Life of Kai--
43 views | +0 today
Follow
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Kai Deveraux Lawson
Scoop.it!

A Dream & A Mixtape Deferred in Philaburbia

A Dream & A Mixtape Deferred in Philaburbia | Life of Kai-- | Scoop.it
Kai Deveraux Lawson's insight:

A Dream & A Mixtape Deferred in Philaburbia

 

I have so much to say and yet I am not sure how to approach what needs to be said, in the not so strange case of Jay “DatBull” Harris. Not sure who I’m talking about? It’s ok, I didn’t either about a month ago. Even though is face has been plastered all across my facebook wall for the last couple of weeks. He’s the talented young football player from “Philadelphia” who gave up a full ride to Michigan State to “pursue” a rap career. Still don’t know who I’m talking about? No problem, watch this: http://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/22270400/why-is-teen-giving-up-college-free-ride-to-pursue-rap-career#.UzK1FFZfRIx.facebookJames.

 

By the time you get to this line of text- you should be slightly familiar with DatBull. I know what you are thinking. Things like “ugh what an Idiot” and “What kind of Parent would support that” come to mind. Trust me it did for me too. Why wouldn’t it? In a country, where Education and Wealth are most highly exalted as staples of High Class and Successful society, giving up what many of us would consider the keys to the land of Milk and Honey—seems unthinkable, unheard of and unspeakable. However—in a sick and twisted way, I see where “DatBull” is coming from. Let me be CRYSTAL CLEAR—I don’t agree with his decision at all, but is SEE where he is coming from. I think.

 

I grew up in Chester County, Pennsylvania, myself. I lived in both West Chester and Downingtown and attended Downingtown High School’s Ninth Grade Center and West campus, when it finally opened. I saw and experienced the stark differences in the micro-cultures that resided in the geographic lines of this land of Old Money and New Poverty. One would assume, that in Suburbia, life would be grand and easy right? I mean, why wouldn’t it be? The houses are huge, the job prospects are plenty, and the air is clean.  I mean—from the outside looking in, it probably looks like something directly out of your favorite network cable sitcom. However, there is a piece of suburbia that is usually overlooked, and that is the Frontin’ and Stuntin’ lifestyle of  suburban youth.

 

Perhaps it’s because, I was often entertained by news and historical documentaries, or because I spent most weekends, holidays and summers in the company of my family members who lived in less Dollhouse like areas of the North East such as South Jamaica, Queens or Crown Heights Brooklyn (circa 2002 pre-expedited gentrification), but my impression of my surroundings, in Downingtown, was rather imposter-ish. In a world so beautiful, green and spacious, I found many of my PA peers mimicked the mindset of many of my more “Urban” and peers. Honestly, this would be fine if we were just discussing, speech, clothes, walk and entertainment preferences, because then I could just attribute it to “ Hip Hop” culture. But it was the overall mindset of social and class complacency; justification of unnecessary criminal activity and violence to “prove” EXACTLY who “Dat Jawn” or “Dat Bull” was.

 

It has never escaped me that many of my peers were acting out, in response to “hood like” experiences, like drug addiction, alcoholism and poverty was very common amongst my class of people. As the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover and the cover of Suburbia is as attractive as a Victoria Secret Super Model, to many people in search of “Euphoric Americana”.  But there was a difference; at least I had rationalized one in my head to do better. It was the promise of what the suburbs were supposed to be. For many Americans, the allure of the suburbs was the promise of opportunity and future-- the opportunity to change and the future of stability and wealth. So it just confused me how people with access to resources through our well-funded and well-kept school district managed to find comfort in the façade of the “thug” than that of the “scholar.

 

In a recent review of Author and Feminist Joan Morgan’s AMAZING book  “When Chicken Head’s Come Home to Roost—she discusses the lusty relationship many people have with struggle. Noting: Struggling people impose conditions, restrictions, and expectations on themselves, because it’s easier to struggle doing nothing, then it is to bring up and use the creative force within.” This sounds applicable to what I experienced growing up in Chester County.

 

Don’t get me wrong I’m no better or different than anybody—and many people can attest to this—In high school I smoked, I drank, I listened to and LOVED Hip Hop culture (still do), and I yearned for the glitz and glamour of the city life, that seemed to have the greenest grass than the bunch on my front lawn. However—my confusion led me to prioritize college as my way out. I just wanted out of the complacency, because I had bigger dreams. So yes I smoked, and I also studied I held a 3.7GPA for most of my high school career. Yes—I drank like most underage people do, and yet I managed to lead Student Government and the Black Student Union, and let me be proclaim that my love for Hip Hop Culture is nothing new, While I was winning Homecoming Queen, I was blasting the latest Diplomats album. I say this with no shade, but I like to believe I kept it real to myself without downgrading my integrity. I vowed never to let my rebellions overtake my need to get out and become My Dreams.  In no way do I mean to discredit anyone else’s experience, I just want to point to my own as a way to express the possibility of “Doing You” without getting “Caught Up”.

 

So what’s up with Jay DatBull Harris? Why would a star athlete riding the wave of local athletic celebrity, take to promoting an under developed hobby in rap and prioritizing it over his silver platter handed scholarship to a D1 school? Well here is my theory coupled with some hometown insight from a close source. Theory 1—I don’t think he really wanted to give up football for a rap career. I mean why would he? He’s so much better at football then rap, and quite frankly he had a higher chance of going pro football then going pro MC. According to my source, his affinity for football was so strong he switched high schools for a better playing opportunity.  Not to mention—he’s trained for this his whole life! He’s completely invested and at least until this story broke, 100% dedicated to the life of the pigskin and the turf

Theory 2—because all the other rapper kids are doing it. Jay-Z spoke to this issue on a New York City radio station. He discussed how once ago dudes rapped out of necessity, a means to succeed and an alternative to hustlin’. Nowadays—everybody raps because they think they can. And what’s a rapper without music videos and mixtapes talking about Money (you don’t have) Designer Clothes (you don’t have) and Hoes (you don’t have)… Right? No, terribly wrong. The reality of it is that it was a dumb move. A dumb move most young people make these days, while feeling themselves, also known as Invincibility. Only—even in suburban Philadelphia, the dumbest of moves, in the name of keeping it Real and Gangsta, can damage your available opportunity and future and Jay Harris’ story should be the most cautionary of all tales to young people with lofty dreams.

 

I’d like to clear something’s up before closing out this post. The first being that Jay “Dat Bull” Harris, did not give up his Football Scholarship for a Dream of becoming a Rap Superstar.  Yea—I know, but I don’t care WHAT he told the news people. I take this stand, because in reality it was revoked in response to his Rap Video. To me—there’s nothing mutual about that, but that’s a WHOLE other story, that I’ll save for another rant. The other thing I’d like to acknowledge is that Jay Harris is enrolled in West Michigan University and is on the football team. I’ve googled this and it is confirmed on their website. Yes—you may now let out your sigh of relief. I know I let mine out! Although I do not know the specifics about this move, I do know it speaks to the REALITY of Frontin’ & Stuntin’—that it can get you caught out there on the internet looking stupid, when all you really wanted to do was some hoodrat things with your friends. 

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Kai Deveraux Lawson
Scoop.it!

Good Kid Maad City-- No Love. How The Heist was Won

Good Kid Maad City-- No Love. How The Heist was Won | Life of Kai-- | Scoop.it

Just a few thoughts on the highly discussed Rap category Heist ;-)

Kai Deveraux Lawson's insight:

Sooooo The Grammys happened and again Hip Hop heads around the country are scratching their heads. Actually, I take that back, they’re not. Hip Hop heads around the country are saying—Here we go again, with the dull face -___- and the side eye. And who can blame us? It’s THE BIGGEST night in music and the BIGGEST ALBUM to happen to Hip Hop music since (Dare I Say) Blueprint is silently overlooked and tucked away, back into the dark and dangerous corner of the world it came from. If you haven’t caught on already, I’m talking about the UPSET that was Kendrick Lamar and Good Kid Maad City. By now you should have already seen/ heard / read Macklemore and Ryan Lewis “SWEPT” the Grammys rap categories, taking home 4 “Gold Sippy Cups” (s/o to Jay and Blue Ivy for that one). Leaving Kendrick to humbly accept this “EPIC L” and hope for the next year and the next album.

 

I will admit I was disappointed. Not because Macklemore and Ryan Lewis don’t deserve to be awarded for their spectacular and SURPRISING musical take over of 2013, but more-so because the Hip Hop GIANT that was Good Kid Maad City— DID DESERVE to be awarded for it’s valiantly heroic representation of what true Hip Hop is. No shade… It is what it is.

 

The irony of The HEIST winning 4 out of the 5 Rap categories is blatant hilarity. I mean-- a heist is in fact “a robbery from an institution”. Get it? The Heist “won damn near alllll” of the Rap Categories? The Heist was a Heist???? Again—no shade… Wellllll ok maybe a little.

 

Among all of the Facebook bashing and name calling and race card pulling I saw via social media I decided to take an educated approach to assessing what I witnessed, yesterday evening. I started with some basic qualitative information; Record sales, Radio Spins and Social Hits. I compared both parties’ two biggest hits of the year. On the Macklemore side: Thrift Shop & Same Love and on the Kendrick side: Swimming Pools and Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe. Qualitatively—Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won (I’ll spare you the details, especially since I hate numbers). They outsold, outspinned, and out viewed Kendrick. Which should be enough right? Not exactly, in my opinion. What I found in my radio spin research was that Kendrick’s music was played primarily on Urban and Rhythmic Stations, and Macklemore and Ryan were spun on Top 40, Alternative and Rhythmic Stations. Their hip hop save was Rhythmic Radio—which if you’re not 100% on what that is—It’s your Hit Music station: Hip Hop, R&B, Dance, Pop and all the bubble gum that comes with it. It wasn’t pure Hip Hop love but it definitely stood its ground with some hit makers. However, you did not see Macklemore and Ryan Lewis making substantial impact on Urban Radio stations—You know, where all the hip hop music gets played. So you know where I’m headed with this—Miley Cyrus in all her twerking glory gets played in HEAVY rotation on a Rhythmic Station, but maybe a good spin or 2 a week on Urban Radio, but I didn’t see Miley in anybody consider putting her in anybody’s rap category.

 

Qualitatively—I just thought about my basic experience with music last year. Last year around this time I was about 3 months into my love affair with GKMC. I played it on the train, the plane, in the shower, at work… EVERYWHERE… By summer it was the same shit. On my social media timelines, all of my networks were still singing praises of King Kendrick Lamar and his Black Boy Fly. Oh—and don’t get me started on the summertime scandal that was CONTROL-GATE! Hip Hop is STIIIILLLL getting over that shock of electric life #Clapforhim! My friends and I were engaging in heavily intellectual conversations about GKMC. I mean if you’re from NYC you know Stop and Frisk and if you know Stop and Frisk; you 100% empathized with the second verse of track number 7 of GKMC—Good Kid.

 

The Heist on the other hand was more of pop culture propaganda (in my personal experience). Every morning news show invited them to perform on their “summer stages”, every TV show, Commercial etc... used clips from their summer singles. Hell—I couldn’t walk into a thrift store with out hearing about only having $20 in my pocket, which in all fairness is a real struggle… I know that feeling VERY well. But aside from the catchiness of the lyrics and the beat—there was no emotional connection to the music that made me say—YES! THIS IS HIP HOP! The difference was like the seeing an attractive person and the seeing the love of your life. It was cute and all, but nothing to write home about.

 

So here is the struggle I encounter everyday as a lover of music. If Macklemore and Ryan Lewis AND THE HEIST don’t receive substantial play on HIP HOP/ URBAN radio—how in fact do they represent the best of what HIP HOP has to offer? It literally took me 2 seconds to answer this question for myself—Symantics! They won Rap categories!!! Not HIP HOP Categories!!! DING DING DING! They rhymed, so they ARE RAPPERS and so they won the game. All hail the formula that is Marketing! Proper positioning, and access to “mainstream” markets, with a non-threatening-like BRAND and a familiarly (you can insert some shade here) “clear face” will get you on the fast track to Rap Music Grammy Gold.

 

Of course WE KNOW Rap and Hip Hop are not the same. Hip hop is the term for the micro urban culture that developed from humble roots of a disgruntled and ignored people of America’s inner cities, in the late 70s and early 80s that eventually transitioned into mainstream music by the late 90s. Rap is the means by which the message of the disgruntled and ignored was expressed. Rapping is a skill someone has. Hip Hop is a way people live.

 

So there it is—Macklemore’s catchy and cute and mainstream messaged RAPS reached the right people. Meanwhile—somewhere in the core of Hip Hop culture Kendrick Lamar’s biographical analysis of growing up boy, black, brilliant yet belittled, reached out and touched the hearts and minds of a generation ignored. It’s clear both musicians poured their hearts into their music. It’s clear both musicians have talent and skill to support their accolades. But damn—no love for Kendrick tho??? NONE?

 

I mean—I kinda get it. Like, in my head, the voting academy has a very small number of heavy hip hop loving voters. Now, this isn’t a fact it’s very much so just my opinion. I mean why else would J.Cole NOT be nominated for his work on Viluminati and Kendrick Lamar NOT win anything…ANYTHING?!?! It’s the only thing that makes sense to me, but I’m always open to hearing other theory’s so if you have one, please share ;-)

more...
No comment yet.