Mini Midwest Tour: Taproot and Nandi's Knowledge Cafe, Detroit

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After a harrowing arrival and magical first night, I slept in and headed to a nearby coffee shop for way too much bomb, strong coffee and a little writing and admin time before things ensued for the evening.

I proceeded back to home base at Taproot Sanctuary where one of the house mates was throwing night two of her birthday party. I helped in the kitchen by mostly cutting up some fresh mango and cracking jokes, then hopped in bed for a power nap. When I woke up, I ran a few pieces by candlelight, and slinkied down the stairs into some fresh ponche and a lively group of lovely people celebrating their friend. Word spread that I was an artist and they asked me to share something, so I kicked 'Pyramids'. We then dug into the layers of metaphor of that piece, and chatted and laughed and learned about each other a bit. By the way, Taproot is an intentional community living space where they strive to have a small ecological footprint, hence all the talk about candlelight. They filter rain water and do all sorts of other cool, environmentally conscious stuff there as well. Apparently they're even part of a network of POC homes living somewhere on a spectrum of off the power grid. I can't say enough about how dope it is, but I'll try ;)


I gotta say how not jarring it is to stay in a place that almost exclusively uses candlelight. It felt so natural meeting people in that intimate, twinkling place. It most certainly had a lot to do with the light in and between the people in that space (celebrating a birthday, no less), but there really is something to be said about social interactions surrounded by candles. I know I'm someone who prefers darker spaces as it is, and that I'm really comfortable wrapping myself in complete darkness, even when I'm not preparing for slumber. Still, I think there's an element of peeling back layers between us, and the bit of magic that feels much more free in that soft, warm light. It's like the little sprites of our auras feel more at ease to come out and play.xsdx

So with that, I launched into the evening at Nandi's for the tri-video premiere, performance and QnA with Will See and GMAC. Nandi's is a Detroit institution, and recently moved from a much smaller place they had been for over a decade, if I understand it correctly. The new place is a big, open, and welcoming space full of wall to wall books and gorgeous African masks that Nandi herself has been collecting for over thirty years. Apparently, she has a warehouse full of masks that she accumulated through relationships with people who brought them from small towns throughout Africa. Most of them have been used in ceremonies in their respective villages. And they have a kitchen.


Stepping into that spot was all love as an inter-generational crowd slowly gathered for the video, performance, and conversation to come. Everyone killed the performances, the videos were super on point, and we enjoyed some powerful statements from the crowd about social change. One elder in the house was celebrating his birthday, and honored and humbled us by choosing to celebrate it with us, mentioning that he hadn't enjoyed a weekend birthday in years and years. From his wheelchair, oxygen at his side, Baba Baxter spoke about how inspired he is by the work people are doing and the energy people have right now to make a difference. He said he hasn't seen this type of activism, and community work since the 60's. In fact, he noted that people haven't shown up to vote in these numbers in Detroit since 1968. After the crowd sang happy birthday, he closed by saying that even if he doesn't live to see the change we're all working toward, he'll be with us in spirit when we do achieve it. And on that note, I began my set.

Performing for a mix of youth, OG activists, and young socially engaged peoples from all over Detroit was one thing...but performing to that crowd along with the collective spirit of the authors and craftspeople (and all that their work represents) was like performing across time to so many past global community members and ancestors. Nandi and her friends vibed with us all night and stayed the latest, smoking in the back and dancing front and center. They were delightful, and I loved chatting with them and learning more about the space and community there. In a way, they also showed what it can mean to be an elder in community with younger generations.


Videos from the night:





Check back for 'Water Power' by Will See! Will post once it's officially out.

Midwest MiniTour: Minneapolis to Detroit

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I've decided to experiment with a little series of thoughts and experiences from my travels. I'm starting here with a trip I started two days ago to Detroit and back through Chicago. The first leg through Detroit is set up through a Cultural Exchange with Collective Wisdom Detroit.

Prelude:The day before I left I screen printed a bunch of merch and even made a bit of jewelry. After teaching me how to screen print by hand last year, Katherine invited me to her studio at Redeemer (her church and an important part of our community in North Minneapolis), where I helped her put the finishing touches on a screen press build (!). Once we figured that out with any instructions, it made quick work of the printing, and I gotta say, this batch looks even better than the last. I then went home and dove into the jewelry supply box and started creating. I stayed up entirely too late, but really dig the pieces I came up with. It was all a bit of a freestyle, and I'm still experimenting and learning, but I personally dig what I'm comin' up with...someone else has gotta feel it too, right? So the next day, I scraped myself together and barely made it out of the door. I stopped for a bag of sambusa and a burger (from the new spot on Glenwood which is a+), and while I waited, ended up buildin' with the owners Sara and Osman. Sara has been cooking at another spot over south for 17 years, and has lived over North for decades, so she's finally making the leap and running her own kitchen. Osman talked about bringin' art into the space and how he's tryin' put people on from the neighborhood. While that took way longer than I anticipated, the food was bomb and I had what I needed to cover me for the first part of the trip along with some apples and some random jello my pops gave me (lol). It was snowing and rush hour was just getting started...



Yo...after 9 hours for a 6.5 hour trip through terrible road conditions, a few terrifying moments with semis, and a path littered with spun out cars, crashes, and emergency vehicles, I made it to my overnight stay, and got back on the road yesterday, beautiful cup of coffee in hand and bomb breakfast sambusa (just sambusa for breakfast) waiting for me. *Then I realized I was losing an hour in Detroit and made a harrowing arrival *just in time for a delightful workshop with a dope circle of humans. I did my pyramids workshop on identity and opening up moments of our story through poetry for Riverwise Magazine at Cass Corridor Commons (connected to me by William Whole Note and #CollectiveWisdomDetroit). A lovely elderly woman incidentally offered the most insightful and profound feedback on the workshop, and I was so honored and moved to be in community there. After everything it took to get here, I knew this was right.




After that, I met my housemates for the next few days at the warm and welcoming Taproot Sanctuary, where I felt like a ghost walking into the most intimate birthday gathering with song by candlelight. Once everyone floated away on the magic they came in on, I made brief plans to help with some repotting, herb organizing, and wedding art in the way of earning my keep.
It's been a slow start today, but I'm enjoying my time and getting a little work done as I prepare for tonight's performance and video premiere of 'So Called Prez' at NANDI'S KNOWLEDGE CAFE'. I am so spent, but also feeling so very blessed.



New Video: 'Dude, Interrupted'

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Over the past week, women across the country have shared stories of harassment and gender violence, and one of many important questions to come from that is "what is the responsibility of men to do something about it?" Because there is power in witnessing, in listening, and in critical self-reflection, but there are also limits to that power. At some point, men need to start holding one another accountable, in real, concrete ways, for their words and actions. "Dude, Interrupted" is not a five-point manifesto for how to do that. Rather, it's a snapshot of what that work can look like, in the moment, in real life. Taken from SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE'S "Sex Tape" album (an exploration of consent, healthy sexuality, and the importance of sex ed), the song models just how important it is for men to interrupt and disrupt sexism wherever and whenever it manifests-- even when it's uncomfortable, even when it doesn't "work" right away. These conversations-- about the connection between "small" thoughts/words/actions, and the larger realities of harassment, discrimination, rape culture, and violence-- are a crucial step in the process. Talk about it and be about it. We can all do so much better.

Listen to the full album, 'Sex Tape' and learn more at the SEE-site

A Tale of My Time Traveling Cat

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So, I'm not feeling well tonight. My body's prolly tellin' me to chill, and today was especially stressful...emotional, really. Bootsy Cat, my dear friend, copilot, and time traveling cat from the future, went missing and it was really hard on me. I feared she went back to the future and I was. not. Ready. I woke up and knew something was off. No meowing, no adorable head butts. I didn't trip, she does other things. She has her life. I poured her food, cooked and ate breakfast. She never sauntered in for her meal. Such stillness, such quiet, consumed me. Afterward with no sign of her whatsoever, I started freaking out a little, but told myself to chill. "Wait it out, big storms are scary, and when she's gotten scared in the past (pun intended---she's a time traveling cat from the future, do try and keep up) from a dog or something, she's found refuge in a nook or cranny. I looked around the house, got my roommate involved in a search but tried not to trip. Checked out the yard, called out; nothing. I was shook, but still hoped for the best. Got emotional. "I'm not ready to say goodbye". Felt like it was going to be ok, but the thought still scared me...Went to a meeting. Ran mantras all day. Set intention. Scared, yet calm, hopeful. Got home, called out, looked around; nothing. Looked in the closets, drawers, cabinets, under the couch, the whole deal; nothing. "My life will be totally different without her". But where could she have gone?? Doing the math of the previous evening, there was no way for her to have gotten outside. Defeated and exhausted, I felt like a nap was in order. Told myself I'd keep praying and wake up and everything would be ok. Fell asleep repeating a mantra. I woke up heart broken that she wasn't around...checked my phone. "how long was I asleep now? A minute? An hour?" Then I heard a knock on my bedroom door. It was my roommate. "Can I come in?" "Yeah", heart on the floor. He opened the door...with Bootsy in his arms!! He says, "she was just there, in the kitchen, eating her food."

New Video/Project Celebrates Cult Hit Cartoon Samurai Jack

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Download the EP here

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In honor of the long awaited fifth season of Samurai Jack, SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE and his brother Nye cooked up a video that puts SEE MORE in the Samurai Jack universe...where he seems to be right at home as the titular character of their forthcoming EP, ‘SEE MORE EYE JACK’. Exploring future wastelands and cityscapes full of “watch bots”, sci-fi updated “chupacabras”, and “chainsaw-handed, fire-eyed peace droids”, SEE MORE draws biting parallels between our world and the world of Samurai Jack, where the shape shifting master of darkness, Aku’s “evil is law”.

Coming off their last release SEXTAPE (Or My Response to Our Morbidly Underdeveloped Sex Education), this EP finds this producer/MC duo of Nye and SMP in top form, sharpening each other's talents with an array of sounds, styles, and storytelling. After creating a purple make-over of SEXTAPE, in honor of Prince, SEE MORE was honored with a Cedar Commission with cellist Eric Silva Brenneman. With that project, they blended elements of classical, hip hop, spoken word poetry, new mythologies and social allegories. It seems that some of those themes have followed SEE to this new project, where the action and sci-fi get turned up to epic, Samurai-Jack-like proportions.

'Sex Tape in Purple' is Here, a Musical Conversation with Prince

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In honor of Prince, I humbly offer you 'Sex Tape in Purple', an overhaul of ‪'SEXTAPE'‬, rerecorded over Prince music and interviews. Available now for FREE. GIve it a listen and please feel free to share/re-post, etc., those tweets, likes, and shares go further than you think. As always, your support is appreciated!




The story behind the album: When Prince passed, I knew immediately that I’d need to create something to honor him. Not a cover, or a series of remixes, but something built off of his work somehow. In the days following his death, the rain came down as we all mourned, danced, and went digging into our memories and record collections. Along with the sun that followed, that rain brought purple flowers almost everywhere I went, even in the most random and unkempt places. On one occasion, as I pondered the poetry of the coincidence, driving away from a place where I had just seen such a patch of flowers, a friend and I needed to find a restroom. Where did we end up by pure chance and convenience? Prince Street. I had never even given the name of that street any attention, much less a second thought. Sure, these were innocent instances free of meaning other than what I was creating in my mourning.

The next day, on a beautiful sunny day that we all swore was the true beginning of spring, I went to pick up some records from storage. I haphazardly grabbed a stack of 45’s to bring back to the studio and I casually looked them over, having no idea what was in this particular stack, accumulated years ago. Among other things, I found the single for ‘When Doves Cry’, the first single released to promote the coming of ‘Purple Rain’ in 1984. Moved, I turned to my sister to show her what I had found with a frowny face. She asked me what the B-side was and I responded, “17 Days”, a song I was never familiar with (in fact, I had never even listened to this record, it was just one of the many cool records I found that patiently waited to find it’s time again)…that’s when she said, “Prince has been gone seventeen days”. I brought the record home, admittedly a little in my feelings, and dropped the needle on it, first thing. The chorus? “Let the rain come down, let the rain come down, let the rain come down, now”…the beginning of the second verse? “You’ve been gone seventeen days and seventeen long nights”, *as the gorgeous spring day* outside was transformed into a torrential downpour outside my window. That’s when I knew I had to create this album; a tribute to Prince, a collaboration with The Artist, a collection of remixes exploring themes of sexuality, media, art, and message; all set to the sounds of this great musician.

I should note just how vital sampling is to Hip Hop history, music, and culture. Not just as a means to create without access to more traditional instruments, but as a way to remake our selves, to add-to and retell our stories, and to build upon and pay homage to the work of those that came before us. In this way, art and artist are reborn again and again. This offering skews the context of its inspiration, allowing us to see it in a new light.

So here you have it, ‘Sex Tape in Purple’, in honor-of, admiration-for, and tribute-to our beloved, fallen artist. Listen for the conversation between the ideas, sounds and feelings of his work and my last album. Imagine a young boy dancing to those songs, and using them as a sort of trampoline to leap from and land at his album, ‘Sex Tape’, so many years later. In producing, recording, and writing (in the case of the bonus track), this really felt like collaboration. While I knew right away that I wanted to sample his work (and interviews), there were a few moments when I wasn't sure if this project was the right thing. I didn’t want to come off as opportunistic…and how could I possibly pay tribute to an artist of such a unique and singular caliber? As I embarked on the creation of this project, there were signs along the way that made me feel like this was actually...well, I’ll just say it all fell into place. I hope you enjoy it.

SINCERELY, SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE

Visit the SEE-site for more awesomeness.

HUGE Announcement/Leak About My New Top Secret Project

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via my instagram @mr_see: huge Announcement/leak on instagram, @mr_see!