When I heard about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkdale, Florida on the 14th, the first thing I thought was what a tragedy. All those young lives lost, that’s terrible. I prayed for the victims and their families. And it took place at school, where children are supposed to feel safe, we can’t stand for this. I did some research and I discovered that was the 17th school shooting in the short 45 days since we entered 2018. Compared to the rest of the world, that’s astronomically high. Some countries don’t have school shootings at all. So, why America?
My opinion can be encompassed in the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” Yes, the victims and the shooter were white, but there is a connection. And before you All Lives Matter proponents cry “reverse racism” with outrage, I challenge you to really think about why you’re saying that and hear me out.
America has a culture of violence and devalues human life. The US was founded on violence and racism. The colonialists raped and scalped Native Americans. The American government and powers that be enslaved Africans, killed and raped them, called them property, labeled them 3/5 of a person and they invented racism to justify their deeds.
We’re only a couple centuries removed from that abomination. That culture has been passed down from generation to generation in the few generations since then. We’ve made progress but we have a long way to go. Disagree that we have a long way to go? Then, as I remember him on this 6th anniversary of his tragic murder, how come Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman and he got off Scott free? Trayvon was armed with an Arizona drink and some Skittles. What about Philando Castile and all the other black unarmed shooting victims? How does this relate to the Florida shooting victims?
They’re all apart of the same oppressive system: American culture and government. Personally, I believe in Karma and Universal law. No man is an island is an axiom for a reason. Everything affects everything else. Whether you’re black, white, latino, Asian or whatever race, if you watch an unarmed black man get killed by police on repeat on CNN and the officer doesn’t go to jail, even if it’s subconsciously, you’re going to determine that his life wasn’t worth justice or maybe anything at all.
Killing people unjustly with no recompense may reinforce devaluing others’ lives the same way, even your own. That’s the reality we live in. If you devalue one life, you devalue us all. So when we say Black Lives Matter, we’re really also saying All Lives Matter, so there should be no argument. But, that’s not how things get portrayed in the media.
The media are extremely influential and shape our reality. Violent movies, video games, TV shows, music, posts on social media, all of them have their effects. And it all started when colonialists came to America and decided that having land and wealth was more important than people’s lives. Colonialists massacred Native Americans. They took African slaves.
That attitude continues to this day. We live in a society where, if you work for a corporation, you could get killed on the job and they would replace you within a week and carry on like nothing happened. Employees are cogs in a wheel, rats in a race, earning minimal wages, while the higher ups make millions, even billions. You see, in America, nothing is more important than the almighty dollar, even human beings.
Add to that easy access to guns and you have a playing field that’s fertile for the violence we see these days. School kids, Trayvon, Castile… who’s next? Me? You?
It’s all apart of the same system. We need to value each other as human beings. The responsibility rests with all of us. Banning “assault rifles,” which are really guns with pistol grips that can fire shots by consecutively pulling the trigger without reloading, including hand guns, will not solve the problem. We need to change the violent culture in America. At a micro level, murdering someone is a psychological break down where the killer doesn’t value his own or the victim’s life.
To fix this, we need to create equality in the justice system and in overall American society. If anybody unarmed gets killed by police, the officer should go to jail, even if the victim is black. By punishing murderers it will demonstrate that the value of human life is paramount. This should be common sense. But, alas, common sense is not common.
We also need to get rid of racism. That’s long overdue. We need to see ourselves in each other and be aware of the programming that the powers that be are forcing on us through the media and culture to maintain the status quo and keep them on top. We need to deconstruct that.
All it takes is a little compassion. All major religions agree that we should treat others how we want to be treated. If the Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz saw himself in those victims, he wouldn’t have shot them. The same goes for George Zimmerman murdering Trayvon Martin and Officer Yanez murdering Philando Castile. Those crimes could only happen in a society where people don’t value human life.
DJing is dying. And laptops are killing it softly. I’m a laptop DJ. But, I respect the art. I was introduced to the game by a real vinyl DJ from Harlem named DJ G.LO.R.Y. He literally carried crates of vinyls to his gigs and DJ’d on turntables with no laptop or Serato box, which is unheard of these days. He schooled me on how to DJ with real vinyl, so I can get down on some turntables without a laptop. I haven’t mastered them, but I have the basic skills on vinyl, i.e. beat matching, basic scratching, etc, which are much more difficult without a laptop.
The problem is most of these DJs today have never even dropped a needle on a real vinyl record, let alone DJ’d a set with them. Why does that matter? It’s about respect. We say “Respect the DJ” for a reason. DJing is an art form that is getting lost. And, parties are suffering for it. Nowadays, because of technology, DJing is much easier. People can learn to DJ on laptops and controllers, download a bunch of mp3s and call themselves DJs, when they can’t even beat match, can’t do anything resembling decent scratching and their transitions are horrible. Add to that the fact that a lot of these DJs can’t read crowds or even select songs well and you have a recipe for disaster. A lot of these guys shouldn’t be DJing.
Since DJing is so easy now, the market has been flooded with laptop DJs. They all want to look cool and get chicks. And, they think DJing will be easy money. That’s why they sign up. And, I don’t blame them for that. We all want that. But, when respect for the art of DJing is lost on these newbies we all suffer.
Let me give you a scenario. Some guy gets it in his mind that he’s going to be a hot club DJ and get all the chicks. So, he buys a laptop, a controller and downloads a bunch of mp3s. He spends a week practicing then he thinks he’s ready for the big time. So, he hits up his cousin, brother or whoever, who happens to be the promoter for a big party and the promoter pays him $50 to DJ or some chicken scratch like that, which is ridiculously low and undercuts professional DJs. So, he shows up to the gig wearing some fly gear he spent more time picking out then he did practicing and he plays the top 20 hit songs on repeat all night and people claim they had a good time, but here’s the secret: they really didn’t. People are starting to complain about the quality of DJing at parties.
Since the DJ market is so saturated, the balance of power with promoters is out of whack. Fewer of promoters desire quality DJing and more of them require that DJs bring clientele who buy bottles and tables or bring a big crowd, in essence, asking the DJ to do their job for them. What happened to paying a DJ to DJ a party well, set the ambiance and make everyone have a good time? And, what happened to promoters doing what their name says and promoting parties and bringing out crowds?
I take DJing very seriously. And, honestly, I’m very good at what I do. Ain’t no party like a Boss Player party, trust me. People actually dance at my parties, which seems to be happening less and less at other people’s parties I observe, for the most part, as time goes on. There are real DJs out there. You’ll know it when you encounter one. You won’t be able to stop dancing and you’ll wonder why you can’t stop buying drinks at the party. But, we are a rare breed. We are few and far between. When these new laptop DJs disrespect the game and get booked for these clubs without practicing and when they don’t have good mentors like I did (DJ G.L.O.R.Y., DJ Money and DJ Analyze), it shows. And, as a result, all of our party lives are suffering. People aren’t having a good time like they used to when they party and people aren’t going out as much, which equals less fun and less money for all of us.
And, let’s not forget poor laptop DJing is totally destroying the culture. Hip-Hop DJs don’t be afraid to buy a pair of Technic 1200 turntables, build a vinyl collection and get busy on them. Don’t be afraid to practice before you take your skills to the clubs. Do it for yourself. Do it for the culture.
So, in short, there is one solution to this problem I’ve presented to you so we can all win:
STOP SUPPORTING WACK DJS!
Colin Kaepernick taking a knee to protest police brutality and injustice caused a whole league to take a stand after President Trump called him and others like him “SOBs” and told America not to watch the game.
But what were the NFL owners standing, kneeling and locking arms with players on the sidelines for in reality? Let’s get one thing clear; The owners didn’t protest to support Kaepernick. If they were truly in support of Kaepernick’s protest, he would have a job right now instead of suing the NFL for collusion. The locking of arms was purely a publicity stunt to curry favor from fans and keep them watching. The league can blacklist Kaepernick but God forbid they lose ratings.
Players and owners locking arms to protest Trump’s statements and support “free speech” was purely political. The semblance of the league being unified was just that. It was a carefully orchestrated optical illusion. In fact, the only thing NFL owners were actually unified about is keeping Kaepernick out of the NFL. Even the players were not unified. You may have seen Pittsburgh Steelers player, Alejandro Villanueva, who came out of the tunnel by himself, raised his hand to his chest and stood for the national anthem while the rest of his team stayed in the locker room. Consequently, Villanueva’s was the highest selling jersey in the NFL after the incident.
As you may have seen recently, teams around the NBA, and even in the WNBA, locked arms during the national anthem in protest. The NBA’s commissioner Adam Silver made a statement saying he expected every player to stand during the anthem. And the players didn’t seem to be against that. No one has knelt down so far. The league’s star, Lebron James, said he would rather help the African American community off the court through charity work and civil action than on the court symbolically. As long as he follows through, that would be an admirable response.
Let’s get real, the whole reason these protests started was by Kaepernick taking a knee to protest police brutality after he was shaken by yet another black man being murdered by police with no justice. It’s a scary thought that a police officer could arbitrarily kill me and not see a day in jail. His impulse to speak out is one that I understand. That’s why I do my radio show Pop Culture Revolution and part of why I started this blog. We need to raise awareness of this racist oppressive system in the USA.
After the election of President Barack Obama, some people actually believed we lived in a post racial society, or, at least, stated as such. Anyone with the slightest amount of cultural awareness could see through that. The election of Donald Trump and the subsequent public reaction, including the rise of overt racism across the country, totally disproved that.
To say that Kaepernick disrespected the flag or ruined America’s time honored tradition of football and take his kneeling down out of its cultural context would miss the point entirely. Kaepernick took a knee during a moment of solemnity reserved for celebrating our country to remind the country that it still has some work to do. America has always been racist, literally since its inception. Some say the NFL is modern day slavery, which I believe is a stretch. There are parallels: owners owning players’ bodies, the draft, the practice field as a plantation and the rules limiting freedom of expression, etc. The narrative almost fits, except that NFL players get paid huge salaries and fame and joining the league is a choice.
When referring to modern day slavery in the US, I would point out the Prison Industrial Complex as an example. Through this racist and oppressive system, Black and Brown people are arrested, often on minor offenses, and offered deals with mandatory minimums that have been inflated due to their race. Once in jail, these new slaves are put to work making things like pots, pans, license plates and furniture, etc, for below minimum wage. These prisons are privately owned or sometimes even traded on the stock market. Therefore, “correctional facilities” have an incentive to have more inmates. Prison labor replaced slave labor almost immediately after slavery was abolished. The 13th amendment, ratified in 1789, made slavery legal if it was the punishment for a crime. Further down the line, President Nixon’s “law and order” platform, President Reagan’s “War on Drugs” and President Clinton’s “3 Strikes” law, in addition to other policies, led to the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people working as slaves. Aside from police brutality, the Prison Industrial Complex is another thing we need to bring awareness to.
Add the School to Prison Pipeline, which is related to the deplorable conditions of inner city schools, gentrification, predatory home loans, the fact that it’s harder for Blacks to get business loans, Blacks’ characterization by the media and just the general oppression, unfairness, injustice and mistreatment, etc faced by African Americans in the good old boy US of A and there’s a lot that needs to change.
So, all of you angry people in America, who are upset that Kaepernick ruined your precious minute long national anthem, excuse me if I don’t care because African Americans’ experience in this country has been more than ruined for hundreds of years. Words that come to mind are dehumanized, traumatized, abused, raped, mutilated, murdered, assaulted and robbed when describing the Black experience in America.
We were robbed of the most precious thing of all: the knowledge of who we are, which is kings and queens of the continent with the most natural resources of all, Africa, the Motherland, and as its people we are its greatest resource. Our value could never be quantified on a slave auction block, although they tried. We are not Blacks. That is a construction. We hail from Africa. Each African is worth more than the most precious Sierra Leone diamond and the purest gold from Ghana. The African soul stretches back to the beginning of time to the depths of the universe. Everything is contained within us and nothing exists without us. The power intrinsic to our being is that of the mighty lion or a deity. The hips, thighs, breasts and womb of our women give life to us all and nurtured civilization. We are the original Hebrews of the Bible, the chosen people, with Bronze skin and hair like wool like the God, Jesus Christ. Perhaps that’s why they hated us. They hated him too. And they hate us still.
So keep kneeling Kaepernick, even if it’s only metaphorically while you’re out of the league. I’m kneeling with you in spirit. I’m boycotting the NFL until you’re back on a roster. And, if anyone catches me at an NBA game, during the national anthem, I’ll be sitting down until America finally stands up for the Africans it stole. They beat us but they did not break us. All will be set right in the end.
And, let us not forget, the reason Kaepernick knelt in the first place: to protest the killing of innocent African Americans in the streets by police. The victims are gone but not forgotten. And, neither is the cause.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WAS BUILT ON A LIE. “Liberty and justice for all” does not apply to all of us. Even the name “United” States is a fallacy. Quite literally, we are a nation divided and we always have been. Although Civil Rights progress appears to have been made on the surface, in reality, America continues to enslave African Americans through the prison industrial complex. America continues to oppress African Americans in ways that we all allow. It’s still more difficult for Blacks to get jobs, business loans and flat out fair treatment in all areas of American life. Some people are true believers in the American ethos, brainwashed by corporate sponsored media and sold out politicians. America is the land of capitalism and is motivated by the dollar, a mere currency representation that has garnered far too much power. Old rich racist White men, who maintain their power as a legacy of slavery, will resort to anything to keep that power. Lying, cheating and stealing are all fair game. So is killing, as we’ve seen in all the recent police shooting videos. Black lives do not matter and Blacks are not safe. Blacks continue to have the highest poverty rate. The question is “how do we fix this?” The answer is not easy or simple because NO ONE IS GOING TO FIX IT EXCEPT YOU. Unplugging those of us that are lost from the Matrix is going to take a concerted effort by all of us. There is tyranny by the majority in the US and it will take every single good soul to fight back. At this point tacit approval, sitting idly by or apathy is tantamount to tyranny. Upending this unjust American system and exposing it for the lie it truly is will take a revolution, thus my radio show POP CULTURE REVOLUTION, our small contribution to the movement. We aim to at least start discussions and raise awareness. Hopefully, with your help, we can build on this show and help create an America that finally lives up to its ideals, in reality.
For diversity’s sake, artists can only appear once.
1. Mos Def – Black on Both Sides
2. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die
3. Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt
4. Nas – Illmatic
5. A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders
6. 2Pac – All Eyez On Me
7. Common – Be
8. Mobb Deep – The Infamous
9. The Roots – How I Got Over
10. J. Cole – 2014 Forest Hills Drive
Honorable mention (in no particular order):
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Scarface – The Fix
Kanye West – Graduation
AZ – Doe or Die
Dr. Dre – The Chronic
Wu Tang Clan – Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers)
Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele
Big Pun – Capital Punishment
If you disagree, I DON’T CARE.
Wigs and weaves are all the rage right now in Black women’s hairstyles. It’s to the point where if a Black woman wears her natural hair it’s considered to be making a statement. Pause. Hold up. How did this happen? What’s natural is now rebellious? That doesn’t make any sense. Why can’t Black women’s natural hair be widely accepted as beautiful?
The answer is simple: We’ve all been brainwashed. Since birth we’ve been bombarded with images of women on TV and in magazines with straight hair validating their beauty. Within the Black community straight hair is considered to be “good hair.” This dates back to slavery times when enslaved Blacks were trying to assimilate and appease master.
It’s time we go back to the future to long before slavery in the USA, back to when we were Kings and Queens on the Motherland, before our minds were polluted with slave master propaganda. It was a much simpler time back then. Our daughters went to get water from the well. Fathers worked the land and reaped what they sowed. Sons worked with their fathers and played with their brothers and cousins. Mothers reared beautiful children and cooked in the kitchen. And, all of our hair were beautifully nappy, curly and free. We weren’t ashamed of it. We weren’t judged for it. Being natural was so natural, there wasn’t a second thought to African natural hair’s intrinsic beauty.
I’m not saying that women need to be relegated to the kitchen. That’s not the point. The point is we need to reset and deprogram ourselves. Look in the mirror my beautiful Black sister. Know you are an African Queen. And, love yourself for all your natural beauty.
Hip-Hop is a rebel yell from the soul. It came from the Bronx, which was literally on fire back in the 70’s with slumlords burning their buildings for insurance money after the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway dropped property values. People were poor and suffering. They needed an outlet. So they raged.
Hip-Hop rages against the machine. It fights against the system and definitely shouts, “Fuck the police!” Hip-Hop is a haven for the youth and a way out for those desperately searching for one. Hip-Hop is the essence of speaking things into existence. We started with a trap house and now we’re living in a mansion.
Hip-Hop is real. It comes from a place of truth. It comes from the heart. Home is where the heart is and, in hip-hop, where you’re from means everything. Whether you’re from its birthplace in the fiery Bronx, the suburbs of Washington, DC or a trailer park in Alabama, you’ve got to rep your hood.
Hip-Hop is the never ending party and the after party at that. It’s Saturday night at the hottest club with the hottest celebs or a sweat box house party where girls in tight jeans, drinks, smoke and a dope underground DJ are salvation. It’s that moment where the MC drops the music and the whole stadium raps along a capella to his or her hit song.
Hip-Hop is most definitely BARS and dope beats, battles and beef. It’s graffiti on a subway train or breakdancing on cardboard. It’s cutting and scratching on Technics and beat boxing and rapping in the streets.
Hip-Hop is snapbacks and tattoos and fitteds and jerseys. It’s Levi’s and white tees or Yves Saint Lauren and Louis V. It’s sagging your ripped jeans just to show off your Gucci belt or wearing a crisp pair of 501’s around your waist just to keep it thorough. Hip-Hop is anything, as long as it’s authentically you.
Hip-Hop is all of the above and so much more. But, above all, it is the voice of the unheard.
One thing hip-hop most definitely is not is Pop. Hip-Hop may be a global phenomenon but, at its core, it will always be DJ Kool Herc yelling over break beats at a house party to pay the rent like that first house party back in the 70’s when the Bronx was on fire.