Monday, April 26, 2010

Nomad•ness Episode 7 India Pt.2

In this episode, we end the celebration of Holi in the digs of an old palace that has been converted into an upscale hotel. Follow us as we brave the streets, the men, and a king cobra at Amber Fort.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Evierobbie Interview with Guru and Solar

As you know, the hip-hop world was dealt a harsh blow this week with the passing of Guru from Gangstarr. A pioneer in fusing jazz and hip-hop, Guru trail blazed this style of music.

Right now, there is much speculation over Solar and his role in Guru's life prior to passing. Luckily, two years ago, I was able to interview both Guru and Solar on upcoming projects and life. Even then, he refrained speaking to me about his relationship with DJ Premier and Gangstarr, something that caused much frustration and a lack of insight.


Take what you will from it.


“Raging Above the Machine: Guru and Solar”

The cross pollination of music is a practice that is becoming more readily accepted in hip hop. More and more, there are rock, electronica, and blues elements infused into the mainstream. In exploring other facets of music, hip hop artists have also broadened their fan base. Yet, this technique is far from new. History repeats itself. In hip hop, Guru was a pioneer in bringing one of the oldest forms of music to the world of hip hop; jazz. For the average 1990s hip hop fan, there’s no mistaking Guru’s baritone voice, smooth lyrical delivery, and jazz instrumentation. It wasn’t about the materialism of the industry, or the violent lifestyles from which the artists derived. It was still conscious, still informative, and all about innovating the music.
Noted as “Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal”, Guru started off as one half of the lasting members with the hip hop group, Gang Starr. Coupled with renowned DJ and music producer, DJ Premiere, the two continued on with the Gang Starr name. They
went on to be a historic staple in the early 90s “Golden Era” of rap. Critically acclaimed, and street credited, albums such as Step in the Arena, Daily Operation, and Moment of Truth re-created the rap coming out of New York City during the 90s. Although both members originated outside the Tri-State area, Guru (Boston, MA) and DJ Premiere (Houston, TX) are still considered strong forces from the New York City roots in rap music over the last nearly two decades. The status of the group, as active or dormant, has been of debate over the last five years. DJ Premiere has been quoted as saying that Gang Starr still lives and will resurrect once again. It’s no secret that Guru’s stance is more along the lines of forward movement and he’s been noted as affirming Gang Starr is no more. He chooses not to speak on it during interviews.
In Guru’s evolution, he came across the likes of producer, Solar. The business relationship that blossomed between the two has created the Jazzmatazz series, and an independent record label, 7 Grand.
Guru remembers, “ One night, in particular, we were hanging out and I was complaining.
He was like “Listen man. You’re an icon. Start your own label if it’s that bad.” I went back to him a couple days later and told him I wanted to do this label thing. He was like good luck. I was like wait, I want you to do it with me and bring your wise mind to the table. He thought about it and felt it was important too. That’s when we really put our heads together and started forming 7 Grand. That was late 2004. We put our first release out in 2005 called Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures. Jazzmatazz 4 came out August 2007 and Timebomb comes out tomorrow.”
The introduction to Jazz infusions started with the track “Jazz Thing” off of Spike Lee’s soundtrack for Mo’ Better Blues, during the days of Gang starr. Guru, along with the expertise of Solar, have taken that defining sound and morphed it into an unstoppable series of mixtapes and albums under their independent label, 7 Grand. As in the title, jazz is still as equal an influence as hip hop itself. Guru concurs, “The thing about jazz and hip hop is that jazz is at the base of all forms of music.”
Solar is the production genius behind these compilations. Solar’s motivation for
creating 7 Grand has a lot to do with the state of music as seen today.

Solar: A lot of people state that the “Golden era” of hip hop was the best, to some
degree, I agree. People also agree that the era to follow, the “Bling era” ruined
everything. You don’t hear too many people in New York bigging up this music. As a
result we can’t get a New York record on the radio anymore. It’s all over down South
beats. You can’t just listen to music that’s only designed to stimulate a certain type of behavior. You also need music that’s spiritual, has some content, and is intelligent. By an intelligent label, you get intelligent music, and we’re not going to apologize for that.

On an independent scale, Guru’s Jazzmatazz compilations have done very well, and
aided in 7 Grand scoring bigger distribution deals. Yet, and still, there’s no love from the bigger companies to push a conscious album into the mainstream. Despite the clout of the featured artists on the album, there’s still hesitation by “the machine” to help bolster the sales associated with Guru and Solar’s projects. This is the story that has become the norm, and unfortunately, redundant in the current climate of hip hop. Guru’s view are less intrusive on wanting the complete backing of the music industry, as much as he would like a section of it.

Guru: We don’t even necessarily want the big machine. Just give us access to a piece of

Solar: The really inspirational part of constructing tracks is the effect it can have on the fans out there. We’re trying to have people really think about hip hop again. There are principles and elements that we want to bring back. Every one of our albums are concepts and there’s no real money behind it and people are loving it. Then what’s
coming out on the other end of this is “Nigger”. This album is getting millions of dollars behind it. It has the whole machine behind it. It’s up to the fans to email these dudes like what the f*ck are you thinking about right now? Not telling them not to put that album out, but you ain’t got no money for Guru and Solar and you gonna put this out. You know how many of my elders I would be ashamed to have even turn on the tv and see this type of behavior? They come from a time when people would call them a nigger and they’d come home in tears. Or they’d stay at a job that called them a nigger so that they could put food on their tables. Fuck all the pain it’s caused everyone else. I’m sorry, I just can’t have my little man walking around calling people nigger.

It’s about balance, and 7 Grand’s goal is to create another side of the spectrum to the sex, drugs, and mayhem that is so influential in hip hop music right now. It’s been an up hill battle for the two, but the independent ear is listening. Are they purchasing as well?

Solar: We’re an independent label and we can’t live off of corporate funding. This is one of those rare times in history when the fans have to step up. We encourage everyone to explore the internet, but we also need you to go to the official website and download some songs too.

It’s a fight to the finish. Guru and Solar have proven respectable numbers independently, and continue to strive for that piece of funding from the industry. One thing is undeniable. Whether alone or collective, 7 Grand and its creative masters aren’t going anywhere.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

imagination at work...

Simply put...what the imagination can conceive, the wo(man) can achieve.
This video inspire me beyond words.

healthy relationships...

Jason tagged it in a status, now I have to elaborate in blog...

As I get older, and am more aware of what I am looking for in a mate/friend, I'm exploring the term 'healthy relationship' a bit more.
To me, in any healthy relationship, there will be disagreements, potential arguments, and maybe even space needed between the two parties, but there is always respect.

Many may feel that I am talking in regards to respect for one another. Though this is true, it's only one part to a dual equation.

In other words, I also look to see what type of relationship you have with yourself. Is the relationship you have with yourself, in fact, healthy?

Do you keep yourself in shape? Do you engage in dangerous activities to your mind and body? Are you negative? Do you protect yourself when engaging in sexual encounters? Do you eat healthy? Do you sleep enough? Do you understand the balance between work and play? Do you allow a rest period in your schedule?

These are the new questions I am internally asking myself if I am interested in you as more than a friend. I have men in my life, with THAT potential, yet severe imbalances in these areas are a turn off. I don't care how good you look. If you aren't taking care of yourself, how could you truly contribute positively to me?

This is a health issue as much as a love issue.
Particularly in the Black and Latino community health is not in the forefront and everyone's gut is. It's almost jarring coming back to seeing this after being in a country where obesity is a rarity, if at all.

Health is more than weight. It is a mentality. It is a lifestyle. It is a happiness with ones self.

I feel I can speak on this because I know the other side of the coin. I know what it's like to be sixty pounds heavier than what I am now. I know what it's like to have so much going on in my schedule that I didn't have time for me, let alone anyone else. I know what's its like to feel less than, or to be self-conscious in relationships therefore dealing with things I normally wouldn't have. I know what it's like to live with panic attacks because I felt like I couldn't say 'no' to certain engagements/projects therefore my schedule became a walking nightmare.

Trust, I know!!!

Luckily, I know the other side too. Healthy relationships start with self. It's time to grow up.

I'm all about the hustle, and I understand what goes into it. It's in my blood. Just know, at a point, your body will catch up to you and make you pay attention. Even He rested on the seventh day...I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

a night of strangers...

If New York City is good for one thing, it's meeting strangers. Most of you know I tend to chill at Starbucks, writing and editing, for hours at a time. Tonight was a three hour session.

Stranger number 1
In my groove, the inevitable 'I have to pee' kicks in and I now have to scour those closest to me to see who I trust most to watch my computer while I run to the bathroom.
I pick this European looking gentleman at the table directly in front of mine. I actually barely had to speak. He understood my body language and told me to go. I did.

A few minutes after my return, he asked me to watch his stuff. With a successful reciprocation, we began talking. He explained how he was doing work while waiting for friends in the city, as not to have endured the traffic between Manhattan and Jersey this evening. Makes sense.

He then started to dig into what I was doing there, and how I scored one of the best tables in the whole place. Intro to Nomad•ness and the memoir. He was intrigued and I was flattered. He wanted to witness more, so I gave him one of my new business cards. He was cool.

Stranger number 2
I left Starbucks hungry as hell but refused fast food. Wholefoods was open until 11pm, so I decided to head in. As I eyed the Indian buffet section an older gentleman stopped me.

Pointing to samosas he asked, "Are these spicy?"
"Depending on how they make it, it can be, but it's just vegetables and potatoes," I responded.
"You're probably from the Caribbean, huh?"
"As a matter of fact, I'm not."
"Really? Where are you from?"
"New York. My father is African-American. My mother is Irish, Italian, Dutch, and Native-American."

He wanted to keep talking, in amazement. I didn't, so I walked away.

Stranger number 3

I don't know why I attract the New York city crazies. I don't know why but I do EVERY TIME. I have friends that can vouch for this and have video to prove this. First off, the 4 train, at night, tends to be a freak show to begin with...always entertaining, with a shot of weird, and sometimes a sprinkle of scary.

Tonight this dude, with two teeth, asked me if the 4 train runs to Harlem. Now, I have noticed something in my years of living in the city. A person is as crazy as their repetition. Meaning, if someone asks you something once, ok. Twice, a pink flag should go up. Keep an eye on them. Three times, this person is crazy. More than three times, switch to another train car at the next stop.

I swear it's true.

This dude, in between talking to himself, asked me if the train stopped at 125th probably 5011 times...and it was only 4 express stops away. I wanted to tell him it was two more stops then as many teeth as he had in his mouth and watch him do the math. That would have been mean though.

The 4 train is alive and well...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nomad•ness Eps. 6 India Part 1

Nomad•ness Episode 6 is here! It is the first installation of my trip to India. Join friends, Stephanie, Melissa, and myself as we begin our journey in Jaipur, India. We were embraced by a local family and got to experience the Elephant Festival and Holi Festival of Colors up close and personal, all while staying in an amazing hotel for $23 a night/per person...

Sunday, April 4, 2010


of conscious...I've watched more tv in two days then in the last year. It makes my brain go numb and I no longer like it, unless I am creating it. I prefer when it is off and I am doing something more productive (like this)...Kinda bummed I missed the pillow fight in Union Square yesterday...all the guys came to the party, but none of the girls...hmmm...Dj Rich Medina is my favorite DJ in NYC...first 2 questions everyone asks: 1: How does it feel to be back? 2:How long are you staying?...answer to both: I don't know...the interview went compliment I've had since being home: You look like you have no stress in your life...that kiss was good. too fucking good. it melted my heart but not my focus, continuing on...I can't wait to go to DC...I'm not stressed about funds maybe the way I should be, oh well...I'm so certain in my path...I think you're bisexual...seeing Mom and sharing things from my students with her was feels good right now because it is on my own will begin the writing/Nomad•ness headhunting...Long Island is going to be fun...I have lost more weight, cannot wait to go to the gym...i want my cholesterol down 20 points this year...I wonder if he's been tested...I've been away from writing, photography, and film for two weeks now. I felt that I needed to really be in the moment as I said goodbye to Japan, and hello to New York, not documenting it...Bronxnet was the Universe's reminder to keep focused...Zorro sleeping next to me will forever make me smile...Every time I look at my new tattoo, I smile uncontrollably. I love what it represents...Joe and Justin still rock...I have just appeared in NYC and already feel the need to disappear...pacing the use of this BBerry. These things are no joke...patting myself on the back for the design of my new business cards. cannot wait for their arrival...purple nails are not my favorite, changing to black or green tomorrow...i miss 6 hour sessions in life is amazing...Kotoyo needs to come to New York...I need to go to Miami...I hope Megan continues to grow...I hope Kotoyo and Suguru get married...modify if needed, but don't you fucking dare delete...nani yumeh des ka? I know mine...Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Thailand, Japan, Turkey, Egypt, and Europe sound like a phenomenal way for me to spend my summer...let's go! You can vote for me EVERYDAY! HERE