So many talented friends...

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Just sharing the embarrassment of riches here from old friends from my Chicago days. Here's new work from a handful of the gold stacks. Enjoy.
















  Bring It Home produced by ILL Legit by Jyroscope







The homies Animate Objects made it a little trickier to share quickly on the blog, so just follow the link to their website. From there it's easy to listen and/or download. It's worth the the two clicks.


Here's a great video from them too. Aquil's talkin' about the org we ran together in Chicago in the first verse.












Dream Sequence #3

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As you may have known or witnessed firsthand, I recently wrote and performed two brand new works of poetry for the MN Fringe festival. I was graciously invited to be a part of the Strange Liebhard New Music and Dance Ensemble's showing of works in progress "Railing Forward and other works". You can check out other blogs about that show a few entries back.
Asked the week before if I had some poetry to contribute while on my way out of town, I returned with just a few days to complete two new pieces. Although there's definitely room for editing/work-shopping, I'm really pleased with how these turned out. Here's the second one I wrote.

'Dream Sequence #3'


In this dream all is silent. A silence as certain and distant as peace.
there is a friend in my home who is not friend.  This should be my old compadre Jorge who would often visit, stay the night, rap and make art with me on the sides of buildings and over passes and banks. Not ever on anything independently owned, nothing without a purpose or a genuine question and nothing without art. Jorge laughs like fireworks look and there’s always fun around the corner of his smirk.
A friend is here, but it’s not my friend.
He is disguised in a disgusting mask of flesh, swollen and puffy and it doesn’t fit his real face. He is a darkness peering from black eyes and I’m trying to keep it cool, taking in information of this rotten, bloated presence over my shoulder.
I cannot face him. When I look back I am terrified by what I feel and my words fall like molasses. I slowly return to the task at hand. He doesn’t move a fraction, a vision of malice, fossilized in amber.
I’m washing the dishes…eyes in my back like thorns, the most intense leer like the soft tap of spider’s legs that want in.
This day is weeks and months and these years just a sunny afternoon outside. I come and go, I’m busy and I’m only stopping in to leave. This unfriend living in my home, with my family, my mother, my younger sister…There is a tepid but constant squalor in the downstairs… is this what happens to a dream deferred?
I maneuver carefully through the bi-products of this spirit’s wretched intent with casual talismans…masks and drums and d├ęcor.
In this dream, I am cleaning and organizing.
Washing the dishes again. Behind me he is a grotesquerie of intent, a masterpiece of some sick artist who’s left his greatest work to stand and watch…me. I tell him he can’t stay. He’ll be needing to leave immediately. I continue working on the basement’s floors (you can’t stay), shelves (you can not stay), cracks (you must leave), closets, (you WILL leave), and walls…The walls are what stand out.
I’m talking with my mom and kissing her forehead and just then I’m under her bedroom in the downstairs, right underneath where she lays and I’m hanging a sacred mask. I know it is gone, there is a slow silence like the most beautiful new snow, There is light here and I awake.
 

The Definitive Telling of John Henry's Tale

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As you may have known or witnessed firsthand, I recently wrote and performed two brand new works of poetry for the MN Fringe festival. I was graciously invited to be a part of the Strange Liebhard New Music and Dance Ensemble's showing of works in progress "Railing Forward and other works". You can check out other blogs about a few entries back.
Asked the week before if I had some poetry to contribute while on my way out of town, I returned with just a few days to complete two new pieces. Although there's definitely room for editing/work-shopping, I'm really pleased with how these turned out. Here's the first one I wrote.
'The Definitive Telling of John Henry's Tale'
Her pregnancy was a tumultuous fault line
sticky with heavy air and a tall glass of lemonade.
Ice cubes on temples and cramps like tremors of a foreboding quake.
She was mother as rich as ripe soil of a damned river bed but opposite,
and golden from the inside.
Even her migraines must have felt like the tense whirling of a Singing bowl.
The sinew of her writhing frame disguised redwood, fighting to stay in character- Almost laughing at the absurdity with the other trees in the hot summer breeze.
Her smile, a horizon's thick blood orange sun,
undamaged by the dark ooze of coming night.  
Bold enough to drench you with emotion but not to blind you,
because that would just be too self indulgent.

This mother earth of a woman gave birth like the pressure of volcanic rock creating new continents. 
And thus a boy was born a mountain of a man.

This is where I have to point out something about how tall tales are told.
Like all legends, myths, religions, and poetry, they exaggerate a certain, innate truth. This mighty boy John turned great man John Henry was actually an average child of weight and size.
It was his in eyes, the center of a presence like the sun of our solar system.
All things a pattern around his gravity.
It is true that at as an infant he could not be held by cradle, playpen or fence, and that you could see specs in the air above his home from around the town of Talcott West Virginia; family pets juggled for fun.
True that at the age of five his footsteps broke the panels of his home and that as a teenager those specs in the air became local livestock and that he would empty whole lakes with the leaping shout of "cannonball!!!". True, indeed, but it wasn't his size that caused these things, it was his presence.
Imagine the weight of a sunrock living and breathing and playing and laughing in the atmosphere of our little blue earth. It wasn't his size imposing itself on his surroundings, it was the gravity of his will...all things bending to it, heavy as the sun itself.
In this sense, to look at this man and his story reveals a legend not of strength but of gentleness. His compassion for the family of workers that surrounded him was only surmounted by his efforts as an organizer; first in slavery, meeting in dreams with Harriet Tubman and conspiring with The Underground Railroad and the recruitment for John Brown’s raid. This force of nature remaining in slavery, throughout the war, only to see that others would be free – and later, once free himself, when big business swarmed to take the rightful stock of the proud workers he knew and loved; A good days work, respect and proper compensation and a humble place to call home.

Now, the rest you know. He fought to prove mans worth over machine, mining through Big Bend Tunnel and in doing so, died.
Or so it is told. You might say he lives on to this day.
There is another legend that speaks of his ashes, only becoming ashes after a slow burn of ten days and ten nights, were spread over the railroad tracks where he built his path to greatness; learning the depth of a days work when applied fully by ones mind body and soul. It's said that these ashes, indestructible and so fine as to be invisible to the naked eyes of science, are in all the winds of our globe and rush to the aid of any true statement or courageous act.
That said, walk like John Henry. Choose your hammer, choose your mountain and let’s get to work.

Summertime Hip Hop BBQ Jam for the World REMIX featuring Guante and Heidi Barton Stink

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The BOOMBOX EMPORIUM is back!



After it took a hiatus for a several months while I finalized my exit from Tru Ruts, I'm kicking off this excellent-free-music-series again (strong) with the remix of a classic. It's a remix of a joint I did in Chicago with the homies itchie fingers and Sully. Updated it with a new verse, some beat box and guest spots from Guante and Heidi Barton Stink. Diggit!

Summertime Hip Hop BBQ Jam for the World REMIX by SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE




Check out the original version of Summertime Hip Hop BBQ Jam for the World on my latest full length release Architextual Design (also available on iTunes).

As always, thanks for reading, listening and thinking.

SEE

In Response to the London Riots (expanded)

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When I heard about the London Riots, I can't say I was hugely surprised, but I was really struck by the news.  I couldn't help but think a lot about the youth there, and all over really, all week. The track here is my emotional/musical response. I have to note that this isn't a song with lyrics, this isn't about me at all. It's about voices of the oppressed. Voices being ignored and interrupted by politics, media, academia and calculated poverty...

I hope you read on, but if you're a lil' too ADD for all that, here's the track now.




In Response to the London Riots by SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE


A couple of things that I find most disturbing:


  • How people talk about the rioters (rats, animals; ie, a tone of disgust, disdain,etc)
These people are not animals. They may not be protesting, but don't be confused; this is a socio-political, race and class issue. They're not protesting, they're EX/IMPLODING. However you think of yourself, if you refer to these people as animals, you're putting yourself on one side of a war of race and class.






What people are doing in London is wrong, HOWEVER, you need to be aware of the political and social pressures applied to people of the inner city. This is what happens when governments work for the rich and conscientiously let people fall (or force people down) through the cracks. There's no condoning violent, destructive behavior, but this is what happens when whole communities know what society neglects so well.







  • The clear line between inner city gang activity and violence and the attack on resources for youth programming and education.
Alexandera Topper wrote in the Guardian.co.uk in an article about the rise of crime in poor neighborhoods and the consistent budgets cuts in youth programming in poor neighborhoods, "...a perfect storm of unemployment, the withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance and a squeeze on programmes to help disadvantaged youths could bring more than just a rise in crime figures and result in a "lost generation". Read that article here

There's this idea about death by a thousand cuts and how oppression, racism and classism work on subtle levels to break people down. Social Justice Educators talk about it in the conversation of "intent vs. impact", with people they're encouraging to consider the ramifications of using language that can be taken as offensive, whether they mean to offend anyone or not. Thinking along those lines, I think there's something to be said about explosion by a slow boil. If you look at the cuts in youth programming and education funds for under privileged youth in the UK, you'd find a major decline over the years and even find out about a lot of protests by students to try and counteract those cuts. You'd find students talking about how them and their friends are prone to find trouble in the streets when there's not a youth center near by, not because they're looking to get into something foul, but because more and more, that's what's available to them without resources in their community. We're not just talking about lack of jobs, we're talking about obvious resources being taken out of communities where these after school programs and the like are the last strong holds for youth who are hanging on by a thread.







  • How clueless the media at large plays at the cause of these events.
There's a great video of an older man speaking to a newscaster about the youth in the neighborhoods where the riots started, and he's making a point about how the youth are continually abused and harassed by police in poor neighborhoods, just to be cut off with the most ignorant conclusion that he is "condoning" the behavior of the rioters. In fact, every time he makes a strong point, he is cut off by the newscaster. He's pointing out that this whole thing started with a young man being shot in the head by police several yards from his own home. The woman from BBC news even goes so far as to blatantly try to DISCREDIT him by alluding to his involvement in riots in the past (which were actually peaceful protests). This is an educated man, a writer and broadcaster. Check out the video below.






It seems we're all so above what's happening in these neighborhoods in London and that we won't tolerate this type of behavior. I have to ask, what of the part we play in condoning the behavior of our political system? Our vast gaps in what's socially acceptable in well to do neighborhoods and those of the underprivelaged? Can you really believe that the people who end up rioting like this feel like they have real opportunity where they come from? Do you think they're on an even playing field? Do you think they feel like they have a choice in the paths of their lives? Do you think that if they did, there would still be a wave of riots across a good part of a country? I'd emphatically question the merit of any sociologist or psychologist who would tell you that the stress of living in poor communities doesn't weigh into this sort of event.






Needless to say, hearing about this was really unsettling for me. I think the US might be right around the corner of this type of activity. It's scary, and I know that it's directly connected to the way we treat youth in poor neighborhoods, and the poor in general, of course. From the schools, roads, businesses to...everything really. I initially put this song up right when it was done before I had the chance to write more about my reaction to the riots and to the people talking about it. I do feel like the song speaks for itself, but there was a lot in there I wanted to unpack for folks and really bring to the foreground.

I have to end with one more thought, to keep things in perspective.
Because of the conditions we face in these communities, we need more than ever to look for assets and inspire hope as a real tool to improve on our situation. I do not by any means wish to project an air of hopelessness at what's going on in London or the United States or anywhere there is a lack of traditional or Government supplied resources. We have, coursing beneath the surface, an infinite supply of ingenuity and heart that just needs to be tapped into. It has to start with hope. If we can't hope, we'll never know our potential. We'll never give our selves the chance, because what does it matter anyway? What can I ever really change? With hope comes a will to imagine what change we can really take part of.

I know this was a bit long and kind of tangential, but I really needed to put down how I feel about all this, to put another voice in the chorus of those sticking up for oppressed people all over the world. I hope you get something out of it.

With love to all in the struggle,

SEE



'Railing Forward' backstage sneak peek snippet

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I had the chance to stand in the wing and steal this footage from our performance before I went on to close out the show. This is a super cool, cross-disciplinary collaboration. I wrote two brand new spoken word pieces for this, rap and even beatbox and read Langston Hughes poems over a jazzed up classical style (art music) piece. There's dancers, a 13 piece orchestra and photography. This is unique, smart, and fun to soak in. check out the facebook event page for dates and times.

So, once you're fully intrigued by the video and my lavish description of the show, pick a date, a date ;) (great date night jump off), come out and write a review at www.fringefestival.org!

Railing Forward at the MN Fringe Festival

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Yesterday began my stretch at this years MN Fringe Festival with Masterminds Dameun Strange and Erinn Liebhard for 'Railing Forward and other works', and it was spectacualur! They've put together a piece that jumps off of the story of John Henry and explores the growth of technology through rhythm, dance, a 13 piece orchestra and photography by Michele Spaise.

The production also features other works including 'Dream Variations', a song cycle inspired by Langston Hughes works. The ladder piece features another assortment of musicians including vocalist Sarah M Greer and myself, giving voice to Langston's words and some beatbox for good measure. I'm also performing some of my own work to open up and close the show. I've written two new pieces just for this event and I'm super excited to share them here, alongside such a high minded collaboration and presentation of music, photography and movement. Listen for 'Trains, Planes and Automobiles'(from my latest and greatest 'Architextual Design'), 'The Definitive Telling of John Henry's Tale' and 'Dream sequence #3'. Check out the facebook event page here for dates and times. Also check out the Strange Liebhard site for more info on their collab and this production.

It's been a while since I contributed to the Fringe, so this should be lots of crazy, artsy fun. Last time I took part in this staple Twin Cities arts event, it must've been in...2005 (living in Chicago and rolling with the Hermit Arts Crew to teh Cities), for Idris Goodwin's one act, 'Close to Victory' where I played a beat boxin', percussionizin', pot smokin' street artist by the name of "Special Ron". Although it wasn't my favorite performance of mine on stage, it had it's moments and was a lot of fun. I've had the pleasure of acting in a couple of my old buddy Idris' plays and it was always a blast. I wish there was footage of 'Pluto' and 'Sidewalk Etiquette'(much better work on my part, and definitely deeper, sharper pieces of Goodwin's) on youtube, but I'll have to settle for the video from the '05 Fringe show. On youtube, I think it's in 3 or 4 parts, it's been so long since I've seen it! So, if you're intrigued, follow side links and such for the other parts, they should turn up one way or another...





and here's another piece we did (in character) at The Ball's Cabaret Fringe Sampler that same year.