I hate that I didn’t get this posted earlier, but man oh man what a week this has been. Many of you have never actually heard my voice, but have read many of my words. The fine people over at Words, Beats, & Life invited me to be a part of a panel discussion this evening in Shirlington, VA at Busboys and Poets. It goes a little something like this:
Blurring the Lines: Journalist, Scholars & Fans
Sun. 1/29/12 7-9:30pm
We sit at the beginning of an overwhelming social media explosion. The creation of social media tools like blogs, twitter, tumblr, etc., have turned many of us into “experts” and in some cases, journalists of the world as we experience it. The use of technology has blurred the lines and impacted the role of scholars, journalists and fans, for better and for worse. The movement away from singular standards for credibility are not unique to hip-hop or even media. We see a similar tug of war taking place in universities, school districts and corporations. The value of training and certification has been on the decline for at least a generation.
This panel is dedicated to looking at what we think the democratization of media means, vs. what it actually does, the rise of the blogger and the impact of perceived direct contact with artists and it impact on sales of books, films, and music related to hip-hop.
I’m actually pretty under the weather (not sure how I even made it to Virginia tonight, special shout out to my mom and one particular Godsend of a friend, because with out them I’d still be in Brooklyn knocked out in bed), but I’m here, and I’m ready to talk. Well, kind of. I actually lost my voice, so this will be interesting. If you can’t make it out, cross your fingers for me that this tea with honey I’m drinking right now kicks in enough to make me audible. If you can make it tonight, I greatly appreciate your support. After what is undoubtedly the longest, most painful week I’ve had in a long while, it would be nice to see your (hopefully) smiling faces. I’ve always felt like I write better than I speak, so I’m actually a little nervous. Being sick doesn’t help either.
So, yes! Come see me looking ten shades whiter than usual and sounding like a cheap Craigslist tranny-for-hire speaking about intellectual things related to Hip Hop. Doesn’t that sound entertaining? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, folks, because under no other circumstances would I be seen outside right now. But really, you should also go to hear well-versed industry peers of mine such as the homie Modi of DCtoBC, Saaret Yoseph, and Renina Jarmon. And to see a thought-provoking film about the thing you probably love and is the reason you visit this site in the first place: Hip Hop.
Hope to see you tonight.
Busboys and Poets (Shirlington location, NOT DC): 4251 S. Campbell Ave., Arlington, VA
Day 2 of being stuck in bed with a cramped up neck and a fever. At least today someone sent me a video I was actually interested in seeing. Thanks for helping me pass the time, Jenesis Mag. In case you don’t know who Jake Paine is, he’s the Editor in Chief of that website I write for sometimes…you know, HipHopDX. He’s also fucking awesome.
This actually came out over the holidays when most of us were too far gone in Christmas cookie/coquito itis to be online (I was busy in Atlantic City winning slot machine guap and ordering bottles to my hotel room, bah humbug), but it’s worth a belated post, and not just because I happen to be in the video. Behold Johnny Voltik’s story of futuristic lost love.
Hello Brooklyn…it’s not too late to get your asses on over to Mo’s on Lafayette Ave in Fort Greene if you’re looking for a good place to watch this evening’s football festivities. The family over at PNC Radio plus the homies at Global Rhythm Group bring you another rendition of their tried-and-true food+drink+sport trifecta. No cover, free food, and $5 drink specials. How can you say no?
It’s been almost half a year since I’ve lived in a healthy home with an equally healthy internet connection. It’s pretty much been one or the other – I was either living in an apartment that was making me sick but had fantastically fast and reliable internet service, or I’ve been living in a tremendously nicer apartment in a way nicer neighborhood mooching shitty WiFi from some unknown neighbor until they decided to put a password on it during the holiday break. Now I live in a great crib with nearly no access to the outside world, since I have no internet and also a phone that doesn’t want to work where I live. It’s been a way more interesting ordeal than I thought it would be.
“Just when I thought I had everything, I lost it all.”
Around the time I started this website, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had just signed the lease on the first apartment I would have entirely to myself in Brooklyn, had a salaried job which, though boring and time consuming as hell, was keeping me nicely paid, and I had just landed my first placement in a Hip Hop magazine (The Source, to be exact). I was happy. I was ambitious. I was content but not satisfied, striving for more, and sacrificing many nights of sleep to continue to climb my way up the ladder of the music industry and the corporate world. But in a similar fashion to throwing a rock in the air (word to my Palestinian relatives) and watching it fall, I guess things not subject to basic laws of Physics also sometimes get plagued by “what goes up must come down” logic.
Soon the job went away, which I still maintain was a bit of a blessing in disguise, the money flow deteriorated, my hustle went up, and doing things for fun became a distant memory. Everything was about maintaining the bank account, getting money, and chasing opportunities. I cut out the little things in life that made me feel good, and put that money and time into things that would keep me afloat or possibly blossom into something lucrative in the near future. Shit was rough but I was making it work, still managing to live on my own, stay fed, and stay out of debt.
What finally defeated me was the thing I had coveted the most – my home. Poor maintenance of the building I lived in was causing leakage issues (don’t get me started on the mouse infestation that resurfaced around the time I was moving out also), and sometime toward the end of the summer when I returned from an out of town trip, I came back to discover a fine dusting of multi-colored mold over nearly everything in my apartment. Green mold on the window sill. Yellow mold clinging to the walls. White mold growing on my furniture – my futon, wooden kitchen chairs, pillows, etc. Patches of mold on my clothing, shoes, handbags, and more. Mold on kitchen utensils I had sitting, and even on dishes I had stored in a closet in a box. Everything. I tried to rinse off what I could and try to get someone in to fix it, but with no one coming and nothing getting done, it was getting worse. General irritation soon gave way to physical distress, and my own home literally began to make me sick. I’d wheeze, cough, and sneeze myself to sleep. I’d wake up in the middle of the night because the allergy to the mold would cause me to itch. I ate so many Halls to keep my throat from hurting that I deserve a sponsorship from the company. The air would burn my eyes, making something as simple as staring at a computer screen become painful after a brief period of time. Headaches, trouble breathing, and flu like symptoms hit me nearly every time I entered the crib.
So much for home sweet home. After a city inspector came by and told me to get out of that place sooner rather than later, but with a couple months still to go on my lease, I stayed with some generous friends for a few days to begin my apartment hunt. I took every piece of clothing, bedding, curtains, etc., bagged them up, and with the help of my mother I washed everything I could. I salvaged everything that could be cleaned up, but much of the furniture didn’t make the cut. Even washing the clothes was making me sick. I was miserable for at least three months. In case you’re wondering why it never got fixed, it’s because I had to curse out the only maintenance guy my landlord would send after homie told me that Febreze would save my furniture from the mold that ate it. I was being forced to deal with someone who didn’t know what they were doing simply because my landlord was a cheap bastard. After a hellish apartment hunt (New York’s residential real estate market is one of the ugliest businesses I’ve ever personally dealt with), I finally found the miracle apartment I needed. It was clean, it was renovated, it was safe, and in a way better location. I lucked out. I coughed, wheezed, and sneezed my way through packing my belongings and moving into the new place, expecting everything to instantly improve upon moving.
The move happened around Thanksgiving, and just over a month and a half has passed, and though I’ve replenished my furniture supply and salvaged my wardrobe, I’m still not totally back to full speed. I’m so much more comfortable and my health is nearly back to normal, but something still isn’t quite right. The physical side effects of my situation were obvious – the mental ones, not so much. I realized that as much as that fiasco sucked out of me physically, I was just as mentally drained. At first I told myself I just needed a break, and vowed to take a couple of weeks off from writing. For a month I literally had no urge to write a single word, no desire to do what it is I feel I love to do.
“I look in the mirror, my only opponent, where the fuck is the press? Where the fuck is the prayers? Either they know or don’t care, I’m fuckin’ depressed.” (***note: I don’t actually know whether he says “Prez” or “prayers,” but prayers just sounds better in this context. President ain’t doin’ shit for me directly anyhow.)
So I basically dropped off the grid. Around the same time everything in my personal infrastructure started to crumble, I also lost a few close friends from my circle. I got antisocial. I spent the holidays with family and just hid out in my new neighborhood getting familiar with my surroundings. I shunned the music industry for a bit, instead choosing to do normal people things that had nothing to do with Rap. Going places where people had no idea who I was or what I did. I did this at the risk of knowing that it would set me back a bit work-wise, but I knew I needed the break. I was burned out. The funny thing about doing a disappearing act is that it tends to make you defensive when you’re ready to get out of it – see, most people in your life only speak to you when they need to. The ones who speak to you simply because they want to are the ones to cherish. It was funny to me how I could just drop off the face of the earth and get exactly what I wanted – no work. No other job I’ve done would let me just go M.I.A. without hassling me to get back to business. It made me question my worth as a writer and the value of what I’ve contributed to the culture thus far. I felt disposable.
It took me weeks to realize this. The stresses of my behind-the-scenes life forced me to step away, but this insecurity was keeping me from getting back into things. I’ve finally started getting urges to write things again, though now the timing is shitty since I’m at war with Time Warner about getting internet at the new apartment and am currently connection-less (fail. I miss you, Optimum Online!). I’m posting this from the Wi-Fi at a local 24/7 cafe, which limits you to one hour of usage, and of course requires you to buy something overpriced to use their internet (I’m cheap, but not cheap enough to sit in the cold in my parked car outside the door just to get it for free). The coffee purchases are adding up, and my patience is wearing thin. I keep hoping that once I finally get some high speed action in my place, things will go back to normal. I’ll pick up on those stories I left behind last year, I’ll sort through my emails, and life will go back to how it was pre-mold hell. I just know it’s not guaranteed.
So I wonder – how do I get back that thirst, drive, and focus? Perhaps forcing my once-hobby into a potential career path soured the experience for me. Maybe this is just a phase, I really was just stressed and tired, and things will go back to normal once the internet turns on. The love for and pride in what I do is still there, but I worry that one day the love will turn into the type you have for an ex-lover. You still love them deeply, but there’s no way you could ever be with them again, feel me? I know I’m not at the point of quitting, but I’m just in awe of how quickly everything can change. Health, home, friends, work, mind state. It was like it all happened overnight.
So that, the few loyal readers this site still has, is why neither you nor anyone else has heard much from me lately. At this point the blame lies on Time Warner for being nothing short of insincere, misinformed, and unprofessional, but for a while it was simply because I either couldn’t work, or didn’t want to. It will soon change, I have no doubt, but I think with the new year some new things may have to happen at UntitledType. I’m not quite sure what that will be yet, but the inspiration is slowly coming back.
Belated holiday wishes to everyone in the online world, and to anyone that has contacted me about business, submitted a track, added me as a friend on Facebook, etc., I apologize for not getting back to you, posting, or confirming your requests…I just simply am not able to right now. Kind of scary how reliant upon technology we are these days, but that’s another rant for another day.