Refined and Fly

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Peace to all! Today's mathematics is wisdom born all being born to knowledge knowledge all being born to wisdom. After a good trip back home to the Bay and waking up this morning, I thought about the importance of committing to what you do/ or what you say you do, and being engaged in the process until it is born or complete. Don't be a quitter or waste time being wishy washy. I know it's hard, but by doing this, you are able to knowledge your knowledge and assess whether your path was the right one, based on the ultimate result of the work you put in. See your challeneges through so you can see what you're made of.

Case in point...several months ago, I had the opportunity to work with the August Wilson Center here in Pittsburgh (for those who don't know, August Wilson was a popular playwright from Pittsburgh)to perform a poem at the Conference for Foundations, that introduced Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to go in space. This sister is in history books! The crowd would be the largest I've ever performed for (approximately 1200 people) and the gold was the most I would recieve for a poetry performance ($500). The catch was, I had a little under a week to write and memorize and perform with conviction, this earth shattering piece.

I accepted the offer and got to work. One thing I find as a writer is that I write my best pieces when I am "inspired." When it just flows. So having to come up with a topical piece about this sister that could not be mediocre in a couple days, was a challenge. I found myself loving and hating the process. Loving it cuz it was a challenge that had a sweet reward and I tend to work pretty well under pressure. Hating it cuz I was unsure if I could pull it off and just wanted to get it over with. I eventually cranked somethin' out that was good but this ambivalence stuck with me until showtime.

Fast forward to the big day and I was nervous as hell cuz I barely had the poem memorized and I did not want to choke in front of 1200 people. I had butterflies in my stomach, teeth chattering, everything. But the moment I got on the stage, I had to commit to the performance and see it through. I couldn't break out and leave people hangin (although I wanted to at times). What was born? I turned in a solid performance that everybody loved and although I did stumble and forget a little, I improvised and nobody even noticed.

This experience showed me that I am capable of writing and performing under pressure, that people actually enjoy my work, and I can and deserve to get paid for it (I've been performing for free for a while so let's not talk about paying dues...I want my talent to pay me for a change!). So that was an experience of growth and expansion. Sometimes, people see things in you that you don't see in yourself so I figure I would not have been asked unless folks thought I was capable. The "I" that makes up you encompasses so many aspects of your life, history, experiences, knowledge, genetic coding and sometimes you can sabatoge yourself if you let fear or something new limit you or keep you from realizing a part of yourself that you may not know you had. After completing that challenge, I can look back at the whole experience and determined that I made the right decision, and that I should open myself up for similar opportunities in the future. This was just an example of potential, or stored energy. You don't know what you can turn that energy into unless you apply it to something tangible and bring that reality into existence.

An example of a person not fully committing to the path they chose is Jay-Z. (Click here for a decent article on by Andreas Hale).I respect Jay-Z as a rapper and like a lot of his music. However, when he made the decision to be a record executive at Def Jam, that is what he should have stuck to. But, like my god says, he is the Michael Jordan of rap. Similar to the title of Too Short's 10th album, he "can't stay away." He had to come back and outshine some of the artists on his label (Method Man, Ghostface, The Roots, even Jeezy) and put out another album right before his other artists. Great marketing and promotion (Budweiser commercials, Monday Night Football spots)for him which provided a nice pay day ($680,000 first week)for the label's 4th quarter sales, B.U.T. it's a bad look for folks whose album is about to drop mid-December. With all the hoopla for Jay-Z, whose gonna rush to get a Method Man album aside from die hard fans? The aforementioned artists have barely gotten promoted, which is why they're salty. Not good on the management gotta keep your employees satisfied or else they'll be tempted to jump ship or turn in mediocre work.

And herein lies my point...either Jay-Z was trying to boost 4th quarter sales by putting his album out, which would be guaranteed platinum at the least (giving him the benefit of the doubt) or Jay-Z was too selfish to sacrifice the spotlight for himself as an artist, to be a great record executive. And I heard the album is getting less than favorable reviews, adding credence to the Michael Jordan comparison (Jordan's mediocre performance on the Wizzards before dippin' out). You don't wanna come back like that, when you could have bowed out gracefully and took being an executive and a power broker in the rap industry to born...put your focus and energy on your artists and find new, creative and innovative ways to promote and sell their album. How are you going to do your artists justice when you're out on tour and you have your own album to sell?

Because he is being non-committal, I don't think he'll ever know how good of an executive he could have been if he had put all of his energy in that lane. He might have been a good exec with 3-5 years of development, but with these crucial management mis-steps, he may not get the chance. Jay, commit to what you are doing so you can do it well! Not to say that a person can't multi-task, but you don't wanna be a jack of all trades and a master at none. Folks can still knowlege your knowledge but you don't want them analyzing your ideas and how you got down as a means of learning what NOT to do.


I Medina Peaceful Earth

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Peace! Our beloved Hip Hop has been around for over 30 years and there are many Hip Hop enthusiasts, critics, and supporters who think the foundation has been laid for Hip Hop to have have something to say; that it should be a force to be reckoned with across a global political landscape (today's mathematics..knowledge equality). There are several organizations that are trying to facilitate this process (i.e. HSAN, National Hip Hop Political Convention, etc.) and usher in a new day where Hip Hop can be used as a tool to change our communities. As an artist and community contributer, I tend to generally agree, although I find the manifestation of this concept easier said than done .

Some of us have heard terms like the "Hip Hop Generation," "Hip Hop Politics, and
"Hip Hop Activisim" and there is an assumed meaning of who these titles implicate...folks between the ages of 18-45 who are in some way, shape or form involved with or impacted by the sub-culture of Hip Hop. I personally am of the mindframe that when talking about a National Hip Hop Political agenda to assert upon society, these categories are fairly broad, and can encompasse a variety of people with diverse cultural, social, personal and political worldviews.

Why does this matter?

Glad you asked...

When deciding upon agenda items or issues to agree upon that we as the "Hip Hop Generation" will endorse, with such a diverse body at the table, the challenge will be in forming a consensus. The trend seems to have been that those involved in such initiatives and circles tend to be progressive or liberal leaning, which narrows the playing field. However, what happens when you have a person that is say for instance anti-voucher, pro-life, pro-immigration, and anti-gay marriage. How would they be defined or categorized (could you call them progressive if they are not pro-choice or pro-gay marriage)? When deciding upon a uniform agenda, where do you fit if you agree with some things and not others (and I have seen first hand these kinds of challenges)? I see the importance in coming together across commonalities and breakin' loose on divergent views. Even still, after toiling away to do the meticulous work of creating said agenda, which side do you go to that everyone agrees upon that has enough power to assist the grassroots in actualizing it? I think the most change can happen on local levels, dealing with issues relevant and specific to those residents, and build up from there.

The following is an article that I found on providing an interesting analysis on where the Hip Hop voice was in 2006 politics, and where it should be. Do the knowledge...

Where was Hiphop's Politics in 2006?
By: Hadji Williams

Where in the hell did the hiphop go? Do you know? Do you know? Do you know?
—Freestyle Fellowship

We're halfway thru the Race for '08 and the Democrats just retook Congress plus a few governorships and local juice crews. Bush finally threw Rumsfeld under the bus. Nancy Pelosi is getting her Sherman Helmsely stroll on as the first female Speaker of the House. Obama is sounding more like a frontrunner each week. And if all that weren't enough, the
Dow Jones is gliding over 12,000...

But before they get DJ Shadow on the Fleetwood Mac remix, can somebody tell me where the youth vote and hiphop's politics went? For example:

Arnold Schwarzenegger movie-clichéd and failed-promised his way into a sequel without even a bark from Snoop Dogg. Last year Snoop was about to set-trip on Sacramento calling Schwarzenegger "a racist out to kill Tookie." But with the governorship up for grabs, where were Snoop's "Vote the Tookie-nator out" cries? He hyped his upcoming blue carpet album, his weed stash, and his perennial pimp-hand but not so much as one Snoop DeVille fulla anti-Arnold voters hit the polls Tuesday. But Snoop's not alone…

Why weren't any hiphop and urban artists and celebs out galvanizing their fans around candidates and issues? Bush still hates Black folks, right Kanye? Well if you put as much
energy into the Democratic Party as you do into politicking for worthless awards and media love, we'll get a Black president in '08. Where was L'il Wayne? T.I.? E-40? Nas? Ludacris? Queen Latifah? Were Russell Simmons and the HHAN or the Zulu Nation on anyone's campaign trail? Where was Diddy (besides pushing Play and Unforgivable)? Where was Hiphop's CEO (besides doing HP, Budweiser commercials and working on his new album)?

Davey D and Chuck D aside, why weren't DJs at least needle dropping candidates on their radio shows and mixtapes? (Politicians have budgets, too. Or do y'all only take payola
from labels?)

Where were was And-1? (Mudslinging and double-dribbling mix!) Where was Marc Ecko? BET? Radio One? Clear Channel? Where was MTV? (Too many videos block your political agenda?) Where was Jacob, the jewelers, the fashionistas and all the rest who claim the hiphop and urban communities when it's profitable/cool?

Hey Graff writers: Not one train, not one wall, not even a sidewalk was burned with an issue-based or candidate-driven piece?! Not even a t-shirt! What, elections ain't "street"
enough for y'all?

As for the masses: we can spit BIG and Tupac's catalogs bar for bar but can't name our own alderman, senator or congressperson. We know when Hov's album is dropping but
can't find the polling centers in our own neighborhoods. We follow America's Next Top Model and American Idol but not issues. We're on top of latest slang and trends but not with how our reps vote on major policies and issues. We lean on Talib, Nas, and Immortal Technique, and John Stewart for political insights but ignore the folks in office. We'll pay for concerts and X-Boxes but won't hit free public forums and public hearings held by our city and state leaders, or meetings by our local DNC, RNC, and Third Party chapters. Then we wonder why, for example, they ignored our political gatherings?

I was at this summer's HHPC, by the way. It was a nice, well-run event but as LB—my activist friend from Boston said on Day Three: "Hadji, I'm 38-year-old Black Lesbian. Hiphop doesn't really embrace me anymore, so I came for the politics. I don't see much politics here.")

Conversely, from Barbra Streisand to Madonna to George Clooney to Bono to Moby to the Dixie Chicks to Toby Keith to Jeff Gordon to Howard Stern to Susan Sarandon, etc. White
artists and celebs can't wait to rally for candidate or a cause. Consequently, the DNC and RNC bend over backwards for `em. (And like I told y'all years ago in "Hiphop Voting Block?
It's a Rap," quit letting their hipster posturing fool you—those fake White Liberals only care themselves, not communities of color. "Vote or Die" was nothing more than a Rock the Vote remix. Suckas.)

In the end, politics ignores the hiphop community because hiphop ignores politics. The biggest conspiracy at work these days is: You Don't Care + You Don't Vote = You Don't Matter. Speaking of which…


Every special interest group has a platform—a fairly galvanizing stance on an issue(s). Successful groups have one or two key issues, some do three or four. For example:

The NRA's trigger happy: Every "law abiding citizen" over the age of 18 should have as many guns as they want long as they're registered, holstered and the owner gets safety training. Period. And because baring arms is #2 in the Constitution the NRA is pro-
Constitution, as in "Don't change it and interpret it as is." They're also pro states' rights.

The NRA focuses on specific issues relevant to their communities. They translate `em into clear actionable agendas and identify candidates they will vote for/vote against. They follow up in regular meetings. They lobby their federal, state and local leaders for influence and don't stop until somebody listens. Every special interest group—the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), NOW (National Organization of Women), PETA,
unions, etc. all roll the same way.

Hiphop must do the same. Hiphop must galvanize around (no more than five) key issues, reach a consensus; make it known to the DNC and RNC and our government leaders at every level. Then we must vote, back candidates and lobby leaders accordingly. Only then will major parties and media outlets take the hiphop and urban communities seriously.

(And quit saying politics is "too political" for you. Yes it's political, that's why it's called "politics"! The music industry is political but we'll shoot each other and sell our souls for a platinum plaque. Yet politics is "too political" for you? Stop whining!)


I don't care which issues Hiphop builds on, but HOT 97's play list, Tupac's legacy, the Boulè/the Illuminati/Trilateral Commission, or anything that "Stop buying it/Stop watching it" can fix had better not be any of `em. Here's a couple thought starters:

WAR ON TERROR. With Saddam about to get Silverado'd (a fair trial followed by a first class hangin'), should we bring the troops home and send a smaller hit squad for Bin Laden and
Al Queda? Do we invade North Korea? Iran? Saudi Arabia?

ABORTION: Is Hiphop Pro-Life or Pro-Choice? Under what circumstances (if any) would we support/deny an abortion?

EDUCATION. Should a quality K-12 education to be a Civil Right that's amended into the Constitution? How about a college education? Should our schools be funded by local, state,
and federal budgets? Or should they be like businesses with a free market model (i.e. you get what you can afford)? Is Hiphop pro- or anti-School Voucher?

HEALTH INSURANCE. "Universal" or "You're on your own"? If "universal", then who funds it? (Lottery money? Property taxes? Sales taxes? Higher taxes on the rich and corporations?)

GAY MARRIAGE. Is Hiphop pro- or anti-Gay marriage? Is Hiphop pro- or anti-Civil Union? Is Gay marriage part of the Civil Rights movement (as the gay community contends)?

IMMIGRATION. Citizenship for all, no matter what? Deport and Wall up? Wall on the Mexican border, but not the Canadian? No wall? Prosecute American businesses that use illegals?

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. If you think Affirmative Action is good stay out of Michigan. AA was put to a referendum on their Nov. 7th's election and Michiganders (those who bothered to vote, at least) banned it. It wasn't close. So AA is an official no-no in Michigan. No more AA in school admissions, business hiring or contracts. (Thanks, Ward Connerly and Jennifer "white-woman-who-was-waitlisted-as-1100-lesser-qualified-whites-were-admitted-ahead-of-me-and-I've-blamed-black-people-ever-since-but-don't-call-me-
a-bigot" Grantz.) Anyway…

Lookit: 2008 is right around the corner. The White House, the Senate plus numerous local and state seats will be up for grabs. And with so many critical issues affecting our communities, hiphop needs to be a factor. But as it stands, I believe we're just too segregated in our needs and concerns to unify around issues and candidates. And as individuals I question whether or not enough folks care enough to really get involved.

I maybe wrong, but this much is certain:

If we don't change now, the +80 million 18-45 year old Black, Hispanic, Asian and Whites who consider ourselves to be part of America's hiphop community will go ignored, taken
for granted, and hustled by those who voted, organized and took this process seriously. And we'll be stuck with the government that we deserve.

Hadji Williams is author of KNOCK THE HUSTLE (2006) and KNOCK THE HUSTLE: VOLUME 2
(Spring 2007). (E): * *

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Peace! So it's the day after the Elections and the Democrats have won least in Pennsylvania. We have Ed Rendell for Governer, who was a shoe in, and Bob Casey won for U.S. Senate. Check this link for a brief summary of the candidates,,-6199724,00.html. Time will show and prove whether these are candidates who will bring something beneficial to the table, or if they are "the lesser of 2 evils." But I'll share something with you.

As soon as I was of age to vote, my mother told me to vote Democrat. No matter who they were or what they said, vote Democrat. Although I never formally chose a party, I did vote Democrat a couple of times. Looking back, if I voted during Clinton's first run, I voted for him. With Bush's first election, I was one of those horrible people who voted my conscience and put in my bid for Ralph Nader. Second term, although I was not sold on John Kerry in any way shape or form, and knew that he and Bush had similarities and ties, I went with the lesser of two evils approach (anybody better than Bush). However with this election, I will admit that I did not vote. Casey didn't seem too different than Rick Santorum. Ed Rendell was surely going to beat Lynn Swann. I wasn't going to vote for Lynn Swann just because he was Black (and had no political experience mind you...too reminiscent of The Terminator, a former movie brute(Arnold Scwartzeneggar) as the governer of California). However, the real reason I couldn't vote for Ed Rendell was due to his history in the late 1970s to mid-eighties as a Philadelphia prosecuter during the bombing by police of a neighborhood and group of row houses of an organization (filled with men, women, and CHILDREN) called Move, a so-called radical group of black folks who really just believed in a natural way of life, and were uncompromising (,,,

This is a big skeleton in Ed Rendell's closet that we cannot forget, just because he's a Democrat.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am an advocate of voting, in addition to other activities, specifically when your vote will have some tangible effects, particularly on a local level. But I just couldn't vote for wolves in sheeps' clothing again. Too often, politicians on both sides will rally the troops to the battleground states, visit Black churchs around election time, show their faces at community events, never to be seen or heard from again after they've magnetized the audience with their rhetoric and snatched their votes with promises of a new and better day. And I may sound controversial with this one, and he seems like a nice enough guy, but can anyone give me five reasons (besides being young, Black and Democrat) why Black folks love Barack Obama and why we want him to run for the 2008 elections? I just haven't heard anything that makes me think he's going to change the world. Understandably, he has to speak to many audiences so he can't come off too controversial, however, he just reminds me of one of those brothers that you might see in an Abercrombie and Fitch add (not too threatening, digestible, safe). I know we want Black folks in positions of power, but we can't let that blind us (look at Clarence Thomas). We have to put the issues first, no matter who's doing the talking.

Speaking of talking, during this election, I heard some truly disturbing radio spots from both sides trying to get the Black and Latino vote (i.e. "Don't vote for Santorum because he is just like Bush, and doesn't understand what it means to struggle to pay the bills."), playing to our basic fears and needs. But that doesn't come anywhere close to the following radio spots I read about from a Republican group called America's Pac. Do the knowledge...

Republican Group Chides Democrats With Abortion Ads
Aim Is To Win Minority Voters, But Democrats Cry Foul
Staff Reporter of the Sun
October 17, 2006

A little-known Republican group that claims to have swayed the 2004 presidential election with provocative radio advertising aimed at black and Hispanic audiences is spending nearly $1 million this year to boost the GOP's chances of holding on to a majority in Congress.

The group, America's Pac, began running ads last month in more than two dozen congressional districts.The campaign discusses issues ranging from warrantless wiretapping to school choice, but the most inflammatory spots pertain to abortion.

"Black babies are terminated at triple the rate of white babies," a female announcer in one of the ads says, as rain, thunder, and a crying infant are heard in the background. "The Democratic Party supports these abortion laws that are decimating our people, but the individual's right to life is protected in the Republican platform. Democrats say they want our vote.Why don't they want our lives?"

Another ad features a dialogue between two men.
"If you make a little mistake with one of your ‘hos,' you'll want to dispose of that problem tout suite, no questions asked," one of the men says.
"That's too cold. I don't snuff my own seed," the other replies.
"Maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican," the first man says.

Are you kidding me? But this shows the sophistication of their practices. Although offensive as hell, their aim and methodology was very simple. We have to remember that there are political think tanks that research how to market people and concepts to different segments of the population. So by using, or shall I say misusing what they deem as urban vernacular or slang ("snuff my own seed?!")and knowing that Black folks tend to lean toward the socially conservative side, they were actually able to convince some people to vote in their direction (based on the article). To me, these ads display 3 things: 1) what they think of our intelligence; 2)their ability to bamboozle us through the media; and 3)what they think our voting practices are based on.

On either side, Democrat or Republican, or any other party, we have to make them work a little harder for our endorsement and hold them accountable to whatever they say they will do and keep up the hard work where it can be seen...on the ground level.


I Medina Peaceful Earth

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Peace to all! I build all is well within everyone's respective ciphers. First a Happy Born Day shout me! Happy Born Day to Me! Happy Born Day to Me! Happy Born Day to Me! Happy Born Day to Me! On this month of Now Cipher Victory on the knowledge day (November 1), I turned wisdom build or destroy in my physical degree (28 years old). Whew! It's been a long and fruitful journey and I'm still traveling, spinning, and rotating. On that day, and subsequent days after, I focused on the history that is written on my planet, and the history I would like to write on my planet. Now is the time to use whatever I am saying and doing to build and add on to something that will be greater after I touch it, and destroy all the extra things I don't need anymore, nor serve my best interests. It's time to clean house, take inventory, throw away the extra and keep what's valuable. Sometimes we can be packrats in our homes and in our lives, wanting to hold onto things that you think you need or may need one day. But all it does is clutter your time and space and keep what you should clearly be doing out of focus.

Time is something that you never get back, and the way you spend your time indicates the priority said activities have in your life. If I spend most of my time building with children, that's a priority to me. If I spend most of my time watching television, then that is a priority. If I spend most of my time working on ways to make money, then that is a priority. So I have to make sure that my activities bear fruit and that I become stronger, more knowledgeable, and more experienced in what is important to me so that I can take all that I know and add a cipher (person, place or thing)by sharing with others. No more doing something just to be doing something!

This leads me to my topic...the Business and Building Weekend hosted by Myself and a few of the gods traveled to Divine Cee (Washington D.C.)to build with other people who were interested in getting our business together and building with eachother so that we can all maximize and share resources with folks across the country. I would personally like to thank Cedric Muhammad and the Blackelectorate staff for hosting a truly progressive event, and showing the Gods and Earths a lot of love. It is not easy to coordinate a national event, and I give a lot of respect to folks who take care of logistics (being a coordinator myself). It is often a behind the scenes position that often goes unrecognized. The relatively small group provided an intimate and productive setting where everyone had an opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, or share ideas if they chose to. Sometimes, it is the quality, not the quantity of the people in the room that matters (too often, an overabundance of voices muddles progress and blurs the objective...I've been to many meetings).

We came armed with business cards, products to sell, and ideas to share in order to build with like-minded folks. First up was the mixer,at the Frederick Douglass Museum. Scheduled to speak were Ras Baraka (Deputy Mayor of Newark, NJ), Rosa Clemente (Hip Hop Activist), Armstrong Williams (controversial Black Conservative), Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Reuven Brenner (international economist), and Dr. Steve Hanke (economist who battled the IMF Bank). Unfortunately, we arrived late due to traveling in from out of town and missed most of the speakers. However, I will say that the vision to include "experts" with such diversity was refreshing. So many times at conferences, meetings, etc., there is either no one knowledeable enough to advise anyone on a topic in the room, or those scheduled to speak push a similar line. This lineup showed me how important it is to expose people to information on many fronts, and let folks choose their own leanings. How many times have you been at an event talking about business, where they had had actual economists in the room? Not many. What a resource!

After we lived it up downtown (folks were in their Halloween regalia as we just walked by in awe...sheer pandemonium!) we rose early Sunday morning for the "Coffee Talk" Meeting (peace to my brotha Divine Culture( for letting us rest at your rest :-). This was the space where we formulated initiatives, built about them, wrote them out, and saw who's in the room by sharing our views. Throughout this process, every one had a chance to exchange best practices, information, and share their vision for economics and community development within the black community.

All in all, it was a fruitful weekend, and the cost was well worth it. Some may take issue with having to pay a registration fee for entrance, however, if we are really talking about building, sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is and support an event or initiative that you see as valuable. And that is what our communities need...tangible resources...clearly seen additions that people benefit from that address peoples' ability to serve their own needs (food, clothing, shelter, education). If you say you love the babies, then you may have to put your money where your mouth is. A child cannot hear you if they are hungry and cold, so instead of first shoving a flyer in their face or trying to recruit them to your mission in your first interaction, you may have to give them $10 for food, get to know them, buy them a warm coat, and then sit down and build. If you support young black entrepreneurs and you think the concept is good, you may have have to support an economic endeavor (not necessarily bankrolling, but buy a White T shirt or a CD they may be selling for instance). Black folks have been known to be great speakers and talkers throughout history, and everyone plays different roles. However, we must talk the talk and walk the walk not only with good intentions, but with our wallets when we can. Anything else is just lip service.

Taking Care of Business and Building


I Medina Peaceful Earth