Loyalty And Hip-Hop.

hip hop
hip hop
First grade: I had the fade with the duck tail. I was a “sporty” kid… and I had never wanted any ball, toy, or article of clothing as bad as I wanted this… So I stole it.
I left out of the Sam Goody Record store with a genuine Crest Kid smile:
Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony’s “E. 1999” ontape was mine!!!
… at that moment- I became loyal to Hip-Hop.
That was my pledge. I committed a crime in the name of Hip-Hop. I would later admit this  story to a college friend, and the homie replied: “It’s not gangster rap-unless you steal it, bro.”
I appreciate certain aspects of the industry, but I live for the culture.
  • The dancing at the bus stop while awaiting that late night bus cause you’re coming from that 1 chick’s house cross town…
  • Making beats on the wooden desk in the back of my algebra classroom with a pencil and a hair brush…
  • Freestyle sessions in the backseat of a smokey Buick in the middle of the hood- in the middle of the day- sweating bullets cause i’m the smallest and they made me sit in the middle seat. No one would open the door. No one wanted to break the flow…
We’re all loyal to Hip-Hop… to some extent.
Hip-Hop has a hold on America. It’s everywhere. I once wondered if the popularization of the art form would water it down… no…The popularization created a polarization: underground vs. mainstream.
 like water and oil- it … Both flow… They just have a different feel/ texture.
Jeff Chang’s “Can’t Stop, Won’t stop”, put a lot Hip-Hop’s influence on modern America into perspective for me; a great read for any loyal Hip-Hop head.
I’m loyal to hip hop.
And Hip-Hop is loyal to me.
When I’m experiencing women troubles (or “I don’t have a woman-troubles” ) I listen to Devin The Dude.
When I want to change the world ( Or just accept that im just another nigga in this world) I listen to 2Pac.
When I want to feel like an intellectual urban-ite I listen to Nas.
When I awake, I listen to Big K.R.I.T. … When I go to sleep, I listen to Curren$y.
When I reminisce about growing up in Oakland- I play hyphy music…
When I want to get away from Oakland- I listen to mid-90’s east coast gangster rap.
When I think of loyalty, I think of what has been there for me…
Family, friends, and even my sense confidence  sometimes escape me in my darkest hour.
But even when the batteries stop working on the Walkman or the faulty internet connection isn’t letting me download the newest mixtape… There’s always a Hip-Hop song playing in my head… My heart is a beat machine.
On a loyal note.. Today is Hip-Hop’s birthday… Happy Birthday Hip-Hop.
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Black Eagle

Black Eagle

 

Black Eagle.

Talons. Talents. Fly brotha.

Stylish. Eyes of a pen point writer. pilot.

Writing in the sky reads: follow my lead…

My screech. My battle scream. I hunt snakes & mice with sight so precise.

I take flight- clear the scene…

A feather dipped in black ink is the only thing that I leave.

 

Blog.

How ingenious is that? this blog- is called “blog.” and not only that … but the first line of this blog- is about the title! go figure…

now that I’ve got that out of the way….

The motivation behind this train of thought: my new computer.

I’ve worked all Summer to get a machine that I could use to produce my blogs, my photos, my essays … photo-essays! my radio shows, my dreams, my videos,  my movies, my cartoons, my tweets, my facebook statuses, did I mention my dreams?

And now I finally got it!

Well, it’s not exactly the computer of my dreams- but it gets the job done.

Here’s a picture!

Wait, no! wrong one!

( I’m still figuring this fan-dangled-thingy-McBobby out.)

Here is my computer

time to get active.

Coming soon:

– More updated on “OG Told Me” ( photo essay) : http://ogtoldme.tumblr.com/

-More updates to “Penn’s Station podcast”: http://ogpenn.podomatic.com/

– Book coming early 2012.

– check the website: http://ogpenn.com/ 

and remember that Xanax is the coolest palindrome. ever.

Peace.

Big K.R.I.T. Wus (T)Here.

 

I found out about Big K.R.I.T. (King Remembered in Time) like any other modern day rap artist: through a teen-aged pudgy white suburban co-worker. I first questioned, what was a kid from the suburbs doing listening to a rapper from Meridian, Mississippi? Then I realized there are some things you just have to accept. The kid’s first name is my middle name, Andrew. Aside from having a common name, we have a common interest in hip-hop artists.

I took heed to my namesake and downloaded the “Big K.R.I.T. Wuz Here” mix tape from the Datpiff.com … just like everyone else in this modern day of music transactions… The song “Moon and Stars” Big K.R.I.T. featuring Devin the Dude was my introduction in the world of Big K.R.I.T…The fact that he featured Devin The Dude instantly won player points…

I then listened to the full mix tape, aside from Mr. The Dude, I recognized two other artist: Whiz Khalifa & Curren$y. I became familiar with other featured  artist: Smoke DZA, Big Sant, and months later via Big K.R.I.T’s remix to “Moon and Stars” I was introduced to Killa Kyleon who is a lyrical problem! 

.

I checked out Big K.R.I.T.’s youtube page… as everyone does in this modern day of music transactions… I was impressed with the videos for “Somedayz”  and “Hometown Hero”

But it was the video for “Children Of the World” that moved me.

In the song “Good Enough”,  Big K.R.I.T. says:

“I was just waiting on this moment in my grand mamma’s kitchen/ An artist from Mississippi- like, who would care to listen?”

… At that point, I was listening. He began to speak to the things that I was going through in my life…

No need to go into depth about my life- but the subject matter shown through his lyrics should give you a frame of mind…

… K.R.I.T. Quotes ….

K.R.I.T. Quotes about the Hood:

“He looked at me with so much pain in his eyes/ like he ain’t know: being Black and poor came with a price.”

” Bums warm they’re weary souls over warm flames/ Junkie can’t find God watch him find his vein / preacher walk right by-like he ain’t see a thang.”

“she short on rent, landlord tripping/ tired of eating noodles that taste like chicken… don’t really like hoeing- aint hard to tell, but when all else fails- pussy always sells.”

K.R.I.T. Quotes About Pimpin:

“I came out my momma’s womb breathing life into this pimpin.”

“…Cause I looked up to the pimps,/I’m not saying it wasn’t wrong, but they had the freshest fits/ the cars and the broads and the kicks… that’s something to strive for when you’ve never had shit.”

K.R.I.T. Quotes about women/ relationships:

“If I abuse myself daily, who can I love?”

“say she gotta friend, and word is she really dig him. I’m dealing with the pain. I lost her and I know it, I’m praying for the strength not to show it…”

“And even when I was at my worst/ like, ‘we got to make this work’.
My girl found time to leave me, too broke to give a fuck, though…”

K.R.I.T. Quotes about money:

“In a world full of kings- you’re worthless, if you can’t buy the finer things before you exit…”

” The junkie scrape change for the dollar menu/ that what he said but the rock is what he really into/ gave him a dollar anyway/ cause who knows/ maybe the dope boy’s babies baby needs some new clothes…”

K.R.I.T. Quotes about America:

“Obama cool, but he ain’t sending me no free checks”

“I’m feeling like ‘what the fuck?’ / they want my soul
Like my ancestors’ ain’t enough /
If I can’t trust my own government, who can I trust?”

“pass the collection plate / niggas thought shit was gone’ change on election date.”

K.R.I.T. Quotes about God:

“Did too much dirt to talk to god nowadays- get the dial tone.”

“I don’t understand- how you fit that many rings on a helping hand?… tired of deception but I’ll pay his kids tuition, cause I’m trying to get to heaven…”

“My conversations with God always seem leave him speechless.”

Over the past 6 months Big K.R.I.T.’s quotes have appeared in my facebook statuses and tweets… as most people do in this modern day of music transactions… it’s a sign of respect: it says, that the artist eloquently stated exactly what I was going through at that point in my life- almost like he was right there…Big K.R.I.T. wus (T)Here.


Where to Eat? Where to Eat? … Dónde Comer?

 

On an unseasonably warm January day in East Oakland, my sister and I  chose the Fruitvale neighborhood of East Oakland to play host to our impromptu scavenger hunt: we were hungry, and looking for a cheap meal.

The neighborhood is home to a number of new restaurants, small shops, and street side food vendors. The population is majority Hispanic; the Hispanic influence in the area shows not only through the people themselves,but also through the art ….

As my sister and I appreciated the aesthetic of the art, the foot mission was waring on our stomachs; in turn we began to investigate the food options in the area… that is: the food options that were within our budget…

We passed up the burrito truck with the steak and cheese fries, although an Oakland staple- the six-dollar meal was out of our price range.

We also passed this place on East 14th… something about the weaponry made me a little uncomfortable…

And then we saw the sign…

 

La Placita 3451 International Blvd Oakland, Ca just opened last week, and their dollar tacos are awesome…

After that meal, we needed a good desert to wash that down… options?

We passed it up to go to take the healthy route… we walked to the fruit stand….

…Of course the watermelon and pineapple was covered in salt, pepper, and lemon juice…. as my sister calls it: “the works!”

As we finished our mission, and fruit all at once, we noticed yet another mural….

Homies Empowerment Dinner

At 6pm on January 4th, 2011, inside the Eastlake YMCA in Oakland, Ca I spotted Pocho-One’s green A’s cap bobbing and weaving through the rows of teenagers in attendance for the evening’s event. Pocho-One was juggling his responsibility of distributing snacks on paper plates, while simultaneously snapping photos of the event he helped to create: Homie’s Empowerment Dinner.

This week’s Homie’s Empowerment Dinner featured special invited guest JR Valrey, an international journalist with roots here in Oakland, Ca. Valrey screened his documentary “Operation Small Axe”, which addressed issues of police brutality and documented much of the Oscar Grant saga here in Oakland.

The young men and women enjoyed food, a special screening of a documentary, and an engaging discussion- all for free. Cesar Cruz, founder of the Homie’s Empowerment program made it clear that, “we don’t do this for free… we do this for freedom”.

The intended goal of the weekly event is to get youth, especially Latino youth, from different neighborhoods to meet face to face, and break bread.  A large portion of the dialogue from the Homie’s Empowerment Dinner was guided toward understanding and making strides to get past the concept of “divide and conquer”.

Jack Bryson, family friend of Oscar Grant, was in attendance for the event as well. He opened his speech by informing the audience that this was his first public appearance at an Oscar Grant related event since the sentencing of Johannes Mehserle on November 5th, 2010. Bryson spoke of the verdict, and how it had gotten him down; but this event resurrected his spirit. He concluded his speech with three questions and a statement,

“Why is there Black vs. Black violence? and Brown vs. Brown violence?… or even Black vs. Brown violence?…here in Oakland, where the cops shoot us down, its evident that the violence is Blue vs. Black and Brown.”

The meeting concluded with a ceremonial circle of attendees exchanging handshakes and hugs. This ceremony was adopted from the United Farm Workers, and serves as a physical manifestation the concept of unity within the community.

For more info on the Homie’s Empowerment Dinners: homiesempowerment@gmail.com

…1 Cool Bird…

…This is the story of 1 cool bird…

My walk down the street on a crisp early November afternoon was interrupted by the thundering steps of a random white bird. As I approached my feathered friend, I questioned if it was a pigeon or a dove. The bird didn’t question me at all. It didn’t ruffle a feather. Instead, it took to my presence… it even struck a pose.

Cool Bird.

 

 

 

As I took a picture of this fair looking foul, and appreciated its randomness,  I figured this was a sign of good luck… and proceeded into my dormitory to eat a triple-decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

 

I came out of my dorm no more than 10 minutes later; I didn’t have enough time to wipe crumbs from my mouth before it dropped to the ground: the cool bird was laid in the street in front of my dorm.

 

 

 

RIP Cool Bird

 

…I know there is a much deeper lesson in all of this, and it will probably hit me further down the road….

I asked a couple of friends about it, I tweeted about it, and now I’m blogging about it.

I’ve gathered 3 things from this instance thus far:

1. Doves are white pigeons.

2. Appreciate the random stuff in life.

3. Life is short: influence people and your story will live long.

Kristina Thomas and Kendrick Lamar.

Kendrick Lamar, has emerged out of the plethora of new artist that are currently giving hip-hop a fresh fade…

The Compton raised MC caught my attention with the song “Heaven & Hell” / “The Get Away”. The video complimented the flow of the song in a harmonious fashion. I believe I first saw the video on the Thegrayway.net, which is one hell of a blogsite. Nonetheless, I fell down the magical internet rabbit hole and a handful of Kendrick Lamar youtube videos later- I was a fan.

The video “She Needs Me“,  was the one that stood out to me. A song! A real song! A concept, lyrics, video, and a beat… solid. And quite honestly, it was a fitting song for some personal relationship mumbo-jumbo… I digress.

To show my appreciation for the song, I put it on my facebook and on my twitter; you know, like any abuser of internet content via social networking… or appreciator of modern art…tomato- tomäto. And now the video is on my blog…

“She Needs Me”

Well, it seems my appreciation for art is pails in comparison to a good friend of mines (in fact I call her big sis) and talented artist within her own right. Kristina Thomas.

Kristina and Myself joking around at a club in Los Angeles.

Ms. Thomas, the Howard University graduate, USC graduate student, and  film producer extraordinaire, decided to take her favorite Kendrick Lamar song, “Growing Apart”, and produce what I have dawned as:

 

“a sensual dramatic interpretation of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Growing Apart'”.

The video is wild.  I could go on for days about how respectable it is that she took this initiative and how dope the idea came out as a finished product,

but good art speaks for itself!

Here is the video to “Growing Apart“.

 

 

Much respect to both Kristina Thomas and Kendrick Lamar.

good art is always appreciated.

The Grant Station Project

The Grant Station Project.

The Grant Station Project

During an interview with Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums in early July 2010, we discussed the video taped murder of unarmed Oscar Grant at the hands of transit officer Johannes Mehserle, the ensuing protests and uprisings by the people in Oakland, Ca., and the impending trial verdict. I then asked him what he thought of the possibility of renaming Fruitvale Station in the name of Oscar Grant?

“Grant Station”

The Mayor was taken by this question, he told a brief story of his mother’s appreciation of seeing a building named after her son, and connected the story to Grant’s mother, and how renaming Fruitvale Station to Grant Station might bring relief to the family. He then asked if he could have permission to take this idea to the necessary individuals in effort to bring this idea into fruition. Gladly, I said yes.

(Video complements of Youth Radio.)

But the question didn’t stop at Mayor Dellums.

I sat down with music producer Jamon Dru and lyricist Young Gully, we discussed the concept. The two gentlemen told me that they had been constructing an idea of their own: an album inspired by Oscar Grant.

We shook hands and agreed, in the name of the Oscar Grant, we would create an album that would shine a police helicopter sized light on police brutality, the state of the young citizens of Oakland, California, and the death of Oscar Grant.

I sat down with organizers of the Oscar Grant support movement, journalists that have been constantly covering the situation, and I even had the opportunity to speak  with members of Oscar Grant’s family. We discussed everything: I asked about what was said on the platform on the night of Grant’s murder, I asked about what was said in the court room during Mehserle’s trial, and I asked Oscar Grant’s Uncle Bobby what he would say if he could speak to Oscar now…

This resulted in “The Grant Station Project”, an audio documentation of lyrics, music, and interviews all full of emotion; an ethical response from the people to a blatantly unethical action that took place in our community.

Here is the first single off the Grant Station Project by Gully featuring Yound D, “Grant Station“. It is also available for download if you  click HERE.

But the album isn’t enough. The people want justice served to the fullest extent. The people want Mehserle to receive the maximum sentencing for his crime. The people want this instance to stand as a constant reminder to the officers of our community ,that they have a sworn duty to uphold the well-being of the people.

The question has now turned into a statement: the people want Grant Station.