Captivated by the music
I enjoyed a happy space
Graced by the presence of her
I still felt alone but comfortable
My brother gave me a great word
I felt peace
It all seemed to coincide
at this moment
When I Iooked out at the water
I didn’t know where
one wave ended
and one began
On a ride against the tide
I felt an ocean of emotions
I searched across the water
feeling the beat
searching for my place in all this
I was just as confused
as the partygoers dancing madly
Entering each other’s spaces
and leaving just as quickly
I felt the urge to dance
and put down my pen
I took my lady by the hand
and said, “Let’s dance”
I will be eternally grateful
that I didn’t sit it out
By Thomas Agbonyitor
I used to love h.e.r. By h.e.r., I mean hip-hop, as exemplified by Common’s classic record. Now, I love H.E.R., the R&B songstress. It’s funny how things change.
I used to sit in my room for hours listening to the latest tapes and CDs I bought from the record store. I would sit by my boom box all day just to catch my favorite songs on the radio and record them to make mixtapes. Artists like Tupac, Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr and the Wu Tang Clan permeated the halls of my suburban home from behind the closed door of my 3rd floor bedroom.
I could always relate to hip-hop, although I always felt partly removed from it. Hip-hop was from the streets. I certainly wasn’t. My interaction with the streets came from playing street basketball and going to parties and go-go’s.
During the day time, I was at private school, busting jokes with my homies at lunch and macking on chicks in the hallways. I got very good grades, but not as good as my sister’s. She went to Harvard. So, did my mom (RIP). My dad was an economist at the World Bank.
I grew up with a privileged background. It was much different than the lives of the rap stars I looked up to. But, it was still the music in my heart. Its stories were the closest I could find to my experience as a young black male in America. I was far from a nerd. Girls loved me. I was tall, handsome and athletic and filled with anger and aggression at the oppressive American system and what I saw as moral weaknesses at certain people I encountered.
In hip-hop music I found like-minded individuals who yearned for change. When I discovered Black on Both Sides by Mos Def, I had found my favorite album and my favorite song, “Umi Says.” Hip-hop music had violence, drugs and misogyny from early on. But, it had redemptive qualities. It told the truth, a truth that wasn’t being told in the mainstream media. It was a serious art form. MCs took care in their lyrics. Producers created hot beats with beautiful melodies. Hip-hop was something to appreciate.
Now the youth listen to artists like Tekashi 69, Lil’ Xan and Lil’ Uzi Vert, etc and think it’s good music. They don’t know any better. I used to be excited to rip off the plastic on a new album from a record store. Now I illegally download the latest trash records onto my laptop so I can DJ at parties for millennials and younger audiences.
I get jealous of earlier eras of music. The 60’s had Motown artists like Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross. The 70’s had Soul Train, Marvin Gaye and the Stylistics. The 80’s had Prince, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. We have Jay-Z, I guess. That’s actually somewhat laughable compared to the names I mentioned.
Call me a cultural critic and I’ll say I’m just observant. What if I told you there was a musical genre and culture that glorified murder, drug dealing, adultery, premarital sex, wasting money, disrespecting women and other crimes. You might say that music must have come from the devil. Currently, hip-hop culture, which highly influences black culture is morally bankrupt. We are in need of change, desperately. As Mos Def said on Black on Both Sides, “We are hip-hop.” We need to change our culture for the good of society and humanity, really.
Don’t get it twisted. There is good hip-hop out there. Artists from the new generation like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar come to mind. It’s just for the most part good artists like them don’t get popularized. A lot of that has to do with record label executives restricting the type of music artists can make. They think gangsta music equals dollars. But the blame doesn’t lie solely with them. It’s on us. People still support the terrible music rappers make these days.
I’m in love with a different woman now. I’ll keep playing H.E.R. songs on repeat until the original love of my life decides to come home.
While I recognize the original Thanksgiving is not what they say it was, in fact, they were celebrating the massacre of Native Americans in a battle, I believe it’s ok to celebrate gratitude and thankfulness if you give the holiday its own meaning. That being said, happy Thanksgivng! I’m grateful to God for being alive and for all my infinite blessings. All glory and praise to the most high.
I make a few appearances in the second half of my artist Born I Music’s video “Facts” with producer Spag Heddy. Check me out! How do I look?
I’m a diehard Redskins fan, or at least I was. I don’t watch the NFL any more. I was so disgusted by the NFL owners’ response to Kaepernick’s kneeling protest that I couldn’t stomach watching any more games.
Let’s make this clear: Kaepernick was protesting police murdering black men with no just punishment. This should be an issue with no disagreement, yet somehow some people and the media turned it into an issue about the flag, the anthem and the military, when it was a military vet who told Kaepernick it would a respectful way to make a protest by taking a knee. Now, Kaepernick has been black listed and cannot play for an NFL team just for taking a stand to protect his life and lives like his, including my own.
Make no mistake, if you support the NFL owners, you are saying you don’t care if black men die. That is deplorable. You should be ashamed of yourself for your lack of compassion and human decency.
And don’t say it’s about the flag or the military. You probably passed by some homeless vets some time this week and didn’t even give them spare change. You probably haven’t written one email to your congressman about how terribly this country treats its vets. You don’t care about the military or its vets.
The fact is, you probably think some rich black NFL players should stop complaining about racism because it’s not a big deal any more. Well, genius, it is. Read a book or an article if you don’t believe me. There’s plenty. In case you forgot, black lives matter.
Kids don’t see race when they play with each other. Racism is taught. It is programmed.
Whether they were white, black, Latino, Asian or whatever, my interaction with people has been largely positive on this earth. My observation is people are mostly good and are just trying their best to be successful at this thing we call “life.”
I love all people. Jesus Christ said the greatest commandments are to love God with your whole heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. So, I do.
My last blogpost was too divisive. So, I deleted it. It was a reaction to that precious girl Nia Wilson being stabbed to death and not receiving timely justice. I don’t want people to get confused about my views on humanity, so I’ll state them here clearly:
I love all people of all races. I love my neighbor as I love myself. I believe most people of all races are good and kind-hearted people. I don’t believe in prejudice. I’ll give anyone a chance. People are not perfect, including myself. Everyone makes mistakes. But, most people are doing their best to be good. We should all do our best to share our blessings with each other and make the world a better place. We are all in this together.
I figured out a long time ago, if I’m going to have a presence on this earth, it might as well be positive. If we all have a ripple effect on the world, we might as well affect things positively. So, that’s what I plan to keep doing and keep influencing others to do as well.