Auld Lang SEE: A Parting Gift for 2014

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As we approach the end of another year, I can't help but to think of all the successes I've had along the way and all the beautiful people who helped make the progress possible. I won't be able to spend New Years with my favorite people (on the U.S. side of the pond), but I'll be with you in spirit, and I'll be with you as a friend, collaborator, co-pilot, advocate and brother moving forward into another year of *great possibility*. I love you all so much...

A couple gifts as we approach the end of the year...In this blog: a unique sort of year in review with the Critical Darlings Podcast and 'Dandelions', a new song about people of color, immigrants, and "the other" in the United States.

I hardly have the patience to sit through someone's year end blog, detailing the exploits of another year gone by, and I certainly don't expect you to read my self indulgent reminders to myself that my work is indeed going somewhere. Mostly, you'll just have to take my word for it. You can jump down to the new audio below, but I will take a quick second to bullet a few of the year's highlights, because, well, I work hard and should at least acknowledge my own small victories.

This year, I:


  • Joined the faculty of West Bank School of Music and had an excellent six-week class before the summer. 
  • Was welcomed to the COMPAS Arts artist roster and look forward to lots of good work with them this coming year. 
  • Had a smashing year working with youth again over the summer, teaching on the meaning of art, hip hop, and social justice with students from all over the world. 
  • Shattered a personal record of albums sold with my latest work, 'The Cosmos According to Your Closed Eyes' 
  • Created so much new and vital work that I can hardly stand not releasing it this very instant, but I must wait. I must do it right. But fear not, the new full length album, 'JAWS OF LIFE' really is coming (as is so much more new and exciting work). 
  • Collaborated tirelessly on so many new songs, side projects, and the like that it'll take some time to organize their release around the next big solo album.
  • Dropped a lovely little ep with collaborator Dameun Strange as "Strange Perspective", a four song suite we call 'Nobody Sleeps Tonight'
  • Enjoyed my first year conceptualizing, recording and producing an new Podcast with friend Mark Mikula and had a lot of fun doing it.
  • Really wrote some of my best work ever. I still feel like I'm finding my voice, searching for that certain something in my work, and I know that as we approach the end of another year, I am that much closer to attaining that.
While I enjoy time with my beloved abroad, I think of the families that had their sons stolen from them all too soon. The families that had love ripped out of their life. Peace torn from the pages of their family holidays. My heart and thoughts are with them. I simply can not imagine what it's like. To have a family member stolen by the people who proclaim to serve and protect. By the human beings who take offense to our protests of unlawful, irresponsible and spineless murder of our brothers, sons, fathers, uncles and friends. 


In these times, it is thoughtless to not acknowledge that pain. It is irresponsible as a person to live and love without living and loving for those that we have lost.




"We are passing news of death in the streets/told to keep our dignity, accept our defeat/
keep our voices down, stay off the air/
but we ar dandelions and we are every where"


This episode doesn't present your typical end of year list, rather offers our thoughts on the past year. We look at the things that we experienced and impacted us the most through a free-form conversation for 20 minutes and present a list of 14 statuses from our Facebook timelines over the last year that made us feel something. It's fun, thoughtful and with current events the way they are, also thought provoking. We talk about everything from Prince to Ferguson to artistic and professional development to having conversations about white privilege to awkward laundry room moments and so much more.

Happy New Year, may all of your hopes and aspirations be that much closer to fulfillment in the months to come.

As always, thanks for reading, listening and thinking,

SEE

For more, please visit www.seemoreperspective.com

Dandelions (Sad Sic Remix)

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First of all, I realize that another member of our community here in the Twin Cities, Dem Atlas, just put out an ep with a song by the same title. It has a similar meaning. I put this song out nearly two years ago.

But that's not the point. I just wanted to clear the air.

The point is that when I dropped this, I don't think people knew what it was about. It's about right now. It's about the historical context for what's happening right now. Take a deep look into what's happening in the U.S. right now. Use this song as a lens.

This song is for all communities of color, immigrants, people of the LGBTQ community, women, folks with disabilities...This song is for the "other".

I hope it offers some insight. I hope it makes you angry. I hope you do something about that. I hope you'll join the movement for legitimate change in this country, in this world. I hope this song offers perspective, because, like dandelions, we are indeed everywhere. I hope. I sing. I teach. I learn...in solidarity, in the struggle.

I love you. You're more beautiful than the world may ever give you credit for.








 the gardens that grow don’t happen on accident
roots run deep and get tapped into madness
like we’re mappin’ the grandest but we ‘re plantin’ the sadnesses
steady uproot and be scrappin the tannest kids
trapped in a land that gives frantic and panicked attacks
see our seeds rise sayin’ “send ‘em all travelin’ back”
mad and they adamant that stolen land is owned won’t be handin’ it back
but couldn’t last in our absences and
keep us around but won’t be havin’ the classes mix
roses are reserved for the gardens of palaces
but what’s a rose by another name?
just a thorny weed over growin’ the same
and they out on their own and their outta control
and they outta they mind and they outta they soul
and we got stay focused and we gotta keep reachin’
into earth out in the world til it ceases
keep reachin’…

they call us weeds
…just an inconvenience
they don’t like the way we grow
what it means is
they’re intimidated
we just growin’
we ain’t assimilated
we just growin’

They call us weeds, they don’t like the way we grow
Try to cut us down, say we tryin’ to take control
only growing...diggin’ in the dirt
pushin’ through the shit, the garbage and the murk
we’re in your backyard
we’re at your schools
we’re in your hoods
wearin’ the truth
We are growing through the pain
We are dandelions, and We are everywhere

Estranged from our roots scattered from our family
kept from the truth makin’ magic from insanity
what we own is insufficient
but we spread it out like it was butter on a biscuit
butter on the concrete, draggin’ on the gravel
they rub it in and tryin’ to drive it home with gavels
I mean edgers, I mean drugs, I mean pesticides
I mean fast food, distractions that anesthetize
I mean the fucked up messages are emphasized
I mean relationships, sex and violence, desensitized
I mean prison, I mean slaves they expect to die
I mean inspect these lies so we can set aside
And move forward with a present mind
Bring our seeds to a plot where they can centralize
on the come up, been workin’ for so long
not to take control just tryin’ to hold on
no home, our seeds ride on the wind
searching for some space where we can begin again
no home, our seeds ride on the wind
searching for some space where we can begin again

They call us weeds, they don’t like the way we grow
Try to cut us down, say we tryin’ to take control
only growing...diggin’ in the dirt
pushin’ through the shit, the garbage and the murk
we’re in your backyard
we’re at your schools
we’re in your hoods
wearin’ the truth
We are growing through the pain
We are dandelions, and We are everywhere

the hand picked get care in the gardens
the right food, light, water - we starvin’
we know what you value, it’s so obvious
our voices drowned out by media and lobbyists
come out and say it, you really just don’t give a fuck
if it ain’t affectin’ you, you givin’ nothin’ up
willfull ignorance of privilege keeps takin’ in
countless bodies in the green that you rakin’ in
you call it gardenin’, we call it genocide
you call it human rights to kill us off with pesticides
rights of businesses take precedence to little kids
we treated foul for tryin’ get our voices in the mix
We are passing news of death in the streets
Told to keep our dignity, accept our defeat
Keep our voices down, stay off the air
We are dandelions and we are everywhere

We are systematically poisoned and uprooted
We are growing through the pain
We are dandelions, and We are everywhere

Strange Perspective: Nobody Sleeps Tonight EP

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"These two other worldly gentlemen provide a witty and quirky blend of Hip Hop, Jazz and dancy, catchy-yet-soulful song writing. This EP is a collection of remixes from 'Lost Souls Boys' Choir present Jazz Funeral' and from the upcoming album 'Diary of a Droid'"



"...but like true geeks anywhere, push that nerdiness far enough and it will eventually come full circle to be an ironic sort of cool. That's what you have..." Mike Walsh, City Pages

Check out this and more at www.seemoreperspective.com


'I Put a Spell on You' and more

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Here's a bunch of spooky music videos to accompany your Halloween preparations. Check 'em out. They're fun :)

The first one is a Strange Perspective rendition of the classic previously performed by such greats as Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Nina Simone. The performance is from Halloween at Hell's Kitchen, Downtown Minneapolis a few years back. This video features Dameun Strange on keys, Chris Cox on trombone, Bryan Berry on guitar and Kahlil Brewington on drums.



These next two videos are promo for the show that last video was from, and for the album 'Strange Perspective and the Lost Souls Boys Choir'.





This one  was promo for a project I did with Guante, remixing and imagining his debut" Guante's Haunted Studio Apartment'.



There's more out there if you look, but I thought I'd highlight my favorites here.

Here's to an awesome Halloween this year!

Seven Ways to Not Be an Asshole on Halloween

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As Halloween fast approaches and we begin to consider (or in some cases continue the 11 month cycle of considering) what we'll rock to this year's parties, soirees and bar bashes or what have you, here's a few pointers to consider if you'd rather not look like a senseless asshole over the coming weeks. Because no one really wants to look like a senseless asshole...right? It's all gotta just be some kinda misunderstanding...a systemically racist, white supremacist, playing out what we learn from the cycle of socialization kind of misunderstanding. Which of course, is not your fault, but we still need to be accountable for our own actions. Here's seven ways you can help yourself in that never ending quest of not being an asshole.


1. Use your imagination.

Halloween is awesome because it's a holiday of all the the stuff that floods our imagination. The paranormal, the fantastical, even drawing on history can be a super dope way to come up with ideas for a costume. If imagination isn't your thing, you're going to continue to get more and more uncomfortable at these Halloween gatherings now that we're gaining momentum here in the era of the mainstream nerd. Imagination is our greatest and most under-utilized gift. If you have a shortlist of mexican drunk, indian, and oriental dragon lady, you're in trouble; and in more ways than one. Google super heroes, dig through your movie collection, or maybe (and this could be a stretch) you've read a book recently you could draw inspiration from? Hell, make up a character and their back story. Who says it needs to be instantly recognizable? Also, a unique costume is a great conversation starter, and reveals things about you to say...other potentially interested parties.


2. Recognize the difference between a character and a caricature.

...or a type of fictional archetype, as opposed to representing people who actually exist in our world... Wanna be a troll? Tight. Gandalf? Awesome. Gandalf and trolls are both fictional conjurings of the imagination. For example, "Indians" are not the fictional, stereotyped images you see in popular culture and it is not at all awesome to slap on some stupid hippy outfit while brandishing a fake hatchet like you just dropped out of some ridiculous western movie. We are not living in the 1950's where it's cool or acceptable to play "cowboys and indians". People played that game in real life, and it was ugly. It's an especially brutal history, not a stupid John Wayne film. People died, and it was not the way it looked on practically any film you've ever seen. People of the Indigenous Tribes of the America's, or First Nation peoples, or Native American (Or Ojibwa, Dakota, Inuit, or any of well over 500 nations), are real people; living, learning and working all over the world, today. Right now. Remember this example when you think about why you have the impressions you have of certain cultures, and how different people of the world are from how they're portrayed in popular media. If you don't find yourself thinking about why you have the impressions you have about people of color, now is as good of a time to start as any.


3. Take some time to think about where your ideas of people of color come from.

Seriously. Take as long as you need.


4. Read a damn book

Our culture is slowly shifting from one where offering a lady a drink is kinda played out, to a culture where more people wish someone would buy them a book at a bookstore. Intelligence is hot. Just look at the Benedict Cumberbatch phenomenon. I feel sexy just typing out the words, "Could I buy you a book sometime?". The more you know, the more out of place you might feel in some ridiculous club where people feel like it's ok to put their hands on others, when it never is (do we seriously still need to say that?)... The plus side is that you'll feel right at home in rooms full of beautiful, smart, and charming muhfuckaz who really know the finer things in life and know how to have a good time without oafing around a room like actual real life trolls straight outta Lord of The Rings. Also, the more you learn, the more you know how to dress up for Halloween without being an asshole.


5. Think your costume might be inappropriate? It's probably not cool. So don't wear it.

Ask yourself, "Would I wear this to the Halloween work party or the Halloween edition of my family reunion?" "Would I where this on a CNN Halloween special?" Would I feel less than entirely comfortable wearing this costume at a party who's friendly party-goers are comprised exclusively of people of color?" If the answer to one or more of these questions is no, I feel pretty confident in advising you to rethink it, homies.


6. Understand that what you intend does not dictate the impact it has on the people, or world around you.

Maybe you're dressing up "as a Mexican" because you're a bigoted ass, but maybe you're a really good person who who thinks Mexicans are funny people that you enjoy laughing with at work. You know, someone who just doesn't get why this is so fucked up. If you're in the latter category, it doesn't mean you should continue with your plan; you don't get a pass. Contrary to the content of the greatest single song of this century, wherein the wise LL Cool J and his enlightened friend Brad Paisley so eloquently elucidate on the idea of "accidental racism", this is not a cute, forgettable offense. Racism is still racism, even when you don't mean it. And you will be called out, and you'd be wise to listen. After all, who can better spot racism than the folks who experience it's salty glare, sour words, and aggressive, micro-aggressive or passive aggressive nastiness on a daily basis?


7. Do not "go as" a member of any race, class or social identity because that, in itself, is a stereotype, and if you're comfortable with this, you're more than kind of an asshole.

"Going as" a person of another race, ethnicity or any social identity other than your own is inherently racist, bigoted and totally within the bounds of getting you called out, uncomfortably gawked at, or slapped anywhere you go in public.

You've been warned. 





A glimpse of new work: Nunnayoohazzeneekwull from JAWS OF LIFE

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This is from a song I dedicate to you. To them. To all of us.

I’ve done my share of embarrassing things Been cold, rude, livin’ in some terrible dream Like the one where you shoutin’ but can’t hear when you scream Or the one where you’re runnin’ only draggin’ your limbs Yeah, like that but a real life scenario in My past, I gotta live with it when memory stings And no matter how justified it seems the arrogance is I’ll look back at every moment that I dared to be a dick and in the last I’ll be haunted. you’ll be there in the mix Barin’ witness to endless spring we barely sipped Carelessly flipped book pages that should nary be missed instead we merrily picked nits from the threads of care and the bliss And I’m not sayin’ we shouldn’t pick out the eggs of the lice just that we should take more care with this egg of this life cuz at the end of the night, we’ll be mendin’ insight reflected in edges of eyes ‘n’ wish we tended to light

From a song I finished yesterday that jumped off a hook I wrote like 7 years ago. I'm calling it 'Nunnayoohazzeneekwull'. Another beauty over a Serebellum One beat for the upcoming album JAWS OF LIFE that has been in the works for about two years. We're currently wrapping up post production and filling in the gaps as we lay out the track listing. This is one of the last few songs I'm writing to put the finishing touches on the ebb and flow, and over all vibe of the album. I can hardly wait for you to hear it. We're still plotting the release, but stay tuned for releas details, as we should have things figured out sometime in the next few months! We're hoping it will be a finished product by November, top to bottom, hard copies in hand, by by December as we continue to plot a release!

Check out the "prequels" to the JAWS OF LIFE album below, a series of seasonal EP's written for, about, and during each of the four seasons in Minnesota.

FALL FORWARD

BRAIN FREEZE

FOOD FOR THAW

SUPER HERO SUMMER CAMP

Seven Ways to See Popular Film

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This blog post was originally posted over at Opine Season, from my series over here called "7 Ways Not to be an Asshole" Look 'em up in my past posts, you can even utilize the search bar on this page.
Seven Ways to See Popular Film

I went to the movies last night. Guess what I saw? White people. How do you go out to the movies, watch a series of movie trailers and not say to yourself, “Wow, all these films are about white people”? Sure, I saw white people doing some terribly interesting things, but what did I see more than anything else? Seriously, what do these images say loudest? Especially to people of color? Because really, if you’re not a person of color, you don’t even notice. You don’t have to. If it’s a story about white people, it’s normal. And what’s the implication of that? Well, for starters, if you’re not white, you’re not normal.

Look, I love movies. I love going to the movies. Not to mention Netflix, VUDU, Redbox… you name it, I’m down. You know what else? I love movies starring white people. I love white actors. I swear, some of my best friends are white. But there is a glaring disparity here in what producers tend to put in front of audiences. In what the norm is. Check out any tv/film award show and take a drink every time you see a person of color…you will not get buzzed. Take a drink every time a person of color actually WINS? Welcome aboard the weak party EXPRESS. Unless of course you don’t drink, then welcome to a very fine evening full of talented white celebrities that may or may not leave you with a tangy feeling at the end of the night.

Here’s a few examples of the “wide variety” of films you’ll be exposed to at the movies, in your cue, or by the media, in general. This is a list of fantastic, thoughtful and even forward thinking films renamed to express their most basic message. I’m even adding a couple of google image searches for you to do on your own, so you can take a look at what you find for yourself.

‘White People Are Funny’ 
Google “film comedy” images.

This one is interesting because you actually see a *few* people of color on the first page! But why is that? Are people of color inherently more funny? How could that be?

‘White People Fall in Love’
Google “romantic comedy” images.
The title for this one could just as easily be ‘Love is almost exclusively for white people’.

‘White People Save the World’ 
Google “action movies” images.

Again, something interesting happens here: Asians! I wonder, does this happen to fall into any stereotypes we may have of Asian culture in American media? Or is that just a coincidence?

‘Only White People Survive in the Future/in Space’
Google “sci fi future movies” images.

First of all, if it doesn’t actually star a person of color, they’re dying. If the person of color isn’t the lead, and doesn’t die, it’s cutting edge film.

‘White Savior for People of Color’
Ok, maybe just google “white savior movies” or “white messiah movies” for this one and see what you find. Start with images, but then go read up on it, too.

I’ll start here: Dances with Wolves, Avatar, The Last Samurai, The Blind Side, The Help, Lincoln, and every movie about a white teacher in the hood ever…and probably most other movies, too.

‘Look at How Bad People of Color Have it’
Now this one gets a little nutty.

Google has no idea what The fuck I’m even talking about, apparently. Look at the pics that come up when you Google ‘movies starring people of color’ images. Why the hell is there so many pictures of white people in this google image search?! It says quite a bit. Also check out the roles that people of color have actually won academy awards for. Trust, there’s a trend there. See: ‘Precious’, ‘The Color Purple’, ‘Monster’s Ball’, etc.

‘Smart, Artsy, and White’
Google “indie movies” images.

What does it say about a person of color that watches this many artsy films starring almost exclusively white people? That I’m creative, intellectual and searching for something different. What do these films say about the film industry? They are not marketed to people of color, because they do not consider people of color to be creative, intellectual and searching for something different.