Category Archives: Education

“Eminem? Jay-Z? They’re a combined 92 years old! Does their music even matter?” Yes, it does. Rap’s never been this great and this old before.





2017’s two most commercially successful and critically judged rap albums are assuredly going to come from Jay-Z, via June-released 4:44, and Eminem, with his December 15-releasing, ninth studio album, Revival. As hip-hop culture prepares to enter its 45th year, it’s possibly shocking to note that artists who are as old as Kool Herc’s DJ set at Bronx, NY address 1520 Sedgwick Avenue on August 11, 1973 (Jay-Z is 47 and Eminem is 45) could be at the vanguard of the genre. However, it’s astoundingly 19-year old pop rapper Lil Yachty who has the best perspective on how and why this turn of events has come to pass. As he told Hypebeast in August 2017, “[Now], you can do anything at any age, and we have it all at our finger tips. It’s amazing, it’s like the best thing ever.” In reflecting on what Yachty said, the idea that, maybe being a commercially and culturally viable personality in rap music is no longer intrinsically tethered to being between the ages of 18–40, is an evolution worth discussing.

Reasons why one should believe that hip-hop cultural excellence is a gift that’s only reserved for the young are many. Firstly, Biggie and 2Pac died at 24 and 25 years old, respectively. Also significant are facts like Will Smith released his last album at 37, and his children Jaden and Willow are currently a combined total 36 years of age. Last, but certainly not least, Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Uzi Vert are under 25.

Prior to a year where Jay-Z could win Grammy’s Album of the Year and Eminem could release a series of flyover state and #RESIST anthems, hip-hop’s most significant cultural icons were never allowed to age while maintaining pop relevance within the culture. Kanye is currently living through his Pablo-esque surrealist mid-life crisis at the age of 40. Apple employed, legendary, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted 52-year old billionaire Dr. Dre will still occasionally get grilled by the general public as to the release date for Detox.

Whether by invocation of some “27 Club”-esque rule or because, as Moby once told me, “22-year olds are always going to make great records and the most interesting culture,” there’s ample reason to believe that the idea that two rappers with a combined 92 years of age between them releasing rap’s albums of the year is a thing that should not be.

How then, is this happening?





The most significant thing to note about being well past 40 and making dope rap records is that the context into which your creativity is considered could heighten. The expectation for success if this occurs involves recordings having to successfully shift in tone to discover creative comfort when being judged by an advanced critical paradigm. If this occurs, the payoff comes in almost immediately achieving a more iconic level of success.

Songs made by young/younger artists just trend in teeny bopper and early adult bottle popper nightclubs, and the top of Billboard charts. Comparatively, the hubbub surrounding both Shawn Carter and Marshall Mathers’ more old age-aware 2017 output is a mind-blower when contemplating the breath and depth of the artists’ impressively dynamic socio-cultural reach.

  • Jay-Z matured from “big pimpin’ and spendin’ cheese” with then Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash to discussing how his marital infidelities and subsequent psychological therapy sessions with 61-year old New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet.
  • As far as Eminem, he’s matured from being “interesting,” and “the best thing since wrestling” to being quite possibly the most ardent Midwestern and “red state”-representing voice in opposition to the chicanery surrounding the United States Presidential administration of 71-year old Donald Trump. As The Daily Beast notes, “Em has thrown himself into the center of the national dialogue on race, Donald Trump and white supremacy.”

Jay-Z has advanced to the status of being a wizened sage. Thus, he is not rapping as he once did. Rather, he has become a preacher of the gospel that we should all — as a unified, and nearly five decade old hip-hop adoring body politic — generally be able to be intelligent enough to be “smart enough to know better.” On 4:44 this idea is prevalent enough in the album’s narrative for CNBC to report that on 4:44’s brilliant “The Story of O.J.” that, “the rapper bemoans rising real estate values in his home city, calling out one of Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhoods and saying, ‘I could have bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo for like $2 million. That same building today is worth $25 million. And guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo.’” As well, they note that Jay “touches on return on investment — he earned on artwork he purchased years ago for $1 million that is now worth $8 million — and underlines the importance of a buy-and-hold strategy.”

Also, in a manner meant to invoke the — and I’ll coin this phrase here — Lauryn Hill doctrine of “adding a motherfucker so the ignant niggas hear me,” Jay also states in “The Story of O.J.” that “You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit. You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.” The Atlantic was right to note that “it’s beneath Carter, a writer and artist of astonishing ability and sophistication,” to recall “the anti-Semitic canard that Jews maintain financial control of everything you see.” But, as related to the “Lauryn Hill doctrine” outlined in the previously linked Fugees’ track “Zealots,” in Decoded, Jay-Z notes regarding prior claims regarding his possible anti-Semitism that, “when I use lines like this, I count on people knowing who I am and my intentions, knowing that I’m not anti-Semitic or racist, even when I use stereotypes in my rhymes.”




Regarding Eminem, he’s recently premiered “Walk On Water,” a duet with intriguingly enough, Jay-Z’s wife Beyonce, as his lead-in single to Revival’s release. As Billboard notes, the track’s lyrical content offers something more refined and world-aware from the 45 year old and twice-divorced father of three, (including an adult Haile Jade Scott Mathers, who is now 21). “[r]ather than knife his way through the track with his brash, animalistic delivery, Em enters a reflective state and addresses his insecurities regarding fame and his current standing in hip-hop.” This includes Em saying that he’s “not a God,”and “a beautiful mess.” Moreover, he alludes to having gotten rid of the bleached blonde hair associated with his caustic career as a younger emcee, and also notes that he might one day “fall” from the “heights” of his career.

Unlike Jay-Z, whose success has afforded him an opulent, white collar and high class semi-retired rap life that very few men in the universe could ever achieve, Eminem is in a different situation. Jay is largely above any critical commentary. However, Eminem, by virtue of his blue collar and impoverished upbringing is old, yet still hustling for approval. Thus, he is likely, because he’s “too old to be doing this,” more critically approachable. Though the lyrics to “Walk On Water” may note that he may not believe it, Eminem’s indeed a Jesus-like “Rap God” who can walk among the “scribes and Pharisees” and be subject to their derision.

This critical concern makes itself even more apparent in an Uproxx report that notes, “Em is going back to the drawing board to reassess the release of his what will be his ninth solo album. The first step in that process appears to be be distancing himself from ‘Walk On Water,’ the album’s supposed lead single with Beyonce, as Eminem has stopped promoting the song as his lead single. The track debuted at #14 this week on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart, a high debut for sure, but a disappointing one on the heels of Beyonce’s first musical appearance since Lemonade, an SNL performance, and a massive rollout.”

By virtue of being a white person, Eminem can’t “add a (metaphorical) motherfucker so the ignant niggas — and yes, this extends to ignorant people of all racial extractions who love hip-hop culture — hear him.” So, his “smart enough to know better” campaign has had a tougher road to navigate insofar as hip-hop fanatics who are entrenched within the culture. However, when it comes to those who are — and yes, after 50 years there are those who are — newly accepting of hip-hop having a place in their existences, it’s a different story. Eminem, because his age allows him to have established pop (meaning, beyond initially hip-hop specific) cultural resonance, stands to gain much in the way of support of the multi-racial, multi-ethnic, Democratic and Facebook adoring anti-Trump #resistance. To that end, somewhere between his instantaneously iconic and Trump-lambasting BET Awards freestyle and Revival’s “new” lead single “Untouchable” which literally starts “black boy black boy, we ain’t gonna lie to you / black boy black boy, we don’t like the sight of you,” the change in tone aligns well with a demographic in line with his age and the nation’s anger best collide for commercial success.




Speaking directly to the aforementioned point, The FADER noted that Eminem’s BET freestyle was “red meat for #TheResistance,” but also noted that, “the rap itself…is bad.” Via their own advertising site, The FADER lists its core demographic as being an 18–34 year old male college attender (note, not necessarily a graduate) earning $40,000 year. In the same FADER piece, it was written that Keith Olbermann, host of GQ’s “The Resistance,” tweeted, “After 27 years of doubts about rap I am now a fan. Best political writing of the year, period. 👏👏👏👏👏 #Eminem2020.” Keith Olbermann is a 58-year old male college graduate, who in 2011 was rumored to be earning $10 million a year on Al Gore’s Current TV. Clearly, numbers and words never lie.


On January 28, 2018, it’s more than entirely possible that 47-year old rapper Jay-Z will make a clean sweep of the Grammy Awards for Song (“4:44”), Record (“The Story of O.J.”), and Album (4:44) of the Year. As well, if there’s any justice, we’ll probably get a performance by Eminem of “Untouchable,” too. In the crowd, marveling at how the depth and scope of expectations for excellence have shifted in hip-hop will be rappers who are half these artists age who will be suddenly confronted with the fact that they now have twice as much to learn about how to succeed and sustain within the genre. Lil Yachty’s right. Because of their age-driven maturity, Jay and Em have everyone from the New York Times to President Trump within a fingertip’s reach, and have likely created 2017’s best and most important rap albums, respectively.

Maybe it’s true that youth is wasted on the young?



The Best Music To Listen To While You Write (According To 9 Bestselling Authors)





Go to the profile of Writing Routines

Writers will try almost anything to help them write. Gertrude Stein had assistants herd cows into her line of view for inspiration. Hunter Thompson alternated between cocaine and Chivas from all day trying to find his zone. Victor Hugo instructed his valet to hide his clothes so he was forced to write in the nude, removing his temptation to leave the house.

Of the more widely practiced (and legal) writing aids, listening to music is one almost every writer has experimented with in their career. For some, music is the destroyer of any good writing session. Others see music as the fast lane to a creative promiseland. A way to shut out everything else around them and produce their best work. And in contrast to the methods mentioned in the introduction, studies have shown that listening to music can help facilitate divergent thinking stimulate focus.

If you’re a writer in the pro-music camp, one question remains: What is the best music to listen to? Well, procrastination ends here. Below are the tunes that nine bestselling, award winning authors use to jumpstart their sessions. (Bonus: here are all the songs in a Spotify playlist if you’re ready to give them all a try.)

1) Philip Glass

Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose novel The Sympathizer was a New York Times bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, and the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, is a recent convert to music-while-writing. Early on, he was careful not to listen to much of anything when he wrote. Viet explained his change of heart:

“I preferred silence before I wrote The Sympathizer, but on The Sympathizer I thought: Okay, let’s try this with some music, but not anything too distracting. I’m usually not listening to anything with lyrics for the most part. I actually listen repetitively to Philip Glass. With The Sympathizer, especially The Hours. I wanted to have some of the feel of his music in the rhythm of the prose.”

Two songs to get you started:

2) 22, A Million by Bon Iver

Bestselling author Ryan Holiday calls music his “instant flow tool.” For him, it’s a way to not only drown out external noise, but also a way to quiet parts of his conscious mind that could otherwise be a distraction. His method is to pick one song and listen to it on repeat — sometimes hundreds of times in a row — to get into a rhythm. Holiday goes on:




“There’s very few albums I’ve ever been able to do this to. Bon Iver’s 22, A Million is maybe the only one (and that’s because it’s better as an album than singles — if there was one standout song, I’d just do that). Basically I treat the music as sort of disposable, instant flow tool. I use it until it stops working, and then I move on to the next song. I use the same song that I am writing to when I run later, or if I go for a walk. It’s just creating a continuity to the creative process.”

Two songs to get you started:

3) Sigur Rós

Jeff Goins, bestselling author of five books including Real Artists Don’t Starveand The Art of Work, employs a similar method for repeating music while he writes. Jeff likes Sigur Rós — an Icelandic rock band — as one of three things he listens to when he’s writing. The other two? The Texas-based rock band Explosions in the Sky and the soundtrack to Last of the Mohicans. “There’s something about the monotony of listening to the same thing over and over that allows me to focus on the task at hand.”

Two songs to get you started:

4) Explosions in the Sky

As Jeff Goins mentioned above, Explosions in the Sky provides the perfect writing combination of an upbeat tempo and lack of distracting words. He’s not the only pro writer to say so, either. Paul Shirley, former NBA player and accomplished author, most recently of Stories I Tell on Dates, explains why he likes to listen to Explosions in the Sky during his writing sessions: “It is possibly a sign that I am not all that intelligent that I cannot listen to music with lyrics while I write. So, I listen to a lot of post-rock/ambient music: Explosions in the Sky, Tycho, Mono, Eluvium, Sigur Ros, Russian Circles, and my favorite, Cloudkicker.”

Two songs to get you started:

5) Lady’s Bridge by Richard Hawley

Viet Thanh Nguyen went on to explain that while he does mostly listen to music with no lyrics, he made an exception for this album by Richard Hawley, who is a British Rock musician:




“That album sort of obsessed me and I listened to a lot of that as I was writing The Sympathizer. Many of those songs felt like they were contributing to the mood of the novel. So now I try to curate a playing list that might affect the mood of the novel or somehow part of the scenery of the novel.”

Two songs to get you started:

6) George Frideric Handel

Classical music is one of the mainstay genres for any writer who prefers to listen to music while they write. The obvious allure of classical music is that there are no words to distract the listener. Biographer and congressional speechwriter Rob Goodman especially prefers the music of composer George Handel:

“If I need to drown out background noise, I’ll listen to some classical music. I’m particularly a fan of Handel, but the important thing is that the music can’t have words, or else I won’t be able to concentrate at all.”

Two songs to get you started:

7) The National

John Avlon, an author and the editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast, finds his inspiration in music and has an interesting theory that explains why he swears by listening while he writes:

“I’ve got a theory that most writers are either frustrated musicians or painters — and which of them you are depends on whether you write for the ear or the eye. As a former musician and former speechwriter, I definitely write for the ear. I listen to music all the time for inspiration and energy. I tend to make playlists as the soundtrack for writing different books. They serve as snapshots in time. So, I’ve got one for Wingnuts — lots of The NationalDrive-By-TruckersRadioheadand Randy Newman — and one for Washington’s Farewell that’s more classical, jazz, the Americana series by Chris ThileYo-Yo MaEdgar Meyer and the soundtrack to Hamilton.”

Two songs to get you started:




8) West Side Story Soundtrack

Priscilla Gilman, author of The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy, created a specific playlist she listened to over and over again while writing the book. On that playlist she included songs from the soundtrack to West Side Story. It’s not uncommon for writers to prefer listening to specific soundtracks while the write: Other soundtracks that writers have recommended included Last of the Mohicans, Inception, and Hamilton.

Two songs to get you started:

9) Metallica

At first glance, Metallica may seem a bit…much…for a writing backing track. You’d be hard pressed to find a co-working space that played heavy metal on repeat. Yet, if Stephen King is any indication, music of a heavier variety might be just what it takes. King told the The Atlantic he listens to, “Metallica, Anthrax…There’s a band called the Living Things that I like a lot. Very loud group.” Bestselling author Mark Manson shares King’s habit, as he told us in an interview, “I need to write with music. Loud and intense music. Electronic or heavy metal.”

Two songs to get you started:

ffmrecords.com


10 Gifts That Guitar Players Do NOT Want





In this video I’ll quickly show you 10 gifts guitar players DON’T want this holiday season!!

Thanks so much for checking out my weekly video featured at Musicians Unite!! I hope you found this list funny but also helpful!!

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Grow Your YouTube Music Channel: Peter Hollens Interview





Go to the profile of Bob Baker



The 30-Day Build Your Fan Base Challenge





There are many factors that contribute to an artist’s success.

Whether you’re a musician, writer, visual artist, actor, crafter, designer, or some other kind of maker or creative entrepreneur, you know what those success factors are:

Talent, originality, vision, mindset, determination, people skills, optimism, marketing and sales skills, etc.

But there’s one factor that stands above the rest. And sadly, it’s often overlooked.

I’m talking about Consistent Habits!

Planning and goal setting are great, but they are meaningless without a series of specific actions to back them up. That’s why developing consistent habits makes all the difference.

Habits can be applied to many aspects of your art: honing your craft, educating yourself, staying positive, etc.

But when it comes to expanding your impact and monetary success, the primary element that will propel your career is a sizable and growing fan base.

You won’t make much of an impact with your creativity without a group of people who know, appreciate, and support you.

And, the more fervently they embrace you, the more they’ll spend their time, attention, and money on you.

Okay. You get it. Growing and nurturing a fan base is crucial. So …




What’s the best way to apply Consistent Habits to building your fan base?

That’s simple. All you have to do is develop a regular routine of publicly sharing your work.

I know. Easier said then done. But successful artists do it all the time. That’s exactly what I’ve done for decades to spread my message and maintain my self-employed status.

It works. The last time I had a day job was 2004.

Are you sharing your music, words, or art on a regular basis? If not, you’re probably not attracting fans and building your career at a pace you’re happy with.

Posting something online (or getting exposure offline) once or twice a week is good. But, when you’re really ready to rev up the fan-building machine, commit to sharing something every day.

Bob (bottom center) with a group of his improv comedy students.

Yes. Every day!

If you can maintain that pace year round, all the power to you. But if that seems too intimidating, could you commit to doing it for 30 days?

Also, would you be more likely to stick with it if you weren’t doing this alone?

Would it help to feed off the energy of a group of other creative people embarking on the same journey?

That’s why I’m about to launch the 30-Day Build Your Fan Base Challenge.

It’s a four-week experience designed to give you a creative community and a support system to help you develop the habit of sharing your work.

The challenge starts Wednesday, January 3, and ends Thursday, February 1.




What will you get out of the 30-Day Challenge?

You will …

  • Develop your creative muscle
  • Hone your craft
  • Create a body of work
  • Engage with your fans and get immediate feedback
  • Break through fear, apathy, and distractions
  • Be seen as a committed artist instead of a dreaming wanna-be
  • Increase the odds that you’ll sell something
  • Create momentum
  • Interact with other kindred spirits on the same journey
  • Develop a new habit you can continue well beyond the 30 days

Here’s what you’ll get when you register …

A Private 30-Day Challenge Facebook Group.

I want you to benefit from the energy of a creative community. Everyone who signs up for the program will get exclusive access to this private Facebook group. That’s where most of the interaction will take place.

Go there every day and post what you’re sharing. Get feedback, share your successes and struggles, ask for advice, and maybe even find other creative people to partner with on future projects.

Weekly Conference Calls.

I will host five one-hour group conference calls on Wednesdays, starting January 3, at 12 Noon Eastern (11:00 AM Central, 9:00 AM Pacific). During these weekly calls I’ll answer questions, invite people to share their progress, help you overcome challenges, and teach some additional strategies for being consistent and sticking to your creative habits.

These calls will be recorded so you can listen to them later.

Video Lessons and Worksheets.

Throughout the program I’ll post short video messages or broadcast live within the private Facebook group. In these sessions I’ll poke and prod you to keep taking action.

I’ll give you my best advice on what to post and how to position yourself so you attract your ideal fans. I’ll also answer your questions and cater to the specific needs of the group.

In addition, you’ll get links to printable worksheets and checklists you can use to clarify your fan-attraction plan and record your progress.

You’ll also have the option to get these additional benefits …

A 30-Day Challenge Success Partner.

Hands down, this will be the most valuable aspect of the 30-day program, if you take advantage of it.

You will have the option of being paired with another creative person also enrolled in the challenge. Think of them as an accountability partner and personal cheerleader. This Success Partner is someone you will connect with briefly three to five times a week during the program.

Knowing you will talk to someone adds a new level of commitment to being consistent. It’s also a great way to get advice and support from another artistic soul who understands you and is going through the same journey.

A One-on-One Personal Strategy Session with Me.

If you take this option, you and I will have a private strategy session by phone or Skype for up to 60 minutes. Use this time to address whatever aspect of your creativity I can help you with most: marketing, productivity, branding, book publishing, juggling a lot of interests, etc.

You can schedule this session at any time during the 30-day program or wait up to six months to use it. It’s up to you.

Here’s a sweet video from singer Michelle Gold:

 So, what will you share to attract fans during the 30-day challenge?

Good question. It’s ultimately up to you, and I will give you worksheets and some guidance to help determine what’s ideal for you.

However, one of the most powerful things you can do these days is video. Especially Facebook Live. I know, it might seem scary. But if you commit to a daily posting schedule, you will see results. So that’s what I encourage you to do, and I’ll give you my best advice for making simple video content work.

You could also commit to published a daily blog post, performing a song a day, posting images of your latest art, etc. If you have a way to share your talents in the real world, such as street performing or live painting, that’s an option too.




The bottom line: It has to be something that showcases the gifts you have to offer the world, and it has to be the type of content that will attract your ideal fan!

Let’s do this — starting January 3, 2018. And let’s do it together!

How much will this cost?

I’m still deciding on the final pricing, but I’ll probably offer three levels, with the lowest being only $47 USD for the private Facebook group, weekly conference calls, and the training videos, checklists, and worksheets.

That would make it the most affordable 30-day program I’ve ever offered. And, if it brings in more participants that way, I’m happy to do it!

Registration is not open yet, but it will be soon.

Get on the Creative Entrepreneur VIP List and be the first to know by email!


What About Bob?

Bob Baker is on a lifelong mission to help musicians, authors and creative entrepreneurs use their talents and know-how to make a living and make a difference in the world.

Bob with bestselling author Joe Vitale.

He is a full-time author who has developed a successful niche writing and speaking about music marketing and self-promotion for songwriters, musicians, and bands.

Bob supplements his income with music (as a singer, songwriter, guitarist), visual art(as an acrylic painter), and improv comedy (as a teacher and performer).

A prolific writer with dozens of books, ebooks, audio programs and online courses, he served six terms as president of the St. Louis Publishers Association and is an advocate for the self-publishing movement.

Bob is the author of the highly acclaimed Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook (which appeared in the movie The School of Rock, starring Jack Black) and the “Music Marketing 101” course at Berkleemusic, the online continuing education division of Berklee College of Music.

CD Baby called him “The Godfather of Independent Music Marketing.” Bob is also an adjunct professor in the music department at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “Bob Baker is one of the most widely recognized authorities on music marketing. A prolific writer, Baker is regarded as one of the industry’s leaders in helping musicians leverage online web and marketing strategies to boost their careers.”

He has appeared in the media on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “Marketplace” and in such publications as Electronic Musician, Music Connection, The Guardian in the U.K., Canadian Musician, Publishers Weekly, VIBE magazine, E! Online, and even The Onion!

Bob’s other titles include The Empowered ArtistThe Passion PrinciplesUnleash the Artist WithinThe Guerrilla Guide to Book MarketingBranding Yourself OnlineThe DIY Career Manifesto, and The Improv Comedy Musician(co-written with Laura Hall from Whose Line Is It Anyway?).

Steve’s video is about a live event Bob hosted in 2015:



One For All: An Album That Changed My Life — Literally





This article was written by
Go to the profile of mauludSADIQ

It’s such an overused trope now but in 1990, this album shaped the direction of my life

It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when almost all your favorite rappers were Five Percenters.

If you’re of my era, you knew of Rakim, King Sun, & Lakim Shabazz, very few people knew or thought of LL as God body.

Nowadays you hear the language everywhere — now cipher (incorrectly, annoyingly, pronounced non cipher), build, cipher, etc.

Back in 2005 when I interviewed Barry Gottehrer (author of The Mayor’s Man, one of the only outsider accounts of Five Percent founder, Clarence 13X) before he passed away, Gottehrer found it hard to believe that the organization still existed.

A large part of it still existing has to to do with Rap music, in the 90s particularly, we’re talking the music of Brand Nubian, and for me, specifically we’re talking One For All, which was released on 4 December 1990.

The only way I can explain the significance of the album is to flash you back to that Fall/Winter of 1990.

Mysister-in-law Melanie refers to me as being ‘wide-eyed’ when I first stepped foot on Clark Atlanta University’s campus and I was indeed that.

I went to high school in Denver and lived in the war zone of Park Hill. A fifteen minute walk from Colorado Boulevard to Grape Street was like a trip through the Walking Dead but instead of zombies we had men and women addicted to crack and the people that supplied it constantly screaming, “you looking?!!”

Sprinkle in tinted windowed Impalas, Broncos, and 6–4s, with gang members rolling their windows down taunting with the question, “where you from,” and that was my daily existence. That and jumping in the tub whenever I heard the spraying of semi-automatic weapons — which was often.

Being in Atlanta, particularly the AUC (which is Clark, Morehouse, Mo Brown, & Spelman) was heaven. I mean that. If I crossed the path of another Brother or Sister, we’d greet each other with peace or a right fist to the chest.

It was the first wave of Sistas wearing their hair natural (in my lifetime), we rocked African medallions, red, black, and green belts, ‘It’s Black Thang You Wouldn’t Understand’ T-shirts, being Afrocentric was a point of pride.

As I wrote here, we read every book that we could get our hands on that dealt with our identity and we discussed those books the same way people discuss their top 5 today. This is what the B-boy and B-girl was like in the Fall of 1990.

Despite that, for the majority of the semester (Sep — Dec), most of us didn’t listen to Rap. I always struggle to think of an album from those first months. I can think of some singles like “Around The Way Girl” or “Bonita Applebaum (Hootie Remix)” beyond that…I gots nothing.


It’s amazing how much time I spent in Club Woody (the nickname we had for Woodruff Library). If I wasn’t working on my school work, I was down in the basement, off to the left, four rows back in the African Religion section.

My main focus was on the African’s relationship with God. I studied the different initiation processes from KMT to the Bantu. I studied the Negative Confessions and how priests would study and learn self until they could control the weather. I read about how the Bantu would study and work to become one with Mantu, the great vital force (as Europeans came to describe it).

No matter the region, the African had an innate connection with nature and nature’s connection with God. Some cultures assigned God’s many attributes to animals causing the European to call the African animist. But that was never truly the case.

A vast majority of the cultures that I read about placed an emphasis on Self-Actualization. It was said that he or she who knew themselves would in turn know the universe — to know the microcosm is to know the macrocosm.

If one could master themselves, they could master the forces around them as they are one with them. Pretty heady stuff. But hella inspiring. The only thing that sounded remotely like that was the stuff I heard this Brother Wise kicking. He talked about man being god.

(l-r) Faruq, Daoud, True and Living, Wise, Khalim, & Alijuan circa 1992

Mymain objective when I got to college was to become a Jazz Aficionado.

Mo Better Blues came out right before my freshman year in College on August 3, 1990 and songs from the soundtrack played alongside Soul II Soul instrumentals during Coronation and Fashion Show intermissions.

You rolled up on anyone my first semester, they at least had that soundtrack or Miles Davis Kind of Blue. I wanted to go beyond that. I wanted to know everything that I possibly could about the music.

So what a blessing that I went to school in the AUC. We had (and still have) a 24 hour, 7 day a week Jazz Station. WCLK is solely responsible for me learning the kind of Jazz I prefer (modal), finding my favorite trumpet player (Clifford Brown), and learning the different eras of Jazz.

Every night at midnight, the DJ would play “Acknowledgement,” my intro to Coltrane, and he would give the Arabic greetings of As Salaam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah. This is what I studied to. But on Sundays, I would be looking for something else. That’s how I found WRFG.


If I have to give credit to WCLK for educating me on Jazz, WRFG has to be credited with bringing me back into the Rap-fold. WRFG gave me the same feels that WBLS, KISS, or Power 99 used to give me.

They played 12” B-sides, remixes, bootlegs, songs that I still can’t find. And this was the era for that. Part of what I love so much about Rap between the years 1990 and 1994 are the hundreds of songs found on 12” or cassette single that never made it to an album.

WRFG played all them shits. And they played the hell out of some bootlegs. Years later, that’s where I heard Illmatic for the first time and it’s where I heard Brand Nubian for the first time.

I knew nothing about them when I heard “Brand Nubian” but I knew “Rigor Mortis.” The Jungle Brothers had used the song for the bridge on “Feelin’ Alright” and it was always one of my faves off Cardiac Arrest. It’s one of them Black family cookout jams.

Can’t lose with that sample. But the lyrics stopped me in my tracks:




Make the people aware that Black means first — Four hundreed years and we’re made to feel cursed — But now it’s our time to rule — Student of the old, teacher of the new school — My inspiration is the Five Percent Nation — As I cram, education was born

This is the first verse, delivered by Lord Jamar. (Sadat had an ill flow but rarely kicked that Five Percent shit). In the last verse, Puba offered up these gems:

I bet I’ll swing something this summer for the Benzi — Seep into the mind the brain and activate the pelvis — Keeping the blind, deaf, dumb, and blind is Elvis — Meaning old, so behold (The black, the beautiful, the bold) — Now if this falls short, I’ll try harder — A wisdom to me is someone like Assata

This was so-called conscious Rap very much in the same vein as The Native Tongues. They kicked these verses all within the confines of partying and having fun.

WRFG also played “All For One” and that song completely blew my wig back. Yes Puba and Sadat had ill rhymes but what stuck in my head and what I can never forget is the end of Lord Jamar’s verse:

Not a Dapper Dan fan, I stay casual — To rock like the J it comes gradual — You got to Know the Ledge to Wise the Dumb — And Understand your Culture of Freedom — Power Equally with the Gods — So you can Build and Born your Cipher — All your life you must teach truth — Of the True and Living God, not a mystery spook — And when you do that, pursue that goal — Which made the Student Enroll and only then you’ll prosper

It sounded like he was rapping with code..and he was (“Ragtime” was also played, but we’ll get to that). I wanted to know that code but in 1990…it was not that simple.

Them WRFG jawns were played right before the November break, a couple of weeks later, the album came out. I spent those weeks leading to the album release trying to get my hands on what was called Supreme Mathematics.

Wise was not coming off them. He pushed me off on his ‘Enlightener,’ Wakeel. Wakeel wanted to know if I was trying “to get down.” I ain’t know about all that, I just wanted to see what this Supreme Mathematics looked like.

Now you can Google em and get a gnarled, Frankenstein Math from god knows where. The only way you could get Supreme Mathematics in 1990 was someone had to allow you to copy theirs…and you had to “get down.” Since I wasn’t trying to do that, no dice.

Then the album came out.


The One For All cassette could have been an Al B Sure Nite/Day side type affair. Side One was The Brand Nubian side and Side Two was the Grand Puba Side. Side One was the Knowledge Side, Side Two was the Wisdom Side.

Opening with “All for One” was a good start, “Concerto In X Minor,” Sadat X’s solo, still brings a smile to my face — hearing a Cannonball Adderley sample can do that. Sadat X gave us the flip side narrative to X-Clan’s more militant one as he recounts the Yusuf Hawkins protest.

The protest known as The Day Of Outrage and Mourning was 7,500 people organized to protest the murder of sixteen year old Yusef Hawkins by a white mob. The protest was mired in violence. This is how Robert D. McFadden of the New York Times described the incident:

‘’Over the bridge!’’ someone shouted and the crowd surged forward into the police line. There was pushing and suddenly the clash erupted. Bricks, bottles and other missiles flew at the officers, who responded by swinging night sticks at protesters who tried to push through their ranks. Chief Scott was struck in the right cheek by a missile.

At least 20 police officers sustained injuries ranging from cuts to broken bones, and an unknown number of demonstrators were hurt in the 20-minute melee. Four people, including two photographers, were also arrested as the police kept the protesters off the bridge’s roadways. NYT, Sep 1 1989 pg B4

Brother J described the mind of those protestors, “Fist up to get down, always ready to step — And if they hit me with that stick yo man I’ll break your neck.” But Sadat gave the other version:




Now case in point y’all remember that Brooklyn Bridge joint — When things got wild and willy? — Yeah that day the Feds played the golden bully

Now we knew more were slain and we all felt the pain — of Yusef Hawkins, and they was mad but we was squakin’ — They tried to show a false compassion, yet at the rally — They tried to bash in our brains — Further adding to the bloodstains

I was mad at this news and so was my brothers — And I wanted to get violent but I’m a lover of Black mothers — And Black mothers need sons — Not children that’s been killed by guns

I had never even considered another perspective beyond being militant and violent. Sadat gave a more thoughtful perspective thus succeeding in one of my criteria for a classic — shit made me think.

“Ragtime” sticks out to me because of Grand Puba trying to throw off the scent of the Gap Band telling us if we want a beat like that “check the stack of Otis Redding,” that and Lord Jamar dropping Math again.

“Dance to My Ministry” is still one of my favorite songs, certainly my favorite thing that Lord Jamar has done. It’s a “Bad Tune.” And it’s lessons from top to bottom. Lost Tribe of Shabazz, Quran and 120 is his fuel, 12 Jewels, Show and Prove, Question and Answer Number 17 in Lost Found Muslim Lesson Number 2, the oft used Allah acronym, all that, rhymed fast as hell over a funky beat.

“Drop the Bomb.” Yo, I love reading the Genius annotations for songs like this. The stuff they miss is great and their explanation for things that they think they catch is hilarious. Like, they totally mess up Lord Jamar saying Just I See Equality (Justice) and Equality are must. Got him saying just I seek equality (I can read the twitter argument between me and the person who read and believes in annotations now).

Then, although they correctly point out where a couple of verses came from in the 1–36, they give the simplistic answer of the wrong food being pork but in the context of the song, Lord Jamar is talking about the mental food consumed that has us thinking like slaves. Jamar offers Islam as the solution for that.

Then a separate annotation posits that the Student Enrollment (the 1–10) is a Nation and Gods and Earth lesson which is entirely wrong. First of all, there was no such thing as that organization in 1990, we were Five Percenters or the Five Percent. Second of all, all the lessons originate from the Nation of Islam. Every one who registers in the NOI has to quote the Student Enrollment.

Then the annotator tries to explain Knowledge Knowledge. Just wrong. This same annotator also falsely claims that some of the Supreme Wisdom derives from Masonry…

See what I’m talking about? Before the internet, this type of thing wasn’t even possible. No one would pretend to know. And forbid the thought if they did because they would be confronted, you can bet on that.

If you wanted to know what that was about in 1990, you had to let someone TEACH you. There was no way around it. There was no other way for you to learn that information and that’s part of what made this album so appealing.

I could go through Grand Puba’s verse also but you get the point. I could also go through the whole album but this ain’t that type of party. I’m sure there’s retrospectives out the wazoo about the album. This is about how One For Allchanged my life.

All of the above mentioned led me into learning about the Five Percent, the tipping point was the video for the remix to “Wake Up.”

The video is magnetic enough, straight propaganda, which isn’t necessarily a bad word. The video PROPAGATES the Five Percent culture, from the beginning where a cipher is taking place, the Universal Flag being seen throughout the video, to the School being shown, I doubt anything done before or prior has had as much of a mass influence (in regards to the Five Percent).

Brothers are wearing crowns, there’s a huge ass Universal Flag behind Grand Puba as he raps, as well as on the neck of an elder, and on the pin of several people throughout the video. That Black and Gold was mighty attractive and hella magnetic.

Then there’s the lyrics. Without knowing the Lessons, Puba might as well be talking straight jibberish. “The attribute Hagi, Helpful to another God In need, He Allah God Islam…” Wait, what? That’s how the song starts.

“Making sure these travels are twenty-three million miles the other six I set the crucifix…” Ooook.

“Preacher got my old earth putting money in the pan…” Your what?

“I wrote this on the day of wisdom power, all being born to myself — god.”

So on and so forth. I’m sure folks listened to it and either phased the words out or did like we tend to do, made up their own words for what they thought Puba was saying.

After that, Hagi takes us through the 1–36. That’s the whole song. Lessons. With an accompanying video. From that moment on I was determined to learn what the hell Brand Nubian were talking about.

My African studies led me to believe that I could arrive their on my own but Brand Nubian and a verbal duel with Wakeel Allah ended all of that.

For the next ten months I researched everything that I possibly could on the Supreme Mathematics, writing down my own definitions, taking on my own name (Sayyed and myself both did, Zig and Zag, we thought that shit was fly), and hunting down someone to give me the lessons.

No one did.

I had to join. And on 31 Oct 1991, before a Rich’s night shift at Lenox Mall, Wakeel finally let me photocopy his Supreme Mathematics, I memorized the words and definitions that night, found an attribute both in English and Arabic that weekend, got tested that next Monday, was on to my Supreme Alphabets, and finished my lessons by 8 March of 1992.

Brand Nubian made the Five Percent appealing. They were B-boys who could rap but they also dropped knowledge. They were fallible, ‘loved’ women, stylish, a couple of years my senior, they were like us.


When I read people saying that 808 and Heartbreaks changed their lives, I can imagine that it was to them what 3 Feet High and Rising was to me, something that made them feel that it was okay to be themselves. If they’re musicians, I gather that it opened up to them the possibilities of making music outside of Rap and R&B.

But I doubt Kanye changed the whole course of their lives.

The past twenty-six years of my life, the majority of my relationships and experiences (I can RELATE to the opposition the Prophet (saw) faced, and know what it’s like standing on belief in the sight of death), all can be traced to that time in my life, my study, my environment, and the catalyst that was One For All.

I remember once I learned the Lessons, listening to the album with a grin. It all seemed so simple to me. And that was part of what made it so dope. That was the power of Rap.

Learning 120 cracked that album open for me as well as Rakim verses, Poor Righteous Teacher verses, Just-Ice verses, etc. It’s also why people’s so-called conscious albums do nothing for me now, if Brand Nubian was steak, that shit be baby food, but that’s another writing for another day. Peace.



The beautiful sound of Anuna is behind window 9





Anúna is Ireland’s flagship acappella vocal ensemble representing the beauty of Irish musical heritage and literature all over the world.

In 1987, Irish composer Michael McGlynn founded the choir in an effort to create a physical voice for his compositions, many of which are strongly influenced by the history and mythology of his homeland. Ireland has a long and sophisticated history of traditional singing or sean nós. McGlynn uses this as the basis for much of his arrangement and composition. Within these songs are universal truths told through the landscape, the philosophy and the mythology of Ireland and beyond.

The name Anúna is derived from the Gaelic term An Uaithne, a collective description for the three ancient forms of Irish music –  Goltraí (song of lament), Geantraí  (song of joy) and Suantraí (the lullaby). An Uaithne and subsequently ANÚNA, is a uniquely beautiful instrument. Over the last thirty years its unique status in Irish musical life has allowed it to create and develop an education programme that the group have taken all over the world.



2 Great new Arrangements for Wind and Brass from Ashley Buxton





If like me, you are always looking for new repertoire for your ensembles, and need a balance between playability and interest, then these two new arrangements by Ashley Buxton are a perfect match. Click on the images below to see a sample and here a digital preview.

Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba, Horn in F, Euphonium, Drums, Wind Band/Concert band – Intermediate
By Nat “King” Cole. Arranged by Ashley S Buxton. Score, Set of Parts. 34 pages. Published by Ashley Mark Publishing Company (H0.294897-588900).

Brass Choir or Ensemble, Drum Set – Advanced Intermediate
By PSY. Arranged by Ashley S Buxton. Score, Set of Parts. 20 pages. Published by Ashley Mark Publishing Company (H0.294899-227549).

Item Number: H0.294899-227549

The popular Gangnam Style. This version is for Brass Ensemble.



Jobs for Instrumental Teachers in Bahrain





st christopher's
Click to visit school website

Instrumental Music Teachers

Job advert

We are seeking to appoint outstanding, passionate and motivated Instrumental Music Teachers to join our thriving Music department.  There is the opportunity to adapt the roles to fit individual skill sets including curriculum experience and those who are able to teach more than one instrument.

Start Date: Arrival date in Bahrain Wednesday 22 August 2018

Location: Bahrain

Contract type: Full Time (2-year)

Salary: Highly competitive, tax-free
Current Vacancies are for:

  • FULL TIME BRASS
  • PART-TIME CELLO
  • PART-TIME JUNIOR and SENIOR CURRICULUM
  • PART-TIME PIANO
  • PART-TIME GUITAR

St Christopher’s is one of the world’s pre-eminent British international schools with an impressive local, regional and international reputation for excellence. A vibrant community of over 2,300 students aged 3 to 18 and made up of more than 70 different nationalities, St Christopher’s is a not-for-profit school, committed to developing global citizens and autonomous learners able to thrive and contribute to a rapidly changing 21st century world.

INFANT & JUNIOR SCHOOLS (3-11 years) NOR 1180 / 6 form entry

SENIOR SCHOOL (11-18 years) NOR 1140 / 8 form entry

How to Apply

Please click the ‘Apply for this job’ button to submit your application, supporting statement and CV.

Apply for this job

Closing date: 31 January 2018

Interviews will take place in early February either in London, or via Skype, depending on the applicant’s location.​

We reserve the right to appoint before the closing date.  Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

For information on working and living in Bahrain, please click on the links below.

https://www.internations.org/expat-insider/2017/the-best-and-worst-places-for-expats-39182

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84sqaSyXj1E 

St Christopher’s School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people in our care. We follow safe recruitment practices and appointments are subject to vetting including reference checks, identity and criminal record checks.

Requirements

Apply for this job



How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins





When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.