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?