This Cannot Continue 2

This Nation has been overwhelmed with tragedy and the continuous suffering from the history of what it chooses not to learn. Officers tased, pepper sprayed, and brutally beat 29 year-old Tyre Nichols during a January 7 traffic stop, according to the horrific video footage released by the city of Memphis on Friday. The footage, which comes from a SkyCop camera and officers’ body cameras, is split into four devastating videos. Police can be heard yelling at Nichols to get out of his car and forcibly removing him from the car.The video has been described by law enforcement and attorneys for Nichols’ family as, “absolutely appalling,” “alarming,” and “unconscionable.” It is my opinion that the Officers in Memphis and others who choose to use barbaric force do not adhere to the rational mindset of what service and dedication to a community looks like or should be. Empathy and moral ethics go hand and hand with being a humble, dignified community servant. Officers should not operate as a lynch mob, nor as judge, jury, and executioner. Officers who are supposed to uphold the law, should not be oppressors and definitely should not be operating with a gang mentality. If you aren’t interested in learning about and positively impacting the community you serve, this is simply not the line of work for you. The choice to take life in any way, shape, or form is egregious and horrific. We have seen it countless times, and it shatters the trust of the public time and time again.

The past few months I’ve worked on an initiative called, “The Empathy Project”. I’ve sat and listened and learned from three different families who have had their lives severely shattered by losing a loved one to murder. All three families sought justice for their loved ones and worked tirelessly with law enforcement to bring these murderers to justice. Those months for me, included eye opening meetings with law enforcement who do care about serving their community. I’ve seen officers comfort grieving families in these traumatic situations. In my personal life, I’ve seen some officers strive to work in fairness and in the principles of service and I’ve also witnessed the narcissistic ego trips that are the equivalent to giving a toddler a Ferrari. I can remember two years ago, here in Roanoke, during the George Floyd protest, there were some officers that were protesting with us, but there were also officers who were also smug and hurtful.

Tyre Nichols should still be here. As this situation unfolds, we see that another vast hole has been created, sucking life from us and feeding evil, corruption, and the lust for power. I can’t help but wonder what he and others like him could have been. Close your eyes and think about how much we truly take for granted in just getting to our next destination unharmed. Think about the fact that at the end of the day, we all have someone waiting for us. Life is a gift, and we should savor it. Some look at these situations as soundbites or opportunities to heighten careers, but at the end of the day, and after the cameras go to the next headline, there is still a family grieving someone very special lost to more senseless, egregious, and inhumane behavior that shouldn’t be happening anywhere.

The essential root of solving this problem is awareness. Sometimes I feel as if we are becoming so reactionary as a society that we can’t process or even fathom that there are solutions. I choose to acknowledge the challenges we face as a society but also keep believing in our betterment because there are people who genuinely care, even if there are others who are corrupt, jaded, and hateful. I genuinely believe that good and right can and will win out. We have to go beyond politics and start supporting all people instead of taking the easy way out by making accusations and generalizations. For any community to thrive, it is vital to have people who work to produce and preserve justice, love and genuine righteousness. Thurgood Marshall said, “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.”

https://www.rvtv.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=397

The Unchanging Hand

Every time I’ve doubted myself or felt things just weren’t going to work out I am often reminded that I need to chill because I have seen God work behind the scenes in my life and has provided so much. Why should I worry? For whom shall I fear?
God miraculously made a way for me when there seemed to be no other way. This morning I sat peacefully and was led to Isaiah 43:19. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” In all the time that I’ve fallen short it has been my belief that the pain grew louder and I didn’t use the wisdom that was given to navigate to a new level. All I can be is me and I have to earnestly want to apply myself to do better. If we don’t apply wisdom in our lives we will be lost. It is important to know that we don’t really lose if we are willing to learn. For me it means to hold on to Christ’s unchanging hand above anything and everything else. I am no longer afraid and I will run my marathon. Never regret anything that has happened in your life, it cannot be changed, undone or forgotten. So take it as a lesson learned and move on. This weekI open for Brandon Leake ! I am excited for this opportunity yet I am reminded to look back, slow down to examine how God has poured into me and the importance of what it means to get beyond a survival mentality. It is time to live. get out, explore. Thrive. Challenge authority. Challenge yourself. and Evolve. I don’t take this opportunity or any of the ones that I’ve earned lightly.
The biggest lesson that I can say that I’ve learned is that what God has for you no one can ever take from you so be covered in love and humility in all that you do. If it isn’t about genuine love at the forefront of what you are doing it will indeed tell  on you loud and clear. Things often get tougher before they get easier. Stay strong, be positive. We all struggle sometimes. Your struggle is part of your story.

The Hurt

Losing someone close to you in any fashion is very hard. It’s a challenge when you have to go on and learn how to navigate the future without that someone by your side. The grieving process is different for everyone, it can often be lonely and isolating.
It is selfish to tell people who are dealing with grief to just get over it or to just be “normal”. Empathy is a bridge to action and instead of telling others to fit into the mold of how you want them to be and feel, we should be asking how to be a support. Maybe try listening instead of trying to fix everything.
I remember when my brother was alive there would be times where I would tell him what I assumed his problem was instead of just being there listening and being a comfort. Who was I to be on that uppity high horse? That kind of behavior that I used to exhibit was very self-serving and I am so glad that guy is long gone. My brother didn’t need nor deserve the constant regurgitated lectures about what he wasn’t doing in his life. Some of the stuff that he was dealing with he pretty much probably already felt and didn’t need the added pressure of being told how he was living wasn’t right. Looking back and reflecting I think all he needed and wanted unconditional love and a friend. Losing him so tragically was an eye-opener about the bitterness that I was carrying and the importance of just loving and treating others the way God truly loves and sees us all.

We spend too much time sometimes trying to think that we know so much about what people need to do based on generalizations instead of just sitting in solidarity and being a comfort and most importantly asking the question, What do you need at this moment?
These days I welcome my peace and in my travels these past two years they’ve taught me about what it means to be peaceful for others. I also deal with grief one day at a time and one moment at a time. We all deal with it differently and it is complex. It is very arrogant and hurtful to assume someone should live according to someone else’s way of living just because their grief makes you feel some type of way.

People are people and people need people. we need less callous judgment and more understanding.

Purpose&Peace 

I’m finding out that it really doesn’t matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have put out is what matters. I am really focused now more than ever on the importance of time and how I spend it. I really want my time spent to be conducive and productive in all ways. Purpose is essential, and on our journey we can either accept our purpose or wish for knowing it. I used to wake up waiting for change only to find change constantly happening when I wasn’t ready for it. If you cannot find something to do, life will find something for you to do. I am of the mind that you better rise above the bullshit to work on yourself and ask where are you going?
 In the midst of finding purpose you meet people who are teaching you along the way in so many ways. I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door. Yasiin Bey AkA  Mos Def once said in a verse that “life is a test and we all have the answer”. It is important to be the answer and humble yourself in your journeys. With that journey, you also must be aware of who you align your souls with. As I age I am embracing silence and the life that chose me. I love my peace and I love to perform but what I hate is selfishness and half-assery. I will choose my peace every single time.  
   I mention all of that because bands are a beautiful thing but with it also comes a wild cocktail of politics, personal agendas, and personalities.  I recently had to take the summer off because of such agendas that weren’t reflective of the team vision. When ego and personal agendas outweigh the team efforts you have to flow like water and move with the seasons and choose peace. Finding greatness together and moving in solidarity instead of chasing clout and money is key. The money will come when you elevate your purpose and allow yourself to do things bigger than yourself. I also attribute evolving with a purpose to serving Christ.
  I had a friend recently ask me “What outside of music do I do to feed my soul?”. I didn’t really think about that but it made me feel as if maybe I am doing myself an injustice by not further exploring more about what I am about. Stopping the cycles of things that impede on perfecting peace and loving myself. So I guess moving forward here is to the new exploration.

Tik Tok

Muhamad Ali says “don’t count the days, make the days count”. I am doing my best to do that by truly enjoying moments with good people and good times. Time is the most important currency and how we spend it is vitally important. As I age I’ve learned alot about time the hard way. I’ve learned that you must protect your peace,  your love, and that you better make the most of the time you’ve been given.If you do not strip off selfishness and learn from your past you will repeat alot of the same pains from your past louder and even more painful which is a phenomenal waste of time. You simply cannot master your future by being the same old you, If anything, lack of growth and maturity is very ugly so it’s important to identify what needs to be worked on and do the work.  I love The Serenity Prayer, it states O God and Heavenly Father, Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. It is so important to be adaptable and to flow like water in your life.  A friend and colleague  today reminded me that The number 42 is, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. I hope that extraordinary things are revealed and that I continue to evolve and not waste a moment. I truly am grateful for your messages of love and admiration. It has been very humbling to receive such an outpouring of love.  I am not perfect but I aspire to be great and to continue to evolve with purpose.

This is your brain on HipHop

My love of Hip-hop is deep. It found me and nourished me. I get to travel and perform my testimony and also teach about it’s history. It has provided for my life because I’ve been true to it and I’m humbled. HipHop was my gateway to poetry. My parents divorced when I was 5 and I couldn’t see my mom because she was institutionalized because she deals with bipolar illness and depression. I later learned that in the time I was living with my grandparents she had a severe manic episode.this was nothing new as I would see this full on time after time down the road. My mother always came back to me and did whatever she had to do to get balance for herself and for my brother and I.  I remember feeling very lost but my grandparents were so very loving and did their best to take care of me in that season. My aunt allowed me to sit up late and watch MTV and BET and gave me my first journal where I wrote down everything,my grandma put that first Secret Wars comic series in my hand .my grandparents were so much fun an they loved music. I would rap into my grandpa’s wooden brush. I used to want to be famous but I found out fame is fleeting. I don’t mind sharing stuff but I truly just enjoy more personal moments. I think now I just want to be better than yesterday and evolve with purpose.i love being able to create. I now create for me and if you like it that’s cool. I love sharing my music and it really is a privilege to perform it. HipHop truly has saved me and the brave artist in it who shared thier stories with me I am forever grateful. 

Our Rhythm My Blues Vol. 1    

 

I remember a few years ago a friend of mine came to visit my hometown and he and I decided to grab drinks after our show. We went into a bar listening to a white guy croon reggae and it was quite embarrassing. My friend looked at me and said “Brother Bryan, have you ever noticed that they sure do love our rhythm but they really do hate our blues?” My friend wasn’t wrong but I’ve gotten so mired down seeing so many predominantly white area bands repeatedly offend that maybe i just fell asleep. I often have a hard time getting booked in our area but it has been quite ok for me because the opportunities that are for me are for me and the ones aren’t simply aren’t.  When you come from a place that is authentic it can sometimes be a very lonely place. Sometimes it is only cool  for some when your authenticity serves someone else’s purposes. I’ve seen the highs and lows of this many times and I am cool with it.   Some folks get so worked up about seeing black faces in the room because for some they automatically associate black skin with a criminal element. I remember a situation where I was supposed to DJ and I was instantly told to pack back up and go home because they didn’t want anything bad to happen at their business. These generalizations are the issue and they continue to happen.  When you come from a place that is authentic it can sometimes be a very lonely place. 
       It is painful to see so much cultural suppression and appropriation . It is like we are good enough to emulate and take from but when it comes to real authentic culture we are often told to sit on the sidelines. Roanoke,Va is actually in the top ten most segregated cities in the U.S.  I  actually woke up to a video that fucked up my day a bit that was really sobering to see. A local predominantly white Hip-Hop cover band badly doing Hip-Hop songs to a crowd of predominantly white people just swaying to our rhythms  and lyrics and not a black soul in sight. To me it just says more blatantly that our music is revered but you should take your black ass home and watch me do it. It is also funny that the same venue that they were at told me a while back that they weren’t doing Hip-Hop, just softer tones, blue grass,  folk americana, etc.
         Sometimes I  even see some of my brothers and sisters coon complicit in the arrogant nonsense of supporting white artists to do shoddy renditions of different hip-hop/r&b materials in the name of all mighty dollar. I mean get yours I guess but is this the new stepin fetchit? I also remember a local black artist at a show  once  telling me to reel my lyrics and personality back because they were working too hard to get a “white following”.  
We also get to check the diversity/inclusion box  situations that only get us recognized when we serve as the cogs in the wheels of established good ol’ boy networks that only sign off on you as long as you are serving their narratives.  It is so weird and rough to see and genuinely disrespectful.
It has become a mundane horrible offense that continues to happen more often that you think.  We just recently saw the Virginia based predominantly white reggae band SOJA beat actual Jamaicans for best reggae album of the year.  Appreciation  for a culture is dope  and it is true when someone seeks to understand and learn about another culture in an effort to broaden their perspective and connect with others cross-culturally. Culture isn’t black or white it is the genuine exploration of our neighbors with authentic love and admiration. Appropriation on the other hand, is simply taking one aspect of a culture that is not your own and using it for your own personal interest. I hope that refresher helps because I see alot of people wearing our culture as a costume and it is totally wack.
On the flipside of what I am also seeing is this dark mentality over negative influence that you have to tote guns and objectify women to be in Hip-Hop.It is indeed nothing new but still also very weak.  We are also seeing so many forms of addiction glorified which is very unfortunate. It is my firm belief that Hip-Hop is a rich culture deeply rooted in the truth. Our testimonies are what guide us and it’s almost spiritual. That something from nothing hustler spirit aspect matched with evolving with purpose and knowledge of self.  Our art isn’t to be exploited. To quote the  underrated Rhymefest”I  know mORE real niggaz that work at U-Haul than hauled crack”.  I say this in this blog after seeing the incredible Ozay and Tall Black guy show that I attended and helped promote last week. I saw both the down and the up. It was a beautiful thing to see all shades of colors at the Grandin theatre rocking for the love of hip-hop.  It was fantastic to hear authentic Hip-Hop in our little town. To watch my peers and people that I came up with shine next to national recording artists was an absolute joy. HipHop isn’t for everyone but make no mistake it has provided richly to those who were good to it and there is still NO HALF STEPPIN!!!!!!!!!

Sepsis (flipping poison)

One of my favorite movies as a child was the original “Nutty Professor”. I mean sure, Eddie Murphy’s remake was way better but I really enjoyed the original with Jerry Lewis as Buddy Love.
 I had to have been 11 years old when I caught the film on T.V. for the first time . I automatically wished I had a potion that made me that wild, smooth, yet crass, and carefree. I often felt powerless in my real life  keeping myself hidden or quiet. I used to get bullied alot and I just took it in stride. As I get older I realize that I suppress my anger which isn’t healthy at all.
  I’ve truly learned that if you let disrespect slide it will happen often and people will automatically assume that they can say or do anything to you. We truly live in an age where people will throw rocks and hide their hands.

        People often assume that I am a pushover because I am willing to try to be compassionate and show empathy. This absolutely doesn’t mean that I am willing to accept less in any relationship. I am in a place where I am detoxing my soul from anything that hinders peace of mind even if it hurts. I found another side of me that I was very upset to discover. I was very spiteful and angry until I began to put into feelings my hurt which is the song “Sepsis”.
  “Sepsis” is about taking the poison of someone slandering my name and flipping the pain into healing through music. It stems from a very ugly time in my life with very hurtful people.  Sadly, some folks will drink their own poison with hopes of making others sick. I won’t get too personal but that left me quite raw and if you listen to the content you will hear how I went from complete self destruction to realizing that the good and the bad help reveal your next moves and shape your path.

 In my heart I can admit that if anything I had a selfish heart for a season and before starting a relationship I should’ve kept a clean heart and chose moving forward fearlessly with love and a content heart. My earlier indiscretions humbled me and taught me about what it means to really look in the mirror.
 There were negative toxic people in my life that tried so desperately to pick me apart and I almost allowed myself to quit but as long as I have breath in my body the battle has already been won. 
“Sepsis” is a blatant fuck you to my critics and therapy as usual. This new album may offend some but i’d rather be me and tell things the way I see it. 

New Year’s Blog

I have a lot of hope for the new year, although I think fresh starts can begin any time,I feel very confident about the future for the first time in a long time.  I am in a place where I am excited about transforming my future according to God’s plan and rising in the place that I am willing to create.  It started with learning from history and connecting to the people I love and just going with that. History is a phenomenal teacher and it can be used as the keys to our success if we give ourselves sufficient space to grow. Maya Angelou says “Each of us has that right, that possibility, to invent ourselves daily. If a person does not invent him/ herself, she will be invented. So, to be bodacious enough to invent ourselves is wise.” It is indeed  wise to rise up and be counted for in your life.
Through this season of growth so many doors have opened and it has been so amazing. I attribute it to learning my spiritual identity and continuing to evolve with purpose while continuing to be self aware.  My question that I pose to myself is am  I gonna wait for one day or make today day one? It is truly up to us to decide  this and I’ve learned that all things are working towards our good.
It  truly has been a season of unexpected change and I’m blessed also in this season to have met  someone  that I care for very deeply. It has been a privilege getting to know a special someone who continues to open my heart like a compass directly to her heart. Someone who chooses you unconditionally is truly someone to treasure. To actively hold space for each other is something huge and I am truly overjoyed.
I remember our first date, we went to a holiday concert together and I didn’t know that there would be so much power in just one look. The conversation in the car on the way felt so familiar, just  like I was talking to an old friend. The laughs were genuine and the time that we were taking to get to know each other was precious. She is someone that I knew before  because she is an amazing spoken word artist and we run in  familiar artist circles. I was blessed to reconnect with her this time in a romantic sense. Her warmth was the blessing that I never knew I needed but I am glad that I am getting to experience. That night we decided to leave the concert early and immerse ourselves in such deep intimate insightful conversation. It was beyond small talk, It felt like our souls were elevating to a higher place. Her vibration is very unique and she has a  brilliant, beautiful way of looking at the world  that torches the gremlins of bitterness  in me and the ugliness of being jaded.
         I admit I had this feeling of hopelessness before because I allowed myself to believe that I wasn’t worthy of this genuine care or affection. I used to have such low self-esteem and I accepted the bare minimum in situations because of me not learning what could truly be for me. See we truly do accept the love that we think that we deserve and I originally thought I would be ok with table scraps or maybe that’s what I was also offering to other suitors because I did not value our time or worth? See we all often wear masks of perfection to get chosen when all we should be is ourselves and have the willingness to realize how dope we are. Nevertheless here I am and  I am still famished and she has been feeding me a grand feast . It’s her frankness and her willingness to truly partner with me in these special moments that provide solidarity and solitude.
            Nothing compares to these genuine moments and I crave this with all my being. It’s  these real moments that don’t need an audience and we set the pace while valuing each other and nourishing each other’s spirits. I am humbled by this and it has been teaching me to positively expect the unexpected.
   I am not as broken as I once thought and I am ever changing and evolving personally. It’s amazing to have someone like her around and I intend on seeing where this goes wholeheartedly. To check in without agendas to be intentional and willing to just see someone. To provide comfort and be friends before anything, providing peace and comfort while growing together.