Pizon at Traxx, Long Island 11/26

November 26, 2008

(Click to download flyer and save $5)

Pizon will be making a special appearance and performing at this event.

On stage at the Casbah – Trump Taj Mahal

November 25, 2008

Co-hosting the Twilight party with Timid and DJ Girl 6

Trying to figure out how to take pics with the new BlackBerry*

Here are a couple of the photos I shot of the crowd with my phone…

Quick recap:  It was definitely a wild experience on Saturday.  DJ Girl 6 was spinning at the Casbah in Atlantic City, and Timid and I ended up co-hosting for her.  We basically just acted a fool on stage and hyped up the crowd all night.  Since it was a Twilight-themed party, people were dressed as vampires.  I saw some really freaky stuff.  Before the club, we had to make an emergency run to a local party store to make sure Girl 6 had her costume ready.  I considered rocking some fangs myself.  By the end of the night, I was tipsy off the free bottle of Grey Goose kept on stage that was provided by the club, and we crashed in the complimentary room at the Trump.  We had to get back on the road early Sunday morning, so we didn’t even have time to blow our money at the poker tables.

* On a related note, I’m already addicted to the Storm.  The click-screen took some getting used to, and I’m still not typing as fast as I was on my Treo, but I’m getting there.  It’s good to have all my messages organized so neatly on my phone, and I’m glad Verizon finally has a reasonable unlimited data plan.  So far I think it beats the iPhone, especially when you factor in the network.

Where’s the outcry against Jewish marriage?

November 20, 2008

Let me preface this by emphasizing that this isn’t an argument for or against gay marriage.  This is an expression of cynicism towards the biblical argument against gay marriage.  Most Christians in the United States believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible and tend to use that as the basis for their position.  Putting aside the separation of church and state doctrine invoked by the Supreme Court since 1848, basing one’s position on scripture alone does not definitively lead to the conclusion that gay marriage should be illegal.

There is nothing in the Bible that even mentions same-sex marriage.  While true that there is mention of “standard” opposite-sex marriage, there are also numerous verses in support of polygamy (Exodus 21:10, Deuteronomy 21:15).  This immediately breaks down the theory that “Marriage has always been defined under God as the union between one man and one woman.”  Some argue that the New Testament rebukes the so-called injustices of the Old Testament, but Jesus Himself stated that no Old Testament law should be abolished (Matthew 5:17-18).  In either case, it’s established that the definition of marriage throughout the Bible is not consistent.  With regards to homosexuality, the scripture does suggest that those who engage in gay sex are sinful.  This alone is not a sufficient condition to condemn gay marriage, because many other types of sinners are routinely married with no objection.  In fact, the Bible teaches that every man is a sinner (Romans 3:23).  Some might argue that the difference lies in the severity of the sin.  If we’re to believe that all homosexuals go to Hell, that still doesn’t justify precluding them from marriage:  “The one who does not believe [in Jesus] has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God” (John 3:18).  Where’s the outcry against Jewish marriage?

Now, there are those who would claim that the reason Jews can get married but not gays is because marriage is associated with sex, so to allow gay marriage would somehow be condoning gay sex (alas, Jewish sex in itself is not a sin).  As any married person would testify, associating marriage with sex probably isn’t the most valid notion.  Being married does not require that sex is taking place.  However, if sex is taking place, the Bible implies that it should only occur between married couples (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).  So, disallowing those who engage in gay sex to marry actually leads them to more sin:  they’re not only participating in the sinful act, but they’re doing so without being married.  If gays were married, they might or might not have sex, but any sex they did have together wouldn’t be out of wedlock.  From a biblical perspective, that has to be the preferred option.  In fact, Christian values place emphasis on stability within the family structure:  Jesus frequently spoke out against divorce (Luke 16:18, Mark 10:9-12, 1 Corinthians 7:10-13).  A true Christian would want to encourage homosexuals to have that same stability, especially since it’d have the effect of containing — as opposed to spreading — their immoral act.

Furthermore, the passage most commonly used to condemn homosexuality is a blanket statement that casts judgment on any form of sex not lending itself to procreation (Genesis 38:9-10).  Using the story of Onan “wasting his seed” as grounds for opposing gay marriage is logically equivalent to being against anyone who’s ever masturbated or received oral sex getting married.  The same passage was cited by the church for ages to argue against the use of birth control.  Recently, the Vatican relaxed its position, admitting that using condoms was preferable to having unprotected sex with an STD.  Why?  They realized that no matter what they said, people were going to have sex.  The righteous position was therefore to preach responsibility.  Similarly, there will always be gay people.  A ban on gay marriage isn’t going to make gay people stop being gay.  So shouldn’t it follow that the church would encourage gay people to be gay responsibly (with one committed partner)?

Again, this is not about whether gays should be allowed to marry.  Obviously, I don’t believe there should be an outcry against Jewish marriage, either.  I’m just using the hyperbole to demonstrate how the Christian perspective that uses the Bible as its sole point of reference to oppose gay marriage is faulty at best — even if we are to assume the scripture is true.  It’s predicated on cherry-picking the passages that offer vague support to the position, then making objectionable presumptions about the text.  Upon closer examination, it becomes apparent that it’s likely the position was taken first, and the Bible was scanned for ostensible evidence second.

As a side note, I find it ironic that Hip Hop has always self-identified as liberal, yet our lyrics most often champion homophobia, gun ownership, big business, and amassing a personal fortune at the expense of others.  Maybe it’s time we looked in the mirror ourselves.

I know how a mother feels…

November 17, 2008

…when she suddenly finds herself without child, and though she knows now is when the real work begins, she has a hard time coping with the fact the baby has left her womb.  It’s been two years since the Family Business album was conceived, and for the past several months I’ve been in the final stages of carrying it to term.  One might say it’s overdue.  But as I hold the CD with the finished mixes in hand — no longer taking shape in the confines of my studio — I’m starting to feel hollow.  Call it postalbum depression.

Seriously, though, I’m excited this project is finally coming out.  I’ve been up all night doing last minute adjustments.  As soon as the post office opens, I will be sending it off to the mastering engineer.  He’ll work his magic, and we’ll be one step closer to the official release.

Update on the Release Schedule

The original plan was for the album to be released the first week of December so it could coincide with the Family Reunion show, as we’ve done with a different album for the past three years.  Blame the economic meltdown on that not happening.  That threw a wrench in everyone’s plans.  As it stands now, I don’t know when the physical CDs will be available, but there’s a good chance they won’t hit stores until early 2009.  I made a vow that the album would be out by the end of this year, and I intend to keep that promise just like I delivered the mixtape on time.  This means that in order to make sure the music is out by the end of ’08, we’re looking at an early digital release in December.

One disguised blessing about the pushback is it gave us more time to get a new hook done for a song that was about to be cut altogether.  We’re also planning the release of the next single, which will drop with the album, as well as our plan of attack for marketing and promoting the project.  We didn’t spend two years working on it for it to go unnoticed, and we want to make sure everything is done right.  A group album is never easy to pull off, and these trying times are making the task even more challenging.  But I guarantee it’s well worth the wait!

As always, thanks for rocking with us.  Keep checking back for updates, because they’ll be made as soon as we know more.

Backup link for Family Affair mixtape

November 15, 2008

If you’re having problems with Zshare, here’s a backup link to download the Family Affair mixtape from FileFront:

The end of an era

November 11, 2008

I Am Hip Hop t-shirt

The last of the I Am Hip Hop t-shirts was moved at the NYC Marathon last Sunday.  No new shipments are coming in, so if you were able to get your hands on one over the past few years, relish owning a piece of history… or sell it on Ebay.  Don’t forget that the new Fam t-shirts currently being offered also guarantee you a free copy of the Family Business album before its release.  Just had to throw that out there.  I’m waiting for video from the Marathon show to surface, but until then here are some reflections:

Show date: November 2, 2008
@ 115th Street and 5th Avenue
New York, NY

-The show (which took place two days before the election) was an official Obama campaign event and he was even purported to make a surprise appearance at one point, but the logistics would have made that impossible.  The space was too open, and as Timid pointed out, if he stepped on stage during the show the marathon itself would have been sabotaged because all the runners would stop.  Still, the support was strong and I got to wear my “That One ’08” button that was given to me as a gift for helping the campaign in Virginia.  I brought my Shepard Fairey “Hope” poster that I also received for my efforts, but due to time constraints didn’t get to showcase it during the set.

-My laminated “2008 ING NYC Marathon” pass allowed me to bypass police barriers and park on a street that was blocked off to the public.  Being a performer has its perks.

-Since the show was outside along the marathon route, there was a bus parked on 115th Street that acted as a “backstage” area for the artists.  Aside from serving bagels, its primary functions were providing temporary relief from the cold and housing all the clashing egos.  Seriously, the bus was a good look.  We shot some footage on the bus with Greg Williams (of Switch/DeBarge fame) — who loves pointing out his writer credit on Rich Boy’s “Throw Some D’s” — for Willie Spade’s video blog.  Spade told the story of how he and I first crossed paths in the 1990s before either of us was involved with Hip Hop.  I’m looking forward to seeing it.

-I’m going to go ahead and say it:  Willie Spade was the MVP of the 2008 Marathon show.  He had songs done with seemingly every artist that performed which ensured stage time on all their sets.  Traveling from Alabama for the show, he made the most of his (and everyone else’s) time.

-While Team Blackout may have a long way to go before reaching Run DMC status, it was an honor to share the stage with the son of one of Hip Hop’s founding fathers, and the nephew of another.  Despite early tension resulting from a misinterpreted remark about JoJo’s Sidekick, everything settled down and he and I later bopped our heads and rapped along to a BIG song together.  Due to his age, I was surprised he knew the words to “Warning” so well.  Oh, and they’re filming the new season of Run’s House as we speak.

-Persia of VH1 infamy showed up in a tutu and followed her one song with the monosyllabic proclamation:  “Cold!”  Well, yeah.  Other upcoming and newly signed major label artists also took the stage.

-We got to do the first live rendition of “Mr. Carter” while Timid donned a t-shirt that said “Mr. Jaylon Carter” on it.  During the set, I threw some of the extra shirts into the crowd along with hats, CDs, and whatever else was in the bag.  There are now people walking around New York City with Timid’s given name on their clothes.  We also handed out CD copies of the “Dreams Come True” single after the performance.

That marked the third year in a row that I was part of the ONLY live music show at the biggest marathon in the world.  Shout outs to Scott @ SBS, Akademy, Bonz, Living Legends, and everyone else who made history with us.

I’m still in shock.

November 5, 2008

“Why is Bush acting like he tryin’ to get Osama?
Why don’t we impeach him, and elect Obama?”
-Common, 2004

When I heard those words four years ago on Jadakiss’ “Why” remix, I thought they were cute.  To be perfectly honest, I thought the only reason the freshly elected Senator was mentioned in that couplet was because his name better rhymed with “Osama” then Hillary’s did.  I also thought that impeaching Bush was a more realistic possibility than electing Obama any time in the near future.  As inspired as I was by his red state-blue state speech at the Kerry convention, and as much as I would have liked to envision a country progressive enough to elect such a transformational figure, I just didn’t see it happening.  This was, afterall, the same country that had just elected W. to a second term after starting an unjust war, violating the Geneva Convention, making a mockery of the United States Constitution, and stripping Americans of our civil liberties.  Most people I talked to who voted for Bush in 2004 conceded those points but supported him on the grounds of “being a better Christian,” since he opposed gay marriage and abortion rights.  While I myself am right-of-center as compared to other Democrats on those issues, Americans were haplessly letting them take precedence over preserving the very fabric of our civilization.  In a sick twist of irony, America was increasingly resembling a Taliban state in the years following 9/11.  Gone were the days of freedom and prosperity — they were replaced with periods of confusion, depression, fear, and ignorance, and a society that seemed hell bent on being duped by its government.

In February 2007, I wrote:  “What McCain has going for him is that of the four leading candidates, he’s the only white Protestant male (which every President besides JFK has been).  Is that alone enough to win, even being the most similar to Bush, who currently has an all-time low approval rating of 34%?  I hate to say it, but it might be.”  Clearly, I did not have much faith in my country at that point.  Given the prevailing political and social climate, I assumed it would come down to petty issues once more.  As time went on and I saw the traction this man was picking up, my cynicism began to fade.  It also took close to eight years of disastrous policy, but towards the end of Bush’s second term, the country on the whole began to feel its effects.  The economy had been in a downward spiral for some time, but it took its literal collapse unto itself to fully awake the majority.  Even by the end of the primary season, I realized that victory in November was inevitable.  Still, what I’m feeling today is surreal.  When you think of the moments in history that everyone will always remember, they tend to be tragic:  when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, when Kennedy and Dr. King were assassinated, when the Towers fell.  It’s so encouraging that America finally has a proud moment of this magnitude to cherish forever.

A new day is upon us.  Never before have I felt more fortunate to be alive, nor more optimistic for the future.  God bless America!