When I Write Rhymes, I Go Blind And Let The Lord Do His Thing

“I don’t do shit until I meditate.” – Russell Simmons

I was at a friends house one night when he turned off all the lights, set up a black light, and then put large pieces of paper on the wall and gave us markers. He was working for Revolt at the time and was always talking about creating and catching vibes. I immediately felt like a little kid and began drawing and writing. I wrote about all the things we have to be grateful for, how incredible it is that we get to create our lives and choose anything we would like, and included all my favorite song lyrics and quotes. This guy Rob had just gotten there and began admiring my work and remarking how dope it was. We were having drinks and every time we went to cheers, he asked me to make a toast. I expanded on what I was writing about, just publicly appreciating the moment and reflecting on how incredible it was to be surrounded by great people in Los Angeles who are all following their dreams. I pointed out some obvious blessings that we often take for granted. He kept asking me to give toasts and I could see his vibration rising as well the more grateful he felt, reflecting on the things I was speaking about. It’s so accepted for people to complain all day, but it’s rare to speak about all our blessings out loud. It’s funny how that works and you can see evidence of this everywhere, from the news to the workplace. I normally speak about these things around my friends, but to do it in a room full of strangers was something new to me. I realized that the confidence in that moment came from the encouragement of Rob.

We left my boys spot and headed to the studio. There were four of us, Rob, a girl he was dealing with, a friend of his, and me. Rob is a producer and was complaining that he had turned in five songs to Puffy, but that Puff had only like three of them. Feeding off our conversation earlier, I confidently stopped him in his tracks. I reminded him of how incredible it was that Puffy not only messes with his music, but that he believes in him so much to tell him the truth and expect the absolute best from him. Puffy has built his brand on excellence, and by being allowed into his world, you must consistently rise and exceed his expectations. It reminds me of his feature on Rick Ross’s song, “Nobody,”

“You wanted to fuckin’ walk around these roaches?These n***** is roaches. These n***** is mere motherfuckin’ mortals. I’m tryna push you to supreme being. You don’t wanna motherfuckin’, you don’t wanna embrace your destiny. You wanna get by. You don’t wanna go into the motherfuckin’ dark, where it’s lonely. You can’t handle the motherfuckin’, the pain of the motherfuckin’ not knowin’ when the shit is gonna stop. You fuckin’ wanna walk around with these n*****? What the fuck is their culture? Where the fuck is their souls at? What defines you? These n***** with these fuckin’ silly looks on their faces.You wanna walk around with them or you wanna walk with God, n****? Make up your got damn mind!” Continue reading

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Don’t Be A Hard Rock When You Really Are A Gem

“Sad, but one day our kids will have to visit museums to see what a lady looks like. So if you find one, I beg of you, hold her tight. Yes, if you spot one, good sir, treat her right.” -Andre 3000

A few months ago I attended a listening session for Ne-yo’s new album. There were about 40 industry professionals packed inside a tiny studio in North Hollywood rating each song between 1 and 5. I’m not big into R&B these days, but everything sounded pretty standard to me. He sang about sex, “love”, and money, and topped it off with a Juicy J feature to give it just the right amount of ratchet. It had everything 2000-something R&B albums are made of.

As we left, my girl Dominique asked me what I thought of the album. “It was cool,” I told her. “What about that song where he was trying to convince his girl to have a threesome?” she asked. “It was cool,” I replied for the second time. “Are you serious!?” she snapped back, “I thought it was disgusting. I mean seriously, who does he think he is?” I was confused and couldn’t understand why she was so upset. It wasn’t until I took a step back and really thought about it that I realized how valid her point was. I also realized how and why I had become so desensitized.

I have been around the “industry” in some way or another since I was 19. My first trip to Miami during BET’s Spring Bling Weekend was the first of many experiences into a world that most people will never witness firsthand. My love for hip hop, traveling, and for other cultures has landed me in the middle of a diverse array of environments and situations that have shaped the way I think and process the world today.

I’ve been in love with hip hop since the moment I first heard “Hypnotize” bumping out of my speakers in 97′ on the top 7 at 9. Even though back then hip hop was laced with misogyny, there were many other more prevalent themes. It was about rebellion, it was about hustle, and it was about having heart. Over the years, it’s transitioned into odes to money, drugs, and strippers. Having heart is now not nearly as important as having Instagram followers. Having respect is valued less than having naked girls shaking it for singles in videos. Creative content is less important than having a Tuesday night Supper Club smash. The music has transitioned, and subsequently, so have the women.

I recently saw a video Jada Pinkett Smith posted about human trafficking in America. A lot of the victims she spoke to had gotten their start in the strip club. This turned into other extracurricular activities with clients and before they knew it, many of these women were sold into the sex slave trade. She was shocked at how glorified stripping had become in our society, remarking that when she was a young girl, it was considered shameful. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment the shift occurred, but some time in the last ten years, stripping became a glamorized and coveted profession. Mainstream music has become more and more disrespectful towards women and Instagram has become a breeding ground for aspiring models who take their clothes off daily to gain “likes.” Bar tending in thongs and hosting parties have become desirable career paths for many young women who value red soles on their shoes more than college degrees.

While I’ve never stripped or posted nudes on the Gram, I have definitely felt the effects of this cultural shift. I’m reminded of this often when I tell stories to my friends who have had very traditional or religious upbringings. Because of a lot of the things I’ve seen or been around, certain things are “normal” to me that would leave my more traditional friends with their jaws on the floor. While I don’t participate in many of these questionable activities, I don’t flinch when I see or hear about them. From seeing girls prostitute themselves out for a few hundred dollars, to seeing rappers getting top in public, to hearing famous men blatantly and publicly bragging about cheating on their equally as famous wives, not too many things shock me these days. Continue reading