Sunday, January 15, 2012


I hadn’t heard the name “Adam Bernard” in some time and couldn’t quite remember where or when I’d last heard it, however it found its way onto my gmail inbox. The title read something of “My top 10s for 2011”. “Ooooooohhhh”, I thought to myself. It’s the guy from the phone conference Jeb had set up months ago for the Segregated City Tour. Although Jeb had done a fine job of setting up press and online presence for the tour, I wasn’t able to attend it. Honda was going down hard in the paint, and my funds at the time were insanely low. I also didn’t want to go out on a tour if I didn’t have a new project to promote or some kind of plan behind it. In the end I bailed, but somehow this “Adam Bernard” is still emailing me. Perhaps he goes through everyone he’s emailed throughout the year and sends them his top 10 list for the past 365 days.

Clicking on the link, a url of “” pops up unfolding a list of artists below. Next to each artist was a write up from Mr. Bernard with a link to their work or album. Some artists had music videos embedded in their write-ups, some had simple artwork from their album. I noticed Astronautilis from the Guthrie show we’d done this past summer amongst the list of the Top Ten. Astronautilis is an artist newly relocated to Minneapolis from Seattle in a love affair with indie hip-hop officials Doomtree. I’m forever enthused to see collaborations and networks built between artists shearly off an appreciation for one another. It’s a beautiful thing.

Scrolling down the list, I wonder why the f--- this man sent me his Top Ten for? Did I just get spammed? Am I going to get to the bottom and get totally Rick rolled? Is it to tell me how unworthy I am of his bloggage? Bah, I kill the imagination of it and move on. If anything, his Top Ten seems to be a genuine likening of underground hip-hop- not your a-typical Top 40 of Pop, but a research into what actually intrigued this guy to write about all these artists for the past year. At what I thought was the bottom of the list rested a picture of Dessa, the cover to her new album Castor, The Twin. I’ll admit I went a bit flush at the sight of it, nothing due to the picture but more the outing that occurred over the summer when Dessa had booked a band of mine, Lazlo Supreme, for a hip-hop show at the Guthrie Theater. I’d rather not go into details, it’s one of those see-me-at-a-coffeeshop-and-I’ll-tell-you-all-about-it type’a deals. I dunno, I just got flush… crackin’ away at this for so long and all your left with is to watch friends, co-workers, and fellow artists take the cover page. Jealousy or envy wouldn’t properly define the feeling, just a little bit empty. As much as I hate to write about vulnerability to the public, it’s literally a natural course of action of the human heart. I can act it as much as possible that the coming-up shorts, close losses, and near successes don’t affect the everyday train of the thought and that I’ve come to personally thrive on self-considered failures in life… but I don’t… sometimes. Taking it personal is definitely not one of the 4 Agreements or a step in the right/healthy direction, however ask any artist and they’ll tell you it’s part of the job.

As of late, the personal thing has somewhat faded to the background, and that good ol' feeling of not-giving-a-fuck has taken the wheel. Personal is rough and there’ll be plenty of time to take it to heart in the future with film and theatre, whereas what we’re doing now is releasing mixtapes. I’m finding it day by day that the nature of the mixtape is to grind out the work and take it personal later- to write first and ask questions later. Not for ego, not for manhood, not for saving face, the apparatus of the mixtape is to seriously put yourself out there for people to dig what you do. I honestly could’ve never done mixtapes first and then live bands later. If I’m not into it, I’m not putting it up for free download. The risk of misrepresentation is something I fear more than an album being ill received. If I can step back from a poem, play, or song and know I put my all into it, then the public eye almost comes tertiary to the whole process. Staying true to what the f--- you’re saying is something that breaths so much more life into your day-to-day than going for a look, style, or image.

Next to Dessa’s album cover listed a “1-A”. I didn’t understand it. Why the “A”? What the f--- is this man doing, breaking them down to sub-categories? Reading closer, I discovered the “A” was meant as an honorable mention sorta thing in that Castor, The Twin was a duplicate of Dessa’s past album just with live arrangements of music behind the lyrics. I inch the scroll bar on the right side of my screen to see the top of a name “Toussaint Morrison Is Not My Homeboy” listed as “1” next to it.

Lazlo Supreme… but even then the press was damn hard to come by and a rarity with being a new name. This however- this is just fucking awesome. Plain and simple, there’s really no other way to put it.

I privately reveled in the new found public success, made a tweet, headed to the Spyhouse and made a plan. Credit it to Adam Bernard or the Dogwood highly-caffeinated coffee I’d just delved into, but it all came back to me that I’d had a grander vision for all this mixtape hutzpah when it started… just never had the funds to get it going. With several more months left in Minneapolis, I’d also have to find a way for the mixtapes to be finished by the time I left, on track towards some kind of national campaign, and versatile enough so that Dr. Wylie and I could keep it going between Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

An hour later, I’d written out the entire goal. The first step starts with you reading through this painfully long blog post, and the action takes place on Tuesday (tomorrow) at

Stay tuned… Oh and by the way, here's that article by Mr. Bernard:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Year Of The Villain

The tall Russian gentlemen carried on his conversation with a petite grad-school aged gal next to the bar. The bar being a fold out table covered with a blanket covered with every possible version of vodka sold in the Twin Cities... or just the MGM liquor down the block in Roseville. Still standing in St. Paul proper, in Dr. Wylie's basement, awaiting the ball to drop to ring in 2012, another grad-school gal took it upon herself to approach the man-made bar and without hesitation grab one of the variations of vodka and take it to the neck. Where I'm from when we say “take it to the neck” we mean “straight no chaser”, “drank it straight from the bottle”, “took a pull”. Different cities support different jargon, but for my sake you should start getting used to hearing “take it to the neck”.

There was something sexy about it. When a woman with a clear conscience and sober composure takes a straight pull from a bottle of vodka at 10pm on New Year's Eve there's nothing not sexy about it. Although I'm a little shy to admit it, I have an affinity for firestarters and people that don't wait to be told what to do- people that just go. She held the bottle high with one hand around the neck of it. For what seemed like a full minute, while in reality was more likely a few seconds, I swear she looked at me and winked as if to say “Tonight we burn this business to the ground and party like it never mattered anyway”. Whatever “it” was, it would not be acknowledged this evening- be it mortality, feelings, or the entirety of 2011.

Several conversations, one drink, and half-a-dozen songs later I found myself peering over at the bar again. The large Russian gentlemen was not bartending any longer, he'd been replaced by a woman decked out in New Year's Eve attire- attire you'd wrap yourself in to make dress code for an upper-echelon nightclub. The same grad-school gal that took the pull a half hour ago returned to the bar again. Evading conversation with the woman running the bar, she struck again... grabbing another obscure bottle of vodka from the table, tilting her head back and smiling as she put it down. This time she glanced cross the room, held a quick conversation with the woman at the bar and pranced off into the party.

Something glowed about her, something infallible. Putting on these displays of immunity to vodka was perhaps practice for her- practice that if the longest pull of hard liquor can't affect her, then nothing can. No substance, no man, no rules, no law. There lie the attraction, emanating from her tolerance for alcohol I assumed she could tolerate anything. King Kong, the Cloverfield Monster, and Godzilla... as they say “ain't got shit on her”.

Limitations are everywhere, more so in our minds than anywhere else. The power is in walking thru them legitimately. Taking them down in a manner that we can progress past them with a stride that we hope will lead us in the right direction. The flip to this is taking the limitations to heart, simply flashing our fangs at them to strike fear into the exact apparatus that scares the shit out of us. It's tough. I'd always give a Clint Eastwood eye squint at the 10 hurdles ahead of me just before any 110m high hurdle race... in the end it was the conditioning, muscle memory, technique, and absolute disregard for anything else going on at the moment but the race to accomplish my fastest times. The Clint Eastwood eye squint never changed anything, it was the respect for the hurdles that manipulated the race. Respect your boundaries, challenges, hurdles, opponents, etc... and you'll never find it easier to walk through them. In some cases, simply respecting the limits is all it takes to make them vanish.

Again in the treacherous basement of Dr. Wylie; we drink, we dance, we ring in the new year with champagne & dubstep... and again, the grad-school damsel returns to the bar. Her stride, this time, slightly off balance and rhythm. She grabs the tallest bottle, takes it to the neck hard. This time she holds the pull for longer than the last two... combined. Spitting in the face of her tolerance for vodka several times over finally resulted in the vodka spitting back... hot flaming fire. She sets the bottle down, wobbles to a chair in the back of the room, and sits down.

Lost in the fray, I ventured upstairs to sing a few show tunes with Linden at the piano; we rap, we sing, we laugh. Knowing a few covers by simply hearing them on the piano can never be a bad thing. It's been scientifically proven that when people sing together, a chemical in the brain is released that creates a feeling of trust. Bonding with strangers at a new year's party can never be a bad thing, however neither is dancing. To the basement we go...

Turning the corner from the kitchen to the staircase, there she was... grad-school girl. Sitting sideways on the staircase, crying into her hands, a guy knelt next to her struggling to console the intoxication. Her cries got louder as I descended the stairs.

The equation was simple and she lost. A sad sight of basic math with fiery intent and drunkeness. I wonder if at the first pull of the vodka that this was in her plan... nasmudgery of make-up.

Earlier this week, the Vikings turned in one of the worst seasons in franchise history, The Blend played it's final show in Minneapolis before departing for Los Angeles, Alistair Overeem beat Brock Lesnar into retirement, and now grad-school gal's crying in a heap of alcohol fueled frustration. This year will surely be the end of a few things. I hope one of them to be the failure to understand that passing our walls and limitations takes respect. Failure to do so will result in the limitation getting the best of us.