“F*** Teachers!” — Says Most Rappers 

music, opinion

  So, allow me to reintroduce myself [Hov voice] 

In all seriousness, it feels good to write again. Unfortunately my 9-5 takes major brain energy and critical thinking powers so now that things have started to slow down in preparation for summer break, I can explore and become penspired. 

Recently, I took some time to listen to a new album, Meek Mill’s x Dreams Worth More Than Money. The new album has lots of features from viral notables like Drake, Future, The Weeknd and of course the object of his affection, Nicki Minaj. Though I enjoyed the album, I’m not here to give it a review. I want to get into a common theme in a lot of rapper’s songs, which I would like to scholastically name the “F*** My Teacher theme.  

Let’s get into this. Full disclosure, I’m a teacher and any time I hear rappers say “teacher” my ears perk up like they’re my students, especially because I respect the artist’s craft. Unfortunately, that sentiment isn’t always mutual. I’m sure everyone has had “good” and “bad” teachers. I’ve had a few that I didn’t care for and I had many that I really enjoyed and respected. Rappers are no different from you and in this experience. However, they have a means to express themselves for millions to hear and they also have a huge influence on society’s moldable minds, which leads to the following observation. 

I can trace the “F*** My Teacher” theme back to Notorious BIG on “Juicy,” when he clearly states in the intro “…to all my teachers who said I wouldn’t amount to nothing… It’s all good baby babaayy.”

  • Other examples this theme appear in Jay-Z’s “So Ambitious”

I felt so inspired by what my teacher said,// Said I’d either be dead or be a reefer head,// Not sure if thats how adults should speak ta kids,// Especially when the only thing I did was speak in class. I teach his ass.

  • On his new release, Meek says in his song “Cold Hearted” 

My teacher told me I would never go far//Seen him last week, he was my chauffeur…

  • And on another track,” R.I.C.O.,” 

For my teachers that said I wouldn’t make it here I spend a day what you make a year

  • Rick Ross alludes to his teacher driving a “piece of shit” in “Holy Ghost” 

My teacher told me that I was a piece of shit//Seen her the other day, driving a piece of shit”

How did teachers get such a bad rap in the lives of some of the rap game’s most prevalent? Personally, I can only speak to 3 major factors that could have diminished the student/teacher relationship. First, teachers are expected to simultaneously operate in the present and future. We are expected to push your little boo boo to do their best on their homework, quizzes and tests, while also nurturing their dreams of becoming rappers, professional athletes, doctors, lawyers, basically any and everything. In reality, all students aren’t capable of meeting those harder to reach goals and unfortunately we use the present as a monitor of ambition for students. Therefore at the expense of being realistic, some teachers limit their students ideas about their futures. Secondly, teachers battle numerous distractions each day. Disruptive students, the media, cell phones in classrooms, mountains of paperwork, standardized testing and objectives, the list goes on and on. There are some days that the psychologist and mediator hats took precedence over the encourager and  career counseling hats. And depending on your school situation, students may not see their teacher’s nurturing side as often as they would like. Lastly, teachers have personal lives as well. They’re not superhuman. No elaboration necessary.

What does all this mean, 10, almost 20 years after any of these entertainers have been students? Primarily, it means that teachers have a deep and lasting impact on their students, no matter if the student was the class clown or the class president. I’m sure that many of these teachers probably don’t remember these moments or even listen to the lyrics close enough to r ealize that they’re about them, but look at what the future held. Everybody can’t have a dope teacher like Bun B or myself [chuckle]. Some of the most successful people in the music industry are still discussing the negative turned positive impact their teachers had on them.

Lastly, I hope entertainers are cognizant about the message they send to youth. Students respect these artists and hang onto their every word. When convenient [i.e. press conferences, interviews] they encourage youth to do well, stay in school blah blah blah, but then also negatively rap about their teachers. We need these influencers to spread positivity about education, especially since everyone does not share the same educational experience and school can be a positive outlet for numerous black and brown youths. Like your teacher always said “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” 

Advertisements

Played to Death

music, opinion

I’m guilty. I’m an album killer. Charge me. Lock me up and throw away the key.

Death by repeat is upon us once again. New music, especially good new music is a breath of fresh air. The sighs and feelings of disappointment and longing in commercial hooks, beats and catchy radio singles are thankfully washed away by quality lyrics, creativity and profound comparisons and anecdotes. Then, like most of us, I play it to death. Because I play good music to death, I then have to reap the consequences of my actions.

Music fans are still basking in J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive release on December 9th. Personally, I’ve been playing the whole album on repeat since the release, and actually playing it as I type this. Feelings of bittersweet remorse fill me because eventually, just like other good albums, I will kill this album. Here are some of the deadly factors for album assassination:

Intent

With any new music release, you intend to listen to it with fresh ears. You probably plan time to be able to listen without any interruption. You start a mundane task like cleaning your sneakers or organizing your bookshelf just so you can listen intently. Your goal is to hear every metaphor, every curse word, every ad-lib, every entendre without anyone or anything bothering you because you know there’s a deeper meaning to uncover and many personal connections to make.

Crime Scene

Album killers usually commit their crimes in their homes, cars or workplaces, anyplace where music is accepted. Personally, the minute I walk through my front door, music goes on. Therefore, in attempt to remain modest with my album plays, I’ve stopped myself from playing 2014 Forest Hills Drive in my car and try to mix in some other artists to break up the impending monotony.

Weapon

There’s several weapons used to kill albums. Earbuds, headphones, iPads, basically anything with speakers are obvious weapons, but let’s not forget covert ignorant music that mistakenly fills our heads through radio, social media and our less than musically aware friends who wouldn’t know a metaphor if it kissed them on the lips [personification, I know :)].

Sentence

After you are properly charged with the crime of death by album repeat or album killing, you face the consequences. Ultimately this means back to your feelings of longing and despair about music that’s out there. As you sit in your holding cell, waiting to be bailed out by your next potential victim, you may start to search for another musical outlet. You might rediscover old classics. Or you could be like me and dedicate time to listen to the D’Angelo & The Vanguard Black Messiah album, only to find with the regret that the cycle then repeats itself.

Oh the inhumanity, such a vicious musical cycle! [clutches imaginary pearls]

Happy Birthday Hov!

fashion, fun, music

Happy 45th Birthday Shawn C. Carter!  Now is a perfect time for that Party Life DIY!

I love Jay-Z, Jay, Jigga, S Dot, Jayhova, Hova, Hovie, Hovito, Mr. Carter, Lucky Lefty, Iceberg Slim… I think I covered them all. It’s always bittersweet when Jay Day rolls around because of the inevitable, but I will always cherish Hov’s music and admire his ability to express himself lyrically. Happy Birthday Hov!

Here are some perfect Jay Day gifts to celebrate Mr. Carter.

Jay and Bey You're the Jay-Z to my Beyonce Card Rap Rapper Pop Culture Birthday Valentines AnniversaryYou’re the Jay-Z to My Beyonce greeting cards [$5.42]

Jay Z  Accent Pillow, Pillow Throw Decor, Pillow Cushion, Cushion Cover, Decorative Throw Pillow Throw

Jay-Z Accent Pillow [$69.00]

Jay Z Canvas Print

Jay-Z Canvas Print [$53.00]

Empire State of Mind Lyrics Blank Cards [$4.79]

beyonce & jay-z collar clips // pinbacks

Beyonce and Jay-Z Collar Clips [$6.00]

Go Offfff Bey!

music

Shout out to all the people who do weird stuff when they’re at home! I too pull out random pieces of clothing, try them on, take pics, dance uncontrollably to really ignorant a$$ music. Sometimes you just want to do “hoodrat stuff with your frennz.”

Salute Bey for the validation in 7/11 that we are all crazy! So much fun to watch and a peek of some great garments! [and she def almost jumps smooth on Blue’s head LOL]

11.14.14 Sole DXB Review

fashion, kulture, music, opinion, travel

DSC01148Yesterday, I spent the day exploring the local street culture here in Dubai courtesy of Sole DXB. I know you’re probably thinking, wheeet? Street culture where? Personally, one of the most influential parts of being a transport to a young country like the UAE, is depositing some of your culture into what is already there.

IMG_0876

As a result of millions of people transitioning in and out of the UAE for employment and/or tourism, and the recent influx of research through social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, an appreciation of street culture’s fashion, music and brands has emerged and is continuing to grow.

IMG_0872Sole Dubai attracted many expats and locals; some interested in exploring the origins of Dubai’s own street culture, others as fans of fashion, sneakers, music, and/or breakdancing.

IMG_0868

Neoprene sweatshirts from Nomad

Located at Dubai’s Design District, Sole DXB featured streetwear vendors in a literal “trunk show,” utilizing the hatch of Mini Cooper’s to showcase garments from Juniors be Junior and Nomad [pictured above] among five other streetwear labels.

IMG_0869

Melody Ehsani for Reebok

IMG_0871

Face Stockholm for Reebok

Sponsored by Pepsi, Mini Cooper and Gatorade the event also featured a basketball tournament, graffiti artists, djs, breakdancing, exhibits from anchor brands, Early Retirement, PUMA, Reebok and Level Shoe District.

DSC01137

alife for PUMA

DSC01091

Reebok Pumps and Kamikazes

There were also selected private sneaker vendors showcasing popular Jordan and Nike brands available for swap or sale. I always gravitate toward Jordan brand, but there were also lots of KD’s, Lebron’s, AirForce1s and Air Max to delight any sneaker enthusiast.

shoes

Surrounding the perimeter of the event were exhibits from over 15 participating brands like Ray Ban, Vans, G-Shock, and Corcel with merchandise available for purchase.

DSC01127

Sole also invited guests to attend panel discussions such as Hip Hop and Your Neighborhood, featuring notable influences in Dubai’s street culture including hip-hop group The Recipe and Origins: A Panel with Kish Kash.

DSC01108Overall, Sole Dubai provided me evidence to believe that street culture is developing among the UAE streets. In my day to day when I’m running errands in Air Max 95s or grocery shopping in Jordan 10s, I’ve gotten varied reactions. As with anything different, I think there are some negative perceptions, which ultimately breed a curiosity within the local community.

shoes1

[A few take aways] Outside of the newest releases and high end sneaker collabs, rarely have I seen, met or heard any other females here with what sneaker enthusiasts would describe as “heat.” I did see a few at Sole Dubai which was refreshing, but because of this I am interested in seeing how street culture and this event continues to grow each year because it provides the reinforcement of a familiar comfort zone for some expats, especially.

IMG_0873

The surface level of street culture is becoming easier to participate in for example sneakers and fashion, but the depth of street culture and street fashion originated from necessity [a conversation I’m def willing to have with anyone] So, the next challenge is how do you invite others, especially local citizens to actively participate in order to grow the streetwear movement here in Dubai so that it becomes not just something to see or do on the weekends, but a way of life?