On Making The Album, Fostering Love

Just wrapping up another beautiful week in the studio with The Oneness Project, recording my first full length album, “Rites Of Passage”. It’s coming along smoothly. And its opening my eyes to a lot of new things. I’m really appreciating the journey that is taking place, and all the hard work that is being put in from every musician, and the love that is being fostered all along the way.

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PC: Yasmina Mattison

For me, this isn’t an ordinary project. In writing this music, I had to look deep inside myself, and relive a lot of experiences in my own life: pain, love, and everything in between.

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PC: Yasmina Mattison

This isn’t my first time in the studio recording music, or my first time composing original work. But it is the first time where I’m seeing the vision I fully intended taking shape in ways I never dreamed of, and where I’ve had to stop, and say to myself “we are truly onto something beautiful.”

 

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PC: Yasmina Mattison

But what’s more special is when you can find a group of musicians who can help bring that vision to life. The sound reflects a level of love and selflessness from everyone involved in the project. I’m grateful to everyone who was able to get behind on such a message that we are trying to spread with this album, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Stay tuned.

 

There is A Good Chance Kendrick Lamar’s Releasing Another Album, Here’s Why

Okay, so hear me out people: We need to bow down to the gods for this new K. Dot joint. Anyone who knows me knows that my Kendrick fandom knows no limits. Your boy been putting people on the king kunta ship since Section.80 days. So please don’t ever question my loyalties, because a nigga is about to go hard right now and say some shit that might be hard to hear. 

DAMN. is dope. In the future, when we look back on this album, it will most definitely go on the classic’s shelf. We can’t say Kendrick is slowing down even a little bit. This ain’t  a nonesense Drake project, where all you’re hearing is a dude who’s been running out of shit to say for 3 albums too many. Kendrick is still dropping gems, and we still need to hear him out.  But brace yourself for what I’m about to say: As dope as DAMN. is, it’s incomplete.  I know Kendrick is holding out on some serious fire, and I’m going to need him to stop fucking with my emotions like this. I haven’t slept in days. 

How do I know this? Because this isn’t a new Kendrick sound. It’s on a G.K.M.C vibe, which is lit af, and I’ll definitely bump it until my neck crack back, but Kendrick is a man who pushes musical boundaries. And if you heard T.P.A.B, then you know that whatever comes next has to be some serious fire that will make you question everything about reality, and that will also push a whole new sound and move Hip Hop forward.  However amazing we are all saying this album is, I don’t think it’s K. Dot’s final product.

I did some research. When Kendrick was discussing his latest album to New York Style magazine, he said, “We’re in a time where we exclude one major component out of this whole thing called life: God,” he went on and said, “Nobody speaks on it because it’s almost in conflict with what’s going on in the world when you talk about politics and government and the system.” So when you hear what he’s saying in this interview, and then listen to the album, it feels like he still has something to say, and a different sound to build upon from T.P.A.B

A lot folks are out here on the internet putting some intense theories together, and I ain’t mad at them for it. The main being that DAMN. is part 1 of a 2 part album. That makes sense. It came out on Good Friday, to which Christians observe the crucifiction of Jesus, and it would seem logical that he would maybe drop another one tomorrow, on Easter, Resurrection Sunday

Here is one person taking the theoretical game to another level: 

Also, to take this theory home, a bunch of folks on K. Dot’s team were on social media alluding to something bigger than what we’re seeing and hearing right now. 

Like here:

And this:

And…:

We’re in a period of artists pulling crazy surprises. And Kendrick is leading that front. We didn’t know when T.B.A.B was going to drop, or The Heart part 4, or Humble.  I can see him announcing an album, making us feel all cozy in our seats, and then slapping us with some next-level-shit. That would be the Kendrick we all know, and it would make this the greatest Easter ever–mainly because I’ve never had a reason to celebrate before. 

So I’m just going to sip my tea, sit by my phone, and keep hiting refresh on Kendrick’s Instagram. 

Double Bass Ep. 3: Beverage Snobber; Get That Pepsi Outcha Mouth

Your boy decided to embark on a new journey: podcasting. Here is Episode 3 of Double Bass with Wynton St. Claire. We talk about all the things we hate about pepsi, Dave Chappelle’s problematic Netflix Special, and Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.”

 

Emma Watson, Feminism, and Spirituality

Emma WatsonEarlier this week, Emma Watson spoke as a Goodwill Ambassador at the UN for a new campaign, HeForShe, a righteous attempt to make gender equality a universal dialogue by bringing men into the discourse.

For many reasons, we could break down that speech for  the so many ways it was problematic. I don’t agree that Emma should have called out women for man-hating, and put the solution on women to be more open to men coming into the circle of feminist dialogue.

I also think for many of the reasons people praise it, we can also criticize it–like when she acknowledged her own privilege as being one of the few women in this world who can appreciate that level of economic, social, and professional success because of the resources she had readily available to her, claiming that the forces of sexism were never present in her life. And yes, we could make the case that that would have been an amazing moment to highlight all the women in the world who make far less than 78% of men, of women who have to rely on being sex workers to survive while privileged women criticize their choices, of a world of feminism that continually marginalize the experiences of black, brown, and poor voices.

All of these points can be debated to great lengths. But I also think that when you only focus on these points, you’re missing how beautiful the speech really is. It wasn’t until  the end of her speech that it really hit home with me:

“Men, I would like to give this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too….Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either.

We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are. When they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.

It’s about freedom. I want men to take up this mantle so that their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too, reclaim parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves.”

Being a member of the Baha’i Faith, the concept of true Gender equality has never been a foreign topic, but rather one of the cores of my religious beliefs. There was a spiritual component that resonated with me when I heard this, and that is what made this so refreshing. As I was listening to her speak, I was reminded of the Baha’i Writings:

“ The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.”

When we speak about eliminating patriarchy, we aren’t just talking about getting rid of prejudices, ending rape culture, or tearing down the walls of misogyny. we are talking about humanity’s–particularly men’s–spiritual salvation.

The older I get, and the more speeches like these I hear, the more I am becoming aware of the role that I have–as a man–in fostering the world that I want to live in, as well as a better understanding towards these Baha’i Principles I hold so close to me. It was men who made patriarchy what it is today, and so men play a crucial role in breaking down those barriers. Currently, the stakes are too high to do nothing and to sit idly.

When we allow ourselves to live in a world that lets patriarchy go unquestioned, we aren’t doing anyone any favors. We aren’t giving men the chance to be great, to raise them up as compassionate role models, to see women as equals, to go against the norms of what is or isn’t masculinity–of what makes a man a man. What we are doing is crippling their souls. Materially, patriarchy puts men ahead of women, but because of this, it puts us behind spiritually, and it makes us monsters because of it.

In an ideal world where women and men were equals, there are a lot things we wouldn’t see. We probably wouldn’t see Ray Rice dragging his fiance out of an elevator, or an institution like the NFL deem it a sufficient punishment to only suspend him for two games. We wouldn’t see men killing innocent people because they felt entitled to women’s bodies. We wouldn’t see a culture of rape dominate every sphere of our lives, and that sympathizes the perpetrators. Maybe Chris Brown would never have hit Rihanna . But even if he did, maybe we wouldn’t continue to support his music. We wouldn’t accept a government run almost entirely by men, and then allow them to dictate what women could, or could not, do to their bodies. In a world where women and men were equals, this post would be have been obsolete, because there would be no need.

Emma may not be the first to say what she is saying, but she is saying it. And for that, thank you.

Racism and “Post-Racial America” part 1: When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong With Paula Deen

A lot of buzz is going around  about Paula Deen’s racial remarks  when she suggested a slavery themed wedding for her brother, in which everyone who is serving food be black to give the ambiance of an Antebellum plantation. Now, her show has been dropped, and she’s floating in the racist pool alone without a lifeguard in sight. paula deen

This ain’t her week.

And this is just weeks after Sergio Garcia’s comment to Tiger Woods about serving fried chicken. The parallels are way too uncanny to not link both events. Both were unrelentingly racist, unquestionably ignorant, and both people–Garcia and Deen–were scolded, their sponsors dropped, show cancelled, and were forced to make public statements against their behavior.

But that’s the problem with this sort of stuff: we scold the individual, and then just let it go (because everyone knows that the most effective way to fight racism is to make an individual repent for their behavior through an emotionless public apology!) I’m pretty sure Paula Deen has yet to verbally confirm she even said the N-word. It’s more like she’s apologizing for this coming to light and offending people, not on actually tossing around a hateful word like it’s a piece of candy.

It’s moments like these where we see how race is chosen to be brought up–only when its convenient. There’s an inconsistency with what is and is not tolerated in the realm of racism. If we call Deen and Garcia out, then lets acknowledge and start standing up against racism in all it’s manifestations. But before we do this, lets realize what exactly those manifestations are, and how they surface in ways we aren’t usually used to.

The press is able to acknowledge racism in its most obvious ways: when its overt, when its loud, and when it’s in our faces. With Deen and Sergio’s remarks, you cannot deny the racial undertone. When you make a direct link to slavery and blacks serving food, you are being a racist. When you make a joke about one of the only African-American golfers eating fried chicken,  you are being a racist. These are things we can all agree upon.

But when we only acknowledge racism when it is so open that we are left with no other choice but to confront it, then we aren’t really acknowledging the root causes for such behaviors, because we aren’t actually acknowledging the real forces at play that perpetuate racism. Yes, when racism is brought up, it should be acknowledged and addressed. But what about when race isn’t brought up? What about when race isn’t directly spoken of, but is still just as loud and obvious? What about racism in its silence?

We can tell Paula Deen and Sergio Garcia to apologize and then shut their mouths, but that doesn’t change what they think or feel, or how those other people in the same privileged circumstances as them view the world. It doesn’t change almost 50 schools being shut down in Chicago–impacting mostly black students–because they are seen as a burden. It doesn’t change the staggering statistics of blacks and mass incarceration. Paula Deen’s apology doesn’t change the fact that the NYPD intentionally stops people who look like me–people of color. It doesn’t change the fact that the future of equal educational opportunities have been presented to the Supreme Court and are under attack. Her statement doesn’t change the fact that whether or not race is or is not brought up, or if we choose to acknowledge racism or not, racism still exists. Racism still permeates so many different spaces in society. Racism still terrorizes people’s’ lives and makes people question their self-worth because it tells them the color of their skin makes them inferior to others. If you ask me does a tree really fall if no one is around to see it, I’m that guy that will tell you, “Yes, now clean up the mess, because we have a dead tree lying around somewhere.” That’s the type of mindset we need with racism.

Yes, we can confirm Paula Deen is a racist, but it seems like this dialogue is going to end right where it begins: nowhere.