Two’s Day: Two For Home

What does home mean to you? Is it just the place where you get your mail? Just an address – a group of numbers or street signs? They say it’s where the heart is. The place you were raised. The one place where all of your baby pictures are. If home to you is nothing more than the four walls, floor, and ceiling where you go to sleep and wake up, you’re missing out.

Home is everywhere. It’s beyond a physical, tangible coordinate on Google Maps. Most people live their lives unaware of where home is. Not because they’re lost or without shelter, but because they have no concept of what it means to truly be at home. To be at home is to be at peace. It’s the place where you are the most authentic version of yourself. The place where even your confusion is comprehended. Home is being among the people who bring the best out of you. The same people who give you their absolute best.

It’s not confined to one specific address either. Like I said, it’s everywhere. Contrary to what you may believe, it’s possible to have multiple homes at once, none of which have to be where you physically live. Some teachers feel “at home” in the classroom. Accountants feel “at home” when dealing with numbers. Athletes feel “at home” on the field. That’s not just cliché or figurative. It’s reality. It’s spiritual and mental. It’s anywhere and everywhere. It’s the place you retreat to where peace is the norm. The people you surround yourself with to calm chaos. The idea of home is transcendent. You don’t live in it, it lives within you.

Kanye West – Homecoming (Original)

“…I told her in my heart that’s where she’ll always be…”

Mos Def – Priority

“Peace before everything. God before anything. Love before anything. Real before everything. HOME before any place…”

What songs remind you of home? What would you add to the playlist?

Two’s Day: Two For Humanity

We live in an era of extremes. A period where you have to find the box or two that society created for you and make yourself complacently comfortable. A time where opinions have become over-valued and under-thought, yet thrown about recklessly like bullets from the very assault rifles “the government wants to steal from us”.

That quote/perspective is my point. We’ve become a society of Me’s and I’s based on the groupthink of our respective boxes. We choose our side or our thought leaders and we shut our brains off. We don’t allow any remnant of logic in or out. As a result, we’ve become desensitized to the sufferings and struggles of those in the middle. And I don’t mean the ‘middle class’ in the same way that the modern-day extreme politician does. I’m speaking about that group of people who don’t subscribe to or claim any particular endpoint. That group of people who take the time to seek a silver lining. The segment of society that doesn’t believe the government or Fox News is out to get them.

Instead of showing compassion, we accuse the wounded of being leeches. Instead of helping to keep our neighbor above water, we convince ourselves that our neighbors will take over our boats like crazed pirates. We see burdens instead of opportunities to be blessings. We equate weary with weakness, as if that person who’s been worn by the hardships of life is lazy and not just spiritually, physically, and/or emotionally drained.

The fact of the matter is we’re all just visitors here. Regardless of what higher power you believe in or deny, one day you too will move on from this life. You, me, and everybody else around you. And nobody knows when that day will come. The good news is you have everything in and around you to be happy everyday. And to turn away from your neighbor based on extreme feelings you’ve developed from living in the box someone else placed you in is the biggest denial of your own happiness there is. We are blessed with an abundance of yes‘s (earned or inherited), yet build our legacy on no‘s. The world is bigger than the world around you. Take care of others and watch how the universe pays you back.

The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

“…while we’re on the way there, why not share…and the load doesn’t weigh me down at all. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother…”

Curtis Mayfield – Keep On Keeping On

We who are young should now take a stand. Don’t run from the burdens of women and men. Continue to give…

What would you add to the playlist?

Two’s Day: Two For Good Health

The first quarter of the new year is usually riddled with remnants of broken resolutions. On December 31st, we all make grand declarations of what we’re going to do different. Start going to the gym. Drink more water. Drink less Hennessey. Cut down on the 6-piece combos from Harold’s. January is good. February is a little tough. March is pretty frustrating. And by April, we’re back in the line at Popeye’s ordering chicken by the bucket.

The reality is we set ourselves up for failure. We start off all wrong. We live recklessly for 364 days in anticipation of New Year’s Eve. We convince ourselves that after the clock strikes midnight, all of our bad decisions over the last 12 months will be deleted. We get trapped in the fairy tale thinking – but instead of the carriage turning into a pumpkin, our cravings for cupcakes will turn into cravings for celery.

I recently listened to the latest episode of The No 4Play podcast and one of the hosts (I believe it was the big homie Ant P) said it best – don’t wait until the last and first days of the year to acknowledge and address your issues. Reassess and readjust still the point of recognition. You knew you were overweight before the 31st of December. You were very aware that you were out of shape before the gym offered that top of the year discounted membership. You knew your eating habits were terrible and that donuts were not a part of a complete breakfast. This year, let’s avoid temporary resolutions and pursue permanent lifestyle changes. Let’s start working out to increase our life expectancy and not just to decrease our waistline for the summer. Let’s eat healthy to improve our way of living and not just to earn cool points from our sophisticated friends for shopping at Whole Foods.

And it doesn’t just start and stop at the breakfast/lunch/dinner table. It’s not just about physical health. Be careful about what you feed your mind and spirit as well. Be conscious of what you allow in your space. If there’s any truth to the adage “you are what you eat”, it’s especially true as it relates to the things we consume mentally. When you feed off negative energy and binge on all the junk “food” society has to offer, you become internally rotten. You start to develop mental cavities. But instead of toothaches, that pain is manifested through the energy you put out towards others. It shows itself in the way you react to life’s challenges. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying we should all strive to be walking Wikipedia pages, but we should all be aware of what we ingest and the impact it will have on us. Exercise your thoughts. Exercise your imagination. Stretch your faith. Think beyond your comfort zone.

Be healthy!

Dead Prez – Be Healthy

“true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…we gotta start taking better care of ourselves…”

Nas ft. Busta Rhymes – Fried Chicken

“Fried chicken. Fly vixen. Give me heart disease but I need you in my kitchen…you gon’ be a n*gga’s death”

What’s on your playlist?

The 12 Dopest Albums You Probably Didn’t Hear of 2012

As we look back on another year full of ups and downs, gains and losses, #winning and #fails, we’re reminded that the new year is here. And with that comes more “Best of…” lists and countdowns than you could list or countdown. What would a blog be without a list? More specifically, what would a music blog be without one?!

In keeping with our mission to deliver the best of the under-represented, unrecognized, underrated, and unappreciated, we’ve decided to take a somewhat different approach. We’ve compiled a list of the dopest projects that you probably didn’t hear (but really should) in 2012.

DISCLAIMER: This year was a pretty awesome year for music, so this list isn’t comprehensive and could probably be a lot longer…but we could only pick 12 projects. Also, though some of these projects are better than others, this list is in no particular order.

1. Haitus Kaiyote – “Tawk Tomahawk”
With a band name like that and an equally odd album title, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away as much as I was when I first heard this album. It only took hearing the first 4 songs before I was searching for the purchase (yes, I still pay for music) or download button.

Standout Tracks: “Modius Streak”, “Nakamarra”, and “Malika”

Listen to the album here.

2. Action Bronson x Alchemist – Rare Chandeliers

I can’t say that this is an unlikely or unexpected collaboration. I can say that it’s an extremely well executed one though. Bronson’s deliver and wordplay fit quite comfortably over Alchemist’s signature production.

Standout Tracks: “Randy the Musical”, “Eggs on the Third Floor”, and “Mike Vick”

Listen to the album here.

3. OC x Apollo Brown – Trophies

This is vintage hip hop meets 2012. Dope collaboration between legendary emcee OC and legendary Detroit producer Apollo Brown.

Standout Tracks: “Anotha One”, “We The People”, and “Fantastic”

Listen to the album here.

4. Chris Turner – “LOVElife is a Challenge”

Chris Turner is dope. Period. As a rep of the Romantic Movement collective (which also includes Mara Hruby and Jesse Boykins III), Turner blesses the fans with the collection of “LOVE”. As the song goes, it’s what the world needs now.

Standout Tracks: “Let Go”, “Outta My Mind”, and “Sticky Green”

Listen to the album here.

5. Oddisee – People Hear What They See

Artist, producer, and D.C. native, Oddisee, has been on the scene for a while. And not on the scene in the sense of just being seen, but actually being a productive contributor to the coolness of the scene.

Standout Tracks: “Let It Go”, “American Greed”, and “You Know Who You Are”

Listen to the album here.

6. Domo Genesis x Alchemist – No Idols

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of OFWKTA. Not that they don’t have talent, because they do. As individual artists, most of them shine. But as a collective they’re not the easiest to digest. With that said, I was a little reluctant to even listen to this project. I was quickly made a believer. Domo is for real. And when you add Alchemist to the equation, you get that work!

Standout Tracks: “No Idols”, “All Alone”, and “Elimination Chamber”

Listen to the album here.

7. S3 (Miles Bonny x Brenk Sinatra) – Supa Soul Shit

Yet, another artist-producer collaboration done right. KC-native (and flugelhorn extraordinaire) Miles Bonny joined forces with Vienna producer, Brenk Sinatra to form Supa Soul Shit aka S3. Took me listening to it twice all the way through before I was completely convinced that this definitely needed to be shared with the masses.

Standout Tracks: “Get This Money” and “Sprinkle”

Listen to the album here.

8. Guilty Simpson x Apollo Brown – Dice Game

This project is the flower that grows from the concrete. And this just isn’t regular concrete. This is Detroit’s grimiest, yet finest concrete – the combination of Guilty Simpson’s gritty hood flow and Apollo Brown’s street anthem-like production. Two of Motor City’s monsters came together and gave us a masterpiece.

Standout Tracks: “Let’s Play”, “Truth Be Told”, and “Lose You”

Listen to the album here.

9. CharlieRED – Religion EP

Content. Concept. Context. All awesome. Singer/songwriter Rocki Evens connected with producer Cobaine Ivory and they became CharlieRED. The result of this collaboration is the Religion EP.

Standout Tracks: “Could Be”, “Norah Jones”, and “Religion”

Listen to the album here.

10. Rapsody – The Idea of Beautiful

Rapsody is…(insert just about any adjective used to describe something amazing). As a soldier of 9th Wonder’s Jamla Army, she takes to the battlefield ready for combat. And this album is her victory flag.

Standout Tracks: “Non Fiction”, “Destiny”, and “Come Home”

Listen to the album here.

11. Elijah Blake – Bijoux 22

Singer/songwriter Elijah Blake wrote and sang some real dope songs on this recent release, Bijoux 22.

Standout Tracks: “Birdz”, “Beloved”, and “Everything”

Listen to the album here.

12. Robert Glasper – Black Radio Recovered: The Remix EP

This was an awesome amendment to an already awesome project. But I won’t complain. The Remix EP reintroduced, or shall I say re-cut, several gems from the Black Radio album. He took diamonds and made them all blingier (it’s a word O_o).

Listen to the album here.

Albums That Deserve To Be Mentioned:

* Gangrene (Oh No x Alchemist) – Vodka and Ayahuasca
* Benny Sings – The Best of Benny Sings
* Actual Proof – Black Boy Radio
* Kids These Days – Traphouse Rock
* The xx – Coexist
* Pac Div – GMD

What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comment section.