Greg Daugherty on Understanding self-awareness t… Libs on My Top Five Favorite MC… Kublakai Releases Hi… on VIDEOS Ian Wiggers on TOP 5 LISTS: Part 2 –… kubi206 on Noisemaker Fest 2012. A long t…
As promised, here is my paper on evolution, mushrooms and humanity. This paper took many forms – this one being the final one. Feel free to discuss it, share it or message me about it. To the people that may want to hate on it – ain’t nobody got time for that. I thank everyone who helped out on the survey, I am sorry I couldn’t have used more of it! Enjoy.
Understanding self-awareness through evolution
When I was seventeen, I ate psychedelic mushrooms four separate times. I was a glutton for understanding (I still am) and enjoyed the experience because it tapped into a world I never knew existed and opened my senses to something new. The final time I would take them that year, I had a bad trip – rooms became prison cells, stars morphed into faces that laughed sinister laughs, the ceilings had falling spider webs and the trees howled horrible howls. As I sobered up, returning from what had been a terrifying experience, I sat on my porch and felt different. I looked around my neighborhood and it all looked new in some way. It was the same place, of course, but it was different to me now. I was different – something in me had changed.
This new perception, this different feeling resonated to the core of my young being and flung me towards the idea that life as I knew it may no longer be what I thought it was. It reminded me of my freshman year, two years prior, in science class. I was awful at Science. I failed it and then failed biology, the following course, twice. Although I failed the classes, I did actually attend class and even though my teenage mind wandered, I picked up a few things. One fact, possibly the only fact, that stuck with me in those classes was that evolution is not the study of getting better, bigger, faster or stronger. That doesn’t mean these things don’t happen, it just means that the idea that
evolution inherently means bigger, better, faster, stronger is misleading. In Introduction to Physical Anthropology, it states, “evolution is an ongoing biological process with more than one outcome” (Jurmain et al 5). In other words, evolution is the study of change, not necessarily good, nor bad and with a multitude of different directions possible. “Simply stated,” it continues, “evolution is a change in the genetic makeup of a population from one generation to the next” (5). Meaning there is no end to evolution. A lineage can end – species go extinct – but the process of evolution will always continue.
At the time, I didn’t pour a great deal of significance into the statement; it just seemed like an interesting enough fact to be filed away for later consideration. And as I sat on that porch coming down from my fear-filled mushroom trip, it seemed that moment had arrived. I had changed, or I was changing, and I had no idea if it was for the better or for the worse but I wanted to make sense of it. Thinking back to my freshman science class, with this new perception, the definition of evolution not only gave me solace, it seemed to open my eyes to a life bigger than the one before my experience. I felt more awake, more aware of myself, and the life around me.
While my personal experience was profound, I never thought myself the lone transformed teen after a psychedelic mushroom trip. When I conducted a survey about evolution and asked, “Have you ever taken hallucinogenics – (magic) mushrooms, LSD, psilocybin, DMT, etc?” 38 percent responded, “Yes, it was amazing and changed my outlook on life” (Waller). Indeed, I am not alone! Now, of course not everyone’s life changes after they’ve done hallucinogenics, 10 percent said, “Yes, it was weird, I didn’t really feel anything, I didn’t see what the big deal was.” And finally, not everyone does hallucinogenics at all – 30 percent said, “No, never done it and don’t plan to” (Waller). Fair enough, but everyone goes through a transformation of thought at some point, regardless of the catalyst. Maybe it was moving out of your parent’s house for the first time or getting dumped by your true love, or finding your true love or just good ol’ organically grown existential-angst. In the same survey, I asked, “After a life-changing experience – near death, finding love, extreme (impactful) travel or other – did you feel that you had been changed on a physical and/or mental level, forever?” This time fifty percent of people replied yes. (Waller).
This new outlook wasn’t necessarily like believing my whole life that the sky was red and realizing it was blue. It was more like seeing the blue-sky overhead, stopping, and for the first time thinking to myself, “why is the sky blue?” Ram Dass, a Harvard professor turned LSD advocate turned Yogi, calls what I experienced “turning on”(Dass 6). In other words, becoming aware of the fact that I am aware and that there may be some sort of significance in that.
At the heart of my revelation was a cacophony of questions that flurried about my brain at a steadily increasing rate. A constant wondering of how things work and why things, including we as humans, are the way we are. Dass speaks of a similar experience in his memoir, Be Here Now, “I was in the same predicament. I was aware that I didn’t know enough to maintain this state of consciousness and nobody around me seemed to know either. I checked with everyone I thought might know and nobody seemed to know” (13). In short, he had turned-on and upon coming down, he wanted answers. Like Dass, I felt I needed some sort of resolution.
Ram Dass would go to India in search of answers, I however, thought it only seemed fitting that I look for clues to my wonderment where this had all began – in the field of evolution. So, when I was told of a book called Food of the Gods in which a hypothesis is put forth that the link between self-aware humans and our non-aware primate cousins is psychedelic mushrooms – I pounced. American philosopher and ethnobotanist Terrence McKenna boldly asserts, “My contention is that mutation-causing, psychoactive chemical compounds in the early hominen diet influenced the rapid reorganization of the brains information processing capacities” (McKenna 24). He is postulating that not only do mushrooms have an effect on a persons life experience but also that the chemical that causes hallucinations is the gap between non-aware primates and early self-aware hominen populations. As a person who has had positive and life-altering experiences with psychoactive drugs, McKenna’s hypothesis charms the egotistical side of me that wants to say, “I have done this and thus, I am more evolved!” However, it is not so simple. The evolutionary school of thought is still growing and scholars like Rick Potts have other ideas.
Dr. Potts believes that our human nature comes from our ancestors surviving Mother Nature. Potts uses geology to make sense of early hominen brain growth over the course of evolutionary history. From about “six until two million years ago”, our primate relatives’ brains grew a tiny fraction, if at all. Then suddenly, from “two million years ago up until 200 thousand years ago” there was extreme brain growth like never before (Human Origins). Dr. Potts claims that rapid bursts of climate change in Southeast Africa where the environment went through massive fluctuations of “climate instability” were the impetus for said brain growth (“First Steps”). Think of Mother Nature in this time period as having a severe personality disorder like bi-polar. She went from varying degrees of fury to relative contentment over and over and over again. The weather, and thus, the geography of the region were unpredictable. It went from wet lake-lands with forests to dry savannah plains and desert, back to wet lake-lands with forest, to volcanically active, back to wet, lake-lands and so on and so forth at a rate like never before. It must have been excruciating to navigate these conditions for the inhabitants of the region. Only the rapidly adaptable and most intelligent would survive.
This is the perfect example of Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection theory in action, the idea that as he puts it is the, “preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I have called Natural Selection or the ‘survival of the fittest’” (Darwin 94). Meaning, the best suited and most adaptable to the environment will live and spread. The less suited and less adaptable will most likely die off. In this scenario, brain growth and the intelligence that follows is the favorable variation Darwin speaks of. However, he never thought this process would be a speedy one and Dr. Potts is hypothesizing that while Darwin’s theory is spot on, it happened at an evolutionary hyperactive pace. These primates would have to out think, out hunt, out swim, out climb and simply out live any other species in that region in only a few generations (possibly even ONE generation?) time. They would not only have to adapt, but adapt very, very quickly, and only the smartest individuals with the most adaptable brains would see it through to spawn a new generation.
The competitive nature of this can’t be overlooked. It is no coincidence that Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” term resonates with us when speaking of evolution. So it stands to reason that competition was the catalyst for transforming humans into self-aware beings. The thought only extends so far though. Edward O. Wilson of The New York Times writes in The Riddle of the Human Species, “The existence of competition and conflict… has been a hallmark of societies as far back as archaeological evidence is able to offer. These and other traits we call human nature are so deeply resident in our emotions and habits of thought as to seem just part of some greater nature, like the air we all breathe, and the molecular machinery that drives all of life” (Wilson). Wilson’s point is that competition is embedded in everything we do as far back as we existed. Not just in humans, in everything. With that in mind, the thought that we humans are the only self-aware creatures on the planet because of our competitive nature seems unlikely. Wilson proposes an alternative idea: Eusociality.
Eusociality as he states it, is when “[the] group cooperatively rear the young across multiple generations… divide labor through the surrender by some members of at least some of their personal reproduction in a way that increases the “reproductive success” (lifetime reproduction) of other members” (Wilson). This theory speaks to our humanity, the antithesis of competition – raising offspring that isn’t our own genetics, sometimes even at detriment to the individual. Frans De Waal, a professor at Emory University studies altruism and empathy and had this to say in the abstract of his research, “…altruistic behavior evolved for the return-beneﬁts it bears the performer. For return-beneﬁts to play a motivational role, however, they need to be experienced by the organism” (De Waal). It is a complicated behavior that when done repetitiously, and in a group setting means some level of understanding must be had. Why make a sacrifice unless you know it is good for you? His answer is empathy, “With increasing cognition, state-matching evolved into more complex forms, including concern for the other and perspective-taking. Empathy-induced altruism derives its strength from the emotional stake it offers the self in the other’s welfare” (De Waal). In short, as we began to be aware of ourselves, we understood the necessity and advantage of group welfare.
Complex interpersonal relationships in a group dynamic or “eusocial environment” is a supposed evolutionary pressure that creates rapid change in the brain. It makes sense. If you are living alone with your one or two children, only caring for their needs, there are a limited amount of things you need to express and/or communicate to them. But what if you are living in a eusocial community with multiple families and individuals that have constant needs and things that demand complicated expression? Richard Dawkins explains it beautifully; “brains were naturally selected to increase in capacity and power for utilitarian reasons, until those higher faculties of intellect and spirit emerged as a by-product, and blossomed in the cultural environment provided by group living and language” (Dawkins 402). Simply put, the necessity for communication and expression becomes greater in a group setting. Thus, a eusocial setting would create human awareness.
As individuals began to realize their own self-awareness, you have to wonder what they would do with this new perspective? Well, many believe that it is quite obvious; they would begin to make art. Martin Meredith explains in his work, Born in Africa, “[There were] engravings and sculptures of animals and humans and painted the walls of subterranean caves with vivid images of deer, horses, mammoths, wild cattle and other contemporary beasts” (Meredith 176). They began to express themselves. No longer living simply to survive but living to also articulate thought through art. Meredith continues, “All this was taken as evidence of ‘human evolution’, a flowering of consciousness which marked the emergence of human beings” (176). The assumption being that with awareness comes expression. That seems valid but still, I can’t help but think of the question, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” I wonder if it was the art that came before the awareness or the awareness that sparked the art.
All of these theories seem to strike a chord of truth with me, at least a little, so the question must be asked, why can’t all of these be true? It may have been the first time a half-human, half hominen ate a psychedelic mushrooms in the African plains. It may have been as an early hominen struggled mightily to save herself and her young and inspiration struck or it may have been an accumulation of moments between a group of individuals struggling to create the direction of a new group dynamic. We may never know.
Trying to reconcile human consciousness with science is a unique dilemma that we are far from understanding. Consciousness, an abstract idea seems counter-intuitive to the rigid rules of science but I think that’s why I find it so fascinating. Using logic to account for the illogical. I like science and I like existentialism but they don’t necessarily mix well. Rupert Sheldrake, on the other hand, believes they do indeed mix well but thatthe scientific community places too many unwritten restrictions on what can and can’t be investigated and that there are assumptions made that simply aren’t necessarily so. “[The assumption is] Matter is unconscious… atoms, electrons, solar systems, galaxies – it’s all unconscious” (To the best of our knowledge). Meaning, an automated universe, as science supposes, is incapable of consciousness. In essence saying, if we humans are composed of matter, and science presumes matter is unconscious, then, we must not be conscious. Sheldrake continues on the rigid presumptions of the science community, “nature is mechanical, the universe is a machine, animals and plants are machines, the human body is a machine.” This is stating that because the nature of science is so rigid, we are in a nutshell, as Sheldrake quoted Richard Dawkins, “all lumbering robots”(To the best of our knowledge). I don’t know if I agree with that and like Sheldrake, I hope that the world of science and the science of consciousness collide soon.
I will let Darwin, the original co-inspirer of my life changing thought processes speak for my feelings on the subject. “Let it be borne in mind how infinitely complex and close-fitting are the mutual relations of all organic beings to each other and to their physical conditions of life (Darwin 93).” Darwin is poetically stating that there is a vast grandeur to all things of genetic make that are inextricably linked through being alive. Or as Lauryn Hill sang in one of my favorite songs, “everything is everything” (Hill) and even more simply, as Muhammad Ali elegantly put it, “Me, We.” (When). We are an amalgamation of events that led us to now. The moment in a person’s life when they look up at the sky and think, “I wonder why the sky is blue?” is an evolution of all earthly history. It may sound like a hippy proverb but I feel like any evolutionary biologist would agree with that. Most likely, we will never know the exact moment that the human light of self-awareness first flickered on – and that’s okay. It’s okay to not know, but digging for the answers is at the root of being human… Right?
Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species. New York: PF Collier & Son, 1909. Print.
Dass, Ram. Be Here Now. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 1978. Print.
Dawkins, Richard. The Greatest Show on Earth. Great Britain: Free Press, 2009. Print.
De Waal, Frans. “Putting the altruism back into altruism: The evolution of empathy.” The Annual Review Psychology. 5 June 2007. Abstract. Web. http://www.life.umd.edu/faculty/wilkinson/BIOL608W/deWaalAnnRevPsych2008.pdf
“First Steps.” Becoming human. Narr. Lance Lewman. PBS. 31 August 2011.
Hill, Lauryn. Everything is Everything. “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Columbia Records, 1998.
Human Origins. Smithsonian: National Museum of National History. Web. 11 April. 2013. http://humanorigins.si.edu/human-characteristics/brains
Jurmain, Robert, et al. Introduction to Physical Anthropology. Cengage Learning, edition 13, 2011. Print.
Mckenna, Terrence. Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge. New York: Bantam Books, 1992. Print.
Meredith, Martin. Born in Africa. Great Britain: Simon & Schuster, 2012. Print.
To the best of our knowledge. “Rupert Sheldrake on Set science free”. National Public Radio. KUOW, Seattle. 21 April. 2013. Radio.
Waller, Ian. “Evolution, Humanity and Hallucinogens Survey.” Surveymonkey.org. 2013. Web. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/L5SSFTD
When We Were Kings. Dir. Leon Gast. Perf. Muhammed Ali, George Foreman and George Plimpton. Polygram, 1997. DVD.
Wilson, Edward O. “The Riddle of the human species.” New York Times. 24 February2013. Web. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/the-riddle-of-the-human-species/
Its only fair that after putting out a song and video for “Top 5″ and asking all of you to answer the question, that I, in-turn, answer it. First though, we must give some context and criteria of why I chose who I did. Its pretty simple though.
1. Catalog & Consistency – Does the artist have a decent-sized catalog that has held up over time? Never fell off or declined and has stayed relevant.
2. Influence – How has this artist contributed to the progression of the art-form? Have their been others after him/her that have tried to emulate their style?
3. Vocabulary & Rhymes – Obviously, this person needs to be able to rap words. Do this creatively using a vocabulary that extends further that lyrical/miracle and in a way that most before him/her hadn’t thought of before.
4. Character – Does this persons on wax character overshadow most others and does his/her character make you pay attention even if the rhymes don’t?
5. Personal Opinion – Obviously, this is an opinion list. Sometimes I/you just enjoy an artist because it speaks to us personally. This category is what makes the list so fun.
6. Mimicability – (Probably not a real word). I judge many MC’s on how easy it would be to come up with the rhymes they do and/or repeat there lines. If I feel I could probably do what they do, it detracts from how much I enjoy their music. This is obviously a category that only applies to other MC’s but I am one, so there it is.
ALRIGHT, LETS GO!
5. ANDRE 3000
I was always an outkast fan but when I heard his verse on “The Mighty O”, I spent the next few weeks finding every feature I could and re-studying every Outkast record realizing the depth of this MC. I doubt it will ever come but if he was to ever make a purely rap/hip-hop record. It would undoubtedly be one of the most anticipated and mind-blowing albums to ever be released.
Other required listening: “Royal Flush” with Raekwon & “What a Job” with Devin the Dude
When I first heard “My Name Is”, I hated it. I thought it was almost disrespectful to its audience how bad it was. But one day my friend and I were walking home from school and out of nowhere he started rapping, “when you see me on your block, with two glocks, screaming fuck the world like Tupac, I just don’t give a fuck!” I was like, “Did you write that!!??” He replied, “No, you know that dude taht does the ‘my name is’ song? Its his shit. His album is actually pretty amazing. The rest is history. In my opinion, No one has single-handedly changed the game like him since.
Just Don’t Give a Fuck - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T36ATobmi_w
Other required listening: “Role Models”, “Kill you” & “White America”
3. FRESH PRINCE
No matter how you slice it, The Fresh Prince had an enormous impact on rap music. Once he started rapping as Will Smith and having ghostwriters, I can no longer defend him but I know for me personally, he is the reason I ever tried rapping in the first place. I was majorly influenced by him and still look up to Will Smith as a person. He’s the DJ and I’m the rapper was one of the first CD’s I listened to over and over and over. And as a story-teller, even if you want to call it simple it was just as his namesake, “Fresh”….
Brand New Funk - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_W7NE1sG4g
Other required listening: “Nightmare on my street”, “I think I could beat Mike Tyson” & “Summertime”
I think many people overlook Ice-T because he is more well known for his acting, his over the top bravado and gangster persona but as an MC, he was far ahead of his time. While cats were still rhyming in that stop and start fashion, Ice, similar to Rakim was rhyming in that fluid flow that not many else were and is now common place. Not to mention he was saying things (he still is- his “I have guns so I can kill police when the come in my house” quote is important to the police state conversation we need to be having in America right now!) that were necessary and opposite to the status quo. And I personally think “OG Original Gangster may be one of the, if not the best Rap/Hip Hop album of all time.
New Jack Hustler - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yMaxHNNMp4
Other required listening: “Cop Killer”, “OG original gangster” & “Girls LGBWAF”
1. AESOP ROCK
Like many, I didn’t understand Aesop Rock upon first listen. And, like many, upon first listen it sounded like jibberish. But a friend and die-hard fan made me listen to “No Regrets” and I thought it was fantastic. After hearing this song, I decided to give Ace Rizzle a second shot, and proceeded to buy all 5 of his CD’s(Float/Labor Days/Daylight/FCDF&K and I even managed to find a copy of Appleseed) and listened to nothing else for the entirety of 2007. To this day, I have a hard time understanding much of what he is saying first time hearing a song but because his cadences are so fluid, they almost sound like another instrument and when you finally do understand what he is talking about, it’s that much more gratifying. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that he is not for everyone but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying every single one of his works and learning from him.
5 fingers - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gLH1ErYx8I
Other required listening: “9 to 5ers Anthem”, “Fast Cars”, “None Shall Pass”, “Bazooka Tooth” & “The Harbor is Yours”
THERE IT IS! Remember to always keep the conversation going. Hip hop is alive and well.
Honorable mention: Slick Rick, Ludacris, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Biggie, Scarface, Method Man, Xzibit, Rakim, Nas
NOW WATCH MY VIDEO AGAIN! =)
INTRO: Back again! Part 2 of the sweeping epic series that is the Kublakai Top 5 lists. REJOICE! Today I want to discuss characters. I love TV, I love movies and I love books, in essence I just love stories. I feel like when you talk about stories people kind of gloss over the plot line and then usually say something like, “The end is crazy” or “It was really funny” or “The special effects were unbelievable!”. In the end though, no story works if the characters suck – period. And sometimes a story can be mediocre if a character is strong and engaging. This was a really hard list to compile and narrow down but the more I delved into this, the more I enjoyed it. It sent me in search of older movies and shows that I love which was its own reward. Okay, Lets do this!
5. RIPLEY If there is a better alien, sci-fi, movie series than Aliens – show me. Then, I’ll tell you you’re wrong. These movies scared the living sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeit out of me when I was a kid. Not-to-mention everyone else in the world and then won some awards to boot. They may have not been the first to implement the idea of monsters in space, but they re-invented it. Smart, fast paced, witty, terrifying and brilliant. And behind all that, tying it together is Ripley. She’s smart, she talks shit as well as any of the boys, can handle a machine gun as well as any piece of technology on a spaceship and balances her femininity while still managing to be as tough as nails. The real power of this character is that it kind of exposes the sexism in movies (not like it’s a secret) because she is a woman lead in an action film when that just wasn’t done. And, instead of her being a women in an action lead, she was just the lead. Guys didn’t walk away from the film and go, “That chick fucked shit up!” (I mean they probably did but…..). They walked away and said “RIPLEY fucked shit up!” (It probably helped that she kind of had a great name. If Ripley was a man, please believe there would be 10 rappers with said name.) For maybe the first time in cinema, a female lead was blowing some shit up and it wasn’t just a novelty. Not just a sexpot in black leather, killing monsters while still giving teenagers a chubby. (YES, that was a Underworld diss- they all suck almost as much as the Resident Evil movies.) She was everything a male action lead was, just as good, just as smart, just as bad-ass – period. Of course, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some sexual stuff in the films. Upon re-watching, shortly into the first film there is quite the crotch shot while Ripley is undressed as well as some suggestive moaning (See: every female in pain scene, ever. I won’t go into detail – ask your college film teacher.) PLUS, social-commentary aside, Sigourney Weaver was made for this role and worked it to a T. Now she is a sci-fi GOD with cameo’s in so many roles I lost count (most recent: Cabin in the woods… Go see it, it’s amazing… and Paul. Ya know, that alien flick with Seth Rogan). Her only real competition ever is Sarah Conner from the Terminator films but it’s only fleeting. She can’t compete.
In the end, she is complex, she is smart, she is tough and she is what ties this fantastic series of films together. Even people that weren’t fans of horror or sci-fi enjoyed these movies and Ripley is the reason. If you haven’t seen them, they are required viewing for any film connoisseur and if you have, watch them again.
4. JULES & VINCENT
This pair of gangsters and the infamous Royale with Cheese scene changed how we view cinema. There would be no Boondock Saints, there would be no Snatch, there would be no Sin City, there would be no Requiem for a Dream. This movie, this scene and specifically these characters changed the way we look at film. Dialogue and character could no longer be overlooked because you have big explosions (I’m talking to you Michael Bay, YOU FUCK!). When this film came out, I had several friends that memorized the bible verse from the scene. For those of you that havent seen it, to teach a lesson of what happens when you fuck with Marcellus Wallace’s money, they kill Bret, the poor, white college kid who hadn’t paid what he owed. Jules, Played by Samuel L. Jackson, rattles off what is now, the infamous, “I shall strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furrrrrious anger….” We all know how it goes. And it was amazing.
Say what again! DO THEY SPEAK ENGLISH IN WHAT?!?
For me, the greatness of these Jules and Vincent is that it revealed more subtly what is true in real life. We are not one emotion. This includes bad guys. Villains don’t just sit around and discuss villainry (Unsure if this is a real word but I like it so I’m rolling with it). Just because these guys were about to perform a hit, they were discussing a fucking Big Mac in the Netherlands as opposed to the States. It’s funny because they are obviously sociopaths but the discussion is actually interesting and so is there personalities. Jules with his sheeny afro and Vincent with his strange mullet-esque slicked back greasy hair. Both in 70′s black and white business suits, the ones with the skinny ties long before madmen was on and made it popular again. It’s ridiculous and captivating at the same time. Then, just as you become use to it, you see them in a diner in strange t-shirts and floral swimsuits discussing philosophy, Jules looks seriously across the table. “Like cain in Kung-fu, I am just going to walk the earth.” Vincent looks confusedly back, “You’re gonna be a bum, Jules, a fucking bum.”
A five dollar milkshake. That’s milk and ice cream….. and that’s five dollars?
Call Tarentino what you want, an egocentric asshole, closeted racist (I’m with Spike Lee on the N-bomb usage in this movie. Not Ok), weirdo, chin-face (that was a CHIN joke, nothing more!) but he created two of THEE most memorable characters of all time, if the last 20 years. They were, funny, interesting, deep, entertaining, unbelievably quotable and iconic in ushering in a new era in characters for the 90′s and beyond.
3. TYLER DURDEN
YOU ARE NOT YOUR FUCKING KHAKIS.
I am Jacks raging formula movie. I hate myself but make millions off of stupid, lazy, stoned teenagers who only want to see shiny things with swords make stereotypical, pseudo-racist remarks (I’m looking at you Michael Bay, YOU FUCK!). I am David Fincher. I take bloated budget, make movie of substance from Chuck Pahlahiuk’s genius, brainchild book of the same name and create one of the best films of the last 20 years. I am film executive who lost his ass because film was too good too pitch in ‘high concept’ form and lost millions. I am bored-of-same-old-same-old-movie-goer. I am laughter.
I am reader of blog that has no idea why Kubi is writing in this style. I am unconcerned Kubi.
Go watch Fight Club.
There most likely is not another movie that I have seen as many times as Army of Darkness. I truly believe Bruce Campbell was born only to play this role. Only recently, when I saw Cabin in the Woods was there a film that even remotely rivaled the ridiculous/amazing caliber in which Army of Darkness reigns supreme. This movie is the only reason I don’t start a petition to have Sam Raimi dismembered for Spider-Man 3 (His new Oz movie better be good!). As I tell everyone that hasn’t seen it, it is the best purposefully B-movie of all time. And it is only possible because of Campbell’s portrayal of Ash, an Elvis-esque looking clerk at S-mart, “shop smart, shop S-mart!”, who takes a camping trip with his girlfriend to a …….cabin in the woods…… and through the discovery of a weird, demonic book, The Necronomicon, the trip takes a turn for the un-dead and ultra weird. Girlfriend dies, Ash is transported to 16th century wherever and the rest is cult classic history. He belts unbelievable one-liners that no one else in this world would dare and somehow makes them charming, “First you wanna kill me, now you wanna kiss me…. *spits out grape seed*….. BLOW.” or “Gimme some sugar baby.” The low-budget effects (brilliantly low budget mind you) and completely ridiculous storyline may add to the beautifully wonky (I am obviously running out of adjectives) Ash but it doesn’t take away from his genius. Campbell owns this character and even after reading his biography and hearing his irritation with people that come up to him expecting him to be exactly as he is in these movies, I think I would find it hard not to do the same thing. Ash is Bruce Campbell, Bruce Campbell is Ash. Ash is basically the dream of every nerdy kid who has come of age, become a real adult but doesn’t want to fully be an adult yet. Or maybe it’s just mine but it’s my list so he gets the number 2 spot. Either way, once you’ve seen these movies, it’s hard to forget him and not chuckle every time he pulls himself from the deep well with his chainsaw/hand after killing the witch/demon below (yeah, it’s that kinda flick), showing the in-awe crowd his shotgun and yelling, “This is my BOOMstick!!” Just watch:
If you want to see what real creativity, imagination, passion and a belief in fun (not like you Michael Bay, YOU FUCK!), ridiculousness and ultra strange gore in film making looks like, watch this movie. Evil Dead 1 & 2 are the pre-story to Army of Darkness and are definitely worth your time. I’ve re-watched them many times and while they aren’t required viewing to enjoy AOD, they are recommended.
1. THE JOKER
If you disagree with my number one pick, we probably can’t be friends anymore or ever. I’m sorry about that. Please leave…………………… I’m kidding!!! only kidding………………………..Kind of.
The character of the Joker feeds that insane part of everyone’s brain that looks at life and even when everything is great, fantastic and beautiful, you have that tickle in the back of your mind that still says, “lets fuck some shit up.” The Joker is fully committed to crazy and we all appreciate it because I think we want that…. but can’t. Life doesn’t work that way. So we watch The Dark Knight and Batman and all the episodes of The Animated Series with Joker in them repeatedly to get our fill. The fascination, to me, of the Joker is that he is not unaware of his crazy, he bathes in it and makes it sexy. Most villains are stupidly obtuse or are not villains of their own freewill. They drank something that made them too angry, Someone else, even more sinister is REALLY pulling the strings or they are just trying to avenge their family, wife, world, etc… The Joker has no ulterior motives, he’s just deranged and psycho, he thinks it’s funny and that’s good enough for him. The joker’s laugh doesn’t come from jokes, they come from the insanity of a world that is not what it seems…. Under control. Really, that’s the big joke to his character. It’s also why in The Dark Knight, they honed in on that idea and we all clung to it and enveloped it so wholly. I should say, I am not putting Heath Ledger’s Joker at Number one, although it is, in my opinion, the best joker depiction thus far. I love Nicholson’s Joker. I may even love the animated joker more than both (voiced by Mark Hamill, yes, Luke Skywalker Mark Hamill.)
I am saying that the character of The Joker is the best character the fiction world has ever created. Because really, we love him not because he’s fun and wily and *sarcastic teenage voice* “he tells jokes while being bad!” but because he is the villain we kind of think we are. Anyone who says they’ve never had an impure thought is probably a Sandusky in waiting. (YEAH, SHIT JUST GOT REAL SON!) It may sound far fetched but there are plenty of heroes that we root for but The Joker, in my opinion is the closest manifestation of the little devil on the shoulder telling you to make mayhem for the pure idea of it and we like it. No matter which Batman medium you are being entertained by, be it comic, movie, cartoon, TV show, when Joker is on the screen, you pay attention. I would even venture that you root for him, because his crazy is something you relate too. The insanity of a world that we kind of have control over…… but not really. It’s nervously funny, so we laugh…..hahaha… funny… hehe… *awkwardly walks away*
Was that too deep for a blog post about fictional story characters? Maybe a little. (why so serious?) Ask my girlfriend about how long I can go into the depth of the Dark Knight movies…. #NERD.
BUT fun fact time – I have long been a Joker fanatic. My first rap name: The Joker (I was twelve, don’t judge!). If you ever wondered why I so frequently use the color purple in all my promo, banners and the like, well now you know. I mean just look at the banner for this blog, joker is in there. And if you are friends with me, it comes as no surprise, as my humor is far darker than most. I try and stay lighthearted but I don’t hesitate to laugh when things get ugly. That’s what the Joker would do.
OUTRO: THATS IT! NOW, LETS ARGUE ABOUT IT! Below is the honorable mention list. There are more that I am sure I forgot. The TV show list didn’t have Sons Of Anarchy on it. That was a huge miss.
WHATS YOUR TOP 5?
KGB from ROUNDERS (Movie) Omar from The Wire (TV) Archer from Archer (TV) Joey from Friends (TV) Jack from The Shining (Movie) Patrick Bateman from American Psycho (Book & Movie) Daniel Plainview from There will be blood (Movie) Al Bundy from Married with Children (TV) Keyser Soze from The Usual Suspects (Movie)
Over the past 4 years, I have been lucky enough to tour the western United States multiple times. Sharing stages with some of my idols like Louis Logic, JFK of Grayskul & One Be Lo of Binary Star. On these tours, I also shared stages with a variety of other hip hop acts, big draw, small draw, big talent and no-talent alike. Two things became strikingly obvious to me over the course of my travels.
First: there is an absolute over-saturation of hip-hop going on. This statement should be no surprise to anyone who even feigns interest when it comes to the hip hop world these days. The instant communication via the internet has opened the flood gates to anyone with a radio shack mic, a PC and a Youtube ID to create and share their hip hop “art”. But seeing it first-hand, time and time again really began to hammer this point home. Lucky for us, the crème-de-la-crème does usually rise to the top even when there is a 500 to 1 ratio of awful-to-good. Thankfully and to my second observation, within this group of hip-hop over-saturation, there is a small circle of people that really make the independent world tick. Without them, good or bad, this world would not exist. Some of them are just promoters and club owners looking to make money off the situation. Which is fine, money makes the world go round, right? I understand and actually think it’s necessary. Others are just fans hungry to see their favorite artists in their respective hometowns but the majority are the artists themselves. Hungry to be heard and hungry to connect with other like-minded, hardworking, touring hip hop artists. The 1 out of 500 that is not only good at his/her art, but making a name for himself, making a little money, cross promoting with others and adding his time and effort to this small niche that is slowly-growing and ever-evolving. I call these people the NOISEMAKERS.
They are the workhorses. They are the glue. They are the ones that, like them or not, good or bad, after a while even if you wanted to ignore, you can’t help but take notice. They are the tie that binds this small group of networking, touring artists together.
In Seattle, I have found that, purposefully or not, we kind of aren’t a part of this community. I believe it has less to do with any exclusivity but rather the fact that we, Portland as well, are kind of enclosed in a sort-of Northwest bubble. The next true metropolis is, (don’t get mad Rose City, still love you) San Francisco, a 12-hour drive south. That creates a sense of independence that has helped us thrive creatively and has given birth to a-many unique voice all of our own but that kind of distance isn’t something easy to traverse and makes a touring, poor, indie-artist hesitate…. And they should. Times are hard, man, its just the truth.
The opposite is true as well. If you touring and you are in Boise, Id and you can head up to Montana in four hours, or over to Salt Lake in three and change or down to Reno in five, all of which are closer to other major metropolitan cities or make the trek to Seattle which will probably be a great show but is a nine or ten hour drive and is close to nothing except border patrol……? A touring artist from Colorado, California, Arizona or anywhere really, will probably tend to skip it unless they know it’s going to be a real money maker for them. And if you’re truly indie, the unfortunate truth is that there really is no real money maker on tour. There is only “enough for gas” and with that 9 hour drive vs. that 5 hour drive thought in their head, to Reno they go.
With all this in mind, I decided, I wanted to do something. Try and create the beginnings of a bridge to make that 9 hour drive worth it. I wanted to take a small break from touring to focus on putting a show together here in Seattle that would expose the artists I’ve met on the road with the people that I think are making some real noise here in Seattle, and vice versa. Not only the talented local hip hop acts(Myself, Gran Rapids & Notion) or the fantastic acts that I’ve met on the road (The Chicharones (PDX), Raashan Ahmad (Oakland) Oso Negro (Boise/Ontario) and Burnell Washburn (SLC), but the local business that makes my shirts (Choke Shirt Company), the talented Video director that I make music videos with (Mike Folden Productions), the venue that I most enjoy performing at (Nectar Lounge), The local blog I read most often (WeOutHereMagazine.Net), the group that I work with to make my moves smoothly (#TEAMKUBI) and a local Non-profit that’s supportive of my music as well as is just at the beginning of something long reaching and close to my heart (Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation).
Six hip hop acts, burgeoning in their respectively locales, from around the Western United States partnered with some of the up and coming local businesses carving out a name for themselves, doing quality work. The Noisemakers.
LIVE PERFORMANCES BY
& Burnell Washburn
Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation
Mike Folden Productions
We Out Here Magazine
Saturday, September 8th, 2012
I sincerely hope you make it. I am planning something special for this one and have hope that it will be the first of many to come. Lets make some noise.
$8.00 advanced. $10.00 at the door.
Advanced tickets available through Ticket Web:
Intro: In anticipation for what I hope to be the 4th video release off of The Basics 2, I have decided to create a bevy of lists. What kind of lists, you ask? Top 5 lists OF COURSE! I mean, its only natural really…. When not rapping, writing rapz or emailing people about rap-rap related ish, I spend my time, a good portion of it anyway, watching movies and TV shows. Only, the problem is, that my personality sometimes has a hard time allowing me to do this without feeding me guilt via my subconscious. So, if I write about it in the ‘ol blog which has some link to my #raplife, I can askew the guilt by tricking my brain into thinking it has something to do with my business! I WIN!
Alright, lets do this.
5. FRINGE JJ Abrams, I finally forgive you for LOST (Not really, but I just pretend the network fucked you over). Fringe is like the X-files part deux (is this a real word?), revamped for a more tech-savvy and sarcastic generation (Insert Pacey aka Charlie from Mighty Ducks here). They keep it a little bit lighter than the X-Files dark tendencies and they threw in the whole Matrix-esque, mind-fuck of “what if this Universe isn’t really real?!?” thing. Its old hat but if you have never done acid, it really does the trick. If you have done acid, then its fun because you go, “remember when we did acid? THAT SHIT WAS CRAZY!” The crazy, super-genius dad in the show is my favorite. He is actually charming for the most part with his little quirks and usually steals the show. The lead blond actress isn’t my favorite but I spend most of her on-screen time trying to figure out if I think she is hot or not so she gets the pass just for distracting me. I am leaning toward not, at present, but I just can’t say for certain.
In the end, its just a fun show and although it lulls at places, it keeps me intrigued with some complex but followable subplots and charming even if cheeky characters. The reality of its genius and what keeps me hooked is what Abrams does best. He put in the forefront of the plot that which we want to know more about but know nothing about really – quantum physics, telekinesis, mufti-dimensional travel and of course government conspiracy. I’m a sci-fi nerd – this shit does it for me.
4. DEXTER Fun fact: DID YOU KNOW that Deb and Dexter who play brother and sister on the show are actually husband and wife? It’s true, Google it yo. Okay, so this show is the shit – if you ain’t hip and you’re not a Mormon or something – stop sleepin’. In TV and film, no matter how much of it is RIDICULOUS, the plot has to make you believe it could happen. That’s the fun – TV is just like drugs, I wanna escape, if you bring me back to reality, I’m rehabbing off your drug and looking for a new one. And Dexter is THEE craziest because I think MOST (see what I did there) people do not want to be a serial killer but somehow in Dexter, you’ll be watching it going, “I hope Dex stabs the shit out of this fucker and drops em off his boat!” Don’t lie, you thought that too. BUT man, the season with Jimmy Smits was a big bag of buzzkill. I almost gave up on it and became a hater a-la weeds (fuck that show) but then…….. JOHN LITHGOW. Not only was this the baddest mutherfucker on the planet but that season of Dexter was probably my favorite season of television ever. And the end of season *SPOILER* with the bathub…. and the baby….. and the wife and the yaaaa know…DDDAAAAMMMM!! THAT SHIT CRAY!
In the end, Dexter allows you to feel good about your bad side. I give it some leeway because it has to be an incredibly difficult show to write but if you want to see how fun bad can be, just watch the first 3 seasons and pretend the next never happened. This gets the number 4 spot on my list because of Season 3 and John Lithgow.
3. SIX FEET UNDER This is without a doubt, the best TV show that I have ever seen. Now, you might wonder if I say that, why is it number 3? Well, it’s the best writing, best acted, funniest, most touching but its not my favorite. Let me clarify with a rap metaphor. Ice-T and/or Aesop Rock is/are my favorite rappers but does that mean they are the best? No, they are just my favorite. I guess I could argue that they are the best but we would probably just argue in circles forever. There is no arguing that this show is the best. Six Feet Under deals with great honesty, care and comic genius the topic of death. It follows a family who owns a funeral home in Southern California after the Father of the family dies in an unexpected car crash. This scene and the entire show is extremely harsh and intense but somehow they masterfully tow the line between comedy and tragedy. As is good writing, right? In storytelling, the great dilemma is finding a way for your audience to relate to your themes and topics. Well, death is the greatest common denominator and it may have been easy to get away with some easily relatable subject matter: fear, acceptance, etc. of death but they never pulled punches and crafted some very real story and genuine characters. I watched this show at a marathon pace in which I have never watched any show before and when it ended, I cried like a little girl with a skinned knee. REAL TEARS, REAL GROWN MAN TEARS…. I’m a pisces, I’m sensitive – don’t you fucking judge me! You watch it, you’ll cry too God dammit!
Seriously though, this show is profound TV craftsmanship. It’s definitely not for everyone as its quirky and weird and very relationship oriented but for any TV show connoisseur, this is a must. And I didn’t actually cry, I just said that because, ya know, for dramatic effect and stuff, I was totally just kidding. Totally kidding. Don’t tell anyone I cried because I’ll just say it was a joke…. Seriously, haha. =/
2. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA I love science fiction. I love science fiction. I FUCKING LOVE SCIENCE FICTION. I believe humans are far more capable of things than we give ourselves credit for. I believe that if you put something unbelievable out in the ether, it can be realized through the power of human ingenuity and imagination. So for me, the genre of science fiction is a breeding ground for science non-fiction, unrealized… at least, in my wildly-fantastical, crazy brain. The problem with science fiction is that for the most part, it is cheesy as FUCK! Battlestar Gallactica took out the cheese and finally gave it some panache. It also did the whole apocalypse-porn thing before it was cool too. I know that’s wack to say (I knew about *blah blah* before it was cool to!……. SHUT UP!) BUT it did! ……It did though. Seriously guys………. Ok, so if you don’t know, BSG is about a planet, like ours, with a people, like ours, that created a population of robots that turned on them and started a war. They disappear from the planet and return only to blow the whole planet up. AND NOW, they look like us- ONLY WAY HOTTER! (Well, the ladies at least *quagmire voice* alllrrrright). The only ones to survive are a few thousand people and one military ship, yep you guessed it, the Battlestar Galactica. So now, they have to fight the robots (called cylons) and find a new planet (Earth) to call home. No spoilers, they tell you all that in the opening credits. Seriously, in every episode they tell you all that. This show also played with and discussed, without discussing, a myriad of topics that are not ok to talk about in mainstream TV and cinema without it sounding like an episode of Oprah – Interracial couples, racism, sexism, ageism, adoption, oppression, genocide, religion. In essence, this show has massive depth without shoving it down your throat and blows some shit up just so you know its still an action show. The untold secret in sci-fi is there is no rules. So you can put more than one brown-skinned person in the cast and people’s brain’s won’t cramp until shutting down – IMAGINE THAT SHIT! BSG takes advantage of this fact and never even winks knowingly. It just does it because it’s good storytelling. For example, the main love story of the show is between a white, 50-something, woman-president dying of cancer and a Hispanic, pockmark-faced, slightly alcoholic, crotchety Colonel and I, a mid-twnties rapper ate that shit up. It was just well done.
In the end, this show has it all: sex, violence, philosophy, relationships, fantasy, religion, revolution, internal struggle, the age old search for more. and its just fun too. You can be a casual TV watcher and like it or a huge sci-fi nerd and like it or neither and you will probably still like it. It’s just one of those shows that works.
1. ARCHER Ok, so after, all the crying (KIDDING!) and metaphysical plight and depth and shit ( when you say “and shit” it lightens the mood after saying something serious in the rap world. Try it. It works.) What do I really enjoy the most? Crass, immature, slightly-offensive, mock-espionage, animated debauchery? YES. I haven’t laughed this hard watching anything ever. I don’t even know how to explain this show – If you watch this show, then you already know. If you don’t watch this show – please watch the following clips and your life should forever be changed.
I could post clips forever. There is not one episode that isn’t funny. I tend to be a slightly goofy person but I spend far too much time thinking about serious stuff that doesn’t matter that much and can make a person go crazy. This show is like my zen paradise to remind me to lighten up. I forget everything and just laugh because its so out of control. And for that, it gets the number 1 spot.
Outro: NOW, let the debate begin. As in my song, the whole point is to start the dialogue. I’m curious to hear about your favorite shows and maybe discover some new ones. I actually thought about this list pretty long and just for the sake of debate I’m going to throw in the honorable mention below.
Honorable Mention: The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Family Guy, Game Of Thrones, Anthony Bourdain: No reservations, Daily Show, Colbert Report, Boardwalk Empire, Chappelles Show.
Next Up: Top 5 MOVIES!
One of my favorite things in the world about doing this rap thing is as I progress I’ve gotten to meet some of the people that I admire most. Sometimes you get to do a show with ‘em, maybe even a song…. But when you meet people that you knew only through music and were fans of and then begin a friendship that becomes something better. That is what it’s all about. Because really, being an artist isn’t about gaining exposure and making the money, its about connecting with other like-minded artists that do what they love just as much as you do and you do the same thing. Money just allows you to continue doing it. Sounds simple and cliche and maybe even a little childish, but if you are being honest- you probably agree.
This tour marks a big stepping stone for me because I knew of both of these artists before they knew me and I respected them and were enormous fans of their work before we ever spoke. So to be crafting a tour and going on this journey with them means a lot.
PEEP> GAME> (Continues below)
A brief history:
Around 2005, I began working on my first solo project, The Basics. I had become friends with this guy named Slouch through myspace who made some beats that I thought were pretty amazing. See Suave, Whisper Whisper and the entire Lights for the Dark Nights EP. As we began to work together on music, he was also working with this guy named Symmetry out of Rhode Island – Sym, in my opinion sounded like a white version of Black Thought from The Roots. But he could also sing! I was hooked, Slouch showed me a few of the songs they were working on which were mostly comedy songs, one about him being on a fantasy island, another about him being a cartoon but occasionally they would drift into the world of seriousness and his real talent would shine.
Long story short, My zeal for his talent inspired me to fly Symmetry out to Seattle for a show with myself, Macklemore and Grieves (Crazyness, I know). We got to hang out and do a show together. It was a brief but good visit. For him, it opened many doors – the big one being his album with Ryan Lewis which is a fantastic record and I feel blessed in having a hand in making that project possible. Over the years our communication has been spotty at best but we kept tabs on each other and one day as I was planning out this new tour I was listening to his album Dusty Pickup, which I consider one of the best hip hop records of the last 10 years, and realized that I want this guy to be a part of this. I called him up and his enthusiasm was palpable. On the edge of finishing his newest album, he told me he had refocused on music, as had I, and is more than excited to do his FIRST west coast tour. And I couldn’t be happier about providing him and the people of the west coast to see one of the hidden gems in underground hip hop – Symmetry.
JFK…. There aren’t really words to explain this guy. His flow is unlike anyone else in the game and he has a character to match – in and out of the booth, I was introduced to JFK way late. Although he has been a vet in the scene for some time now, one half of Grayskul, the legendary Seattle hip hop group that with Boom Bap Project, was the first Seattle group to get signed by Rhymesayers, I never knew who he was or took notice. That is until I heard Scarecrow, the first single off of there latest Rhymesayers release Bloody Radio. On that beat, he redefines flow. If you are an MC you will understand this – JFK is the type of MC that when you hear him rap, it inspires you to be better and makes you almost want to quit because you know you probably can’t ever be that dope. That’s how I felt after hearing his verse on Scarecrow – just ridiculously talented.
So when we (The Let Go) were able to do a song with him, I was all for it – see Stand My Ground off of our album Morning Comes. A few months after we did the song, JFK and I found ourselves drunkenly talking shit about our own verses on the song and complimenting the others. To this day, I have no idea if he was being serious or not but the exchange made me feel foolish enough to attempt the offer of asking him to tour with me. He was down and here we are.
I can’t tell you how excited I am. For myself and for you guys, If I was just a fan and not part of this show, I would not miss this line-up and if I’m not on stage, you can bet I will be front row watching these two perform every night.
JFK, Kublakai, Symmetry – West Coast Spring Tour – Break the Leg.