big homie

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On April 3rd I Received A Phone CalL…

telling me a friend was killed. There's no phone call like the unexpected ones with death attached. To hear that it was Tyrone was even worse. This friend is a brother. A son. A father. A village leader. Not just an activist, but a warrior for the people. The revolutions evolution. A protector. A provider. A sun. Walking amongst Ty was walking amongst God. If there was a human being that embodied all of our Blackness, our fight, our pain, our truth... it was Ty.

This was the friend that grew into family. Always felt like I've known Ty my whole life, or even longer. Like our ancestors aligned our paths for a reason. He was the homie you'd hit up for whatever, and he'd do whatever needs to be done, by any means, to make sure you're good. I've built with Ty. Turnt up with Ty. Cried with Ty. Marched and protested with Ty. I've mobbed with Ty. He's one of the homies I've felt the safest around, regardless of where we were. And we did a whole lot in our time together. Ty supported me with The Liberated Bloc and with my craft whenever he could. Blessed by all hes done for me. As you can imagine, the loss of Ty in all of our lives really put a halt to my creativity, and this is the first song I recorded after he was murdered.

My whole life has been about the relationships I've built. The forged families that have helped sculpt me into the person I am today. I walk across this earth and through this life with the wisdom passed on to me by my OGs. My big sisters. My big brothers. My Big Homies.

At no point in time do I ever want to forget about those who came before me, and have passed along knowledge and experience to guide me. I refuse to forget what y'all have done for me. 

My Big Homies know who they are. And if you a Big Homie to somebody, more power to ya.

Ty, I love you. Black Coal forever.

Sidenote:

This beat was originally started with some scholars at a few blocks from my Big Homies family home. Don’t have the original stems to make the mix better for my frequency nerds, but I think its perfectly muddy. I think Ty would’ve loved this.

Visit Black Coalition Clothing below.

 

ENDURANCE

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A lot of y'all don't know this, but...

there was a point in this part of the multiverse where these three artists would not ever be caught in the same space at the same time. Especially Farr Well and Martyr. Come to think of it, Farr Well and Martyr weren't necessarily on the best of terms at the time. They went through a storm together. Whether it was about music or the culture, they were butting heads for a while. From what I understand, they've known and worked with each other for a good minute, and have a history longer than some of our money. My brother Farrington started going through some real trying times leading up to that summer. A chapter that lead to the discovery of some needed help and support around his mental health and well being. Yet, it didn't stop his artistry, it actually pushed it with an unearthly work ethic to match. 

We're always thuggin in the studio. People know me and Farr Well always workin together, and this happened to be a night where Martyr and the homie Deq came through while I was working on some beats. And out of nowhere, Chance York slid in with the right energy to set the tone. I have this beat called "Soaps" that had a nice switch, and we went ahead and arranged it to lay some vocals down on it.

Sidenote:

Farr Well was highly engaged with the neighborhood and community work at that time, fighting gentrification thru-and-thru, and Chance was running free yoga workshops in the hood on the Northside. Which lokey led to some funny and necessary conversations about the work we all do collectively. 

Anyway, all three of these amazing, crazy potential artists set off to do some of the dopest work seen in the city the remainder of that year. Martyr, who works with like, all the dope artists, released one of my favorite jawns of the year with Franz Diego called "Glistening." Chance York released his album “Deep Dark Hope,” straight classic. BTW, I first seen Chance perform with Crunchy Kids some years back when I first moved MPLS, and was blown all the fuck away. I set that collaboration intention then. Facts. And Farr Well, one of my closest friends and brothers, went at everybody's head and had an incredible upkeep of music with "Bridges From the Northside," "Karma Candy," "AZ-Teks Ghost," and "For My White Friends." Out of this world. I couldn't be more proud of these artists. Endurance was for the local culture, the local scene.

Endurance is the only track I didn't rap on. Helped with the hook, but thats it. Explicitly. Something was in the air that night where I knew my role in this life more than ever. Remain fluid. Water.

 
 

Falls

Death. Marches. Death. Love. and Becoming.

I originally starting writing this song during a time of despair. After the death of my grandfather. After the police of Minneapolis murdered Jamar Clark. During an 18 day occupation of the 4th precinct. Visiting family. I had a hard time getting this song to where I wanted it to be, due to all the chaos. 

During those catalytic moments of anguish, we were still working on The Liberated Bloc. For a time, we held Black Fridays. Black only spaces where we could come together, break bread, create and heal without the presence of our white counterparts. We turned on another burner and started creating Blexit. Shoutout Me'Lea, Jonathan, and Miranda. Shit was urgent. Something had to be done. During all this societal turmoil, it was our youth, the young people who suffered the most. Day in and day out at occupations. Protesting and marching. I work as an educator with the youth. You see the effects of death and trauma in our villages on the face of our young folk everyday. We knew we needed to build something greater, something more insulated, safe, protective. If we don’t, our young folk will continue to suffer the most.

It’s hard to be Black in Amerikkka. It’s even harder alone. It’s easy to fall for easy fixes to our pain and trauma. It’s important to have rituals with your folk. The Bloc is our Quilombo; the place for the runaways. The homie Yon fka Yon Legend cka Hlpwntd did all this production magic here. He gave it to me at a time when we were spending long nights producing together. I was way more focused on the production and mix/mastering side of things at the time, but this got me soul moooovin.

Mayyadda [Eightynine, Holding Space] came through and dropped vocals on this song for me. It had been missing elements I couldn’t create that she could. As a powerful young Black woman, who’s an amazing artist, and youth worker herself, I knew she would bring the perfect energy to help me round this song out for those who hear it. 

Self care. Self love. Two very important factors needed when it comes to this work. It’s a marathon. Have to set and keep your pace. Always have a plan. Always find the moments of joy and peace. 

 
 

 HIGH MILEAGE

Look At What You Turned Me Into

I’m always in my feelings. Being “in your feelings” doesn’t necessarily require you to always be overtly emotionally expressive. Hell, I’m introverted as fuck. People do see me in spaces or events with a lot of people from time to time, and get the impression I’m an extroverted person. That is not the case. Straight up. You may see me that night, and not see me the next day. Truth is, almost nobody sees me the next day. People can be real draining for me, so I have to charge up. I do charge up with my village though, those that know my patterns and behavior, those I know that truly see me, acknowledge me and love me. I love my folk so much. I've learned how my behaviors effect those that care about me too. I suck at times. And — I’ve also learned how to be in space with people while being as respectful as I can of all those in it. Self-awareness is a discipline I try to practice. I don’t feel the need to over impose on other folk, so I’m generally ducked in the cut somewhere. Obviously, I make music and perform. Yet, thats just another part of me that I’m comfortable with, because I’ve learned to accept myself. 

Creating helps me process the feelings my introversion protects. And I am a heartbroken, trauma filled wreck. I put up walls to protect scars and wounds. I’ve been hurt by folk. I have hurt folk. I’m at a point and time in this life where my vulnerability has reached a value I can appreciate. And damn. That shit hurts when those you have given access stampede through you. My personal high mileage thats been accrued through heartbreak and heartache, shitty friends, hurtful lovers, a society that has targeted my black ass since birth, I’m out here more than ever. Exposed to a climate of love and hate in the same breath. Still, I’m here. It’s the comeback’s from the break-ups, the lost relationships; after being beat down by those that don’t want to see you rise that count the most. And yes, its a real ‘fuck you’ to those that are still trying to keep me down.

Today, my high mileage is both my worth and a liability. I’m just tryna be happy in my truth while I’m in this.


 Now or never

this is bigger than me and my niggas

I spent a summer working independently. No obligation to anybody but myself when it came to how my money was made. Blexit was working, our new Non-Profit, The Association for Black Economic Power was moving, and the work towards bringing a black-led credit union was fully underway. Village Financial Cooperative reflects all our beliefs towards creating for own. I was motivated by all the work we do to put myself out there as much as I can. Recording sessions all the time. Mix and mastering projects. Collaborating with other organizations and companies, independently on my own. Felt amazing. Wasn’t easy on my budget, but, it aint all about the money.

Summers in my apartment are hot. The old red brick soaks the over head sun in all day, and distributes it back all night. We spend days at a time creating, listening, vibing, and learning together. The summer day this song was put together was no exception to the heat. Yon (Hlpwntd) and I were spending almost any opportunity our schedules could manage together creating. With the amount of collaborative tracks we have, we could drop several projects together. Something he and I are planning to do in the future. 

I got a text from Metasota after seeing him the night before at local show. If you know Meta, he’s either on tour, in a basement working on his craft, mobbin with his squad, or not tryna be seen and layin low. Every time we’d see each other it’s always love, and we’d promise to link up soon. As you can imagine, I wasn’t prepared to get his text to link up. I stopped everything we was doing. We hopped in the whip and went straight to St Paul to pick up the big homie. Facts. If you know Meta, he’s a muthafuckin unicorn when it comes to Hip-Hop. When it comes to the Twin Cities, you can’t talk rap without mentioning his name. He’s the same unicorn that shut down the unicorn Jay Electronica’s show with a freestyle. I remember that night. Everybody who was there remembers that night, and will never forget it. We had to go pick the homie up.

We get back to my place and get right back to where we left off. Yon and I were set up working a track. Adding different elements here and there while Meta wrote a verse. Said he was ready and layed his vocals down. I wasn’t planning to even try and rap with Meta. I was not ready. Literally out my mind. My pen and pad were so fucking dusty. But I knew it was now or never to have this opportunity. The times had been telling me so. The work had been telling me so. I wrote my verse and layed it down.

I thought it was dope how this song came out. The switch in the production. Just about all new sounds we created on spot (we had fun with the new synth). No big hook. Just a lot of bars really. There’s definitely an essence captured of the times. We are always grinding for tribe. Hustin through the system. Tryna come up so we can bring each other up. There’s an urgency to all the work we do. You either catch those opportunities of growth, or do nothing at all. 

Get Down

Stick to the code

Back in high school, myself and a few other homies of mine created a crew we called “The 21 Gun Movement.” Inspired by our brother and sisterhoods, our new movement was all about holding it down for one another, and celebrating each other while we’re still alive. In the military, soldiers receive a 21 Gun Salute at their burials. Our movement was all about saluting the homies while they here, and sending highest respects and regards for each other while we still can. Growing up was hell for a lot of us, to the point where we could rely on our selected brothers and sisters more than we could our blood. Times of homelessness, hardship, and struggle, we always knew we could rely on one another. Whether its being down with gang, squad, whatever the case, in order to come up, you must get down.

Since we’re talking about come ups, at the beginning of the year, Blexit threw an event called, “The Come Up.” It was an evening where we celebrated all new Black and Brown leadership across the Twin Cities. From newly elected city council members, to the park board, to up and coming candidates, it was a celebration to highlight the hard work it takes for us to see our folk in positions of power and leadership. We held this celebration at our new ABEP and Village Financial Cooperative office in North MPLS.

Hard work, dedication, and loyalty pays off in the long run. In order to do that, sometimes you have to go all the way in. Hold nothing back. Commit yourself fully to what you believe in. 

Sidenote:

I could not make that second verse any longer for the life of me. I had so many renditions of it, but couldn’t decide how to finish it. My brother Amp G, who came up from Atlanta to stay with me for a little while, and who you hear on the other end of the phone call, pressured me time and time again to finish writing. “You better finish that verse before you put it out!” he would say every time I mentioned my music. He just so happened to call me when I was recording some vocals for a different song, and I saw it as the perfect opportunity to finish this song off full circle. 

salt

In my bag

Battlerap. Basketball. Banks. I made this song in March. I was blacking out all Spring. My day-to-day job as an educator in the public school system was chaotic. Yet, we had victories, like taking all our students to see Black Panther. Shoutout G. I was spending every hour possible manifesting and growing with my friends. Rituals. Built with a lot of artists. Village Financial was gaining crazy momentum and traction building a new economic foundation for the people. Development. Shoutout Me'Lea and crew. As I've gotten older, I've been loving basketball a lot more. I play with the scholars mostly. Don't watch NBA games too often, but I love when it's playoffs. I love the hype, the passion, and the NBA was hittin. 

I've been out here workin with the tribe for years. We've been putting in so many hours. Busy all the time. It's a code we live by, operate by, design by. A code that most don't understand. We design infrastructures for all of us to grow, and I was peaking in this chapter. 

I needed to talk my shit for a little bit, and Salt represents that. I was in my bag. Harden whippin. Curry from the corner. Westbrook on the drive. Derozen in his zone. Salt is a war cry to let folk know I'm out here, and been out here. This song represents my turn bringing the ball down the court.

Sidenote:

I was kickin it with the bro Scott (aka The Local Loc, Tattered Life) all the time, cookin up day in day out. My brother in ritual too. We share the same love for Battlerap. Hell he might love it more than me. But it was that aspect of Hip-Hop that pushed me to set this fire and throw gallons of gasoline in it. He's one of the most encouraging folk in my life, always inspiring me to go all the way in and kick my shit. 

This one is for all my folk that have been putting in their work. Paying dues. There's no reward without risk. We risk it all for what we believe in. Grind. Years on end. 

Forever thuggin with my tribe.

send ludes

I see you

I have a hard time balancing my love life with all the priorities I have. I've tried to prioritize my love life, but have failed on every attempt these last seven years or so. I've ruined some relationships due to the fear of falling in love, breaking someones heart, or getting hurt myself. I'm a man scorned, yet, I've had the opportunity to build with some very incredible women, for that I'm thankful.

I struggle with putting these emotions into words. It's difficult for me to express it. The music makes it easier. Send Ludes is the serotonin moving through me, the natural high I got from being with someone I may be falling for. 

During one of my nights of dedicated music, I was alone, fresh on a high from someone I was dating. At this point where our paths were colliding, we could acknowledge the depths of our existence together. Dreamy. That time in space floating. 

Being able to see someone for who they are, what they can become... while experiencing the depths of intimacy, and sexuality, spiritually and consciously... are gifts we only get to exchange with select folk. 

Busy

do not disturb

I've learned to set my boundaries. One of the biggest tools I utilize on my technology is the 'Do Not Disturb' setting. There's nothing more nerve racking than a phone call coming through and your computer stops everything because of that notification in the top corner. Or when you're responding to an email and someone's hittin you. Or even listening to some music you're working on, and boop, someone's calling. Demand is real. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but in all actuality, I set the intentions of having the opportunities to do more for and with my folk. Busy represents some of that frustration, but I'm still in my truth, actual too busy sometimes to do anything.

Sidenote:

That reverse sample lead in this song is from some piano riffs sent to me, by none other than my brother Jared Hanks. He and I have worked together on and off throughout the years, collaborating as entrepreneurs with The Liberated Bloc, through youth mentorship, or the occasional, "let's make some music." The riffs are too Trill (pun intended, "if you know, you know." *in my Pusha T voice). Shoutout A.P.. I'll be sampling them for a while. I was experimenting and didn't want to be too direct with the chops, and did something simply different. This song parallels the grind we been in for years. Been a busy ride.

I catch myself overwhelmed by the expectations I've put on myself. Insomniac. I never actually "go to bed." I generally catch myself with my morning alarms going off as I'm waking up wherever I left off the night before. Book in hand sitting up straight on my couch. Head resting on the keyboard while at my computer. I'm working on that.

These last few years of committing myself to so much has forced me to prioritize some things, which often leaves people left out of what I'm doing. Personally, it's not intentional, yet, I'm in a place now where if I don't take claim to my time something may not get done. Gotta pay bills. Gotta eat. I'm always grinding, working, sometimes scraping to make my ends meet. I'm taking my chances; dedication to my passions and the purpose we out here for.  

today

i have arrived

I've spent the last four years or so head down. Grinding and working through all my ailments, struggle and trauma. My depression was stacking with my anxiety. I reached burnout. The schools were facing a staff shortage, I was over extended in my role, using the love of the work to push me through. My energy stayed on E. Sessions on sessions on sessions. Hours on hours on hours. Meetings and engagements and events. I was a zombie. Moving through this digital age bogged down by regulating systems that limit your potential to be your best. I lost myself. 

Summer was approaching and I didn't know what to do. I was breaking down when alone. I'm still grieving. My interactions with the ones I love didn't go deeper than the surface. I was not Malcolm at this point. I felt disconnected from my ancestors. I've lived a thousand miles away from my family for nearly a decade, seeing them sporadically, unfortunately at times for funerals too. Homesickness has broken me down. My niece, Marley, was growing up so fast and I was missing all my family. I had to go home. I called my brother some time in June, and told him I was thinking of doing just that. Extensively. He flew up on a Friday. I packed it all in the whip. All my music equipment. Some clothes, books, whatever I felt I needed. Saturday, we drove south. Stayed in Memphis as we made our way to Mississippi to see our brother Kendrick Martel, aka SKMG. Them we went home to Georgia. I left Minneapolis for about six weeks. If I hadn't, I don't know where I'd be. Spiritually. Mentally. Physically. Deteriorating at a rate I didn't understand. I hadn't processed everything I've compartmentalized. Everything I boxed up was spilling out of their confines, soaking into my existence. It was impacting everything.

Self love is important, regardless of how committed, loyal, and/or present you are. I thought I had a grip on it all. Thought I knew my capacity's limits. At my breaking point, it was my Grandma Mary -- ancestor -- that reminded me who I am. What I come from. What's helped me get this far. Financially, it wasn't the wisest move, yet I was able to get the support and love from my village to get the self-care in that I needed.

I wasn't facing some real truths in my life, and going home gave me the opportunity to recalibrate. Reunite. Replenish myself with the energy of what I come from: My Mother. My rock. I work for her. I crashed in the dining room area with my equipment set up like it had been there for years. I came up with the concept for Today before I went home. The last song written. The final pages to a chapter in life I'm closing. I knew at this point I was coming to a close with this project. I hit GP Jacob up knowing I'd want him to be on it as I started putting lines together for the lyrics. Another artist, activist, and organizer whose experienced the pressures of priorities and passions in the movement. We've talked of collaborating, and I felt this was the perfect opportunity for us to pull in together for a balanced feel and sound. Mike Queenz, aka Michael McDowell is one of my favorite humans ever. I love them. We've been building for some years now. Whether musically, or growing in the village, we've been through a lot together. Their addition to this song was perfect. While in Georgia, I told them I had a song they could bless. I had a session with none other than Yon (Hlpwntd) when I got back to Minneapolis, and Queenz came thru. We listened to the song, and came up with the ending lyrics. Yon put on his Quincy Jones shoes and directed the background vocals for Queenz to kick. Genius type shit. 

Sidenote:

The sudden end to this song is intentional. I wanted it to represent the gamble of life itself. Tomorrow is not promised. Yes, there is design behind all of this. Some designs we have no control of. I believe to enjoy life at its full potential, you have to acknowledge that at some point. There's no life without death. I hope you get to be happy in your peace before it's all over.

 ours

thanks for being patient

This was a song I recorded after I delved back into producing. It's one of the older recordings I put on this project, and a single I released late last year. Little did I know how far we'd come since then. It foreshadowed the other ideas and concepts I'd dive further into for the project. I knew my role in all the spaces I was committed and obligated to. I was acknowledging the intention behind the work, and why I've been so distant from people. I was steady in my ritual spaces with my village. Building. I was some years deep in movement work, while trying to build a new creative system for all of us to thrive in through The Bloc.

I often find myself experimenting with song structures and flow of energy. When to build up, and slow down. Having the opportunity to be bother producer and vocalist on a song allows me to do so much more, hence me always making space for flips, instrumental sections, vocal chops and more. Ours set the tone for that, while also remaining true to my beliefs: The World Is Ours, however we want to take it, we'll get it.