“I Can’t Live Without My Radio”
The club or the radio is no longer the place for good music… sorry let me rephrase that. The club or the radio is no longer a place for GREAT music.
You will get the music that makes you move or makes you feel good, and as long as you have that, the content quality is irrelevant. Most of the people can recite the simplistic lyrics they hear not because they can relate to them, but because they hear it 80 times a day. How many of us screaming “BALLIN”, have ever had a tennis ball size of dollars to waste never mind the basketball sized dreams we shoot every time that song comes on. When is the last time you saw an ounce of coke that wasn’t covered with a red and white swirling label, and yet you are singing with great commitment on how much “IN LOVE WITH THE COCO” you are.
It can be argued that this music is so popular because it allows the listener to escape their reality. Much like a Sci-Fi action movie it is the window into a world that we aren’t familiar with and therefore are excited for the experience. To some extent I agree with this idea. I get that playing a game of musical dress up can be fun. Hell when I was a kid I moonwalked like MJ or did the foot shuffle like James Brown. Dressed like Bugaloo Shrimp or shaved my head with ONYX. Yet those days of role play seemed much less harmful to its listeners. What’s the worst that could happen when we emulated Bobby Brown’s My Prerogative dance moves? a hard slap from mom for being a little too exuberant with the pelvic thrusts? Exactly compared to our heroes these major radio play artists are the Cobra Commanders to our Lt. Hawks and G.I. Joes. And it has a generation of kids growing up wanting to be just like the misogynist, greedy, money chasing, sexually explicit, drug paraphernalia totting, violent advocating, entitled artists they hear and see every day. We can easily apply those adjectives to our youth of today. And how can you blame the product of Drug talk and Dollar throwing for trying get rich or die trying. To want what they want despite consequence. And that’s not exclusive to the evil dollar it includes the opposite sex and sex in general.
Ya ya I know we had Prince and Marvin Gaye talking about sex right? Well Marvin wanted sexual healing “wake up wake up wake up, let’s make love tonight.” And Prince is the one that we know as the King of Dirty songs, one of his worse lines “Take me baby, kiss me all over/Play with my love/Bring out what’s been in me 4 far 2 long”. Now let’s fast forward to the 2000s to the current reigning queen of Hip Hop Nicki Minaj “This dude named Michael used to ride motorcycles/Dick bigger than a tower, I ain’t talking ’bout Eiffel’s/Real country-ass nigga, let me play with his rifle/Pussy put his ass to sleep, now he calling me NyQuil”. In fact forget the lyrics, check the song titles, The Dream’s “P***y”, Estelle’s “Make her Say (Beat it Up)”, then go listen to the songs, and you won’t be surprised.
And I don’t want to act like the golden years of urban music lacked the 2 live crews and NWAs. Sex, drugs and violence has been and will always be a good seller. We all like to hear the degradative music at times. We all want to let go and just be for moments in our lives. The problem is the balance! Or lack thereof. We have far too many Ja Rules and not enough Tupacs, overwrought with Blurred Lines, with What’s Going Ons, far and between!! I remember going to places like Party center and hearing Public Enemy mixed with Tribe Called Quest mixed with King Tee, mixed with En Vogue, and the list goes on. Nowadays the DJs seem to be all plugged in to one universal podcast, in which one artist performs the same song to the same beat that sometimes has a remix on every 3rd song. The creativity is gone in our music, the intelligence gone in our lyrics. Shoot half the time we can’t even understand the words being said, and that’s not due to them being too complex either.
All is not lost, like I said the good music is no longer on the radio or in the clubs but it is out there! As much as the internet has all but destroyed the record companies, it has created a platform for the most underground, fresh, different, and even weird music. Nowadays the good music isn’t handed to you. You have to put on your Indiana Jones hat and go searching for such treasures. You’re not going to find Joey Bada$$ at the top of the sand pile, you’re not going to discover a Drew Anthuny or Ro James without using a flashlight a little bit. Part of the problem is that we wait for the hipsters to dictate to us what we are allowed to like. In some ways the radio and record companies have transformed into these bloggers and cool kids on the net that blow up certain mainstream artists such as Bey, J, Ri, Drake etc. while the others are forgotten and therefore largely ignored by the masses. As usual many artist break through that glass ceiling and cultivate a strong following to propel them to at least B list celebrity. And sadly by that time they have been changed to maintain that status.
Same old soup warmed up a little bit and we slurp it right up. No one to blame but ourselves, the good music is out there, it’s just for us to seek it. Like most good things in life, you can’t attain it without some work, just ask that winter body girl with the summer body dreams.
– SLANG HUGH
Slang Hugh can be found on instagram @slanghugh
Check Out Slang Hugh with TOKS on the podcast The Man Dem – https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-man-dem/id1144116291?mt=2itunes.apple.com
I looked at the magazine with the bold title that stated Black History Month emblazon across it with an inviting font for any who wished to learn or reeducate. It wasn’t a very big magazine, in fact it was closer to a pamphlet, or if I was to be more flattering of its size I’d say it was children’s book thick. if this collection of pictures and words was a woman it would’ve known I was lying and either slap me for being so rude, or walk away at such an exaggeration about her mediocre frame. But this piece of history, my history, was inanimate and couldn’t rightfully respond to my thought in kind. Instead it just laid there. At first I was bothered by the meager size. Don’t judge the book by its cover, I know, but the lack of mass made me not only judge, but executioner in that moment. I already was dreading the lack of a true and full history, awaiting me on the interior. As I stared at the cover, wondering if I should even bother waking the black hulk inside of me, with what I believed to be the prejudged annoyance that laid between those sheets, I noticed something else. There was a picture of what seemed to be a young black woman’s eyes. The pic was black and white but I made what I consider a great discernment that she was black. Perhaps it was the title that sparked this Sherlock Holmes like brilliance. What I also discovered through my magnified psyche was what the young lady’s eyes said. They were sad and in, what I saw, as pain. Instantly I felt sorry for her without even knowing her story. I imagined that if that cameraman had pulled back 3 or 4 feet, I’d find a scene from one of those “Adopt an African child, for a $1 a day commercials”. Complete with the “Arms of an Angel” crooning of Annie Lennox, soundtrack to help drive home the disparity. And then it hits me. Is this what black history looks like? Is this what we consider a positive representation of black people, in a month that is said to celebrate them? Sad, pitiful and in need of help? Downtrodden, poor and in tears? Is this the poster child of Black History Month?
I’m not one to believe in the necessity of a black history month period. Black history should be as celebrated as any other history, and treated with the same respect. It should be taught in schools, with just as much focus as other cultures. The John F. Kennedy story can’t be told without the Martin Luther King part. Just as the story of Martin shouldn’t be left without a reference to Gandhi finding inspiration in him. This should be year-round and not regulated to a month. My history is not any more important than yours, and it’s not any less important! But fine, February is the month, come and gone, and of course I understand why. There’s is a void and perhaps for now this is the most sand we can get to fill this black hole. The world is more concerned with what is than what should be. So, February is the closest you’ll ever get to a 40 acres and mule.
All I’m asking is, must the mule be old and sick? And does the 40 acres have to be in the desert?!?!? Our history did not begin with slavery! I know I know, that’s one of those “we all know this” things, right? Well apparently, the publishers and writers of this book, I mean magazine, I’m sorry pamphlet failed to recognize. Why not a picture of a great Egyptian Pharaoh on the front? Or how about Mansa Musa the richest black man ever!! Estimated the 4th richest man in history! Like the movie about one of our greatest we “Once We’re Kings”! But why do we seem to have to be regulated to a story that starts with us in chains rather than adorned in gold ones when the story is relayed? Nothing about Nat Turner’s revolt or the Maroons rebellion against their enslavers. No mention of the strength and resilience the people of that time really showed. Our history didn’t end with civil rights either!! I know I know more redundant facts from Slang Hugh huh? But the photographer for this cover seems to need a reminder. Hey why not let a regal picture of great inventor George Washington Carver, or the beauty of the brave Viola Desmond, the Canadian Rosa Parks, grace the cover? Or how about representing our present victories such as business magnate Michael Lee Chin?
I wish I could tell you that I opened the book and the first pages made this entire blog entry unnecessary. I wish I could say that. But as predicted the sigh barely had time to rest in between my fears and actuality. The actuality, was that the fears were warranted. Page 1 to 5 of a 15-page booklet was about slavery and the underground railroad, which brought many blacks to Canada. Such a rich and monarchial his and her story reduce to whips, chains, and brutal fights for freedom. And with that I have a simple request. Well simple to me. Keep the little girl for the cover, but next time have her smiling and in a strong stance with her black fist up in pride! Because despite all that struggle you printed on pages 1 through 5, Page -100 to 0 would show why we were strong enough and proud enough to not only survive but thrive!! And that is truly BLACK HISTORY.
Perhaps we are too awake to dream.
We have all dreamed as kids. Ambitions of being firemen, joining the police force, or even being a superhero were a natural part of our youthful existence. Some of us simply want a family, to be a mother or a father one day and raise dreamers of our own. These dreams tend to drive us for a great portion of our adolescence. Often growing bigger and stronger than a tree when planted in fertile soil. Immovable, due to that soil being our naïve and young minds. Maybe it’s that in our development years we are still somewhat asleep. I don’t mean literally, although that may be true, because we sleep a lot more as children, which probably contributes to this theory, but figuratively. Our eyes are partially closed to the world at large.
Especially to the negativity, to the idea that some things are impossible. Or that gender, color, race, and economics are obstacles we can’t overcome. We don’t even fathom these to be rules at those ages. I mean I used to tie a bed sheet around my neck and believe I was as strong as Superman and could fly. It was only my parents’ strong Jamaican accent telling me “Stop the foolishness!” that would wake me from my cognizant slumber devoid of reality. We benefit from not really knowing what is expected of us, gain from the lack of practical responsibility, and thrive from simply not knowing that it’s possible to fail.
So we fly, we pretend, we imagine, we play, and we have fun with our lives. To us in those early stages the math is simple, if you want to run, you run! You want to jump, you jump! Oh you’re bored? Go play!
Somewhere along the lines we grow up and the simple addition and subtraction becomes trigonometry. The weed of practicality invades our mental greenhouse and blocks our dream tree from the sun until it not only stops growing but becomes almost non-existent. Whether in school where we are basically taught to defer our dreams for good careers and credit. Or at home, where our parents dreams becomes our own and our will to make them proud make our dreams become more and more lofty and sometimes unattainable. With age and responsibility we lose the fiery enthusiasm. Do you remember what it was like to fall in love with something as a child, or even as a teenager? How much you threw yourself into dancing, or sports, or drawing, or gimp!? I would spend what seemed like hours playing basketball, trying to do the same move I saw on TV the night before. Or literally days perfecting memorizing lyrics I wrote so I could rap them over the phone with my peers.
At the time I didn’t realize it but it was my ambitions, my goals, more accurately my dreams that fueled the vehicle for perfection. It wasn’t work then, it was just doing what felt right, what felt good. Eventually our dreams become similar to our physical flexibility, you stop trying to touch your toes and after a while you can barely even see them without feeling a great strain. And rather than go to the gym we grab another bag of chips and go right back to the couch. And in sets the defeat.
See the cycle? Somewhere someone gave us the idea that if we haven’t achieved certain dreams by a certain age then, quite frankly, you are a failure!! And that is simply a lie! Hence why SO many adults are walking this earth with a black cloud on a string. Carrying around their failures like a pet on a leash, who shits all over the place and not only do you not poop and scoop but you step in it and drown yourself in the crap. This is no way to live, and a sure way to die while still living! Many zombies walk this earth way before Walking Dead was scripted.
Now I’m no expert. In fact I’m writing this from the perspective of a man who has lost his dreams along the way, and I’m currently trying to find them again. And probably like some of you reading this it’s hard to believe that my desires are still attainable. Like many of you I’ve had others give words of encouragement and while I listened, inside I was rolling my eyes eagerly waiting for the conversation to be over, so I can go back to NOT LIVING. Or I’d have excuses that I was convinced were valid reasons ready to fire back in defense. I simply no longer could wrap my mind around how I was going to be an adult and fulfill my childhood ambitions at the same time. I’m starting to realize that the answer to that is in the issue.
Dream as a child and act as an adult.
A child will think of doing something and go and do that very thing immediately, without considering the consequences, but their attention is easily switched when something more enticing comes along. An adult will take their time, plan their steps and act accordingly, provided it suits their needs. You have to find a way to combine the two.
Act on your dream….NOW, while planning for the outcome of success. The math is simpler than we care to believe. The steps which are only three fold to me. Find your dream, prepare for it and then make it reality. You may not have the money to take your model portfolio pictures but you have a camera phone, and a mirror to practice every day until you get the money. You may not have the resources to start a business, but have you asked a store owner how they got started? You may want to lose a few pounds but can’t stop eating that pizza, have you joined a gym yet? We have to stop making excuses for the way we CHOOSE to live and make the CHOICE to LIVE!!
They say life is about the pursuit of happiness, but to me it’s more about the pursuit itself. Happiness comes in progression.
Dare to dream as a child but act as an adult.
Every few years, someone around the ideaFACTORY would get fed up and approach i.james.jones about releasing the “lost record” thin.KING. SOON COME.
Methods ranged, but none prevailed. Every time it seemed like it would come down from the shelf, it somehow managed to keep its dusty place. Jones calls it his “lost record”. Some off us call it his “cursed record”. (As one bP co-conspirator declared “it is cursed, cause he believes it is cursed”. It may be so).
thin.KING.SOON COME. was recorded during his time with the now defunct District Six Music (Zaki Ibrahim, Tumi and the Volume, Tanika Charles), …his Parkdale era.
Heard in total, it is portrait of an artist pulled, stretched even, but not scattered. Honest, reflective, angry and clinging to love. Perhaps with hindsight it is also easy to see how it foreshadowed the depression and reclusive time that would follow it.
On a record with some incredible big studio work by Shaun Christie at King West Studio, our favourite joints around the office certainly remain the 8-Track intrusions that poke and jab at the polish of the main body.
Perhaps none better than “LET OUT”.
The first project under development by the BP KIDS wing of the boldPIGEON.
Created by KUMALO & JONES (N.L. KUMALO / i.james.jones), the “FIRST SKETCHES” gives us an early look at BENEDICT VON COPPERBOTTOM aka “BENNY THE ANGRY PENNY”, an ornery (and quite possibly misunderstood and under-appreciated) old coin, and the adventures which made him so.
N.L. KUMALO seems on a path to become the most interesting man you will ever know.
Currently re-vamping his epic novel “Simon’s Song”, and re-mixing his “Tunnel At The End Of The Light”Ep, while working to illustrate some projects for the BP KIDS… Kumalo pays the rent chefing it up in one of Toronto’s more popular kitchens.
The man and his story are captivating. So to are the stories he weaves when he puts on that thinking cap and works to give form to the ideas and characters that occupy his ever active brain.
“Child Support” is an amazingly vivid picture of too many modern relationships. Written/Produced and Performed by N.L. Kumalo.
The video came about while we were borrowing some office space in a Rehearsal Factory. The challenge became, what could we accomplish with a cell phone, an old version of iMovie, and a few hours.
The result, a boldPIGEON PRESENTATION
Markus Marcus is a bit of a cult figure amongst those of us at boldPIGEON.
While virtually unknown, he is nonetheless one of our favourites.
While the details of the project remain under wraps for the moment, On The Ground Like That, is the first look at The Glory And A Goldstar, a collection of Marcus’ poetry scheduled for a Spring 2016 release.
Late last year the Toronto City Riot released their self-titled debut. Defying easy classification and convention, the album is a slept-on gem. Think danceable-psycadelic-punk, raw and soulful.
Now stop thinking, and download the record
N.L. KUMALO is a Canadian writer, emcee and thinker, born to Zulu parents in Apartheid South Africa. As a shaper of culture, Kumalo manifests his deft skill in many forms. Drawing from the experience of his own evolution as immigrant, student, d-boy, inmate, artist, N.L Kumalo is a creator whose work is animate and enlightened.His intellect and soulfully articulate voice soar and sweep in from the fringes of the Canadian Story Untold.
“The Storm Before the Calm” is a chapter from Simon’s Song. A novel by N.L. Kumalo, in development as a serial release on boldPIGEON.com
Click to read the complete chapter – “The Storm Before the Calm” from Simon’s Song by N.L. Kumalo .
For More from N.L. Kumalo, keep watching the boldPIGEON.