Jack wishes for a 50/Jay battle, but I'd love to see a young, up & coming rap cat 50 Cent Curtis Jackson.

[tony's note: see what I just did there...?]

[tony's next note: BISD is a good album. fuck what ya heard...]

Friday, December 4, 2009

I Can Not Tell A Lie

As a kid, I had the kinda pops that would teach me things in a way that made me want to listen, learn & use that shit in real life. Even if to only be more like him. I guess that's admiration. & I guess I do the same thing to/for my son, because on a regular basis, dude surprises me with the way he handles things. His teacher says he's "very mature", among other positive adjectives. I wish more Black men could experience the fruits of positive, tangible fatherhood.

One of the main things he made sure was planted in my psyche was the importance of honesty. Most kids are told "don't lie!", but my dad went as far as to lead by example. Case in point; I've never, ever in my life believed in "Santa Claus". Never had a reason to. Easter Bunny & Tooth Fairy, same thing. Until I moved out of his house, I stood firm on that value, so much so that, one summer, honesty caused an ass load of headache for my family, including almost jail & death.

Yeah, I got some stories...

It was the summer of 1988, between my 6th grade graduation from 54th Street Elementary & my first year at Orville Wright Junior High. We all know that jump from grade to middle school is one the first big steps towards adulthood. Puberty, a little more freedom, the onset of the teenage years. At this juncture, we begin to realize that the world is our oyster. We may not have the skill to crack that bitch open & have at it's mystic pearl just yet, but we've pulled up a chair to the proverbial table & begun to behold the possibilities.

As if the anticipation of Junior High school wasn't enough, my family & I were also moving that summer, to a bigger apartment. My life was changing right before my eyes. Luckily, I'm the type of lad that can respect the unknown. That shit's exciting, in most cases. The new apartment was roughly a half-mile up the street from the old one, so I wouldn't be moving too far from who & what I knew. That made the transition that much easier to accept. The school bus stop was a block away, & all the small conveniences one could want were in walking distance. Also, I'd already been frequenting these establishments, so it was no surprises. Anyone who knows where Slauson Avenue & Overhill Drive cross, in L.A., knows that, back then, that was a generally "good" area. Funny thing though, two summers after we moved there, a nigga got shot in front of our quadplex over some drugs, stumbled into our alley & bleed to death. That was the first freshly dead body I'd ever see.

[tony's note: real life gunshot wounds are nothing like television ones. & coagulated blood stinks...]

My dad told me he needed my help to make this move go smoothly. No worries. My dad knew he could depend on me, especially since I'd been looking after my little brother since day one. I don't recall my parents ever having a babysitter. So, he tells me what I need to do.

"The gas man is going to the new house in the morning. I need you to let him in."


"But, an adult needs to be there. So I want you to tell them that your mother is next door, & they can g'head on turn it on."


"Are you sure you can do it?"

"Of course, dad."

The next day approaches, & my dad drops me off at the new place on his way to work. My mom had already left for work. My brother & I were latch-key kids anyway, so I had no problem chilling alone, waiting for the gas man. Eventually, he arrived & knocked on the screen. I opened the door, hoping he would mistake me for an adult & handle his business. No dice.

"'Sup lil man. Ya mom's here?"

Damn. I didn't want to lie.

"Umm, she said she'll be right back, but to tell you it's cool. You can start now."

"Nah, gotta be someone here over 18 here."

Figured I'd be able to convince him, even pleaded with him. It wasn't happening. He said sorry & headed back to his truck. Now, in my mind, I knew I was in trouble. Trouble for NOT lying. What kinda shit is that? When I did finally talk to my dad, he was pissed. But, oh well. Back then, I didn't know that we had to be out of the old spot by the end of that day. Hey, I'm a kid. He should've taken off work, instead of asking me to do his dirty work, as if bills & rent pay themselves.

Our furniture was already in the new place, so at least we had that going for us. By the end of the day, we were completely moved in, sans heat & hot water. My dad, who's a mail carrier, needed a shower after work. Me, being a boy going through puberty, needed one also. We still had the keys to the old spot, so him & I went there to clean ourselves. After a five minute ride, & him telling me that all-in-all, I didn't do anything wrong, we arrived. You know how when you live somewhere for a long time, you become acquainted with the logistics of the street. Volume of people walking, amount of cars passing, etc. Two dudes were walking down the street, which was slightly unusual for that time of evening. Of course, I noticed them. We pulled up & I got out first, looking at the dudes who to me, looked like Ed Lover & Dr. Dre. That's old school, youngsters. My dad got out & before I could look at him, I heard a loud, shaky voice.

"Gimme those keys, man!"

What the fuck? Was he joking? Nah, not at all. He repeated his sentence, as he pulled what looked like a .38 out of his pocket. Now, the slo-mo kicks in. I'm assessing the situation. These bum ass niggas were robbing my dad at gunpoint.

"Run, Anthony!"

I was also taught that my dad shouldn't have to repeat himself to me. So, I bolted. I ran around the corner, crying, mortified, hysterical, to a large complex around the corner. I knew a lot of the kids, but adults, not so much. Instinctively, I looked for lights & open doors to find help. Oh, & I'm screaming "HELP!" the whole time as well. First door slams right in my face. Word? Am I not a crying kid? Next door I saw, fuck that, I opened the screen myself. An older lady pushed me out the house, while I'm trying to tell her my dad might be shot & shit. *SLAM* Now, on top of my fear builds anger. Old ass scary bitches need to live in a retirement village or some shit if they can't hack it in the real world. Maybe they should be living in a church, because real life happens out here.

I had one older homie, who was like the coolest older kid in the area. He lived in that complex. We all called him "Teddy Bear" for whatever reason. All I remember was him coming outta nowhere, picking me up & running me back around the corner to find my dad. Like a football player. When we arrived back on the scene, my dad's car was still there, & our old neighbor's who'd heard the commotion were standing outside. My friend Terra's mom took me inside, while the other adults started walking down the street to find my dad. In a matter of minutes, he came walking up the street, sweaty & out of breath. He said when I ran, he ran the other way, & those scumbags followed. He said he thought he heard a click, then the guys just scattered. I was so relieved, I cried even harder than I had been. The adults milled around, Teddy Bear made sure I was cool, & everybody went back home. My dad & I got in the car, & headed home as well.

Never did get that shower, though.

We got home, & my extremely angry father stopped the car, got out, ran inside, & came right back. Now, he seemed even madder. Still in shock of it all, I just sat there. My dad asked me was I okay, for like the hundredth time, & we left again. We headed back to the old apartment. I assumed we were going to finally take our showers. We got to the spot, & kept driving. I was curious, but I wasn't about to ask my dad where we were going. My question was answered without any words being exchanged.

I looked over, & he had his gun on his lap. What?! My dad had every intention of finding & killing these men. He was looking, ever so intently, in every shadow, nook, cranny & possible hiding spot for at least a mile's distance. I couldn't believe this. I knew he'd carry his piece from time to time, as well as I've seen him attempt to kick people's asses if he felt they were wrong, but this was another level I'd not yet witnessed in my dad. He was cursing to himself, ignoring the fact that his son was a foot & a half away from him. Shit was scary, because I know what he's capable. At least, before he got all sensitive with age & grandfather-y.

Of course, God helped those clowns get away. I think that made him even angrier, because he wouldn't be able to exact his revenge. We got home, & him & my mom got into a big argument. I stopped listening once she started quoting bible scriptures & talking about me being in the car. Fuck that shower, man. We were home, & "safe", & my dad didn't kill or get killed, so I was good. in hindsight, I understand why he took me back out with him. I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing. Men are complex creatures. Threats of violence are usually met with reciprocation, even if at a later date. This was no exception. I know for certain what my father's intentions were when he never contacted the police. Hardbody.

My mom talked to some emergency gas people, & the following day, there was a dude out to turn our gas on. My father & I have NEVER spoken about the situation. Probably never will. I'll never forget that shit, really though.

Some years down the line, I was watching a football game with some friends. I saw this face, & lit up. "Oh shit!" I said, "that's my homie from my old neighborhood." It was Teddy Bear, who's name is Marcellus Wiley, of the San Diego Charges, Buffalo Bills & Dallas Cowboys. He was a big ass kid, so it made sense when I saw him plowing down the oppostition, & I also remembered how fast that nigga scooped me up, & jetted down the street. Up until that point, I'd all but forgotten that attempted robbery even took place. Even a few more years later, I saw Marcellus at a grocery store in Ladera Heights. He remembered me, came over, gave me a hug, & asked about my "crazy ass dad".

So, yeah.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

past, present, future...

I remember when rappers were rappers. Nothing more than that. No smoke & mirrors, no ulterior motives, no snake charming [||], no chickanery. They were rappers, plain & simple, through & through. Jump in my Delorean for a moment...

In the mid-late 80's, most rappers looked like drug dealers or break dancers. Or some strange hybrid of the two, ready to toss loose crack rocks into the crowd mid-windmill, at the drop of a crumpled $10 bill. Point is, you could see a rapper, or one who emulated the rapper "culture" from a mile away. The last wave of truck jewelry was inspired by these days, thanks to Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane & Rakim, to name a few. These guys were easily distinguishable from the forefathers, with the neo-funk, punk-rock space cowboy, post-Disco get ups. & even then, there was something about a Black dude in a technicolor mohawk that still registered as Hip Hop. No confusion.

The 90's brought forth a simpler uniform. Much more carefree; baggy clothes, unkept or braided hair, or a strange marriage of the two (see: ODB), mountain climber or construction boots, preferably manilla yellow, & that was that. & let us night forget the horrible spell of XXXL white t-shirt/nightgowns, that dangled so low beyond the belt line that I've even seen a nigga's knee get caught as he ran. More often than not, rappers of that decade looked like they smelled. Of either too much weed or not enough hygiene. But, it went over good, because there wasn't an incessant need for flash & glamour. They 80's cats took care of that. Now, cats had something to prove, verbally, & what says that more than looking like you didn't give a fuck about much else? HIp Hop was beginning the maturation process, & the music took the forefront. The only people who didn't look like rappers at the time were our parents. Unless your mom was only 13 years older than you, which was sometimes the case.

The 90's saw 80's flash, with a rich nigga twist. Everything had to shine, not just jewelry. & sunglasses were requisite to the get up; the brighter & glossier, the better. Cats went from t-shirts & hoopties on their album covers, to linens & luxury coupes in their videos. Puff Devil Combs played a large part in this transformation, & even had the grimey-as-fuck Lox looking like walking packs of Now & Laters for a brief period. That was before he had sex with their bank accounts. Plenty of heads across the bored blame the "Shiny Suit" era with the downfall of rugged rap music. All of a sudden, everyone was a millionaire, supposedly, so we all dressed accordingly.But even then, you could still separate the rap cats from the normal folk.

Starting in or damn close to the new millennium, something happened. The rapper stopped being "the rapper" & became "the entertainer". The shackles of stereotype had been broken sequentially over the last couple or so decades, & Hip Hop, now the formidable genre of music, was allowed to express freely. Gone were the baggy pants & gaudy jewelry. Individualism sprouted from state to state, & even country to country. It's now hard to tell the difference between a rap cat, an R&B cat, the gangster rapper, the neo-soul poet, etc. The situation then becomes an oxymoron, where as everyone tries so hard to be different, they all look the same. The tattoos, the hairstyles, the bright colors, the lack of shiny jewels, & as it happened with (cream) Puff, this heightened sense of individuality may be taking it's toll on the collective soul that drives rap.

Good or bad, Hip Hop is moving beyond mere "rap music", & our respective attitudes & styles of expression are indicative of that. I'll be getting more in-depth about this as the month progresses.

Where it goes from here is anyone's guess, especially with the decline of the last POPular gangsta rapper left (see: Curtis Jackson). I think dudes don't want to be hard anymore [||]. They just want to be, whatever that may entail. But, no matter how you slice it, it's all Hip Hop, with the same differences, like ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. Regardless of what the label says, it's still ice cream, no? NaS said "hip hop is dead", and we all know that that's not true, but big ups to Nasir for getting niggas back on their p's & q's again, really though.