“Lately, I’m not the only one. I say, never trust anyone.”

3 11 2012

I know age isn’t important. I know it’s not a big deal, but when your 26th birthday is creeping up on you; you cannot help but think “what the hell have I done with my life?!” I know this will pass soon, and on my actual birthday I probably won’t even pay any attention to how old I am. I don’t look my age at all. I look like I probably should be in school. Youthful skin. Maybe that’s my Italian genes coming through. Or maybe it’s because I nap a lot. I have no idea. The key is to moisturise. Always. In the morning and before you go to bed. Look after your skin, and you too can look as if you should pay child’s fare on the bus. Skin tips from a scruffy bint. Enjoy.

Last year when I turned 25 I think I had a brief moment of “oh fuck I’m nearly 30 what have I done with my life?!” And I think it is going to happen again. I don’t know why because no part of me does things in the hopes of getting approval of anyone. I don’t wish for that ever. If that was the case; I’d just be like everyone else. I don’t make an effort to not be like anyone else. This is how I turned out. Whether or not its a good thing, well that’s undecided. Maybe as I get older I may tolerate myself a bit more. Maybe I’ll stop being cruel towards myself. However, if I get in first; it won’t matter so much when someone else does. But there are things others say/ do that probably hurt a bit more than if I was to pick up on it about myself. But, it isn’t worth the time. Not much is. Time. Time. Time. Ages us all, aches us all. Us.

I maintain an element of silliness to make sure I don’t age too much mentally. If I see someone trip up in the street (providing they are not bleeding to death or a pensioner) I’ll probably find it funny. I think most are like that. When you take everything too seriously, it all loses meaning. And we’re all trying to find meaning. Maybe we’ll never know. Maybe we do know, but still want to keep looking. The answers can come from looking outside or from your own reflection. Just depends on how deep you want to get.

So, as I approach 26 I do wonder if I’ve done anything of worth. I just don’t know. I really don’t. My life pretty much revolves around music and I guess I hold interviewing Warpaint as the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve met and spoken to some of my heroes; and they say you should never do that. But I know of many who have done so, and it being a pleasant experience. I fully endorse meeting those who have changed you and saved you. Sure it’s mainly to do with music for me, but there’s about 2 people who I class as friends that have also done this. So maybe interviewing Warpaint may only be the best thing I’ll ever do. I have no idea. Or maybe it was that time about a year ago when I showed Shirley Manson a piece I wrote about Bleed Like Me on her Facebook page, and she read it. Then told me it made her cry. How many people can say they’ve made their role model/idol cry? I’m still trying to work out if I’m proud of that or not. I’m not sure. I feel bad about it, but I’m glad she saw it.

This seems far too self-indulgent and no doubt I will dislike myself for writing this down. But it is better than a drunken outburst on a pavement with friends moaning about how I’ve done nothing with my life isn’t it. Some things you need to spare others from ever seeing.

It’s just an age. It means nothing. Those kinds of things do not define who we are. I’ve also finished watching all of The Wire again for the third time. Still kind of wish Jimmy McNulty was my best friend or something. And I’m going to always be pissed that they killed Bodie and Omar. That wasn’t right.

Anyway, have some songs; if you’ve got this far. Here’s to the bands/singers over the past (nearly) 26 years that have been my crutch and saviours.

 

 





“Did they tell you, you should grow up, when you wanted to dream. Did they warn you, better shape up if you want to succeed.”

25 05 2012

I took a walk just now. Whilst walking, a Metric song came on and it just made me realise that it is okay to be my age (25) and still be a dreamer. Someone who isn’t always sure of everything around them, but knows what they want. They do all they can to get it, but something gets in the way. That something at times, holds you back. But you still keep going. Sometimes a song is all it takes for you to keep on dreaming. To keep everything in you alive. It is hard, I bloody well know it is. You see, I’ve been a freelancing fool for 6 and a half years now. I’ve had this site since early 2008. I’ve had times where I wanted to just say “Fuck this..fuck it all. I can’t no more.” The constant self-doubt I carry on my back keeps me going. If I ever thought I was good at something, I wouldn’t do it. The self-doubt makes me work harder I guess. If I didn’t write, I’d probably be sectioned. I’d gnaw at my hands and rip my eyes out from frustration. Yet, for some stupid reason, I feel the need to write. I have no idea who reads this. Or even why someone would read the nonsense I write, but I just want to thank you. If I could buy you a cup of tea and hug you- I would. If you’re a friend of mine, that’s pretty cool. But I know none of my friends read this. It’s cool. I’m pretty sure most read this and think, “What the hell is this idiot doing? I can do better than her. She’s useless.” Probably. You probably can. I do it for the love of music. I don’t do it for any other reason. I know I want to make a living from this, but truth be told-I never will. I guess you cannot put a price on something you love. So this is going to be a collection of songs that make me feel alright with being a dreamer, I guess. Thing is, I know what the reality around me is. I’m not happy with it, but only I can change it.

Maybe one day, one of my daft dreams will come true. Maybe one day I’ll get some poetry published. Maybe I’ll write a book. Maybes are okay- but you cannot live off them. Keep the dream alive, and do what you need to do. The following songs just give me hope, in their own unique  non-conventional way.

 





“Stripped of the right to be a human in control. Its warmer in Hell, so down we go.”

5 12 2011

In my head, I’m convinced I’ll one day be a Superhero. Maybe when I die I will come back as one. It all stems from my childhood obsession with Spiderman (it is still there in adulthood, and I know it will never go.) I’m also glad my nephew has a mutual love for Spiderman too. My obsession with Spiderman is part admiration, part relating to him more than anything else. It’s a mixture, a jumble I suppose. This links in with what I want to write about, somehow.

Ever since I can remember I have used music as a sheild or a cloak. Possibly a cape. When I listen tocertain songs it makes me feel like nothing and no one in the world can get to me- no traces of negativity or bad words can reach me because the music that is echoing in my ears is protecting me. It is making me stronger than I could possibly allow myself. You see, sometimes we don’t realise how strong we are. Sometimes we have to go to Hell and back to see just exactly how strong we- how much we can take. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve wanted to give up many many times. I know exactly when this happened, but more importantly- I know what brought me back from feeling so utterly low. Everyone goes through it. You cannot go through life expecting to avoid anything bad. You cannot wander through life and not get hurt. It will happen. There’s no right or wrong way with dealing with it at all. If you want to block it out and ignore it-so be it. If you want to talk about it with someone over cups of tea-so be it. You are human. You can fight some battles on your own. You may need a sidekick sometimes to get through it all. You cannot pick your battles, but you can sure as hell choose your protective gear. When someone tells you to “man up” kindly tell them to “fuck off.”

I don’t think I’ve successfully made my point here. Sometimes when I feel a lot about a subject matter I lose my ability to form sentences that make sense. Too much passion for things is always going to be a burden for me, I know. I know.

What I’m trying to say is, music is a wonderful thing to drag you through anything you face. For instance, today I was on the bus listening to Ceremonials and the sheer beauty of it just made me want to cry. I got a bit teary eyed. Thankfully no one saw. Imagine explaining that to a stranger. “Yeah, I’m fine. I just get really into the music and a bit emotional during certain parts of songs.” I’m a sadcase, I know this. You don’t ever need to tell me. Music can be that sheild, that protective gear you place around you when you want to feel invincible. Music can be the thing that makes you feel like you are a Superhero. Fuck it. Be a legend in your own lunchtime dear reader. Do it.

So, with that I am going to link you to some songs that make me feel like nothing or no one in the universe can touch me. Some of these songs I used whilst I was in Secondary School and was being bullied every single day. I don’t talk about it because it was over 10 years ago, and I’m better than those shitstains of society. These are the songs that gave me strength in the past, these are the songs that currently make me feel like I can do anything. They are my sheild, my protective cape. They all provide a cloak of strength and determination.

 





Tupac Shakur.

13 09 2011

Most think my love for lyrics came from the likes of Morrissey and Bob Dylan. Yes, my mum played them around the house whilst I was growing up. But there was one person who made me fall in love with music and words on a completely different level. His words made me see the world in a way no artist or person ever has. I doubt they ever will.

I own all his albums and when my auntie and uncle came back from New York when they went for the first time many years ago, they brought me back some bootleg mixtapes of his. Tapes, not CDs.

The person is Tupac Amaru Shakur (or birth name Lesane Parish Crooks.) Today is the 15th year anniversary of his untimely death. To some, they just dismissed his music and labelled him trouble, a thug. Those that took the time out to listen to his words, realised he was a poet. Thing is, he’s more than a poet.

A lot of his lyrics I can relate to, I know what you’re thinking. How could someone like me relate to his words? Easily, because I dug deep enough to see his music wasn’t about the same generic bullshit many accuse rap music to posses.

His words poured out so much emotion from love to hate to frustration to joy to abandonment to rage. Every emotion that was humanly possible to feel, he felt and he projected it so majestically in most of his work.

I’m drawn to people who are close to their family, especially their mum. I firmly believe that the relationship you have with your mum is the most sacred thing ever. She’s the only person who will love you no matter what, she will never judge. I guess this is why when I first heard Dear Mama by Tupac, it just meant so much. To hear him say all these things to his mum, I’d never heard it before. It showed that he was such a sensitive soul, regardless of how the media portrayed him- those who pay attention to his lyrics saw how wise, soulful, passionate and honest he was. It breaks my heart knowing he’s not here, I know it’s been 15 years- but you don’t forget. He died a year after my dad died; I remember seeing MTV News with the headline saying he had died like it was yesterday. Throughout the years I’ve bought all the books written about him, I’ve got VHS tapes of documentaries, his poetry book, albums and mixtapes. I don’t collect these things because it could be of worth one day. I collect them because it keeps his memory alive. He’s the only rapper to have truly had this affect on me. How his words affect me are different to different artists I love such as Morrissey and Lou Reed. See, they can paint pain in such an eloquent manner. Tupac didn’t, he wrote about it in the rawest sense.

The tragedy is, he envisioned his own death. When I hear certain songs, it makes you just want to reach out to him and say it doesn’t have to be this way. I guess some people are placed on this Earth to do certain things in a specific amount of time- like Angels walking the Earth and we only appreciate them when they are gone. It’s always the way.

I absolutely adore his song Runnin’ (Dying To Live) the chorus is so ridiculously fucking heartbreakingly brutal, “You know, I wonder if they’ll laugh when I am dead. Why am I fighting to live, if I’m just living to fight. Why am I trying to see, when there ain’t nothing insight. Why I am I trying to give, when no one gives me a try.” It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from- you cannot deny you have never felt this way before. Maybe more times than you wish to admit to yourself, its okay; you’re not alone. The frustration in the chorus is so easy to relate to.

His lyrics were not all about degrading women at all. His music spoke up about social injustice, his own problems, racism- he touched on everything. He was one of the most intelligent rappers ever. He was inspired by the Black Panther Party to Niccolo Machiavelli- whose work influenced him to adapt the alter-ego Makaveli.

How many rappers can say that he influenced them? Hardly any. The album he released under this name, The 7 Day Theory is easily his darkest work, and possibly one of the darkest rap albums created. He had a way of describing the darkest of subjects that could break the hardest of hearts.

His debut album, 2Pacalypse Now is so politically charged- it was no surprised that the shitstain of life, Dan Quayle tried to get the album banned. Too honest for you? Can’t handle the truth? You cannot shut someone up, especially when they are someone like Tupac. 2Pacalypse now touched on so many topics from racism to police brutality to teen pregnancy.

The song Brenda’s Got A Baby was Tupac’s first debut single and was about a teenage pregnancy. The song as influenced by a 12 year old girl who got pregnant by her cousin- as she didn’t want her family to know, she threw the baby away. There’s a part in the song that just shows how Tupac could write a song about something so painful in a way that just leaves you in awe. “…she had it on the bathroom floor. And didn’t know so, she didn’t know, what to throw away and what to keep. She wrapped the baby up and threw him in the trash heap.” No one else has ever EVER written anything as hard-hitting as that. It wouldn’t seem right if anyone else did, they couldn’t make you imagine it as harshly as Tupac did.

I honestly could not pick my favourite track by Tupac, he had so many. From official releases to unfinished demos, he was probably the hardest working rapper ever. He said things most were afraid to say. He wasn’t afraid to speak up and say when something was wrong. That’s what I took from his work- to never be afraid. To never be afraid to be honest, to speak up when you see something wrong. If someone is going to hate me for being honest and being vocal about something that is wrong- then so be it. I’ll keep doing it. Tupac taught me so much. I hate how personal I get with my writing, but his music saved me throughout secondary school. From the day I started to the day I left- I was bullied. I constantly felt worthless and like shit, but his words provided so much comfort. His words made me feel like, things could get better. I wrote my first song when I was 13 (I just write- I can’t sing or play an instrument.) He channelled how he felt through writing- which is what I did. There’s a suitcase of old notebooks at my mum’s under my bed full of all my old notebooks with songs and poems I have written. I still write now. His way with words made me write my own stuff. There will never be another rapper like him, ever. He had this gift that made you want to know him and be around him.

15 years on, and it still doesn’t seem real. But we have his words and music. He created a legacy that will never fade away.

Thank you Tupac, for your words and music. R.I.P.





What Hip Hop Means To Me.

12 08 2011

As I write this, I am watching How Hip Hop Changed The World on Channel 4. I also have a migraine and I’m unsure if I’m going to pass out from pain or throw up. I’m also fighting off sleep like a stubborn toddler.

This programme is bringing back a lot of memories for me, and it’s got me thinking- what does Hip Hop mean to me?

I grew up on so many kinds of music. Everything from Billie Holiday to Bob Dylan to Blondie. I heard everything. It all inspired me in so many ways.

When I went to secondary school, I didn’t exactly have the time of my life there. To say it was hell is a massive understatement- but that’s not for here. Never for here. I remember walking down the corridor in my second year of secondary school playing Eric B & Rakim’s album Don’t Sweat The Technique  on my Walkman. Tape Walkman that is. I loved Eric B & Rakim so much. I thought Rakim was the best thing since hiding in the library to escape everything and everyone.

I adored bands such as De La Soul, Naughty By Nature, A Tribe Called Quest, Salt n Pepa. I loved them all so much. I felt like nothing could touch me as I walked through school. The reality was, I just couldn’t hear anything due to having my music blaring in my ears ridiculously loud.

I never liked the songs that degraded women or bragged about the amount of money so and so had. I loved the fun lyrics and the in depth lyrics.

I loved (and still do) Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Common. Those three were the ones I constantly played. Black on Both Sides by Mos Def still remains one of my favourite albums ever. I loved LL Cool J’s early stuff. I challenge you to listen to Mamma Said Knock You Out and not feel like you were the most important person ever. It just held you so high, you felt like you could do anything.

I was obsessed with Tupac. I’ve still got all his albums, all the books, his poetry book, videos- that’s right, I’ve got VHS’ of Tupac, all the films he was in, bootleg tapes and CDs. I just adored him. I still do. I loved his honesty, his brutal lyrics, his loving lyrics. I still can’t listen to Dear Mamma without crying. It still tugs at my heartstrings. I’m also still angry that they never caught his or Biggie’s killer. I know everyone was its either Tupac or Biggie- you couldn’t like both. I thought both were brilliant. Biggie’s Ready To Die is a phenomenal debut album. The way Tupac could break your heart then instantly make you laugh with his wordplay just blew me away. First and foremost, he was a poet. He made you see the world how he saw it with his words. He made you change how you saw the world with his words.

I could write so many words on why I love him and what he means to me. I probably will soon, I can feel some kind of essay about Tupac coming on if I don’t move onto a different part of Hip Hop.

There’s always been a lack of females in Hip Hop. Those that ever got anywhere were usually half naked on stage and being ever so vulgar with their words. For some reason, I loved Foxy Brown. I loved her deep voice, the way she didn’t care about what she said and how she said it- she wasn’t afraid. That for me just made me love her music. I was never a fan of Lil’Kim. I don’t know why, I just didn’t really care about her music as much as I cared for Foxy Brown’s.

Does anyone remember MC Trouble? No? Well, she was amazing. But she died before anyone really knew of her. MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante, Queen Latifah, Missy and my favourite- Monie Love. They were all strong female rappers. Ones worth looking up to.

Many argue about who and where Hip Hop started- I’ll always say it started with DJ Kool Herc. Always. But obviously there is no way you can deny that Grandmaster Flash played an equally vital role as Herc did. I guess I’d say, they both started it.

Kurtis Blow, Rakim and Big Daddy Kane are three of my favourites ever. EVER. There is no denying that those three flow so smoothly over beats. Their wordplay hypnotised you and made you want to rap. I was just in so much awe of them when I first heard them. I still am now. There’s never been anyone else like them, there never will be.

One rapper that I adored and was massively upset when he was killed was Big L. The Big Picture is up there with one of the best hip hop albums ever. I’d safely place it in my list of favourite albums of all time too. His song. Ebonics educated you on street slang. The Freestyle on the album blew you away. His duet with Tupac, Deadly Combination was just stunning. It’s just a perfect Hip Hop album.

So, what does Hip Hop mean to me? Well, I personally feel it has that Punk vibe to it. Don’t care what anyone thinks about you or says about you- just be yourself and express yourself. It’s an art-form. A way of life. Pop music isn’t a way of life or a state of mind. It’s just empty words over repetitive sounds. Hip Hop on the other hand educates. It’s a state of mind. Just listen to Public Enemy if you want to be educated in a way you never thought you could be taught.

For me, Punk rock and Hip Hop go hand in hand within the music industry. They went against everything you were told you listen to. It was rebellious at best and dangerous at worst.

What still pisses me off is the way people are always going on about how it degrades women and is mindless.

Those that say this are listening to the kind if Hip Hop that doesn’t deserve to be called Hip Hop. They are ignoring the songs that hold depth and lessons.

Go listen to Public Enemy, go listen to Jurassic 5, go listen to Dilated Peoples. There is more to Hip Hop than what the media rams down your neck.

Not every rapper carries a gun and a wad of money in their back pocket. Open your mind and go listen to the true essence of Hip Hop.

There will always be rivalry in Hip Hop. The media will always blow it out of proportion and make Hip Hop out to be the bad guy- when really, it isn’t. Hip Hop speaks to people; it’s a form of art and a way of life that has undoubtedly saved lives.

Remember, “It ain’t where you from, it’s where you at.”