Friday, October 28, 2011

Dear World...

Dear World,

I know some of you aren’t very happy with me right now. I know over the course of my life I’ve pissed a lot of you off. During my brief existence here, I admit, I’ve done some damage. I could use the excuse of being young and ignorant and confused when I was a kid, and I think I’d be justified in doing so, but I refuse to use that excuse to justify any of my behaviour over the past ten years. G.O.D. knows that over the past decade I’ve done and said some pretty shitty things. I’ve hurt people close to me, I’ve hurt perfect strangers, and I’ve ultimately hurt myself quite a bit in the process.

This isn’t a confession. This isn’t an apology. This isn’t a pathetic attempt to get you to sympathize with me. This, like the purpose of anything I’ve ever written, is me conveying some truth that I’ve found within myself in the hopes that it makes a difference for those of you who take the time to read my words.

I know that at times I can be impatient, crass, and insensitive. I like to think that I possess a certain intensity in my way of being in the world, and I also know that that way of being can be a double-edged sword. I know I’m sometimes terribly judgmental of others and that I’m even harder on myself. I’ve done a lot of soul searching; I’ve swallowed some bitter chunks of truth about myself over the years. Knowing, unfortunately, sometimes makes no difference. I still choose to be ways that I know will rub some of you the wrong way, say things that might offend you, do things that might anger you.

I also believe that there lies an immense potential for greatness in every single human being. I know I can be great in the world; I’ve touched my own greatness at times in my life. What I’ve learned is that there’s some part of me that fights against my desire to be great in this world – a human ego that resists the loudest callings of my soul. I believe we all resist certain things about ourselves and the world and that resistance is the main source of human suffering. The greatest pains I’ve experienced in my life have been during the times that I’ve fought against my own calling in the world; the times I’ve stood in diametrical opposition to my own self-defined purpose in life. And it’s at those times, dear world, that I’ve done you the most harm.

Heaven and hell are real  we can manifest them within our own minds and in turn create them here on earth. Angels and demons exist – I can tell you this because I’ve met people who have embodied the former and I, myself, have been the latter at times in my past. I didn’t literally sprout horns and carry a pitchfork, and the angels I met didn’t have wings or halos. What I’m saying is that we all have a few fundamental choices in this world: we can choose to build or destroy, to create or to dismantle, to grow or decay, to live or to die.

I make no excuse for the damage I’ve done to any of you, to myself, or to the world as a whole. I have remorse, but no regret; I cannot say with any certainty that my life could have gone any other way than the way it’s gone thus far. I do believe, however, that my capacity for destruction is equally matched if not surpassed by my ability to manifest peace, love, and joy in the world. I believe that every single one of you has that power as well.

I’ve created lot in my short time here. I’ve written hundreds of poems, stories, essays, pieces of prose…even written you a few letters. I’ve written and recorded songs and put out a few albums. I’ve performed dozens of times to different crowds at different places on the map. I’ve spoken publicly and in private with many to share my experience, strength, and hope with them. I’ve given of myself to those who suffer and in the process helped to save some lives. I’ve built things. I’ve inspired people. I’ve created love, I’ve spread joy, and I’ve made people laugh.

Dear world, please try to understand; sometimes I lose sight of who I am and why I’m here. Sometimes I forget what I’m capable of and I sell myself short of the power that I have to make a positive difference for others. These are the facts of my humanity. They don’t condone anything, but I hope they help to explain.

This life, this world, all of us here in this reality – it’s not about any one of us. Of course we are all myopic in our attention when it comes to our own lives vs. the lives of others; we need to possess a certain degree of self-focus and self-awareness to survive. What I’m starting to see now, though, what I’m beginning to believe is that all of my choices in life, everything I’ve said and done and everything that I haven’t, have been far more important in terms of the effects they’ve had on the world than the consequences that they’ve had for me personally. I have no notion of the degree and scope of the impact that my life has really had so far, nor knowledge of the difference that my life will ultimately make over the course of time. I can guess, I can ask people, I can intellectually calculate and search my intuitions, I can look at the quantifiable material differences, but at the end of the day, I have to admit that I just don’t know.

So I make you a promise, world. I will continue to write, I will continue to rap, I will continue to speak and perform. I will continue to speak my truth, because that, I believe, is why I’m here. I am committed to inspiring you to find out why you’re here – to create yourself, your life, your purpose, and manifest the destiny that your soul calls you towards. I promise to be courageous in my efforts in the face of fear, in the face of my own limitations, and in the face of no agreement from any of you, because I think the world needs more courage. I’m here to wake you up to your own greatness and to tell you to not let  your own humanity be the reason why you don’t push forward with every ounce of strength you have to be who you truly are and create the kind of world that I believe we all want to live in. I’m here to inspire you to work together as one race to transform the world. I will make mistakes; I will learn from them. I will fall down; I will get back up and keep moving. I will not give up on my dreams until I die.

And if, in the process of me living this life, I hurt you or upset you or piss you off, then I sincerely apologize. It’s not my intention to do you harm. But I will never apologize for being who I am, for working towards fulfilling my purpose, or for answering the beckoning of my soul.

This is the path I’ve chosen to walk – I refuse to go another way.  

Bubbie Ruth

When I was fourteen years old, my maternal grandmother passed away. I wrote this poem and read it at her funeral as a eulogy...I'm now sharing it with the rest of the world.

Bubbie Ruth 

After a Holocaust
towards her and her religion,
my grandmother suffered
a holocaust
towards her health.

She survived a tragedy
that most cannot fathom;
she survived falling victim
to genocide.

But after those years–
after those horrible years–
to me laced with mystery,
a part of her died.

Whatever hell
she had to live through
stripped her of her childhood.
She was not allowed
to be human
near an age in which
I am now learning
who I am.

“We all are put here by God,”
she told my brother and I once,
“we all have our purpose,
I suppose.
Mine is to tell you
my history.”

And she told us
how her parents were sent on trains
to Auswitz.
How she and her sister
were the only two from her family
that survived the Holocaust.

How she met my grandfather,
who had lost his entire family,
and how the two of them,
orphans with no money,
started a new life
and created a family.

Frail as she was,
through her tired eyes
and shaky hands,
she told us,
“Never forget.
Never forget who you are;
you are Jews.”

She would always tell
my brothers and I
how big we were all getting.
Her face would light up
when she saw us,
when she kissed us
and told us we were good boys.

I never fully understood
why we brought so much light
to her life,
but now,
as she leaves this world,
it’s clear.
It’s more clear than it’s ever been:
she made sure
that we grew up.
She made sure
that we had the childhoods
she was never given.

Through the thunderstorms
and incendiary memories that
burned inside of her
nearly her entire life,
through a world that took
and took and took
seemingly more than it gave her,
she fought and lived.

And she gave back to this world.

She gave way to seven lives,
and filled those lives
with her love.

In these times when no words
can fill the holes
that death leaves behind,
I look to good memories.
I look to the pictures
of smiling faces;
the picture of a grandmother
proudly holding her grandson
in her arms.

And on this day
when I have nothing
but memories and burning questions,
I will remember a life
that wasn’t glamorous,
a life that could have happened
a million other ways,
but most importantly,
a grandmother who loved me
and a soul who is finally free.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Album Review: MC FÜBB - In the Face of No Agreement (by Andy Carrington)

"Here be a hungry, intelligent and creatively-gifted man, whose album thrives on the strength of his beat riding, confident vocal tone and range of subject matter, all of which become a warming familiarity early on." -Andy Carrington (

Peep the review written by Andy Carrington over in the UK on my most recent album, In the Face of No Agreement. 4.5 stars out of 5? I'm humbled, sir! Click the image below to read:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dark Jazz (verse)

Check this video of me spitting a verse that's gonna be on my homie Noyz's upcoming album Degrees of Freedom. Video courtesy of Slick Nick (aka Telesca Photography):

Monday, October 17, 2011


Life doesn’t always let us choose our circumstances.

We must all experience things
that we may not want to face at the time.

Every child’s life is made real
by knowledge of death.

Everyone feels lonely,
or angry,
or ashamed

All girls must face
their first menstrual cycle;
boys must face
wet dreams.

We all must travel
through this incomprehensible
thing we call life,
but we need not travel alone.

Therein lies choice
in a seemingly unchangeable
mesh of lives.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Brand of Poetry

That’s the thing about me though –
I don’t really write the way I’m supposed to write.
Academics probably can’t scan my work so easily
and find cohesive narratives or
thematic categories to file my poetry into.

A poet really isn’t supposed to write about poetry
let alone explain what he writes while he’s writing it
to the reader as he tries to figure out if this is a joke
or something different I should pay attention to
or put it down because I can’t figure it out.

There’s nothing to figure out.

Poetry should make you feel something.
Sometimes it’s all those cliché things we think it is
when we think about poetry like watery streams and tear-drops
and snowflakes and sunsets and relationships
and sometimes it’s a jagged piece of wood running across your shoulder-blade.

Try to understand, for me it’s not really conscious
or even stream-of-consciousness but something completely
alien to ordinary life,
and because of that more true to real life as I experience it.

It’s the glance you exchange with the person in the coffee shop,
the one you see and who sees you and who you don’t talk to
but are flooded with an impression of a thousand thoughts
and feelings and smells and characters
for a brief moment in time as you fiddle in your pocket for change
and wonder something about them,
all the while trying to look normal.

That’s poetry – it’s the magic of the ordinary.
All the rest is far too academic and intellectual
to even come close to touching its essence. 


            The horned humanoid creature walked naked and alone in the dark cold woods. He had tread through this same forest several times before and every time he walked, he walked alone. He had no family and no friends - only enemies. The only ally he knew was the primal instinct he possessed within himself that told him to survive.
            His purpose on the earth was unknown, even by the creature himself. The only thing he knew was  that he was different from normal people, which made him a constant target of prejudice, malice, and hate.
            The cold wind blew dead leaves around him in all directions. The creature snarled slightly as a small cyclone of leaves passed by and brushed his scaly leg. The moonlight glimmered through the small cracks of space between the leaves in the trees and shone on his blackened eyes, every so often. His jagged teeth clenched tightly, his decrepit toe nails dragging in the dirt with each step, he walked on.
            “Demon…demon…” he muttered to himself. Demon was the name that he had been given by the people of the world. Everywhere he went, he was shunned, chased, attacked, and called by the same name. “Demon, demon, demon…” he continued to chant to himself, “I am Demon.”
            Demon came to a small clearing in the woods. A shallow pond surrounded by bulrushes and tall grass lay in the middle of the clearing, reflecting the white moonlight off of its smooth surface. There was a large, flat rock in the shadows, under some trees beside the pond. He cautiously stepped forward towards the pond, making sure that there was nobody else around. He knelt down onto his knees at the edge of the pond and, after quickly glancing around again, submerged his head in the cool water and opened his monstrous mouth.
            He filled his mouth with the cool, refreshing water and then lifted his head back up into the air. He shook his head furiously for a few seconds, spraying droplets of water around him in all directions. Slowly getting back to his feet, his stomach growled. He hadn’t eaten in over three days, and his stomach felt as if it were a pit of rotting, quivering flesh. He quickly grabbed a handful of leaves from a nearby tree and shoved them into his mouth, chewed once, and spit them out in disgust.
            “ROOAAARRRRRRR!” growled Demon as he looked to the sky in anger. Birds flustered and scattered out of all the trees around him. He breathed heavily for a few moments, trying to calm himself down. Slowly, he walked over to the large rock beside the pond and sat down.
            A strenuous expression covered Demon’s face. His pain could be seen under his rough, red-scaled skin, behind his black eyes and in the deep ridges of wrinkles on his forehead. He was a creature who did not belong in the world; an entity with no place amongst the species of his realm. His entire life was spent as a fugitive, running from hunters and living in the wilderness, alone.
            Unfortunately, Demon’s pain was more deep rooted than that of a ridiculed outcast. For as much as he wanted to be a part of society, there was a greater part of him which was consumed by rage. The creature not only had the exterior appearance of evil, but his soul was impure; tainted from the moment of his creation. His hatred of mankind was so deep rooted that he was created with a sense of loathing for all those around him.
            Through all his evil, Demon still had a glimmer of his creator in him. He didn’t believe in God, but he knew inside himself that behind all his hate, loneliness and contempt, that there was something more to his existence. Something he would never openly admit, which wasn’t very hard for Demon, because he had nobody to talk to. Some inexplicable force which forced him to keep on living resonated from some part of his being, deep under layers of pain and despair. Currently, Demon wondered and pondered, frantically creating hypothetical reasons; rationales that could possibly describe or explain why he existed at all. 
            “When will it end?” he asked himself. He looked to stars and then quickly shifted his gaze over to the moon and hollered, in his raspy, thunderous voice, “When do I get to die?”
            “Why would you want to die?” inquired a quiet, timid voice from the path behind him. Demon jumped to his feet suddenly and raised his red, muscular arms, ready to attack. A small boy let out a yelp and fell to the ground, staring up in terror at the creature which towered before him. Demon snarled and drooled, revealing his razor sharp teeth.
            “Please…please don’t hurt me!” pleaded the boy in horror. Demon stared at him quizzically for a few moments, shifting his head from side to side, analyzing. After he decided the boy was of no threat, nor even enough for a snack, he slowly lowered his arms and got out of his fighting stance. His black eyes stared deep into the brown eyes of the small boy, who was still on the ground shaking.
            “You’re all skin and bones,” said Demon, “you’re not even worth slaughtering to eat.” Relieved slightly, the boy stopped shaking and slowly got to his feet. He stood only a few meters away from the huge creature, staring up at him in awe with his mouth wide open. “Get out of here,” commanded Demon in resentment, “go back to your…village.” Demon turned away and went back to the rock to sit down.
            “I ran away,” said the boy in a squeaky, innocent voice. Demon stopped in his tracks, turned around, and snarled at the boy.
            “I don’t care if you flew away from whatever forsaken place you’re from!” boomed the creature. The boy stepped back a bit, frightened. “Now go home and leave me alone,” reiterated the creature. Demon stomped back over to the rock and dumped himself on it in exhaustion. He lay down and closed his eyes, but could still smell the boy near him. The small, congested nostrils on Demon’s face flared heavily for a few moments. “You have food! Give it to me!” barked the creature as he opened his red eyes and sat up. The small, freckle-faced boy stood motionless, staring at the monster before him. Demon let out a low snarl as his piercing, fiery eyes stared into the back of the boy’s skull.
            “I…I only have a little bit left,” said the boy in trepidation. He reached into his pocket and pulled out some salt-cured pieces of meat wrapped in paper. Demon jumped up suddenly and snatched the meat out of the child’s hand. “Hey, stop!” screamed the boy in desperation as he watched what was left of his food be devoured by the carnivore before him. Tears began to form in the boy’s eyes.
            “You’re crying?” exclaimed Demon in a mocking tone. The boy now began to weep uncontrollably, staring at his the holes in his shoes. “Sickening, putrid creature,” said Demon as he sat himself back down on the rock. The boy continued to cry for a few more seconds, then looked up at Demon in resentment and anger.
            “No wonder everybody wants you dead!” hollered the boy. Demon sat on the rock with his eyes closed, unmoved by the boy’s words. The boy took a few steps closer to the rock. “I hate you!” he screamed. Demon opened his eyes and turned his neck slowly, meeting the child’s cold gaze.
            “You don’t know what hate is,” proclaimed the creature.
            “Yes I do!” replied the boy. “Everybody hates me. The other kids call me names and spit on me while my own brother’s just watch and laugh. My father does nothing but yell at me and beat me. And my mother…my mother is dead.” Demon shook his head slowly in a sense of disbelief.
            “Do you have any idea who you are talking to?” asked Demon. “I am the most hated creature in the universe! The most feared…the most loathed and hunted of any in existence. I am the epitome of your anguish; the very image of the evil and malevolence of your entire race!” The boy stared at him in confusion. “Stupid boy! You talk about the other kids and your…family. While I am the only one of my kind in the entire world!” explained Demon. “You are too young and ignorant to understand.”
            Demon and the boy remained locked in each others’ eyes for several moments, and the child wiped away what tears were left on his face. This was the only human contact that Demon had ever engaged in without being attacked or hunted. It was also the only contact the small boy had ever had in which someone had actually taken the time to listen to him.
            “Be gone from this place,” ordered Demon, “go back to your people. Leave me alone with my pain.” Again the creature closed his eyes and lay back on the rock.
            “What is your name?” asked the boy.
            “I am Demon,” replied the creature.
            “But what is your real name?” asked the boy again. “I’m Jacob.”
            “I have no name other than that given to me by your insidious race,” explained Demon, and then repeated, “I am Demon.”
            Jacob turned away from the creature for the first time in their encounter and walked towards the edge of the pond. He picked up a small, flat stone and attempted to skip it across the water. The stone hit the water once and sunk to the bottom.  He washed his small, nimble hands in the water and shook them off in the air. Turning his attention back to Demon, he noticed many bloody gashes on the creature’s legs and chest.
            “Does it hurt?” inquired Jacob.
            “Ha!” snorted Demon.
            “You’re bleeding,” said Jacob.
            “I am always bleeding,” replied Demon.
            Jacob, overcome with innocent curiosity, walked back over towards Demon and stretched out his bony arm to touch the creature’s rough, scaly skin. Demon opened his eyes suddenly, instinctively grabbed Jacob’s arm firmly and, not knowing his own strength, snapped the boy’s fragile bones.
            “Aaaaahhhhhhh!” wailed the boy in agony.
            In that moment, something changed inside of Demon’s mind. It was a feeling he had never felt before; like tasting a foreign food that he had never known existed. In that split second of a moment, there was a new reality to Demon’s existence. A wave of energy seemed to flow through his entire body, emanating from his hand which clasped the child’s broken arm. For the first time in his life, Demon felt sympathy and compassion. He quickly let go of Jacob’s arm.  The boy fell to the ground, clasping his arm and moaning in pain.
            “I’m sorry,” said Demon, “I…I didn’t mean to harm you.”
            “It hurts!” the boy screamed. “It’s too much…it’s…it’s more than I can take! Oh God, it hurts!” Demon took a step toward the boy, reaching his out with his red, muscular hand. The boy recoiled and squirmed back in terror.
            “No!” pleaded Jacob. “Please, don’t hurt me again!”
            “I’m trying to help you,” informed Demon, again reaching toward the boy.
            “No!” yelled Jacob, curling into a fetal position. “I don’t believe you.”
            Demon was overcome with emotion. He had never known he was capable of feeling anything at all, besides anger, fear, and loneliness. In the short time he had encountered this human boy, he had discovered parts of himself that he had never even fathomed could exist. He felt compelled to help the boy.
            “I am going to help you,” proclaimed Demon, “do not resist me.” The boy lay on the ground, shaking in fear, unable to struggle anymore. Demon rolled Jacob onto his back and analyzed the boy’s mangled arm. He stared at the deformed arm, his glowing, red eyes taking in more than they ever had before. It was as if in each second that he stared at the injury, he gained more knowledge, wisdom and insight than he could comprehend. The immense pain which had throbbed in Demon’s head throughout his entire life seemed to be pulsating, and each pulse provided his mind with new truths; fresh realizations that made his entire existence to this point seem irrelevant. He couldn’t begin to understand why or what was happening, but he somehow knew what he had to do.
            “I known how to help you,” assured Demon. The boy lay whimpering on the dirt, hoping his pain would soon be alleviated. Demon reached forward and rested his blistered fingers on the child’s fractured arm. He closed his eyes.
            White light began to glow from deep within Demon’s hand, piercing through his veins. His mouth and eyes suddenly opened wide, his face raised toward the moonlight. The creature’s neck was stuck in place; his entire body rigid and unable to move. Demon’s shiny, opal eyes turned to a pale shade of pink. The white light in his hand began to glow more brightly, covering the entire clearing and forcing Jacob to close his eyes.
            A feeling of warmth flowed throughout Demon’s body. Miraculously, the broken bones in Jacob’s arms began to readjust themselves and reconnect within his arm.
            “It’s so warm,” whispered the boy in awe, “so warm.”
            The light moved away from Demon’s hand and began to travel towards his black heart. Demon fell back with immense force, as if he had been hit by a car, and flew into the pond, splashing water in all directions. Jacob opened his eyes and got to his feet slowly, stroking his healed arm. He stood in a state of bewilderment and stared at the light which seemed to shine upward from the center of the pond into the infinity of the night sky.
            Demon’s body slowly appeared at the surface of the water, levitating up as if he was harnessed at the waist by the light. His legs and arms dangled down, his head raised toward the sky. Jacob’s eyes remained wide open in shock as he raised his head to look up at the creature rising above him. Demon stared up at the white light, his mouth still agape, and the shade of his eyes changing from pink to blue, and suddenly stopped rising.
            His skin began to crack. Across the creature’s chest, his shoulders, his face and his back, white light beamed out in magnificent rays, illuminating the entire forest for miles. Within a few seconds, white light exploded from inside the creature, and his demonic physical form was no more. The entire forest was covered with utter whiteness and nothing could be seen for a several seconds. As quickly as the light had exploded from within Demon’s heart, the light vanished, and darkness again covered the night.
            Jacob opened his eyes just in time to see another small boy plummeting toward the pond from the space in which Demon had just been. The boy crashed through the surface of the water and Jacob ran into the pond. He dove under the surface, reached out, and grabbed a small hand. He kicked and pulled with all of his might, bringing himself and the other boy to the surface. Jacob swam over to the edge of the pond and dragged the boy onto the dirt.
            Jacob got up and stared down and the curly haired child who lay on the ground, coughing up water. The boy stopped coughing and opened his blue eyes, staring up at Jacob. Jacob helped the boy get to his feet and the two stood in front of each other at equal height, gazing into each others’ eyes.
            “I’m Jacob,” said Jacob, abruptly.
            “I’m Andrew,” said the boy shyly, “will you be my friend?” Jacob smiled and took the Andrew’s hand. The two of them walked down the path, following the moonlight back to the village, together.
            Somewhere far away, in another land, in the middle of another forest, a Demon appeared; cold, naked, and alone. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Words from the Philosopher MC: On choosing to fall to victim to circumstance…

Circumstances are the “what’s so” of life. Circumstances simply are what they are, much in the empirical sense that a brick is simply a brick. All entailments as to the meaning of a given circumstance or set of circumstances are human attributions, and therefore such interpretations are as arbitrary as the subjective lens through which they are viewed. People who use circumstances as reasons for their action or inaction are actually limiting their freedom to make their own choices. It is only when one is free from all attributions as to the meanings of one’s circumstances that one is free to really choose.
Example: There is a hip hop event going on that Tom would like to go to, but he ends up not going “because it’s too cold outside.” In this case, Tom have fallen victim to his circumstance inasmuch as he let it dictate his actions. It’s clear from this example that the cold weather is not at the source of the reason for Tom’s action or inaction. Rather, he would be being more honest and accurate if he said “I didn’t go the event because I chose to use the cold weather as an excuse not to go.” Had Tom actually made the choice to go to the event, the circumstance of the cold weather would have remained the same, but he would have actually done what he wanted to do. Ergo, had Tom chosen to go to the event despite the cold weather, he would have not fallen victim to the circumstance.

Caveat: There are such things as real victims in the world, and therefore it is possible to be a victim to circumstance without choosing it. For example, had Tom been walking down the street and randomly gunned down by a raving lunatic, this would be a circumstance that prevented Tom from getting to the event without his choosing. In essence, a real victim is one who has had their freedom to choose forcefully taken from them.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bite My Tongue

gave up on the goal of living comfortably
as I saw the floor cave out from under me
wondering when these demons will come for me,
waiting placidly
for the world that’s coming after me;
how will I harbour it?

standing with crooked legs on the ledge far from the edge
of the jumping off point – I’ve already been there
and can’t go back again,
because if I go back again, I won’t come back again;
this is already my second chance

I already put my soul on paper – they don’t read it
put my soul on tracks – they won’t hear it
but for the few that do, I’m eternally grateful.
I turn to G.O.D., I’m told to enjoy the storm
because when there’s calm it won’t last
and even then I’ll be bored with it,
I know it’s true, but this anxiety, I won’t forfeit it
it gives me motivation to make moves without hesitation
because stagnation is the same as death for me.
I won’t atone for my complexity.

I believe that both heaven and hell are kept in me,
kept it we,
as we circumnavigate the seasons
we think our reasons give us the course that we’ll take,
more like karma equals destiny, we have to master our fates
because the only thing carved in stone
in a word that’s been carved in stone, and even that can break.
forgive me, world, I can’t procrastinate

and if I hurt your ego in process, then good,
and if your feelings get the better of you, then I’m sorry,
but I wasn’t put here to be beneath anyone or anything
except the vision that I have defined 
as my purpose to bequeath upon those yet to come

and as such,
I refuse to hold back or to bite my tongue

Album Review: The Antiheroes – this is freeDUMB

            Easily one of the most talented and fresh-sounding duos in the world of rap, The Antiheroes’ (Sha Prince and Flex) debut LP, this is freeDUMB, is both musically a great contribution to hip hop and a powerful criticism of modern society and culture. Throughout the album, the two MCs not only point out the obscenities that they perceive around them, both in regards to the hip hop scene and the world at large, but they also poignantly express their own internal dialogues and struggles they face as artists and human beings. Most importantly, Flex and Sha are lyrically able to accomplish their thematic goals without sounding corny or repetitive. Each track on this album sounds like its own distinct single and evokes different emotions in the listener, despite producer MMac producing 8 of the 17 tracks (a testament to the beat-maker’s versatility and creativity). this is freeDUMB is an album not only for those who love high quality hip hop music, but even moreso for those who love and appreciate strong lyricism that touches on deep concepts and complex issues.
            The album opens with an eloquent and heartfelt verse by Flex over a lovely synthetic organ-laden beat by MMac and sharp cuts by DJ Docta. Flex, through bar-filled flows and with an ear-pleasing, mid-high frequency arioso tone, raps about his frustrations in facing obstacles to success as an artist. What rings through loud and clear though is not cynicism in Flex’s verse, but rather a passionate commitment to succeed (and with these kinds of lyrics, it’d be a damn shame if he doesn’t): “I’m so committed to living within an image of doing whatever’s fitting/ for me to be in position to give ‘em what they were missing.” Flex also speaks on a value that both he and Sha seem to hold dear to their art when he spits: “honestly is my honesty necessary to blow?/ is selling your soul the recipe? I was hoping it’s no.” It’s clear from listening to this is freeDUMB a few times that The Antiheroes are not willing to compromise their content or dumb-down their self-expressions in order to make music that may be more commercially viable or marketable to the masses. That’s not to say that this is freeDUMB isn’t commercially viable; if anything one of the reasons the quality of their work is so strong is that these artists don’t settle for less than raw authenticity in their music. On the same title track, Sha Prince (bringing a sharp delivery, and on-point intricate flows to the table) reflects on his own self-doubts and personal life choices, which he worries may contain an opportunity cost that doesn’t add up in his favour: “life – I never rush it/ I’m rolling with my punches/ maybe I slow it too much and now I’m running lunges” and “being a rap-star isn’t in my best interest.” Undoubtedly, Sha echoes the same hunger and passion in his verse as Flex does, firing off intense and ferocious flows: “in a verse, on a record, some may say he talk reckless/ but never give a damn, since a kid my mind rebellious/ and I eat these rappers’ lunch, dinner, breakfast on a tracklist/ only spitting two years, word almost perfected.” For a rapper only spitting for two years, Sha Prince displays a lot more talent and skill than many who have been in the game for a decade.
            Jon Dubbs supplies a rock-symphonic instrumental on the second track, Become Alive, complete with guitar riffs and violin melodies on the chorus. Flex and Sha articulate their internal conflicts on this track perhaps better than any other on the album. Sha Prince in particular, never a stranger to expressing brutally honest and at times even extreme thoughts on wax, goes in on his conflicting desires for wealth and material success in contradiction to staying true to his own values and principles: “living lavish was never my goal/ ‘till my hunger rose, belly ache, winter froze/ lights dim, looking at my situation inside impatient eyes/ temptation is now my best friend/ worst enemy, lord seek the remedy/ lead me on the right path before my body doesn’t breathe.” Sha’s erratic flows on this track excellently compliment the frantic nature of the opposing thoughts being vented on this track.

Circus Clowns (track #3), another engrossing production by MMac with DJ Docta cuts, is a poetically infused track in which The Antiheroes attack the rap scene which they perceive as becoming little more than a “circus of clowns.” Sha and Flex stake their claim as MCs to be reckoned with on this track and confidently announce their goal to elevate the standards of what is deemed to be acceptable, quality rap music (also check the remix on the album’s final track).

Fly (track #5) is an inspirational track with captivating samples by producer Jay Emess about finding motivation and self-empowerment by being grateful and focusing on living out dreams in order to elevate over current circumstances.

            There’s a slew of talented features on the album. Soulful songstress Tamsynn Lee blesses track #4, Masquerade, (as well as track #9, All Alone) which is a song that digs below the surface to reveal the underlying causes of unfortunate life circumstances that have become all too commonplace in the world. Prolific Durham Region rapper Daxflow makes an appearance on Everyday (track #6, produced by Beatwyze, DJ Docta again on the cuts) on which he vents his anger about his abusive, selfish, irresponsible absentee father, while Sha Prince speaks on the painful experiences of his past that he kept inside and Flex reveals that expressing himself via writing and rapping has been vital to his existence: “what’s living if I’m within a prison built up inside?/ if it wasn’t written, I’d never find a will to survive.” Everyday is an especially insightful track as each of the lyricists describe in their own way (whether explicitly or otherwise) how hip hop, via writing and rapping (i.e. being emcees), has given them the ability to stay sane and live productive, meaningful lives despite the trying circumstances they faced growing up. The Rebels (Listen Up) (track #7) is one of the heaviest hitting bangers on the album, thanks in part to the banging beat produced by up-and-coming Toronto producer RichKidd. This track is definitely an attention grabber (evident in the title of the track), with high-impact lyrics, punchy deliveries from both Sha and Flex, and complete with a feature from the always entertaining D-Sisive: “fuck you, your momma and your cousin too/ your momma’s gay husband’s uncle’s brother, and his cousin too” (yes D…you got our attention...).

Singer Emerson Brooks (recently signed to Atlantic Records) provides a unique hook on Where to Begin (track #12), a song about relationship troubles and past relationships. Kenny Cee, another skilled vocalist, sings the chorus on Given Up On Me (track #13), a track produced by Khz with a sample that sounds eerily similar to Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven. Flex and Sha Prince complement each other very elegantly on this track, with Flex delivering a calmer, more melodic verse with reflective and well contextualized lyrics about his past, whereas Sha raps with a much harsher tone and abrasive cadences, which match the animated and harsh content on his retrospective verse. Gospel-style R&B singer Mike Devine compliments track #16, Morning, with his passionate and ambient voice. The beat on this track, produced by Graffic, is probably the calmest and most laid-back beat on the album, which evidently doesn’t suit The Antiheroes style very well, unfortunately – both Sha and Flex sound a bit harsh over this track, which could have benefited either by them toning down their deliveries a bit or by a smoother vocal mixing by the engineer.
The Antiheroes give a vividly dispelling treatment to the dirty underbelly of the “Hollywood lifestyle” of entertainment on Hollywood (track #10), produced by triple-threat artist Relic. One of my personal favourites on the entire album (which is hard to say, given how dope the entire project is) is the track OJ Gloves (track #11). There’s something very serious and polished about Sha’s tone and delivery on this track, showing that even when he simplifies his flows he can still spit hard and impress with the best of them. Flex also comes correct and on point on OJ Gloves, at times with flows reminiscent of Big Pun (with a clearer voice and less laboured reathing). Lyrically, both emcees prove how bright they can shine in this song (albeit each in their own way), Sha with his clever vulgarity, “laughing, like my first name Freddy dude/ last name Kruger but filthier than a prostitute/ not on my level – never reach my altitude/ finger hurt from skipping your tracks like they was interludes,” and Flex with his intellectual superiority, “I take it some of you followers swallow what you were fed/ you wallow within your own – I’m stepping over your head.” Track #15, Of the Night, is definitely a hidden gem on this album, with The Antiheroes coming raw with flows that remind the listener of classic Planet Asia verses and lyrics that evoke the feelings of dark alleyways and late nights with shady characters in the wrong part of town. MMac again supplies an excellently produced instrumental for this song that evokes memories of Pharaohe Monch’s Internal Affairs album.
There’s an overarching sound on this is freeDUMB that can best be described as a romantic requiem in response to a dead and pure form of hip hop that has been lost over the years. In a broader context, there seems to be an undertone in the MCs words expressing a nostalgic eulogy to naïve dreams, desires, and values that, while not being abandoned, have had to be tempered and adapted to certain harsh realities they now face. Flex and Sha Prince are, for the most part, a very complementary pair of artists throughout the project. Flex endows The Antiheroes’ sound with a sense of stability in terms of rhyme pattern, flow structure, and smooth delivery while Sha Prince contributes unpredictability with intricate flows, harsher tones, and a gritty feel to his verses. After listening to each artists’ lyrical content, particularly their respective interludes (Flex on track #8 and Sha Prince on track #13), it seems that despite both of them coming from difficult childhood upbringings, Flex is a bit more at peace with his past that Sha is. The difference in the places on their life journeys between the two artists, while the divide doesn’t seem to be too big, makes for an interesting dichotomy throughout the project. It’s hard to fault either MC for anything; both of the rappers are technically almost perfect with their flows and their styles are well defined. To be nitpicky (and I am stretching for constructive criticisms here), Flex’s voice and presence on the tracks can at times sound a bit monotonous from song to song (despite switching up his flows and rhyme structures). Sha Prince, on the other hand, can occasionally go a bit far with the complexity of his flow structure, which can sometimes obstruct the vibe of the track. Most listeners may not put this album on repeat and listen to all the minute details and technical elements in the music, however I encourage them do so – if they are lovers of hip hop, they will be hard-pressed to find anything to give this album flack for. The Antiheroes have set the bar very high for themselves on their debut LP, and I hope that the world starts to take notice of the immense talent that is embedded on the wax (or plastic or digital encoding) of this is freeDUMB.

Friday, October 7, 2011

FÜBBtastic Documentaries (Recommended Viewing List)

The following documentaries have been CERTIFIED DOPE by MC FÜBB for their ability to convey compelling and powerful perspectives on what is going on in the world (in alphabetical order):

Bowling for Columbine
Bus 174
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
Deliver Us from Evil
Food, Inc.
Forks Over Knives
Inside Job
Man on Wire
Pray the Devil Back to Hell
Shake Hands with the Devil
Taxi to the Darkside
The Cove
The End of America

This list is being edited on an ongoing basis. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Angel

is a glorious angel.
It swoops down
with magnificent wings
and clasps a shrivelled old demon
between its strong, powerful arms;
a demon that is the world outside of verse.
It carries the demon to the edge of eternity
and back again.

The demon, still old,
feels young;
still shrivelled,
feels full of strength.
The powers of this angel
are boundless
and limited only by those
who don’t take the time
to visit it.

Though it is sometimes called poetry,
the angel has many names,
but prefers the name:

Left to our own devices,
some may never find the power
of this divine angel called
in this lifetime.
Then we start to become
the demons,
but we need not fear,
for the angel inevitably
finds us. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

FÜBBtastic Movies [Recommended Viewing List]

The following movies have been CERTIFIED DOPE by MC FÜBB (in alphabetical order, several start with "The"):

A Clockwork Orange
A History of Violence
A Nightmare on Elm Street
A Time to Kill
American Beauty
American History X
American Mary
Army of Darkness - Bruce Campbell, campiness, hilarity.
Antiviral - A look at futuristic society sickeningly obsessed with celebrities.
Audition (WARNING - extremely graphic/disturbing)
Austen Powers - International Man of Mystery
Bad Boy Bubby - Pretty messed up and disturbing at times, but overall unique and triumphant.
Batman Begins
Black Snake Moan
Black Swan
Blazing Saddles
Blood Diamond
Blue Velvet
Boiler Room
Casino Royale
City of God
Clean, Shaven - A unique tragedy portraying the life of a man suffering from schizophrenia.
Cold Fish
Contracted - This is a gross one.
Cool Runnings
Deliverance - Dueling banjos anyone?
District 9
Dogtooth (Kynodontas) - A well-made experiment in the absurd.
Donnie Darko
Do the Right Thing
Drag Me to Hell - Another fun horror offering from Sam Raimi.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Eastern Promises
Edward Scissorhands
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Evil Dead
Falling Down
Fight Club
Forrest Gump
Fruitvale Station
Full Metal Jacket
Gran Torino
Groundhog Day
Half Baked
Hotel Rwanda
Ichi the Killer (WARNING - extremely graphic/disturbing)
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Inglourious Basterds
I Saw the Devil - Pretty violent and bloody.
Jacob's Ladder
John Dies at the End - Low budget but good fun for the whole family!
Jug Face
Kill Bill Volume 1
Kill Bill Volume 2
Kill List - Good British thriller with a creeptacular twist ending.
King of New York
King of the Ants
Lake Mungo - Creepy mockumentary horror that left me feeling quite uneasy by the end.
Let Me In - Surprisingly great remake of "Let the Right One In."
Let the Right One In
Life of Pi
Little Children - Suburban dystopia, unfaithfulness, great acting.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Life is Beautiful
Meet the Parents
Men Behind the Sun (aka Squadron 731) (WARNING - extremely graphic/disturbing)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python's Life of Brian
Monty Python`s The Meaning of Life
Napolean Dynamite - "What are you drawing?" ... "A liger."
No Country for Old Men
Office Space
Old School
Pan's Labyrinth
Paths of Glory
Pet Sematary 
Requiem for a Dream
Poltergeist II: The Other Side - Mostly because of the creepy old man/poltergeist "Kane."
Pulp Fiction
Raging Bull
Red State
Resevoir Dogs
Rosemary`s Baby
Saving Private Ryan
Schindler's List
Seven (aka Se7en)
Sin City
Society - Mostly just weird and campy, but the ending makes it all worth it.
Spiderman 2
Star Trek
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Straw Dogs
Take Shelter
Taxi Driver
The Battery - A different kind of Zombie apocalypse movie; more about the relationship between the two main characters than anything else.
The Big Lebowski
The Client
The Constant Gardener
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight Rises
The Departed
The Devil's Backbone
The Evil Dead
The Evil Dead II
The Exorcist
The Fly
The Fugitive
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 
The Godfather
The Godfather Part II
The Hurt Locker
The Innkeepers
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (except for the super-long lame ending)
The Matrix
The NeverEnding Story - Word to Falcore!
The Pianist
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shining
The Silence of the Lambs - "Hello, Clarice..."
The Sixth Sense
The Skin I Live In - Antonio Banderas in a twisted psychological horror.
The Social Network
The Tenant
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Thing
The Town
The Usual Suspects
The Warriors
The Woman - A real sick movie this is.
Thirst - Good vampire movie.
Troll Hunter
V for Vendetta
Valhalla Rising - Eerie, atmospheric, visually engrossing, horrifically violent.
We Are What We Are - This is a remake; never saw the original but I read good stuff about it as well.
Welcome to the Dollhouse - It's like Napolean Dynamite, but before Napolean Dynamite, and probably a bit more awkward to watch.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
X-Men: First Class

This list is being edited on an ongoing basis. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment. If you'd like some commentary on why any of these films made the list, just ask!

FÜBBtastic TV Shows (Recommended Viewing List)

The following television shows have been CERTIFIED DOPE by MC FÜBB (in alphabetical order...a lot of them start with "The"):

American Horror Story
Band of Brothers
Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Dexter (At least up to the end of season 4)
Family Guy
Game of Thrones
Mad Men
Sons of Anarchy
Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Boondocks
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Pacific
The Simpsons
The Sopranos
The Walking Dead
The Wire
The X-Files

This list is being edited on an ongoing basis. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment.