Month: January 2016

The meek shall inherit the earth

meek mill

Robert Rihmeek Williams aka Meek Mill is like many rappers, arrogant, loud, mad sound and fury, yet he signifies something to many just like anyone’s favorite rapper. As he likes to mention and remind people he actually came from the bottom and for those people, especially the youth in Philly, he is seen as someone who fought against the odds and made it. Included in that proverbial “bottom” are all types of trauma which partially may explain his “twitter fingers”, lackluster diss responses, and inappropriate behavior sometimes in the face of sentencing. Yet I digress.

I fucks with Meek.  Born in May makes him and me solar sun mates. I know a little something about that Taurus fire and whether you believe in astrology or not, it believes in you (shout out to RaAhku, EverReese, Kirsten Littles, and Kalik KaZodiak of the FB Cozmophyzix crew).

He comes from poverty. Wikipedia tells tales of his mother stealing from supermarkets items to resell. He ran with a crew of hungry “bulls” called the “bloodhoundz” and eventually getting the attention of industry taste makers and a little help from the rapper T.I. Before he could be great though, he did get a beat down from the police to solidify further his “rap realness” card, it’s like getting shot or having multiple women, it adds to a rappers aura. I’m joking yet not totally and those in the culture know what I mean.

And contrary to what you may see on FB and IG so do the streets, many of “the people” fuck with Meek.

Meek is brave, he says what others think yet are too politically correct or afraid to say. People thought Drake was a fraud from the jump, yet they respected his “alleged” word play. Alleged now because we really do not know what is Drake’s style vs. Quentin Millers style. Still people will forget everything if you give them enough time and glittery things to distract them with. So while many Hip Hop purists questioned Drake’s background and intention we let it slide because Hip Hop is inclusive, even more so now than ever, and we welcome diversity on some level. On some level. Greater than our inclusivity is our desire to keep it real, keep it 100 and we honor that more than anything. Even when it goes wrong. Many still wonder who is the “real Drake”?

It’s complicated and in Hip Hop we are working out things even the nation has yet to figure out.

Does one drop make you Black?

Do we hold “white” or mixed race artists to another standard of activism so to speak that we don’t hold say our Chief Keefs?

If you talk tough and yet you are soft as a wet tissue (let another man pee on you) does it matter if the beat knocks and you’re cute (or better yet light skin-Black folks will excuse anything a light skin black does)?

Part jest part real talk. These are some of the questions that I wanna know the answers to, Meek had a few he asked Drake and although the track was a bit tepid for a diss response, the alleged “truths” revealed in the song still need answering.

That “beef” ended because people grow weary, other things take precedence and the artists get the attention they wanted and the world still spins on its axis.

Fast forward to this past week, “twitter fingers” as Meek is sometimes referred to released a diss track aimed at 50 cent. The first ever professional hip hop social network bully.

 

 

50 cent is another artist that like Meek that really came from the bottom, complete with all the trauma coming from the bottom entails. Curtis Jackson came on the Hip Hop scene, trauma exposed, trauma leading the discussion. First it was the song “how to rob a rapper” then it was the 9 bullets he survived. Hip Hop legend ish right there, getting shot and surviving, straight Stagolee, Dolemite type energy that we love and eat up in the Black community. We further got to know how jacked up fiddy (lol-that sounds so stupid) was when we learned his story in “Get rich or die trying”. Issues with mothers damage sons more so than the Black community has yet to deal with. We constantly discuss absentee dads and their impact on young ladies, yet we don’t do the knowledge on how absentee or abusive mothers damage our men.

50cent is hella damaged and you see it in his eyes, his torn relationship with his son, his steady string of beefs with rappers who he should seemingly be aligned with. Again you see it in his eyes, the glint, the glimmer and the sparkle (for those that do not know you can see crazy in a person’s eyes). So much so for years no one wanted to go at 50 because they saw this man’s crazy, respected his money and power and decided to stick their heads in the sand (ostrich style).

Well it’s a new old day. I say new old, because contrary to popular belief about 50’s ability to end careers, he never responded to Jay-Z, Raekwon and Ghostface, and the reality is the Gotti brothers and the Supreme team folks had 50 under pressure so much so he went to the police, not the streets.

And now Meek is calling him on. Now Meek is reminding folks, that this cat is a problem. When I say a problem I don’t mean a scary ninja from the streets we have to be afraid of for that reason. Noooo I mean a problem in that he is contrary to Hip Hop’s progression. He represents a tortured past that we are hopefully trying to move on from. If we talking about using Hip Hop to teach the babies, talking about building bridges, making a greater impact on the world, healing ourselves, our babies, ladies and gentleman than dudes like 50 cent got to go. They are the shiny happy coons at the door, giving out money and yet not living righteously. Inciting problems with no intention of building a bridge with those that look like him, no intention of helping children avoid the pitfalls he did. Meek is out here giving hope and 50 is hawking liquor (I know so is Nas, Jeezy and Diddy-we’ll get to them soon enough).

It’s a new/old day. Remember that movie Drop Squad?

Folks got to get dropped, rehabilitated, taught by scholars with integrity, put back on their deens for we all be on our knees praying.

I effs with the young bull because the young men in the streets are closer to Meek than they are 50. They are not rich like 50 and they are not working out and eating as good as he. Additionally I don’t want them to be like 50.  Meek has pictures with his son, 50 actively beefs with his son and the mother. Actively. In public. On Instagram. I can’t condone that. Meek is by no means perfect, yet 50 is so ragingly crazy it is scary. Scary that people don’t notice, or care, and are bamboozled so much so by his money.

Back in the day when the beef with 50 and Ja-Rule was getting out of hand, according to street legend there was an attempt to have Farrakhan come and intervene. Word has it 50 refused. If this is true we have to be mindful of folks that don’t want peace. Where do they stay in our community? Who are they to us? What are we to them? As I said already in another log….Black Lives Matter…just not as much as Black Beef. Well its time we change our diet.

Peace and love from Soulforce worker #1 Lola Fulani aka Whatever Lola wants….

 

Advertisements

Chi-Raq Black: Black Lives Matter but not more than Black Beef.

chi raq flagThe signifying monkey is an African American/Black character. The character first came to my attention as a young girl listening to folk tales about John Henry, Stagolee, the buzzard and the monkey etc. I learned as I got older that the signifying monkey has roots in African and Caribbean figures such as Elegba and Esu. However in the Black American tradition, he is the prototype of the shit talking, dick slinging, truth bringing brother who represents the movements of a certain cadre of Black men. And they are a cadre, a cabal all to themselves. They move smoothly, they have the gift of gab; if not easy on the eyes they supplement it with wisdom or the ability to attract money. Yet, I digress.

The signifying monkey has descendants many of whom are rappers, Civil Rights/Black Power activists, preachers, and yes movie directors.  Mr. Lee is a signifying monkey snarkily informing the people of their shortcomings and also hinting at a way to the road to freedom; promising to talk shit along the way, either way it ends for the people. By shit, I do not mean bullshit or untruths. For it is often the “shit” we talk that speaks the most truth. In the sense of Mr. Lee the “shit” is more the commentary, the witnessing, and there always needs to be someone to bear witness.

signifying monkey

Bearing witness he is, at a generation of ills and culture he passionately wants to help and yet does not understand. Somehow he navigates the line well of generational disconnect. Shows up on Sway to have (another great misunderstood Brother) a Kanye moment (how extra special are you when moments and moods are named after you?!). He criticises the gang culture and violent hip hop run amuck (we of the 90s know this did not just start-only spread) while not totally disrespecting the hip hop culture (although some would say casting Nick Cannon as a hard core rapper is disrespectful on many levels). He even calls out white men who fetishsize Black women. Yet, he still does so in such a way to make all parties uncomfortable and definitely not in any way atoning for the wrong many  Black woman feel that Mr. Lee has done against them.

Yet maybe he was trying on some levels to tell the women that have criticised him so much why he has done so. In one of the scenes towards the end, the character Chi-Raq who we by now see as a drug addicted seriously misguided and homicidal person is laying with a woman. He managed to find one woman who would give up the “piece” so to speak. They lay in bed assumingly post coital and he reminisces on a time in his youth when he walked into his mothers room and sees her getting the business done to her properly, all hiked up the wall, moaning and yelling at him to get out (at the time he might have been 12). We are left to infer that this along with the murder of his father are the reasons he is a “savage” (a term used by Chicago youth-and those that imitate them). You could see this as another attempt on Mr. Lee’s part to shame Black women or an example; maybe a sharing of his own mama trauma, or the trauma that we as a community do not want to face. We always hear of his father and jazz music. Did his mother pass away early like the mom in Crooklyn? Men are boys that were raised by people; that usually includes women who either left good impressions or did some serious damage. We have to acknowledge that when we go after men…the harm that might have been inflicted by women. There is something we do not know about him when it comes to women.

The women and Chicago rappers of the online gang/squad; be they twitterverse, online blogs, and even Black Lives Matter activists went in on Mr. Lee. It was almost like School Daze came out all over again. Were they not mad at him then as well? I was 10 years old at the time so I can not clearly recall. My point is, it was almost like we as a community have not progressed passed decades long arguments and beef. Nas taught me, “some beef is everlasting” yet damn I saw Diddy and Jadakiss on the same stage in Newark, NJ last month so anything can happen! Yet when it comes to a certain class of Black people, the upper class, the muh fuggas who you assume if you are from another class, have sense often want to be mad thuggish about disagreements and beef forever. Has there ever been a Sonia Sanchez, Toni Morrison, bell hooks intervention with him where they line up like in Beloved and get to ancient Black momma secret schooling him? Then I dont believe your beef. Beef necessitates intervention because everything and everyone is going to get molly wopped in its wake. Beef is ugly for real and not for the cameras. Beef can be solved with money yet often somebody gotta get a little jab, smack something.

I begin to wonder are they really beefing? Do they have a proposal for the old man (no disrespect)? Do they discuss this behind doors with some semblance of a council of elders or something? Then it aint real. At this point although the above may seem trite and outdated, its increasingly basic and necessary. In this day and age when every thought and emotion goes online without reflection and editing there definitely needs to be an awareness of the passionate and dangerous environment that lends itself. We also know at this point everyone is watching, mainly our babies. So when I see Chance the Rapper (newcomer rapper who use to obsess about drugs in his raps although he’s nice) beefing with Mr. Lee (flawed legend) online or I see the Black Lives Matter people getting into a shouting match with him at a screening in Chicago I cringe, because I wonder who are these people serving? Who are they yelling at/for, who are you fighting for? Who are they shucking, ducking, and diving for? Spike Lee has contributed to our legacy as a people, through our depictions in his films and for greater understanding among humanity in general. This does not make him immune from scrutiny, yet it does, or it should make people stay humble and behind closed doors with a plan and a purpose when they critique him.

Yet Black folks dont talk things out for goal purposes, we dont debate and build something thereafter. We are the signifying monkey all sound and fury signifying nothing. Spike Lee will make less millions in this particular movie, still goes on to make more movies, you still mad, and we are still in a victim pain body mode.

Black Lives do not matter more than Black Beef. (Thank you Vitamin Q for this one).

The police were shooting people in the streets and we (the hip hop generations) were immersed in a battle between an actor turned rapper vs a hustler turned rapper. There were memes that made comments about it, and people kept it moving because yes two thoughts: of the people and their struggle, police brutality and Drake vs. Meek, etc can exist in our minds. Yet if you really think about it, the “right” beef within the African American/Black community has ruined things forever. I mean MLK vs. Malcolm that was a lose lose, Civil Rights vs. Black Panthers more losing, now Shaun King vs Black Lives Matter leadership. As much as we pine about unity we have been divided for so long we like it; most have grown accustomed to the invisible lines.  We want war. We want beef. We want to style and stunt on each other and its out of control when even the conscious, literary, scholarly, artsy folk openly beef like the common savage thugs they critique. We giggle and make intellectual judgement on Love and Hip Hop and RHOA, yet we sip tea over HTGAWM, and Scandal. We claim some sort of Kemetic pyramid chakra aligned mantras and throw shade like strippers throw ass.  We then get up clutching ankhs, bibles,  and civil rights mantras like we were victimized by one another and not someone and something much more nuanced and sinister. Worrying about the wrong things and the wrong people.

The intelligentsia attacks Chi Raq as hyper masculine. Perhaps as a Hip Hop 30 something year old I have adopted some of the blindness to the misogyny ***. Yeah that and I did not see the women being powerless in the film. I dont find anything wrong with movies focused on the “saving” of the Black man through the actions of the Black woman, pardon me, I still drink that brand of KoolAid. I do feel a nation will only rise as high as its women because the mother is the first teacher; a lot of the mothers are special ed, and then we wonder why the babies are crazy??!!

Did he delve into what it means to be a female gang banger? No,  but it wasnt that movie. How many movies you want the man to make? You want him to make your movie, with your visions, your concerns, but #staymadkeisha he went to film school, he labored all those years; not you.

N*ggas want my old ish buy my old album. Or dont. But dont block people from my tunes/movies/love etc, just cause you dont want it.

mookie cute

“Yo RZA, yo razor, hit me with the major” OR “I don’t really mind if it’s over your head, cause the job of resurrectors is to wake up the dead” QTip the Abstract –Jazz (We got)

 

Wu-TangClanEntertheWu-Tangalbumcover

Wu Tang Clan aint nothing to fu&k with! I survived high school with lines like that. Urging me to protect my neck and stay awake to the ways of the world cause sh*t was deep. The clan out of Shaolin (Staten Island) came and in true hip hop fashion “bum rushed the show” in 1993. It was my sophomore year in high school.  The Wu Tang Clan, comprised of the RZA, the GZA, Old Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Rae-Kwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah, and the Method Man continued the tradition of teaching the lessons of the 5% Nation (NGE: Nation of Gods and Earths) through Hip Hop. They taught a generation of hip hop listeners that the Black man and woman were the original people. A generaton was given a story (not to imply its fake), but a story/myth true or false can be a powerful tool in galvanizing the people. Brothers were called Sun, because they shined like one. Sisters were called Wisdoms or Wiz because that is what a refined woman represents. We were learning the supreme mathematics and alphabet and it was quite a time to be young, to be hip hop. We felt powerful and it is in part to the jewels that were shared via the 5% rappers.http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/the-five-percent-nation-a-brief-history-lesson-news.11319.html

I remember looking up Noble Drew Ali after hearing Rae-Kwon say it in “Triumph”. That was 1997 so I cannot front like Wu Tang did not have a hand in the development of my consciousness. 1997 is the same year I read the Isis Papers by the now ancestor Dr. Frances Cress Welsing so it was a powerful time for me and many of my generation. So I owe on some level and I am grateful. Thank you Wu tang Clan. Let’s begin there. Say thank you Wu Tang Clan if you ever learned something from one of the members, one of the songs.

Recently comments from the RZA, the Abbot have sparked debate and reflection on social media.  RZA in talking with the Bloomberg Television Series, “With all due respect” (why?) made comments that drew some sharp words from critics and nods of support.  Here’s what they were in a nutshell.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rza-claims-all-lives-matter-and-says-more-black-men-should-clean-up_5690057ce4b0a2b6fb6fe692

  1. Trump keeps it real and he would like to see Hilary Clinton become President.
  2. We are living out freedom, justice, and equality, and the pursuit of happiness, liberty.
  3. “Of course black lives matter. All lives matter”- Goes on to speak about not eating meat because he feels it’s cruel to raise a cow to kill it and their lives matter as well.
  4. He admires the police who uphold the law, yet wonders how some can uphold the laws if they do not understand the communities they police.
  5. “If I’m a cop and every time I see a young black youth, whether I watch them on TV, movies, or just see them hanging out, and they’re not looking properly dressed, properly refined, you know, carrying himself, conducting himself proper hours of the day — things that a man does, you’re going to have a certain fear and stereotype of them,” he said. “I tell my sons, I say, ‘if you’re going somewhere, you don’t have to wear a hoodie — we live in New York, so a hoodie and all that is all good. But sometimes, you know, button up your shirt. Clean up. Look like a young man. You’re not a little kid.” (my italics)

There are multiple ways to look at these comments and they have to be taken in a certain context.  We cannot be sure how it was edited and truly worded and emoted at the time (says the calm me upon reflection). Yet the immediate reaction was one of disappointment in and anger towards the RZA, manifesting itself in true social media form with the hash tag  #tellrza complete with pictures of Black men in suits who were lynched or killed for their beliefs while in their sharp suits (i.e. Dr. King and Malcolm X). Some went on to question his 5% teachings calling him a jive percenter. While others argued this was the true meaning of the 5% teachings, to see the unity of humanity and to evolve and grow in one’s maturity.

My immediate reaction was harsh and swift. The hash tag went up as well as the picture of an ancestor swinging from a poplar tree. I went in on RZA on various posts, bringing up all kinds of dirt and emotions I had towards him, which were quite a few since I have supported and respected the group from the onset. I still stand by that immediate feeling in that he is misguided in his beliefs. Not wrong for saying it because we all have a right to live and speak and think as we feel. Yet we are also to be held accountable for the dumb ish that comes out of our mouths.

I took the posts down though. Not because my respect of his producer skills or homage to his legacy is such that he cannot be critiqued. Although that played a part in my decision to remove my posts and limit my social media bashing of him to it was not the main inspiration.

He is my brother. Love is all that will save us and we have to find ways of teaching, reacting, talking that is productive.  After everyone bashes RZA on FB, IG etc., what’s going to manifest in the community from that discourse? More divisions between the 5%? Hoteps vs. 5%? Old vs. Young? Those that rock Timbs vs. The Suited and Booted? Is some young person or over 40 super teen going to go out and buy a suit? Maybe.

If there is no bridge being built I am not picking up any bricks to throw no more.  I’m feeling old school like: I’m not going to study war no more.  At least not war with my own kind.

It gets tricky talking “kinds”, because I do not believe every same skin is kin. I’m still a bit tribal and I realize like Garvey that not everybody needs to go back to Africa or wherever “we” decide to go, because everyone aint on it like that; that is fine.

Still RZA is my kind. We are Hip Hop.  Home will always be home. So I will not throw the baby out with the bath water. Yet I will wash that baby well.

  1. There is nothing admirable about Trump. He is a typical capitalist, descended from questionable sources that in 1973 a lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department was brought against the father for refusing to rent to Blacks. There is furthermore no honor or admiration to be had in his character which is arrogant and not civilized. In addition his stance toward the Mexican and Muslim original peoples is an affront to all the Nation of Gods and Earths know to be right and exact as they would say. http://www.villagevoice.com/news/how-a-young-donald-trump-forced-his-way-from-avenue-z-to-manhattan-7380462

So what are you saying RZA? You admire home boy for being cut throat, racist, and having money and women? That is not what I want the refined civilized children and people to desire.

  1. The election of Hilary Clinton will not be any prophets’ fulfillment of freedom, justice, equality, etc. On the contrary it will be the continuation of the Clinton dynasty. The same one that always pandered to the Black community while doing whatever dirt on the side to keep the money, image and legacy flowing. If you are going to pander to this inherently corrupt and flawed election process then Vote For Bernie Sanders or Rand Paul muh fuggah. http://financialjuneteenth.com/hillary-clinton-has-been-accused-of-stealing-billions-from-haiti-should-black-america-support-her/
  2. Of course all lives matter, more than ever the affirmation of the value of Black life is necessary for some. Don’t get me wrong tho, if I have to keep telling you my life matters, Im apt to keep my distance from you because something is inherently off with you if you cannot see the value of another human beings life off the rip. Do we all long for a day when the color of our skin pales in comparison to the value of the content of our character? Well most of us do. Remember tho what happened to the Black man who said this.http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/nation/problem-saying-all-lives-matter
  3. I don’t really have a problem with the police. Ok yes I do. If you really want to break it down the police are here to protect property, not your ass. If you research the history of policing in America it comes out of slavery-the overseer, the rise of the prison industrial complex following “emancipation”, and later straight from the gangs and streets to again guard the property of the rich and keep the poor separated from everyone else. We need the police because we have greed and the inability to share. Or else why would they exist?  Do good cops exist? To an extent yes. My paternal grandfather was an officer as well as his nephew and I can only hope they were “good cops”.  I also believe that in the face of a bad cop, many good cops have stood silent for fear of being ostracized or even killed. https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=nypd+officer+reveals+racism+among+officers
  4. #tellrza I was wearing a suit. That is a meme for the ages. Succinctly articulating what many know to be true. Do I believe that one should have self-respect and dignity and that should be made manifest in their clothes? Sure. Do I believe you should mature and dress age appropriate? To an extent, muh fuggas got to do them and if you are a 60 year old lady who wants to wear halter tops, far be it from me to tell you to stop mama! Do I think that wearing a suit may bring less racism your way? Depends on where you are, who you are and what you are doing. True you don’t hear about Nation of Islam brothers slinging pies and Final Call’s dying from police gunshots. Yet, I know it’s not the clothes that keep the police away from them. I actually don’t know what does keep police away from a Black, Brown, Immigrant, or poor person in general. I live in a suburb and know of males who do not sag or look anywhere “scary” to me, who still get treated as inferior by the police. I know grown men in town who are constantly stopped in their luxury vehicles, again nicely attired. So will your clothes save you? NO. White people suffer from such a deep seeded genetic inferiority complex that has festered into an insanely violent driven quest to degrade, oppress, and eliminate the Black and Brown people of the world. (See Iceman Inheritance by Michael Bradley, The Isis Papers by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, and Yurugu by Marimba Ani) This is not to say all whites are devils and inherently evil. They are though dealing with years of psychological trauma that they have to deal with in order to not be constantly consumed with survival so much so that they “cut their noses to spit their faces” (you know melt the snow caps, piss off indigenous people so much that we revolt and there is war, mess up the water of poor people etc.).

 

We (humans) are going somewhere together, there is no getting rid of us, the Black and Brown people of the world (Jay Z voice-Now how the fuc% they gon’ deal with me, I aint going nowhere, they gotta deal with me…You scared muh fuggah, keep it real with me).

 

I will always send love to the brother RZA, for his creative genius, his vision, and the works of the God that he has borne and made manifest for us all to share. I think he meant in regards to the youth’s attire that they need to have a revolution of consciousness.

I think he meant that he would like to see and help them (by showing himself as an example) gain knowledge of self and begin to have such pride in themselves that a drug, gang, crime culture is no longer glorified and codified with gear in our community.

Maybe he wanted to say, “My bad” I was young and dumb and I had a generation of y’all effed up, doing drugs and dressing like hoodlums did at that time.

He meant to say that he’s grown up and he wants those in his generation who have not done so as yet, to see the damage, the war zone that we live in called Amerikkka and how it is killing our babies for any and all reasons one being the fear in how they are perceived.

Maybe he wanted to say he got the suit plug.

He didn’t say all that though.

So wrong is wrong beloved and I hope this treatise finds you well and reflecting on your words and their impact, as wise ones do. I still know we need our own spaces to have these debates and not air out our dirty laundry on FB and IG, where people watch and laugh and nothing is created.

What’s the point of going in on RZA if you don’t attend parent teacher conferences, if you still eat like crap, have trauma you are actively not dealing with, don’t speak to local children, or even your own family for that matter???? Charity and Improvement begin at home. See yourself.  This obviously does not mean we do not address what was said and critique it. It means we are careful to not assassinate the character and spend hours bashing a community member who has contributed to the culture. We See Ourselves. As Wu affiliate KillahArmy taught us years ago we need, “silent weapons for quiet wars”, not obvious pointless beefs on social networks.

 

Still…..

 

“Yo RZA, you razor, hit me with the major” die hard fans demand more.

wu tang forever

 

Peace, Love and Light from Soul Force Worker #1 Lola Fulani aka Bonitaah Applebum or Bonita, Bonita, Bonita.

Love Yourz: There’s No Such Thing As A Life That’s Better Than Yours

jcole

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPCAvzIFY-s

 

I played this song for my love, he was down on his luck. The words didn’t sit right, he was like wtf?!This nigga is crazy.

 I can think of all kinds of ways my life could be better lady.

 I was shocked, taken aback,

by his anger in fact

 somehow in my mind I thought this tune,

 would show him some light, insight, and he’d alight, and let go of some of his gloom.

I turned down the volume and the air thick revolving around with the smoke and the silence.

 In that moment I knew

he was a Miles Davis blue.

miles davis blue

 

 Jermaine Lamaar Cole was born to an African American father and a German mother in a military hospital in Frankfurt, Germany (things you find on Wikipedia).  We know from this song and others that his mother was single and sometimes struggled to make ends meet. Like many rappers his life was not a crystal stair and yet he like many of our beloved rappers he endured. Endure.

In the beginning of J. Cole’s career it seemed he would forever be the hot artist that Jay Z never let shine. Having signed to RocNation in 09 as one of its franchise artists (along with Rita Ora, and we see the slow burn that is her career thus far), most listeners expected him to come out, blow up and be the next greatest…immediately. Yet that is not the way it went. Although he had steady features with people like Mos Def, Miguel, Trey Songs and Missy Elliot it was not until the Born Sinner album released in 2013 that people really began to pay attention. Message: good things in life take time. Typical. Simple. It’s the same adage that everyone with sense has ever told you. Yet the waiting can be arduous and lead to depressive states, “even Hov tried to keep it and I leaked the damn tape”.

Fast forward to 2014. Everything changes. He drops that “Apparently” off the prolific Forest Hills Drive album that fans of J. Cole had waited for. The babies responded, singing in the streets, in the hallways, “I keep my head high, I got my wings to carry me”. It was a beautiful sight to see. It was one of those soulful hip hop songs that’ll make you cry; even if you don’t cry the artist, as Jay Z said, “makes the song cry” for you. He knew. He waited. He believed in the midst of all his struggles that his art would prevail. He kept his head together in between darkness. And you know it had to get dark, wack and corny, knowing you’re dope and still broke. Still what song does he make to close the album, aside from the litany of thank you’s? Love Yours.

 J. Cole, along with Kendrick Lamar, Mick Jenkins, and others have become the new generation of “Profound Ones: The Thinkers”; may we appreciate and hear their musical prayers.

This song speaks of gratitude in the face of adversity. This song reminds people to hold on; to not compare their lives to anyone else’s and just simply love the life they live (cue the Half Pint-Greetings I bring from Jah-that’s for another blog #whatreggaetaughtme).

This is so vital, in any day, yet especially in this day and age where social media, reality tv, etc have us literally in other people’s lives. Seeing their jewelry, body transformations, cribs, whips…it can definitely make the green eyed monster come out. This is also the age where strippers, bartenders scantily clad, scammers, and trap stars are seem to be “winning”; that can be especially rough for us that have taken the “straight” route.

I, like most people have days of depression, maybe even weeks when I am in a funk. Although I can’t really claim weeks because I seek joy. Actively. When I feel the bullshit creeping up on me I start singing happy songs and watching comedies just to get out of the funk. I even came up with a “get happy kit” concept, that makes you list those things that will make you happy and hit that list up as you need.

Fuck depression. I don’t want to ever be that sad. My mother suffered from depression and she was a Pisces, so that well of sadness went deep. I saw how that negatively impacted not just her but our family. Some days she would just sleep, all day. Some days she was in such a funk nothing I did (no songs, no jokes, not even fucking up in school) could move her from that mountain of sadness. At some point I felt she clung to it like Linus and his blanket, “I’m depressed, so let me be” was the mentality of her and the family made allotments for her condition.

She had reason to be sad (like many of us do), failed marriages, serious health issues, and financial struggles. At this age I now know better how seemingly insurmountable those odds can seem. Yet I also know that we all have things that we could focus on that would depress us. As well I know that we all have some gift, some piece of joy that is ours and ours alone that will center us if we allow it.  Choose to focus on what you want to increase. Love Yourz.

depressed black woman

 

I’ve been blessed. Blessed with family (born into and created). Having someone to call on when you are without money, lonely, sad is true wealth. I see now that this is all the wealth any of us need. Ever. When you don’t have that you are lost. It takes super human strength to do this without a village. A competent, sane, generous, lovingly critical village is hard to come by; if you have one, say thank you.

Extended family sitting outdoors smiling

Whatever you have, just be thankful, even if it is just you and your life. Now I know that is so much easier to say as I sit in my well lit and heated apartment, cable working, and food in the refrigerator. Yet, I have to believe and hope that even if my circumstances were not as such I would have enough hope and presence of mind to hold on. You know the saying, “tough times don’t last, but tough people do”? Well nothing we say is real and will be to any great effect and impact on our lives unless we believe it. Belief is everything. Villages. Belief. Presence and Hope. Hold on to the next day.

Nobody can be you but you. There is work for all of us to do in this world. Perspective is a mother fucker. When you’re on the bottom (poor, struggling through life) without an optimistic perspective you will believe that your rung on the ladder is all there is. As if that’s the end all be all of the ladder. Yet know there are other rungs and continue to climb.

perspective ladder

Try one more day. I am not saying it is easy. It’s not at all, some days you’re hoping like Tupac said, “that it all dont fall in the street”.  I’ve been without money (too proud to ask), made horrible mistakes (saw my life/career flash before my eyes), and lost ones close to me unexpectedly and early. So I know. You don’t know me yet please believe me I know.

“There’s beauty in the struggle”

My mother died unexpectedly in her room, across the hall from my room in our small 2 bedroom apartment when I was 25, (I’m 37 now). I went out to party at the 40/40 club and came home. I went straight to bed without checking in on her, and found her the next day dead, rigamortis having already set. I was close to my mother as the baby  of the family and the pain was arresting for years. I cry even as I write this. Yet I am here. I didn’t succumb to the sex trade and drugs like I thought I might (being broke and broken will have you questioning all avenues for $$$ sometimes). I didn’t go off and go crazy like I wanted to at times; like many thought I would.

I’m here (in my Miss Celie voice!). We are here. And if we are here, alive, then there is still space for joy, for appreciation.  I became a better person when my mother died. I was spoiled and lazy yet when she passed I had to work. I had a two year old daughter to feed. I was starting my first teaching job the Monday after she passed (she passed on a Saturday). I had to figure things out on my own. Consequently, I became a better teacher, a more compassionate and empathetic person. I am becoming a better mother and person daily as I remember and reflect on all the lessons she taught me or failed to teach me. I found beauty in the struggle.

“I’m tired of living with demons because they always inviting more”

Be careful what you invite in to your mind, your body, your heart. Why think it, if it doesn’t feel well? If it’s not helpful to you and your purpose? Let it go. Love your life. Celebrate that shit, even in, especially in, the darkness moments. Sun will shine. Soon come. It cannot rain 365 days.

“I hope one day you hear me”jcole

Peace, Love and Light from Soulforce worker #1 Lola Fulani aka Bonitaah Applebum or Hey Bonita-Glad to meet you!