Sun, Moon, Stars, Quasars and Sh*t

This is skydiving apparel. This is also something I could see Kanye wearing because he's trying to expand his horizons thru fashion. Help us.

This is skydiving apparel. This is also something I could see Kanye wearing because he’s trying to expand his horizons thru fashion. Help us.

I’m going to share a little about myself here. Sharing is caring has long been one of my mantras. I believe in community service of all types. Sharing is one of them. You may not have to take your clothes off to have a good time, but if you don’t put a little love in your heart, well, then you’re no better than an animal.

I just quoted somebody. That’s a bit more than a little but then not quite a few. Back to the lecture at hand.

I’ve often felt that life was very limiting. Not to be all doomsday or anything, but at some point during the course of my short 34 years on this planet I just felt…limited. I couldn’t fly or hug a unicorn or catch that damn pot of gold. While people tell you that if you work hard and are smart and study and sh*t that you can do anything you want to, it’s not actually true. Like, I stay reaching for the stars. Not proverbially either. I actually reach for them because, well, I get bored a lot. I’m like the guy in that one commercial who reached the end of the Internet. That sh*t f*cked me up because I feel that way a lot.

Fret not, I’m not about to off myself or do anything too crazy. All of my friends know that the one thing that need not happen in my life is boredom. Bad things happen when I get bored. I haven’t burned down any homes but I’ve gotten really closed to being profiled in a few national publications for bad decisions I made out of pure boredom. It’s like my kryptonite. Boredom drives my quest and thirst for the unknown. I didn’t read Encyclopedia’s when I was a kid because I wanted to know what was in them, I read them because I read everything else. To some degree, my child is a saving grace for me and my mind because I get to witness rebirth and new fun sh*t through the eyes of somebody who has no idea that one day, she may get to the end of the Internet.

Point is, I just feel like Earth and all its splendor comes with certain restrictions. I have seen lots and there are lots of things I haven’t but I’m still like…f*ck what else is there? Like the Pyramids are cool, my nword, but can somebody show me the tetrahedron that was man-made somewhere? And I’m not rich at all. I don’t even have the money to TRULY test the limits of life. So imagine if I was rich…

…I’d be somebody like Rihanna. Y’all remember when that crazy motherf*cker got a tattoo CHISELED onto her skin? Yeah. Of course you do. Here’s the thing. I get it. I completely understood. I can’t imagine what its like to be young, rich, and LITERALLY have the entire world as your oyster. It’s why rich people do crazy stuff like get themselves frozen. They’re bored and testing the limits of humanity because, well, they’ve kind of done this human sh*t. This only handicaps true creatives though. Some folks are rich and are just happy to be that way and are content within the confines of whatever world they’ve created. They’re goal-oriented creative. It’s like Big Boi vs Andre 3000.

Andre 3000 is clearly a creative individual who has no effin’ idea what to do with his life. At least he didn’t for a while. That’s why it made perfect sense to me that he was showing up to concerts in turbins and goggles and diapers with really furry Uggs. My man was just trying to explore his mind in every way possible. He was trying and his music started to reflect it. It’s why you get The Love Below. My man was outchea trying to just do…something else.

Clearly this is an issue that afflicts tons of people across the world. And especially some ‘flicted people.

Lil Wayne seems to have lost his ever loving mind but really, he just needs a new challenge. When you’ve literally achieved everything you can, you start making rock albums and singing too much and only rap about p*ssy because, well, what the hell else do you do when you spend 90 percent of your day fried out of your gourd because you’re trying to transcend life.

I can’t speak for any of these people. I have no clue if they feel that way. But it sure seems like it. And I feel that stuff. It’s like working in Word and they only give you limited fonts but you need new fonts because what you have doesn’t allow you to fully express yourself. Some people see what’s in front of them and feel like they have all that they need. They express themselves and make great product, whatever it may be, via the resources in front of them. Others see whats in front of them and realize that if those things exist, the possibility for more also exists. So they seek those things out. I’m one of those other people. The rush of the experience requires you to throw caution to the wind.

Funny enough, I’m also very much an “it is what it is” person about certain things. I recognize “checkmate” very quickly into the game. So while I’m not rich and I’m often bored I’ll continue to just f*cking rock like I do. But I’ll spend a lot of nights trying to figure out if I get on my roof, and I try to reach for a star, will I actually be able to reach one if I try hard enough? And if I fall and hit the ground, will I really die? Yeah, that’s the problem with being one of these people…death doesn’t really scare you. The not knowing makes it enticing enough to wonder what’s really going on afterwards.

Mind you, I realize this is all mental. And I can always watch vh1 to dumb it down. Shots fired. But this is why so many artists spend so much time talking about space, lasers, bars, quasars and sh*t.

Luckily, I ain’t a crazy motherf*cker and I’ve got a child. So I’ll just chill on my porch, stare at the sky, and wonder if Rihanna grabbed one yet.

A star…not Young Chris’s balls.

I wonder what Kanye is up to.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. WHAT THE HELL AM I TALKING ABOUT? aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Rappers Do Dumb-Ass Things, And Say Dumb-Ass Sh*t. Why Is This News Now?

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On the strength of his Ether-related “comeback,” there are few albums I anticipated more than Nas’s Stillmatic. (Honestly, Wu-Forever and MBDTF are the only other albums I waited for with that type of anxiety.) He didn’t disappoint, either, as tracks such as Second Childhood and Rewind exhibited the type of ambitiously—even painfully—detailed creativity long-time Nas fans had been expecting from him.

The album climaxes with One Mic, a track that somehow managed to pull all of Nas’s best qualities together to create a song that some critics called “the best song of the decade.”

Perhaps the most memorable and rewindable part of that song combines Jesus, bullets, and a bit of tricky math to create a four bar stretch that I considered to be one of the best, most creative, and most clever collection of lyrics I’d ever heard.

Jesus died at age 33, there’s 33 shots

From twin Glocks there’s sixteen apiece, that’s 32

Which means one of my guns was holding 17

27 hit your crew. 6 went into you

I listened to this song again the other day. And, while the track and those lines still sound as hot as ever, something dawned on me. A question. Three, actually.

“Wait, what the f*ck is he talking about? How the f*ck do you go from Jesus to shooting random n*ggas in a 13 word stretch? And, what’s the connection between Jesus’s age and the number of bullets you needed to murder this anonymous crew?”

Now, I’m not saying this to pick on Nas. He remains one of my favorite rappers. But, songs like One Mic and my reaction to it remind me of one of the first things I learned about rap:

Rappers are prone to say shit that sounds smart and clever and intellectual and witty but makes no f*cking sense. You could even argue that a very, very, very high percentage (I’d guess somewhere between 40 and 60) of the most clever, rewindable, and “higher-level” sounding bars are created because…

A) It sounded good

B) He figured out that “euphemism” and “new religion” kinda rhyme with each other, and thought it would be cool to find a way to put that in a song

Mind you, I’m not saying that all rap is like this. Most of the best rappers put a decent amount of thought and effort into constructing their lyrics, and even the nonsense is somewhat intentional. But, when an art form is based on braggadocio and hyperbole—and prominently features (relatively) uneducated street dudes—sounding “cool” and “clever” is going to take precedent over “making sense.”

I’m not making any new revelations here. People who follow rap are generally aware that what I’m saying is true. But, while the concept and the awareness of this concept aren’t new, the pushback they’re beginning to receive is. Yes, rappers have always come under fire for their lyrics, but between Rick Ross’s date rape anthem, LL Cool J’s bizarre forgiveness of slavery, Lil Wayne’s reference to Emmett Till, and Nicki Minaj calling herself as a Republican, there have been at least four instances in the last six months where a throwaway lyric from a popular rapper became headline news.

Making this pushback even more unique is that it isn’t really coming from people like Dolores Tucker or Tipper Gore but actual fans of rap music.

At the moment, I’m somewhat ambivalent about this trend. While a part of me is encouraged to finally see rappers asked to answer for their lyrics, this criticism seems a little disingenuous, and raises more questions than it answers. For instance, why now? We’ve all heard worse and more socially irresponsible lyrics than the ones being criticized now, so where is this pushback coming from?

Also, when does it stop? If we took a fine-toothed comb and went through the catalogs of each and every one of the 100 or so most popular rappers—even “conscious” and (generally) socially palatable ones like Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, and Common–with the goal of boycotting the ones with questionable lyrics and content, rap would be left with exactly zero rappers.

Lemme put it this way: Rappers like Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj are easy targets anyone with a blog and a petition board could hit with a blindfold; low-hanging, resume-building fruit. Taking shots at them will give you quick praise and easy co-signs among most educated Blacks and non-Blacks. But, if we’re going to do that, why not also go after Jay-Z for making half a billion dollars off of selling crack, writing music about selling crack, and writing more music about how he got rich from writing songs about selling crack? Or the Obamas for inviting him to the White House? If you’re going to boycott Lil Wayne, will you also delete every Wu, Biggie, Nas, Tupac, Snoop, and Kanye song from your iPod? Does Nicki Minaj really talk more shit than Lauryn Hill did?

Even everyone’s favorite rap band has a song with a couple lines that, if taken literally…

And when I’m breaking it off
Its no denying the fact it’s wrong
‘Cause you got a man who’s probably playing his part
You probably breaking his heart

“You want it gripped up, flipped, and thrown
And get stripped and shown, the way to get in the zone”

…would play out pretty much exactly like the oft-criticized rape scene in Temptation. 

Again though, I don’t necessarily think that it’s a bad thing that rappers are facing some heat now. Whether it’s music, words, or just energy, we all should be responsible and accountable for what we put out to the world, and artists are no different. But, a part of me looks at the type of rappers being called out—and the people doing most of the calling out (college educated writers and bloggers)—and can’t help but wonder if there’s some intellectual class bias going on here. Basically, “smart” rappers—or, more specifically, rappers “smart” people like—are generally immune, while rappers we’re not supposed to like or support seem to be the targets.

As Nas would say…

Jesus was born in a barn

“Blog” starts with the letter B

so does bitch, Bane, and HBCU

Y’all need to listen to me!!!

Nasspeak translation: I have a tendency to include some pretty racist and misogynistic nonsense in my raps. But, as long as it sounds “smart”—and as long as I make the occasional song about my daughter—it’s all good.

-–Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Lil Wayne Spoke, Stevie Wonder Listened, And A Dandelion Died

I ain't got no worries.

I ain’t got no worries.

For the vast majority of us, no matter what we try to do, Lil Wayne manages to be there for all of it. When I graduated from college, Lil Wayne was there. When Obama was inaugurated? Lil Wayne was somewhere doing Lil Wayne things. But the point is, he was there. He’s managed to insert himself into various conversations and become a part of the pop culture landscape.

His ghostwriters have all gone the way of the doo doo bird so he’s almost a terrible rapper now, but somehow, he’s relevant. In fact, he’s managed to be SO relevant, that what would normally be a cast off line in a song that nobody will give two f*cks about gets a motherloving message from the family of Emmett Till. Yes, in the song “Karate Chop” by the world’s greatest rap-sanger, Future, Lil Wayne drops the line, “beat the p*ussy up like Emmett Till”.

Yes. It’s extremely inappropriate. Yes. Rappers do need to think about what they say before they say it and it is actually nice to hear somebody being called to the carpet for their lyrics. But…le sigh…as inappropriate as that line is, it’s not even the most ignorant and ridiculous thing Lil Wayne has said. Why then is his Emmett Till lyric an issue now?

Well that’s simple. For the first time, somebody ASKED a person directly impacted by the line what their opinion was. The family, or at least a member of his family, drops the hottest eloquent 16 regarding a stupid rap lyric and all of a sudden its national rap news. Surprise, the family doesn’t like a line in a song and then the company pulls the song. Then Stevie Wonder weighs in? What the hell just happened here people?

Le sigh.

I’m one of those people who laments the current state of hip-hop while finding odd fascination and enjoyment with artists like Trinidad James. I know it sucks. But I’m entertained so like the debate about Scandal, I’m a hypocrite and I’m okay with it. Period. However, I acknowledge the sheer ignorance involved in much of what I hear in the club the few times I venture that way. And its terrible. Simply terrible. The misogyny isn’t even sugarcoated with euphemisms and metaphors anymore. Naw….now, it’s straight up “My B*tches Love Me”. While I know that calling women b*tches on record isn’t anything new, it does seem like the ease and aplomb with which it happens now is at unprecedented levels. The only time it was worse was with N.W.A. in my opinion. That’s some of the most indefensible music in hip-hop history…no matter how well produced it is. My guess is 2 Live Crew and Poison Clan would have something to say about that, but whatevs.

My point is, I find it odd that a line about Emmett Till is the point where its gone too far when its been “gone too far” for years. The self-esteem of women is not the responsibility of men or hip-hop, but you aren’t supposed to attempt to take all of somebody’s esteem at the same time either. Plus…we already KNOW Lil Wayne is and idiot…why the f*ck is THIS so deplorable coming from him.

Which brings us to his now extra stupid rant from All-Star Weekend where he claimed that he was banned from NBA games and festivities (a claim the NBA has denied) because of the Miami Heat.

Oh Lil Wayne, how I hate thee.

Not only do you claim to be the new ‘Pac, you THEN unnecessarily tell the world that you boned Chris Bosh’s wife. Why? What did that add to the world? For the sake of argument, let’s say you probably did bone Adrienne. That’s not hard to believe. It’s sad, but not hard to believe.

Sidenote: I think it’s fair to judge women who have slept with Lil Wayne. Why? I don’t know. I have no answer for you. But it is fair. Hell, I think its okay to ask women you meet if they boned him off break. I’ve got no logical or sensical reason for this. At all. Somehow though, I doubt anybody would disagree with this. Lauren London, I’m looking at you. You disappointed me. I haz the sads.

It’s highly likely that Lil Wayne did smang Bosh’s wife…before they got married which happened sometime last year. So whoopty damn do. Why in Sam Hill would you lob that out there, knowing that it would snag headlines when its one of the biggest non-story stories ever. What kind of sourgrapes is Lil Wayne on. Quick, somebody put him back on drugs so his music and decisions can be better.

Oh, and ‘Pac. You are not. I don’t even know what correlation you were making but it’s wrong. Inaccurate. Sh*t aint right. Stop smoking that boat.

I’ve lost my point. The Bosh thing is stupid and Lil Wayne is both messy and probably a little butthurt at what he perceived to be a slighting by the NBA….though he has managed to (fairly or unfairly) get himself removed from several NBA games last year. But to go in on a team…c’mon son. I’ll be there’s no Lil Wayne or YMCMB playing in the Heat locker room before games.

Anyway, back to the more interesting part…am I trippin’ or does it seem a bit extra that all of a sudden a Lil Wayne lyric is catching the ire of the Black community when nearly all of his lyrics are as much if not more reprehensible? Or is this just more proof that we don’t care about women? We only care about what people say when it offends our race but that’s about all that matters?

Talk to me. Petey.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka EH aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Is Lil Wayne Actually Teaching Us How To Love?


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For the second time in as many months a video of a song has completely changed my perception of a song.

Enter Lil Wayne’s “How To Love”.

On Wednesday, Lil Wayne premiered his video for the song “How To Love”…a song that I’m not sure I could have hated any more than I did on that Tuesday. However, I sauntered on over to The Smoking Section and saw the video and a short write up that caught my attention. What I saw next blew my mind. Somehow, Lil Wayne managed to turn a terrible song into a video that very accurately (at least we assume) described what happens when a young woman is robbed of choices in life by never being shown how to receive and/or give love by the very people who are supposed to instill that into her: her parents. Or lack thereof.

And yes, this entire post needs a spoiler alert.

We’re treated to the entire lifespan of a child who turns into a girl who turns into a woman searching for love or something and constantly finding some semblance of it in all the wrong places. Which, let’s be real, is the crux of the whole single black woman trance and fascination that has taken over America. Nearly every story that we get from women revolves around some bad choices. Of course, those bad choices were crafted well before the young woman even knew she’d be in a position to make them because she never learned…how to love. In this video, the girl’s entire life was filled with a mother spending her time dealing with no good men because she just…didn’t know how not to.

But in a twist, Lil Wayne’s video (complete with the most unnecessary Birdman cameo ever) ALSO show’s what happens when that same little girl’s mother makes a decision to remove herself from a bad situation and somehow ends up married (okay, it can’t ALL be realistic…we know Black women ain’t getting married…ants have a better chance of beating magnifiying glass sunrays than Black women have of getting married…viva Aleutians) to a man and is then able to teach her young and impressionable daughter…how to love.

How to love.

That’s such an interesting concept to me. The truth is, it’s one of the most vital components to any of our lives. Without a paradigm on how to show affection and express love, its virtually impossible to know what constitutes actual caring. So many women and men spend their lives running after some elusive version of what love and happiness looks like, without even realizing that it actually is. You can blame some of the media for that but at the end of the day, even the richest of the rich struggles with sharing. Just being there for somebody everyday can set a positive trend.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I’d rather be a father than a husband. And while everything I said is true, I do have one regret about my situation with my daughter’s mother and I. In this video, at the 4:08 mark, when the mother and her new husband are getting married, they cut to the little girl watching her mother kiss her new step-daddy. Something about that look, and her seeing what that type of love and affection looked like shook me. I will always regret that decisions I made robbed my daughter of witnessing her mother and father showing each other the kind of love that I hope she is able to find. Granted, her mother and I get along and are respectful and spend time together so that she can see her parents together. But that scene…hurt.

Guilt might be too strong a word, but I’m scared for my daughter and that’s because I’ve seen how many women (even on this site) struggle with love and what it looks like and means. I want her to be able to see real affection. I want her to see somebody love her mother so that she can see it in her household. I’d hate for that to be a foreign concept to her when she’s 22 years old like it seems it is for so many women out there.

But that’s my burden.

What this video illustrates is how choices affect your future. Especially when you have a child. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction and children are the living and breathing manifestation of this fact. Just as you get to correct your own mistakes through your children, all of your faults get magnified when they go unaddressed.

Hyperbolic as it may seem, in this video, the choice to leave a bad situation with a bad man resulted in a better life for her daughter. The way these two story arcs are illustrated and how vastly different the end results can be is very…deep. Especially given that according to the director, Chris Robinson, Lil Wayne came up with the entire story line.

The fact that the video touched on promiscuity and HIV (yes, Lil Wayne worked in social issues) is almost as dumbfounding as the original song. But here we go again with another video that’s way better than the song. But in this case I’ll take it. Maybe it just hits close to home. Me no know.

All I do know is that, video or not, learning how to love is actually probably the single most important facet in the life of a child. Knowing that love exists and what it looks like can actually be the difference in the choices a child makes, especially a girl as she grows into a woman (not sure if that sounds sexist or not, but so be it).

Anyway, a Lil Wayne video actually made me think. Go figure. What about you?

Did you see the video and if so, what were your thoughts? And on a larger scale, (I know we touched on this a few weeks back with my post) but just how important is learning how to love to individual growth and success in relationships?

Is it possible that Lil Wayne ACTUALLY provided a significant cultural talking point in Black love?

Somebody call Will and Jada.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TANGLE JIG P aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3