Saturday, August 27, 2011

Random Facts And The Like

Life has been interesting lately, to say the least. I went back to Texas for a little bit to see my mother get married, have been getting my things in order for school, and have just been enjoying life. Made some new friends, and re-established many existing friendships I already had. Now that I have the time though, I thought I would write some random facts about myself:

Favorite Movie: The Five Heartbeats

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Song: "Moments In Love," by the Art of Noise

Favorite food: Rice (That's the Latino in me, lol)

Favorite Holiday: Christmas

Favorite Quote: "I can and I will." - Farrah Gray

Favorite Shoe: Air Jordan XI white / black / concord

Favorite Soda: Squirt

Favorite Sport: Basketball

Favorite Book: Black Boy, by Richard Wright

If there's anything else you'd like to know, hit me up...


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Greatness Opens Doors

A Chicago MC named G.O.D. Jewels who also posts on the sneaker board I've frequented for the past 10 (!) years entitled one of his mix tapes Greatness Opens Doors. It was much a play on his stage name as one of the affirmations he lived by: "Greatness opens doors." I really hold on to that mantra, because I believe that if I do my best, my greatness will soon open doors for me.

Having finished my year of service working with middle school students, I have changed in ways that I would have never expected, and I'm better for it. It would be easy to say how much I improved my students lives, but they really helped me improve mine. I do not act like I have that chip on my shoulder like I did at the beginning of the year. I finally have the self-confidence to make big decisions in my life that I probably wouldn't have made before this year.

I'm taking the time to count my blessings and see how many I can pay forward. I only have one life to live, so it's up to me to live it the fullest. I'm in a very good place right now. I'm going to start doing what my Dad always told me and "Let my gifts make room for me." I'm going to get my chance to shine, because I speak up to much for myself not to. But jokes aside, less is more. By playing the background nobody can see me coming, and I like things better that way.

Indeed, "greatness opens doors." Let's see how many I can get to open...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

See Me Now

I don't really discuss it much, but if it wasn't for Kanye West I probably wouldn't be making music.

I was always interested in rapping... I started around the time I was in sixth grade, and before that I was really into poetry. I never really had the confidence though to rap in front of anyone. I got picked on a lot as a kid and took many things personally. All the rappers I saw on television or that I saw in my older brother's magazines looked gangster or if nothing else, like 100% Black guys. I joke about it a lot, but at the time I don't really remember there being any popular Latino rappers outside of Big Pun, and he died shortly after my family moved back to the States in '99.

At any rate, by ninth grade I was a computer junkie. As someone always into technology, I would spend all of my free time after doing homework and chores on the computer. More than anything, I just wanted to find a way to get tracks to rap over... The funny thing was, I never thought about making them myself. I found about about an inexpensive music production program and began experimenting. My first attempts at trying to make a basic three minute track were very raw, and I wasn't really open to constructive criticism at the time. By the time I graduated high school though, I was starting to show potential, and at 23, I can say my production is far more polished.

Interestingly enough, rapping took a backseat as I developed a passion for production. Finally, I looked up this year and decided to get back behind the mic. My flow was rusty at first, but in time writing bars felt natural again. And like Kanye at his best, I'm finally saying what's on my mind, and perhaps more importantly, what's on my heart. I don't really like violence, so why rap about it? I want money as much as the next person, but it can't buy happiness. I'm finally secure in my manhood to know I don't have to put anyone else down to make myself sound or look better.

I think this really hit me in the last few weeks that I've been working more on writing verses and trying to pick out what tracks I wanted to use for my future project. I was listening to the song "See Me Now" off of Kanye's latest album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and I actually started tearing up while walking home after dinner yesterday. There's a lyric where Beyonce goes "I know one thing, my mama would be proud / And you see me lookin’ up / ‘Cause I know she’s lookin’ down right now." My Mom is still here, but that lyric made me think about my Grandma Jean and my Abuela Ignacia, two women (my grandmothers) who went through a lot and were loving and caring people.

There was a time in my life when I wasn't doing what I should have been... And I'll be honest, before I started working to mentor kids last year, I felt like I let a lot of people down in my life. But as I think how much I've worked to turn my life around, I wish they could see me now.... How long I've stuck with this music thing, how much I've grown into a decent man, and how much I am finally working to tap into the potential that has laid dormant for the longest. More than anything, I'm finally happy about my life again. I'm smiling just like I did when they were still here. I can finally rest assured that they're happy to look down from heaven and see me now.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We Won't Be Stopped

I was about to be politically correct about this, but it's time to be direct. As I write this, I'm listening to T.I.'s "I'm Talkin' To You." I'm not even on any aggressive stuff right now, but I just see so many things I'm tired of... The game is weak, and we need to raise our standards.

I remember when I met one of my best friends and collaborators Thunda Corleone back in Mrs. Durst's ninth grade English class on the first day of high school. We connected over basketball, sneakers, but more than anything hip-hop. The classics that our older brothers listened, like Wu-Tang's 36 Chambers, Nas' Illmatic, OutKast's albums... Just real hip-hop. He said something I never forget when even talking about how the younger guys played the game, a metaphor for basketball and hip-hop at the same time: "Mike, man I got ups, but my brother and the dudes he hooped with had flight." In other words, these dudes today are impressive, but the vast majority of these emcees are not popping like that... If they have the style, they lack the substance.

I just want to see more good music. Less marketing plans, less ignorance, less glorification of material things and let's get back to what this music special in the first place... The fact that you could hear the pain and joy from an emcee on the same album is what made love hip-hop the way I do, what made me work on my own skills until I wasn't afraid to freestyle in front of my class mates at school anymore, what made me want to become my own producer just so I could get my voice as an emcee heard. Me, the Diamondback family and anyone I affiliate with are not doing this for accolades or the money... We do it because we love it enough to honor the culture.

I'm not saying I don't like my club music because anyone that has seen me out knows I will dance a fool, especially if I just got a fresh cut. But I'm also going to talk about the kids I see everyday raising their brothers and sisters because their one parent has two jobs. I'm going to talk about why we need to stop promoting violence and ignorance in our communities. If the major labels want to break bread, then good for them. But this isn't about them, this is about the people.

Let your boy cook... (I see you Lil' B.) This is Legacy Elite and Diamondback. We won't be stopped.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Beautiful Grind

I had a date the other night and for the first time in months, I felt like myself. I didn't feel like I had to watch what I said when giving my opinion on something, or put on a facade like I sometimes have to do at work. I was able to enjoy someone's company that I could tell enjoyed mine and not worry about the one million things currently keeping me busy at work. I was able to talk about being creative to another person who understands the creative process, and it was liberating.

People don't realize it, but having to work in the school system or really in any work place where you have to interact with people a lot can be taxing. Some days I come home wondering if I'm getting old when I think about how many times I have to ask a student not to do something. I forgot that I'm still pretty young myself. On the plus side though, I can finally say I'm starting to understand this whole mentor thing. I can be a good mentor to these kids without having to cosign or agree with all that they do... After all, in the end they're still just kids.

With all that being said, I've been all over my music lately. I've been looking for tracks from my own catalog to write to, and for the first time in a long time, I'm really focused on making a mix tape happen before the end of the year. I have enough tracks; I'm just still trying to figure out how to build the tape. I want it to be something good from start to finish, more so like a great book than the typical mix tape or album you would buy or download today. If I can do that and get people to enjoy the music as much I do, then that would be great.

To bring things full circle though, I talked to my date about the grind as far as having a day job and still trying to make time for music, and I have to admit: It's a beautiful grind. I'm going to look back on all of this someday and talk about how great it is to have freedom over all my work and just enjoy what I do. If I don't enjoy it, why do it then?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Life Goes On

It's been a long month and there is still a week to go. I have been busy with everything from college applications and just trying to maintain a standard of excellence at work. I've matured a lot and have noticed a great change in my habits since I got back from visiting my Mom over the Christmas break. I'm spending more time on getting my priorities in order and less time worrying about things that really don't matter in the long run. By doing this, I'm setting myself up for success and am able to use my energy on things that will be beneficial to my well-being.

It hasn't been easy, though. There have been moments where I've found myself wondering if I'm really doing the right thing in life by virtually putting the needs of others before my own. It's no secret that I don't get paid a lot of money for what I do, but I tell myself all the time that I don't do this for the money. I do this for all of the kids that I mentor that need guidance that they probably aren't going to get outside of those few class periods I spend with them every day. When I think about them doing well and the impact I have on their time at school, I appreciate the opportunity to even be able to mentor students who need a role model in their lives.

In addition, I have often found myself wondering what I would do after this current job. I know I'm going to be back in school, but I don't exactly know where. Hopefully God can put the answers in front of me... He always does. In the meantime, I'm going to continue to focus on becoming a better person and making the best of whatever life might throw at me. One of the things that was always stressed in church when I was a kid was that God will never give you more than you can handle. I'm a firm believer in that.

Aside from all of that, I'm feeling as creative as ever right now. By not focusing on my love life (or lack thereof... ha!), I've had a chance to get back to doing things I enjoy, like making tracks, writing whatever comes to mind, and just being myself. I tell myself all the time that as long as I'm comfortable with who I am, that's all that matters. And in the end, I'm finally starting to believe that.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Back for the First Time

It's been a long time since I've actually updated my blog, but a lot has changed in my life. I've gotten a little bit more independent and focused on certain goals in my life, and have actually started getting an idea of where I want to go with my music.

In addition, a lot of different things have happened at work. I've gotten a great new boss and mentor have started to count and really enjoy the blessings in my life. More than anything, I'm feeling creative again. I've learned a lot about myself and I'm ready to get back to writing and finally settling down with my music.

It's game time, so to speak... So where's the ball?