A glance at Black history

Alright, so I’ve been avoiding the issue for a bit now since I find it dead boring but I know that I have to talk about it, black history. I’m well prepared for the flame fest that will come because of the previous sentence.

To begin, black history- along with the entire world’s history began in Africa. Those of you who are fans of Charles Darwin and his work, you will know that I’m going by what he said. Otherwise, for those of you who are creationists….’pop’ the world began and that is all.

Now history has told us that Africa was home to some of the greatest empires history would ever see. Look no further than Egypt for an example. This is constantly overlooked because we usually get caught up in the European expansion and the beginning of slavery in the 1600’s. Just so you all know, stuff was happening in Africa before that. I’ll take the liberty of giving you a brief look at the highlights from before the 1600’s….ok that would take too long so I’m going to give you a link to the useful information instead. Here, you can find an overview of all the African empires from CE to the 1500’s.

Now, I’ll skip ahead to the parts that I’m sure that even if we know nothing about, pop culture has taught us enough about it to have a basic idea. In the 1600’s the Europeans came to Africa on some ships, saw the black people, and thought “Hey, these guys are savages. They neither speak our language nor worship our god. Let us oppress!” and with that began a few centuries of hell. Here’s a nifty time line I found that would highlight the key points in this era. Aside from the struggles of black people we cannot forget the struggles of the Indians, the Asians and everyone else who was not of European descent- we all got hit at some time. Oh and don’t forget that the Jewish people got hit pretty hard too.

On the issue of slavery, I would like to point out something crucial that comes to mind whenever some close minded people are near and say something to emphasize the blame on Caucasian people for slavery all over the world. EVERY race has been guilty of slavery at some time or the other. Great empires aren’t built on just hard work and perseverance but by the bone and blood of the conquered that have to be removed in order for it to happen. Slavery is and always will be wrong and people have the right to be free but the Europeans happened to come in and take the shit to a whole new and obscene level. Alas, shit has to get stupid before people realize “oh shit, this is fucked up”.

Anyways, after all the oppression and whatnot that went on we (I mean everybody when I say we) are now in a substantially better place. We live in an age where in most modernized places we’re all treated as equals. It’s a great boring age with leaders who may very well change the face of the world; the people have nothing to really fight about. ..not in North America at least. Still, we have to remember that there are people and places where everyone isn’t treated as an equal. Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to end the problems of inequality and oppression then find something new to rage about.

Correct me if I’m wrong about anything and entertain me with your thoughts.

Respect

So here we are this month talking about the greatness of diversity and how great it is that we all are different but as we go through the month, one issue comes up. The issue of respect. Now with all the entertaining we’ve been doing here at The Infection, I think it’s time we get back on track a little bit.

Last week Lionel spoke a little bit about respect and I think that we need to go a little deeper into that. What is respect? How do you get it? Who deserves it?

Now, everyone deserves respect and we all deserve to be treated like free human beings. In most modern places this does happen but at the same time there are places where people dont get the respect they deserve.

Respect is being able to live your life as you wish without having someone punish you for it.  Sure, sometimes we might not agree with another person’s lifestyle but I personally see nothing wrong with letting someone live their life as long as it doesn’t really harm the rest of society.

An example situation would be on the issue of gay marriage. Some people argue that it disturbs the sanctity of marriage and its unholy but my belief is that  the idea of traditional marriage died when people started to marry for money. Marriage now is nothing more than a financial binding of two people. If two people really love eachother then marriage is just a formality to show  respect to those they care about through acknowledgement.

That brings me to another point about respect. Respect is acknowledgement. Even if you dislike someone you show them respect through acknowledgement. To ignore someone, to alienate and to discriminate in any form is the worst kind of disrespect you can give to someone and it will come to bite you in the ass if you do it.

So, respect in its basic form is narrowed down to two things- freedom and acknowledgement.  Now, how do you get respect?

Usually, decent people offer it to you in the two basic forms. It happens kind of like this- you meet someone, they ACKNOWLEDGE you with some sort of greeting, hopefully it’s friendly. From the point of acknowledgement you have the FREEDOM to decide how the meeting will go by returning the acknowledgement you recieved with a similar greeting.

Now sometimes, the situation might not go so well and when people acknowledge you they try to strip you of your freedom by insulting you and bringing you to a level lower than them. Or by way of threat or challenge they show respect. When faced with this form of respect my personal choice is to usually return the favour with a healthy insult or another threat. This can lead to violence so be prepared to choose how you exercise your freedom in a situation where you get the wrong kind of respect.

To be completely honest, this isn’t even respect- it’s fear. In my experience if people dont respect you, they fear you or what you represent. People usually respond to fear with ignorance and thus you recieve a greeting that is the opposite to that of respect. A greeting where someone will try to bring you down below them and make you into their bitch- this is called fear on their part.

Now who deserves respect? Everyone. That’s right, each and every single person on this planet deserves respect. No matter who you are or what you do we all deserve respect. Sure, maybe some of us just shouldn’t be acknowledged but then at the same time, what happens when people go unnoticed? They make a cry for attention and that can lead to them getting in other people’s way. Pay attention to the people around you and make sure that you know they exist.

Anyways, keep me entertained with your thoughts.

Hip hop where are you? pt 2

This is Lionel Heart, Poison has kindly asked me to do a post on his blog.

If you are a frequent reader like Spectrum I will give you a short brief on who I am. The name is Lionel Heart and the card I play is respect. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Music is my love, literature is my mistress; a good poem, a nice story, a good comic; you get the idea.

This month Poison is working on the “Black History” theme and earlier did a piece on the state of hip-hop; I am going to keep the ball rolling. Let’s also keep with my card of respect. Today as I write this it’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day is the U.S. today they pay homage to one of, if not, the greatest, strongest, most influential person to stop the segregation and mistreatment of coloured people. And on January 20, 2009 Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the first coloured president and all of this could happen because of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We all should respect Dr. King’s actions and his promising words.

Let us stop here and look at the word respect. Definition number 3 on dictionary.com: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.

Is it me or is respect handed out a little too easily today in the hip-hop industry. I mean let’s take the guy who sang “This is why I’m hot”, I don’t know his name nor do I give two shits but here is my point this guy said the same thing for 3 minutes and sold a million records, made an album and I don’t care how well it did; but when this track came out, I was wondering what was so good about this guy, all I was hearing was garbage and people were raving. It’s either I’m out dated and my ideals are as dead as chivalry or the world needs to look at where it is placing its respect. Target number 2: Florida. Don’t correct me dammit his name is Florida not “Flo Rida” look at his logo it’s the state of Florida are you people so friggin blind and stupid to not see his lack of originality. You know what I am going out to a record label right now and telling them to put me on a track and call me “Wis Con Sin” I’m not from the state but you get the point. Finally target number 3: 50 Cent. I can hear the boos, the teeth sucking, and all that garbage. He was over since day one, as my grade 8 history teacher put it “50 ain’t shit, you want a respectable ‘rapper’ talk about some old school guys, talk about NWA”. 50 cent has spent the last 6 years producing the same things over and over; people keep buying his records and respecting him. How about you people stop and listen to his lyrics he’s talking about the same thing over and over. I mean a real rapper to respect is Snoop Dogg. Look at his list of charitable causes: 21st Century Leaders, Habitat For Humanity, Live Earth, Mission Australia, Save a Life Foundation, Snoop Youth Football League, The Healing Circle, Whatever It Takes. The media tries to perpetuate Snoop Dogg’s and 50 cent’s negative traits the difference is 50 accepts it and behaves like it’s nothing and keeps it going, Snoop Dogg on the other hand does something different with his personality and music.

Poison asked for an opinion on the state of Hip-hop, my answer is its degenerating; it’s becoming a cancer in the music industry and needs to be corrected. It starts with respect; some of these artists need to earn respect the old way, the hard way, where you produce a string of good tracks not a good track, none of this street cred garbage; I am talking real substance.

I told you my love is music so after you read this go listen to Live your life by T.I. on his album Paper Trail, don’t listen for the beat, listen to lyrics and take this one away “Your values is a disarray, prioritizing horribly. Unhappy with the riches cause you piss-poor morally.” That’s about the hip-hop industry in a nutshell. Entertain us with your thoughts.

Hip Hop where are you?

Alright, for this weeks entertainment section we kick off the month’s theme of black history with a favorite song of mine. Fight the Power by Public Enemy.

This song was from a time where minorities felt and were oppressed by the government that the believed in.  What I’m going to talk about isn’t the time that passed but the time we live in now. Hip hop music like this helped to define an era and a race for not just the black minority but for everyone. The question I wish to pose is- what the fuck happened?!

I’m gonna get personal with this and get into a story from my life that i’m sure alot of people have heard before. When I ask people “what kind of music do you listen to” the typical response is “a little bit of everything, except rap…I can’t stand rap”. Now I am a fan of classical hip hop and it saddens me on the behalf of not just my race (I’m black by the way) but on behalf of the artform itself. I believe that hip hop is a beautiful artform and when tastefully expressed it can deliver a powerful message while entertaining the people.When given the answer “I dont listen to rap” my response is that it’s probably because “you’ve never listened to real hip hop before, you need to listen to the old school guys”. Relate to me if you’ve had a similar conversation with someone and it ends up leading to you finding out that they like old school hip hop and hate rap for the following reasons.

  1. It’s an ignorant, irritating bunch of noise
  2. No originality
  3. lack of content
  4. I can’t stand it!
  5. degrading to women (this is a big one)
  6. too profane (another big one)
  7. can’t relate to it

If you haven’t noticed while reading I make an effort to define the old school music as hip hop and the new stuff as rap. I, Poison, define hip hop as the art form that took its roots in african culture and evolved from there as a form of self expression for the oppressed minority and ,of current, anyone who wishes to express themself through an easily accessible form of music. I define Rap as the result of the ‘industry’ corruption of something good. If anything ,Rap is the evil twin to hip hop, both are valid forms of poetic expression but one has substance and form while the other has nothing of good offering.

The fact is that when listening to this genre of music one needs to make sure that what they’re listening to is either hip hop or rap. My personal criteria for defining something as hip hop or rap goes as follows…

  • can I effectively relate to it or is it all Hollywood glamourized? If I can relate to it then it might be hip hop and if it’s all Hollywood cars, girls and glam then it’s rap
  • Does the song talk about issues concerning everyone or just the artist? This can be an iffy one since the artist can be talking about them self but the problem can concern everyone but if the problem is something superficial like cars, girls  and glam then it’s rap.
  • Is it original? This question is something to ask for all art but this goes all too true for rap. The problem with people involved in the rap industry is that the style and flavor of the artist is toned down in order to reach a wider audience and sell. This doesn’t just happen in the rap industry but an example would be in the case of Avril Lavigne- she completely sold out those of you who loved her.

Everything after that is based solely on personal taste. Questons about the beat and how they flow are all opinion but the first three questions have to be answered before I continue to actually ‘listen’ to the song. I say ‘listen’ since I do sometimes listen to rap but i’m not ‘listening’ to it since there’s no message to it or anything important. In most cases i’m listening to the beat and i’m just too lazy to go out and find the instrumental for the song i’m listening to.

Now for two big issues in hip hop music which are language and treatment of women.

In the beginning hip hop was not like this. It was created with the purpose of empowerment for EVERYONE and that included women. It wasn’t until later on, around the early 90’s, during the advent of gangster hip-hop where things went out of hand.

Know that I have nothing against the gangster genre of hip hop from that era since I know that the area where it was born in was surrounded by that kind of influence. Gangster hip hop was a byproduct of a bad breeding ground thus why it had so much anger but it had the one thing that made it REAL hip hop. The fact that it was real and the people who listened could relate. Gangster rap is the runoff of that era. It comes from artists who desperately try to cling to what’s not there anymore or not as prevalent. Somehow, it sells but not as well as it used to.

As for the use of profane language in hip hop, that was always around but profane language and music have been accomplices as long as I’ve been alive. Artists were employing the use of shocking language in order to sell records a long time ago. The fact is that they do have to sell the records they make, mainstream or otherwise, and the shock value of profane words does appeal to some people.

Finally, i’m going to end this with a question- What do you think about the state of hip hop today? Is it dead, is it alive, do we need to go out and kill it? I think that hip hop is alive but not doing well. Thanks to the trouble caused by the rap industry and it promotion of horrible values through the use of its wretchedly similar doppelganger, Rap. What we need to do is kill Rap and cut the crap. When that’s done then good, original, mindful and empowering hip hop can take its rightful place with the rest of the good music out there.

Entertain me with your thoughts

Racism

Here at The Infection we are all against any form of discrimination. From sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, we’re against all of it. This is not to say that our individual members don’t hold their own opinions on the subjects but all together we are willing to accept anyone for who they are and what they are.

To begin, this month we’ll be talking about black history or to be broader, we’ll be talking about the history of race in general. Racism is defined as….

  1. A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
  2. A policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination
  3. Hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

At some point in time, everyone has been guilty of the following crime. When people think of racism, sometimes they forget that it’s not just a black and white issue but an issue concerning everyone. Throughout history, all people have been subject to some form of racism. From the blacks and segregation to the Chinese Exclusion Act, everyone has felt some form of racism at some time in their life. If you haven’t been victim of racism then my bet is that either you don’t know it or you’ve been living in a bubble but the fact is that everyone is a little bit racist, it’s true.

Racism is a virus in our society that is spread through a lack of understanding. As humans we all fear what we can’t understand, that’s a given. Through learning about each other and celebrating the differences we can understand and make racism into less of a problem.

I say less of a problem because it will always be there. As long as we have differences there will be people who will celebrate them and there will be people to hate them. It’s a bit naive to say that racism is a problem that can be completely eliminated because there will always be people who wish to oppose the greater good. Why? Because some people just want to see the world burn.

So the sad truth is that we can’t stop racism completely. What can we do about it? My suggestion is Harm reduction. Yes, I know that the definition given pertains to public health issues but my belief is that if we can’t completely stop this problem then the most we can do is monitor it. By watching and making sure that the problem doesn’t get out of hand like in the past, we can at least be sure that we’ll never see the worst case scenario.

For some people the worst case scenario is going on right now and you have people like me who don’t believe we can completely solve the problem. Feel more than welcome to make suggestions because here at The Infection we’re willing to help.

If anything, right now most of society is practicing this method. An example would be the acceptance of comedian Russell Peters who has risen to fame by making fun of the differences between all of us. Jokes are ok sometimes but please be reminded that you have to present the comedy in a tasteful manner. Also, there’s a time and place for some jokes. Be sure that if you’re going to make a joke that will offend people, make sure that they’re alright with it first. This is all common sense but I just want to put it out there before people go off and do something stupid like start telling black jokes in the middle of a Black Panther rally.

On the opposite end of the spectrum lays racist policies put in place by governments that need to be put to an end. Its policies like that which push people into committing acts of violence and causing trouble, discriminatory acts feed ignorance on a large scale. Ignorance feed fear and fear feeds hate which leads to violence and the disruption of society. The government is supposed to be put in place for the people and by the people, ALL OF THE PEOPLE. When people are discriminated against by the system put in place for their own good then no good can come of the system because it will eventually fall apart.

In total, racism has and always will be around the corner from us. Here at The Infection we try to open people’s minds a bit when it comes our way. We know we can’t completely solve the problem but we do know we can keep it from getting to a point where it’s beyond control. In an ideal world, yes the problem would be easily fixed but I think that the people would find something new to hate each other for. Hopefully, the day where racism is a thing of the past can come soon and I’m completely dismissed as idiot but for now it sucks to say that I’m probably right and I hope that I’ll be wrong.

Entertain me with your thoughts.

Welcome back

First and foremost  a special thanks to Spectrum for covering for me while I was gone. I needed to time to get some things done and for the most part they were completed.

Next, Happy new year to all those of you who are reading ‘The Infection’. Best of health, wealth and prosperity to you and yours in the new year.

I’m proud to announce that for the next two months we have a focus here at the infection. For this month, January- we will be focusing on black history in a little special called ‘Nigga!’. This special is going to go in depth about what it really means to me and many others what it is to be coloured. Note- when I say coloured, I mean what it means to be a person cause we all have a colour. I wont tell you everything here but just take a look at this Chris Rock video and you’ll know what kind of angle i’m taking with this special.

Next month, we’re going to focusing on love/romance and relationships. Why?B Because it’s the month to do so and I think that black history deserves more time and attention. Beware that I plan to make lots of people angry on Valentines day. hopefully, we’ll be posting some discussions about the topics above and finally we’ll end the month off with a long explicit chat about SEX. I need readers…It’s a cheap shot but sex sells…we’ll be talking about that too, how sex sells.

Finally, about the illustrations for ‘Snowflake’. They are complete but now they have to be scanned and will be up next week. hopefully they will be worth the wait but I doubt it. I’ll be updating regularly again next week but if I’m lucky things will be back to normal by Sunday.

Entertain me with your thoughts.

Children-Robert Miles, and my thoughts on “Genres”

Spectrum here. Poison has some art related projects on the go right now, and has asked me to fill in for him, so he can meet his year end deadline.

Try to bear with me.

—A short introduction—

Who am I?

I like power and control, but I am powerless and lost.

I am trused deeply by a select few, but find myself lying to many.

I have dreams and ambition, but drive and detemination.

I  am Spectrum.

My thing is Music. In the good times, and the hard times, Music has never prejudiced me. It has given me strength, consolation, distraction and peace in my times of need.

——

First, a small peice about the song that’s doing it for me right now. Children by Robert Miles. This is a very old one, but has never ceased to inspire me. Whether you claim listen to Rock, Hip-Hop, House, or anything else, if you have not heard this song before, listed to it now.

This now classic piece, was released in 1995, and quickly made its way up the charts. It is said that Miles was concerned about the raising number of traffic accidents hapening after Raves due to a mix of sleepy/intoxicated drivers. He then soughtout to create a “softer” kind of Trance music, to play closer to the end of the night, as opposed to faster progressive trance. Children was the on the forefront, of bringing about the acceptance of this type of music,later coined “Dream house”.

Over that last 13 years, countless remixes has been released by other DeeJay’s, as well as by Miles himself. The piece I have most recently listened to, is the Paul Oakenfold remix. The mix is smooth andnot to fast, but stays true to the original track, blenind in Oakenfold’s trademark style nicely.

It will always be the original however, that will remain as one of my all-time faverate songs. This is the song that got me into Trace music in general, and will forever remain a source of inspiation for me.