Kool Hand Herc

smoke billows in my mind when i remember the sound of classic jazz, hip hop

or R&B – most of my favorites can’t be found in the top 40. but when i woke up

in sixth grade, radio jams would include some of the greatest of all time: jeeps the

lex coups the beamers and the benz echoes through sub woofers in my cerebellum.

‘member usher’s footwork in that first video like damn– i felt the foot steps of my

virginity walking away. meanwhile, jigga still sitting on jay elec’s debut and i’ma

keep bumping joey bad til the cows come home & settle remy ma’s beef.

remy kinda lost it. i have to be honest tho- 75% of lyricists don’t interest me. straight

up, i don’t entirely differentiate between emcees and comics. if you don’t believe me,

come thru the roast battle on thursday. everybody i know here straight out of fucks to

give, homie. for what? not for nothing, but i watched capital steez smile, taking shots

at the based god & remembered days when i had more on the line. right now, i can’t

think of nothing i need more than a black messiah. so when i receive photographs of

my friend’s slashed wrists i think back to the roots of Water & How I Got Over– cuz

music makes me high when alcohol seems to fail me. i remember when i used to

believe – now it’s difficult to stick around in rooms of excessive sincerity, especially

when i’ve heard most of the motifs and metaphors before: i pass around my number

hoping for a surprise inspiration; but i know it comes off as desperation. truth, i am

desperate – hopeful i may feel something unfamiliar, like interest in this current

moment (or the next). i’m down with slim k slowdown and the maad city but ya boy

more oriented towards flow. a nigga still waiting on monch’s record, even though i

can never really spell the brother’s name. pharoahe lives. i’m still thinking on how

abdul kenyatta asked me –what’s changed. the old heads are all i wanna listen to now-

old friends are all i have time for. motherfuckers keep praising timberlake but on the

real – gimme them diamonds in the back. i will say this about kendrick- i haven’t heard

jay z get so passionate in years as he did on the freaking Vibe remix.

i’m saying tho- i been out the circuit a lil bit. i ain’t heard the new blackalicious, Meow

the Jewels or what’s going on with Native Tongues. pretty sure Shadow dropped some

thing recently, i ain’t gotten my hands on. forgive me for chasing the past- i’m finna

figure out what the fuck Bronze Naz has been up to. by which i mean to suggest: ya boy

isn’t really a Drizzy fan. no offense or whatever. i won’t be able to care too much about

gambino or Bronson (RIP) until the Roc releases a couple Badu and Jay Elec collabs.

until then, i’m reminiscing on some family jams – erykah/3000, and whatever Ms Hill

got going on. cuz, the dopest emcees i heard in a minute stay mad underutilized in San

Jose, or slumber in the cut working most days in Oakland. i been around this nation; i’ve

heard the millionaires and town heroes; so i project with confidence which of these rappers

and stand ups may get the best shot. and i wish white folks would represent a little more –

the truth is, we need some prophets for these race wars. case in point: some of these legends

have stayed a little quiet. i’m here, waiting on the Trumpslayer to lead us home. shout out to

Cate Gary. i heard a little kid threw something at trump’s motorcade. everybody draws their

own line. after waiting for the return of Jon Stewart, hoping for Obama’s third term, thinking

Trevor Noah might save us- after congratulating Baldwin for his contribution on Saturday

Night; at some point, we have to recognize true revolutionary acts must come from us.

Cornel West is still speaking, Mumia still on Death Row and it’s on us. Chance the Rapper

buying tickets to Get Out like a mini lottery, Cheadle taking his shots where he can, but it’s

still on us. And ya nigga’s rusty, my sound equipment’s busted but we out here trying. i hearvicious political analysis over stale beers in random dive bars & some days i can’t tell who’s winning these culture wars but here we are.

i am so sick of shrinking myself down to fit inside a fucking cell phone. straining thru

the cracks to watch a victorious sound byte, bootlegging special FX over stolen WiFi.

apple tells me i can’t listen to music i made, as i slalom flagged emails from youtube over

sampled content – i used to admire graf artists; because, every word they write is illegal.

in 2017, half my thoughts are probably against the law. i considered joining the military,

not sure what my other options were – i’ve daydreamed of artist grants – honestly, i can’t

believe in anything more than the impulse of an unknown.

henry darger’s closet, stacked with an illustrated manifesto of his tortured mind; fiona

apple locked inside a hotel room, penning her Criminal masterpiece, Poe coughing up

blood on his manuscript. Andre screaming, “all of my heroes did dope” … i’ve pored

over the words of jimi hendrix seeking the cursive lines between genius and obsession

and all i can figure, from Hedberg, Ledger and Lucas is it’s possible for an artist to

outlive his brilliance. then again, since the millennium it doesn’t matter – they’ll dig you

up like vinyl crates and resurrect you as a hologram if necessary. in 2017, Hip Hop

manifests as time capsule, ballot polemic, nostalgic polaroid and pop culture motif.

but the last time i met an emcee on the street, he tried to sell his CD & forgot to rhyme.

~baraka noel

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