Elizabeth & Meagan are still Unstoppable….

Originally I was going to make Sports Illustrated‘s baddest Black chic this year, Damaris Lewis the subject of this month’s Crush Alot post, along with the newly reintroduced Raven Symone 2.0. But seeing as to how they belong to the Too Youngs category, I came to my senses. It especially felt creepy thinking that I have a niece Damaris’ age (1990 birthdate, wow). But then I remembered that the homie Sox asked me to give the beautiful young ladies who played Denzel Washington‘s daughters in last year’s Unstoppable a look and to post something on them. I took a minute. Sorry I waited this long…

The women in question are the perfectly balanced Meagan Tandy and Ms. Elizabeth Mathis. All American girls, with All American names. You’ve seen them, but I bet you don’t really know them….Yet!

I gotta give Sox his props for having the keen eye, cause these ladies defiinitely fell below my radar for the many appearances and small moments in the limelight that have garnered. Now it seems that they’re well on their way to becoming the next Black upstarts making a name for themselves and securing spots in big budget blockbusters and features, From Elizabeth’s spot inTron Legacy, to Meagan’s spot in the horrible – yet-popular Piranha franchise. Not bad for 2 models turned actresses.

The Detroit native, Mathis has graced plenty of pages as a sultry model, flaunting her frame and captivating bone structure, while Ms. Tandy, a Cali native was Miss California USA in ’07, quite fittingly. Both, with their caramel and Dope brown shades, have added a much needed splash of color in the arenas they’ve gracefully and almost effortlessly traversed through.

Yeah, it kinda sucks that Elizabeth is married, but since the chapters for both women have yet to be written, I intended this post to be much more of a picture post than a write-up. I’m sure ya’ll don’t mind right?

With that,

Meagan Tandy and Elizabeth Mathis,

You,

Are My New Crush!!

Hot 16…Or More… “FRIENDS”

This is a track that I had been wanting to write since the inception of the very first Crazy 8’s mixtape. Don’t ask me why….I just always wanted to flip the “If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)” instrumental and take it back to it’s original sample from Whodini‘s “Friends” and their original subject of discussion. I had Nas‘ version of the beat sitting around for 2 years, then I finally wrote and recorded it. I wanted it to be simple, just like the beat – because let’s be honest, it’s not a crazy mindblowing instrumental or anything. It’s just a casual 80’s hip-hop break with an unassuming thump. What was most important to me was getting my thoughts across about how I felt about friendship in general. I had just experienced some fallbacks and fallouts with some homies involved in music as well as an unecessary confrontation with a jealous boyfriend of a former female associate of mine who I was catching feelings for. This was all pre-Facebook Malik, so I had lost contact with alot of folks and regained contact with more than I’ve ever had at once, all via the Myspace era. It was a great atmosphere for this kind of track to come out. So on the deluxe version of The Crazy 8’s, I gave you

“Friends” (here I’ll share verses 1 and 2)

VERSE 1

“Fuck friends, relationships and everything with it, (A nod to Nas’ opening line on his version of this song)

I think different…

Dj Q45 (as in the dude who hosted Rap City when I appeared on it and told me to take his information down only to never respond when I reached out) witnessed…

How the boy made history (I was the first unsigned rapper ever to get a whole interview and booth time on BET’s fabled and now defunct hip-hop video show)

-simply a born winner at winning things,

but even Q45 switched it!

-an,

Fronted on me like he really in that position,

really, he should feel priveleged that his name gettin’ mentioned!

And that goes for any journalist, with any conviction,

who missed it when I was hitting them to get ’em to listen!

And I know that sound bitter but I did it,

cause I knew if I started off dissin’ – it would get your attention.

Now for today’s lesson – it’s the business of friendship;

this can be the beginning of a beautiful ending.

Cause some friendships is kept, cause what it took…

To maintain it, but the strain that it can start up to put,

is just as bad as if you let it fall apart – need a push!

I learned from experience and Dale Carnegie (the esteemed author of the infamous How To Win Friends And Influence People) books about…

Friends!!”

VERSE 2

“It’s hard for me to say I Love friends,

cause I done fucked friends,

and made enemies out of shorty’s husbands! (I’m using this term loosely and literally)

And I would like to tell you that it never happens often, (key words being “I would like to”)

I just lost a friend because her boyfriend was hawking!

Stalking…

Checking messages, sending threats – but since,

I’m a threat to him – he should’ve took that as a lesson in…

Women,

cause if you don’t attend to them and treat ’em like a gem then,

they gon’ get it from the next nigga who’s willing and…

I do admit I overstepped a bit,

talking all that sex an’ shit,

but it all began with being friends and then

Again…

It goes to show that men and women wasn’t ever meant to just be platonic and that’s the end of it.

So to my friend – Ms. – to the death I miss you,

guess we’ll meet again when that nigga’s your ex,

best of wishes…

My best friend in high school was a girl,

guess your friends are reflections of how you view the world

– We was lames!

Ain’t even know how to scoop a bird

– we became,

grown men, pimpin’ – grew some nerve!

-rearranged,

metamorph us out into the world

people change

That’s why I’m conscious how I use the word; (most important line of the whole track)

Friends!!”

 

Hope you learned something…

 

To listen to or download this track, click the mixtape cover below

(16) Classic Sounds…

Like…

What, you thought I wasn’t gonna do a Classic Sounds review of a 2Pac album?? Yeah, why would I do a review of an album by my favorite rapper of all time, on what would be his 40th birthday, coming up on the 15th anniversary of his death??

Let alone his debut album.

Pac represents so many things to hip-hop culture. His career is a study in itself. Often criticized for the duality of his stances and expression, that was the very thing that made Pac so compelling. It was anger and anti-establishment, then it was gentle and compassionate. It was poetic and then it was brazen and brash. It was California-centric, but at the same time it was universally pro-Black.

I remember being in my sister Veen‘s room and seeing that she had this album on tape, and thinking to myself 2Pacalypse Now?? ‘What kind of title is that?’ It was on the arrival on the movie Juice, and I had just saw the video for his lead single “Trapped”. I was in 4th grade, but I wasn’t impressed. I just knew I had heard his name here and there, usually in the vein of something controversial. I remember thinking, ‘oh, he’s that trouble-making rapper that’s playing a bad guy in that movie’. Boy, was that a foreshadowing understatement…

Who would have known that this would turn out to be the rapper who I’d identify with the most 6 years later, and carry my tangled up, anxious and brooding self through my teenage years? somehow, despite any concrete similarities, in a world of glorified stick-up kids making get money anthems, backpackers, hot boys and Diddyisms, I related to the outspoken, borderline paranoid, son of an ex crack-addict, ex- militant single parent who championed “thug life” and the pursuit of fucking and getting fucked up, with oh-so-poetic sensibilities. Pac was many things…But the magic is in how all of these equally strong components of his character boiled within the same pot. This means whatever image 2Pac brings to mind may very well be true. But the bigger truth is that he has always been so much more.

As one of the rare Hip-Hop artists who’s work got progressively better with each release, if not the best example of it, Pac is a great research subject in that you can see where his division of  focus was and what parts of that pervaded through the bulk of his career. While most rappers release their most groundbreaking and provacative work at the beginning of their careers, anyone familiar with Pac’s catalogue knows that 2Pacalypse Now was just the tip of the iceberg.

Here, Pac seems to embrace a role of being the outspoken, more street-oriented off -shoot of the classic Cali group Digital Underground, which he was an unofficial member of. The “Rebel” in his own words. Much like Kool G. Rap was to the Juice crew, this album would serve to affirm Pac’s loyalty to the peeps that put him on, but also as the platform that would catapult him to eclipse them right afterward.

Taking this angle, this is the most civil yet aggressive version of Pac. Still very much so from the ‘I’m an emcee’ school of thought, this is the period where you’ll hear Pac using the wordiest and quickest flow of his career. He puts force in every syllable as opposed to dramatic emphasis that would later become his signature style. He vacillates between a measured delivery and a loose flow, even implementing elements of stacking and compound twisting, ala Bone Thugs.

Nowhere else is Pac’s early 90’s personality captured on track so completely.Even though the beats here mirror the times and contain alot of what helped lay the framework for what would become the West Coast sound, this album really is made up of instrumentals that really don’t fit any kind of niche. The overly dramatic bassline and cheesy keys on “Brenda’s Got A Baby” scream PSA, and some of the tracks where Pac just spits his version of bravado sound like they were borrowed from the east coast, back when people weren’t distinguishing rappers by region. Take for instance, the reverse distortion, repetetive hard piano loop and scratches accompanying the Ed O.G. vocal sample on the introductory track “Young Black Male”. In one verse, 2Pac makes his statement and  shows a lyrical dexterity that he rarely displays. He also presents the recklessness that compliments the social awareness that makes this album complete.

And that’s explicitly what 2Pacalypse Now gives you. As noted before, Pac had many sides and felt passionate on a multitude of issues that he split up within his body of work. One thing that remains constant is that throughout the span of his life, though some issues became more dominant than others, there was a dedication to the causes that he felt near and dear to. In other words, Pac stayed true to what he believed. Whatever he was fighting for on this album, was the same thing that he died fighting for. It’s here, on this debut, that we get a more Black and White version of Pac, with his concentration fixed on inciting riotous self-defense against crooked establishments – particularly police, painting vivid scenarios about social ills through storytelling, and making a name for himself as the young hot head doing things his own way. The tying together of these focuses is evident from the first transition of “Young Black Male” into “Trapped”. While the former is a boastful first shot in the air, the latter is less so and incorporates more of a narrative from a victimized angle.

The ebb and flow of the LP basically follows that lead, swinging back and forth from the kind of overconfidant and foreboding rap that we’ve come to know Pac for, to social commentary. Pac seems extremely entrenched in the world of police brutality and the injustices that are associated with the long arm of the law. All thru the album, cops are characterized as vicious, racists overseers who live to profile Blacks and keep law enforcement and judicial processes a numbers game. It becomes Pac’s one man rallying cry for inner city Black men to take action against such trespasses. This is clearly from a sentiment in which Pac felt that he was speaking not only for himself, but for every young Black male like himself that he knew. An interesting point, considering that this album came out the year right before the now infamous Los Angeles riots and even more ironically so, before Pac caught a serious charged of allegedly opening fire on two officers in Georgia. This fervor is captured in angry songs like “I Don’t Give A Fuck”, but none more stark and musically gripping as on “Violent”. Over an old distorted reggae dub beat that was souped up to build intensity, this is one of the rare tracks where you’ll hear Pac spit over an unconventional sound but marry it perfectly. The now outdated synths work against the speaker rattling bassline to give a cinematic quality to the song as Pac descriptively engulfs you in his increasing disdain for cops that elevates to a fictional me-against-them shoot-out at the end. With lines that are hard to forget like “So here I go/I gotta make my mind up/pick my 9 up/or hit the line up”, and “If I die tonight/I’m dying in a gunfight”, Pac’s strength rested in not clever wordplay, but in the simple poetry and believability of what he was saying. Even in fictional instances, these were still situations that Pac would probably act out if he found himself in them in real life.

Speaking of which, he takes a second to redirect his angst into a more cerebral outcry when he delves into his actual poetry roots and drops science while maintaining the hardcore vibe on “Words Of Wisdom” Even over an uptempo acid-jazz like breakdown, that was not something uncommon of that era…Where hip -hop was still playing with it’s jazz experimentation phase. Like I said, this album tapped into a little bit of every sound that was going on at the moment.

Another recurring theme goin on thru the album was loyalty to the hood and like-minded niggas (defined by Pac as meaning Never Ignorant, Getting Goals Accomplished). He addresses the benefits of it on songs like the soulful and more organically produced “If My Homie Calls”, and the deviation from it on songs like “Crooked Ass Nigga”. Featuring a guest verse from frequent early 90’s Pac collaborator Stretch, the man Pac would later accuse of abandoning him and alligning with his enemies, his presence on this song just serves as cruel irony…

It’s when Pac takes a pause from letting anger be the fuel behind his verses, that he leaves you with some of the most impactful songs that will leave you in thought and reflection and overall appreciation of his creative mind. He does this through the medium of storytelling. In a calm voice, he lays out the entire tale of Brenda, who has come to represent anyBlackgirl USA in innercity america who experiences a teen pregnancy that she can’t handle, completely in third person, but never from a detached sentiment. You can almost feel his empathy through the song, as if he’s talking about his little sister or someone that close. It’s so powerful that it makes you overlook the horribly overly melodramatic singing in the background and the bad beat.

The same goes for “Part Time Mutha” where he semi-autobiographically takes the role of a son, in strife from growing up witnessing a drug-addicted mother. It’s revealing in light of finding out what we now know about 2Pac, but the following 2 verses take it beyond just him aand speaks to the larger social epidemic of hard drug addiction that was rampant in the era. He enlists a random female to rap the second verse (in his cadence), and then he assumes the character of a struggling single mother himself on the last verse.

The most sharply executed of these stories is “Soulja’s Story”. Over a looming sample that is open enough to allow the listener to feel every word, but encroaching enough to set the ominous tone, Pac weaves a sequence of 2 brothers who become incarcerated and spark a prison break, again playing both characters.

The rest of the album is standard 2Pac rap that evens out his agenda and overall statement. As a complete project, it’s definitely the seminal effort where Pac’s early impact was established. Tho lacking the personal exposition and extrovertive vulnerability that lead fans to love him that his subsequent albums contained, this was Pac’s most easily digestable work until he dropped All Eyez On Me, which spared emotional complexity for mass appeal and more party emphasis. 2Pacalypse was clear, concise, and bold. He was so focused, that besides references to sex, Pac didn’t save himself any space to exhibit his female-directed material – which is just as vital and significant to the 2Pac mythos as his beef songs and conscious songs. This is the only album where that is the case. He was just too focused on getting his points across on retaliation, respect and rebellion. Besides an overbearing tone of anger that propels it, and the now, ages-old sound of the beats coupled against Pac’s rapping (which could have worked in the late part of his career as well), the album is pretty well balanced.

My favorite songs here are “Young Black Male”, “Violent”, “Soulja’s Story”,

“Rebel Of The Underground”  & “If My Homie Calls”

This album gets 12 Candles out of a possible

4812 or 16.

4(Classic Just because where it stands in Hip-Hop, whether it be the time of it’s release, it’s influence, or the popularity of it’s singles overall)

8(Classic because it was solid for it’s time, but may be a little dated or less than amazing by today’s standards)

12(Classic as a complete release and probably celebrated widely on the surface, but possibly lacking one key element – be it one song that doesn’t fit, a wack guest appearance, lyrics, lack of depth or beats)

16(Classic all around)

It’s more like a 13. Which is a fitting number.

This comes on the heels of an alleged confession by a former Jimmy Henchmen associate of being the shooter behind the infamous 1994 incident at NY’s Quad studio that sparked the paranoia and vengeful spirit that Pac would become most known for in the late 90’s.

Happy Birthday Homie…

Bamma Ass D.C. rappers STEAL My Hit video & Track!!!!

What.

 The.

Fuck?????!!!!!!!!!

The homie Gee put me and Brandon on to this at the end of last month. I should have opened this shit up as SOON as it showed up in my e-mail. Now I understand why niggas in the 80’s took biting so seriously and how rappers could get snuffed for swagger-jacking! How do you just take somebody’s WHOLE ENTIRE concept and call it your own?? A whole year after it was damn near the biggest viral hip-hop sensation of a whole month?? 

For any of you who don’t know me or Brandon Carter, or were sleeping under a Hip-Hop rock last year, we jumped on the craze sparked by Lloyd Banks’ single “Bimaz, Benz or Bentley” when everyone was making their mixtape remix variations of it, and watched the video for our version, “Subway Bus Or Walking” explode over the net, even making it onto AOL, and New York magazine. T-shirts were made, lines were repeated, laughs ensued…

But this

This just makes me wish I still lived in D.C. so I could run into these jerks and ask them WTF? Did you NOT see the video that gave you the EXACT same idea??

I don’t even want to put this clip up because I don’t want to give these clowns any light, but you have to see this shit. SMH. I do love how anytime you see this crap, you have to see ours pop up on the side with all of it’s thousands of hits just to put things in perspective. I mean…At least be better if you’re gonna jack and not give credit…

And here’s the ‘Original’ just in case you’re new, deaf or named “Dirty Wingz”

“Negroes In The News” – Shooters try to put the K in Coney Island, Plaxico plays nice, & Gay-Ass Tracy Morgan calls the kettle…

The only thing that keeps me from naming this column ‘Niggas In The News’ is the positive and more light-hearted fare that usually ends each post, but it’s safe to say that niggas with guns are the worst thing to happen to Blacks in modern history. It’s the deadliest inner city disease besides the disease of ignorance itself.

For instance, last week’s shooting at Brighton Beach on the Coney Island Boardwalk…

Now, I’ve been around my fair share of gunshots and hood violence for what appears to be my whole damn life unfortunately, but I really truly believed that this particular brand of senseless violence was gone with the early 90’s. Yet, as my recent run-ins with reckless Brooklyn niggas without senses of boundary have been proving, some fools just don’t think.

Sometimes I wonder if the average hood dude even has the capacity for foresight. Time and again, I’m left thinking ‘no‘. Especially in moments like these. My first reaction was ‘who the fuck shoots at Coney Island??!!‘ It’s like the last bastion of child-like radiance and excitement, the final frontier…In other words, it’s pretty much the happiest place left in New York City. A damn amusement park region named after bunnies!! My second thought was ‘wow, niggas still really just open fire on crowds of people??!’ And my third thought, after thinking about how it was the hottest day of the year so far, was ‘who the fuck is thinking about shooting when it’s sweltering hot outside?!!’ Sure, it can be argued that intense heat brings forth agitation and hostility, but the usual sentiment shared by New Yorkers on scorching hot days is almost unanimously one of trying to get to anything cool. Yet, as it would appear, niggas are the furthest thing from usual, and gunfire is the furthest thing from cool.

Nothing underscores this point more than the fact that so many random people got hit by bullets, and young Tysha Jones will never see another day. It’s so crazy to me that for all the trouble these idiots go thru to make scenes, cause panic and draw weapons of death, that when the smoke clears, the intended victim is almost never the one who takes their last breath. See what I mean? Niggas with guns… 

The boy Donny Goines just made a song dedicated to Tysha, and one of the dumb fucks behind the shooting has since been arrested as cops look for a suspected 2nd shooter (So it took not 1 but 2 niggas to miss the real target and kill a teenage girl??).

And my mom just asked me to go there a week and a half ago. This coulda been my sister or me and my nephew…

On the subject of Niggas with guns and stupidity and irony, Plaxico Burress

is doing his whole clean up act real quick. Fresh out the pen this month, the former New York Giant is iniating his PR sweep in thinly veiled efforts to retouch his image and rebuild his reputation. Joining with The Brady Center, the infamous public interest group that is responsible for the implementation of The Brady Bill in the 1990’s, Burress has attached himself to press conferences and appearances where he will be speaking out against the dangers of gun violence and illegal possession. I’ll have you remember, this guy just got out of jail for shooting himself in the groin with a gun that he kept in his pants off safety while sittingf in a bar. In Midtown! You can’t expect much from a professional Black athlete, but I’m sure he’s not appreciating this lockout right about now, as his rep and his fate hangs in the balance. Niggas with guns…

Ok, so it’s not a big secret that I don’t really care for Tracy Morgan. I don’t respect him as a comedian or an actor, and I’m moved to say not really as a grown ass man. Yet I don’t know him. What I do know is that he’s been catching Hell since this weekend over anti-Gay comments that were apart of a stand-up act that he just did. I also know that Tracy (howudoin?!) has some of the most femine mannerisms ever (maybe it’s the alchoholism or post-alchoholism stances and poses), and he has played some of the most flamboyant and ridiculous characters – to a believable (and un-funny) extent. I also know that this particular offense would have gone unnoticed had it not been for Morgan’s sudden meteoric success and fame that resurrected his decades-dead career and made him a household name to White folks thanks to SNL. As you can see, I don’t think he’s funny at all, just a dumb ass negro who will do or say anything for a laugh. That, a comedian does not make. However, it’s good enough for him to be the newest token coon for the White mainstream that tunes into 30 Rock every week. Guess they never heard his stand-up before. They would have known not to be shocked. Get ready for possible Isiah Washington treatment.

Sorry folks, the good news is far and few between this time. Pick something; The Mavs winning the Championship, the Black Tony Award winners, the Braxtons finale and reunion…

Nevermind…

Oh wait, Jada Pinkett’s medical drama, Hawthorne is back on network television this week, and this season has some familiar minority faces like Marc Anthony, Derek Luke & Lauren Velez. Good move. Whew! Knew I had something in there…

New music videos by Sol-Leks & J.Craft

Summer’s in the air. And it’s a great time for some good ol’ NYC rap.

This time I’m bringing you some visuals from 2 of Manhattan’s Uptown elite. The first being a rarity from the leader of my Balance crew, and one of my favorite rappers that I know (if not my favorite) – Sol-Leks. The kid has been on a wild hungry streak, doing back to back shows and throwing this video together in the span of 2 days. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan of this song until seeing the video. I get his vision now. It feels like a movement. He sampled it from a track on Kanye’s last album and chose it to be the lead of for what I hope means the arrival of Sol-Leks album. That would be something. For now, enjoy. And shout out to fellow Balance Crew member, 16’s Candles contributor and all around visionary, Who Is Number 5? for the camera work and editing. Nice assist by Rayniel as well. 

Speaking of Rayniel, who you may have seen me mention on this blog a couple times, the second video is by his team, the FM crew featuring the homie J. Craft on a solo mission. (Don’t it feel so 90’s? Peep the laid back flow and the brown bag on the car hood posturing) Rayniel also handled a majority of the filming and editing on this one. This is Inwood/Wash Heights Hip-Hop in it’s purest form. Manhattan keeps on making it! 

Death Comes Stealing…

A recurring enemy of mine is randomness. I encounter it everyday in the varying situations that make up my daily movements. It’s at work and the colorful characters that walk in during odd hours, in the attention-grabbing headlines in my newsfeed, the uncalled-for sentence that my girl might say on the phone that changes the whole tone of conversation, or just the sporadic B.S. of riding the train in NYC.

This is eye-brow raising, deep sigh – inducing randomness. Not to be equated to the flooding feeling of shock that may come from some sort of impactful randomness like coming home to a vacant bedroom and a Dear John letter. Nor the randomness of being told that you’re getting laid-off. These are the kinds of things that sweep the proverbial rugs from underneath our feet. They change everything we knew about our personal lives up until that point.

Yet and still, nothing compares to the randomness that death can bring sometimes. Much like the title of the Valerie Wesley fiction novel, it does indeed come stealing. And if the instances mentioned above sweep the rugs from under us and change everything we knew about our lives, death does something more like turn out the lights, and changes everything we knew about life itself.

I lost my brother-in-law 7 days ago. My sister Veen’s chosen life partner and the father of both my oldest and youngest nephews. The news came after a heightened night of seeing my boy rock a high energy show, and coming home late to the cops trying to break down my door for a still unspecified reason because I didn’t answer ( because I ain’t no snitch).

Random right?

But all of this faded in importance of conversation as I picked up the phone 5 hours later that morning to call my dad for another reason and heard the news from him as he stated it very matter-of-factly. Why it seemed like a joke at first, I don’t know. I guess I don’t really deal with death in a connected way. Everyone in my family knows I don’t do cards and I’m usually a no-show for funerals. I was just waiting for the real statement to follow from my father. But there was none…

Iam a family man from a surface standpoint. And I admit that I was not quite brotherly close to my brother-in-law, but this is the closest passing that I have experienced since my Grandmother. He used to live in the space where I live now. I’m not used to sharing small spaces, so I hated it. Some of his things are still scattered here and there as reminders; in a closet, on a shelf. Randomly. I borrowed some of his clothes from that time period…A favorite red shirt and a favorite pair of jeans that I still wear now. He had a vested interest in my music career and tho he talked a better game than he dealt, I rocked with him everytime he suggested a move. The last thing he said to me in fact was a request for me to give him another shot at managing my music career. A surprising motion by him, being that we haven’t spoken about it in years and have essentially kept conversation cordial and surface concerning entertainment business. Yet I remembered quickly saying yeah to the idea. I felt like this time, we might be able to make something happen, and I had just found myself randomly thinking about it the day before hearing the news. Not since my frequent trips to the barbershop where he worked (that is now adorned with candles and flowers under his a jersey with his name), have I thought so considerably about making moves with him. I used to drive all the way to New Jersey every week just to get my free haircut from him. Mostly because even though the trip was $8, the haircut was free because we’re family.

And that word does hold weight, even to a surface guy like myself. I immediately thought of my oldest nephew, who was the closest to me before his teen years. I estranged myself in a way, as school and music stuff became my dominant focuses. I even remember him doing a school report on me being his hero. I suppose everything happens for a reason tho, because just as distance had formed between us, his father stepped up in a super way, getting him involved in sports and coaching, putting him on to music and life in a way that only a dad could. Upon hearing the news I thought, ‘well damn, good thing he’s almost a man now and can handle this a little better’. Even though these teen years for a male can be some of the most emotionally angst-ridden and confusing times. But then I remembered whoa, there’s a baby here that will never have that bond with his father. Never. It makes me feel that perhaps I should rise up and try to be as close to him as I was with my oldest nephew when he was that young, just for the sake of man-to-man influence from a familial angle. Then again, he does have an older brother that can protect and guide him. It doesn’t change the fact that both will miss out on an incredible amount of guidance that my sister Veen cannot give them. She’s an awesome mom, but not a father.

And as Father’s day approaches, I just have to think about ironies and what it is to be living this life on this planet. Suicidal folks get that option. Sick people get predictions and notions of will. Freak accidents take away. Beef comes around. And then, sometimes it’s just an instance where you were laughing with someone yesterday and then you get the news that they’re gone. No signs, no warnings.

It’s especially deep when it’s someone young, who wasn’t suffering, who wasn’t living on the edge or taking chances. Waiting on an anticipated and inevitable death is not the same feeling as the feeling of having someone snatched from you. It makes me regret everytime that I’ve had a thought of wanting to die. It makes you realize the absolute lack of appreciation that is inherent in wanting to end a life that somebody is literally dying to live. I thought, damn, when I was depressed, I was basically asking for death, but then the universe takes someone away who probably never even considered that a possibility. How selfish. Or perhaps I should envy the fact that he no longer has the stresses of life to burden him. I prefer to think that this is a sign to start showing even more appreciation. Furthermore, to express that appreciation that you have for everyone in your life more fully and consistently. To maybe catch yourself before you speak ill of someone and make sure that if you are going to spend your time feeling scornful of them, that you truly do not care whether or not they wake up the next day. Or you’ll regret that energy and sentiment for sure. It’s that serious. To make your own very short life worth more today than it was yesterday. Sounds cliche right? But it’s the truest thing ever said.

That, and the fact that sometimes, Death is indeed, the epitome of random.

This time, I’ll be at the funeral. Next to my nephews.

R.I.P. Fritz