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So A Couple of Rappers Decide to Make a Nightmare Before Christmas Album

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Okay, it’s just an Extended Play…Shoot me.

Alternative hip hop/nerdcore pioneer Mega Ran teamed up with fellow nerdy emcee Richie Branson for the third installment of what I think is one of the most slept on and underrated annual music series ever. Like, ever. The EP series is conceptually centered around Halloween and is aptly titledGhouls ‘n Ghosts. Listen to the first two installments around Halloween, and you are destined to wake up in the middle of the night with cold sweats, guttural howls lurching through your brain as ear-piercing shrieks echo from your nightmares. But the beats and rhymes will be SO. INCREDIBLY. COLD that you won’t regret the listen in the slightest.

The third installment of GnG (#GnG3) maintains the spooky bangers feel, but Ran and Richie spin things further down the annual timeline. It’s now a spooooky Christmas. Compatriots Storyville, 1-Up, Kadesh Flow (because I love referring to myself in 3rd person), and Andrew the Only join in on the craziness. Crunk and spook out that meantime-between-time between Christmas and New Year’s Day here.

Desh Note – April 2015

It’s April 2015. I’ve spent far too long between posts. Gosh, I don’t even remember the last time I wrote something non-self promoting for the NPC, and that’s a shame. While I’ve been silent, multiple unarmed men have been killed by police in some way, form, or fashion. The majority of them have been black. While we are finally beginning to see some of the officers be held at least somewhat accountable for these actions, the badge wearing culprits behind these obscenities are still being protected, given too much benefit of the doubt, and largely given a pass by numerous Americans who seem to believe that having any criminal history whatsoever and running  away from an officer warrants violent death.
These things are difficult and enraging to discuss, especially when the U.S. is defensive about the dark sides of our great nation’s history. On social media, I’ve seen a large number of millennial individuals of color (including myself), many of whom have been viewed as “exceptions to the rule” for the majority of our lives, having to remain calm while explaining our friends’ racism to them. Having to attack the misconception that racism only comes from people who are completely evil. Having to break down the hypocrisy that exists when a well meaning comrade asks why “they would destroy their own communities,” and then watch the defensive firestorm erupt when said POC casually points out that nobody asks these questions when mostly white youths destroy property at the same or worse levels when, say Kentucky loses to Wisconsin in the Final Four, or, say, during a Pumpkin Festival, or during a surfing event at Huntington Beach, or in Boston after winning a World Series, and so on and so forth. Some are having to set the record straight on this washed out, PC version of MLK, Jr., whom everyone suddenly wants to quote without any context. I’ve had to spend what I would have regarded  a year ago as wasted space explaining the definition and strategy of “civil disobedience” to people who want to throw MLK quotes around as if he were some politically correct bell boy who never offended or inconvenienced anyone.
It is difficult to remain calm and respectful while explaining to someone whom you respect and befriend that rioting is a desperate act, and that, while violence is inexcusable, this can’t be solved by condemning the riots. Maybe we should finally do more about the systematic  and  institutionalized  circumstances that get poor  and  disenfranchised  citizens to this point of anger. It’s annoying to have to point out that Baltimore (citing this city because it is the most recent case, but won’t be the last) has shelled out over $57 million to cover police related lawsuits in the last 4 years alone, and that somehow, this still hasn’t led them to hold officers more accountable, probably because the city and state governments can use the election of a black mayor and appointing of a black  police  commissioner  as  a  crutch to avoid actually  taking  relevant  action. I’ve had to mention to people that 60% of the 800,000 annual domestic violence cases in this country are leveled against police officers, the same people who are, at least in theory, held to a standard of protecting and serving. The comments don’t even get to the huge points around poverty, education access, and opportunities.
I could go on and on, but you may be wondering why I’m posting about any of this in such a “punch-you-in-the-face” manner. I just want to encourage you to speak up. Keep this conversation going. Baltimore will die down in the same way that Ferguson and Staton Island did, but young men of color (and young people in general) will continue to be killed by officers while unarmed, and most of those officers will still escape any semblance of accountability. If you pay attention to this collective, I imagine you don’t spend much time building a rap sheet of arrest-worthy offenses. However, you may or may not live in an area that isn’t the best, while you strive for better. You may be like me, a young working class black kid who hung out with upper middle class and wealthy kids throughout the entirety of my education. If that’s the case, then you may be able to speak directly to the glaring disparities between your worlds, the stark difference between what happens to you when you’re around white people, verses when you’re alone or with other black youths. Or, you may just be an ally who cares about the idea that every human being should be treated as such.
Either way, I’d like to encourage you to have these conversations, and do your history homework beforehand; don’t back away from them. They need to take place, and they will for a while.

The Process Makes No Sense. So What?

This week, on Tuesday, as a matter of fact, a vice president in the company for which I work curbed me during a one on one conversation, seemingly randomly providing me a validating piece of wisdom:

“You know, man,” he started, “you’re young. You’ve probably got dreams. Don’t be afraid to leave Cerner to pursue those dreams. Just don’t burn any bridges. And if those dreams don’t work out, you can always come back to a place like Cerner.”

I don’t think he had any idea how much I needed to hear that from a person in a position such as the one he held. I sure didn’t. But hearing him say that was like a breath of fresh air. Before I (finally) get around to mentioning what that conversation snippet has to do with anything whatsoever, let me clarify that this is not going to be a post about me hating my job; my job is pretty solid. It’s not going to be about encouraging anyone to quit anything to chase flowers, or chocolate, or the flying spaghetti monster, or what have you. However, I will be personal.

I’m a year and a half into taking my music seriously. Yes, you read that correctly. I’ve been a musician for 14 years, and I’ve been uploading content online and releasing projects for three, six, really, if you count my stuff that only friends and family have heard. Unfortunately, it was only a hobby until I realized how much it keeps me up at night, how much a part of my identity it is.

In the year and a half since I fully embraced my music passion, since that second semester of my second year in graduate school, I have felt more liberated and more empowered than I ever had up to that point. There are people who actually appreciate my letting out things that I didn’t value enough to expose! Who would have thought that was possible? It’s incredible to know that people are listening avidly to anything I decide to enunciate, at any given point in time. It’s been an awesome time period for me.

It’s also been one of the most painful things that I’ve ever known. This has been the hardest year I’ve experienced thus far, and I think that’s because we grow so much when we finally make a decision to embrace us. Who are you, really? Freedom, joy, pain, wrath, frustration, exhilaration, all of these emotions and more are crunched into the messiest packaging possible, bound, and slapped with a gift label that reads something along the lines of “You finally decided to figure it out. Good luck.” Some good that it does. From my end of things, I feel like life would have been a lot easier if I weren’t so frustrated with normal — whatever that means — on a regular basis, and if I was fine with being successful, textbook definition style. Unfortunately, that will never happen with me. It won’t ever happen with you either. Odds are, if you pay attention to the NPC (Happy Birthday, Us!), you probably are a little different some kind of way, and you’re hella proud of it. Even when it sucks, you’re proud of it. When it’s great, you probably play things down to make sure it’s real, trying to do everything you can to take things in the right way and to grow and learn as much as possible while it’s good. Because it will probably suck again soon.

And that’s perfectly fine. That’s part of the greatness of the process that is discovering you, me discovering me, us discovering us.

The conversation I listed really just reminded me that people who have made it to their stations in life don’t always expect us to follow the paths that they built in order for others to further build their successes.

I don’t really have a major turnaround, wrap up, moral, or anything like that for this post. I just want to encourage you to do you. Period. Because doing you is awesome. Every single winding, tumultuous, calming, contradictory, peaceful, destructive moment of it. I hope you embrace it the way that we are over here in NPC-land….

Because life is anything but linear.

Stay up.

— Desh

Desh on Fire - Gateways