You can put a cat in an oven, but that don't make it a biscuit – Sidney Deane


What Roland Pryzbylewski & Malcolm Gladwell already tried to teach us about the Trayvon Martin case

As new details surface in the Trayvon Martin case, I can’t help but draw similarities to The Wire episode (season 3 e.9) when Prez guns down a black cop in plain clothes, mistaking him for the perp he was chasing through the dark streets of Baltimore. Of course we still don’t know all the details of Trayvon’s case, and The Wire is actually only a fictitious television show, but the underlying issue remains the same. Americans first instinct when they see a black man in a hoodie is fear and suspicion. Now, I don’t know George Zimmerman, but after watching the entire collection of The Wire three times now, I do know Roland Pryzbylewski. Prez was not a racist man, just a man whose first instincts under pressure, when coming across a black man in a hoodie, was to shoot. It may turn out George Zimmerman wasn’t racist either, but just found himself in a similar predicament.

By no means am I trying to let Zimmerman off the hook. Much different than the situation in The Wire, Zimmerman actually created the conflict, which in turn resulted in the lost life of a young man. I don’t know if some people really understand what the real issue is here. And honestly, when I say people I mean white people. Not all white people, but the ones who have made a point of downplaying the racial aspect of this conflict. I’m talking those who have attempted to draw attention away from the actual event and onto the actions of black leaders who may or may not be attaining some sort of personal gain from the publicity. Or those who have contributed, through facebook or word of mouth, in an attempt to paint Trayvon Martin as a thug, whom by which case I can only assume they believe deserved to die?

First of all, I don’t think the media, or any black leaders (except maybe the new black panthers whom nobody is listening to anyway) are turning this into a black vs white issue. The only people who I see turning this into black vs white are those white people trying so desperately to either prove that race had nothing to do with it, or that Trayvon Martin was a thug. And the most ironically infuriating thing about that attempt, by the way, is that they are using PICTURES of him either with a gold grill, throwing up a middle finger, or some other pointless gesture to do so. It’s no wonder these people don’t realize the issue when they are literally STILL trying to racially profile him! Remember, this whole conflict occurred because he was mistakenly assumed to be a criminal, or suspicious, simply because he was black and wearing a hoodie. When in fact, he was just a kid walking home from the convenient store with a bag of skittles.
The real problem here, which I’ve alluded to multiple times already, is racial profiling and Americans/white people’s racial paranoia. It’s not just a black thing either, I hear/see it regarding Arabs and Hispanics as well. And it comes from a deep seeded attitude we have ingrained in our society from hundreds of years of blatant racism and prejudice.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called “Blink.” The premise of the book is the decisions, somewhat subconsciously, we make in the blink of an eye. In his book he highlights the notion of implicit bias, and something called the Implicit Association Test, or IAT. To summarize briefly, the test which is performed on a computer has black and white faces appear, along with words associated with good and bad feelings (joy, pleasure vs sad, failure). It asks that you quickly press either the I (left) or E (right) key to categorize them correctly under the column listed Good/Bad or Black/White. It mixes them up though, so sometimes Black and Bad are categorized together on the left side, while White and Good are on the left, and then Black and Good are on the right, while White and Bad are on the left. You get it? (check it out here: What it measures is the time it takes for you to click the I or E key to appropriately place the face/feeling under the correct category it’s associated with. Now, Malcolm Gladwell is of mixed decent, both English and Jamaican. Even he, like myself, was found to have a moderate favor towards whites over blacks. I for one was surprised with my results as I am extremely accepting of all races, and even embrace/favor what some might consider typical “black culture” more so than, well, typical “white culture”. Malcolm Gladwell is half black himself, so his results were obviously surprising as well.

What does this say? Well it says while there may not be AS much blatantly direct acts of racism (obviously there still is, as just this year white teens went searching for a “nigger” and remorselessly killed him by running him over in a pick up truck) we all have an implicit bias that we may or may not realize when it comes to race relations that do have an astounding effect on many aspects of American culture, politics, and overall attitudes. How do we fix it? Well Obama was right when he said we can start by “doing some soul searching.” Hopefully this will lead us all to realize/admit that race DOES matter, and that instead focusing our efforts in trying to prove our own race was not in the wrong, we should be coming together to figure out how to make things right. How bout we start by making sure the police actually do an honest job and thoroughly investigate both sides, in which case Zimmerman should, at the very least, be brought into custody immediately. Then we can get rid of this insane “stand your ground” law that seemingly gives a free pass to every gun-loving nut-job out there who decides they want to murder someone because they felt threatened. That is all I have to say….for now.


Mixtape Monday: Rockie Fresh – Driving 88……inspiring thoughts on society and rap

I told you I’d be back with some more Rockie, but before I get into the mixtape, Driving 88, let me release some tension from my brain……

I really have a problem with people who are successful, or revered, whom I believe are undeserving. This is obviously based on my opinion of what deserving means. Now I know this is not an all encompassing example, but it just seems like the most selfish people are the ones who become the most successful. That is, by the standard of success in today’s society which is measured by the amount of money you make. And if you want to make money, then you better find a profitable industry, you better look out for self, and you better be willing to bring others down around you. In a sense, you want to emulate a corporate business strategy. Corporations don’t do favors for people, and they’re definitely not looking out for your best interests. It may just so happen that some are in the business of assisting others with finances or health, but don’t get it twisted, it’s still self-serving. They’re worried about the bottom-line. So you better hope that your well being just so happens to overlap with more money in their pockets. If not, you mean nothing. It’s kinda scary; is that how how our society is designed? If corporations are people, then what are people? Or what are we turning into as people? If I come off anti-capitalistic, it’s because I worry that if we reward and give the most power to these people who make the most money, then what? What are we teaching people to strive towards if making money is all that matters? It’s not about hard work. There are plenty of people who devote just as much hard work, but their hard work is spent toward helping their fellow human beings, or in another industry that isn’t only about the bottom-line. So why do these people struggle the most? If we can’t find a balance and figure out how to properly reward people who look make this world a better place, and stop giving unlimited amounts of power and respect to people with the most money whom naturally, in many cases, are selfish and self-serving, then our future, to me, looks grim and ungodly. In my opinion the Occupy movement has come about because that future seems to be looking more and more like the present.

In the Hip Hop game, it’s the one’s who deliver the most ignorant and unproductive lyrics that garner the most attention, and in turn, the most fame and fortune. And you know, I’m not even mad about the fame and fortune. If material things make them that happy, then they can have their money. But it’s the attention that bothers me the most. As much good that rap provide, so in contrast can it do harm. I’m not trying to play Fox News and blame gangster rap for the problems of our society, but you can’t deny the fact that the image presented influences its audience. Not only does it effect style trends (baggy jeans, bandanas, khakis, Timberlands, throwbacks, fitteds to skinny jeans, vans, flannels, snap backs, etc) but it also affects trends in attitude. But those rappers in the 90‘s were accurately representing the life, environment, and attitude they lived in, and that’s fine. It’s these rappers today that try to glorify a life of guns, drug dealing, and ignorant spending that pisses me off. Most of these dudes either don’t really live that life, or they do live it, but by choice as opposed to those they rap to, who may live it by necessity as they are lead to believe they have no other choice. But I guess that’s what sells……but for how long?

Just as the occupy movement is taking over the economic and political climate and starting to change old ways of thinking, it appears as though there may be an equally momentous movement in the hip hop game. There’s a new school of rappers coming through that are creating a new cool. And it’s based off of originality, realness, and most importantly, honest and in some cases humble lyricism.

I feel like I’ve already taken away too much attention from what I really wanted to share in the first place, which is dude’s music. Like most of my favorite rappers, and a large majority of this next generation, Rockie Fresh does more than rap; he inspires while entertaining. I can personally say that I’ve been inspired. But it’s not just about all that inspirational Joe Budden type shit, it’s good fucking music. Some of his shit remind me of The Deans List. Check out my favorite joints below and support the new school, and the new way of thinking. Be on the lookout, because good things lie ahead for this kid, and hip hop.  Hopefully our society’s future is just as bright…

“If you say you got a gift, make em appreciate your presence”

Rockie Fresh – Never Never

Rockie Fresh – No Fear

Rockie Fresh – Turn It Up

Rockie Fresh – Come Around

Rockie Fresh – Where I wanna Be (ft. Phil Ade)

Rockie Fresh – Respected….it really does deserve to be included in back to back posts

OnCue – Can’t Wait (Brenton Duvall Remix)

“got a heart that’s about the size of a giant’s
right now I’m flying, gravity defying
from these years of trying, becoming self reliant
find a wrinkle in my theory you can go grab the iron, (i swear)”

You’re going to tell me you relate better to “Watch the Throne”? I don’t know, I just thought lyrics meant something; more specifically, words. Don’t waste them on fillers with the sole purpose of simply occupying the thirty seconds that separate each hook, maybe while adding a clever punchline worth repeating here and there. Unless it’s made for the party, then lyrics, unfortunately, don’t mean shit. Let’s be serious, all that really matters in that case is bass and snare. (side-note, think about the rappers whose only biggest strengths are their bass, snare, and “club” jams…make sense?) But I know you’re not partying 24/7. If you are, well again, I just don’t relate. And don’t lie, neither do you.

I feel like a lot of already rich established rappers only know how to rap about the money they spend. Now, that may or may not be their own fault. That literally might be the only thing that makes them happy they are familiar with at this point in their life (wait a couple of years and I bet more than a couple will be trying to get back in the game after going broke…btw, Antoine Walker/basketball = N.O.R.E/rap, right?). But why does that interest people so much more than real life, like the stuff that they can actually relate to? I mean, I like hearing stories from all walks of life, but the shit some of these dudes rap about is more fiction than reality, even for them. It’s the movie Scarface written and performed through verse 500 thousand different (yet completely the same) ways. The money and all that garbage about how it somehow makes me give more-a-fuck about you? That’s just a waste of words. Just like some of the super rich’s use of money…

Quick tangent: conservative republicans criticize government and democrats for “wasteful spending” all the time. It’s one of their go-to moves. First of all, that’s clearly a matter of opinion. I would much rather “waste” our tax money on programs that at least attempt to invest in the American people, as opposed to watch these ridiculously rich CEOs and politicians waste their money on their 8th or 9th car, or 4th or 5th home. Seriously, there is a certain point where money and the objects purchased literally cannot increase one’s happiness anymore. None of that is gonna get you to self-actualization (see Maslow), and if you haven’t been able to make some friends and feel confident with that kind of cash, then you really have some problems. It’s also worth mentioning that at this point these people have already secured the physiological and safety needs for multiple generations to come, while their slow growth investments pretty much allow them to increase their wealth indefinitely. So when you look at it like that, what’s more wasteful to you, investing in millions of people whose basic needs are in jeopardy or buying multiple yachts in desperate hope to fill up some emptiness?

….Anyway, outside of wasting the gift of speech (and money), I guess I just don’t understand the time and energy we spend envying the rich and famous. If they were so happy they wouldn’t spend so much time searching for it in tags, bottles and strippers. Believe that. Personally, I prefer the not-yet-made-it type dudes and their story of hopeful ascension from the passion that still drives their craft.

Check out Brenton Duvall’s tantalizing remix of OnCue’s “Can’t Wait”. Told you dude has good taste.

OnCue – Can’t Wait (Brenton Duvall Remix)

Occupy Wall Street Flow: Who’s Asking for a Handout?

Just as quickly as supporters flocked to pay tribute to the Occupy Wall Street protests and their cause, so now, it seems as though naysayers have joined to express their criticism of the protesters themselves. That’s perfectly fine and all, so long as they take a stand against their actual message, and not just make generalizations about the types of people they are. But when did their message become about looking for a handout?  And when did someone take a poll to discover all of them are unemployed and too lazy/stubborn to find work. Listen, it’s just as ignorant to assume these people contribute nothing to society as it is to assume that any of the wealthiest 1% don’t actually use a good amount of that wealth to contribute positively to the rest of society. At that same token, it’s also ignorant to assume that all of those people accumulating mass amounts of wealth have actually worked harder to get it.

I find it laughable when people like Herman Cain or anti-occupiers say things like “maybe if you worked a little harder, you would get the job you want, and make the money you think you deserve,” when the most common slogan for finding a job in America is “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” What the fuck does that have to do with hard work? It sounds more like a strategy to win a reality TV show competition than it does a model for building a country’s work force. And that’s why Asia produces the worlds engineers, doctors and computer programmers while America produces the worlds salesmen, brokers, and lawyers. Not to mention presidential candidates like Rick Perry and Sarah Palin.

I think the overall message is NOT that we want to pay less taxes (don’t mistake 99% with the tea party) and to get the billionaires and all those well off to pay for others’ cost of living. It’s that we don’t want money to be the overall ruling factor in EVERYTHING that occurs in our country. And let’s be honest, it’s not hard work we value, it’s money. And there are undoubtedly easier ways to make money than by hard work. For example; lying, cheating, stealing, selling drugs, etc. Seeing as though we’re all about efficiency (“Time is money” is another popular mantra in America) why would ANYONE waste their time with hard work, when all you really need is the money to make things happen. Take Jay-Z for example who was an admitted drug dealer for a large portion of his life.  Outside of rap, that’s how he made the money that built his empire. Now he’s a respected businessman and welcomed member of the elite. No one cares how you got it, all they care is that you have it. And it, is money. I can’t blame him though, he’s just the product of a society built by the motto “Cash is King.”

I’m just gonna stop there, because the more I rant, the more thoughts come to mind and I’m afraid this post wont ever end. I’ll pick up on corporations (aka the greediest “people” God never created) and lobbyists another time. I don’t think the occupiers are going anywhere just yet. And neither is my voice.

Check out Mike Check’s revolutionary flow over J. Cole’s sick production for Kendrick Lamar’s “Hii Power”.

(MP3): Mike Check – Occupy Wall Street Flow