Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Featured Artist: Shai Linne

Peace and blessings,

For my west coast folks, I'm sure you are familiar with Chino XL, a west-coast mc who's battle rap skills are phenomenal. If you've ever wondered what his style would sound like with Christ-centered lyrics, look no further: Introducing Shai Linne, a Philly MC with a fierce rhyme scheme, lyrical prowness, and rapid delivery. Oh yeah, and he's heavily versed in the dotrine of the Christian faith as well. Two of the following tracks are from his solo album, and the last track is from a guest appearance on another Christian MC's album.

The first track is called "Christ Crucified," and is basically about how the answers to the world's problems (social, economic, political, individual) rest in Jesus Christ.

This track is called "Random Thoughts" and it's just that. After a few seconds once it starts playing, it may stop. If that happens, then just put the cursor on the bar, and drag it forward (fast forward it) to about 45 seconds into it.

This track is off of Flame's Album "Rewind," and the song is titled "To My Heart" It's about the daily battles we go through with our sinful nature. All I can say is wow...

Hope you enjoyed the soul food. Holla back and speekonit...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

More Than a Month: Good Looking Out Carter G.

Peace and blessings,

I pray everyone enjoyed their weekend. As we are approaching the last few days of the government-sanctioned "Black History Month," I thought it appropriate to acknowledge
  • Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950)

  • , an individual who not only revolutionized the importance of recognizing the history, struggles, and value of people of African descent, but embodied the spirit of what it means to use our gifts and talents for the benefit of our fellow brothers and sisters. Although the quotes that are to follow were taken from "The Miseducation of the Negro" and thus focus on people of African descent, I believe that the themes addressed in this book (which everyone must read) apply to people of all backgrounds, experiences, and ethnicities, as it deals with the emancipation of mental slavery. Come to think of it, I'll probably have to revisit this book again, because there is not enough room in one post to include all of the "food for thought" that is in this book. Without further or do, let's get into business...

    This quote is probably one of the more popular of the book, as it not only highlights the potential danger of mental slavery as an idea, but it gives a stifling example of what mental slavery looks like in practice:

    "If you can control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one." (pgs 84-85)

    This next quote is also powerful, although insteasd of mental slavery, it focuses on the importance of service, not leadership in addressing society's ills:

    " If the negro could abandon the idea of leadership and instead stimulate a larger number of the race to take up definite tasks and sacrafice their time and energy in doing these things efficiently the race might accomplish something....Under leadership we have come into the ghetto; by service within the ranks we may work ur way out of it. Under leadership we have been constrained to do the biddings of others; by service we may work out a program in the light of our own circumstances. Under leadership we have become poverty-stricken; by service we may teach the massess how to earn a living honestly. Under leadership we have been made to despise our own possibilites and to develop into parasites; by service we may prove sufficient unto the task of self-development and contribute our part to modern culture." (pgs 118-119)

    Now I don't think that Carter G. would be against recognized leaders such as Martin Luther King or Malcolm X because they made it a priority to encourage the members of their respoective movements. More importantly, within both movements, especially the civil rights movement, everyone, regardless of "rank" played an active role in bringing about social change. For instance, teh bus boycott did not happen because of Martin Luther King, but because of the hundreds (and probably thousands) of people who chose to walk instead of taking the bus, organized carpools, raised money, got the word out, and so forth. In other words, service was at the core of the movement.

    The most revolutionary figure, Jesus Christ, also put a high premium on service:

    " But Jesus said to them, The kings of the Gentiles are deified by them and exercise lordship [ruling as emperor-gods] over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors and well-doers. But this is not to be so with you; on the contrary, let him who is the greatest among you become like the youngest, and him who is the chief and leader like one who serves. For who is the greater, the one who reclines at table (the master), or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am in your midst as One Who serves."
    Luke 22:25-27 (NKJ Amplified)

    As those who notice that "things aren't right" with regards to our local, national, and international affairs, let's pray that our God-given talents and abilitities be used in the name of service and not just in the name of leadership. Take care and speekonit...

    Thursday, February 22, 2007

    Holding it Down: Dwight Howard

    Pic courtesy of
  • aol sports blog

  • Peace and blessings,

    As a person who has been a fan of and participant in sports since the 5th grade, the recent happenings within professional sports have brought me great joy. In Basketball, which is my favorite sport, there has been a recent surge of very talented/versatile/dominant young players over the past decade. Although I support the idea that high school basketball players should go to college before entering the NBA, players such as Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and most recently Lebron James and Dwight Howard illustrate how gifted many of these young ballers are.

    Although I enjoy watching these players ball, their talent alone is not what has recently brought me joy. What brings me joy is when an athlete properly attributes his or her athletic ability to the Source: God. During last week’s slam dunk contest, Dwight Howard performed a dunk that not only wowed us, but reminded us of the Source of everything that is “good” within or about us. During a time and place (NBA all-star weekend) where the world is marveling at the talent of some of the best athletes in the world, Dwight Howard reminded us of where the real focus should be. During one of his dunks, he placed a sticker at the top of the backboard. The sticker had the following written on it: “I can do all things through Christ.” (Phillipians 4:13).
  • Click here for more info
  • and
  • peep the dunk here
  • Enjoy, have a blessed weekend, and speekonit…

    Sunday, February 18, 2007

    Scripture of the Day: Stay Away from that Idol Steez

    Peace and blessings,

    The following is a scripture that I have been thinking about lateley. The pic is courtesy of
  • Suite 101

  • "15Therefore take good heed to yourselves, since you saw no form of Him on the day the Lord spoke to you on Horeb out of the midst of the fire,

    16Beware lest you become corrupt by making for yourselves [to worship] a graven image in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,

    17The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, or of any winged fowl that flies in the air,

    18The likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, or of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth.

    19And beware lest you lift up your eyes to the heavens, and when you see the sun, moon, and stars, even all the host of the heavens, you be drawn away and worship them and serve them, things which the Lord your God has allotted to all nations under the whole heaven.

    20But the Lord has taken you and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be to Him a people of His own possession, as you are this day."
    Deuteronomy 4: 15-20

    One of the things that I love about God is that He allows us to glorify Him through a wide variety of interests and activities. Whether it is freestyling, listening to music, playing ball, or engaging in my academic interests, I try to give God the glory in the process. However, I am also becoming aware of the risks that are present in everything that we commit our time, energy, and resources. The point is to treat those interests and activities as a MEANS to honor God, and not as an ENDS in themselves. Whether it is our professional careers, our hobbies, our artistic expressions and so forth, we must always make sure that God is at the center and everything else revolves around Him, not the other way around. As opportunities have been and will be give to me, I am constantly struggling to acknowledge that our opportunities and accomplishements are ONLY important insofar as they revolve around God's will and purpose for our lives. In a world where it's easy to view these things as "idols" and to take credit for the things God has given us, let's strive to remain humble and focused on doing God's will, because in the end that's all that matters. Holla back and speekonit...

    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    JC, MLK, and SF: Who would have thought?

    Peace and blessings,

    The following image is of an Iraq man carrying his brother away after being hit with an explosion. The title of the piece is "He's not heavy, he's my brother," by
  • Holly Wong

  • I figure I don't have to remind people about how controversial of a thinker Sigmund Freud (1961) was. From thoughts on the pleasure principle, a child's relationship with their parents, and gender differences, it is safe to say that Freud did not make too many people's "liked" lists. While recently reading his book "Civilization and its Discontents (1961), I came across one of his ideas that struck me. Now I am not co-signing on his theory or its implications, but I do think that he may have been on to something when he addressed what he believed to be the most difficult goal for humans to attain. In discussing what he believes to be civilization's attempts to prevent humans from acting on their true nature, which is to wreak on fellow humans, he states,

    "Hence, therefore, the use of methods intended to incite people into identifications and aim-inhibited relaitonships of love, hence the restriction upon sexual life, and hence too the ideal's commandment to love one's neighbour as oneself--a commandment which is really justified by the fact that nothing else runs so strongly counter to the original nature of man..." (p.70)

    Although I disagree with his theory on how civilization is always in contention with humans because it prevents us from acting out our brutally violent nature towards one another (e.g. through rules, laws, and social relationships), I think that he has a point when he says that the "love your neighbour" commandment is in conflict with human nature (although I disagree with his conception of human nature). The fact of the matter is, it is extremely difficult to adhere to this commandment, not only because of our nature which revolves around self-preservation, but also because of the "go and get yours" ideology that pervades just about every aspect of our lives. We are often told to think of ourselves first, even at the expense of others. We are conditioned to build legacies based on what we've acquired instead of who we can assist. So in that respect, I think Freud was on to something.

    Why is this commandment so diffult to uphold on a consistent basis? Maybe because Jesus considered it to be one of the most important of the commandments. In Mark 12:29-31 it reads,

    Pic courtesy of
  • Microcinemascene

  • "Jesus answered, 'the first shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."

    Despite its difficulty, the fact that these are commandments means that we must continually strive to uphold these commandments. Jesus knew that it was impossible for use to uphold the commandments on our own, which is why He taught us how and why to walk with Him and His Father.

    Before I end, I couldn't talk about having concern for and loving others without highlighting this quote by Dr. King:

    "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgement. Life's most most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

    This is something that I struggle with everyday, wondering if there's something more I could be doing for those who lack the things that I take for granted. Even though there are times when I act selfishly, I am beginning to understand that sometimes God uses our struggles to strengthen us. I realize that like Talib Kweli said, some struggles are beautiful. Have a blessed weekend, and speekonit...

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Verse of the Day: Ahmad

    Peace and blessings,

    Still repping 4th Avenue Jones, here's some food for thought. Grab a plate and speekonit...

    Pic courtesy of
  • Interlinc

  • "Ceasar I wanna see ya/we scared of police not North Korea/I sweat and bleed working to feed mi familia/wear jackets everyday/full metal i'm from the ghetto/where teens (are) forced to settle so they scream like a kettle/gang bang and exchange drugs they try to pettle/lost love from living as thugs since they was little/go to the sire, tell him we're bringing his empire/down when my Messiah returns he's gonna triumph/every lier, will perish in lakes burning with fire/murdering theives, how much peace does money buy ya?/let's educate the homies cuz the game has changed/instead of wrists, they make sure our brains are chained/let's reminisc, how many of us hanged and slain/and now we hate our women as a claim to fame?/you just a puppet, dumb elmo playing with flames/these are the last days and it's gonna rain/that's why they entertain us/everybody loves you when you famous/hating everybody else who ain't us/all we want is more, overlooking poor people in anguish/dollars are the universal language/I wanna see Ceasar!"

    from the track "Ceasar" off the album, "Stereo: The
    Evolution of hiprocksoul

    Saturday, February 10, 2007

    Featured Artist: 4th Avenue Jones

    Peace and blessings,

    This time around, I have to rep for the west coast. Most of you may have heard of Ahmad from his cut "back in the day," which came out back in the day (around the mid 90s). He's since then got together with some talented musicians (including his wife Tina, which is a dope female lyricist). The group got their name from 4th avenue and Jefferson st. in Los Angeles, California. The name of their most recent album is called "Stereo: the evolution of hiphoprocksoul." The name speaks for itself, as the album is a great blend of various musical genres. The common denominators that unite these genres, and what makes this album a must-cop, are creativity, group cohesion, Jesus Christ, and social justice. Now if that's not recipe for a great album, then I don't know what it is. But don't just take my word for it, take a listen and holla back!

    Have a blessed weekend, enjoy the soulf food, and speekonit...

    Thursday, February 08, 2007

    News Section Updated

    Peace and blessings,

    New articles are available under the "People," "Misc.," and "-isms" sections of the news. Enjoy and speekonit...

    Holding it down: Salome Thomas-El

    Pic courtesy of
  • Chessville

  • Peace and blessings,

    A couple of months ago, a friend of mine sent me a
  • video of Cam'ron and Dame Dash on The Bill O' Reilly show
  • . The topic of discussion was whether or not hip-hop has a negative influence on youth. The question was posed by A principal of a middle school in Philidelphia. While watching the segment, I felt that Cam'ron and Dame Dash were "skating around" the issue and didn't want to really address the extent to which their lyrics and lifestyle influences the youth. Not knowing who the principal was who posed this important question to Cam'ron and Dash (and symbolically to mainstream hip-hop as a whole), I sympathized with him for a couple of reasons. One, I could tell that he was legitimately concerned about the youth in his school. Second, I felt that his concerns were dismissed by Cam and Dame.

    Pic courtesy of
  • Wolfram MathWorld

  • About a month later, I came across this article on
  • All Hip-Hop
  • and learned alittle more about who the principal was, and the work he does with the youth at his school. In particular, I was fascinated to learn about how he
  • uses chess as a tool to teach his students life lessons
  • . Reading about his story reminded me of the many teachers who are dedicating their lives and resources everyday to impact the lives of youth.

    In sum, this story, and other personal stories I hear about friends of mine who view teaching as their calling, lets me know about the power education, and how teaching and connecting with students go hand in hand. More on Salome Thomas-El can be found on
  • his website
  • . Also, it has been reported that
  • Will Smith will play him in upcoming film
  • . Below is the video segment on the Bill O'Reilly show. Until next time, speekonit...

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    Scripture of the Day: The Power of Prayer

    Peace and blessings,

    The following scripture speaks to the power and necessity of prayer. Given the events that transpired in Peter's life after this conversation with Jesus (i.e. his betrayal of Jesus three times and Jesus returning to redeem Peter three times), Jesus' prayer for Peter speaks volumes. The pic is courtesy of
  • Suite 101

  • "31Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain, 32But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren."

    Luke 22:31-32 (NKJ Amplified)

    This scripture reminds me of the importance of praying for myself as well as others, because the devil stays on his grind. Since we already the victory through Christ, prayer to me is simply verbal confirmation between Jesus, God, and myself that the devil has no hold over us. Stay blessed and speekonit...

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    Featured Artist: Lecrae

    Peace and blessings,

    I pray everyone's weekend was blessed and refreshing. Below are some tracks from Lecrae's two albums ("Real talk", 2005 & "After the music stops," 2006). He's one of my top five Christian Mcees, and after listening to these tracks, you'll be convinced of his gift.

    This first track is entitled "Take me as I am," and it is about the common misconception we have about coming to Christ, namely that we must "get ourselves right" before we come to Christ. Actually, we alone are able to "get ourselves right" in any sense of the word, but only through Christ are we changed. What's the point of the song? That we must come to Christ as we are, regardless of what we've done, because through Him, all things are made new.

    The next track is called "crossover," and it's basically an anthem about the importance of developing a relationship with Christ and doing away with destructive behavior. In addition to the potency of his lyrics, the beat is sick. It sounds like that old memephis bleek cut called "do my ladies..."

    The next track is called " Praying for you," and it is about him interceding in prayer on behalf of someone. The song is deep, as I think it really touches on some of the issues that we as believers wrestle with in our minds. The beat is one of the sickest i've heard in a while. It reminds me of jay-z's "song cry."

    This last track isn't even a full song, but I had to include it because it's vicious. It's him dropping a minute-long freestyle. I'm not going to say anything else, just peep it...

    Enjoy the soulfood, and speekonit...

    Friday, February 02, 2007

    Video of the day: Common and Will i Am's "I Have a Dream"

    Peace and blessings,

    With the things that have recently been taking place in the news regarding MLK day, I figured it wouldn't be right not to include this song and video. Have a safe, blessed weekend, and speekonit...

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    A Dream Preserved

    Peace and blessings,

    In the midst of visiting the MLK center (see pics below) in Atlanta a few weeks ago, and hearing about the recent parties that have taken place at various universities thoughout the country, I have been reflecting on MLK's "dream" and where we as a country stand today within the midst of that "dream." I am using parenthesese because I believe that MLK was motivated more by a realistically attainable ideal than by a "dream." I think that by viewing it merely as a dream, it can yeild complacency on behalf of the rest of us, whose duty it is to live out what he (and countless others who were never seen) lived, fought, and died for. When i think of a dream, I think of some far-fetched utopia that, although i know it won't happen, I enjoy thinking that one day it could happen. That is not what Dr. King was talking about in his "I have a dream" speech. He was talking about a reality where people show love, kind, and respect towards each other in some capacity without those interactions being influenced (one way or the other) by race or any other superficial to irrelevant "differences." Although at the time this may have seen like a "dream" at the time due to the racial hostility and intense segregation, it was not a dream in the sense that it is unattainable through everyday, realistic, human actions. I think that his life's work is best characterized as being in accordance with an ideal, rather than pursuing a dream. In the movie "Batman Begins," Bruce was training with the League of Shadows and his mentor told him that "once a man commits himself to an ideal, he becomes a whole new person entirely." This quote struck me because of its truth. This quote also best describes Dr. King, and the many others who were committed to non-violence, social change, and love over hate. Before I close, here are a couple of pics from the MLK center and MLK's church...

    Here's Ebenezer Baptist Church, where MLK used to pastor.

    This is the entrance to the exhibit.

    This is called the "civil rights" or "freedom" chair, or something to that effect. I find this ironic because the chair is something people use when they want to sit down, yet the images on this chair symbolize why we must always stand up for what we know in our heart to be right.

    In closing, I just wanted to touch on the idea of preservation with respects to MLK's "dream." When I normally think of the term preservation, I think of it within the context of keeping food fresh and maintaining its quality. Within the context of MLK, preservation has similar meanings and connotations. However, it differs in that the ideals MLK proscribed to (e.g. non-violence, peace, love, justice, etc...) are the same ideals that I believe are intrinsically within all of us. The key is to tap into those God-given capacities to transform our lives and socieities through simple, everyday actions. Alot of times I perceive the solutions to certain problems to be more complicated than the problem itself, when often the solution lies in (or starts with) me making a conscious decision to make a small change in my behavior or how I interact with others (e.g. stopping to actually talk to a stranger as opposed to dropping some change in a cup and keeping it moving). If we as people can change, than so can our relationships with others, and so can our societies. That's what MLK and others who died for the cause would want, and that is far from a dream. What do you think? Speekonit...