Music is a part of my everyday routine. Every where I go and everything I do has a soundtrack. What’s important about this soundtrack is not just the music, but also the experiences that accompany it.
I actively search out new music several times per week. However the greatest joy is when great music finds me.
Very often I will be going about my normal day and I over hear a car at a light, or push shuffle on my computer. I’ll eat in a restaurant or chill with my daughters. I’ll practice bass guitar or roam the internet. During these activities a song will present itself and put a stamp on that experience. Creating a musical accompaniment for the moment.
It is proven that triggers to our senses can transport us back in time. Certain smells and tastes remind you of select times of your life. Music can do the same thing.
As a father of two incredible daughters, (Aaliyah and Lola) and the husband of the most special woman on the planet (Pilar Ramos). I know that they are experiencing life right along with me. All the music I hear, they hear, Everywhere I go they go. We are experiencing BEATS, TIMES, and LIFE together. I want to create new musical experiences that will build triggers to different times in our lives. Creating not only the playlist of a lifetime, but creating sustainable memories. so we can vividly remember the experiences that go along with it.
The content of this site will chronicle my experiences as a father, husband, DJ, and educator. All through the lens of a music lover. We will use the sound track of life to better understand the past and the present.
As parents we want our kids to see the best of us. We sacrifice desires, teach lessons from our own experiences and hold emotional weight for our children, because “Hov did that, so hopefully you won’t have to go through that. ……. We try to teach them the strategies we think will help make them successful, but we most definitely fall short. Toni Morrison’s “God Help the Child” speaks to this parental flaw. I wonder all the time, what are the things I have said and done that will stick in their memories, how will those memories affect their adult lives, and their decision making. I think Pilar and I are stand up parents, but no one knows what a child will hold onto as trauma.
“Bride” The main character is what Morrison calls blue-black , absolutely gorgeous and very dark skinned. Since birth her mother (A very light skinned woman) has scorned her beautiful hue, and was embarrassed to have birthed such a dark child. Her Father also light, denied even being the Father of such a dark baby, he left.
The emotional trauma of a parent leaving their child because of dark skin, something the child has no control over…. That’s life long pain. A Mother who was never proud and pushed the child away physically and emotionally, that lasts forever.
Bride grows up to be a successful entrepreneur, but flashbacks to earlier points in life give us insight to how childhood trauma affects her choices. The men she chooses, the friends she makes etc. Many of the other characters have similar issues with their parents, and the flashbacks to their childhoods show us the same thing. Events from our youth stick with us, and are triggered back to the front of our memories all the time, whether good or bad.
When it comes to parenting we are constantly tested. A simple directive is given and you get what my Mom would call a “Smart” answer. Now the question is, am I going to raise my voice “yell” about this? Loose my cool? Is that what I want them to do when they are upset? I have found that yelling and getting angry does nothing, except put stress on both parties. However every parent knows, sometimes they just don’t respond to “ Dear sweet child, will you please go brush your teeth” There are moments when you want to say “GET UP THERE AND BRUSH YOUR DAMN TEETH NOW! Or say something passive aggressive/sarcastic, also unhelpful.
No parent can be perfect, no child is going to make all the right decisions. What we can do is try to be better human beings every day. Think about the mistakes you made yesterday, analyze them, learn from them and try not to do that anymore. Sounds simple but we are complex beings, this takes work.
After a life of emotional rigamarole, Bride eventually becomes pregnant, her mother “Sweetness” offers this parenting anecdote. “If you think Mothering is all cooing and booties and diapers you’re in for a big shock” She is so right, I mean why does poop have to go all the way up their whole back like that, forcing you to change the whole onesie?! Ewww.
Parenting has its moments of loving bliss, but that’s not most of it, a lot of it is the day to day grind. Just like life, we have to be able to balance the monotony of the day to day, with the special times that make us melt. Doing our best to let the good times outweigh the bad. I felt this quote from Sweetness because as parents it is our duty to give our kids a great childhood and protect them from a dangerous world, especially now, when we talk about Covid, and BLM, and the History of America. It’s our duty to keep it real, while also protecting them from permanent trauma. I do want them to think the world is inherently good, even though I know it’s not. I want them to always have hope and positivity, even when the world won’t give that in return.
My goal is to do my best not to add to the current trauma. I know this time has been unbelievably challenging on all fronts. We have lost jobs, loved ones, dreams have been put on hold, relationships have been tested and injustice still runs rampant. However we are the adults, we are more emotionally equipped to handle the upheaval Covid has caused. Imagine the brain of a 6 year old trying to grasp being in school one day then not being able to go to school and see their friends for months. Why are people marching in the street? Why are people on top of Police cars? Why are the Police killing us? This is epic, global history, they are bound to react in emotional ways that test us as caregivers.
It is a dark time but we can still shine like the sun. That massive star keeps us warm from millions of miles away, and we are here on earth right next to our kids. The things we say to them and the actions we take matter, that split second of unjustified anger could affect them into adulthood. So, hugs, kisses, positive energy and fun games to keep them happy. These kids have lived in 2020, they know life isn’t all roses. Hopefully when they have their own kids we won’t have to say “God Help the Child”
As a DJ it’s a natural progression to want to make your own music. I’ve been working on my production game for about 10 years now. Only now do I feel like I am starting to really get this art form, and what it takes to create music from scratch.
I have spent many years listening and paying attention to how certain sounds and rhythms make me feel.
I spent years practicing instruments so I can play the sounds I feel each track needs.
I put countless hours into investigating far reaching genres of music and deciding which elements I want to incorporate in my own music. So as a producer this is what I’m aiming for… I am not there yet, but what can you do with out a plan right?
Second Line Drumming- Rolling 16th on the snare with a 3/2 in the Kick.
Funk Bass Like Bootsy Collins and George Porter Jr. – mixed with the harmonic diversity of say a Chuck Rainey or Jaco.
Piano – Accents and rhythm like James P. Johnson
Horns- Learn to arrange like Fred Wesley
Guitar- Rhythm guitar like “My wheels they are slipping” Little Richard
Scratching- Lots of short phrase stabs with the funk of Preemo and cleanliness of DJ Melo-D
Clearly this is my dream, and I am no where near this yet, I will be one day. Below is some of my best work so far. Listen as the beat goes on and on.
Sometimes two records were meant to meet each other. This Big L Flamboyant instrumental and NORE a cappella melded together this morning. What I really love is how the beat totally changes the feel of the Nore track. The original is so rugged, but this smooths it out, creating a whole different vibe. Oh yeah, just for fun I added “It’s funky enough” by the DOC to the end. When you play with music, you never know what new creations will enter the universe.
Trevor Noah took over for Jon Stewart as the host of The Daily Show in 2017. Noah was replacing a beloved giant of comedy. The Daily Show and Jon Stewart pretty much invented the news satire show, and the list of accolades was extensive. Stewart is a legend, and was ingenious on The Daily Show for decades, so Noah had huge shoes to fill. I think he has been doing an amazing job. Not only with the Daily Show, but his stand up specials are smart, funny and relatable. His books are hilarious, full of history and thought provoking stories that will force you to re tell them to your friends.
Recently a friend gave me Trevor Noah’s memoir “Born a Crime” The title refers to the fact that interracial marriage and Interracial sex were both illegal in South Africa when he was growing up. His Mother is South African, and his father is Swedish, so his very existence as a human was illegal. With this illegality as the foundation Noah tells the story of a “Colored” kid growing up under the vicious rule of apartheid.
If you like learning and understanding cultures, read this book. The stories are both vivid, and dark, fun and horrifying. I learned so much about the true structure of South Africa before and after Apartheid, and how it really wasn’t too much different from these here United States.
His relationship with his mother and the comedic delivery he offers when telling their stories is priceless. I mean I was laughing out loud a lot. From family issues, to dating, to burning peoples homes down, to being a DJ with a dancer named HITLER, and of course being a child of mixed race in a country where that was completely unacceptable. He touches all these topics with a grace and humor that transforms the disgusting (racism under apartheid) into a delightful experience.
I really respected the fact that he did not write at all about his current success, it’s story of childhood, and in my opinion how that childhood lays a foundation for the person you will be come. The trials of his childhood in South Africa are what lead to his success. Read it! Or listen to the audio book (Hearing him read and tell the stories with a professional comedic delivery will be awesome).
Beats- Anderson Paak – Ventura
Anderson Paak has been putting out high quality music for a minute now, as a solo artist and one half of NXWorries. Paak and his band the Free Nationals are true musicians, who create a dynamic level of timbre with their instrumentation. It is just so full of color and texture, not something you hear very often in new music.
I have enjoyed all of his albums from O.B E. Vol I as (Breezy Lovejoy) , to Malibu, Venice and Oxnard, but Ventura …….man its my shizzzzz for real. I can let the whole album run, no skipping, and play it over and over again. It just suits my ears.
I love this music because it encompasses so many styles I love. it’s soul music with boom bap drums, Jazz harmony and Motown arrangements. It’s Gospel feeling, and blues story telling all wrapped up into a super fresh modern sound. I highly recommend his entire discography but VENTURA…. YES , pick it up, pick it up (Redman) It’s worth buying the whole album.
Of Mics and Men– Wu Tang Documentary directed by Sacha Jenkins (Mass Appeal)
“The game of chess is like a sword fight, you must think first before you move” This quote from Enter the 36 Chambers perfectly sums up what The RZA and the Wu Tang Clan have done since 1993. Putting real thought and effort into creating timeless music, and then playing the business strategy the right way.
Raekwon said they didn’t get into rapping just to get in and get out. They were about longevity, and taking care of their families for generations. They succeeded, Wu- Tang is timeless and for the children. Wu Tang feeds families and it feeds souls. Not only were they a foundational group of my youth, but they continue to be relevant and shine for Hip Hop culture in 2019.
This is a great documentary series filled with Beats and Bars, but more importantly…. Humanity. Where Sacha Jenkins and the Mass Appeal team succeeded was in showing that the Wu- Tang clan is made up of 9 MEN. 9 MEN who are talented rappers and producers yes, but men who have lived through the struggle of being black in America. 9 MEN who have stepped over the odds to become one of the most well known musical acts in the world. 9 MEN who have used lessons from past to make better decisions today. 9 who men who brought the RUCKUS and never let the PUBLICiTY take away from their TRIUMPH. Of Mics and Menis featured on Showtime right now. Check it out.
I was not expecting the band to kick in with all that jazz at the start. Give yourself 17 minutes to check this out. She flows with meaning. You learn about her as she and the TSA Band take you on a musical journey.
This is a mix of new Hip Hop with 90’s sensibilities. I have heard so many people say “There is no more good Hip Hop” Yes there is! It is not in the mainstream, but if you search for it, you will find some amazing new music out there. Hip Hop with Soulful, boom bap beats, and lyrics that are skillfully delivered still exists. Here is vol I of THAT NEW BOOM BAP!
Hope you enjoy!
Solid Wall of Sound- A Tribe Called Quest
Jump- Lupe Fiasco
Logic- Weed Dreams (Ft. Olu)
Every Ghetto- Talib Kweli ft Rhapsody
Cuz I’m Black (This is America) – Frank Nitt ft. Kaleb Simmonds
Cuffin Season- Jericho Jackson
Don’t Spoil It- Czarface
Pastor Tigolo- Phonte
Big Fries- MC Whiteowl
Nineteen Seventy Something- Masta Ace
9th vs. Thought- Black Thought
Skilled in the trade- 12 Hunndose
89 Swing- Mazzi & Soul Purpose ft. Ivory Poison and Rob Flow
Three times last week in small talk conversations with complete strangers the topic somehow got to “Are we going to make it, like as humans” or some sort of talk of the apocalypse. This is funny because I just finished The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. This is the story of a girl named Lauren who is living in a L.A. after the collapse of all government systems. The Police and Fire department are no longer a public service. Water is scarce and extremely expensive.There is a new drug that makes people set fires, being armed is an absolute necessity, and you just might find a corpse as you go about your day.
Comparatively, after I finished the book I began listening to an album by Del. The album is entitled Deltron 3030. Deltron and producers Dan the Automator and Kid Koala take us into a post apocalyptic world that is “morbid and horrid” A spaced out Hip Hop journey, complete with intergalactic rap battles, deadly computer viruses, and cyber warlords who terrorize humanity with weaponized computers.
Butler and Del both paint a picture that is unfortunately all to real. They create a landscape that is part Boyz n the Hood, part Armageddon andpart Mobb Deep Hell on Earth with biblical foundations.
This familiar but chaotic landscape reminds me a lot of 2019. In both of these pieces all of the same issues we are dealing with as humans on Earth have now reached a boiling point. Sea levels are rising, entire pieces of land mass are falling into the sea. Climate Change, random acts of violence, terrorism and government corruption are all vividly brought to life by Butler and Deltron. In Both Deltron 3030 and Parable income inequality, and corporate greed have destroyed humanity. You must travel in groups, and trust no one. I don’t think 2019 is that bad yet, but we are not far from the time Butler envisions.
Parable of the Sower takes place from 2024 -2027 only 5 years from now. There are glimpses of a world that we recognize, especially in Parable. For example there is an election happening in 2024. The front runner is a racist candidate who will set humanity back 100 years. If elected, sound familiar?
In Deltron’s world corporate greed has created a permanent underclass, and Hip Hop has turned into a propaganda tool. This r really struck accord with me because………it’s reality. The vision of Automator and Del to create a concept album that predicted the times is nothing short of incredible. The album was released in 2000 long before we had 45, long before computers tracked your every movement in the hopes to sell you those boots you looked up. Long before AI, and before we were truly focused on Global warming. Yet all these topics are touched on in 3030 with Hip Hop sensibilities.
All this talk of Apocalypse and Global Warming, Terrorism, and gun violence makes it difficult to stay positive. I usually end the global warming convo with something like. It’s to far gone anyway, “bags and bulbs” are nice but the damage is done. People our age will make it, maybe our kids kids will be ok. After that there will start being climate refugees. Once people start leaving their home land looking for water and bearable weather, humanity will shift. However both Del and Butler give us hope.
The main character Lauren does a lot tot “keep hope alive” Lauren has “hyper empathy” syndrome. This means that she can physically feel the emotions of others, good or bad. She can feel the joy along with her friends, but also actually feel their pain as they go through difficult times. It is this empathy that drives her to create her own spiritual following which she calls “Earthseed”. Earthseed is based on the principle that this earth we are on now is only the “seed” of what humanity can be. We can grow to be much greater, but not on this earth. Earthseed followers will eventually settle on another planet where love and empathy win out.
Deltron also gives us a glimmer of a better day. On a track called “Updrade ( A Baymar college course). Del tells us to “Upgrade your grey matter, cause one day it may matter” This is a play on the “grey matter” inside of our brains. Grey Matter are cells that make up the cortex of our brain. They have a lot to do with thinking, and our thought processes. Del is saying that knowledge and having the most up to date grey matter is the only way to “Dwarf the Corporate” and be in control of your own life in 3030. We live in a time of Anti-Intellectualism, and as a result people are reading less, and in turn not learning anything. You heard it from Del…. Upgrade your grey matter, cause one day it may matter”
Empathy and upgrading our processors (brains) to help save humanity? I think Butler and Deltron both have it right. The combination of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes (empathy) and then taking the time to actually learn about the person in those shoes, where they come from, what their culture is really like. (upgrading your grey matter). This two small actions can make a huge difference.
Busta Rhymes said it in 1995 (The Coming) and I am saying it now “There’s only five years left” Busta was talking about the y2k but Parable takes place in 2024, and we are way past 1984. We must find a way to unite humanity on a global scale. Not to save America, but to save the whole world. America will not matter when the glaciers fully melt, America won’t matter if it continues to lose sight of its founding principles due to ignorance and fear. So please let’s use these two great pieces of art to Upgrade our grey matter and help the WHOOLE WOOORLD! (Killer MIke)
I have to say, I love connections like this that run in between styles and mediums. So this was really fun to write. Deltron got bumped front to back at least six times during this process.