AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH High school. The wonder years. I was a kid in boarding school in Ireland. Running thru Dublin bugging out and soaking in all the Hip hop i could find. I was such a fiend that i remember being in Abbey Discs and buying the “I got ya opin” vinyl even though i didn’t have a record player and having the dude that worked there play the whole shit ( instrumentals included ) and record it to a tape for me. ( Shit i still got the tape i think ) I was ecstatic that they had the joint on import cause when i saw the video on Yo MTV Raps i NEEDED that song in my life. Abbey discs was also cool cause of the people i wold meet there. I’ll never forget the day this one Irish dude and i got into one of the most detailed conversations about hip hop production i ever had. I had never even thought about making music at that point, i was just a fan, but i remember the way homeboy was breaking down the Al Green drum break in “Mahogany” and telling with me that it was better on that than on the “Tried by 12″ joint. I was like “WOW dude really knows his shit.” Hell, i didn’t even really know what a fucking drum break was back then. Sampling was Fuzzy to me. I just knew the music put me in a zone and i assumed people made it with keyboards or bands or some shit. One fateful day when i was in school the big homie Hassan called me over and handed me an “Enter the wu tang ( 36 chambers)” tape and life as i knew it would not be the same for the next few decades as the Staten Island crew BLEW particles off my brain. I heard about the clan for a while and i heard “Method man” and “Wu tang aint nutting to fuck with” so i was drooling to hear the album. The cover hit me the most the first time i got it. CARTEL did a fucking fantastic job with the artwork cause you couldn’t see their faces on some ill Ninja shit. I had never seen an album cover like that before and i was struck. It looked like a damn movie poster or something. When i got back to the dorm, grabbed my walkman and popped in the tape and heard “Shaolin shadowboxing and the wu tang sword style. If what you say is true the shaolin and the wu tang could be dangerous” it was OVER. The rhyming, the beats, and everything was just too next level. I remember i played it for a couple of the dudes there and heads kept on trying to borrow the tape. I must have dubbed that 36 chambers album for like 7 cats before i even gave the joint back to Hassan. ( Who by the way i was ducking cause i didn’t wanna give that tape back ha ha ). With the exception of “Iron man” i bought all the solo albums while i was still in boarding school too. Hell, i still get Flash backs to to riding the bus to Grafton street every time i hear “Knowledge God” or “Sub Crazy”. Heads in school were really feeling the Wu as well. I lost track of the amount of times i heard “Protect ya neck” or “Diary of a madman” blasting through somebody’s boombox. Back then most cats that were into hip hop were more into the west coast artists ( Ice-t, Cypress Hill and House of pain got a lot of airplay i remember ) but when the Wu hit it just had all kinds of people open. From those years Wu tang has always been the greatest rap group of all time to me. If you think i ain’t keeping it a 100. Ask anyone that i got into a heated “Wu tang is the best of all time” discussion with.
The First time i ever heard U2 was when i was living in VA. I remember being in the whip with my family and the radio being on and “With or without you” being played a lot. Something about that song just always stuck out as being beautiful but sorrowful. Ironically when i was living in Ireland i was not into U2 cause i was such a “strictly hip hop” kid. I remember hearing the “Joshua Tree”, “Zooropa” and “Achtung baby” bumping but i would tune it out cause i felt “That’s that other shit” Damn shame cause i still remember the way everyone in school was going crazy cause of this one show U2 was gonna play, in retrospect i wish i went cause as much as i love their music now it would mean so much to have the memory of seeing them live. As i grew up i fell in love with U2′s music. They have mad emotional power and a dope cinematic feel to their music that started to resonate more as time went by and i began to understand great music is great music regardless of genre. But i cant front even back then i was digging the joint that had the Edge rhyming on it. The video was crazy too. When i hear U2′s music now it give me a feeling i cant even describe. That shit just hits me like “Thank God i’m alive to hear this”. As i got more of their albums i also respected the fact that they always reinvented themselves. I can understand why some who swore by “WAR” may think “POP” was too out there musically but hey……………..THE MUSIC WAS ALWAYS CRAZY. Bottom line. I love the fact they always did what they felt like doing cause no matter what the fuck they did they always had joints that would send a chill down my spine when i hear it start. U2 gets into the same zone of some deeeeeeeeeeeeep soul music. Think of the feeling you get when Marvin goes “ohhhhhhhhhh makes me wanna holler the way they do my life” in “Inner city blues”, that soul music that is so raw and strong it actually burns. U2 takes that and spreads it over mad various styles of rock. Crazy!!!!!!
Putting this project together was fun. I originally planned on doing something like my “Black faith mixtape” with Depeche Mode but one random day the name WU2 popped in my head and i couldn’t get it out. I went and grabbed the vocals and when i put em together it was Zen like the way it all fit. Even down to the titles of the songs and the way U2′s music matched the feel of the Wu’s rhymes when blended together. It took about 5 days for the production ( i did the beats for “Love in Daytona” “Holla First” “God’s Zoo” and “Run to the Exit” on the same day matter fact ) and 2 days of mixing in the vocals. When it was all said and done and i listened to it i caught a very ILL feeling.
I hope yall enjoy it
The big homie over at Praverb.net graced me with the opportunity to do an interview. He kept the questions funky. Fun interview to do for sure.
Shout out to Praverb.net for all the fly info put up for all us indie cats on our grind. Very informative site for sure and provides a lot of great reads that sparks up the hustle right.
Peep the interview here
R.I.P. Heath Ledger. The words posted on the VDB WU TANG mountain blogspot hit me like an enclosed fist, rocking my brain into a state of heavy contemplation. I wasn’t a fan of dude ( although i was excited to see the spin he gave on the Joker in the previews for the upcoming Batman flick ) but death is a very touchy subject for me right now since i lost my sister last month. I wasn’t going to write about this but seeing as how since i read about dude just a few minutes ago and have been feeling this weird feeling in my gut since ( not to mention the fact that while at the movies yesterday watching Cloverfield, the part when dude had to tell his mom his brother died had hit me hard as well ) I figured i may as well get this shit out of me in any way i can.
Death is a strong motherfucker. You never realize it’s power to devastate life until it strikes close to home. As a kid it was something i knew about but never fully understood. my earliest memory of it was riding through Lagos and seeing a boy and his little sister laid out on the street after what had to be a hit and run. From the window of the car i only saw their motionless, scrapped up, blood soaked bodies for a few seconds but i can still vividly recall the scene till this day. The second time it hit me was in Dublin when the janitor in Blackrock college passed away. I used to buy candy from him at one of the schools tuck shops ( spots where students could buy candy and little pastries ) and then all of a sudden me and the rest of the boarding school students are walking single file viewing his body in a casket. When i started to run with more thug type cats in Greenbelt during the late nineties they told me countless stories of friends and family that died or got murdered ( sometimes right in front of them ) in places like Franklin ave Brooklyn, south west Philly and south east D.C. the thing that struck me about it the most were the rituals they had. Everything from the time worn tradition of pouring out liquor, to the way on the anniversary of his friends murder Dry Tearz would roll up a dutch and burn it down without smoking it , to the tattoo Troub had on his arm that read “Thank you Lord for this day, thank you Lord for this wonderful day” which is what his moms used to say in church when she was alive. Reminders. Reminders of times shared, but more painfully reminders of the fact that those memories are all that is left.
The power of death is always strong cause as an observer of somebody’s grief you cant fully understand the emotional and mental hell the person has to sustain but you can feel a small dose of it’s power through their suffering. Before dec 29th i had only every cried over my cousin Maurice’s death this one day walking through Hyattsville bumping Nas’s “sometimes i wonder” on my discman ( the third verse did it for me yo ). Now stress and drama are nothing new to me and a couple of times life had been so hard that the kid let off a few tears just to get those negative feelings out. But I HAVE NEVER CRIED LIKE I DID WHEN IVY DIED. Man listen, that shit was horrible. Stress, pain and drama i had been accquianted with but never straight full fleged DEVASTATION. Air wasn’t the same, food was’nt the same, music which always served as my therapy for the first time ever in my life was hard to make. My liver is still mad at me for all that bacardi i was downing and even the la spot cats are kinda concerened that i am blowing more dutches than ever. At the drop of a dime my demeanor switches from happy to depressed according to others, and i find myself not wanting to be around people as much. The most painful things are the memories. The fun we had, schools we went to, fights we had, the sound of her voice, the way she stayed fly, her bulletproof swagger, the way she could walk with everybody from celebs to real live street cats, the way she used to sing “sweet home Alabama” at random times, her kids, the way she used to tell me to go hard with the music, they way she used to dance, run track, play pranks on me, days we used to team up and pick on my little sister, the way her and my oldest sister used to talk, the way that every fly country i had ever lived in she was there too. EVERYTHING, AND THEY ALL HURT. The last time i hugged her was a few years ago cause when you live the life of drifters you tend to accept that people come and go in your life all the time but if i had know that would be it i wouldn’t have let her or her kids go. The way i came up was that Family was sacred. I put my music goals on hold for a minute cause mom dukes and my little sis needed help with getting by so i hold them down with rent, when Ivy came over last i gave her my room and slept on the couch, when i’m fucked up in the game my older sis holds me down eventhough she has her own bills, that’s how we get down. But when ivy died for the first time we were powerless to help her, no money we could send or compassion we could lend could help her and that was one of the things that hurt most.
When i sat down to write this i didn’t know what i was looking to accomplish by the end of it. The pain is still raw and the reminders are still there. I don’t know how this is going to continue to affect me down the line. Some people go through this and go crazy the others become motivated. Me being my usual oddball self I’ll probably do both. My heart goes out to the Ledger family and all those that lost a loved one. One love, stay strong, mourn their death and represent their life.
I LOVE YOU FOREVER ( my soul cries )
“Durable physically fit raps articulate/ you get your whole skeleton cracked something ridiculous/” DAMN !!! It’s a shame that very few artist in the game can still kick shit as visually stunning as that. Ah! Hell on Earth. An album that marked transitions in so many ways it’s crazy. The drums havoc flipped still had that stone hard feel ( perfectly described by my man OX as “the type of snare that makes you blink involuntarily when that shit drops” ) , but also sported the cleaness that would eventually dominate mainstream rap’s sound. The Infamous Mobb appearacne was also significant in the sense that The Alchermist was brought in through their affiliation with DJ Muggs. On a personal note 96 was the year that i came back over here after 3 years of living in Ireland doing the boarding school thing. ( Blackrock STAND UP ) While kicking it with my cousins in London ( where i always spent holidays at ) i saw the review for the G.O.D. father part 3 single in the Source and was fiending for it in Europe but copped it in Greenbelt MD ( Springhill Lake STAND UP ) , so the album also represents a big transitional period in my life being where i went from classy to fly and ashy.
Which brings me to the main point about why music is life for me. I went from balling out in spots like Paris and Knightsbridge to busting my ass working over at Alabama ave in Southeast D.C. and living in the Kirkwood apartments in Hyattsville ( where my man Stix from Franklin ave in B.K. swore that the buildings reminded him of some low rise projects down to the corner store ) and no matter where i was at, Music always had a way of overpowering anything that was going on in life. For example, sticking with the Mobb deep theme. I remenber waiting on Grafton Street in the city center of Dublin to link up with this chick i met at the movies. To kill time i jetted up the block from the McDonalds i was supposed to meet her to see what was new at H.M.V. Walking downstairs to where you could find their rap section i walked up and i saw it. The big “IT”. Staring me in my dumbstruck face baring a sticker that read IMPORT was the cover of Mobb Deeps “The Infamous”. Top 40 shit was bumping through the in store speakers, dozens of people buzzed around buying and selling shit and the only thing that i was aware of was the the bone chilling guituar riff of “shook ones part 2″, the relentlessly evil undertone Havoc served up using bass and drums spliced together flawlessly on “cradle to the grave” ( the track that made me start putting vinly static on my beats for extra ambiance ) and the way that the sample used on “if it’s alright with you” ( WHY WAS THIS TRACK NOT ON THE ALBUM )gave me a warm yet sad feeling everytime i heard it. Oh! by the way , big up to Tim Westwood for playing these tracks on his show before the album dropped. Needless to say i copped it, stood shorty up ( it’s all good cause i was wrong for trying to cheat on my girl any way ) hopped on the train back to school, pressed play and was immediately struck by the haunting string plucks of “start of your ending”. ( COT DAMN!!!! THAT BEAT IS STILL HARD AS HELL 12 YEARS AFTER IT CAME OUT ) from start to finish nothing else mattered. On the flipside one day coming home from work in D.C. I was exhausted beyond anything i had experienced before. Rent was looming, stress in the crib and various other things were kicking your boy in the the teeth. Jumping off the greenline train in Hyattsville i was mad tight at the world. I had my heaphones off for the train ride cause i was reading ( now and then i go through a bookworm phase ) after exiting the station i threw my joints on cause cars, busses and hundreds of people just as tired as you are is not really a relaxing soundtrack. I skipped the J-Love “Hidden darts” Mixtape to “The Sun” and from the intro( with Ghost talkin over lush strings and a flute so serene that it could put anybody in a beautiful coma ) to the outro, nothing else mattered. Rent was still due but music was still more powerful than stress. When the headphones came off the stress was still there but for that little while i was bulletproof to that shit and that is why to me music is life. I read somewhere that Egyptians used to say that music was medicine for the soul and i feel that way too. That’s why die hard wu tang fans that never knew each other can stop and have a 40 minute convo with each other based on nothing but the heavy love we got for the killa beez ( whut up Reynard the grandmaster of the wu tang collections )
I thank God for every little good and bad time i had in life cause ultimately it made me a better writer and producer. Cats ask me how i can make sample free beats like “beautiful scarz” that tend to have a lot of emotion seeped in without any formal training. ( shit i flunked music theory class with an incomeplete grade ) The answer is this. Any one of my fam that has seen me loose my mind at a show when a certain song drop’s or seen me jump out my seat scraeming when they hit me with a cd i’ve been dying to hear, they have the key, which is. I LOVE THIS SHIT. Fuck it. Thats all. Solo single no more no less. I’m a fully operational music geek. I’m the dude that reads album credits meticulously cause i want to know everything about that shit cause music just has that effect on me. I dont kow if my zodiac sign has anything to do with it. I rock the Aquairius sign ( fellow cats like Dr. Dre famous for his marathon studio sessions know about the love and from what i read about him the late great J Dilla knew too. note: I am NOT comparing myself to these legends so dont go flying off the handle ) and people say that cats like us bang out joints too much due to a heavy love for creativity, but if that’s what makes somebody happy why brake that love.
Before i bounce let me hit you with this havoc line that just passed ( I really do got that that Hell on earth shit on the side of me ) “hit you up/ from the waist up/ thats how it is and how it is is kinda fucked up/ but the beats banging/ got your whole click singing/ on the corner while it’s ringing/” Life is gonna stay fucked up and complicated but evryone from thugs on the corner to stressed out white kids in mosh pits, to grown folks catching a show by The Manhattans can attest that just TURNING UP THAT GOOD SHIT AND ENJOYING IT always has a good effect.