Tag Archives: Pop

His Purple Reign Is Over…

Prince SymbolI’m heartbroken.

Yeah, I’m a Prince fan. I wasn’t always. When I was 14, I had a girlfriend who loved Prince. She talked about him, wore the buttons, wrote in that easily recognizable 80s-Prince-style shorthand, even dressed like him. As a self-respecting ghetto boy, I couldn’t get with the program. I liked Hip Hop and DC GoGo music, and his Royal Sweetness was too effeminate for my taste. I liked 1999 and some of his earlier albums–but after seeing the video, I was cool off of Prince.

But then, I had my first date.

Purple Rain hit the theaters, and Mustafa Akamo’s first date was that movie–with my Grandfather sitting between us. Hey, it was a different time then! I went, griping about the theater she chose–I sure as hell didn’t want none of my homeboys to see me coming out of that theater. Hell, it was not much different than getting caught coming out of the porn theater! Anyway, by the end of the first song and scene of the movie, I was a fan. And have been ever since.

I don’t know about you, but I was a fan in the biggest way. Being a fan of Prince’s music was something I couldn’t share with my friends. We were ghetto kids, we did manly things like play streetball, football, and boxed. We fought kids from rival neighborhoods. This was DC, we wore lumberjack jackets, Adidas tennis shoes, our hats backwards, and if you liked something strange like David Bowie, Culture Club, or Duran Duran–you’d better keep that shit to yourself. Not that I was a closet fan… It was just something I enjoyed by myself. I owned all his albums, all the 45s, collected magazines with articles and song lyrics (but no posters–I drew the line there–this was an admiration of the music, not a damned crush lol). I even started writing in the shorthand. I wore trench coats, loved purple, let my hair grow long. I had a lot in common with him. We were both biracial Black men (so I thought, turns out–both his parents are Black), loved motorcycles, rock music, identified ourselves as “brothers”. Except I liked my women chocolate and dark, but he liked mixed women. No biggie.

I had four girls during my Prince stage that I was crazy about, but they were older and liked me as a friend and didn’t reciprocate:  Lauren Kelly-Washington (who went to Georgetown Prep), Kamalah Lucas (either Duke Ellington or GP), Lisa Ponder and Bernadette Brandon (who both went to Eastern High). I wrote love letters. I called them (during my time knowing them) daily, incessantly. I befriended them and learned how to talk to girls. Prince was there all the time, telling me what to say, even when I might as well have been listening to Chinese Arithmetic, because I had no clue what he was talking about. He accompanied me on dates. He was in the background when I daydreamed about them. By the time I made it to the University of Maryland, I was a well-seasoned Playboy. armed with my ambiguous bilingual ghetto-boy/intellect/poetry-writing street kid persona–and women found me to be an irresistible bitch. I could be romantic, intriguing, and fight two niggas at the same time. Articulate-as-hell-but-carried-a-gun type of interesting. Prince seduced the nation, and he taught me to seduce those I came in contact with, simply by being different, being exotic, being strange and peculiar, and being myself. At a time I was struggling to fit in, I learned through him, that fitting in isn’t always where it’s at. They laugh at me for being different; I learned to laugh at them because they are all the same. There’s power in standing out.

I used to say that three things pulled me back from becoming just another brother on the street:  my mother insisting that I was Filipino, my Cuban stepfather who taught me to dress and dance, cook and speak some Spanish, and Prince’s music–which balanced the pull of DC calling me out my racial mixture to join the rest of the brothers. Those who know me know that I am equally Afrocentric and exotic. Many don’t like it; they want me to choose sides. Prince was all about not choosing sides. Shit, that fool wouldn’t even make it known that he was decidedly straight, riding the fence and staying in the gray area is what made this brother stand out. Everybody loved him. Black folks knew he was Black. Latinos loved him because he gave nods to Latin rhythms and music. White folks thought his momma was White, and considered him to have “transcended race” (which happens to be White people’s way of saying “He can’t be Black, we like that nigga too!”).

The brother didn’t leave the race; he wasn’t bisexual. He was just Prince. That’s all. He was who he was, and the place he loved to hang out was right there in the middle. And in the middle where everybody could identify with him and appreciate him. He was kinda White, kinda Black, kinda Latin, kinda Hip Hop, kinda Rock, even kinda Country, kinda straight, kinda gay. He taught those who loved him to get past their own limited tastes and biases and just appreciate him for who he was:  an awesome musician.

There are people who are “fans of Prince’s music”, but then there are “Prince fans”. Prince fans got into more than just the music; we learned as much as we could about him. We still bought all his albums, even though he hadn’t had a #1 hit since 1989–and went to his concerts religiously. We dressed differently, we talked differently, we wrote differently. We enjoyed his music, then studied the lyrics asking, “What did he actually mean by that?”  We categorized dates and life events by whatever Prince songs we were jamming to at the time. He wasn’t just making albums we loved; his music was literally the soundtrack to our lives. And now, he’s gone.

There was a joke about his Royal Badness–that he was the only guy who could wear a headwrap and eyeliner, and STILL take your woman from you–and it’s true. He is probably the only guy a very straight man, even homophobic ones, would admit comfortably was a Sexy Mother Fucker and still feel masculine. Like I said, there will never be another.

This was our Elvis, the Black man’s 9/11. He taught us to say screw the mainstream, screw status quo and do your own thing. For that, I’m honored I had the pleasure of being a Prince fan.

June 7, 1958 - April 21, 2016

June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016

From Him we came, to Him we return. Till we meet again, Prince Rogers Nelson. Rest in peace, my brother.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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Top 8 Things Holding Back the Black Man, part IV (Da Hood)

This violation is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves about our young people. Do you ever notice how our people will latch on to the worst shit that comes out, and when something good comes out–we don’t respond to it? Why is that? Our young people deem it cool to be assholes. They think being from prison is somehow “real”. They think there is something wrong with them if they excel at anything but sports and entertainment–but it has to be the right sport and the right entertainment. We wanna be rich, but we want to “keep it real” by repping the hood.

This is what I said in the original installment of this series:

We aspire to be second-class peasants.  We are an entertainment generation, and we will subject our children to be raised by music and media in the effort to pursue more “stuff”. Yes, our juvenile courts are full of the best-dressed, most affluent, wannabe gangstas ever. These courts are not full of kids selling drugs to feed their kids. They are full of kids who want to act like gangsters. They are suburbanite children who wish they were from the “hood”. Why is it that our parents want to act rich, but the kids want to act poor? It’s so bad, that we look at educated, articulate, well-mannered men as “square”, and then we say that our less educated, rough-mannered men have an “edge” and therefore more attactive. And what happened to the gangsta rap generation of the 90s? Well, some finished college and got jobs and are now raising middle-class thugs and hoes. Others are the single moms and dads who are raising lower-class thugs and hoes. Someone once said that I am hiding my children from the streets by keeping them in the mosque. You’re damned right.  Some people just don’t get it; we have everything we need to elevate ourselves, but most of us would just rather stay in the ghetto.

It is said that the Negro is easy to lead astray, and difficult to lead to the right path. Give a brotha a choice between a good, stable job, or a marginal life with partying and women–and he will choose the low life every time. Give a sister a chance to take an ex con with a nice body or a decent looking working man, and for some reason she wants to have the ex con. And I *know* you’ve seen this:  A “good” school with an accelerate program or the high school on the other side of town in Da Hood, and he will choose Crenshaw High. Every damn time. Somebody been watching too much “Juice in Da Hood”, or whatever the fuck that movie was called.  This is just amazing.

Like I said, I don’t claim to have all the answers. But I do have some suggestions.

First of all, it must start with us. We have to understand that whatever state our people are in–our children screwing up, our women choosing piece a shit men over getting married, our men trying to club all the way into their 50s trying to score some boodie–it’s OUR. DAMN. FAULT. So it is up to us to fix it. We can start by deciding, right here, right now, that we want better for us and our children. You must begin every endeavor with a statement of intention, and possibly a mission statement.

The Mission Statement:

Your mission statement is a declaration of your purpose, your mission, your values, your strengths, and your plan to achieve all goals.

It doesn’t have to be super-detailed or complicated. When I meet young brothers and sisters and I plan to lecture them, I usually ask the following question: “Where do you see yourself in ten years? What kind of life do you want to live? What will you do to achieve those goals? Do you believe that what you’re doing right now–the way you’re living, and the things you’re doing–will get you there?”

My brothers and sisters, where do you see yourself in ten years?

What kind of life do you want to live?

What do you plan to do to achieve those goals?

Do you believe that what you’re doing right now–the way you’re living and the things you’re doing–will get you there?

Now, put those answers together in form of a statement. “In ten years, I plan to be married with a full-time business (possibly several) and all my children under one roof. I want to own a home, have a good income through my businesses, my children should have a problem-free childhood and loving life, and a great relationship with my spouse. We will be spiritually grounded and physically healthy. Children will be well-behaved with good grades. I have a two year plan to get me to the next level, and this is what I plan to do to achieve those goals: Step A, Step B, Step C, Step D…”

That, my brothers and sisters, is a mission statement. You should have it memorized, and have it written all over the place. Your children should know it. Your wife/husband should know it and be in full agreement. You should do nothing that distracts you from that goal, and everything you do should be in support of that goal. Baby, you’re going to be busy. You must be driven and near obsessive about it. No time for garbage, and things that waste time. And most of all, your children must be on board with it.

Notice, I haven’t said anything about Da Hood yet.

Yeah, I haven’t. They didn’t get Ghetto Fab overnight, and they sure ain’t going to get Smart overnight. But how are we going to enact a plan to fix this bullshit when you don’t have a plan to climb out of the shithole we call “Niggadumb” that we’ve been living in since the early 90s?

Stay tuned, family. And take notes.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

 

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Filed under Message to the Black Man

“Child of Innocence”: Poetry by Michael Jackson

I just got to see a copy of Michael Jackson’s book of poetry, “Dancing the Dream”. It goes for around $600. Just try and get a copy.

So, I discovered that MJ had a lot of talents that many of us didn’t know about. He was an awesome poet and artist (check out the drawing). His self-portraits were picture quality. His poems really told you who we was as a man, as a brother, as a son, as a child. I enjoyed all of his work, but I would like to share a short one. For you poetry heads, this one was written in a style called an “elegiac stanza”–a series of two couplets per stanza (aabb). Besides that, it has renewed my interest and my understanding of every kid’s “big brother”. At least my generation. Enjoy.

Child of innocence, I miss your sunny days

We joyously frolicked in extended plays

Ever since you’ve left the scene

The streets are lonely, dark, and mean

Child of innocence, return to me now

With your simple smile show them how

This world once again can respond to your glance

And heartbeats flutter to the rhythm of your dance

Child of innocence, your elegance, your beauty

Beckons me now beyond the call of duty

Come fly with me far and above

Over the mountains in the land of love

Child of innocence, messenger of joy

You’ve touched my heart without a ploy

My soul is ablaze with a flagrant fire

To change this world is my deepest desire

“Child of Innocence”, by Michael Jackson

1992

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Filed under Poetry

Broken Hearts

Written on the day a certain big brother of mine died. I’m sure he was your big brother as well. Or Dream guy. Or hero….

.

they are the broken boys and girls

scattered pieces of arrowheads

paths detoured and pot-holed

fractured homes and barren souls

mishandled by life’s hand

they litter our lives

because we misunderstand

castaways

discarded during raging storms

colorless, but beautiful

empty, but fruitful

seen, though invisible

*

we fill voids that pulse their malfunctioning hearts

and bring sunny days to moonless nights

awaken the lives of these romantic zombies

their illness cries out insatiable hunger

a pain that never subsides

it begs to be bandaged

blackness that could never be bleached

severed in spite of your face

run off despite your race

-this is the pain that kills-

pills fail to quell the ills

it sleeps with all who will hear its cries

where it resides until it dies

and we throw them to the waysides

*

they are the refused souls

trapped on the sidelines

misjudged, masked in joy

made jokes till they close their eyes

*

they are the broken little boys and girls

we left behind

Peter Pan punished

pretending to be immortal

cause he never grew up

our Prince of Pop prescribed

a life of longing for love

beyond death dare we part

like the armies of broken childhoods before him

it magnifies

blemishes

on our ability

to love.

*

“Broken Hearts: IM, Michael Jackson”

2009

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Filed under Poetry