Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Charity Starts at Home

Let me start by saying that I downloaded Charity Starts at Home at the same time that I got The Wonder Years, so I haven’t listened to either separately yet. He really should have charged more than $8 for this….

I was a little apprehensive about what a solo project from Phonte would sound like. Was it going to be Authenticity part two? The Minstrel Show minus Pooh?

What he gave his fans was the same honest lyrics whether he sang or was rapping. I’m a lyrics fanatic so I have to applaud the feeling behind Dance in the Reign and The Life of Kings. He seems to effortlessly speak from his heart and you can’t help but relate in some way. This album is a great representation of why he has been instrumental in two outstanding groups.

If you’re a fan from the Little Brother days, you won’t be disappointed. We Go Off with Pharaoh Monch and Eternally with Median remind you that indeed, there are quality lyricists still doing it. If you were introduced via Foreign Exchange, you can appreciate the relaxed, two-stepping vibe of Gonna Be a Wonderful Night with Carlitta Durand. To Be Yours (I haven’t read the credits yet but it’s clearly a Zo! production) is a beautiful ballad. I’m not sure too many other artists could pull off an album with all of these different styles of music that just makes sense like this one.

My favorite though? Who Loves You More with Eric Roberson. “Make a living or have a life? I guess I have to choose one.” “I got a room and a microphone and a family I ain’t seen in months. I play this record a million times just hoping you’ll listen once. “

New Tigallo, New Tigallo….thank you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jr's Birthday Lesson

This weekend we celebrated my kids 11th birthday by letting him have his first slumber party. He had a small group of 5 boys that partied and ate up e’erything in my house…all weekend. It was epic (for an 11 year old).

I won’t go into the boring parental details, but the lesson I learned from it has stood out so much than I needed to write it down. Who knows how many more opportunities I’ll have like this in his life since he’s like a little man these days?

One of the things I have understood early on in being in his life (I came into the picture when he was 5) was that he appreciates experiences way more than things. Now don’t get me wrong…he digs things too. He’s a Jordan fanatic, Lego’s make me go broke and he’s discovered his “style” of clothing. I took him on his first plane trip to California for a cousin’s birthday and the look on his face when I dropped him back at his mom’s was priceless. Like he had had so much fun that he didn’t want to leave me. That’s what I cherish the most. He was the same even with our recent trip to bury my Grandfather. My nephew saw him and went nuts! Lol…He loves Jr like you wouldn’t believe.

I work to be able to afford for him to be comfortable. I take him places so that he realizes that there’s more to life than the blocks between McDowell and 44th St. I take random days off in the summer so we can watch movies and put put around Phoenix. I buy him clothes so he looks nice when we’re out and he has an appreciation for nice things rather than dickies and a polo. I take him to get his hair cut so when he’s older he knows where to go and how to ask for what he wants. I buy him little stanky cologne stuff so hopefully he’ll know the difference between Axe and Burberry when he’s a man. I take him on hot dates so he knows how to act when he goes to restaurants with his friends.

Life experience’s is what we as parents should be showing our kids. It’s the meat and potatoes of life. Yes you need to teach values and integrity, etc. But how to live life? That’s a skill that needs to be developed early and often. I don’t want him to sit on the couch in my house eating Hot Cheetos playing video games while life is passing him by. I want him to know what a good time is and how to make that happen for him. I will continue to do what I can to make sure that he has these things because he needs them. We all need positive experiences in our lives. Moments that celebrate us and who we are. People pausing to say “Happy Birthday”.

When I was dropping him back off yesterday I was thinking “Man, I remember when he got that look on his face like he had had the time of his life and didn’t want to leave. He’s too old for that now”. As I gave him and hug and sent him to his mom, he looked back at me again with that same look from when he was little. Lol…I cried all the way home. SCORE!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


So 2011 has ushered in a new experience for me….death. My grandfather passed away April 3. He’s the first person that I’ve lost that I’ve been close to. I am having the most difficult time trying to accept that he’s gone. He was something so stable and strong and alive and vibrant in my life. You never realize how impactful people are until they’re gone.

I got a bbm from my cousin asking when I had seen Papa last. It had been over a year. He basically told me I needed to get home to see him soon. Now, my Dad and sister hadn’t mentioned anything about him being sicker than usual. I knew Papa was getting old….My mother had sent me a message saying that he was talking about his life as if it was ending. But I didn’t believe that it really was. But the bbm scared me. I flew home that day.

I had the best time with my cousin. We didn’t grow up together so it was nice to hang out and have lunch. And cry together because we knew something wasn’t right. I got to the hospital and my grandfather just looked….he didn’t look good. The way my Grandma was further alerted me to some issues. My Daddy was there reading a paper…chilling. They acted like everything was ok, but Papa didn’t look ok to me. I finally broke down and pulled Dad out into the lobby to cry. He knew…but didn’t want to admit that Papa wasn’t doing well.

I stayed by my grandfather’s side as much as I could without seeming concerned. He was fussing about
Charlie Sheen. He told me to give him some suga on the way out. For some reason I stayed and gave him another kiss before I left. I just didn’t want to let him go. On the way to my grandparents house, I couldn’t stop yapping because I couldn’t help thinking that this is what is was going to be like. My dad driving Grandma around. Grandma being in the house by herself.

On the way home I couldn’t stop crying. I knew I’d never see my grandfather again. I literally cried from the minute the plane left LAX and landed in Phoenix. When I got home, I thought of all these great things I wanted to tell my papa before he passed away. I called him every week until he passed away 3 weeks later. I never told him what I needed to.

I wasn’t surprised, but was hurt just the same. Now 3 months later I’m still trying to come to grips with the fact that my Papa is no longer with us. He did everything he could to make his passing easy for us…no funeral, requested to be cremated to avoid a burial, etc. And I’m thankful for all of that…but I can’t find a way to say good bye.

He was who I used to talk history with. He was funny. He was a strong soul. He was the backbone of our family. He wasn’t perfect by any means…but he was the best grandfather I could have ever asked for. He bought my first bike…bought our piano so his girls could learn to play. He made sure we grew up with both of our parents when my parents weren’t sure. He was the best blessing I could have ever had.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be ok with him not being here. I know he’s with me. I have a lot of his traits I know that he avoided a lot of pain, but I still wish he were here…I wish I could get one more hug or hear him fuss about one more thing. He impacted my life and I’m so thankful that he was mine.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why Effort Is So Important To Me

I’m not sure if I notice the level of effort because of my age or just that lately it seems people don’t understand the value of it, but effort is what sustains so much in our lives. Effort is required at work, in your home (#nohoarding), with friends, family and yourself. I just can’t see how your life can be happy or fulfilled without effort to make it so.

I was chatting with someone on Twitter the other day about how people don’t date anymore. It seems that the effort to really get to know someone is a lost art that not too many people are interested in revisiting. So many folks would rather jump into a “relationship” (sex) and hope that things work out rather than taking the time to get to know the person first. Not everyone is for you; not every personality is going to work with yours. And that’s ok. Just figure that out pre-sexual encounter. Also, when you finally settle into a relationship, continue to grow that friendship and romance by going on dates. When you’ve been with someone for awhile, it’s more about time away from the daily grind than needing to be impressed. I don’t want to be impressed. I want to get out of the house. Lol…again…effort to keep the love alive.

Effort is also important in relationships with your family and friends. Sure they love you, but that doesn’t mean that they require less effort in terms of staying in contact and showing an interest in their lives. I committed to calling my grandparents once a month this year. My first phone calls were phenomenal and made me feel like hell. These were the people that had no problem helping to raise me, watch me when I was sick and pick me up from school when I was too little to walk home by myself. All they want is to say hi and make sure I’m doing well. My lack of effort in checking in on them was pathetic. The same can be said with friends. If you don’t make the effort to check in every now and then I guarantee they’ll check out at some point. Life isn’t about accumulating acquaintances; it’s about developing lasting relationships with people who will love and support you. So support and show love back.

One thing that I stress (to the point of sounding like a broken record) to my son is that I expect him to do great things with his life. To accomplish this, he needs to put effort in now with school and his extracurricular activities. The desire to do well and have a winning mentality will carry him far. In work, I try to do the best I can if for no other reason than less emails and visits from upper management. You can’t stay under the radar if you’re constantly effin up. People take notice of the effort you put into you; your work, the way you keep yourself up, the way you interact with people. It’s all a part of how you carry yourself and people are attracted to those who carry themselves well. I know I tend to want to get to know co-workers who seem on the ball rather than ones who act like they don’t care or seem to be there for a reason other than work.

In conclusion, effort is what is going to determine what type of day you have, what type of relationships you have, if you’re able to have people come over your house (#nohoarding) and whether you accomplish goals you set out for in life. If you don’t do anything else, put some effort into you and to those who put effort into knowing you.