I wrote this a long time ago, but I felt it was time to publicly share it. For those who may feel that their feelings towards a parent may not be legitimate. I promise you they are. Feelings are not trivial things. They are real and important. But it is also important to recognize and let go of things that are preventing you from growing as a person and a human capable of giving and receiving love. This is me, forgiving and releasing.
Dear E. M. aka my Father,
Today is Father’s Day and I’ve been thinking a lot of things about the person you are and what I may have wanted you to be. There’s a blur as to what that definition is, “father”. Or rather what your definition of it is. I’m honestly not sure.
But whatever it is, I just wanted to tell you that I forgive you. I forgive you for all the times you’ve promised that young bright-skinned, big headed kid you called your son that you’d do something, but never did it. I forgive you for the times you’d pick me up and we drive around all day with you showboating me to people I didn’t know or cared about as your son who scored in the 90-whatever percentile in some state test when I just wanted to spend some time with you that day. I forgive you for all the nights I just wanted to go home but couldn’t because you forgot to pick me up or stayed out longer than you expected. I forgive for you all the times you made a promise to my mother, but never came through with it, I forgive you. I forgive you.
I forgive you for how you treat(ed) my sister. I forgive you for not letting her be the woman she is and wanted to be. I forgive you for not letting her live her life. I forgive you for just not really knowing how to be a parent. I forgive you. I don’t know much, but I know being a parent is more about love and acceptance than anything. Loving your children for all that they are, and not trying to control them or conform them to the way that you “know” how to live. It’s just about letting them be people. Of course as children, you want them to be safe and healthy, but there comes a point where you’ve gotta just… let them be and live how they’ve developed how to live. And respect their values, even if they didn’t get those values from you.
I heard the way you judged my decision to leave my job today. I know that tone. But I knew that’s how you’d react. I’m not stupid. Fortunately for me, and probably you too, I’ve learned to not need approval for things that I do. Especially from you. But I harbor no ill feeling towards you, well I don’t now that I’m writing this, but I just want to release any that I have. I know you always intended to be a good man. It was expressed in some weird ways to me, but I know you just wanted to be a good father. Some people try harder than others, and some people are more successful with less effort. I don’t know really. I do know that I never wanted to be like you. I want to be worlds better.
But you should know that I forgive you. I love you, and I do forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you, dad. I forgive you. I release and forgive you.
I forgive you,
Lupe Fiasco is that one internet troll who’s smarter than you, and it just so happens he can rap better than you.
He’s literally my favorite rapper, and it seems weird that I’m not stanning with caps lock on and exclamation marks, (not that I’ve EVER done that, like ever) but this really isn’t the time for that.
His skills aren’t up for debate anyway, so keep your fucking mouth shut.
Lupe deserves to be mentioned this month because he’s an interesting guy on top of being a sharp-tongued, top-notch rapper. He holds a few actual black belts, he’s a Ferrari collector, he’s called the president a terrorist at least twice, he’s always been for the betterment of people, and his freestyles are off the top. I don’t need much more than that in a world-class rapper, but for you achievement-hounds, he’s recently been inducted into the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellowship. Bong bong.
His music ranges from dealing with suicide, death of loved ones, societal constructs, and most recently cancer, and the wordplay (“is work, but pimping is easy”) is out of this world. He’s definitely one artist to check out this month, and I suggest you start from his Fahrenheit 1/15 mixtapes. Go ahead and get to deciphering those lyrics and see how clever he really is.
Just don’t tweet him.
The booty don’t lie, y’all. The booty does not lie.
That’s what was exclaimed on a song my beloved Janelle Monae made with the Bae-In-Chief Erykah Badu. The song is inherently amazing.
But what’s even more fire is how much Janelle has evolved from her early days, back when she was toying with being more neo-soul than Archandroid. For those who do not know, Janelle comes from humble beginnings in Kansas but started the career we recognize today down in Atlanta.
My favorite part about Ms. Monae is the deliberate and unwavering attitude she’s had in growing from her first label-backed album to the current one. From her debut, this Electric Lady has been accused of not being girly enough and being too straight-laced and androgynous to being a James Brown copycat and lacking style, mostly because of her tuxedo-influenced getups and capes she wore during her energetic performances.
But she slyly held steady to the values and visions she saw for herself and has come out on the other side as a beautiful, high-energy, free-spirited artist with enough pull to get both Erykah and Prince on the same album. How dope is that? She also recently tore Governor’s Ball to pieces and looked immaculate doing it. Her energy and passion when she is onstage is really a sight to behold, and impossible to mimic.
Also, I love her.
Drake is a bit of an anomaly in some ways. He’s a tough talker as a rapper, but never really gets into the business of ‘rap beefs’. I understand it about as much as I understand molecular fusion. It’s whatever though.
But seriously, he talks tough because he can actually back it up. With every new track randomly released on the interwebz, more and more screwfacing commences in the Twittersphere and blogosphere. Not to mention the really rappity-rap parts of his albums.
What I really do like about Drake is his (unfortunately) unorthodox honesty in his music. He really delves into strictly human feelings and thoughts about romantic relationships, success, public expectations and even parental relationships. Those types of expressions aren’t new by a long shot, but I think that him sort being on that millennial ‘cusp’ is what makes the perspective fresh, not to mention the fact he strives to stay as normal as he can. It’s weird, but I dig why he does it.
That part of him and his honesty are really what I appreciate about Aubrey the Drake, aside from his skill as a rapper. I think that’s what will take him even further than he’s come. Can’t ever go wrong with truth in music.
To start this challenge very late, I’m kicking things off with my main man fitty grand-I-ain’t-never-played-can-jam-with-the-fam Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti. A man otherwise known as Fela Kuti.
Many would consider this strictly African music but I’m using who he was and what he stood for as the first post for this #BlackMusicMonth series. You can find out more about that, here.
From what I’ve watched and learned about him, Fela was a man who was extremely serious about the betterment of Africans and people in general, and as such he was very much a political rebel in a corruption-infested country. Both of those characteristics materialized in his music, too. When you really pay attention, much of his lyrical content tried to open people’s eyes to the corrupt ways of the Nigerian government, and governments around the world. Sonically, his songs combined the best parts of jazz, funk, Ghanaian & Nigerian music, with a hint of Latin influence in the right places. Formally, this is known as Afrobeat.
Starting out, the sound was a risky mix, but he soldiered on to perfect it and make it authentic and beautiful and magical, and that’s what it became. That process also shows parallels with how he handled being a man of the people — not above but equal. There were many terribly rough patches and “run-ins” with the government of his home country, to put it almost obnoxiously lightly, but he fought and stayed true to what he believed in. He didn’t care who was going to fight him, he would and did fight back, and he was probably one of THE definitions of not giving a fuck — about the right things.