Peace B-Boys and Girls. This Bug is back I'm sorry to say, with a heavy heart. Suffice to say it's been a really rough month. But the beauty of music, Hip Hop music especially, is that it can take you to a good place. A comforting place. It's been a while since I've even heard Today's Throwback. But I was at a wake for the brother of a high school friend yesterday and I found it both odd and fitting that this song came up during words of tribute and remembrance. A cousin of his approached the mic amid the brokenhearted and spoke of a memory he had of this tape first coming out. He spoke of how amped they both were while it played for the first time in his boom box. Those who could relate all smiled, because we knew exactly what he meant. I guess for that moment- we were all united in our grief and in being Hip Hop Junkies. It was nice to know a feel good song by Nice n Smooth had its place in the fond memories of the departed. Especially because this song is so full of life; just like him. May his spirit travel forward in love and light. This one is for Big Keith. R.I.P. Kito. Much Love.
March 31, 2011
March 28, 2011
"Four things come not back. The spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity." ~Arabian Proverb
Make that five. The reflex. A knee-jerk reaction that's impossible to stop. It has its rightful place among the spoken or rather, spat word that pierces the ear like a poisoned dart. It flies alongside the flaming arrow that may blaze an unintended target. It meanders with the life already lived; never to be experienced in such a way again. And it waits with the missed the chances that will never return. The reflex; that instinctive movement that happens in spite of itself.. An impulsive and uncontrollable creature with a devil-may-care propensity. The reflex cannot be taken back even if it wants to be. It's the first pebble of the avalanche. The red button that can't be undetonated. The statement that won't be redacted. The lost cause and the effect all in one. It is in fact reflexive- not an unprovoked action and It. Comes. Not. Back.
March 24, 2011
This Bug never thought she'd see the day when a throwback feature went beyond the nineties but I have to go with it when the inspiration is there. This is one of those joints that I knew nothing about. I didn't know who made it, where they were from, nothing. I just knew the first time I heard it in 2002, I liked it instantly. The jazzy horns made it feel like a Pete Rock masterpiece, but I was wrong. Sometimes you just have to appreciate the little things- because they add up and count for a lot. No one expressed this sentiment more soundly than Blackalicious. I still have no idea where they're from or who else they've worked with. I just know that back then and up until recently, hearing it transported me to good times. Memories and blessings. Things you may overlook when you get caught up in the day-to-day. And let's be honest; the daily grind and money may make you comfortable for a time- but it's not what sustains us. This Bug's line? "A bad day'll make you really notice ones that's good / And that'll make things a little better understood." It's those rare moments that you should hold close when it gets tough. The chance encounters. The unexpected good fortune. A show of kindness returned. Good times with friends and family. Or maybe just a nice tune that celebrates those things. Those things that Make You Feel That Way. Enjoy.
March 23, 2011
Glamorous. The cat's meow. A Hollywood icon. An AIDS crusader. The original diamond cluster hustler. A friend to MJ when it was an unpopular thing to be. She was honest. Classy, gutsy, private and downright beautiful. And she lived in way that didn't seek approval..from any of us. Farewell to the violet eyes.
"I have a woman's body and a child's emotions." ~Elizabeth Taylor February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011
Where ever you may be, may your inner child sing and womanly ways float freely. Rest In Paradise, Liz.
March 22, 2011
Normally I'm an excellent speller. So it's sort of strange what happened. At the side hustle a few days ago I had to fill out a damage slip for a shoe. It was quick and painless. I've done it a dozen times before without thinking. It's quite simple, really. Date. Brand Name. Reason. I got the first two right. It wasn't until I looked down at what I'd scrawled for the reason, that I saw my mistake. There, on that two inch line were the words that gave me pause. I know what I'd meant; what I was supposed to write. But somewhere between the correct spelling in my mind, my subconscious and the pen in my hand- there was a disconnect. The meaning changed. Or maybe it was a non-verbal Freudian slip. Plus, for the shoes to be so new it made no sense for the sole to be damaged that way- but it was obviously defective. Made by miscalculation. Not unlike most of us, I suppose. Perhaps my hand wrote the word incorrectly just so I could look down and process something deeper. Something I've been feeling for quite some time. And I stood there a moment; unable to move. Staring at the words in my hurried penmanship: Detached Soul
March 19, 2011
you don't immediately wonder
what it will feel like
once your entrails have been ripped out
and feasted upon
there is no way to tell
the emptiness that will dwell
in the shell of what
you once were
'til it happens
and by then
it won't matter
March 17, 2011
Peace Peoples. I type this right now with a heavy heart. As you may all know, hooks will forever be an integral part of the structure of a Hip Hop song. But they will never be the same again. Not when one of the best, if not the best to ever do it is gone. Gone from us is Nate Dogg. To tell the truth- I'm still numb. It wasn't until I sat back and thought about it that I realized he has sung the hook on some of my favorite songs. Many of which I might not have given a second listen if not for his even-toned vocals. He embodied a smoothness that fit seamlessly with the roughness of "Gangsta Rap". It was- and remains remarkable. It's because of him, I still know all the words to an old malt liquor ad. His voice was steady and melodic. And it added just the right ingredient to any track he blessed. Consider how nice he made the words to It Ain't No Fun sound even though it's one of the raunchiest and raw tunes out there. But he made it sound easy; effortless even. It's a wonder he was able to deliver the goods in that manner when I think of all he must've seen and possibly endured while being on Death Row Records' roster. No small feat when almost anyone who was ever employed by Suge Knight has their own horror story to tell of that time. That's no secret. Seriously, I don't know where I've been that I was absolutely clueless to his previous strokes and health issues- but this news came as a shock to me. Really and truly, with the anniversary of Biggie's death so fresh, I'm just disheartened that it's time to mourn another true talent in the world of Hip Hop so soon. So I want to virtually pour a little somethin' out for one who was "G'ed up from the feet up"... And you can do the same as long as you press play.
Rest In Peace, Nate Dogg. You will be missed by This Bug.
Author's Note: Throwback Thursdays will return next week.
March 16, 2011
Oh dear, it's happening again. I want to write. I want to write something worthwhile. Something meaningful. Something that will bring me closer to where I'm supposed to be. But all I have is this. These fleeting thoughts and huffs of exasperation finding their way out of my mouth. I don't know why this happens. I call it the 'Evil Keel'. I feel nothing; can write nothing. For as long as I can remember, it's always been like this. I cannot write unless I'm on the upswing of an emotional high or at the cradle of a visceral low. It sounds so manic-depressive, I know. But that's how it's always been. And when I'm not at one of those two extremes- this even keel stalks in and hangs around like an uninvited guest, hoping I won't notice. It shows up empty-handed. No bottle of wine. No potted plant. The nerve. Yesterday I said I wanted to light my life on fire, and made it a point to preface it with "Figuratively speaking" because words have power and I don't have a fire extinguisher in my apartment. Hell, I don't even think the smoke detector works. But that's what I envisioned. Everything on fire. Melting away. Burn it all. The humdrum office. The shitty car. The paradoxical relationship. The old suede boots. The tired bones. The inflexible schedules. The unopened mail. I'd like to watch it burn. Glowing in its soon-to-be goneness. Ashes and transgressions giving way to the wind. The Phoenix can then rise from the flames. And what of the keel? The keel, I'm sure, wouldn't dare show its face at my party.
March 10, 2011
This Bug doesn't believe in bad luck. I have no qualms about walking under ladders. I open umbrellas indoors. Broken mirrors are benign to me. Black cats don't make me nervous. You know what does? A moldy cannoli. It was my stroke of good fortune the other day to get one of these and send me into a tailspin. When I bit into it- it tasted a little funny. Funny like...oh, I dunno. Old beer and sweetened sour milk? But I didn't inspect it right away since I was driving. It wasn't until after I'd had my salad and moved on to dessert that I looked and noticed something spotted in the cream of the cannoli. It looked a little like chocolate chips and I naively thought, "That's funny. I thought I ordered a plain one." Then I saw the 'spots' were tinges of green all throughout and proceeded to completely bug the fuck out. Why does this always happen to me?
A few years back I ordered lunch with co-workers from a new seafood joint that opened up. I got the beer battered fried clam strips with a side of fries. Thank goodness I'm a chatty girl when I'm ready. Had I not been- I never would have paused between my run-on sentences just as I brought the fork to my mouth and seen a 'short and curly' wrapped around one of the morsels. I was horrified. Enough to totally forget my professional surroundings when I yelled, "OhMYGod! Is that a PUBE on my CLAM STRIP?!" Not a good day.
Listen, for those of you who don't know, Hot Pockets should remain frozen until ready for consumption. Got that? Frozen. Not refrigerated in an overpriced sandwich vending machine. So overpriced that when you finally break down and spend the money it would cost for an entire box in the supermarket for just one- that it may be black and fuzzy on the inside from being passed over for weeks. That was my lesson. Now I want you to remember it so you never have to suffer the disgust and anguish I experienced years ago in my cubicle. I used to carry a toothbrush to work back then so after a few seconds of dry heaving with no result, I promptly brushed until all I could taste was blood. But what I really wanted to do was shave my tongue, rinse with gasoline and pop a lit match into my mouth.
It's not like all of this just started happening to me yesterday. When I was 11 years old, I bought a Bomb Pop from the ice cream truck and hopped on my BMX (or was it a Mongoose?) I can't recall. While showcasing my hands-free bike riding skills between enjoying this nice little summer treat- I looked down too late to see that a gnat had landed on the tip of it just as I put into my mouth. I gagged. I spit. I dropped the popsicle. I grabbed the handle bars. I crashed into a parked car. That, my friends, is the true definition of discombobulation.
The above foods are filed under Again Never due to the trauma I experienced. Anyway, I went straight back to the deli after work to show them why I almost died at lunchtime. The manager apologized profusely, gave me back my money and then offered me a fruit bowl for my inconvenience. I asked him if it was fresh. "Of course! Nice lady like you? Fresh. Yes!" Sure. Now I'm "Nice Lady". Hours earlier though, he found me worthy of being "Moldy Cannoli Girl". Bastard. I'm done with all of it. Popsicles. Clam strips. Hairy Hot Pockets..hey, I'm seeing a theme here but I'll keep it clean (for today). And just think of all the gross things you might have already ingested because you didn't even catch it. I know it has nothing to do with luck or its flip side, either. Just eyeball your food fiercely, People.
Next time around I'll take the gun and leave the cannoli.
March 9, 2011
"Lyrical lyrics. Blowing lyrics out my larynx..."
March 9, 1997. Here's what I remember: Sunday morning. Crawling into bed at daybreak after a nice house party in Queens. It felt like I had just drawn the blinds and shut my eyes when my cordless rang an hour later around 8:30 a.m. With my eyes still closed I fumbled for the phone and growled to no one in particular, "This better be good." Instantly I recognized the voice on the other end. It was my ace, Tasha and she said the words I'll never forget. "Jayne, Biggie Smalls is dead." Hanging up, I sat right up in bed, turned on my stereo that was always tuned to Hot97 back then and laid back down. Christion's "Full of Smoke" was playing. That song haunts me to this day- in a cold comfort kind of way. When it was over, Angie Martinez was speaking tearfully. It was surreal. There was no background music of any sort. Zero. Just dead air between her sniffles and her confirmation of what my best friend had just told me. Brooklyn's Finest, Christopher Wallace was gone. I laid there thinking maybe, just maybe..I was dreaming.
It's kind of hard to explain. Biggie was one of those emcees that had no peer. There was no one like him. His imposing stature. The gruff and powerful voice. The witty, raw and at times hilarious lyrics. That incomparable flow was like none other. The first time I heard this dude I knew with every fiber of my being that he was the truth. 1993, one of my favorite years, ushered in the man we all came to know as The Notorious B.I.G. Party and Bullshit was just the sickest shit I'd ever heard at the time. He hit the ground running. With (then named) Puff Daddy at his side, he seemed unstoppable; his future bright. The moniker might have been Notorious, but his career and catalog was nothing short of illustrious.
"Representin' BK to the fullest."
Ready to Die. Life After Death. Some unforgettable remix cameos and mixtape verses. Biggie is a part of the soundtrack to my youth and early adulthood. The parties. The beef. The come up. The thoughts of doubt and the cocky confidence all at once. Struggle mixed with sophistication. He articulated all of it with a style of his own and I loved him. I wasn't the only one. Never before had I seen a rapper with more clout and receive more love from their borough than Big. And he never missed an opportunity to shout out the streets that raised him. Biggie was Brooklyn. Head to toe and to the core. He was so loved. Which brings me to an image I will never get out of my head. The New York Daily News covered his funeral and ran the photo below. When I saw it, I didn't see two affiliates he collaborated with musically. Nor did I see a rough, vulgar mouthed rap mistress with an R&B queen. I saw a brokenhearted woman who never looked so beautiful as she did in her raw emotion for the man she loved- and a dear friend holding her up (or down, so to speak).
I realized then that Hip Hop had lost a jewel. If I'm honest with myself and all who see this, I can say that I was starting to lose faith a little bit. The grit and grime had given way to flossing and fanciness I didn't totally relate to. But I saw Puff's hand in that way before I could ever blame Biggie for turning the tides of an entire culture. I would never blame him for that. Not when I understood what it must have taken to beat the odds and make it. Really make it. Only to be cut down in his prime after being blamed for a foolishly epic feud of coasts. It broke my heart. There's an ironic truth to Big's lament; "You're nobody 'til somebody kills you." But the outpouring of love and respect he continues to receive could only be showered upon one who was already somebody. Somebody special. Somebody who was a wonder to watch when he did his thing. With a mic in his hand, the only thing missing was a crown on his head because he was truly a King when he rocked it.
"Damn Ma, I love you like the lah. The ganja..."
"And if you don't know- Now you know, N*gga..."
This is dedicated to the Black Frank White. The Notorious B.I.G. Big Poppa. The one who reminded me to only make moves when my heart's in it. And that's just what I'm doing today in celebrating his life and legacy. Love is Love.
Now...Brooklyn Stand Up!
March 5, 2011
From the outside looking in- it doesn't look so bad. But she's not out here. She's in there. Seeing where it all started. Empty kitchen. The crack of the seal on the vodka bottle. Five straight shots. Heart pounding and nothing to inhale but her own angry dragon fire. Now she needs smokes. Keys in hand, mind out the window. Riding smack dab on the double line. The gas attendant sees the fury but it's desperation upon closer inspection. A match ignites the thin cigar because all her lighters are M.I.A. Street lights are blurred. Vision is blurred. But clear enough to see it. The black chariot. The wicked black chariot that haunts nightmares and daydreams with even relentlessness. Nothing left to do but unravel. Scream. Lunge. Slap. Kick. At anything at all. Anything that moves. When all is said and done, the windshield looks like Charlotte's web..without the words Terrific or Humble woven throughout it. Convulsions come. Tears. Gallons of them. Enough to outsalt the Dead Sea. Whispers of mockery dancing in ears. Knowing glances exchanged over her head. All in the name of doing what feels right. Long gone are peaceful times but quiet moments linger. Empty kitchens. Broken liquor seals. A fractured stillness. From the inside looking out- it looks like what it is.. and feels even worse. From the outside looking in- it doesn't look so bad at all. But I'm not out there. I'm in here.
March 3, 2011
Fun loving Bug will be back next week. Today, you got serious Bug with some serious lyrics on her mind. Today's throwback doesn't get any heavier than that of Long Island's own Public Enemy. Their catalog speaks for itself but this song and video always held firm with me. Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos, to me has always been the crowning jewel of their 1988 release, It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. It almost sounds like the title of a poignant book. Chuck D tells a cliffhanger of a story beginning with being drafted to war he refuses to support. Of course, this defiant move lands him in jail where he describes the system that put there while planning his escape. His commentary is gritty. From the perspective of a militant Black man in America- he injects truth into this fictional story with the expertise of a doctor with a syringe. Well, it went to straight to my vein in '88- I'll say that much. This Bug's favorite line? "And I'm serious. Call me delirious. But I'm still a captive. I gotta rap this.." The song has a trajectory all its own. What I always found interesting was PE's choice to have an ending to the video ironic to the lyrics. It's as if they understood that his true fate would be at the hands of the warden if all didn't go as planned and still decided to illustrate that reality; despite the triumphant prison break in the song itself. Pure genius.
March 2, 2011
"This may come off like a declaration of love, but truly it's just a wish...for a fish." -Calmnia
I'll never know exactly why that you swam by and heard my sigh. The ice was broken and I was in my element. I had no idea it was yours as well. That water felt like Heaven swelled and spilled down to the thirsty Earth. It drenched my senses, soaked my self worth. There was nothing that I couldn't do. And what was the use- if not with you? The beautiful dreamer. The warrior's wend. The sensual lover. The genuine friend. A soldier of love whom I had the honor of serving with proudly side by side. All in all- one fantastic ride. A journey to a star was never too far, not with you. And know that all these things are true. .
I wish for you a healthy body and sound mind. A heart full of courage and goblet of Life's wine. I wish for you to drink it slow and taste in it all you love so. I wish for you a day of song, of sun and light and spirit strong. When twilight breaks upon your locks- I pray your time exceeds the clocks. For today and always, it's more than a lifetime can express.
I suppose it sounds like I'm confessing- but really it's your Birthday blessing.