backpack journal #4 (liquid)
slowing the pace of booking. loving lif(e).
i found something new last night. we are
brainstorming exclusive content.
backpack journal (#3 the zoo)
goals ? for these skills to be worth anything (or worth enough? or – recognition? to constantly improv, to preserve & proliferate the culture – to hold onto this feeling) ?
after Wright & Baldwin
Howl. Dead Emcee Scrolls. A Prayer For Owen Meany. prince ombra. the boy detective fails. the woman who isnt was. happy cruelty day. the motion of light in water. one hundred years of solitude. a brief history of time.
i just listened to the flawless remix. for the first time.
the few people who know me, recognize that i.m out of touch with the mainstream. intentionally. and, as a consequence of living on a cattle ranch – in the middle of nowhere. everyone has been talking about this track, obviously – i hadn’t heard much that interested me.
all that just changed. i can.t even hate. first off – the mix is wild. straight insane.
it sounds gorgeous: the beat fluctuating rampantly – almost off-putting at first – til the build crescendoes, approaching transcendence.
it.s a good song. (it actually is.)
all i had heard was random quotations of less-than-interesting lines – but, honestly … i dug it. don.t get me wrong – i.m not anti mainstream – just separate from it.
but, i dug it.
the flawless remix has a little of everything i couldn’t have expected – an homage to spottieottiedopaliscious. “a billion dollars on a elevator”. an empowering message for today.s women.
y.all are flawless. plus, i love eating pussy – and the ivanka trump line was fire. ladies, especially, are hype on this & you don.t have to look far to find women digging on it, feeling theyselves.
pop music for the uplift of the people. what in the fuck will they think of next?
nostalgia vibe [Bronze Nazareth]
Bronze Nazareth rose from the abyss seven years ago. Soul-laden, vocal sample heavy, piano and trumpet riffs, in rza-inspired melodic cacophony … occasionally abandoning familiar elements entirely. Patient, dramatic, charismatic and mature sound.
Dense flows. A passionate ensemble, multi-syllabic rhyme, scriptural references. His instrumentals presented a consistent and compelling sound over a project – Bronze Naz records held an epic scope.
I.ve never heard of a Bronze Nazareth concert in my neighborhood. His crew claimed Detroit and Wu Tang affiliation, painting his chaotic collages with grim truths of inner city murder and the ever present grind.
Timeless music. I recently re-encountered a mix tape from Bronze Naz and the Wise Men. An occasional explosion of homophobia once made the record difficult for me to listen to – although, I did enjoy the project.
Now, the sound washed from my car speaker as a relief. It felt like coming home.
backpack journals (day 2)
heads used to be more visible – rocking on the corner, headphones and a notebook on the subway, rowdy cyphers in concert parking lots. i was too young for spitting in the park. walking through a city now, it.s rare to hear a stray rhyme.
what is our responsibility as artists in the wake of Ferguson? i have seen people reawaken to the collective force of our combined voice. individuals, tired from watching a parade of failed activist strategies, exhausted by the pursuit of money.
i.m on the road again – the second booked date of a four month tour spanning north america. in the wake of these trying weeks and years, the unrest of a population who reaches and dreams larger than waves of violence comprising our known histories.
although the language of the United States’ founding documents may be suspect at best – if one were not to say downright hypocritical – together, we can believe in a vision of streets we could claim as our own.
any person.s country becomes sacred to them over time. i will be traveling,
as a guest in the homes of many friends and strangers – already the generosity
people have demonstrated in the early days of this journey has moved
me deeply. i have found myself with little to say – speaking openly –
about Ferguson and with little patience for debate.
i value the community of people actively working to make this day
different from the last. we must be our own voices. i salute you.
we are here – if we are here – because of something that once happened on a train, or could have.
a thin-stemmed iron nail point – scrapes kief from off this grinder i was given as a gift of the coke dealer
who owned a hookah bar outside of which i met my dj. trace amounts of hash lining the magnetic, steel-
weighted herb grinder ensure my broke-ass a token high, if i can stand being more drunk than lifted.
review the contents of my life:
remington suitcase-style typewriter, refurbished by a loudmouth gap toothed chicago handyman.
roland sampler pad 404, twice busted by the skinny hipster guitarist who disliked sharing a studio
i co-founded; fixed by my wife, with the exception of one damaged quarter inch headphone input –
which favors its left channel.
rebuilt secondhand smudge-white apple laptop, mostly functional; though, yesterday, she refused
to take a charge; hopefully, due to some minor and temporary error within the now essential adaptor.
shall i continue ?
two jivewired speakers, overly protective of their fragile current – lacking both high & low end,
prone to buzz, pop, and short.
amplifier, m-audio, logic pro, text edit, tascam crossfader & the numark turntable phonographs
furnished by a crew mate at the perfect moment.
three pairs of headphones.
this house and room in which to stay mostly dry throughout a rainstorm.
the requisite shure sm58 handheld dynamic & assortment of cables.
an audio technica 3035 microphone & generic stand with spit guard, provided by the frenchman
who accompanied me to purchase my shure beta 52a drum mic – which i bought offline for vocal purposes,
owing to the sexy streamlined old style radio casing.
i have a habit of alienating people. perhaps i am alien.
my kind are more comfortable in front of a crowd than within one.
for a few weeks now, i.ve been smoking xeno.s paradox;
records stacked in a corner, records on the bookshelf
falling onto paint cans. clothes all over my floor.
not every problem can be solved with cardboard boxes.
may i explain ?
i recognize that i.m unreasonable, but choose to ignore it.
reason can be a demon. we use what.s around.
what do you want to know about an artist ?
my artist friends think the shit plays.
jazz player. soul man. comedian. preacher.
fuzzed wax & cracking vinyl litter our floor and walls.
today is remembered in high definition, in which case
i might clean the floor.
i guess i left out the camera, our portable music player,
my wife. we dream in color.
can you hear percussion ?
often, we value only what is lost.
tragedy stays up close.
dogs shed and my dog stands over her fallen hairs
as though to protect them from a broom.
picture me on the phone with some bigshot
who wants to put us on tv.
now i.ve been on tv before, but this is the one.
prime time exposure.
this one.s going to make it different, for everyone i know.
my homie sits by the window in a comfy chair.
smoke exhales from his mouth into a cloud that.s how big.
check it, bruh –
this cat, that.s mah niggah.
he.s an iceberg and moves for no man.
he might could shift a little for a woman, though.
we like our nights in black and white so we can fuck on film.
you.ve maybe been around. half the time, we don.t know
if we lived this or saw it somewhere.
i wreck mics.
so what are you – a promoter, hustler – you sell something ?
you some kind of artist ? you got a dream ?
sound flows through a mic into wire as electricity and out to m-audio
and the hard drive on my laptop.
food goes in the mouth – to your digestive system, through the toilet
and sewer, to the ocean.
waves vibrate into particles of air, shifting a needle onto wax
that hardens to reflect an echo.
the moon.s gravity calls to our ocean until water falls
as wave upon a shore.
i.ve heard of how an idea twitches synapses, manipulating chemicals
and forming furrows in the matter of our brain.
the crew becomes an instrument onstage.
today i looked thru a book on antique typewriters.
those were some crazy typewriters let me tell you.
some like rotary telephones: there were spindly,
spidery machines — square boxes, long legged
ostriches . . . so many types of writing devices.
the book belonged to my friend duo and was
complimented by a room full of aged, though
not quite as antique, typing machines.
i had entered duo.s studio to momentarily escape
the cavalcade of gallery attendees, partygoers,
and music fans filling our art space and spilling in
to halls and all over floors on the antithetical side
of our compound.
mind the grammar. i.m a writer, perhaps obviously.
i write things down. words, mostly. duo repairs type
writers; and, he rented space (or attempted to) with
our artist studios for precisely such purpose.
unfortunately, my surly humorous chicagoan friend
has been unable to maintain his studio with us. call
it what you will. shit costs money and he could not
pay. a few among us might empathize.
which gives me some cause for reflection — as a writer,
performer, and architect of arts & entertainment events;
often, people ask for my work free of charge. i make songs
and few people find it necessary to purchase songs any
and, since i love performing, what.s the harm in doing
what i love for free ? if all i.m fit for is the occasional word,
written or spoken — why begrudge anybody a bon mot,
pro bono ?
my dad is a file clerk and records manager for a law firm.
i sometimes imagine him receiving a call, possibly from
a good friend.
“hey bill, how you been ? got any free time this weekend ?
come on down to my office; we.ve got cabinets full of files
. . . why don.t you swing by and organize our tax records
and receipts ? isn.t that what you do ?”
i.ve been writing about my friend but he asked me to stop writing about him so i don.t know.
i wrote about my other friend but i didn.t have any where to put it. what good is it if you have
enough words to take over the airwaves and no format. you can put anything in a song.
you can put literally anything in a song. and repeat it. and you got a song.
whatever you want. i dig that. find it diggable. i write songs sometimes, mostly songs when
i.m high and whatever else when i.m drunk. i don.t know if i.m writing anything sober.
i don.t know what i.m doing sober. the reason is – the reason i don.t know what i.m doing,
when i.m sober i.m too aware. you know you.re hyper aware. like a super hero: superhuman
awareness of how fucked up everything is and how everything.s fucked up.
what are you going to do about it ? pithy comment about ex-billionaire.s turning into the world.s
first trillionaire and how the presidential race requires a billion dollar ticket just to get in and
what are you gonna do ? they won.t even let you see it – you can.t get in the room.
you want to make the world better ? want to be civically engaged ? how.s this ?
my friends and i traveled how many thousand miles across the country, coast to coast
to see the president get himself inaugurated. first black president. and we went there –
we planned a tour to get there, put down – what ? – couple thousand all told, to go see
the first of something. and we got there and we went to the hill and watched it on a big tv screen.
because maybe somebody wanted to shoot him.
either that or we went out there for one reason and we came to riot if somebody tried to take him down.
because either way you look at it – a war is a war, right ? is a war. let.s make some bold declarative statements
about who died for what. because the sacrificial lamb is just cause for our righteousness. right ? because he died for a reason.
so what is one death worth to you, today – they can always live with it tomorrow.
getting all worked up over immigrants. every mother fucker here is an immigrant.
the rest were killed off. so, welcome – come on aboard. now grab a flag and get to waving.
one must be so careful these days
unreal city under the brown fog of a winter dawn
a crowd flowed
– ts eliot
wings outlast a butterfly. leo plays the cello. my brother visited.
pick a story: i ran into jelal across rooms around the bay area
& yesterday as i walked alongside my wife and brother – a man
interjected with drunken confidence, when i asked if i.m a bad
influence. who are theUnreal ?
upon introduction to my audience, i became acquainted
with vanity. the camera invisible. some know me as mumbles
or grandmaster. once, i traveled from saturn with a band of
roving hooligans. no story has a real beginning, but everybody
started some where. we were born on the road.
working for people who don.t notice: the not for profit model.
i.ve worked for 6 years as a not for profit artist in the entertainment industry. my wife and i share a common bond: we pay artists, regardless of our own financial stability. we work to build community through each day and our marriage has truly been the coming together of two families. not mostly blood connected. families of experience and choice. queer fuckin bay area san francisco families. with some niggerish oakland love. our work is powerful – has been for years and it.s just getting better. but every one knows artists don.t get paid: right ? we make art for love. it.s about passion. more suffering the better.
and then we die.
we love artists who kill themselves for art. they.re mostly our favorites. they become immortal. sometimes they don.t even stop putting out records. people whose work becomes all consuming. whose creative persona dominates every instant of their lives. we love them.
and we respect the business man. his traditional need for family and his respect for values. in the american narrative, the business owner – the family store, the neighborhood who supports the store and paying taxes through commerce which feeds our government who can in turn provide for our roads and schools, and build more prisons for black bodies.
artists seek out the not for profit model in the way bands still run after record deals. maybe if i love it enough some one will see and give me a hand. maybe if i care enough and tell the right person, they.ll have so much money and power that they can help me achieve all my dreams.
we have to follow the familiar models, right ?
verses are 16 bars. you need a hook.
intelligent hip hop doesn.t sell. you can.t
go on tour with no fan base. pay to play.
work for free. wait to get discovered.
but nationwide, i.ve heard a call for entrepreneurs.
and people who can spell entrepreneur. and in san francisco
there are abandoned commercial properties all over.
in oakland, even more. and everywhere i see artists
who don.t know how or lack the resources to profit
from their art. artists out of work, or hating their day
labor and paying rent for spaces in which they can.t
produce their work, or are unable to display it.
we hope for some one to come along and make our
dreams possible. but when the economy tanks, artists
don.t stop creating & people continue seeking
entertainment. we have a responsibility to ourselves
to take over where the industrial age failed. we have
the opportunity to exploit the break down of our financial
system for the benefit of the world, and our own health.
we can band together, skillshare, and create jobs for
ourselves based on our own needs. you can call it communism
or anarchy or profit, but mah niggahs kno everybody
got a hustle, so we might the fuck as well hustle what
we know. maybe you paint. maybe you know construction.
maybe you can sing or dance or cook, but whatever you
do best: now is the time to do it. for our communal benefit.
i can.t care for my own needs first. i have too many people
counting on me. and i don.t love my life more than my art.
my art is worth more than my life because my art lives on
when i die. but my friend.s life is infinitely more valuable
because my friends care for me and my art just goes to
other people. so maybe we can care for each other.
and communicate clearly and honestly. and build lives
together in which we can sustain and thrive and become
artists who live long productive lives and stop waiting
for a millionaire to notice.