Pen Point: All Over The Map. ( P. 2)

There is no place like Home.

It’s Monday April 25th, 2011… And I’m suffering from a cold case of jet lag.

Last Monday, I wrote a blog about my adventures on the East Coast- and then I didn’t touch another computer for a week straight.

….now it’s Monday, again… last week was a blur- thank goodness for twitter and camera phones…

Monday night as I rode into Washington:

tweets:

“That DC skyline is awesome”.

… I spent Tuesday running around Washington DC…

tweets:

“Electrical house fire on 6th and H in NE DC. All residents were safely evacuated.”

“… Say a prayer for the elder lady and her grandson …”

“Real men don’t cry … They get chocked up.”

6th & Hst in North East Washington DC. House on fire, all occupants were safe.

(… And then I searched for my long lost notebooks…)

“From the time I was 12-22 I filled 31 journals w/ words, they’re all in Geoffery’s room in Drew Hall … I’m on a mission to get my shit.”

“My notebooks have been signed, sealed, and are now being delivered back to Oakland.”

“…Sitting in Drew Hall … Reminiscing.”

“Over the weekend, I bumped n2 a young homie who told me, “thank you for seeing the big picture.” (in reference 2my approach to being a RA)”

“… I learned more from the younger homies, than they learned from me …”

“Weed smokers are late for everything … except for 4-20 .”

“Seek knowledge. Crack jokes. Eat pizza. #college.”

…Washington DC Wednesday, April 20th….

capoeira on Howard's campus
J. Cox. in the Dojo.

tweets:

“Do yall remember what happened last 4-20? … I do. Four words: Gulf coast oil spill.”

“Modulating”

“Spread love.”

“having fun”

…New York for the weekend…

Pics

Uncle Smokey and his newest grand baby
Central Park
Harlem, USA.
I spy: "Get God"

Tweets:

“New Jersey turnpike… Word to Assata Shakur.”

” *Kicks in the door, waives the 4-4*.”

“….sitting in a park in midtown Manhattan …. Feeding the birds. Word to the spooky lady on Home Alone 2.”

“At a park in Bed-Stuy, chopping game about life with my bru Justin… I’ve known bru since I was 5…life is good.”

“Lost in new york… Again.”

“…At a diner somewhere on the lower east side…dolo. Drinking coffee.”

“Being in love with one person > being loved by a lot of people.”

” This is the time of day that you’re supposed to be thinking about life…”

“As I stare into my swirling 3rd round of coffee, my critical thoughts about life are interrupted by a certain Rihanna song stuck in my head.”

 “Every time I come to NY, I get lost… Yet somehow, I never lose.”

… One last night in Washington DC…

tweets ( only 1): “I just saw a real streaker. #6wordstory .”

Washington, DC. U st. CVS Parking Lot. Late night... backdrops are provided for those who want flick it up with the posse... ( I took this pic over the shoulder)

…As I made my way to the airport on Sunday afternoon I fired off a number of tweets, but these two stuck with me…

tweets: “… The greatest stories are “love” stories…hands down. But without the “coming of age” story, you can’t have the love story.”

“( I reference “Love and Basketball” and ” The Lion King” as examples of that last tweet.)”

… In Conclusion …

about friends: They say, don’t burn bridges… I say: don’t even let them grow cobwebs…

about love: Seek knowledge, love will eventually come.

about life: leave me alone to my vices and my crafts, and I can never be mad.

Ashley Christina Reid. RIP.

Peace.

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From One Drum.

“How many different drum patterns do you think there are?”,  A talented producer and good friend, Jamon Dru of “The Whole Shabang” production team once asked me; I still don’t have an answer…

Jamon Dru isn’t the person you’d find burning incense, studying books on Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, and playing a Congo while ironing his Kente cloth. Actually, your more likely to catch him producing tracks for the Bay Area’s top artist. He has produced tracks for D. Lo, Beeda Weeda, and many others; recently he composed the beat for the Messy Marv track “7 seconds flat“. And even though Jamon Dru makes beats for West Coast gangsta rap, I’d bet my favorite dashiki, that even he would agree: no matter how many different drum patterns there are, they all tell a story- a story of the African Diaspora.

On the other side of the African Diaspora is talented artist and good friend, Messiah Ramkissoon of “Royal Alliance Music Group”.  The Trinidadian artist, with the Brooklyn background and Howard University education, is a true word smith. And it shows in his craft. The highlight of his resume: 3-time Apollo winner. But this isn’t about the accolades, this is about the African Diaspora connecting through one drum. Messiah recently did a song which was crowned the winner of the Sudanese’s government’s political action competition in effort to get citizens to participate in voting in the first Democratic election in 24 years.

Messiah worked with Cheb YaCine , Al-SadProxy, Langa and video producer Nas Jota, as emcees from the states to Sudan came together for this political track titled B Sotoka (With Your Vote).

The intercontinental connection between artist within the African Diaspora is nothing new. The collaborative efforts between the Washingtonian emcee with Nigerian lineage we know as Wale, and the Somalian spitter they call K’naan has been a breath of fresh air. Wale and K’naan have done shows together, and the duo also have two collaborative songs, ” TV on The Radio” and “Um Ricka“, both songs are more than worth the listen.

Speaking of “worth the listen”, a small portion of the world is awaiting the May 18th release of the “Distant Relatives” project by Queens, NY artist Nasir “Nas” Jones, and one of the heirs to the Marley throne out of Trenchtown, Damian Marley. The highly anticipated Nas and Damien Marley album are both examples of the musical connection taking place in the African Diaspora in current popular music. Here is a dope interview by Hard Knock TV on the “Distant Relatives” project.

I listened to the tracks by Messiah, K’Naan, J-Stalin, and Damian Marley over and over, trying to answer the initial question posed to me Jamon Dru. I figured four different artists from different parts of the world would have different sounding drums. That thought didn’t last too long… not only do the drums sound alike, but the subject matter is identical : guns, drugs, jail, war, capitalism, AIDS, and the concept of “race” are just a few things that are ever-present in the African Diaspora.

In the end, Jamon Dru’s question was probably a joke or a riddle… there is infinite number of possible drum patterns… but there is no doubt that they all tell 1 story: the story of the African diaspora.

Ring Leaders

She looked dead in the camera and asked, “if these guys are going around the country talking about manhood…why aren’t any of them married?”

I was in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. It was muggy June night. June 14th, the day before Tupac’s birthday, and father’s day… I wonder which one is more readily celebrated in the Black community?…but, I digress…

I was in New York; a trip sponsored by the 21st Century Foundation’s initiative to alter the image of Black men in the media, “The 2025 campaign for Black Men and Boys“. We sat in conferences and workshops, we networked and cracked jokes, and above all…I documented the entire experience.

The conference was full of males: elder men with stories longer than their grey locks,young boys cut from a cloth that was newer than their suites, and I was there with a camera.

I met Kevin Powell. He was the figurehead, leader, and prime speaker for the conference. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a small dinner party with him and a handful of others. During the dinner party- I got antsy and decided to go outside. While outside, I good piece of advice from my mentor Cheo Tyehimba Taylor kicked in: this conference is all male- why not get some female perspective on manhood?

I saw this group of ladies. funny enough, when I initially accosted them, they brushed me completely. They thought I was trying to “holler” at them. But once they saw my approach was genuinely for journalism reasons, the conversation rolled…

And after all of the insightful input, they still inquired about attending the dinner party- trying to meet Kevin Powell…

But, the points made were thought provoking…how can you speak on the topic of manhood when you are not fully experienced in all manhood has to offer?

I think about this when I look at male leaders- namely politicians, business men, and members of the religious realm.

I almost always notice if a man has a ring on his left hand or not. Maybe a judgement on my part, but I cant help but thinking there is a correlation between a man who can uphold a solid union between he and his female counterpart, and a man upholding his position in society. After all, the family is the microcosm of society. family is the first society. If you cannot govern a family, how will you govern a people?

I bring this all to a forefront today, February 21st, 2010…45 years after the assassination of Malcolm X. The man.

In “man-hood circles”, Malcolm’s constant growth and development signified a man who was forever becoming greater. forever growing.They say manhood is a journey, and Malcolm X’s trials and tribulations symbolize that journey to a tee.

But a part that is often overlooked, and the part that inspires me to write this piece, was his relationship with his wife, the late Mrs. Betty Shabazz.

She was in his corner. She was his inspiration to move forward, comfortably; for he knew she would have his back. While Malcolm toured the Nation speaking and leading, and later toured the world reading and thinking, she did much of the rearing of the children.Malcolm and Betty...and 2 of three children

All day, my mind has been with Malcolm X; I have been watching youtube clips of Malcolm X, I have been posting quotes from Malcolm X on twitter, I have been reading random excerpts from his Autobiography… Today is Malcolm X day.

And even with all of my research, the most profound quote from, about, or having anything to do with Malcolm X is this….

“I loved him, he loved his people” – Betty Shabazz.

Rest in Peace Malcolm X

Rest in Peace Betty Shabazz

…this is just my train of thought…

Peace.