Verses: Knocking off the Nerves

Whenever I feel the heavy burdens of life I reach out to a hip-hop verse that I know pretty well.  It gives me a familiar feeling and I feel powerful because I know the verse so well.

Quick tip:  As I sat in the car waiting to interview for my current librarian position, I listened to this song and it totally put me at ease.  Worked like a charm.  It’s a great way to knock off the nerves.

One of my favorite verses from one of my favorite groups  –

What’s Yours?

Hiding like thieves in the night from life
Illusions of oasis making you look twice

Hiding like thieves in the night from life
Illusions of oasis making you look twice…

Mos DEF:  Yo, I’m sure that everybody out listenin’ agree
That everything you see ain’t really how it be
A lot of jokers out runnin’ in place, chasin the style
Be a lot goin’ on beneath the empty smile
Most cats in my area be lovin’ the hysteria
Synthesized surface conceals the interior
America, land of opportunity, mirages and camouflages
More than usually — speakin’ loudly, sayin’ nothin’
You confusin’ me, you losin’ me
Your game is twisted, want me enlisted — in your usary
Foolishly, most men join the ranks cluelessly
Buffoonishly accept the deception, believe the perception
Reflection rarely seen across the surface of the lookin’ glass
Walkin’ the street, wonderin’ who they be lookin’ past
Lookin’ gassed with them imported designer shades on
Stars shine bright, but the light — rarely stays on
Same song, just remixed, different arrangement
Put you on a yacht but they won’t call it a slave ship
Strangeness, you don’t control this, you barely hold this
Screamin’ brand new, when they just sanitized the old shit
Suppose it’s, just another clever Jedi mind trick
That they been runnin’ across stars through all the time with
I find it’s distressin’, there’s never no in-between
We either niggaz or Kings
We either bitches or Queens
The deadly ritual seems immersed, in the perverse
Full of short attention spans, short tempers, and short skirts
Long barrel automatics released in short bursts
The length of black life is treated with short worth
Get yours first, them other niggaz secondary
That type of illin’ that be fillin’ up the cemetery
This life is temporary but the soul is eternal
Separate the real from the lie, let me learn you
Not strong, only aggressive, cause the power ain’t directed
That’s why, we are subjected to the will of the oppressive
Not free, we only licensed
Not live, we just excitin’
Cause the captors.. own the masters.. to what we writin’
Not compassionate, only polite, we well trained
Our sincerity’s rehearsed in stage, it’s just a game
Not good, but well behaved cause the ca-me-ra survey
most of the things that we think, do, or say
We chasin’ after death just to call ourselves brave
But everyday, next man meet with the grave
I give a damn if any fan recall my legacy
I’m tryin’ to live life in the sight of God’s memory
Like that y’all

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Check out the song…

“Pessimism is a Self-Fulfilling Malady”

Doubt – Death – Disillusion?  

I have grown tired of living in a world full of hate and hurt.  Whenever I begin to break out of such limited thinking and living, I found that so many negative energies seemingly exist just to put me back.  I’m often reminded that…

“Pessimism is a Self-Fulfilling Malady” 

orlando-patterson

That was the profound quote that stuck with me from the 2016 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.  The quote came from professor Orlando Patterson, co-author and editor of The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth.  His speech was powerful and best of all, unapologetic.  Dr. Patterson is 76 years of age, and even though I may not agree with every word that he says or writes, it is refreshing and empowering to hear an elder speak with such courage.   Check out this article on Patterson and The Cultural Matrix. Continue reading

Lift Up the Smoke Screen! Umojah Nation CD Release

The long-awaited debut album for our reggae family called Umojah Nation is set!  Check the flyer for details and get Ready, Ready to join us!  – Peace

www.umojahnation.com

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Joining us on stage will be throwback Umojah, Hybrid Shakedown and Passport Project

www.umojahnation.com

Ugandan Kids Choir – Inspiring!

Sometimes you don’t know where inspiration will come from.

I am about to start a bucket drumming club with youth at the local Harvey Rice School in Cleveland on Tuesdays.  Since proclaiming that I would start such a club, I have been in need of a push – just a little nudge to give me some motivation.  I had no idea what was coming!

I was invited by a Sista of mine to attend a presentation of the Ugandan Orphans Kids Choir some months ago.  I received constant reminders about the upcoming show, but still didn’t quite remember.  That’s the busy life!  However, on the morning of the show, I got that final reminder and rushed out the door to find Imagine Academy in Cleveland’s Harvard neighborhood to see the performance.  As I pulled into the parking lot I felt this energy.  There were a number of cars parked as well as the large, nicely painted van for the Childcare Worldwide organization.  I was excited!

As soon as walked in the school auditorium, it was time for the show to start.  I would very soon find the inspiration that I needed.

Enjoy…

 
UgandanChoir

 

 akofena

On the Ngoma Vol. 2 – Umojah Nation at Jilly’s

So, after a small hiatus (it seems), Umojah Nation hit the stage this past weekend at Jilly’s  in Akron and we had an amazing time.  I have so much fun with my band mates, we are such a family, and in many ways this has helped sustain my inner being.  I have had periods of severe creative droughts, usually due to drastic changes in my environment, like when I moved to Cleveland from the mid-south.

Admittedly so, I was lost for a while and wasn’t creating much of anything.  This went on for a while until I began working at the Solon Branch of Cuyahoga Public Library.   There I worked side by side with my supervisor who played guitar and allowed me to bring in small hand drums to play for children at various programs.  From there, I was introduced to a couple of playwrights and got involved in a stage play called These People out in Chagrin Falls, OH.  After that, I began to get that hunger back.  And now, the creativity flows daily and I am so excited to be alive and in these moments, surrounded by wonderful people who nurture me in the arts and also allow me to be myself.

With Umojah Nation, I feel the reggae music from a deep spiritual place.  The heartbeat that drives the music automatically puts me in a place of connection with the ancestors, with the struggle and hope of the Diaspora, as well as that of humanity.  I am blessed, and I am thankful.

 

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Navigating the Arts Vol. 7 – An intro to Afrobeat

I’ve been slowly creeping into the Afrobeat world lately (at least in Cleveland).  It all started when I went to the Femi Kuti concert at Beachland Balllroom a couple of years back.  We were straight up blown away by the sights and sounds.  It was colorful and loud, but that was okay because there were about 20 people on stage, from the rhythm section to the singers and dancers to the horn players to the auxiliary.  I felt like I was on the mother continent; it was hot and the music was pumping!

So, since then I went to see the Fela Broadway musical and man, what an evening.  Fela was off the chart good.  I must admit, I was rushing because I got off work late and couldn’t pick out the right Afro garb – it was a special event you know?!?  Of course someone was mad because I was late.   After rushing in the theatre, we quickly found or seats and for the next two hours took a journey into the musical, political, spiritual world of Afrobeat and its origins.  I just found out most recently that my cousin Eddie once spent quite a bit of time with Fela Kuti in Nigeria.  I was like, you have got to be kidding me!!!

Well, just so happens that now I have performed in the genre twice (to date) with Fiscal Spliff out of Cleveland.  What an amazing time we’ve had, with more to come!  We played at Take 5 in downtown Cleveland last evening, and got some wonderful reviews form the audience.  It was simply exhilarating, so much fun.  I played percussion:  congas, bongos, etc.  We actually have another performance in the next weeks.  I can’t wait!