Happy to see you again.




Waiting for the bus to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

(Musical Time Stamp)  Happy to see you by – Graham Central Station


It is 7:42 pm. Lola is still giving a few 10 second spurts of crying. I can understand it. She had a great day and refuses to give up on it. Aaliyah passed out with her hand in a bag of gummies at about 7.  We really went hard today, and had a great time doing it. Playgrounds, museums, movies, snacks, limp body tantrums, lots of fun and an overwhelming amount of love.

There was a 4 or 5 month period after Lola was born where on Mondays and Tuesdays I had both Aaliyah and Lola for the whole day. 6 am till 6pm. It was no joke, and I am glad Aaliyah now has  school everyday. For her sake, and my own sanity.

When I think back on it though,  I loved every minute of it. Today was a great reminder of how blessed I am.

The three of us were really  happy to be reliving one of those epic days together. Aaliyah and Lola were exuding joy being around each other all day. Random hugs occurred fairly often, and the vibes were just good. We laughed and enjoyed being together and with friends.

Time Stamps and activities

Pilar went to Oakland early this morning for a work trip. So I had a few hours with the girls at home in the morning. We danced to this.


Cuban Jam Session- Pamparana

This series of Cuban Jam Sessions was a favorite of her father Paul. These records were passed down to us, so we have to keep this music present in our lives.


930 am- Playground (Soaking wet playground equipment, but we were 30 min early for the museum and had to kill time)

IMG_6148 Lola’s first time trying the big kid swing. 

10:00 am- Met Casey and her daughter Zola as well as Jeannine and her daughter Jordan at the Children’s museum. We were separated most of the time, but got together long enough to snap this group photo.

This is our crew! We missed Chantille today though.
Aaliayh’s picture of her whole family.
Peep the style though!

IMG_6202  Post museum photo shoot.

1:00 pm- Lola went down for a nap. Aaliyah and I took this opportunity to watch Shrek. It may seem hard to believe, but that was first time I had ever seen the movie. It was pretty good, Aaliyah and I sat together eating snacks just chilling till Lola woke up.

3:00- Shane and Sekou came over and we went to playground again. Aaliyah, Lola and Sekou basically sprinted the entire way there, then ran around and climbed and slid, and swung until it got dark.

They missed each other.



5:00- Dinner and Chill time.

As soon as we got back I made a quick dinner  playlist.

I wanted to start with Life is just a moment, so you better enjoy it.


Life is just a moment- Roy Ayers

Bomdigi- Eric Sermon

Bonita AppleBum (2015) Pharrell Williams edit

Number One- Tuxedo

Pitch in on a Party- DJ Quick

Shaft in Africa- Johnny Pete

Viva Tirado- Gerald Wilson

Che Che makossa- Willie Colon

Don’t make me beg – Soul Notes

Kossa- DJ Day


Now its 8:33,  and Excuse me miss just came on. I forgot about this song. Nice laid back groove for the evening.   Go ahead and play it. This is a Neptune’s produced track. To learn more about the Neptune’s check out SPY MOB they are the backing band for N.E.R.D

Excuse me Miss- Jay-Z and Pharrell.


Spy Mob! Check em out.


Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed the music and the memories.





The power of the “MANY”



Higher Ground (Beat Junkies edit) – Stevie Wonder


The student body at the University of Missouri just did something historic. Through protests, hunger strikes, and the football team refusing to practice or play, they effected some real change. They ousted the president of the university Tim Wolfe for his lack of action in the face of consistent racial turmoil on campus.

Racial incidents had been brewing on campus for months. The student body president was called a racial slur while walking on campus. Also a group of Black students were called “niggers” while rehearsing for a performance.

Nothing was done by campus security who witnessed the incidents. The student body was not satisfied with the universities response or investigation of these hates crimes. Finally a swastika painted with human feces was put up on a dorm wall.

I have been a student athlete, and felt racial divides between my teammates. I am a black man in America, I feel that divide as well. So I relate to this story. I made the mistake of reading comments on the bottom of several articles on this situation. Let’s just say people are still extremely racist.  Sometimes it feel likes the ignorance is to engrained to be overcome. images

Today the power of “many” won.

The “many” students who came together to denounce these hateful actions were the main cause of  Tim Wolfe’s swift removal. The “many” showed that sports can bring people together, even in the face of a national climate that is teeming with racially explosive incidents.

The “many” even showed that the athletes when joined together have some power of a massive entity like the NCAA.

The power of “money” also had a lot to do with this. College game day is a huge money maker. The amount of money that would have been lost by canceling the game was in the millions with tickets, concessions, food and beverage sales,  Jerseys etc. Canceling the game would have been a huge loss. The student body created the situation that  forced the hand of the administration.`

This is a real glimmer of hope, that could make it easier for people to take action against injustice.  For a Division I football players on scholarship to put social issues,  morals, and what is right above football is nothing short of amazing. I have been a division I athlete. Sports comes first, you are on scholarship and if you breach that contract they can take that scholarship away.  So big ups to the players who stood for what was right, looking past the consequences that could have been  incurred.

ht_gary_pinkel_university_of_missouri_mt_151108_12x5_1600 (This is a photo tweeted by Head football coach Gary Pinkel) players banding together

Big ups to Coach Gary Pinkel. He stood by his players. He didn’t try and threaten their scholarships or playing time. He also knew what was right, and now stands on the right side of history. Let us not forget that this is the same coach and team that knew Michael Sam was gay, supported him completely and helped usher in a new era of civil rights in major sports.


Big ups to the Legion of Black Collegians for organizing and to Jonathan Butler for his hunger strike. The combination of the athletes, grad students, and student unions is what helped to make this historic event occur. They banded together under one cause, and they won.

Rarely do you see NCAA athletes or students in general win over the university establishment.

This is a day to remember that even though we love sports in America, it cannot come before the civil rights of our citizens.

Unknown-4 Unknown-5

Remember Muhammad Ali today. He gave up being a champion at the peak of his career because he did not believe in the Vietnam war. His sport was important to him, but his beliefs came first.  He faced the consequences of his actions , but he too came out on the right side of history. Some supported what he did, others bashed him as a communist.

There will be those who stand in judgment of the students on Missouri campus and what they did. I’ll never truly understand why any one would disagree with peaceful protests that end with real change, but hey. When people of color gain power and wield it to spur change, this can be scary for some.

People of color in America will always have to deal with some kind of discrimination. It is never going away.

What we can do is use the recent events at the University of Missouri as a catalyst. A catalyst to support and use THE POWER OF MANY to bring about change, no matter what the issue.

This is a day I am very thankful for.



Musical Time Stamps. A few protest songs to remember this day by.


Fight the Power- Public Enemy

A classic protest record. Plus it has the funky drummer on it.




D’Angelo- The Charade


Kendrick Lamar- Alright


Wheels on the bus of life


Today I went into Aaliyah and Lola’s class to read and play some bass. I’ll say first that we love their school. All the teachers are wonderful people who truly love the kids. Aaliyah comes home so excited about what she has been learning daily.

Aaliyah has been asking me to read a book to her class during breakfast time. So today I went it and read The Wheels on the Bus. It is a familiar story, you sing about all the people and activities on the bus, and these things go on “all over town”  As I read the kids ate waffles and sang with their mouths full. Ms. Shaquam and Ms. Tawanna (Aaliyah’s) teachers sang a long as well.

As I finished reading, I suggested they all get out shakers and tambourines. They all got instruments and we began a pretty official sing along.

IMG_5983– click for video of class sing along.

Now this was my first time ever playing the bass and singing at the same time in front of people. It went pretty well. I played through a 12 bar boogie boogie style blues, then went into The Wheels on the Bus. The kids loved it, and it made Aaliyah so happy. I got the tightest longest hug ever after we finished.

I started playing the bass, so that I could teach the girls music. I want to have a family band, and have playing together be a huge part of our lives. Music brings people together. Today I got a little closer to my kids, their classmates and teachers.

That is the stuff that really matters



I went in to play and read today because I love my children. I did it all “From the Love side”

(Hank Ballard is one of the earliest influences on the music of James Brown. When you listen to this song, you can hear the similarities.)


Hank Ballard- From the Love side


Is it possible to make up your own mind?

We are saturated with advertisements, reviews, polls, pundits. Our peripheral is always being bombarded with information, telling us what to think, what to buy, what is good. Before we can decide if we actually like something, we read several reviews of what other people think first. What this means is that we almost never get to approach anything new in life with a clean slate of WHAT WE ACTUALLY THINK!

It ok to like what you like! Say it, I like it like that!


I like it like that- Pete Rodriguez

No matter what, we take into account what we have heard, or read, or the headline that we saw in passing. It is very difficult to separate your opinion these messages. Hype is a beast. When Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp A Butterfly was leaked, it came out to unbelievable praise. There were album of the year cries almost immediately.

I actually did not get to listen to it until about a week after its official release. That is seven days of Facebook, twitter, and Instagram posts, seven days of opening up streaming browsers with it prominently featured. Overhearing conversations, hearing it on the radio, essentially you are hearing that it is a great album all around. Which it is, but based upon everything I heard about it. I had preconceived notions about what to expect before I even got to hear it for myself.

I do genuinely love the album. Sonically it is everything I would like to hear. It’s Hip hop, jazz, funk, soul, spoken word all wrapped up in  the anger of oppressed youth.  It is also extremely honest and challenging mentally. I would say it is for deep close listening and absorption. Not for background enjoyment.


Kendrick Lamar- King Kunta

After Good Kid M.A.A.D City killed the game in 2012, To Pimp a Butterfly was a highly anticipated release. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pull the cellophane off of an album that you are looking forward to hearing, play it and decide for yourself if it’s fire. Without having someone else tell it sucks or that it is amazing.

Modern listening does not even allow the average listener to really choose what they want to hear. Streaming services tell you what they think you should hear as soon as you open the application. There is a top 10 waiting for you, a list of WHATS’ HOT! Even if its only luke warm. However if you hear it 20 times a day, and Funk flex tells you its hot, the message starts to seep into your psyche. They have decided for you.

As a working DJ I can tell that most people use these lists as a guide for what to listen to. All the requests are the same as what is on the hot 97 or you tube, or spotify top 40.

As an experiment for yourself. Buy a new album legally. Try not to read any reviews on it, or ask any one about. Just put it on, play it and judge for yourself. Ask your self.

Does it sound good?

Does it feel good?

If you listen and answer yes, then it’s good. No matter the genre, or release date.

Do the same experiment with a movie. Just pick a movie and watch it. Don’t read the blurb, don’t look at how many stars. Just  watch it, and decide for yourself if you like it.

It is difficult to go against the grain. When something is very popular and “trending” to say you don’t like it can ostracize you. Do the best you can be true to what you really feel.

Wether it is music, or books or movies. You don’t have to follow the trend. You get decide what you like, and how it makes you feel.

Just because you do not like something does not mean you are a hater. It’s ok to make choices on a case by case basis.

“If I don’t like it I don’t like, that don’t mean that I’m hating”. – Common (The 6th Sense)




Listen and decide for yourself.

I was inspired to write this piece based up two articles that came out this week.

Complex-  http://www.complex.com/music/2015/11/kendrick-lamar-to-pimp-a-butterfly-overwhelming-blackness

The above article discusses how it became faux pas to say that you don’t like everything about Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly. I don’t agree with the overall message, especially when he questions why Kendrick would make a spoken word, funk jazz album in 2015. (Because he doing something different, and that is what we need) However, it did make me think about how the bandwagon of an album or artist gets going, then all of a sudden he/she is gods gift.


2 dope boyz


The above article is a rebuttal to the piece from Complex, but also a critique modern music journalism. I must say I agree with the overall message of the 2 dope boyz piece more.


Of course we have some beats to accompany.

Life is just a moment, so you better enjoy it.



Roy Ayers- Life is just a moment



Alabama Shakes- Don’t Wanna Fight  (No reason to be conflicted and fight within yourself, listen and decide)


Welcome to Beats, Times and Life


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.

So welcome! This is going to be a fun journey.


Right now we have two theme songs

Music is my Sanctuary- Gary Bartz




Music is my way of life – Patti Labelle


Listen close you’ll hear what I’m about “Jay-Z”