Newsboys.

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By the end of the weekend I’ll have my very first paid piece of freelance journalism published. Seeing my byline on Hip Hop DX is going to be a trip. I’ve written and published years worth of content through this blog, as well as my contributions to the now defunct Mishka Bloglin (there’s no online archive, and I think all my work has vanished into cyberspace), and my current work with Above Average Hip Hop, but, there’s something special about receiving compensation for my words. Feels pretty damn good.

I pitched a few ideas for editorials (shout out to Riley for the assist), which were all rejected. The editor at DX and I decided on a review for the latest album from Brooklyn’s The Underachievers, which I had been playing quite a bit since it dropped a few weeks ago. It’s an interesting record, in that it’s definitely not the sound that’s currently dominating the culture, but it’s not entirely stuck in place either. I had a good (albeit a bit stressful) time putting the piece together, and I sent it off for editing.

I expected nothing but pats on the back and glowing praise. Rude awakening when I opened that draft and saw a sea of red ink. Comma splice errors, quotation mistakes, you name it. Ya boy got chin checked. I’ve been writing for a long time, but I’d always been given the green light to operate by my own devices. As a writer, there’s no such thing as too many edits, so I can’t take any of the suggestions personally, yet, you’re never ready for someone to point out all the shit you should have caught the 1st time through. But I focused, made the appropriate changes, fleshed out a solid concluding statement and got that 1st piece in the books.

I sent (what I imagine to be) my final edits, and I have to admit…I feel like I bodied the it. And that’s the feeling you need to have when creating subjective prose such as reviews and editorials. Be your best and worst critic, but most importantly stand by the shit you say with conviction and pride. I cannot wait for the comments section to pop off. That will be my true ‘Mama I made it’ moment.

Keep your eyes peeled to the reviews section at DX over the next few days, and have a great weekend.

What’s Beef?

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An early defining moment for me came when I got punched in the throat on the playground in the 6th grade. I ran my mouth and the kid came and found me, which wasn’t hard to do since we were in the same class. When it came to it I failed to guard my grill and ended up winded, lying on my back silently surrounded by my friends. Nobody had a phone. Nobody stomped me out. Nobody told a soul. That morning I had been listening to Naughty By Nature and felt invincible. I was filled with this burning energy that I was untouchable; soaked in that blind hubris we enjoy as kids. I was ready to knuckle up. I was the man. I learned a invaluable message that day; I was not made of glass and I did not have the juice.

I shared my ‘got my ass whooped once’ story this morning because I cannot ignore my Twitter timeline. Florida rap is making such seismic waves we’d be remiss not to talk about it. In a nutshell you’ve got a few young rappers (XXXtentacion, WifisFuneral, Ski Mask The Slump God, Lil Pump…I couldn’t make these names up with an online randomizer) who are the leaders of this new age wave that may or may not be the future of the genre. Sounds heavy, I know. But listen to this. They’re selling out 1000 seat venues, amassing millions of streams on soundcloud, and doing it on the strength of social media. Instagram live drops their life directly into your life, and the kids cannot look away.

So this XXXtentacion kid (yes he’s a kid, he’s 19 years old) is a troubled soul. Like many of the success stories in rap, his rap sheet is impressive. Impressive in the sense that he’s already caught a few cases and has logged some time in jail…at 19. He’s facing an upcoming case for home invasion, holding someone against their will, and allegedly battering his pregnant girlfriend. These are our heroes?

As Twitter cannot let me forget, XXX is on tour. He’s calling it the revenge tour. He shows up, spins the crowd into a mosh pit frenzy, shouts words over the words he’s recorded, flips and kicks off the stage into the arms of his eager fans and secures the bag. The crowds have been massive and the response has been feverishly rabid. The kids have fully bought in.

XXX also has no filter. He hasn’t heard a beef he won’t jump into. He doesn’t pick his spots, he doesn’t hold his tongue, he’s simply all in all of the time. Commendable, most definitely. But for this guy it’s a flaw that finally caught up to him. Earlier in the week he was onstage in San Diego (home of Rob Stone, a rapper XXX has beefed with prior) and caught the wild fade. The punch was something straight out of Mortal Kombat. Apparently, XXX pays 12 security guards to keep him safe, yet he still got snuffed worse than I’ve ever seen during any live performance. Ever. Take a look.

Joking aside, XXX was instantly knocked out and was carried off the stage by his team. There’s a lot to dissect here. First, did anyone else realize he was simply standing at the mic lip-singing? He hit the deck and the verse he was “singing” kept right on playing. And how about that track? It sounded like a Weezer cover…but I digress. The important thing here is that this young man is bringing the violence with him from city to city. The kid who leveled XXX with the punch was stabbed during that melee and was taken to the hospital. The following stop on the tour was postponed by the venue in hopes of dodging any San Diego fallout. Completely insane stuff.

What does all this mean for hip hop? Is it breathing life back into a genre that loopholes itself into periods of complacent boredom? Is this whole new wave simply a blip on the radar? A passing phase of youth and energy? It’s entertaining for sure, but it also feels cheap. Take a few minutes and google some of these kids. Watch some YouTube clips. Visit a soundcloud page or two. It’s a pulse. It’s a vibe, but it’s lacking any semblance to the beats & rhymes formula that’s worked for the last 30 odd years. Hard to ignore that it’s catching like a cold and spreading from high school to high school like an epidemic.

I blame anime. I blame drugs. I blame teachers and parents. I blame Macbooks. I blame history for repeating itself.  I never imagined I would live to see an emo invasion of the genre I’ve loved as long as I’ve been alive. 2017…you’re a real motherfucker. Rap is becoming a Tracy Morgan gif one day at time.

Reinvention.

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We sure are living in odd times, no? The Admin, the social climate, the art. Everything is twisting and burrowing itself into a bizarre niche that will someday be studied on tablets in classrooms around the globe. That’s assuming there’s a globe to study upon, but the Paris Accord pull out is a discussion for another blog, some other time.

Lately, I’ve been casually observing life’s finer moments through the warped, fish eyed lens of Twitter. It’s a one-stop-shop for social commentary. Looking for politics? You’re set. Need up to the minute sports? It’s there in 140 characters or less. Music news? Comedy? Pure unadulterated ratchet behavior? Better believe it. The shit I witness on Twitter on a daily basis would give my parents nightmares. We’re living in a big, bad Worldstar, and I cannot look away.

The scary part is, I can’t lose sight of Twitter because it’s become my sole social media vehicle. I deleted my IG app (not my account), and I’ve never actually completed the sign up phase for Facebook (my will isn’t strong enough to resist the imminent creep on ex friends and lovers). So that leaves me to my 140 character research…and sadly enough, I’m ok with it.

I tweet my jokes. I promote my writing. I attach gif files. I do what most aging, somewhat socially conscious old heads do…I hate. I find the shit the kids are in love with and I tear it down. Not only do I tear it down, but I do it with the full understanding that I’ll likely contradict myself down the line and halfway enjoy the same sounds and behaviors that I mocked (which leads me to occasionally delete older, salty tweets).

Please don’t get me fucked up. I’m not sitting here with a fidget spinner on my index finger, blasting Teenage Emotions (yes, there are some jams on that record) on repeat. But, I have made some concessions in my daily music and cultural intake based solely on the joy and happiness some of this seemingly nonsensical material brings to the kids.

In my 9-5, I’m surround by young people. I soak up what’s being heard, said, and even occasionally read. At work, I’m the observer. I’m the outsider. I’m sure on a few occasions, I’ve been the punchline of the 140 character joke. But regardless of how many times these little fools mention my Lebron edge-up, my slightly noticeable belly, or my “wack” top 5 (eat shit if Nas isn’t on your list), the kids are alive in 2017. They’re living in a time of break-neck pacing. Everything happens all the time. There’s no rest, no cover. Their lives, and now mine, are captured in tiny bursts.

On an entirely different note, Yelawolf released a new single yesterday called “Row Your Boat”. It’s the lead joint from his upcoming (and much delayed) Trial By Fire record. I love it, but I’m biased. I think Yela’s lane is entirely unique to his brand. So catch me bumping whatever he drops. Today is Friday. The sun is out. There’s a shit ton of new music out there to explore. So get up, get out, and get something. REinvent yourself, even if it’s 140 characters at a time.

Witness my shenanigans on Twitter @ThexGlassxHouse. Help me reach 1,000 followers so I can finally tell my mama I made it.