Street Art - Poetry

Falling

It’s rare for me to hear something that stops me dead in my tracks and makes me fall as if through space wondering what wonderment is this? Prepare yourselves, this is another musically inspired post. Join me as I revel…

Knocked Out
Montara by Bobby Hutcherson was like that, when I first heard the track back in the early 90’s visiting my sister in Stoke Newington listening to Jazz FM. I thought about the magic of music. Bobby transported me to a new dynamic of experiencing the world. His playing of the vibes opened a portal to a different time, place and sensibility about music.

I had a similar experience on hearing FTB by Robert Glasper in 2008, and then Gretchen Parlato’s Weak in 2015. Then came Warren Wolf’s Knocks Me Off My Feet released in 2016, but heard in 2019. I know this song. It has belonged to Stevie Wonder for years. What Warren is able to do is make the song his. Yes he is a talented jazz percussionist. Yes he plays the vibraphone like a pianist with all the musical dexterity and complexity that has left me spell bound but the *laterality of his thinking and then playing of this version of Knocks Me – is mesmerising.

Walking into Tower records in the late 90’s and hearing Bobbi Humphrey’s Satin Doll Album. Being assuaged into another late night musical crawl was the ultimate falling experience. I had never heard a *flautist do what Bobbi did on this album. I bought it without hesitation and have savoured her playing ever since. With the Mizell Brothers doing what they did best, producing fresh nuanced music to new audiences.

Visibility
But his rendition of Knocks Me Off My Feet has had me singing out loud (in the comfort of solitude in the car and when no one is at home. I was not gifted with a great singing voice).

Warren’s version – takes you into the joy of falling, and falling, and falling in love. Within that happy play of love. It is a joy to behold. Like being held in the rapture of someone else’s perfection. Spellbinding. His art is to make a song his and yet remain recognisable. It is the magic of Warren’s vision and of the accompanying musicians who allow the play of the vibraphone to musically enthrall and take you to the zenith of falling or being knocked off your feet.

Re-Done
Montara by Bobby Hutcherson is universally held as a great, no, a fantastic piece of jazz music. It broke records and has been highly sought after. The Roots did a great rendition of Montara on the New Groove Album with the lyric Do What You Want, Do What You Like, Do What You Feel/Do What you Need. I loved this version for as long as I can remember with those late night conversations in my mid 20’s, late night drives, late night studies it was the only version of the classic I could readily access.

Huff and Puff
Then along came Warren Wolf. Blowing everything even the original away, with his version of Montara. Why? Bobby made it his! It is his. The Roots made it theirs. It was theirs. Wolf reinvented Mandala and brought it full force into the 21st century. It’s like what Christian Scott did for Isadora, Robert Glasper has done with the piano and with his experiment experiences, Gretchen Parlato reworked SWV’s Weak up to and what Warren has done with this age old classic.

CTA
Compare contrast congratulate and then comment below. There are few that have been able to do re evolution better. Warren Wolf is someone to look out for.

The poem at the end of I Stand Alone by Robert Glasper is worthy of repeating often. Primarily because the poet speaks about there being multiple changes with each re-interpretation, re-evolving not just copying mindlessly. Suggesting that each go round takes us – musician and listener – to a different newer higher level.

Musical Interlude

1986

Waking up to the sounds of Hip Hop in 1986 was like a coming of age experience, but now as I think about it the experience was matched by Musical Youth a year or two earlier. In 1982, aged 8, Pass the Dutchee was a huge phenomenon and spoke directly to my youth and Joie de Vivre of living on a council estate in Tottenham, North London.

Autumnal Graffiti Lewisham London

Old School
Before Musical Youth, music consisted of my mum and dad’s records, 70s classic soul songs from Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, Gloria Gaynor, Aretha Franklin and some West African Hi-life music that if I could find now I would wrap my arms around and release – never. There is something I find undeniably uplifting to the energy of high-life music.

Making It
In the late 70’s and early 80’s the Bob Marley phenomenon had phased in but not affected me as much as Musical Youths song had. I couldn’t get enough of Pass the Dutchie. Hoping for a repeat every time ‘Pass the Dutchie’ was on the radio. I must have driven my mum mad, eventually she bought the single! In the 70’s and 80’s Black representation in popular culture was minimal whether on the radio or on TV. Back then social media, the internet and Youtube were simply not invented and getting access to an African Diasporic influence was rare in the UK. Musical Youth for the 2 weeks that they were in the charts topping sales and appearing on various shows including top of pops felt like an important arrival.

The Tail end of Autumnal Graffiti Lewisham

Hippidy Hoppidy
Than came 6 minutes you’re on by Doug E Fresh featuring Slick Rick! And this song blew my mind. In 1983 we had moved off of the estate and our landscape and environment looked very different. We were nearer to Wood Green and that shopping experience, nearer to Green Lanes and that shopping experience and also closer to West Green Rd and that shopping experience too. A Trifecta of sorts. We had moved into a neighborhood of houses and streets. The vibrancy of the estate was replaced by a quieter more progressive neighborhood and Doug E was inviting me to not forget the ‘hood I was from. Scratching, mixing, breakdancing, graffiti, MCing took my Musical Youth experience and flipped it up 100 notches. I was also entering puberty and all of the upheaval that brings.

Giving Life
Listening to Jazzfm a few years ago and hearing the Jackson 5’s Never Can Say Goodbye and Foster Sylver’s Misdemeanour brought my youthful musical musings and wanderings full circle. The youthful exuberance and joy of music came immediately flooding back to me.

Using the words of ‘Gene Denby and Shereen Marisol Meraji of Code Switch fame, “What song(s) are giving you life, right now?” List below, comment, let me know your thoughts…

Songs that Give Me Life: It’s Time
Radio Silence Radio Silence Talib Kweli Amber Coffman & Myka9
Write At Home Radio Silence Talib Kweli feat Datcha, Bilal & Robert Glasper
Day to Day Art Science Robert Glasper Experiment

And He Laughed.

Black laughter. Black Love.

There are times when I am amazed by the generosity of spirit of the people I meet in prison. They may only be dimly aware. For this man I would like to share this piece of writing with him. An action of reciprocity. Effective Altruism? Maybe…

Bad Day
I was having a shitty day. Walking with a walking stick in prison is a cumbersome and slow experience. The walking stick has me feeling vulnerable and very out there on my own. It’s a constant worry that at any moment something is going to go down and I’m going to be jumped beaten and my keys snatched off of my chain.

It has never happened to me.

(Yes, staff walk around with keys attached to a belt.) Uniformed Staff and civilian staff walk with aware that they carry a large responsibility along with those keys – a symbol of power.

Questioning
The opposite is often what I encounter. I generally do not feel powerful. My visible vulnerability brings from many I meet, including officers and often young and mature black men, the nod, or the question of
“Are you alright?” Or
“You cool?”
“What’s happened?”
“You good?”
“Take it easy, yeah?”

Fade
Here I am seen and my daily struggle is met by others compassion, seeing myself as the injured and frail one. I find myself at times wanting to be invisible. But these calls are a gentle reminder that humanity lives here. These moments are of genuine sensitivity being shown from men who are doing hard time, some serving 18-30 years. I have accountability and a responsibility to uphold, mine and theirs.

Between
On this day I passed from one wing to another. There are a number of wings/house blocks, housing between 100-150 men. Every house block has it’s own distinct vibe and concentration of prisoners: Vulnerable prisoners, lifers, remand and re-categorised prisoners. These men are due for parole or to be sent to other prisons for more open conditions. The prison has a total capacity servicing over 1000 men. Me negotiating the gates, doors and stairs takes longer as I manage the cane, the keys, assessment charts, writing paper to note take and my diary. An unholy slow moving ungainly mess.

Rutland Water Normanton Church: Slow Moving

Check-in
I am to meet with a client who attends the bereavement group. (Thanks for the reminder I will offer a write up about this group soon.) I need to see him as he left the group early on this week and I want to make sure that he is okay.

Take
We meet on his house block and I make my way into one of the offices that has a desk and 2 chairs on his wing.

I offer,
“I wanted to come and see you as I wanted to find out how you are after Tuesdays meeting?”
He says “Yeah, I just wasn’t feeling good you know? Sometimes this place takes the piss!”

I nod showing that I understand.

He continues “I asked for something that’s important to me for my religion and it’s not on the canteen sheet and I can’t get it!
“It’s frustrating me.
“I’m usually okay with it here.
“But this thing.
“I’ve been patiently waiting for 3 months and I couldn’t wait any longer. “I’ve done it their way for a long time and nothing ain’t happening for me. “I’m not just going for mine and leaving everybody else you know?
“This is about me and for others like me.”

Release
He shares his disappointments and numerous experiences of being let down and similar disagreements about the prison. Like, losing weight, standing forward and supporting others, confronting officers and attending to his overall fitness, wearing clothes he has had to keep care of for years because he can’t trust that things sent in will safely arrive.

Prism
He says something like jail being more like a mental health institution in patois and we both laugh. Initially tentatively. Then gleefully. Recognising ourselves in a prison situation as Black men. One choosing to be there with the other, another doing his best to find peace within his situation in prison.

Re-set
The laugh of this black man was like the baring of a soul with a comrade at arms, a fellow road weary traveller, a baller. His laugh invited me to view both his and my plight with compassion. This black mans laugh somehow seemed to restore me and also him. We sat and laughed in a prison, about prison and the folly of the circumstances we both found ourselves in. It was Capoeira meeting Jazz, Gum Boot Dance to Blues, Hip Hop bopping slow with Reggae, Salsa and Calypso rejoicing. It was natural and affirming that even here -prison – humanity could be found.

Re-Mix
The wonderful ability to take something that is both internal and external put a spin on it and make it both his and mine. The experience of the infinite in a few short moments of laughter. How deliciously wonderful, amazing and so uniquely surprising. I left the prison a little lighter that day, usually a little guilt escapes with me.

Not on this day!

There was no space for it.

Only smiles and laughter.

Resources
The Nod Do Rag
Code Switch School Daze and Gum Boot Dance
2 guys on your head Laughter/Jokes 
Making Sense Mind, Space, Motion

CTA
Comments welcome and appreciated. I am looking to engage in conversation re. Black Laughter. Black Love and the other blogs written. Thank you for reading.

Photo by Giulia Pugliese on Unsplash

Podcast Explosion

Also known as – Deliciously Displayed Information 2
Writing the first overview of the many podcasts I was listening to back in 2017, and still am now, was a milestone experience. My aim was to share my enjoyment of listening to a number of unique and interesting shows that did a good job of entertaining educating thrilling and amazing me. What follows below are my latest podcast listens. Stretching my little understanding and knowledge that little bit further. If the quest for more information, honest reporting, and fun are in your neighbourhood of things you like to be with, look no further.

Enjoy…

About Race with Reni Edo Lodge

Like a number of people in the UK I read Reni Eddo Lodge’s book ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ and found that her writing summarised my experience of being in white spaces and not wanting to contribute too much for fear of offending, upsetting, being labelled or facing ignorance. Getting on and staying quiet seemed to cause little disruption for others and at times myself. The Podcast over turns the dynamic of remaining quiet. Taking the conversation out beyond the intimate and separate and hidden but out to the world.

Broken Record with Malcolm Gladwell and Rick Rubin

I have been a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s for over 10 years. His book David and Goliath opened my eyes to a myth that was beautifully retold. Broken Record deep dives into the music business. I had originally thought that the podcast was going to be about Hip Hop music and what I have been invited to listen to is Malcolm’s varied collection of music tastes. Hip Hop is a feature as is Country and Pop. As a therapist it is the stories of the musicians and of Rick Rubin’s Shangri La recording studio that captivates and draws me in to each episode.

Dan Carlin’s Hard Core History

I have been hearing about Dan Carlin’s Hard Core History for a few years, mostly from other Podcasts I have listened to including Revisionist History, The Tim Ferris Podcast, The Science of Success and Hidden Brain. All have offered an insight to what I would observe about telling a unedited retelling of historical events. With episodes lasting up to and sometimes over 3 Hours be prepared to get comfortable and be amazed as Dan and his team share their perspective of historical events like you would never hear anywhere like on Hard Core History. I am up to Blueprint for Armageddon VI and listen on my hour long commute’s to and from work. There’s something about the way Dan Goes In. He is excited about reliving these historical moments. Almost like he is reporting on them like he is there. I am a little upset on Dan’s behalf that Netflix has gone and copied his story of the beginning of WW1. I recognise now that Dan’s enthusiasm may have been caught by others… To his credit history has never looked so good!

Dope Black Dads

I credit my wife for introducing me to Dope Black Dads. I have been hearing about the mischievous 3 for a few months and have started following them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I listen because I am a Black Dad myself and they offer a point of reference for men, for women, for parents. The conversations between the three and their guests are insightful, humorous, educative. Discussing topics that are challenging with vulnerability and sensitivity they do and do so well. I can understand that from my perspective it is what the world needs now.

Everything is Alive

An imaginative journey where inanimate objects talk to an interviewer about their lives. Being used by us a d what their interpretations of humans are. Stand out episodes include Louis Can of Cola and Chioke Grain of sand. I have gained insight to random facts that the host – Ian Chillag goes on to interview specialists in the field about. There are moments when the randomness is surprising and hilarious, then there are moments that are as profound as anything heard on Philosophy Bites or Code Switch. Thank you Charlotte for the recommendation on this one!

Grief Cast with Cariad Lloyd

Grief and bereavement are unfortunate experiences that some of us have faced and whilst the subject matter can appear dark and comfortable. Cariad Lloyd spends time with comedians discussing the loss of significant people in the comedians life. David Baddiel’s interview was as tactful as it was exploratory like a therapy session in miniature. A brave show that delivers more than is expected.

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

I thank Dorottya Szuk for introducing me to this podcast. The stand out episode for me has been with Mo Gawdat who discussed his learning from significant losses. Elizabeth Day talks with luminaries from a range of backgrounds and professions about how they have recovered after setbacks and taken the learning to apply in new projects and ventures. I find the show uplifting and surprising.

How to Own the Room with Viv Groskrop

The discovery was made by accident, with new and interesting on i-tunes. As a former visiting lecturer at University of Greenwich and at the University of East London I am keen to improve my speaking skills. The idea of standing in front of a room of people and speaking for 2-3 hours used to petrify me. Having lectured a number of times now I relish the opportunity to give insight about psychological matters to students. With How to Own the Room Viv interviews women that have experience of leading, speaking and presenting to audiences. Anne-Marie Imafidon, Meera Syal, and Mary Portas all had fantastic points that will help many to know the craft of speaking well in front of a room of people.

Kerning Cultures

Hebah Fisher an Egyptian-American presents a thoroughly researched and engaging podcast on the events people history and culture of countries in the Near East. Kerning Cultures puts a rich frame around the miss-told and miss sold experiences of people from this region of the world. Hebah in every episode explores, shares and invites the listener to hear about concepts and experiences that are often lost through the gaze of the westernized other. Kerning Cultures is a feast of learning about lives not largely different from our own but with a flavour that is Saffron in subtlety and complexity.

Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is possibly the funniest North American Podcast/writer/journalist around. These podcasts – reviewing miscarriages of justice, are maddeningly good. As they present little known facts about some of the worlds largest scandals. There is something about the enthusiasm Malcolm approaches each subject.

He goes hard at trying to understand the complexity of the laws and set ups that allow places to get away with unscrupulous acts of behaviour that would throw most in jail or seeking psychoanalysis. Episodes to look out for are The Lady Vanishes, The Big Man Can’t Shoot, Food Fight are great examples of Malcolm’s ability to dig in to places that are squeezed tight against illumination pulling at the truth of injustice, and setting the record straight.

The Allusionist

As a show the Allusionist continues to amaze and enthral me. Words appear to be at the root of the show’s beginning middle and end. Following a word’s use back to when it came into current lexicons and translations is part of the format. Helen Zaltzman is infectiously curious humoured and incredibly punctilious about getting words right, perfect in all the right spaces. Jeff Goins in his book Real Artists Don’t Starve said finding the right word is the difference between a lightning bug and a lightening bolt. Listen in if you like to investigate words their meanings and their multi usages.

The Receipts

I thank a radio 4 producer for introducing the receipts to me. Louise Kattenhorn I credit the receipts  to you. I have listened since January and have to say my life has been better informed, and lifted ever since. Another show I liked to listen to – Black Girls Talking went off air in 2017. I am still guessing as to the reasons why the show no longer is produced.

The Receipts now only on Audible is filling the space that Black Girls Talking left. Tolly T, Ghana’s Finest Audrey, and Mama Sita Milena Sanchez literally cut a fine audible hole for listeners to take a look through into a myriad of worlds insights and views. The women will have you shouting with them with their listeners dilemmas and then uproariously laughing with some of the audacious things that the presenters offer as advice.

This is Love with Phoebe Judge

If you have listened to Criminal you will know the voice of Phoebe Judge. Her expressive way of speaking invites me to wonder, often, as to what words she is going to say next.

The podcast is a tour de force on what we as human beings define and understand as love. Phoebe has interviewed a woman who swam with a lost baby whale until it found it’s mother. The superhuman feat took hours. The most recent series of This is Love, are in Italy meeting people who love cats, the ugly and art in Venice. I find the podcast uplifting. A feel good factor with no unfortunate pay off dirges. The only bad bit is the shows coming to their inevitable end! Noooooooo

Wanna Be

Wanna Be I was surprised to find after Melanin Millennials ended in 2018. Imri hosts a podcast where she interviews notable professionals about their career choices and experiences. Wanna be is a short show 30mins where guests share their story arc from points of personal discovery, and loss to heady heights. Sharing how they have achieved goals they set for themselves. Ultimately inspiring. 

Three Shots

If I am honest I have refrained from listing 3 shots higher on this list, however I would be doing a disservice to the talented conversationalists that headline these highly charged, entertaining and generally funny podcasts. Yes there are questionable ethics and topics that scrub the lines between right and good, leaving the listener to make up their own mind.

The three men, Keith Dube, Tazer F Black and Marv Abi are a trio that discuss a range of topics that are at once questionable as they are hilarious. I have found myself chuckling at the *ludicrosity of the conversations that have words mispronounced, hard lefts being turned mid conversation as Keith shares a funny story and the presenters reminiscing about encounters. There are some podcasts that dare, this podcasts dares greatly and possibly is unaware of how far they have danced across many lines.

END
I am on the lookout for a French, Italian, and Spanish podcast that lets me get lost with the pheonetics of these latin origin languages. My mum had a theory that the more time I spent being lost in a particular language the faster and better I would learn that language. If any of you have a particular podcast that I have not mentioned before and feel that it should be amongst this list please include it for me to listen to in the comments below.

With thanks I appreciate you reading these words.

If any of the above you do listen to, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

Past Future Presents

Being willing and able to stand out. Not stand amongst. Daring to be counted for or against. Being the binaried other. The up to the down side .

Three writers

Three weeks

Three stories and many many more. James, Davis and Thomas. All came to London, all discussed their books and visions.

All at the Southbank Centre. London.

All witnessed by the Grateful I.

All Inspirational.

All willing the next generation of writers, to pick up and sign on the Ether: that is fabric, that trick of time, a slice of magic.

With Angie Thomas the bright energy of her torch is carried aloft and loudly. Her message is one of hope and endearing those who are young, to knock down the doors to the banquet. Not ask for a seat at the table. Take the table and the hall!

Healing as action, a right for the young the mature, for the willing and the able.

For Marlon James – Black Leopard and Red Wolf was a call out for healing. Split psyches, broken dreams and promises, pooling resources and hollowing out ones own truth from African spirituality and new/old mythology.

For Angela Davis the story too was also about healing and about activism and about spanning histories and movements like a fan. My notes cannot do her enough justice so I cobble these sentences to scramble my meanings – together and then loosen.

In three short weeks I recognised that we are speeding towards a downpour of words, acts and decisions that have the potential to irrevocably change minds hearts and futures. Whatever the outcomes some ideas remain, things change – Always

Loving U…

U

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly Album was featured in another blog. U stands out as my 2nd favoured track due to its layered complexity. U offers a montage to the story telling that adds to the songs beauty. An outstanding artist knows: it is not what the artist depicts, it is what the viewer brings with them, that adds to the pieces’ power and importance and beauty.

Kendrick’s Reflexivity

U invites me to recognise myself in this song. My experience of losing someone I held dear. A friend, a fellow artist, a dancer singer actor, lay therapist. 7 years ago my friend died. Jamui Adebiyi I met at university. He was a fellow attendant at ACS and possessed a wicked sense of humour and a wisdom that seemed other worldly. We both enjoyed the artistry of hip hop and most of 1992’s American Hip Hop. Grime, Trap and Drill were 2 decades away.

Winning and Losing

In June the idea of hip hop as therapy was birthed as a result of a conversation. The below is a perfect example of a therapeutic outcome. I have been ashamed of my anger at the loss of Ade. Celia taught me that in reality there was no more that I could do, or could have done. The pain I feel, have felt is a reality of what I miss – a friend I had discussed the finer qualities of life: to laugh with,  Philosophize amongst and hold a number of disagreements against and not win. An example of our arguments was who was a better artist. Biggie or 2Pac. For me Biggie Smalls was king in his 2Pac was an idol and an important example of  Hip Hop’s relevance and success.

Synchronicity

The hook states that loving you is complicated. I really enjoy that Kendrick’s voice cracks and breaks, perfectly mirrored by Kamasi Washington’s horn. From here I was drawn in to the play between the musicality and the poetry.

{Screams}

[Hook: Kendrick Lamar]

Loving you is complicated, loving you is complicated

Loving you is complicated, loving you is complicated
Loving you is complicated, loving you is complicated
Loving you is complicated, loving you is complicated
Loving you is complicated, loving you is complicated
Questions unanswerable

But why? What reasons are there for love to be complicated? Is love complicated? There may well be times where love is. Love as complication may be dependent on the person we love and how they then live. Or is it the us who does not manage with love well: complicating it’s experience? I think of the people I have supported at probation. I think of a play I watched in January: The Absence of Silence. Which featured a cast of women exploring experiences of domestic violence. Love is indeed complex and confusing and conflictual.

[Verse 1: Kendrick Lamar]

Love as complicated Art

Love like Jazz is both beautiful and complicated

I place blame on you still, place shame on you still
Feel like you ain’t shit, feel like you don’t feel
Confidence in yourself, breakin’ on marble floors
Watchin’ anonymous strangers, tellin’ me that I’m yours
But you ain’t shit, I’m convinced your tolerance nothin’ special
What can I blame you for? Nigga, I can name several
Situations, I’ll start with your little sister bakin’
A baby inside, just a teenager, where your patience?
Where was your antennas?

Where was the influence you speak of?
You preached in front of 100,000 but never reached her
I fuckin’ tell you, you fuckin’ failure—you ain’t no leader!
I never liked you, forever despise you—I don’t need you!
The world don’t need you, don’t let them deceive you
Numbers lie too, fuck your pride too, that’s for dedication
Thought money would change you
Made you more complacent
I fuckin’ hate you, I hope you embrace it
I swear—

Gaps

Was this person a teacher, preacher, priest? Was he a parent, come brother a community activitst a leader? It appears that he was something that upset and fell short of his own aims. And this gap was intolerable and anger making…

Loving you is complicated, loving you is complicated
Loving you is complicated, loving you is complicated
Loving you is complicated, loving you is complicated
Loving you is complicated, loving you is complicated
Loving you is complicated, loving you is complicated

[Bridge: Kendrick Lamar]

Lovin’ you, lovin’ you, not lovin’ you, 100° proof
(I can feel your vibe and recognize that you’re ashamed of me
Yes, I hate you, too)

[Break: Jessica Vielmas]
(Loving you ain’t really complicated)
House keeping, house keeping
(What I got to do to get to you?)
Abre la puerta! ¡Abre la puerta tengo que limpiar el cuarto!
(To you)
¡Es que no hay mucho tiempo tengo que limpiar el cuarto!
(Loving you ain’t really complicated)
¡Disculpe!
(What I got to do to get to you?)
(To you)

An unopened door

This intro to Verse 2 is chilling and begins the emotional response from Kendrick reflecting on what was left… For me this verse is the heart of the song. The understanding is a visceral account of missing a love that is complicated. I enjoy that Kendrick is wildly emotional, his voice captures the raw emotion of the sentiment of loss. I thank the words, the expression, it gives chance for feelings trapped to move, to gain flight and lift…

Porcupine a love that offers pain

Loving you is Complicated

[Verse 2]

You the reason why mama and them leavin’
No, you ain’t shit, you say you love them
I know you don’t mean it
I know you’re irresponsible, selfish, in denial, can’t help it
Your trials and tribulations a burden, everyone felt it
Everyone heard it, multiple shots, corners cryin’ out
You was deserted, where was your antennas again?
Where was your presence?
Where was your support that you pretend?
You ain’t no brother, you ain’t no disciple
You ain’t no friend
A friend never leave Compton for profit
Or leave his best friend, little brother
You promised you’d watch him before they shot him
Where was your antennas?
On the road, bottles and bitches
You FaceTimed him one time, that’s unforgiving
You even FaceTimed instead of a hospital visit
Guess you thought he would recover well
Third surgery, they couldn’t stop the bleeding for real
Then he died, God himself will say, “You fuckin’ failed”
You ain’t try

A Rock

Kendrick opens up on his disappointment here. It sits like a rock. A boulder undeniably blocking his release. Here is where the truth of a death that is a shock is understood and stands as epitaph. The want in Kendrick’s lament is raw. I wanted for Ade to be around still – selfishly. I still do. This is the hard part. Acceptance of what is. Embrace appears impossible of this discomforting idea. If release is what I seek I am to clasp my hands around it like a bow, inhale and draw the spikes of this porcupine in.

[Verse 3]

I know your secrets, nigga
Mood swings is frequent, nigga
I know depression is restin’ on your heart for two reasons, nigga
I know you and a couple block boys ain’t been speakin’, nigga
Y’all damn near beefin’, I see it and you’re the reason, nigga
And if this bottle could talk–gulp–I cry myself to sleep
Bitch, everything is your fault
Faults breakin’ to pieces, earthquakes on every weekend
Because you shook as soon as you knew confinement was needed
I know your secrets, don’t let me tell them to the world
About that shit you thinkin’
And that time you–gulp–I’m ’bout to hurl
I’m fucked up, but I ain’t as fucked up as you
You just can’t get right, I think your heart made of bullet proof
Should’ve killed yo’ ass a long time ago
You should’ve feeled that black revolver blast a long time ago
And if those mirrors could talk it’d say, “You gotta go”
And if I told your secrets
The world’ll know money can’t stop a suicidal weakness

[Produced by Taz Arnold & Whoarei; Additional production by Soundwave]

Doubts

I am aware that this is a story enabling appeasement. I know that U represents the account of losing someone that meant the world. Perhaps that U was the self in pursuit of life’s trappings. Here Kendrick has caught and taught me. Celia’s words are recalled however the strong emotional tug of loss and regret block the safe removal of sad feelings and thoughts of what more I could have done to support Ade. I could have, I should have, provided chance for him to be heard. Perhaps offer refuge from the storm. My mind returns to saving – how could I have rescued my friend from ending his turmoil safely, life enduringly, healthily?

1 – 2 – 3 – let go

Hard acceptance: it was not my role to stop Ade. The answer, losing someone you love to death is undeniably difficult. Loving you is complicated. Losing someone you love to suicide is like an unexplainable phenomena that remains for a long time in the herafter… I accept the porcupine and the pain of hugging the spiny nature of this.

Perhaps by drawing in the unexplainable, healing can begin – after.

Hip Hop as therapy

https://youtu.be/Hu4Pz9PjolI An Interview with Kendrick

Poetry – Psychology

Street Art - Poetry

Poetry as street art

Stopping

Having seen Innua Ellams perform, there seemed little reason for a continuance from my poetry book. His flow, poise, diction, ability to instil images in the mind of an audience I found defiant, brilliant and silencing. This was back in 2006. The idea of walking away from performance poetry never to return: easy. Watching Suli Breaks perform for an event for the Terrence Higgins Trust in 2015 reopened a door I had permanently shut. Speaking with Suli after he performed ‘Why I Hate School but Love Education’ reawakened a sleeping ember.

There has been a growing sense that the writing I offer has a significant piece of me missing. It feels like an eternity ago, that I used to stand, sometimes shimmy, on stage and offer my version of poetry to audiences in Shoreditch or near Spitalfields Market. Finding the experience of flow whilst teaching in April was a welcome experience. A friend commented once that the below was some of my ‘best writing’.

Perhaps…

After the conference

So I asked her how she got that scar on her chin…
She blushed then answered…
My mind had already raced ahead and targeted the place and,
Time the incident had occurred, and then

I noticed it in a work group, work shop, work thing, at a
Conference just off Oxford Street
It wasn’t big. Just a
Thin line. A divot of definition. Running off centre off
Of the chin to just below the bottom lip.

I had wondered how it came to be there, this scar.
Imagining a cat fight in poor light, searching to take aim,
Then fire. The line was construed as if a ruler and
Knife or other sharp object had come together to divide.
It must have bled.

Trying not to stare. It didn’t stand out much. No more
So than her brown shoulder length hair, or rich brown
Eyes. Framed in blue white sclera’s. Her pupils were
Large as she interacted with the group. Graceful arm
Sweeps as she elucidated her points

Imagining blood, seeping from the cut, slowly, loosely
Dripping, freely and with that free hand wiping gracefully
Wiping away the wound marked in red.

Ashamed? I could guess not. Aghast probably – unlike
The expected monthly. This red was of Pain not birth but
Death. I continued to stare. Aware of the mesmerising
Allure of this faint forgotten sliced vein.

She turned her head and I could tell it was only skin
Deep. Near fainted as she caught me. Gazing. Intimately
At her chin, out of the corner of her eyes. I shamefacedly
Averted my gaze – towards the mint green carpeted floor.
Resumed idle talk with a neighbour. Then turned to the
Door. As if expectant of a SURPRISE visitor.

The mark still called (Michael) my eyes back to
That point on her face, just above her chin and
Just below her bottom lip.

Only this time gazing through her noticing
Everything and her chin, the brown cords jacket,
The black blue jeans, the dark toe scuffed ankle
Boot shoe things. Sitting cross legged – Right over Left.

But above all, the mark, skin deep, kept calling,
And again my eyes went back to wandering

…”I had fallen through a plate of glass” she said
And re-enacted the scene, whilst sitting, then
Blushed

I chose that moment to gush an apology then
Said “Excuse me” and left the scene. She
Leaning on her right knee…
Holding her chin.

Wondering…

2004

At the time of writing ‘After the Conference’, I had never thought of involving myself with psychology or even forensic psychotherapy. The clues of what I do now are hinted at within the poem. Imagining scenes that have the potential to be as real for me as falling through a plate of glass was for her.

When supporting service users or clients as a counsellor, the role can be about holding  visions of hope. And possible alternatives that uplift, cleanse, heal.

Supporting another way to view the world that holds more potential than before.

The recognition for myself is that use of poetry back then, assisted a blending of realities – words as paint. Finding another way beyond an interior design career. Of course my poetry would be different to Innua Elams and Suli Breaks, it has taken a while to recognise and appreciate this.

The entry to the world of prose, poetry rhyme and meter, began before Hip Hop and has lead me to multiverses of psychology and…

Talking Therapy as Hip Hop

Power in Poetry

Music Therapy

My life partner CW happened to say a profound statement as we watched The Defiant Ones. She said ‘Rap is talking therapy.’ I was struck by the fundamental truth of her statement and tried not to confuse or complicate it.

Gutter Rainbows seeing the beauty in the everyday

Beauty in the everyday – Gutter Rainbows

Continuum

I wanted to write this blog as a bridge to offer a larger idea. Pulling current protagonists and icons of Hip Hop culture, and also pooling disparate experiences of music and psychology along onto a continuum. From the Podcast Code Switch, Jean and Shereen often ask ‘What song is giving you life?’ I thank them for the saying and the idea. My answer…

Analogy

To Pimp a Butterfly ends with a prophetic poem that depicts the human struggle in, Mortal Man. I grew emotional whilst listening. Possibly due to the idea shared above with thanks CW…

To: Kendrick Lamar – I witness your genius and the power in your words.

‘Damn
I wanted to read one last thing to you
It’s actually something a good friend had wrote describing my world
It says…

“The caterpillar is a prisoner to the streets that conceived it

A Cocoon hiding potential

The Cocoon from To Pimp A Butterfly

Its only job is to eat or consume everything around it, in order to protect itself from this mad city
While consuming its environment the caterpillar begins to notice ways to survive
One thing it noticed is how much the world shuns him, but praises the butterfly
The butterfly represents the talent, the thoughtfulness, and the beauty within the caterpillar
But having a harsh outlook on life the caterpillar sees the butterfly as weak
And figures out a way to pimp it to his own benefits
Already surrounded by this mad city
The caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon which institutionalizes him
He can no longer see past his own thoughts
He’s trapped
When trapped inside these walls certain ideas start to take roots
Such as going home, and bringing back new concepts to this mad city
The result?
Wings begin to emerge, breaking the cycle of feeling stagnant
Finally free, the butterfly sheds light on situations
That the caterpillar never considered, ending the eternal struggle
Although the butterfly and caterpillar are completely different
They are one and the same”

Metamorphasis

The beauty of the poem is the perception of a human reality seen through the changing experience of a creature that begins life in one form and earth bound and yet ends life in another and is benefitted by flight.

As analogy the three stages of growth brings to mind crime prison and freedom, infancy life and death. The analogy may arise due to the 8 years I have supported people involved with the criminal justice system in the UK.

Podcasts like Criminal, Ear Hustle, Burner Phone Podcast, books such as Are Prisons Obsolete, The Lucifer Effect, True Believer and documentaries such as the 13th, Teach Us All and Zeitgeist have increased my curiosity and want to develop solutions to the disparity between caterpillars and butterflies.Purple Butterfly

Interview List

There exists a long list of people I would love to interview on behalf of the Counsellors Cafe Magazine (TCCM)

3 Hip Hop Artists that top my list are Dr Dre, Kendrick Lamar and Logic. The former and the latter have been featured in 2 Netflix shows titled The Defiant Ones and Rapture. Both artists convey in rhyme and through living – the joy and pain of life and unparalleled successes.

Dr Dre’s experiences of betrayal loss and meteoric success has been artfully portrayed in the 4 part documentary The Defiant Ones. The hidden pain in his visage is as palpable as his iconic headphones and influence on the music scene.

Logic was an unknown for me, however his story is not only incredible and inspiring and captivating but also immediately recognisable. His idea of breaking psychological concepts down into songs that encapsulate a swathe of people across the US, clarifies his genius. The song 1-800 and the slogan EVERYBODY worn on hoodies, is about you me and everyone that we know. His message is beyond insightful. It takes us to sheer brilliance and has rightfully endeared him to millions.

Giving Life

To answer Shereen and Gene from above: a few years ago Janelle Monae’s Hell You Talmbout was THE SONG! What the hell you talking about (IVERSON) put the feeling of the unlawful killing of African-Americans by the hands of law enforcement into a visual and auditory format that is powerful and justified. Right now the song giving me life is Robert Glasper’s Maiden Voyage/Everything in it’s right place that is giving me life.

Kendrick happens to be for me an outlier, a Nubian poet powerhouse who’s instep with the universe is perfectly poised. The poem above is from the album to Pimp a Butterfly. The aim would be for the interviews to enrich the known world with their visions, their story to support the many caterpillars encased in their cocoons to emerge…