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Does anybody else hold a fond spot in their memories for that point between 1999 and 2002 when the West Coast had a bit of a Dogg Pound based revival?

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One of the worst day-ruiners has to be a wet sock. Hands down, it’s awful. It stops you in your tracks. You know you’re going to have to air out your shoe. And in the worst case scenario you’re stuck sloshing around all day. It happened to me recently, and it couldn’t have been at a more sobering moment.

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This past March I spent two weeks abroad in France and Belgium (more details to follow). One of the most touching moments of the trip was walking on Omaha Beach, the stretch of the Normandy beaches where American troopers landed for one of the most infamous and bloody battles of WW2. The place rang with echoes of pain and torment. As I moved from the drier entrance to the beach, past the shard-like memorial, and onto the wet sand, I could see the footprints embedding themselves as young legs leapt off ducks, imprints of bodies downed by enemy fire, sprays of sand as bullets missed their targets, and the knee marks left by those who dropped down amongst the bedlam to be with a friend as he took his last breath, or try against that onslaught to heal a wounded brother.

Everyone – all 30 something students and teachers – was absolutely silent. There were no politics. No disagreements. No barriers. Just people blessed enough to walk onto that beach without a single fear of being hurt, of it being their last time on beach. What I saw was a student, previously disconnected from the potential joy of the trip, utterly lost in the moment. What I saw was a pair of students embracing, supporting each other although no one physically needed a hand. What I saw was a student staring off into the crashing tide, completely unfazed by the lack of a jacket and his decision to wear shorts on such an overcast and windy day. What I saw was a couple of kids who quietly and without question followed my directions for how to properly fold an American flag. What I saw was a group of students apparently reaching for shells or handfuls of sand to carry as mementos, when they might as well have been trying to bury themselves in the omnipresent memories of those who were carried home instead, shells of their former selves and too soon to be sand.

And I stared into the horizon, imagining the vessels carrying these terrified, brave men into an uncertain battle, sure of their purpose but wary from the travel. And as I sought that perfect mound of sand to stand on I was distracted by a bright purple shell. I reached down and shifted my footing to grab it.

And I stepped my right foot directly into the water.

Normally that would have triggered my anger, or made me feel self-conscious. But there was something visceral happening around me. History flooded my every sense. It was inescapable. I had submerged myself into an ocean of a moment, shared by so many, stretched across time, and yet utterly singular and personal. There is no way to disconnect and yet there are miles between. It’s a comforting dissonance. Much like my reaction to my lack of reaction. I just stopped. There was no revelation. There was no poetic bursting forth as I realized what my being angry meant in the face of the vastness and weight of this place. I just didn’t get mad.

Because years before me there were hundred of kids with wet socks, too scared to be mad about it, to determined to think about it -sloshing onto a beach, boots needing more that airing out.

And now as I look back at my pictures I realize that pictures don’t show wet shoes, but they hold more than we can ever hope to see in them.

 

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Anybody else feel like Schoolboy Q’s “Groovy Tony/ Eddie Kane” deserves its own holiday based on how dope it is? And that Jada verse is the unexpected highlight of 2016. Fire.

While we’re in the subject, lemme get that beat.

A new segment, in which I examine the good songs on bad albums, the bad songs on good albums, throwaway lines on bangers, memorable lines on terrible song choices, and reevaluations of once loved or reviled albums.

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Can-I-bus was such a let down. Remember first hearing one of his monster guest verses and thinking, “Man, this guy is about to destroy the whole game”? 

And then he let us down with those albums. At least he gave us one thing: an easy way to remember the day Biggie died – “The greatest rapper of all time died on March 9th” (from “Second Round KO”).

I hope you all rocked out to your favorite BIG jams. At the gym I banged Life After Death, and was reminded of why he’s considered one of the best to ever do it. The album reminds me of high school and of a particular trip to Boston. I’m still in awe at his verse on Notorius Thugs; but I’m not in awe at how easy it was for me to rap along (I mean, come on – how do you forget that verse). “Mo Money Mo Problems” will always remind me of some of my favorite moments of high school, while “Going Back to Cali” (along with Outkast’s entire ATLiens) specifically bring me right back to the passenger seat of Clark’s SUV. 

You’re still missed, BIG. 

I’ve posted about him many, many times, so I thought I’d put together a little music video primer. CyHi the Prynce is the most underutilized member of GOOD Music, and for years I’ve been scratching my head about why artists like Big Sean are getting more attention than he is. Recently he announced that his official debut album is about to drop, which makes me laugh because he’s got so many burners in his catalog already, including the Black Hystori Mixtapes that I’ve been banging for years. So here’s a little playlist of some of my personal favorites for you to enjoy.

Marcie naps blissfully across my lap, her breaths coming through long, measured gaps. Gomez pads through the hallway, stepping softly so as not to stir his eager pursuer. The French press is still 2/3 full, and the coffee is just the right temperature. Ashley slowly stirs, the bed creaking under her soft movements, Sirius no doubt curled up at her feet. The book on my knee summons up bright, beautiful images set against one of the darkest backdrops imaginable. 

And for all that I lament not having kept a regular paper journal through the years, I remember little entries like this – on blogs, in a multitude of unfinished notebooks, on slips of paper – fragments of me scattered through space, that if collected, reveal more through the blank spaces in between than the records collected. The empty pages of the journal – my decision for an alternative ending ; the onset of a new notebook or blog signaling a new interest; and the “this time I’ll write more consistently” entries, the manifestation of inspiration, captured through pen strokes where a picture would ultimately fail. 

The chaise of the couch is stained with trails of Marcie’s fevered snacking, where the rest of the couch cushions have already been washed. Unfinished tasks. The breath beyond the credits. The next step after the last page has been turned. This couch is a thread of infinity.