Hip hop has been a driving force in my life for a few decades now. Being influenced by rapping, deejaying, break dancing, beat boxing, graffiti, and other aspects that make up the overall scope of hip hop, me and my cohorts can look back in amazement. At least from my standpoint, I can safely consider hip hop to be my life, in one form or fashion. Looking back over the years the smallest to the most grand aspects of the culture I’ve experienced, along with my partners in rhyme, Joe and Ed, and many others.
Where can I begin with this ongoing saga? My earliest recollection of this thing we call hip hop can be traced back to The Robot, that magical dance made most famous by Michael Jackson during his Jackson Five days. I remember seeing him mechanically moving on Soul Train while the Jackson Five were performing “Dancing Machine”, and I was hooked. Couple that with other images on Soul Train of dancers popping and locking, Rerun-style. These notions solidified my young connection with hip hop culture, even if I didn’t realize it at the moment. I guess you could say that my upbringing from the early 1970’s through the Reaganomics era makes me hip hop through and through, even if I never danced, picked up a mic, or scratched on turntables.
To be more specific about hip hop, as it has been defined, The Sugar Hill Gang and Kurtis Blow were the earliest options I can recall where rhyming was the focal point (even if The Sugar Hill Gang appropriated the rhyme book of Grandmaster Caz for their faux rapping abilities). Riding in my Uncle Paul’s white Buick Park Avenue around Winter 1980, I can clearly visualize how I reacted when “Christmas Rappin’” came on WEBB radio, 1360 on the AM dial (for you ol’ school heads). I was amazed at how someone could tell a vivid story with such flair and bravado, something we call swagger in today’s vernacular. Mesmerized is the operative word here. Couple that with listening to, then memorizing “Rapper’s Delight” around that same time, and a young lad was hooked on phonics, so to speak.
My cohorts, Joe and Ed, probably have similar stories they can share about their introduction to the world of hip hop. Joe, who would be known later down the line as GQ, then Speech, has been a lifelong friend, dating back prior to our elementary school years. With him living on Potomac Street, the following block from my street Decker Avenue, our houses faced each other across the shared alleyway, have history for close to 40 years. I met Ed, whose hip hop monikers range from DJ Crazy Eddie, Edward Scissorhands, DJ Ed Wrecka, to Awethentic (along with countless other names) in 1985 during our high school years. He just moved to Baltimore from DC, and lived only a few blocks away on Kenwood Avenue. He was a senior in high school, and I was a sophomore, but almost immediately we found a common bond with music. Growing up in Berea, our East Baltimore neighborhood that molded us, was a cool experience indeed. Block parties, parties at Fort Worthington Recreation Center, skating and mini-concerts at Plato’s Wheel Skating Rink, where hip hop icons Salt N Pepa, LL Cool J, as well as DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince performed were just a few aspects exposing us to rap and hip hop culture during this influential time period. Even though my Aunt Elizabeth limited my time and access to these things in my formulative years, I still indirectly came into contact with the music and culture because of my forged friendships with Joe and Ed. They would fill me in separately about various happenings, like rap battles in front of the Green Store (which happened to be painted red, but that’s another story), or who was the nicest emcee in the neighborhood, or who could rock the party the best with beat boxing. Those were heady, cool, spirited times in our upbringing.
If memory serves me correct, I introduced Joe and Ed, but this wasn’t the official of our hip hop group. Brotherhood and camaraderie were key elements at that time. There was a loose collective of positive, like-minded brothers around the neighborhood that linked each of us: Fraternity Of Aristocratia. This may sound like an extremely corny attempt to make up a brotherhood or fraternity, but it was so much more than that. In laymen’s terms, the Fraternity Of Aristocratia, or F.O.A. for short, meant “royal brotherhood”. In essence, we deemed ourselves as brothers with royalty attached to our personas. In hindsight, it was corny, but in a good, well-meaning sense. Our collective was not only myself, Joe, and Ed, but others such as Tim, Josh, Jerry, Dwayne, and a few select others. Just looking at those names brings back many positive memories. We were cocky, confident, arrogant, and proud all at the same time when it came to our F.O.A. affiliation. How does this fit in to our hip hop pedigree? Once we found common ground from a musical standpoint, the connection was forged. F.O.A. became our group name (instead of just telling people all the time what Fraternity Of Aristocratia really meant). As a group, we carried the F.O.A. banner loudly and proudly, even when we were in Joe’s or Ed’s basements constructing our sound. “Those were the days”, as Edith and Archie Bunker would proclaim on All In The Family.
GQ, as Joe was known during this era, was an emcee’s emcee. He was vivid, very lyrical, and ahead of his time from a rhyming standpoint, and I’m not just saying this because we were in a group together. The first song I can recall from this era that featured GQ as the emcee was “Stop The Madness”, which became our signature song at the time. Because we were all influenced by the pro-black, positive hip hop of groups like Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, Boogie Down Productions, and others, “Stop The Madness” served as an introduction and warning shot all at the same time. Make no mistake about it, during this era of crack overtaking the community and living in “East Beirut” or the “Middle East”, as we named our neighborhood Berea, we were in the trenches. That doesn’t mean, however, that we were involved in the ills of the community. Drug dealing and recklessness surrounded us, but each one of us saw the bigger picture, and “Stop The Madness” was the result of that bigger picture. This song came from the mind’s eye of GQ. He painted a portrait with his pen on paper about inner city existence. Listening to GQ spit those lyrics with ferocity and passion prompted the three of us to record this song, at least in Ed’s basement. Because Ed was a blossoming deejay, he had a basic set-up in his basement. Before I can go on any further, I have to extend much love to the mothers that allowed us to make all that noise in their houses without kicking us out on the curbs. Ms. Fields and Ms. Allender, we love you beyond measure! Now getting back to the basement production, Ed was ingenious in his approach to making music. In addition to the mixer and Gemini turntables, there was an Casio SK-1 keyboard. Any ol’ school producer worth his salt that existed during this era can recall this gem of an item. The SK-1 was not large, by any means, but what it could do for us was make something out of nothing, huge for a trio of F.O.A. teenagers. Initially, we recorded “Stop The Madness” with nothing more than GQ rhyming and me supplying the audio acoustics. “Audio acoustics” is just a fancy way of saying that I was beat boxing. To me, beat boxing was an acquired skill not all could replicate or duplicate. I was known as TNT, a name given to me by an old friend John Featherstone, who we affectionately called “DJ Chump Change”. Those were merciless times in the ‘80’s! John was DJ Chump Change because his turntable set-up included a needle and arm that had monetary change taped to it in order to prevent records from skipping when scratching. In hindsight, he wasn’t a bad deejay, but it made for good humor indeed. Anyway, we recorded the stripped down version of “Stop The Madness” with lyrics and vocal percussions. Our impersonation of Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick on this song was excellent. The beats and rhymes complimented each other to perfection, in my opinion. We also recorded another version of “Stop The Madness”, this time with a beat that Ed produced, as well as scratches also supplied by Ed, who by this time was probably going by the nomenclature EF Cuttin’, or something to that effect.
“Stop The Madness” our stepping stone, so much so that we decided to take our demo tape with that song to WEBB-AM for on-air radio personality Chuck Maxx to listen to and critique. I alluded to this fact in an earlier synopsis written about the history of Baltimore hip hop. I can recall taking that tape, handling with extreme care, and catching the Number 22 bus across town to the radio station, located at Park Circle in Northwest Baltimore. This was indeed a long trek, but in our minds it was worth it in order to gain exposure. When I walked through the doors of WEBB, I saw a receptionist at the front desk. I told her that I was from an aspiring local rap group, and I had a demo tape for Mr. Maxx’s listening pleasure. She kindly took the Maxell tape (that was our cassette tape of choice in those days), and put it in what I considered to be the “circular file”. No harm, no foul was my attitude at the time, because I was not familiar with the business of music at the time. For some reason though, I sensed something was amiss with seeing that receptionist take the tape. I was excited at the prospect of having our demo tape played on the radio. We all were excited, to be truthful. In our minds, that would have opened bigger and better opportunities for F.O.A. as a group, and Baltimore as a burgeoning city on hip hop’s map. We wanted to be mentioned in the same breath as Numarx, Charm City Crew, and We Rock Crew, some of the elite Baltimore names linked to our city’s hip hop. It never dawned on us that we would be heard on WEBB indirectly, at least from an urban legend standpoint! According to credible (and not so credible sources), a song eerily similar to “Stop The Madness” was heard on WEBB radio, with some female voice (or voices, it depends on the source) crooning the song’s title as the hook! Some sub-par rapper was trying to rhyme, but didn’t quite do the job. I can’t personally confirm or refute this because I didn’t hear it on the radio, but I’m leaning towards confirming, just for the certain fact that others approached the group to say something about what they may have heard. GQ was furious, to say the least. I think that Ed was disappointed, and I wavered between disappointment and anger. I know this could have either shut down our passion for the music, or give us more fuel to move forward. We moved forward! In our eyes, no wack (that’s right, W-A-C-K) radio station was going to deter or shut us down.
That “Stop The Madness” fiasco definitely bonded the F.O.A. collective, because we saw the synergy and cohesiveness that we exhibited as a group. Over time during that period, we continued to create, write, produce, battle, at least on a small scale. Ed’s basement “studio” became our de facto home away from home. There would be countless nights where the three of us would be listening to old, dusty records, searching for that obscure, or not so obscure, sample that could serve as the backdrop for our musical creations. Even during that moment in time, we were committed to following the blueprint for creating this thing we called hip hop. I’m pretty sure that other like-minded individuals have similar or familiar stories. It was very cool to do and be involved in something that felt natural and organic. All-night sessions of listening to vinyl, sampling, deejaying, rhyming, beatboxing, and recording, sometimes until the sun would come up. Ed and I would laugh at Joe snoring in the chair while we were putting the finishing touches on a creative masterpiece, at least in our youthful and exuberant eyes. Once the finished product was revealed, we all were so excited, because our creativity resulted in something tangible in the hip hop realm.
Even though I loved rapping, I didn’t actually participate in the art of spitting, at least not at that moment. I was a little uncomfortable with my voice, and I didn’t quite perfect the skill behind writing a witty verse or song. I left that up to GQ as the emcee, or even Ed, who was a hip hop renaissance man. In addition to my F.O.A. brethren, there were many others who shared in our passion in the neighborhood and beyond. Colorful names like Box, Tootie, Jock Box, The Drunk MC’s, K Life, Terry, DJ Frank Cola, Kooley C, DJ Shock (the aforementioned DJ Chump Change) and Donte Jackson permeated our surroundings with different aspects of hip hop culture. I was influenced, directly and indirectly, by each of these cats. Being around them at shows or impromptu freestyle sessions gave me a street education. I witnessed so much during this time. The biggest influences I had, of course, were from GQ and EF Cuttin’, for obvious reasons. I’m biased when I say that these two individuals were head and shoulders above others that professed to do some of the same things. Metaphors, delivery, and intellect were three of the main weapons GQ used lyrically. EF Cuttin’ was the first person to actually show me how to scratch and blend records. I learned how to do the infamous “Transformer” scratch by watching countless hours of Ed on the one’s and two’s. I hope that I was able to influence my brethren in some shape, form, or fashion as well.
After a few years, we felt that as a collective, we needed to expand our horizons, so others were brought into the fold as extended family members, either as artists or support. George, Earl, Bobby, Shawn, Ezell, and others gave F.O.A. the impetus to up the ante, because we felt brotherhood and kinship. Eventually, our name was starting to make its way around the area, and we were invited to join another artist collective managed by this local promoter and manager named Herb. Herb was at least twenty years older than us, and at first we thought he could help us by giving insight into the music industry. Herb’s collection of artists included individuals younger than us, because at this time we were fresh out of high school. Jammin’ Jay, The Professor, DJ Nitroglycerin, and some nameless others peppered the homemade studio located in a basement not too far from our Berea stomping grounds. Truthfully, I think Ed was hesitant about our involvement with Herb from a managerial standpoint. Herb wanted to actually bind all of the artists that he was involved with under contract, but as F.O.A. we refused. Certain warning signs kept surfacing to alert GQ and myself against any binding contract, but we continued to use the studio and bond with the artists. “Righteous Supremacy” was the name of a very dope song that GQ wrote, and we recorded this song during this “Herb Period”. Herb supplied studio time for each of the group and solo members under his management and control. He did see, however, that as F.O.A. we were the most talented of the collective. This aspect allowed us a semblance of respect and status under Herb’s umbrella. With Ed being away at college in Pennsylvania, Joe and I recorded “Righteous Supremacy” here in Baltimore, and it became our calling card for the moment.
The distance didn’t separate F.O.A., however. Ed, as the college radio deejay during this time, played plenty of hip hop records on-air. Joe and I performed at various venues around the area, including a very special talent show. This talent show was sponsored by WEBB radio and the Monument Street Merchants Association. Held at Tench Tilghman Elementary School on Patterson Park Avenue in East Baltimore, the show gave me and my rhyme partner the opportunity to shine outside our comfort zone. The talent competition had comedians, singers, rappers, and dancers all vying for recognition and accolades. Looking back, we were nervous, yet excited about this opportunity. Even though Ed wasn’t with us in physical presence, his spiritual presence was evident. Looking back on this February 1989 evening, the fact that it was sponsored by the very entity that tried to derail F.O.A. just a few years prior was a motivating force. Motivation had to wait for anxiety and nervousness to pass, however. We were anxious because of the long wait before we were scheduled to perform. We were nervous because the crowd was unfamiliar. We were motivated because of who we were, the Fraternity Of Aristocratia, a brotherhood of talented individuals connected by rhythm and rhyme. That talent show did have some very talented individuals competing, including a soon to be known local comedian known as Howard G. Howard G. provided some laughs for the raucous and rowdy crowd. The other rappers on the scene ranged from good to mediocre. One thing that we knew was that it would be very, very difficult to sway the crowd if a good to excellent vocalist was in the competition, and there definitely was one. Singing “A House Is Not A Home” was a sure-fire method for getting judge and crowd support, so the young singer that belted that tune for the talent show was in a good position. Eventually, the announcer called F.O.A. to the stage, but because it was towards the end of the talent show, many in the crowd left the gymnasium where it was held. GQ as the emcee and TNT as the beatbox grabbed the microphones. “Testing, one, two…” was what I said to see if the microphone levels needed to be adjusted. In hindsight, I was a cocky individual when it came to my beatboxing abilities, as was GQ with his rhyming acumen. “Testing, one, two…” was said again, before I proceeded to put my beatbox skills to good use. Because we knew “Stop The Madness” like the back of our hands, F.O.A. decided to unleash this positive yet powerful joint for whosoever was within earshot. Once we started with this song, a surreal thing happened right before our eyes. We saw a multitude of individuals running back into the venue and trying to crawl inside windows to catch a glimpse of who was performing. I’m not trying to toot the F.O.A. horn, but let’s just say that it felt VERY GOOD indeed to see this happen right before our eyes. This sight gave us even more momentum as the performance progressed. My vocal percussions coupled with GQ’s lyrical mastery brought forth an energy I can’t quite put into simple words. Once “Stop The Madness” was finished during the talent competition, the many in attendance gave a rousing, thunderous cheer. To this day I can recall clearly how Joe and I reacted to the ovation we received that night. Now it was up to the judges , and we patiently, yet nervously, waited for the score tabulations. There were three overall prizes to be awarded, along with awards for separate categories. After what seemed like an eternity, the judges thanked everyone in attendance. Category after category was announced, and once we heard “Rap Category” we wondered if our name would be called. Indeed, F.O.A. was called as winner of the Rap Category, and from an overall standpoint we came in 2nd Place, beating out Howard G. and others. Of course the Luther Vandross sound-alike won 1st Place, but that meant nothing to us. We were victorious as we came, saw, and conquered. GQ and I received a nice plaque from WEBB and Monument Street Merchants Association. For a good while, we alternated who would hold the plaque in their possession. That evening will go down as one of my proudest moments!
F.O.A., in name only, morphed into Lordz Of Skil, same characters, more mature creative outlook. With Ed being away at Slippery Rock University, it was sometimes difficult to coalesce as a three-man unit, but we managed to make it work. I attribute that to a common bond and brotherly love. To me, whatever we did apart from the group aesthetic still contributed to the group as a whole, so if Ed was deejaying on the college radio station, it was still F.O.A. or Lordz Of Skil-affiliated. As a group, we elevated our overall skill level, becoming even more adept at the art of creating songs. Speech could, and would, battle anyone, anytime, anyplace, solidifying his place as one of Baltimore’s best lyricists. Ed Wrecka became a triple threat, equally adept at rhyming, deejaying, and dancing. As for myself, I became a better deejay by witnessing my turntable partner cut and scratch. I also picked up the pen to write rhymes, even though I wouldn’t necessarily unveil them to the world. I played the background, as we called it during this time period. As a collective, I felt that Lordz Of Skil had all the elements to be a force to be reckoned with in the industry. This theory would be put to the test quite a few times, however.
Certain things stand out in my mind when recalling our past stories. Being able to attend the annual Hip Hop Conference at Howard University on two different occasions definitely are stand-out moments. Speech and I first attended around 1992. This was a defining moment, because we would have the opportunity to step outside of our insular Baltimore view and gain a broader perspective of the industry at large. The Hip Hop Conference gained us access to those in the industry that the Lordz Of Skil looked up to and admired. Hip hop luminaries surrounded us once we arrived that first go-round. Tupac, Cypress Hill, Jam Master Jay, De La Soul, Organized Konfusion, Special Ed, Two Kings In A Cypher, and countless others were in attendance at different panels and events. It was a great idea to have the event at Howard University, because Howard is an environment that fueled that passion for hip hop. This was a timeframe where Sean Combs, also known at that time as Puffy, still reigned as the king of Howard and its party atmosphere, so we had the opportunity to network on a higher level than anticipated. To say we were in awe would probably be an overstatement. That awe factor hit an all-time level when, during an artist showcase on Saturday evening, Speech and I had the chance to talk with Prince Poetry and Pharoahe Monch, the two elite, top-notched, ahead of their time emcees from one of the most underrated groups ever, Organized Konfusion. While talking with them, they asked us if we would like to rhyme with them onstage. Can you say INTIMIDATION? We were so in awe of their lyrical aura that we declined, and to this day I can safely say that is one of my biggest regrets. I think that Speech could have held his own onstage, but not myself; I was not on that lyrical level. I implore individuals to obtain any material from Organized Konfusion or Pharoahe Monch, because they are an example of a progressive art and culture.
Other notions stick in my mind from attending the Hip Hop Conference: seeing Tupac and Cypress Hill go into a large boardroom to partake in a “smoking session”, sitting on a panel with De La Soul while discussing hip hop and the media, talking directly with Jam Master Jay about hip hop and a new group he discovered named Onyx, before Onyx was a recognizable name, seeing a drunken Special Ed at a club setting. These and many other memories molded Speech and I (and indirectly Ed) because we were able to see up close and personal the inner workings of the industry as a business, not just music.
Music gave way to living for the three of us, as each of us had other things that started to take precedence, namely relationships. It was a difficult proposition to equally share relationships and musical endeavors, but at least we tried. To this day I can say the same thing. When you are in a committed relationship, it can be a chore and task to balance going to the studio with that relationship, and something would eventually have to give. Truthfully, I know I was a tad bit stubborn, so I tried to find creative ways to make this thing work. Inviting my then-girlfriend, who would later become my wife, and then ex-wife, to the studio was one of my many brilliant ideas. Of course I’m being facetious when I say brilliant, because if anything, that notion was more of a distraction. A song that we had been working on for a good while, “A Dash Of Flavor”, was recorded professionally in a studio in South Baltimore. We worked on this song in unison and separately over the course of a year or so. I believe the genesis of this song was Speech having the opportunity to go to West Palm Beach, Florida. Once in Florida, he connected with our childhood friend Calvin Puckett, who moved from Baltimore to Florida during the 1980’s. Along with Kooley C, Speech had the chance to network and work with another Baltimore transplant, DJ Frank Cola. DJ Frank Cola is still one of the best deejays I’ve ever witnessed. Speech was blessed to have the opportunity to network and create, away from the urban jungle that was, and still is, Baltimore. The excursion provided him the creative energy to compile the lyrics and ideas for “A Dash Of Flavor” and other songs. Those ideas came back to Baltimore with Speech, and we were able to first lay down a rough draft, then record professionally.
Recording “A Dash Of Flavor” in that South Baltimore studio was a learning experience, because we witnessed the engineering and production facets first-hand. It was hands-on, but it was tedious, to say the least. We learned that pre-production was key, because producing a song completely in the studio with no draft or example can be costly. One thing about Lordz Of Skil as a unit was the notion that we were consummate professionals and perfectionists. As individuals within the whole, we all were opinionated, even when on the same creative page, so we had to be diplomatic about the process in the studio. From selecting samples, laying down the skeletal drum track, recording the vocals, punching in verses, to layering our adlibs and hooks, the process in-studio was such a progression and growth for the group. Having all three creative minds in one place at one time, Speech, Ed Wrecka, and the newly christened Wisdom, was a sight to see! The finished product was brilliant, in our opinions, and we sensed that it was time for Lordz Of Skil to seek that elusive holy grail for music at the time, a record deal.
Once “A Dash Of Flavor” was recorded, we went back to the lab to do an alternate version with a different beat and enhanced lyrics. We decided to include both versions on our demo tape that we were shopping to various labels. Overall, our demo tape would include both versions of “A Dash Of Flavor”, “Stop The Madness”, and “Permanent Damage”, if my memory serves me right. We had promotional photographs of the group, and I also compiled a group bio as part of our package. Things were falling into place, or so it seemed. I sent letters to different hip hop labels at the time, such as Sleeping Bag Records and Wild Pitch Records. Before the internet exploded, seeking out information was more of a investigative approach. As a deejay, buying vinyl records and albums was a weekly occurrence, and I used that opportunity to search out information for record labels that fit our musical aesthetic. I was fortunate enough to send a letter to Wild Pitch Records, detailing our interest in the label. At the time, Wild Pitch Records had an impressive roster of artists, such as GangStarr, Chill Rob G., Lateef, and The UMC’s. It was an eclectic mix of artists that didn’t conform to the more mainstream atmosphere trying to permeate the airwaves. As a group, Lordz Of Skil was suited to be a part of the burgeoning label. The president of Wild Pitch Records, Stu Fine, sent us a letter stating that he was interested in setting up a meeting with the group. We were excited about this prospect, because we believed in our hearts that we would be signed to Wild Pitch.
I remember the sunny day that we all piled in a red Hyundai Excel, dressed to impress, and ready to invade New York City with our Lordz Of Skil bravado. With my then-girlfriend driving that stick-shift Hyundai, we ventured up Interstate 95 North, leaving behind the grit of Baltimore for the glitz of New York, at least for our anticipated meeting. The meeting never happened, because as fate would have it, the car would not make it out of Maryland. It hesitated, barely making it 30 miles northeast of the city we call Charm City. Our opportunity to meet with an actual label and executive was lost on that fateful trek on Interstate 95. That was a defining moment for the group and its dynamics. After that point, things weren’t quite the same, for better or for worst. One thing that experience taught each of us was to let disappointment fuel our endeavors for the future. I think that lesson has stuck with each of us over the years.
As we continued to grow as young men, hip hop took on a different appearance for us over the years. The love and passion was still there, but we had to contend with elements that didn’t necessarily push us in that direction. Relationships, work, and everyday living had to contend with hip hop culture. It became more difficult because of these other, outside elements. Our connections were fewer, and we drifted apart, a tad bit, at least. Time, space, and marriage were now three entities that tried to disrupt Ed Wrecka, Speech, and Wisdom as three entities within Lordz Of Skil. Hip hop was still a part of us, but now space had to be shared with future wives, children, and this thing we called life. This is pretty much how the remaining part of the 90’s played out for Lordz Of Skil, who again morphed into a new nomenclature: Illogical. Illogical was the natural progression for three wise men: dealing with logic from an “ill” state of mind. A clever play on words, from my vantage point. But would things stay the same?
An answer to that question is a resounding no. Resounding because we were older, wiser, and preoccupied with life outside of hip hop. Speech was a correctional officer, raising a family, living the married life. Ed Wrecka , also married and being a responsible father, was enlisted in the Air Force and living in Virginia. As for myself, the man going by the name Wisdom was married with children, still residing in the region, and working like a slave to become a master. I say this to state that I still envisioned the collective as a unit, even though we weren’t in each other’s presence. Hip hop was still instilled in me, even with the changing musical climate that surrounded each of us. When I would speak to Ed, it would be like old times talking about the dopest rhyme or nicest beat we heard, and it was good to share our shared musical visions from different locales. With Speech and I in the same area, it wasn’t as difficult to connect, but we didn’t have the time to network or collaborate like we wanted. Anytime we did connect, it was like old times, because our creative wavelengths never changed. Over time, our shared journeys helped us to grow as men inside the hip hop diaspora.
Over the years, we’ve all been involved in the continued development of hip hop. Be it creatively, as a listener, or a participant, hip hop has never disappeared from our collective visions. When we had the opportunity to spend time together in February 2009, it became evident that the fire inside each of us wasn’t doused. That fire was hip hop, from a 21st Century perspective, and now as Gray Matter, the most recent incarnation of our collective, we still hope to be a creative force. Distance is no longer a major factor, because technology now lessens the divide among these three creative forces: Speech, Awethentic, and Wisdom. Each member of Gray Matter understands what we can, and need to, do, in order to fulfill our destinies within the hip hop realm. Because that fire hasn’t been extinguished, it’s only a matter of time before those within, and outside, hip hop will feel the heat. That heat is going to be a positive reaffirmation of our vision, which is to contribute to, and advance, this culture that we have been a part of since our first breaths.
In closing, I want to thank my brethren, Joseph Allender and Edward Fields, in sharing in this vision, and being a part of my life. Distance hasn’t parted us, troubles haven’t divided us,. That long-awaited musical project, from genesis to revelation, will soon enough be considered tangible. Until then, Gray Matter will continue, creating ideas, ideals, musical and lyrical fantasies, as well as advancing this thing we call hip hop. There are many unwritten, unspoken facets not covered in this story, but the saga will continue. I say from evolution to revolution because in the process of this band of brothers growing, we have come full circle in our vision. As Public Enemy voice of reason states, “to evolve, to revolve, to self respect, cuz we gotta keep ourselves in check”. Poignant words indeed from one of the many that planted that hip hop seed that germinated in this sometimes unfair city of ours. Gray Matter for life!