Monday, January 19, 2009

Kanye reminds me of...

Before you write off my assessment, you have to hear me out. As i was sitting watching my favorite movie Above the Rim the other day it forced me to think about Tupac's life and this is what i resolved, Kanye is extremely like Tupac. It is rare that people so different can reflect the same light.

Follow me, its ok, trust me. Both individuals were intensely passionate about their work, especially music. Their passion for music pushed them to the cusp of greatness, Tupac created music that was felt like never before. The first fingerprint of his work was his voice, never had an artist up to that point spilled so much assertion and aggressiveness on their music. The most potent characteristic of his music was its impact on the rest of the game. He dared you to step your game up, with thought provoking songs as well as when he had his ambitions as a ridah. Kanye has also pushed people to take their music to a whole new level, he was essentially the godfather of a whole music revolution as far as the resurgence of the soul sound. Even now he makes music that changes the whole dynamic of his genre, if you can still box him into one.

Both of these guys were technically bred as anti-mainstream artist. Tupac came through with Digital Underground, a heavy contrast to the "gangsta-rap" that was taking place at that time. Kanye came up with Talib Kweli who is certainly more about helping generations than he is about selling records. Kanye says Kweli is the most important person in terms of his development as a rapper. Both Pac and Ye ended up being extremely available to the mainstream.

Both individual are extremely emotional, if you have the opportunity look at some old Tupac interviews or if you have snippets stored in your brain just think back. Look at how emotional Kanye gets, just like Tupac did. Both were passionate from an uncommon viewpoint, let me explain what that means. Tupac was such a layered individual and there was more to him than what met the surface, people would often ask him how he could make these aggressive and violent songs and in the same booth create some of the most inspirational, thought-provoking, and uplifting material. He took his experiences from an under privileged environment and merged that with privileged living, what he saw during the later chapter of his life. Most people weren't like that, which is why it was so hard to fathom for most people. Either you were hood or you were uppity, there were very few that had come from so little and achieve so much and have a platform to express it to the world, simultaneously trying to explain to the opposing viewpoint to each side. He couldn't convince the media and mainstream America that people from the slums don't always have bad intentions and they are just like you, they could not absorb what it was like to be from the slums. Just like people from the "hood" couldn't understand the demands he had on his life now and that he had work to do as far as helping as many people as he could with the platform that he had. So his viewpoint was so uncommon because there were so few that could relate.

Kanye on the other hand was taught to be different by choice. He defies all the laws and platforms that were set before him, from the time he entered as a rapper, he says himself " they were looking at me funny cause i didn't have a jersey on". He is part of the mainstream but he thinks like an underground artist, he doesn't want to do it the way others do it. Kanye would make an album and gripe because he didn't get a Grammy Award, but you have to look at what drove him to act this way. Kanye is so talented a lot of songs that are produced, he could do in his sleep, his brain is thinking "push the envelope" and create something truly original. He thinks why are we rewarding people for songs that sound just like ten other ones on the radio and lack so much from a creative aspect. Kanye is a true artist stuck in the world of painters. Everyone can paint especially if you have a stencil. Kanye is trained to think the way you SHOULD think. Lets use the example of taking someone out to a fine restaurant with the finest delicacies and they don't want anything because they are looking for a hamburger, and you are thinking "dude, we got filet mignon here, what do you mean you want a hamburger?". That is what he deals with in his field, but he works amongst them and with them. So back to my original comparison, both were hellbent on making you see things from their uncommon perspective.

Pac and Ye were also both raised by single mothers and were very close to their mothers, which I personally think had to do a lot with them being so emotional. Both had mothers that were relatively activist and progressive on societal concepts. Tupac's mother was affiliated with the black panthers and although Kanye's mom was a teacher at the tender age of six she participated in the sit-ins.

For me when i look at the two i am able to see a lot of the same brilliance, creativity, and emotion. That's why i see these two as carbon copies that walked two different paths.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Risky Business

Dear Nation,

Im writing this letter because i think there are some things we need to address as we embark on the portentous term of the recently elected Barack Obama. There is extremely too much unnecessary information being broadcast about the president, his where-abouts, and his environment. I think it's all wonderful that everyone is so excited about the incoming president, but some information is unnecessary and frankly could be a bit detrimental to his health, in a major way.

As soon as Obama was elected there were reports on the internet that divulged his code name as well as those of his family members used by the secret service. Now, take a moment to see if you can find any civilian that knows the name that was used for W over the last 8 years or even 4 if you want to break up the terms. Although its a useful jeopordy question, we do not need to be informed of this. As the coverage for the inauguration intensifies they have willingly reported what hotel Barack was staying in as he waits for the vacancy to open in the White House and essentially what floor. Media has laid out his entire agenda for the weekend where he was going to be and at what time, but not necessarily for events. They've outlined his train ride through each and every stop, what time he should be passing through certain cities and what time he should be picking up Joe Biden and when he will be arriving in D.C. We know that he has a blackberry, heck they minus well give us his passcode. I don't know if his car has been sold through an auction yet but as of a day or so ago it was certainly available. It has reached a point where enough is enough. A year ago half of the population couldn't even tell you where Camp David is located.

Perhaps the most dubious information is the diagram above: why is this information pertinent for us civilians, we really don't need to know. I would rather us not know to be honest. We know everything about his car including what areas are vulnerable and what to expect if when you target any area. They have outlined the capabilities of the car and so forth. The media has turned into Detective and Investigator USA. The diagram even shows where he sits, maybe im too cautious but i doubt it. I am not a pessimistic person, however pragmatism is my specialty. I wish the best for our president but everyone doesn't echo the same sentiment. The thinkers reading this letter are going to ask themselves why would he repost the diagram if he is so concerned, if they didn't catch it on the major media outlets that reported it then they sure as heck won't catch it on the 'sofa. But don't get it twisted there is a strong readership here, plus we are civil people over here.

As the letter comes to a close, i just want you to think about what we are doing amidst our zeal. Sometimes we get too excited and we need to calm down and tone down our exposure

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Art of Giving

One of my most gracious gifts is the ability to empathize with others, looking at things from their vantage point. I have found that this has helped me extensively throughout my living, from problem solving to lending a hand. Recently I have ran into quite a few situations where strangers have asked me for things (usually money or food) and it made me think, what is it like to be in that quagmire? Although i do not know the answer i have found that giving can be most rewarding.

There were two consecutive instances where i went to a gas station and someone asked me for money or food. Each time i lent an ear and also spared some money for them. Now first i must say it is not my job to determine whether they are lying or not, because it is rhetorical, i have no way of knowing unless it is painfully obvious. I found it rather peculiar that each time i showed up someone approached me, however i try to be as pragmatic as possible so i thought no further. So as the symmetry of life slowly reveals itself, i found the very next two times i went to get gas two different individuals filled up MY tank. They are people i know so they aren't strangers but God saw fit to bestow gas upon me when i didn't even know it was coming. I should inform you that this is when gas was $3+ for a gallon maybe even $4. All i gave to those that asked me is a mere 2 or 3 dollars each time, that's pretty much all that was in my pocket. God didn't have to give me retribution or any of the like and that's not what i was looking for, I did it because i felt that it was my job to help others where i could. This is a rather special case so don't expect to get gas cause Wallo got gas.

Now i go to CVS by my house and it seems like there is ALWAYS someone asking for something, i now think to myself "this is getting to be out of control" (im just joking). But it made me think of Matthew chapter 25 where the Jesus talks about judging nations on how they treated those in need, clothing, shelter, and food. I understand that there were parables in that chapter but the same principle applies. I resolve that we should all take the time out to help somebody, and frankly the next time someone ask you for a buck to get some food if you are skeptical you can buy the food yourself. Like my man Mike Jackson said on his Dangerous album we have to "Heal the World".

That picture is complex and multi-dimensional, i am not going to burden your brain too much though. Just know that the picture is called "The Giving Tree".

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Telephone Game

I just realized that i am losing my phone manners, you know what happens to information that you don't use. Now i am not losing the wits to say hello or goodbye. However sometimes i slip and don't ask for people the proper way and i feel kind of bad about it. This only happens when i have to call someone’s house.

I haven't had to call a house phone in a while due to the flourishing of cell phones. But i call someone’s house the other day and just said, "where is ....", no hello or anything. I had to take a step back as I was shocked by my own behavior. Clearly i was just going through the motions and forgot that i was calling a house where multiple people live and not an individual cell phone.

I just thought that it is relatively funny to see how things change. This is also a microcosm of how culture changes. In a minute there will be a generation that never calls house phones and if they do then they are not likely to use proper phone etiquette. I don't want to rant about this but as always i just wanted to share that. Mind your manners folks (that applies to me too).