One day after the death of Nipsey Hussle, (legally Ermias Asghedom), and I am moved to write. I honestly don't even know if this man is buried yet, so please take my words with some chill.
I am forced to get the news from social media. Social media is my primary news source (obviously). As a 29 year old, I am blessed to be able to live and speak freely where I can. However, I still find it odd as a black man, I am still slightly crippled by the fact that if I do anything in the states that seems scary or offensive to a cop, I may get shot by a cop. I also think it's crazy that if I break any real ground with a project that was actually structurally correct to do, I may get shot and killed in the street by unknown assailants leaving people to wonder what even just happened.
It is very obvious that Nipsey Hussle's death is at an upper echelon of situations because it is not immediately clear who is the assailant. In 2019, depending the level of "necessity", someone can be anonymously killed, even in public in broad daylight, for the right price. Why this particular situation matter is because of his involvement with a very serious documentary.
I just want to say 3 things.
1. Rest in Peace Nipsey
2. You don't know who killed Nipsey Hussle, and you don't know who killed him.
3. If you decide to take this opportunity to think his death is a conspiracy related to a medicine documentary, I really think you should look up the information that he was trying to convey to public. It is very accessible. If you choose not to follow his message, I don't believe it's appropriate to take his name as weapon for you to "virtue signal" towards freedom of expression or the government trying to keep the black man down. Those things are still true, but if Nipsey Hussle's message was as important as people posting about his death being a conspiracy, there would be more mainstream posts about more conscious eating, generally more plant-based and herbal based eating, and conscious (visual/ audio) consumption. I don't see that from my social networ in the droves that I see the "we don't trust our government" screams. The internet is too available to be a rebel-detective on these high-reaction events, and an uninformed "broke" person who can't afford to eat better or live a better lifestyle on all the other days. Please work on yourself before everything.
That is all.
I moved from Brooklyn to San Juan, Puerto Rico and one of the dope things about my move is that cannabis is legal in Puerto Rico. Cannabis legalization in Puerto Rico recently happened, and was a complete deal-sealer when deciding to move to San Juan. I documented my adventure in the video below if you don't want to read.
WHAT IS LEGAL EXACTLY?
Cannabis and cannabis products are medicinally available in Puerto Rico, and if you have a Cannabis ID, you can buy up to 28 grams of cannabis a day! If you want to buy from one of the dozens of dispensaries in Puerto Rico, you need a few simple documents. There are two ways you can get qualified to enter a PR medical dispensary: 1. as a resident or 2. as a tourist in PR.
Before you decide which option you want to choose, you have to understand the order of documents and why they matter.
1. State ID or Passport
2. PR Doctors Recommendation
3. Permit from Dept of Health (Dept De Salud)
HOW TO QUALIFY
In order to enter a ANY PR dispensary FOR THE FIRST TIME, you need a Puerto Rico Issued cannabis ID (or a temporary permit) from the Dept. of Health, AND a Puerto Rico issued doctors recommendation. After your first visit to that dispensary, you will only need your cannabis ID, as they will already have you in their system.
In order to obtain a cannabis ID in PR, you need a Puerto Rico Issued doctors recommendation. They are not expensive or hard to find, and as of the writing of this blog, there are companies and dispensaries in San Juan that do all of the service for you in one visit to make the whole process faster. I used Island Med PR.
You just really have to pay for a visit to a doctor that creates those medical recommendations and then pay for the Dept. of Health (Departmento De Salud) filing fee when you go to the Dept. of health with your recommendation.
Those separate prices vary very slightly depending on how you get it done.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
Island med PR will give you a doctors visit and a full Dr.'s medical recommendation on the spot (within an hour or two) for around $40. They add an additional $60 for a certificate (which acts the same as a full Cannabis ID and takes 2-3 days to ship to your PR address and lasts for a month). Or you can pay $80 instead of $60 for the full ID (which lasts a year). Then an additional $40-50 to basically send someone to proxy file for you.
The reason I am estimating is that this particular branch, which seems to be pretty popular for its fast and convenient turnaround, has some wiggle room on the price due to the fact the industry is still very young and they are really providing a 1-stop shop "middle man" service.
I saw no price posted online when I called they quoted me about $175 for everything. When I actually got there I paid $140 one-time for the recommendation and the full ID. It seemed the guy at the location was making an exception that none of the other employees knew about because I had cash upfront. So definitely look forward to a cash discount. (Note about cash discount: you can forget about filing online on the Island Med PR website if you want to use cash because you will only be able to use card to make an account and you will get jammed up in their website if you go back without putting in card info. Just go to the location when they are open. Its so simple, don't be a chicken)
To be honest I didn't care about the price but I would bring $200 for a full service just so you can be ready for Puerto Ricos recent "inflation".
Because the filing fee is so low and all of it seems very small scale-wise, I wouldn't be surprised if you do your own filing by going to the Dept. of Health, that you can pay way less. It really is a matter of what your time is worth in the end.
From what I saw, I guarantee the price will be way lower than $180. To be honest, if you google cannabis on the map in Puerto Rico you will see some doctors show up too and I'm sure you can get a cheap deal with a little bit of driving. Here is the link to island med: https://www.islandmedpr.com/es/
ONCE I PAY FOR EVERYTHING?
IF you get a service to file your paperwork, your temporary permit will be available at your local dispensary within a couple of days. That is the paperwork that you can use as a tourist if you stay for more than two days on the island and you want to visit a dispensary. After a couple weeks you will pick up your ID at your local dispensary, which is usually the one closest to the address that you used to file.
Every shop has a one time entry situation where u present your ID (or your temporary permit) and your dr. Recommendation. Once you do that you just bring your ID and keep your doctors paperwork at home. I keep it in an envelope in case I'm ready to visit a new shoppe and then bring it along. Every shop’s “primero visita” or “first visit” usually is data entry first and then you can go in. Theres a lot of record keeping with them and their systems. Your ID is yours once you have it and that alone gets you in all the remaining visits to shops you have been to before.
HOW LEGIT IS THIS?
The cannabis industry is exploding in San Juan.. Everything is. The closest thing I found right now as the leader on all of the levels of the industry in PR is Cannaworks. They do all license training and regulation training for pretty much every level top-down from genetics to tending.
They are here: https://cannaworkspr.com/certificacion/
Hope this helps! Happy 420!
I recently played at Big Dub Music Festival in Artemis PA. I thought I was fully prepared. I imagine you wouldn't need much if you don't actually need much. I thought I had everything I needed, but I was sadly mistaken. Some of the things I forgot to bring totally reminded me why black people don't go festival camping. Here is my comprehensive list that every black person should remember to bring to a festival. Also I made a mini-documentary. LIKE AND SUBSCRIBE TO MY YOUTUBE!
1. BRING YOUR ID/BAIL MONEY.
At any point you could get into trouble and it is important for someone to be able to properly identify you. Especially if you are NOT the black person they are looking for. You want to make sure they know One of the best ways is having an ID card on you. That could exonerate you from accusations toward someone with a different name. In the event YOU are the droid they are looking for, you will want to have a stash amount of money that could get you out of jail in whatever mountain forest festival town you end up.
2. BRING A HOMIE THAT KNOWS YOU LIKE THAT.
Bringing a homie that you know personally will help in a few situations. In general they will have your back. In addition, you want someone to be able to identify when you are not being yourself. They will be able to spot when you are getting too negative or too overly excited. Perhaps you get too fucked up. You want someone to be able to know when you need nutrients and not more shots. Bring a homie that does that. The more the merrier, just don't overdo the crowd dynamic.
3. BRING MAD EXTRA CLOTHES.
Clothes to swim, clothes to chill, clothes to sleep in, clothes to shower in, clothes to change into in the afternoon. You can never have to many types of situational outfits. Maybe a pair of sneakers, a pair of garbage sneakers, AND a pair of boots will cover every type of situation you will want to walk in/on in the unpredictable weather situations. Also bring plastic bags to put dirty or wet clothes in after you hang dry them..
4. BRING YOUR OWN GALLONS OF WATER + A NALGENE.
You should ONLY be drinking water during your stay at a festival. If you decide to drink alcohol, you should be drinking 2.5 times the amount of water that you usually would drink. Anything else is asinine and lame. I don't bend on water issues.
Buy a Nalgene on ebay. Keep it full. Carry it with you everywhere.
It is bad enough people don't drink water on a regular. Don't play yourself. You will end up carted out on a janky, half-broken cot, pulled by a golf cart, with a cheap police siren-light, driven by a sweaty festival medic, on a bull-horn, trying to herd people out the way, so they can put an IV into your arm, while you sit for hours in a hot "chill-out" tent. Don't be that person.
5. BUY A DRUG TEST KIT.
Drugs are bad and people experiment. You don't do drugs, and neither do I, but if this is the ONE TIME you decide to try molly, make sure you test your stuff. Especially if you are getting it from a stranger. At a festivals, it isn't hard to find good recreational substances. The sellers are easy to spot, they are ALWAYS walking up to you asking you if "You Need Anything bro?". A good peddler will also have test kits. A GREAT one will test-kit it FOR you. If you don't have a test kit, bring it up to them and if they don't have one they can kick rocks... literally. Don't risk it and end up doing a deadly fentanyl concoction. Or even better, some zombifying bath-salts mix that will have you and your homies chewing off each others faces in no time.
6. BRING LOTS OF SAGE/ PALOSANTO
Sage keeps all the bad vybes AWAY. it works. Its real. Buy a couple of sage sticks before you head out to the festival. While you are there, carry it on you as much as possible. Light it as much as possible. You will make your day and everyones day around you. Also, sage sticks are the BEST thing to bring into a porta-potty for when you have to inevitably release your waste. The sage will turn your shit hole experience into a meditative world-class ass-release.
7. BRING GARBAGE BAGS.
Garbage bags will help contain anything you need to inside the tent. It will also be good for closing up shop too. You will accumulate trash very quickly. Keep it together in a bag or two When you are finished camping, throw all of your shit out. Do't leave it. Take it with you if you have to when you leave and drop it at your first rest stop on the way home. Don't be a dick and leave your trash where you camped.
8. BRING HANGABLE GLOWSTICKS + FLASHLIGHTS
You should bring a headlamp and a few flashlights. Headlamps work best. There are cheap ones on ebay. Once that sun goes down, you want to be able to see in every situation. Don't rely on you phone battery. That is super lame. Get a proper few lights for the night. A great alternative to lights and lanterns in the tent is glow-stick bracelets. You can make a bunch of circles with them and hang them around your tent for an incredible illuminescent experience.
9. DON'T BRING ANY DRUGS HOME.
Cops in small towns get bored and they are like sharks on a drop of blood when they see an unfamiliar vehicle riding round the festival camp grounds. They want to catch something awesome, like a car full of illegal drugs. Bringing anything with you home on your way out of a festival is not smart at all, especially if you and anyone in your car is still in a hangover. It give cops more of a reason to fuck with you. I was followed at the last festival I went to, and after I passed the driving test and made a wrong turn, I saw a different set of girls get pulled over by the same cop car very soon after. They WILL fuck with you. Don't risk it, especially if you are black.
10. LEARN HOW TO IRISH EXIT AS A GROUP
Irish Exiting involves leaving without telling anyone you are leaving. A true to form Irish Exit from a festival is dipping out with out even telling the people you came with that you left. Don't to THAT. Modify your exit so that you and your people you came with all leave together the evening before you planned. Maybe SUPER early the morning you decide to leave. Whatever the plan is, if you all work together and coordinate a proper Irish Exit, you could beat the rush of festival campers trying to leave the campgrounds at the same time. No lines, no hassle. You also LOWER your chances of getting caught by police because they stand-down until the storm of drivers leave at the end of the festival. BE smart and move undetected.
CHECK OUT MY BIG DUB DJ SET!
I had a blast at the Gradient Perspective Pirate Stage. Great job all around! I uploaded my set to the YouTubes for your consumption at your homely convenience. I hope you enjoy!
If you make a mistake, it's important to own up to it. If your mistake affects people other than yourself, you naturally will want to say "I'm so sorry." Don't. It's old and played out.
Say "Thank You" instead. People appreciate that way more.
To keep it simple, saying sorry is telling the other person something about yourself. If you are sorry, that doesn't address your awareness of your mistake. That just tells the listener that you are lame. The definitions of sorry includes these words: Regret, pity, deplorable, grieved, & sad. Don't bring those negative vibes into a conversation, especially one about yourself, that YOU start.
Instead show gratitude. Late? Thank the people waiting for you at brunch for being super chill. Taking up too much space? Thank the person next to you for being patient. Flaky? Don't say you are sorry that you are flaky; that is lame and no one can do anything with that information. Instead thank the person you are flaking on all of the time for being such a good friend or associate. Tell them you suck and tell them you appreciate them dealing with your jerky characteristic.
There is really nothing more to it. Here are the top reasons why/how replacing "sorry" with "thank you" is very dope to practice.
1. you bring more natural gratitude in your life
Saying "I appreciate" or "I'm grateful" makes it rub off on you.
2. saying that you made a mistake is more efficient than saying you are "sorry"
Remove emotion, and add a level of focus to your problem-solving routines.
3. people will feel better about themselves for dealing with you
Give someone love for having incredible qualities as a person builds confidence.
4. you cut closer to the core of any problem
Say what you did, and acknowledge it sucks. Trust me you will avoid it next time.
5. you keep better control of your emotions in social situations
Separating facts from feelings makes it easier for everyone to move on.
Do you agree? Has this worked for you? Is there a situation this wouldn't work? Comment below!
10 effective techniques that you can apply RIGHT NOW that will make you stand out as an independent artist until you get a manager
(which you really DON'T need).
*EDIT 6/11/18 -- I ADDED A VIDEO VERSION BECAUSE YAL NGz DONT READ*
Be dope. I wish it were that simple. You need to juggle so many aspects of your career to consider yourself an earning independent artist. These are techniques that have gotten me the most positive results in my environments. There are tons more rules to consider. These will spark some new direction in your journey.
1. GET A WEBSITE
Send people to your website. Let your website send them to all other useful social media sites. Sharing your instagram with people you meet is awesome and effective, and a website link in your bio will KILL IT. Let people see you've invested some time into yourself when they go to look at your account.
It doesn't matter what you use to host a website. Google how to make a website and click the first website creator you find. Buy your domain and GO!
2. UNDER-PROMISE & OVER-DELIVER
I learned this by watching J Hatch from iStandard. He always told me to under-promise, and over-deliver. It is easy to let your word get away from you, especially when you are a nice person. You always are making promises and tossing out favors by word. Don't let your words run dry. Make sure you mean what you say, and follow through if you make a promise.
The best way to KILL IT, is by offering someone a LITTLE bit of help, KNOWING you can do so much more for them. When you help them, make sure to do what you said and MORE. Maybe deliver something sooner than you said. The ways are endless. Be a person of your own word and simply under-extend what you can offer, to shine past your own word.
3. ALWAYS FUCKING COMMUNICATE
The more you communicate with people, the better your results will be when anything comes up. Be clear about what your part of a project is. Clearly let a venue know what your situation is. Thoroughly explain your position.
Maybe you don't want to talk to everyone about everything all the time. Make sure, you communicate effectively to people how to properly contact you. If you don't want someone too close to you, tell them how you prefer to communicate. It saves you a headache and you don't run the risk of looking like a jerk when you leave them on "seen".
Lastly, communication covers your ass when you can't keep your word. Better to communicate when you can't keep your word, than to let something go sour because you preferred to stay quiet. Even though excuses are boring, you'd' be surprised how understanding folks are about most "excuses".
4. DON'T BE OPENLY MANIPULATIVE
Being nice to someone because they can help you in the future is smart, and shady. Sometimes you have to be a part of some quasi-maniulative shit that may use someone else's resources. Do not openly seek these situations out.
Maybe you really need an e-mail addresse from an important person. If you bring that up within the first couple of minutes of speaking with them, make sure you have something to truly offer them from the bottom of your heart. People can tell when you want to just use them for their resources, and sometimes they will respond negatively to that.You could also negatively affect those around you when they see your moves in the open. People prefer to be tricked than to be told they are being tricked. KILL IT by laying in the cut and knowing when to listen. You don't always have to just listen. Try not to bee too socially divisive (plotty) around people you don't know. If you can't control yourself, prepare to deal with emotional reactions to your actions.
5. LEARN TO GIVE AND TAKE CRITICISMS WELL
Speaking of responding emotionally, try to avoid emotins when it comes to dealing with improving yourself. If someone wants to tell you something about how to carry yourself or your personal brand, listen and respond with gratitude. It is one of the hardest things for me to do. Sometimes the person giving the advice doesn't get what you're doing. Later on you can decipher if it is worth keeping the advice for yourself. You are still your own person. A great artist also knows when (and HOW) to ignore advice.
Another great way to KILL IT is to also step up and give a constructive criticism when appropriate. Giving feedback on a person should be given TO THAT PERSON as direct as possible. To get the best results, it helps to use the "BUILD, BREAK, BUILD" method. First you "BUILD" them up by telling them something that is actually dope about themselves. Then give them your critique... thats the "BREAK". Finally, "BUILD" them back up by giving them sufficient materials to work with. A bad critique is as useful as any opinion about Kanye West.
6. IF YOU DON'T KNOW, OWN IT (THEN RESEARCH IT)
This also ties in well with taking criticism well. OWN when you make a mistake or fall short. You don't know most things, and you aren't always correct, and you need to be okay with that. I always recommend researching something you don't know. Everything is on the internet. If you "can't" do it because you "don't know how", you just aren't using the youtube well.
Also if you ever are having a disagreement with someone else's about their opinions, take a step back. Especially if you aren't sure about your stance. The best way out is saying you don't know, or you aren't sure about the facts on the issue. Most cases, you will find that you are arguing with someone about something you BOTH shouldn't be riffing about because you BOTH don't have sufficient enough facts and information.
KILL IT by always steering conversations toward ideas rather than people and what people said/did.
7. SHARE INFORMATION
When I took Martial Arts growing up, my Dojo ran on disciplinary pillars and ideals. One of the ideals read "I am my brothers keeper" & "each one, teach one". Similar to "no child left behind", this perspective helps keep a strong sense of community as you grow. Instead of building walls and pretending your shit stinks less, find ways to provide value to others through sharing information. Sharing means asking for as much information as you are giving. You also may learn something dope in the process.
The best way to KILL IT is to link with people who can teach you while you teach them. You both will be empowered to work more.
8. VALUE YOUR OWN TIME
If you don't value your own time, you are more prone to waste it. You also run the risk of looking like a time-waster to people that move and shake. Do you always have to be working on something important every moment? No. Think about your time as hours you can either produce or consume. Consider right now if you are producing, or consuming. In short, not all consumption is a waste of time, and not all work is productive. Figure out where you land. Right now, in the markets, money is time/attention.
A good way to find a mark is ask yourself how much each hour of your time costs. Would you work at the library for $5.00/hr? Would you work at the library for $500 /hr? What if you had to work 7 days a week? Figure out when you should hire someone to do a task and when it's best to do it yourself to save money/time. KILL IT by charging people for your time. That will help you figure out how much value you ACTUALLY bring to the table.
9. act like you will see people again
This ties in a bit with my manipulation point. Always act as if you will talk to someone again. Chances are you will. If talk too much about every possible plan in the universe with someone when you first meet, you give yourself too much pressure to follow that energy up. Better to underplay your hand, or play neutral and factual when you first meet someone, THEN make a strong follow up. If you want to seal a deal with a first impression, make a stronger follow up than your initial meeting.
Its healthy to be competitive, and a good way to ensure you are a valuable player in the market is behaving like you will see people again. If you have an idea, instead of trying to land every big contact by over-pitching yourself in one conversation, say less and say you will reach out soon. Make sure you snag a useful point of contact (you can usually doing this by casually asking someone the best way to reach them... simple huh?). That is how you BEHAVE LIKE YOU WILL SEE THEM AGAIN. FOLLOW UP. FOLLOW UP. BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD. Mean what you say, and follow up + through. If you don't follow up, the next time that person sees you, what are you going to say to them? Excuses are boring.
10. ALWAYS BE BOOKING
Stop looking for a manager. Manage yourself. I heard it once said at a music seminar that you don't need a manager unless you are getting paid for your product. YOU KNOW when you are being paid for your work, because you most likely will need a lawyer. You don't need a manager unless you have a lawyer either. Most good entertainment lawyers will act as a stand-in manager on important issues until they link you with someone who actually CAN be your manager.
That being said, you are also your own agent. Dig deep within yourself and conjure up a show. If no one books you, book yourself. If you don't want to play alone, book people around you that you like. If that is too much work, you must be too expensive to hire yourself. Imagine what it would cost for someone ELSE to do that legwork for you. In any year past 2012, you should be able to manage a small business online using the googles. Treat yourself like a small business and facebook your google to any craigslist facebook venue group wall. See the people booked at the venues you want to play and talk to them. Ask them how to situate yourself like they do. If they tell you go away, be humble and find another valid way in. Maybe somewhere else. Think outside the box, and whatever you do, keep trying.
Indocumented my Brooklyn adventure to see Rusko! He does it properly. Peep the night from my POV!
Some parts of New York City are really expensive. Others are quasi-expensive. People still are moving in by the U-Haul load.
I took a trip to Family Dollar and this happened.
To fill in the empty spaces between shows and posts, I am bringing you extra content from my days. I meet incredible artists all the time, and I'd love to share those conversations with you.
I got to kick it with Choppy Oppy from DC. We talked about the state of affairs of the East coast in the bass scene. We also discussed how the Mainstream and Underground meet beautifully to create a blossoming exploration of sound. Watch the interview below and listen to his message and get with the program!
I wanted to make a rap album about my feelings. But this seems like a better way to parse with these thoughts.
I recently had a conversation with a respected industry professional. He is instrumental in some crucial developments in the hip-hop community, if not a true tastemaker in the music industry as a whole. For the first time in a long time, I was able to speak freely on issues that I was tussling with because we had something in common; we were both intelligent, and we were both black. I left the conversation feeling like an incredible burdening weight had been lifted from my physche. I also somehow couldn’t shake this new feeling of abandonment.
He was able to contextualize many ideas I had strong opinions about, but I couldn’t decipher, like why Migos hit #1 on billboards with "Bad and Boujee" or why the American hip-hop community shunned Iggy Azalea only after they heard her true accent in her interviews. These are just two issues out of a headfull that I can’t understand based upon my personal experience, (or lack thereof) with America’s violent history.
To give a little background, I grew up in Brooklyn in the 90’s. Things were violent in the world around me, but everything in the world was also on the up-and-up. Which means if you could manage to make your immediate surroundings non-violent, you could focus on better things every day that weren’t related to the trauma that was induced on these lands not so long ago. People like my parents were able to physically separate themselves from the less than favorable conditions of project living. They never wanted me to be exposed to the tragedy that was the seemingly uninterrupted exploitation and oppression of black communities in the late 80-90s from the prior decades (*cough* slavery). They never imagined creating a less dire situation for their children would result in confusion and heartbreak.
As much as they padded my future as a black man in America with the proper information, a dope neighborhood, a firm education, and solid academic ability, they never imagined I still could somehow end up with a criminal record. Neither could I. They taught me so much outside of school about how crippling America was in general to its population. I still went to school. I still graduated. I still got arrested. My parents are not dummies; they just really had no way of directly fixing any of the greater American communities problems. None of us do.
I'M NOT BLACK
I don’t blame my parents for allowing me to go to a college that wasn’t all black, but I know they did me a disservice by sheltering me from experiencing the many faces of the “black experience” in America. I had very similar experiences that a working-middle class white kid had, except I was hyper-aware of my identity as a young “educated” black man. Let me clarify. I knew I was usually one of the only black kids in all of my classrooms, camps, and social experiences. I wasn’t raised to introduce myself as “Naim, the token black guy,” (even though sometimes I did jokingly when I was outnumbered by my white friends). I was always taught to work hard extra because of the black thing, and I never felt a reason to ask for any assistance because of my blackness. You see how that can create an “I’m not black, I’m Naim,” kind of mental scenario.
That OJ Simpson mentality doesn’t bide well with the modern black American community, especially after 4:44 by Jay-Z. Also because people actually still are subject to abject poverty, drugs, sex, and violence as a necessity at a young age, their blackness affects them negatively more often. If you feel like you are treated worse that other people because of your color, that’s one thing. If you feel there is no escape from the subjugation you are going through due to the color however, you may develop some serious negative feelings towards the apparent oppressing colors or cultures that don’t share your trauma, but seem to get ahead easier, i.e. white people.
Most American-born blacks don’t understand my Muslim problems, and most Muslims don’t understand my black problems.
The fact that I didn’t have to resort to violence, drugs, or some other illegal hustle to survive through my NYC youth made be a bit of a pussy. A pussy with the blessing to really analyze that America’s problem is deeper than black and white, (and way bigger than Hip-Hop.)
WHO ARE YOU TO WHOM?
I grew up Muslim, and my name is Naim Abdul-Hakim, so by September 2001, my life was made tangentially complicated because of how humans deal with information and misinformation. I thought I didn’t experience first-hand many “black problems” because I stayed smart. When I left the house I wasn’t where I I didn’t belong, was home at a reasonable time. No scenes, no bullshit. That’s not why I dodged scrutiny from authority. I just wasn’t in enough public scenarios as a teen that made police and white women afraid of me. When you add a little beard and a fear of Arabic names, and things change. Most American-born blacks don’t understand my Muslim problems, and most Muslims don’t understand my black problems. My white friends always seem to be non-partial witnesses to all of my culturally charged colored confusions. Like most of our generation, they just take whichever side the person who is the most subjugated to trauma.
I could never tell if a white person ever was using color as a reason to draw conclusions about me. I thought it was because my generation was ushering a new era of peace. As much as my social settings were generally colorblind, I did notice a difference between the black faces I saw in the world and myself. I noticed it was usually connected to where you lived and what schools your home was zoned for. I knew the -ism had to do with class, which seemed to coincide beautifully with color more obviously in a city like New York.
What is a black child supposed to do with “endless opportunity” in a world that looks like its on the way to brighter horizons, but that hasn’t truly changed for the better? Make art of course. Music to be exact. Hip-Hop as be really true to yourself.
Fast forward to today, toss in the Internet, and the veil that was once over the eyes of the people can’t be applied the same way. The power-hungry pestocrats that pillaged before and manipulated before need a new plan to remain rich, powerful, and influential. One easy tactic in a world where most information is accessible via the Internet is to overload the information highway with misinformation and help give viral rise to anything that is jarring. Exciting, marginalizing material help keep the people of America divided. The more sensationalized the images and content is made, the more effective the division of the population is. A divided people cannot heal old wounds. Old wounds become myths and legends. The legends turn into endless wars based upon shitty situations from the forgettable past. Similar to the holy books and the stories of great figures in mythology, facts of the stories become irrelevant because there are lessons and beautifully crafted imagery all throughout the story. If you can capture an infectious moment you can misinform a community. You have control over people who need that. The feeling; the energy is an energy so strong; it can directly affect how people think and behave.
Exciting, marginalizing material help keep the people of America divided.
Before the common man was web-surfing, the music industry appeared as cliquey as it did secretive about how to make an artist profitable. The air in the black music industry was thick with unaware optimism for aspiring rappers and hip-hop artist. You could make a big break and never have to worry about your current life. You will have all of the money, cars, drugs, or whatever your juice can get for free. Now that we have way more YouTube and way more of the “facts” in the open, there is a rise of incredible artists “making it” themselves. The people no longer have to wait to access tools to publish music because it all can happen in the cheapest of living conditions, as long as there’s Wi-Fi. That leads to higher quality work for cheaper, however that also increases the confidence of people who actually don’t know much about anything beyond recording music. Therefore it increases a certain amount of chaos and hopelessness in many black communities when a big label gets involved with a home-grown rising black star with a lot of truth, joy, and pain to express.
Hip-Hop culture was a cultural reaction to the struggle of blacks in the 70’s-80’s. The story was very clearly outlined. Once hip-hop became a booming profitable recording art, skullduggery broke the ranks of the community and flooded in from everywhere. (That usually happens when humans strike economic gold-mines.) Major labels behaved like major corporations do, and cornered every aspect of how hip-hop was broadcasted. The problem is that decision makers in of some of these major labels also had vested interest in the private-prison industry. What makes that messy is the obvious conflict of interest that appeared between someone who owns/works for a major label, and someone who owns nothing and works for themselves. One has a story to tell (and wants to make a living), and the other has records to sell (and investments to honor). In short, a businessman fills a prison with criminals by solely promoting criminally-charged music in hopes of getting targeted communities to idolize that behavior.
JUST A (CONSPIRACY) THEORY
Everything negative I thing I think about the music industry is based on conspiracies, and I feel safer at least keeping my mind open to them. Is it REALLY hard to imagine that the degradation of blacks in America isn't systemic? Just looking at the history of this country alone makes me wonder why more people don’t care enough to act on what is happening now in every aspect of the culture. You can see it in the confusing policy changes, or in popular secular entertainment. Meanwhile theres a huge disparity between the rich and poor, and it's actually growing. In the states, you can pick your battles, and what’s the point in battling the establishment based on conspiracies?
You can be a great beacon of light and inspiration for a people, but if you focus on leading the people towards ACTUAL peace its possible that you will get assassinated.
In America, there’s generally no hope for you beyond what you can do for yourself and your family. The true information you have is different than the information that some of the people closest to you have, and that hurts. You can be a great beacon of light and inspiration for a people, but if you focus on leading the people towards ACTUAL peace its possible that you will get assassinated. If you efficiently are attacking America’s problems and making good ground, you somehow end up dead. It can be in a public tragic murderous setting (RIP Martin, Malcolm, JFK), or it can be shrouded in mystery (RIP Tupac & Biggie). Either way this sets a precedent on how the people conduct themselves in the current American environment.
The story of hip-hop is the story of America: Misinformation, misguided decisions, and a whirlpool of cute ideological hypocrisy based around big energy trapped ideas like “revenge”, “justice” and “peace”. Everyone seems to have been born into a shitty piece of this fuck-puzzle and just really have no way of knowing what their decision will do for the future generations born into the fuck-puzzle. Today, it’s easier to focus on living your best life and “getting paper my nigga”.
To bring it back full-circle: Fast forward back to the conversation from the beginning.
In the midst of this debate I was having with this industry professional, I was told that its pretty dumb to hate artists like “Iggy Azalea”, “Chief Keef”, “the “Migos”, and other seemingly uneducated artists because that assumed something negative about their intelligence as people. I was not giving a chance to understand who they are. They usually talk about what THEY know first-hand only. I was told stories about people, who had no education past a certain point, and talk a certain way, and take their “bad” situation and provide for them and their family. Do or die. I was not allowed to dictate their relationship with hip-hop and how they choose to interpret it. That’s when it hit me. I realized when my parents provided a middle-class "peaceful" life full of enriching thought-analyzing and critical thinking; I unintentionally began to develop distaste for anything that ignorantly added to the black/white problems in America.
There is real effort to care about mending the relationship between anyone from a different block, no less a different color.
I mentioned earlier about education and how I used to notice that made the important differences between folks thought process. For example, when someone said I “talked white”, I always just knew that they didn’t know why I talked like this. I assumed they meant I sounded like I went to English class and was educated. I never considered that when hit rap artist uses mega amounts of newspeak, slang, and mumble-talk to convey their drug/violence fueled regaling, that they could possibly be thinking intelligently. When you decide to record a bang-bang song, or a gang-gang song, or a fuck suck song, it seems too easy to take the care-free route. There is real effort to care about mending the relationship between anyone from a different block, no less a different color. That makes me feel like an Uncle Tom in the eyes of a true thug.
In a way black people who openly discussed being criminal messed my carefully-crafted position up. I chose not to turn to crime to get ahead because I had other options. I was a black guy who navigated through the channels of a predominantly white America because I was given the opportunity to. I chose not to get involved with selling drugs because I felt that was the one thing my parents were trying to avoid by doing what they did for me. Getting picked up for selling drug while I was in college would be a slap in the face to my people. That story would be really sad and boring. That doesn’t mean I didn’t experiment myself and take different illegal substances. I just naturally disliked when people celebrated legitimacy by having gone to jail or talk about being a delinquent. I was confused when people glorified debauched behavior. I still am confused by it, but I now understand that sometimes its all people truly know, and I can’t get mad when they catch a win from that in the form of a hit song. Even if one of the lyrics is “cooking up work with an uzi”
My family and me were too misinformed in the city of NY to see that the system was designed to manipulate its people so effectively, that you really can’t escape your very specific role in the larger American narrative. (In some states, cops don’t care what college degree you have if you look black and suspicious enough to take to jail). I had to get to my mid-twenties to realize in many peoples’ eyes I’m just a “nigger” and that has absolutely nothing to do with anything other than their personal experience that they had in their life that results in a distaste for a black person.
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED
If I am not allowed to discuss standards when it comes to lyrical content in a rap song because of how I may be mistaken as a hater or ignorant myself, then I have to change my relationship with Hip-Hop. I don’t think going to jail is a good thing, and self-incrimination increases your chances of going to jail. If Migos hit the top of the charts because of their energy and the fact they stayed true to themselves, the country is in a bigger state of pain than I imagined. I sometimes forget how much violence (real and fake) and drugs we expose ourselves to in cinema and on Netflix. It doesn’t surprise me that we can manage to get certain concepts on a pedestal.
Hip-hop prides itself on keeping it “real” the most out of anything it prides itself on. I never realized how bad things just ARE sometimes because I choose not to face it everyday. I don’t have to listen. That is the current beauty of America: Everything is acceptable because the internet. Ignore it if you don’t like it. We know everyone in power is lying, cheating, and stealing as long as they get away with it. If you just find a way to get a way with it, and as long as you can sleep at night no one else’s opinion should matter. No matter how much “education” they have.