Okay Mr.West…

…don’t make me regret this.

kanye-west-graduation-portrait-acrylic-painting-junko-abe

Photo credit: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/kanye-west-graduation-portrait-acrylic-painting-junko-abe.html?product=fleece-blanket&blanketType=blanket-coral-50-60

Let me start by saying, I am writing this as an artist. I am writing this as a student of life. I am not a political blogger therefore I am assuming you are already abreast of the controversy surrounding one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time.  I do not usually provide commentary on societal trends. I am writing this as a tortured creative soul.  I am writing this as a lover of hip hop.  I am writing this as an optimist.

I love hip hop.  I will not mourn Kanye West.  I do not agree with his political views. I am not even sure Kanye West agrees with his political views!  I’m celebrating the parts of him that I can morally subscribe to…his genius.  I will even go so far as to say that I am astounded by his acceptance of himself and of others. He has been saying that he is “leading with love” and that he loves every creature who walked the earth.

I am perplexed by the dichotomy dwelling in Kanye West.  He is talented and articulate.  He is a wordsmith.  Yet, he is thinking clearly (kinda) and he is not successfully conveying the true intent of his actions and thoughts.  In fact, when one mentions that he may be “hurting others” you can see the distress and the SUDDEN awareness on his face as he carefully chooses his words.  How does this happen?

People will take something enlightening, put it in a different context and then call it crazy.  To try to diminish the impact and the value of what I’m actually saying. -Kanye West

 

I was born in 1985.  The artists who have impacted my generation in an astounding way all had a common motif …they were “crazy.”  I don’t even have to mention their names.  You’re thinking of them right now: Michael Jackson, Prince, Left Eye, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston…

They were judged when they were alive.  They were called icons and legends when they died.  Food for thought:  We studied the poetry of Tupac Shakur at Pace University post his death.  We studied the lyrics and videos of Lady Gaga in English Literature at Stonybrook University.  Her “enlightened viewpoints” were compared to the great Edgar Allen Poe.  What measurement do we use to distinguish the difference between brilliance and insanity?

But I know the view is that I’m emotionally unstable, which is reality. Like you aren’t?-Lauryn Hill

One of the most terrible things we do to artists is forget to separate their human form from their ethereal imaginative alter egos.  We have to consider that in order for a person who is of this world to create something out of this world, he or she has to remove their consciousness from the boundaries and constraints of what is accepted as “normal.”  

Bravery is more important than perfection.-Kanye West

I am actually scared to publish this post.  What will you do tomorrow, Mr. West?  What hat will you wear tomorrow, Mr. West?  Will you forget this girl from South Jamaica Queens who bumped “The College Dropout” in my 1980 Pontiac Grand Prix? Will you forget this wannabee rebel who had “The wise man say, you’ll find your way
The wise man say, you’ll find your way” scribbled on the back of my favorite denim jacket?*  This fake actress-Spike Lee geek was glued to the computer screen when you had the balls to release your own full length film, “Runaway.”   I’ve never considered myself a “fan” of anyone really but the respect I have for your talent and perseverance is immeasurable.

I see your pain but I see your passion.  I can disregard the blond hair and the liposuction because that is just a physical representation of a spirit who is lost on a level that he wasn’t fully prepared to ascend to.

We don’t want to mourn you, Sir.  We want to be moved by your music and motivated by your mystique. Get out.

What I see here is nothing but a shell…what is most important is invisible.- Antoine de Saint Exupery (The Little Prince)

By: Shaun Liriano

*Lyrics from Pinocchio Story by Kanye West (808’s & Heartbreak)

 

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New Release from “The Wealth Club” w/ commentary by Figgy

Disclaimer

The opinions, recommendations, and comments expressed in the following post are solely those of the artists’ and subjects quoted.  They do not represent the position of ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly.com.  This site does not endorse the expletives used in the song nor do we necessarily share the intended outlook of the artists.  However, it is our estimation that art (no matter what form) should be celebrated and never calibrated. As always we request the feedback of the ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly.com family and we encourage you to engage with the artists’.

“The Nike Strike” ft History [Prod By. Dre Dollasz]

Nike Strike

Nike Strike

 

 

 

 

 

 

To listen to the new release click here ——> The Nike Strike

If you read the feature we did on The Wealth Club in July 2012, you may have noticed a drastic difference in content and delivery.   I asked Figgy for a brief commentary on the song so that we may clear up any misunderstandings or presumptions.

SYMACMU: We all know there’s been controversy revolved around the low wages and working conditions in overseas Nike shoe factories. Is that all that inspired this song and the accompanying cover art?

FIGGY: Well actually, The Nike Strike is a metaphor for a break from the norm. Our culture becomes so infatuated with what’s in and what’s trendy that we forget to set the trends. You take a ride on any form of public transportation and you’re bound to find teenagers rockin’ the latest Nikes or Jordan’s, or some other fashion that someone told them was fly. The fact that Nike takes part in the overseas underworld of menial labor only attests to the fact that we don’t even know what we’re doing. I made the song to let people know that the only person that benefits from the 300 dollars spent on these sneakers is Michael Jordan himself. I want to encourage people to think for themselves and not be subject to believing the things they are told.

SYMACMU: The closing of the song says, “Art over commerce.”  A synonym for commerce is trade.  Some may argue, commerce strengthens our international social relations.  As with many revolutions, we historically coin phrases that are catchy or attention grabbing.  Is it safe to assume that you are attacking the art of fashion and accusing major brands of being trendy rather than authentic?

FIGGY: Art over Commerce is the title of my series’ of mixtapes. The theme Art over Commerce focuses around the idea of art being more important than the monetary gain. Obviously the point of making a career out of being an artist would be to ultimately make money, but at what cost? Too often we see hiphop artists portray an on-screen facade to make themselves relevant or to “come up”. Hip hop is based around the premise of honest expression. How can we call ourselves hip hop artists or be part of the hip hop generation if we aren’t willing to stay true to its origins?

SYMACMU:  Do you consider yourselves “conscious rappers”?

FIGGY: We aren’t conscious rappers. We find inspiration in our everyday lives and what’s important to us and we speak on it. I don’t like to categorize us at all. The categorization places limits on the directions that we can go. Basically we do what feels right.

SYMACMU: The majority of my readers are females.  This particular track is laced with profanity including the word bitch.  Traditional and contemporary feminists have fought against the common use of this word almost as much as Black educators and neo-revolutionaries have fought against the word Nigger.  How do you defend the use of the words bitch and nigger in this song?

FIGGY: I have a deep respect for the power of language. I feel as if the context gives the word a situational meaning. For example, women call each other bitches all the time and it’s okay because within the context, the word bitch becomes a term of endearment. But if I were to call a woman a bitch it would be a blatant sign of disrespect. On the other side of the spectrum I also believe in calling a spade a spade. Although we’re blessed to have many respectable upstanding beautiful women making their way in life, we also have the bottom of the totem pole bitches and that’s fact. As for the word nigger, I think it affects you as much as you let it. I look at the transition of the word as a mark of our progression. We have taken a word that was used to demean and terrorize our people and alienated the people responsible from using it. I know many people would disagree and state that we should rid ourselves of the word all along which I don’t any problem in doing,  but while it’s being used I say we keep it to ourselves.

-Shaun Nickens

Girl, Thats Not Your Booty, That’s Your Hip!!! (Challenging Accepted American Media Images of Women of Color)

I don’t care what she tells you.  I don’t care if she looks you right in the eye when she says it.  If she says she doesn’t check her butt out in the mirror before she leaves the house, she’s lying!  We’re all guilty of it.  Hair, skin, nails and booty.  At this point, I don’t even know what I’m looking for!  I’m 27 and I’m aware nothing back there is going to change.  I’m not genetically configured in a way that constitutes a big ol’ Nicki Minaj backside.  Shoot…it wasn’t in her genetic make up either!!!!  I can’t afford the shots and I heard the serum can leak into another  body part and you’ll get a fat knee or belly button or something. Ewww!  So at some point you have to be happy with what you have and be confident and innately sexy.  When was it determined that booty makes a woman sexy?

I remember sitting in an auditorium at Stony Brook University and listening to an informative speech about the story of Sarah Baartman  AKA “The Hottentot Venus.”  I was so moved I decided to do a feature on it with a youth group I worked with at a local dance studio.  We inserted a tribute to her in our annual black history show.  If you don’t know her story I’ll give you the edited version.  She was one of the Khoi people of South Africa.  She was a slave under British rule and she was sent to London in 1810 as a “performer” for “exhibition.”  She was exhibited because of her alluring aesthetic appeal in comparison to European women of that time and her physical features were considered bizarre.  She was the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not of her time.  After she died (allegedly of smallpox) her genitalia was displayed in a Parisian museum.  I was so hurt.  How could a human being objectify another human being like that?

I examine where we are present day.  I think about the images forced upon us by main stream media.  We are surrounded by booty!  Turn on the radio…what do you hear?  Rihanna’s “Cake”, Big Sean singing “ass ass ass ass ass ass ass ass…”, or how about the contemporary version of the 80’s babies party anthem by Luke “I Wanna Rock”.  I’m showing my age but remember that song by 2 Live Crew “Pop That Coochie”?  We all know Sir-Mix-A-Lot “I like big butts.”  This has been going on for years!  We’ve been brainwashed by booty.  In a way I support it because there was also a time where curves weren’t accepted at all and we were sending the wrong messages with pencil thin chain-smoking models on our television screens.  However, there has to be a definitive line drawn.  This line has to be thick enough and bold enough to honor our heritage.  This line has to be thin enough and bright enough to be able to laugh at ourselves in certain circumstances.  Who doesn’t love the Thugnificent song from animated series “The Boondocks” entitled , “Booty Butt Cheeks?”

This line has to be transparent enough that we can step over it and around it when people of other ethnicities and cultures attempt to comment on the subjects that we think are exclusive to our own colored community.  Let me be clear…there is no topic that can be our own little secret.  So if it would offend you if your Caucasian brother or sister mentions a black woman’s rear end…maybe it shouldn’t be a topic of conversation for you either.  I need us to be able to recognize when things have gone too far.  I can’t shop for my 13-year-old sister anymore!  The shirts look like bras!  The shorts look like panties!  There’s writing on the back of the pants.  I’m alarmed as a sibling, let alone a parent.  I’m going to learn how to sew so she can wear clothes that actually cover and protect her body!

I was describing an outfit to a co-worker the other day.  I was telling her how I couldn’t wait to wear it because it accentuated my “curves.”  She said, “What curves?  You have no booty.”  I’m used to comments like this so I stood up and I did my best booty pose with an award-winning provocative smile.  She simply responded, “You’re so cute. Girl, that ain’t booty, that’s your hip!”  We all cracked up and then attempted to resume working with tears in our eyes.  As women we have to accept all forms of beauty and appeal,  we have to love ourselves because media will never give us accurate perceptions of what attracts a man to a woman.  We think in different ways, our feelings vary, and our self-expression will always be similar but never identical.  To any woman who struggles with body image and consciousness…love yourself (I don’t care how cliché it sounds)…or ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly 😉

-By Shaun Nickens

Filling the Void-Interview With Figgy of “The Wealth Club” {Diamond In The Rough}

*************LISTEN TO THIS TRACK BY FIGGY ENTITLED “ELECTRIC SLIDE MUSIC”!!! CLICK THE LINK–> Electric Slide Music

 

Music has a way of dragging you out of the monotony of a dreary day.  Music creates paradise in the midst of poverty.  Music set scenes.  You ever hear a song and it remind you of an ex? Or hear a song that causes you to drive your car faster, lift more weight at the gym, or maybe even run further?  I’ve always loved all music but hip hop touches me in a special place.  I used to listen to my older cousins Big Daddy Kane album on my tape deck.  I would blast Queen Latifah “Black Reign” through the house until my father said I had to turn it down because it had too much profanity.  That being said, I am so pleased to feature an up and coming artist on the blog!  The following is an interview with Figgy of The Wealth Club. 

1) What inspired you to form the group?

When I was in high school, I wanted to “Restore Hip-Hop to its natural state” and all that other hipster, hype beast bull. But as we started to vibe with each other and make music together we realized that we were filling a void. We were making the music that we wanted to hear, not the music being forced on us thru radio, TV, and other mainstream media outlets. So I guess our inspiration came from being sick and tired of doing the Soulja Boy

2) Name the members of the group and one unique talent they contribute to the eclecticism you offer to the music industry as a whole.

We’re made up of a myriad of talents. From producers, to promoters, all the way down to haters. But Hook, GP! & I (Figgy F) are the faces of the Wealth Club. Hook brings the raw, unadulterated lyricism (That Brooklyn Sh*t), plus he’s the hook master (Hence the name, hook lol). GP! Is our wildcard, he’s a singer turned rapper, turned singer, turned potent artist. It’s almost indescribable. He’s bringing something absolutely fresh to the industry. I always find it very difficult to talk about what I bring to the table. Along with Hook & GP! I feel like I have the ability to give the listener direct insight into my life. You don’t see that anymore in hip-hop. People are often living vicariously through their predecessors while we’re just trying to let you know what we’re doing right now.

3) At Shutyamouthandcallmeugly.com we believe that passion is the space between wanting something and needing something.   What are you passionate about and do you think it comes forth in your music?

Enlightenment, I’d like to think that we live in an age where you’re judged by your intellect and the content of your character rather than your class or skin color. Here at the Wealth Club we strive to be the voice of the thinkers, the voice of the intellectuals, the voice of the people who want to see this world become not only a better place, but a place that embraces individuality.

4) Who is your favorite music artist? Why?

We don’t have one. We can’t have one. We draw influence from everywhere. Shout out to Kanye West though lol.

 

5) Which one of your songs is your personal favorite?

“Snapshot Music” It’s about 10 mins long but it seems like 3 and it features almost everyone who was involved with our movement at the time. It was like the summary of our first summer together.

6) Wealth Club will be featured in the “Diamond In The Rough” section of the blog. That section is being developed as stomping grounds for entrepreneurs, aspiring artists, and community fixtures that I believe shouldn’t be overlooked and need exposure.   What is your plan B if you don’t reach your desired level of success as a musician? What “rough” circumstances have you had to overcome to get noticed?

You don’t need a Plan B when Plan A is paying off lol. We never imagined ourselves as top-notch main stream major label artists. When it’s all said and done, I still want to be able to go to Mc Donald’s. We still want to be regular people; we want to influence the people with our music rather than our celebrity. As far as overcoming rough circumstances, I mean that’s what we do every day. We’re on the grind until we change the world.

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If you have any questions for The Wealth Club please comment and/or inbox me at ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly@gmail.com!!!