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November 2014

My Detroit Story: Getting Ready for the Stage

in My Detroit Story by

As a five year old in 1987, my heroes were my father, Mr. T and Run DMC. Naturally, the coolest among them were Run, Jam Master Jay, and DMC. My big sister Dara would run to get me any time MTV and BET played one of their videos. At that age, Run DMC’s “Walk this Way” video featuring Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith was the closest I could get to a rap concert. Their performance during the “Walk this Way” video captured my imagination, mind, and heart. I felt then, as I do now, that witnessing an epic rap performance is one of the greatest loves of all.

As a hip-hop fan I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced great shows: Jay-Z, at the height of his success from “Big Pimping”, with Joe Louis Arena rapping every lyric with him, KRS-One at the Pyramid Club in NYC–where the basement floor shook from the crowd jumping throughout “South Bronx” and “Step into the World”–and Big Daddy Kane at the Shelter, where he passed the microphone to me and Finale to rap along with him for “Warm it up Kane”. Those performances stand out amongst the commercially successful hip-hop artists I’ve seen, but my favorite performers all are artists based in Detroit. Proof (RIP) was the best performer I’ve ever seen. He selected my favorite acts to join him on his Iron Fist record label: Kaunn, Supa Emcee, and the Woof Pac (Moe Dirdee, Hostyle, and J-Kidd). Leaf Erickson, Nick Speed, Jigsaw & the SSP, Quest McCody, Phat Kat, Danny Brown, and Royce 5’9 are all great acts to see perform, and they’ve been kept on their toes by a roster of hungry young acts that are amazing: Royce Fann, Early Mac, Clear Soul Forces, Milla Boy, Steven B the Great, and Kafre.

Personally, I’ve challenged myself over time to be able to perform with any band, any music, and in any venue. It’s been a journey of highs and lows. My best performances are when I prepare myself to share my joy and creativity through hip-hop with an audience. To achieve my goal of reaching an experiential performance, I’ve developed a process. As I prepare for my performance tonight with Alex White and the Family (a jazz band led by drummer Alex White, featuring bassist Ben Rolston, pianist Michael Jellick, and saxophonist Rafael Statin),  I will share this process with you.

Tonight I’ll be performing at the Jam Handy in Detroit’s New Center District (2900 E. Grand BLVD Detroit, MI 48202 between I-75 and Woodward at 8PM).

So as I prepare for my Mind Fusion performance with Alex White and the Family, I welcome you into my process of readying myself for a rap show:

 

 


 

8:00 AM – Wake Up and Rap Along:
Rap music utilizes a variety of ways to deliver, annunciate, and slur words. I find rapping along with Notorious BIG and/or Ice Cube strengthens my abilities more than most. This morning I’ll rap along with “Victory”, “Everyday Struggle”, and “Respect”, performed by the Notorious BIG.

9:00AM – Breathe Easy Tea:
I like to drink a cup of “Breathe Easy Tea” to open my diaphragm. I’ve found this really adds to the mix of tonality I can use while performing.

10:00 AM – Man in the Mirror:
Next, I’ll freestyle to the bathroom mirror for 10 – 15 minutes non-stop (freestyle rap is the improvisational style of performing hip-hop vocals). Performing in front of a mirror is the best practice to create an awareness of the words, gestures, and demeanor I carry during my performance. I believe this is the most important step to prepare for any show!

11:00 AM – Miles to Run:
That being done, I’ll head to the Olympic track at Northwestern HS (where I graduated class of 2001), on Detroit’s Westside and run two miles. The cardio helps build my endurance to complete a show with the same spirit in which I begin.

12:00PM – Power Lifting:
Bench press, curl, push-ups, chin-ups, and pull-ups all are great exercises that keep my heart rate active and deliver better results from my two mile run.

1:00PM – Rock Em’ Sock Em’:
Along with weights, my home gym has a heavy bag and a speed bag. I find the heavy bag to be a great way to calm down my thought process and focus in physically. Resting my mind builds my confidence and spirit to perform.

2:00PM – Reading is FUNdamental:
Reading after going rounds with my heavy bag is a form of mediation for me. It’s one of the best ways I relax to be prepared for whatever I could face in life. Currently I’m reading Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel. It’s a biography about the life of Dr. Seuss, born Ted Giesel. I enjoy autobiographies and biographies most for pleasure reading. It helps me to relate to the life’s journey of people I am interested in. Dr. Seuss developed an ability to deliver poignant messages to people of all ages with only a few easily understood words. I find that to be one of the most skillful talents anyone can develop, so I am enamored with Dr. Seuss.

3:00PM – Power Nap:
A power nap of 20 – 30 minutes finally closes out the calm before my show.

4:00PM – Listen to my Love:
Having refreshed my mind, I’ll play my music and listen. I listen for the errors and improvisations. The process of recording music is an art form of many steps. During the process of creating the lyrics in mind, writing the lyrics to paper, recording the lyrics, and mixing the music, much of the original intentions change. As the author of my words, I try to rewind this process to the inception of the song and grab that spirit. As part of my process to make my performances as experiential as possible, I think of the audience, venue, and microphone as an incubator. In order to hatch something that’s great, I must be in the spirit of the creation, and not the result. For this show, I’ll listen to my songs “Old School Chevy” & “I Oh My” from my 2009 album release Notes of an Artist and Activist (both songs are available on i-Tunes and Amazon, visit the sites and add to your song catalog and give me some money).

5:00PM – Make Notes:
Now focused, I’ll jot down a series of notes to start lyrics, speak with the audience, and have fun.

6:00PM – Look Good, Feel Good, All Good:
Hall of Fame NFL Cornerback Deion Sanders was one of my childhood idols. Following his career was easy. His charismatic attitude engaged me. Years ago he stated before games he’d lay out his uniform, football gear, and accessories on the locker room floor before all big games. I loved the concept and have followed suit for my wardrobe before every big performance I have.

7:00PM – Mic Check One Two … One Two:
Arrive at the Jam Handy for a quick sound check.

8:00PM – It’s Showtime!!!

11-27-2014 mix

 

Detroit is Different Podcast with Sharon McPhail

in Detroit is Different Podcast by

I welcomed an open discussion with the Honorable Sharon McPhail for the Detroit is Different podcast’s November 2014 Politics theme. We discussed a mix of topics regarding her commitment to family, Detroit, and advocacy. Her journey from Massachusetts, to leading the Wolverine Bar Association, to working with Mayor Coleman Young are all covered.

Currently Sharon McPhail is a superintendent of a K – 12 school. We discuss the roles families and fathers play in the lives of children. Also the impact hip-hop has. This is an interview rich with content and history. Please enjoy and listen in.

7 O’Clock Saturday Stories with Sharon McPhail

in 7 o'clock Saturday Stories by

One of the most pivotal and visionary figures in the history of Detroit politics has been Coleman Alexander Young. Mayor Young served his term leading Detroit for 20 years from 1974 through 1994. His leadership of Detroit is often viewed from many lenses. In my opinion, the best understanding of Mayor Young can be gathered from his autobiography “Hard Stuff”. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in deconstructing the context of contemporary Detroit. Detroit being such an executive-led municipality, the role of the Mayor is a powerful position from which to create change. Mayor Young provided more opportunity for women (black women in particular) to lead departments, execute budgets, and implement change than any other major city. One of the women that Mayor Young supported and worked with during those years is the former General Counsel for the City Detroit, Sharon McPhail.

Sharon McPhail is one of the smartest, most strategic, and driven people you could ever have the chance to meet. I’m humbled to say that she has been part of my extended family for years. I’ve witnessed her break down concepts on how the city of Detroit could provide auto insurance to residents, full-ride college scholarships for children who live here for more than 10 years, and how neighborhood organizations can work with government.

This Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 7PM, she will join me as a guest for my live podcasting event, 7 O’Clock Saturday Stories. This event takes place at the Motor City Art Center in Detroit Wayne State University District at 4468 Third Street 48201. This is a free event welcome to all ages. Please join me for an introspective discussion with the Honorable Sharon McPhail.

DETROIT is DIFFERENT LIVE: NOVEMBER EVENTS

in Events by

Detroit is full of talented and skillful artists. As a rapper I’ve been blessed to work with and meet many. The collection of artists I most love, and am inspired by, are the musicians. I think all too often Detroit artists feel taken unappreciated here. So as an artist and fan I’m glad to embrace, support, and appreciate the talent before me when I can.

For over a decade as a hip-hop artist and band leader I’ve performed with some of the best performers across the world. Witnessing the artistry of nationally recognized artists like Danny Brown, Derrick May, and Big Sean create has been humbling. Though these acts provide only a glimpse into the dynamic and eclectic world of Detroit music that I’ve fell in love with.

11-18-2014 mix a

Thanksgiving Night I’m performing live at the Jam Handy in Detroit’s New Center District (2900 E Grand BLVD Detroit MI @ 8PM), I’d like for you to join me. This performance is an event I’m producing with Handsome Sam (Sam Spurill). It’s a featured event for the ‘Mind Fusion Series.’ This show will fuse Jazz and Hip-hop live performance.

“The idea is to have people come out and join us for great music live after spending a day with your family,” Handsome Sam.

The Jazz band is Alex White and the Family. Led by Alex White on drums, the band will feature Michael Jellick on Piano, Ben Rolstan on Bass, and Rafael Statin on Saxophone. The Mind Fusion series is a mix of hip-hop and other music genres Sam and I will feature quarterly. This Fall for Thanksgiving we’re mixing great Jazz players and Hip-hop.

wae poster copy

DETROIT IS DIFFERENT: NOVEMBER DETROIT EVENTS

B Will

Wednesday November 19, 2014 Urban Organic & Soulasis Music Group Present: XII the Brandon Williams Album Release Event

At the Detroit Public Library Main Branch 5201 Woodward Detroit MI, Free Event 6PM -9PM Performance at 7PM *I’m going to perform with Brandon and the Band too, JOIN US!

Nadir-Electric-Lounge-v4

Friday November 21, 2014 Nadir’s Electric Lounge

At the Next Wave Media Lab 950 Stephenson Highway Troy MI, Free Event 7PM Doors & 8PM Show Performing along with Nadir will be Steffanie Christi’an and Michael Turner Live Funk, Rock & Soul

Saturday November 22, 2014 7 O’Clock Saturday Stories with Sharon McPhail

At Motor City Art Center 4468 Third Street Detroit MI 48201, Free Event at 7PM, Join me as I interview Sharon McPhail and discuss her experience, ideas, and visions about Detroit

WAE Music: I Oh My featuring Shiron Denise

in WAE Music by

I oh My

Performed by Khary WAE Frazier & Shiron Denise
Notes of an Artist/Activist album released in 2009
Produced by Ian Sherman
Written by K. Frazier & I. Sherman
Hip-hop Vocalist Khary WAE Frazier
Soul Vocalist Shiron Denise

Verse One
Peace and blessings how I finish off letter
Cousin second tour of Iraq got him stressing
While I try to get better
People in the streets carrying concealed weapons
And moms getting older
And Detroit city push her blood pressure over
Feel like that but a whole lot younger
Praying for each other just to keep on going
While my brother on his knuckles
blew his bail out now he looking for a hustle
100K in a year get spent like nuthin
we grew up we just use to the struggle
and my hood stay changing
seniors passing on grandkids is my neighbors
so my block stay alive like Vegas
my man got strong armed over small paper
on his front porch face to face with a banger
since then I ain’t had a next door neighbor
. . . as we lose hope
politicians get indicted so how can I vote
. . . and my phone been tapped
best friend facing fed time caught up in a trap
and he just had a son so we talk about that
and avoid conversations bout what newspapers said
. . . as I listen to the music
I don’t even get the same feeling when I do it
More I know the business I wish I was I was clueless
Bout to be 30 so it feel like it’s useless
. . . but I hear the rhythm and see the reality of grandma sanging

Bronx NY @ Smart Monkii Studios with Cortland Hawkins
Bronx NY @ Smart Monkii Studios with Cortland Hawkins

Chorus
I Oh My Wondering Why
3x


Verse Two
asking god for less while thanking god for more
reality’s the same couple bucks away from poor
more that I get more I got to pay for
ask me for help situation like yours
I ain’t never had nuthin
I’m afraid of success that’s a different thing to stomach
:put my heart in a art that nobody respect
when I tell you I’m a rapper then you see me for less
own family think I’m wasting time I don’t got left
so I think about survival and I dream success
. . . as I script out lyrics
while searching for the god in the next man spirit
planning for my God Son that’s still an infant
born on my birthday his life gone be different
looking to the future with dreams of fulfillment
while I’m getting use to just living how I’m living

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