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Song Background: Living Proof (Young Black Youth)

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In 2010 I got back to my hip-hop roots. Wrapping up my time as a partner of the historic ‘1440 Collective Studios’ I entered into an agreement with my longtime friend Mio Thomas, and Saba Grebrai to open ‘Sights and Sounds Studios’ in Southfield MI. ‘Sights and Sounds’ started at the Regal Apartments in Southfield MI.

The focus of ‘Sights and Sounds Studios’ was to provide a home for audio recording and professional photography. Mio’s work with 3M Photography has been nationally recognized. His work’s impression upon urban modeling is the premiere brand from Detroit MI. Saba Grebrai has been one of my strongest community partners for nearly a decade now. Her work with her Blue Babies group has helped Michigan’s foster youth find housing, employment, and other opportunities. ‘Sights and Sounds Studios’ was to be a place to show students interested in learning the process of running a studio.

3m Photography, The Regal Apartments, Saba and friends
3m Photography, The Regal Apartments, Saba and friends

The first partner of ‘Sights and Sounds Studios’ was producer Joe Black. Joe Black is a hip-hop artist, producer, recording engineer, and soul vocalist. We met initially through my friend and community leader Yusef Shakur. Joe Black’s work for the soundtrack of Yusef’s autobiography was phenomenal. Joe Black was also the host of ‘Detroit Rap TV’ directed & produced by the late Damani Robinson (RIP).

As the engineer of ‘Sights and Sounds Studios’ in the beginning there was little or no work. For hours I’d sit and talk with Joe Black about hip-hop. Our conversations led to me challenging him to sample some of my favorite hip-hop songs. These challenges reignited my love for hip-hop. Joe Black responded to every idea I had with amazing music. That music became the foundation for my “Broken English Ideologies” project. The “Broken English Ideologies” project is a collection of lessons I learned from some of my favorite hip-hop records overtime.

“Living Proof (Young Black Youth)” is a sample taken from Wu Tang Clan’s song C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me) from their first album ‘Enter the 36 Chambers.’ The sample is taken from the second verse of C.R.E.A.M. as performed by hip-hop artist Inspectah Deck. Inspectah Deck’s verse has always left an impact on my life. The stanza in which the foundation for the chorus of my song “Living Proof (Young Black Youth)” are words I recite often.

Joe Black & Detroit Rap TV Logo
Joe Black & Detroit Rap TV Logo

Inspectah Deck in C.R.E.A.M.

Leave it up to me while I be living proof
To kick the truth to the young black youth
But shorty’s running wild, smokin sess, drinkin beer
And ain’t trying to hear what I’m kickin in his ear
Neglected for now, but yo, it gots to be accepted
That what? That life is hectic

So when Joe Black completed the sample of Inspectah Deck’s stanza I immediately was drawn to complete the song. Within hours I wrote “Living Proof.” There after the development of ‘Broken English Ideologies’ sparked my love for writing hip-hop music again.

Interestingly enough the recording of “Living Proof (Young Black Youth)” I completed this past Monday September 8, 2014 before the Detroit Lions vs. New York Giants football game. My cousin Rae joined me to watch the game as I mixed my vocals. In my home I’ve recorded most of my songs myself. I’ve named my home studio after my maternal grandfather John Brown. It’s where I’ve done my best work thus far. “Living Proof (Young Black Youth)” adds to that legacy.

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