Human @joellortiz @illmindproducer #hiphop #summer2015 #brooklyn

Human, Joell Ortiz & !llmind 2015

With so much hype focused around pointless and bar-less beef out right now, it's probably important to remind people that there is actually some dope new music out to listen to.  Real artists, real music no fake hype.

Human could be a one-off collabo projects that connect two individually dope artists, or it could be the start of an ongoing collabo that hip hop desperately needs more of.  I think the duo could benefit by creating a name for the collaboration, alla Deltron 3030, Phryme, Random Axe and Run the Jewels.  The lyrics are dope as usual and Joell Ortiz sounds recharged with new perspective.  Meanwhile !llmind continues to innovate sounds experimenting with the current trap drums with the boom bap beats that made his name working with Kanye, Little Brother, Skyzoo among others.

Six Fo' is my favorite track that flips a Deltron 3030 track (Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Kid Koala and Dan the Automator) into a banger creating the setting for Ortiz to wild out on.  Yaoowa!!

It's something special to walk Brooklyn streets and cross paths with artists that I listen to (and respect).  It says something about the artists that don't think they're too big to take their dogs on walks.  !llmind and Ortiz are both in Brooklyn, but Ortiz represents it often and is unapologetic.

 !llmind started his record label, RMG and I'm curious to see the artists he signs.  Collectively the two artists could pull in big names, but this project doesn't boast an all-star list of featured artists.  Emilio Rojas, Bodega Bamz, Chris Rivers, Father Dude and Jared Evan are the featured artists on two of the eleven tracks.

It's a dope project.....check it out!


Rachael Dolezal.....You Are #Racist



2015 is the only time that the Rachael Dolezal controversy could exist.  The past year has been filled with media coverage of murders of unarmed black men delivered via various police precincts which has been happening for decades; and more recently, gender transition and identity issues have been buzzing around via Hollywood celebrity.  Rachael Dolezal and the existence of her identity issues begs our society to further examine racial identity.  However, sometimes it seems people don't understand what it means to be in their own skin.

Imagine a situation where a black woman was in the media for claiming she was white, even though her skin is dark and she has no family members that were white.  She straightens her hair, doesn't go out in the sun, wears sun block and she works as an accountant for the state of Connecticut to justify her identity appropriation.  It would automatically be disregarded by every white person because her parents are black and her skin is dark.  It would also reflect a sad reality where this confused black woman simultaneously had poor esteem for her own race as well as a lack of understanding for what it means to be her appropriated race.  To expand, there are plenty of white people that are poor, didn't graduate high school and depend on government subsidies to survive.  Our society viciously calls them "white trash".  It speaks volumes to what it means to be white while allowing white people to distinguish themselves from the poor.  If a person who was considered "white trash" excelled in school and made a good living as a result, should they proclaim they are "white" now that they have moved up the economic ladder?  The truth is that the confused black woman in the above hypothetical scenario isn't identifying herself to be connected to the people our society calls "white trash".  She is identifying herself as what white people collectively accept as being white because white people have defined their own image regardless if it contradicts reality with no regard if it dehumanizes impoverished white people.


Behaviors, interests and career paths are not representative of a race.  The fact that this even needs to be said reflects the sad reality that people accept stereotypes to be true. Just because I am a black architect in training doesn't mean my behavior and speech reflect some desire to be white.  Some black people believe other black people who perform well in school or are well spoken want to be white.  There are also white people that believe the way black people speak is a different language aka Ebonics, when it's just a different dialect of English.  White people and black people alike generalize their own race and what it means to belong their race, but when someone from another race says something about them, only then it's unacceptable and racist.  The truth is that it's always racist to say behavior is determined by the skin color.  Actually, it's the definition of racism.  Black people are racist against black people and white people are racist against white people all the time by limiting what qualifies a person to be accepted into a race.  Take a second to wade through how ridiculous this idea is.  If a white person loves hip hop and starts to reflect the speech in their day to day life, they are called names like "whigger", a "wannabe" or something along those lines.  "Whigger" is an ugly word which not only limits what white people are allowed to do, it also calls black people "nigger" at the same time.  Why can't this person simply be a white person who loves hip hop?  It's not rocket science, but it would require a person to be conscious of what they're saying.  I don't believe many people are conscious enough when it comes to race.


There are limitations on what people believe is acceptable behavior for their own race.  Rachel Dolezal is a reflection of this unfortunate reality because she thinks she can "pass" for black in order to act a certain way or to have certain interests.  I repeat....behavior is not determined by the color of your skin and anyone that disagrees with this is racist.  This is also an extreme case of white privilege.  Imagine a privileged position where you can simply proclaim that you are a race other than what your genealogy and skin tone reflects simply because of how you feel.  Race is not a status you can change on Facebook.  Ms. Dolezal is taking the steps that mixed or multi-racial people have to go through because they have relatives who look different than them and because they never fully can be considered one race.   For bi-racial people, racial identity is something you process internally and test against the outside world. Bi or multi-racial people have to come to grips that their identity isn't defined by one race.  It can be difficult to deal with because bi or multi-racial people never feel total acceptance because it would mean that you disregard parts of your own family.  Rachael Dolezal isn't going through this process.  As a matter of fact, she tries to parse this whole racial identity discussion by saying she doesn't consider herself "African American", she considers herself "black" if it makes it any better to disregard the tangible weight of racism, including harassment, confinement to low income neighborhoods with limited opportunities and to separate that from the consistent factor for all of those things for generations was based on skin color.  You cannot separate the two.  Part of coming of age as an African American is understanding the color of your skin is connected to a history of slavery, discrimination and institutional racism.  It's disrespectful to the history Rachael Dolezal studied so well.


I'm bi-racial from the Midwest, and I had to realize that the way people perceive me is based on my skin color.  I call myself black because I know that is how I am perceived and that is part of who I am.  When police officers look at me, they don't care that my mother is white.  I also say that I am mixed race because I would never distance myself from my mother and that side of my family.  However, I could never call myself white because my skin has too much melanin.  Light skinned African Americans have to deal with the reality that African Americans with a darker complexion don't consider them to be fully black or are somehow inferior.  This is rooted in a history of slave masters preferring lighter skinned slaves and treating them differently.  Also, light skinned slaves were often born from rape, so the other slaves wouldn't really have the same relationship they would with other slaves.


For someone like Rachael Dolezal to proclaim to be a race that she has no lineage to is sad and trivializes African Americans experiences with race to a status that simply needs a confirmation button.  I'm not a clinical psychologist but I would bet she has some undiagnosed mental disorder or an unhealthy obsession with African American culture.  Working for the NAACP doesn't mean you are black and it's insulting to everyone (including herself) to make such reckless claims about her identity.  Just because a person has colored sun glasses doesn't mean that the sky is orange for everyone else.  On a clear day, we all know what color it is.


High Maintenance @hmwebseries #comedy

If I can ever spell "maintenance" right, I know I'll be having a good day.  Until then, here is the full first season of the hilarious web series called High Maintenance.

The premise is that the main character deals and delivers weed, marijuana, kush, fyah, pot or whatever else kids are calling it these days.  The potential crazy stories are endless for a weed delivery person in Brooklyn.  The New York (specifically Brooklyn) based web series is perfect for that cloudy day binge watch you've been waiting're welcome!




The Good Fight @oddisee #hiphop

The Good Fight, Oddisee 2015

If this is the first time you hear the name Oddisee, you have some homework to do.  My introduction to Oddisee's music happened back in 2008 via his Mental Liberation project.  From the beginning, I could tell there was something unique/different about his music.  Maybe it's the fact that he is equally an mc and a producer with a very high overall quality of music.  Maybe it's the work ethic and soul from his Sudanese roots filtering through Oddisee's lyrics.  Or maybe it's a unique mc coming from an under represented hip hop scene (Washington DC) that offers a glimpse into a new city.  Maybe it's the creative photography and the traveling artist lifestyle presented on social media.  Or maybe it's all of the above......

The Good Fight is a diary of an entrepreneurial independent hip hop artist in 2015.  This includes resisting the impulse to assimilate your identity to the small minded mainstream in order to succeed, while maintaining s creative edge and staying motivated.  This includes balancing his potential to help those close to them, while keeping his best interests in mind.  It also subliminally includes the humility of an artist that launched Mello Music Group.  Mello Music Group is a place to find extremely talented artists, so if you don't know, now you know.  These are just a few of the ideas presented in The Good Fight, so check it out for the rest.  In addition to having an intelligent, creative and musically talented artist sharing their life through art, it's all positive.  At no point of The Good Fight do you feel negativity.  No sob stories.  No club songs.  No heartbreak stories of ex's cheating........just real life music.



Shake The Dust @looseluggage @saturdavejake @nas #hiphop

I came across this documentary about breakdancing because Nas was somehow involved with it and it caught my eye.  It turns out that Nas executive produced the film, but I can see why someone like Nas would pay to get a film like this out there for people to see.  Shake The Dust is an international documentary that highlights b-boys and b-girls from across the world.  This film was so inspiring because it tells real stories of people in Colombia, Cambodia, Yemen and Uganda, but not in a light where they were victims.  Hip hop started out in the park, but it was created by people that were focusing their attention, passion and creativity on creating a new culture.  The same can be said for each person interviewed in this doc.  All of the interviewees had a common thread where hip hop/breakdancing was their outlet that pointed them in the right direction.  It's much more real than I was expecting because first it highlights how much hip hop means to these people who have very little.  Then, it proceeds to tell the story of several unique and special human beings.  Then, at the end, it focuses on how hip hop gave these b-boys and girls the confidence, how it has shaped their lives and what they've learned from it.  The most poignant part of the film, in my opinion, is how mature, level headed and humble these amazing people were.  They haven't become rich from dancing, but they know that they have been connected to something larger than themselves and you can see how grateful they are.

In the United States, it's so easy to lose sight of what's import because there are so many distractions.  But the young people in this film give a good reality check and reminder of how lucky we all are.  Every thing in our lives can be an opportunity to do something spectacular and every trauma is an opportunity to have an excuse to give up hope.  One of the young men in the film quoted Ghandi and it's so appropriate to this point:

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world" 


Now live it



Black Messiah @thedangelo #music

black messiah.jpg

Black Messiah, D'Angelo 2015

Contrast Black Messiah with To Pimp A Butterfly and I think it's clear that the racial bias, structural racism and police brutality have a heightened sense of importance in our country right now.  Who you speak to will determine if they think it's long overdue or that it's an over sensationalized trend of bad apple police officers.  Regardless, it's impossible to ignore what's currently going on within the United States.  If you're familiar with the blog, my tweets, etc, you know where I stand on this, but that's not what this post is about.

Black Messiah is what I was hoping for from To Pimp A ButterflyBlack Messiah is musically forward, diverse, representative of the times and it emphasizes issues similar to To Pimp A Butterfly.  The transitions are so smooth that you will be abruptly disappointed when the last track ends.  D'Angelo's rightfully renown career has been resurrected after setbacks which nearly prevented his art to continue.  I fully expected D'Angelo to make it to the level he is now back in the 00's, but it wasn't in the cards.  Brown Sugar changed my life and Voodoo was a great album too.  I was hoping for more projects and collaborations from D'Angelo over the past 15 years, but my interest in R&B faded after D'Angelo and Maxwell faded from the scene.  To this date, my interest has only piqued when Maxwell dropped BlackSummersNight and now Black Messiah brings me back to the genre temporarily.  The whole trap soul era has me seeking soul music in other places.

D' Angelo's style is still defiantly analog and fresh as if he never left.  It's an album I wouldn't hesitate to let my kids listen to when they're young, but I would probably skip past the "cracker Christ" clip from Farrakhan.  Other than the Farrakhan clip, there isn't much else that's overtly racially aggressive on the project.  It's not militant or angry, which I can appreciate when it comes to artists that address racial issues, because that's where the majority of artists go.  For the most part, D'Angelo gets his message across without being literal or forced.  Also, Black Messiah achieves all of this while remaining uplifting.

Black Messiah is a perfect summer album for lounging.  It's a project that lends itself to be heard from beginning to end.  The genre mash-up is welcomed because creativity and experimentation is few and far between.  D'Angelo's influences like funk, Prince, soul, R&B, rock, Spanish music and hip hop all make their way onto the project.  The record plays like a contemporary historic interpretation of music over the past 75 years.