Notorious

Notorious, the movie about the life of the late Brooklyn rapper, Christopher Wallace, is enlightening. Some of us older African Americans faced with the educational, spiritual and social needs of youths have tried to ignore the phenomenon known as Hip-Hop. Along with the music came a disposition, an attitude and a behavior unlike anything seen or understood by previous generations. Yet to ignore what has developed is not only ignornant but impossible. This movie brought things to light. Why do young black men believe more in drug sales than education? This movie gives a clue.

Having published a book Bridging the Gulf: Understanding and Ministering to Hip Hop Youth, I realized that there were many things about the development of Hip-Hop that were clarified by watching this movie. Having heard the Hip Hop story from various youths, this movie helped me to understand that I already knew a lot. There were many things to learn.

This movie was as much about Sean Puffy Combs, aka Puff Daddy or Sean Jean as Notorious B.I.G. This was a logical observation after learning from the credits that Puff Daddy served as the executive producer. Apparently not only did Combs discover Wallace but the two of them arose from insignificance to riches together.

I had heard the name Little Kim and knew that Wallace was intimate with an artist by the name of Faith Evans. However, I learned from the movie that Wallace had an affair with Little Kim and even married Evans. All these artist appeared to have been discovered together by Combs and were placed on his record label.

The movie took a turn. At first the late Tu Pac Shakur was shown as a friend of Wallace. When Shakur was visiting Comb’s studio, he got shot. The movie made it very clear that neither Combs nor Wallace or their entourage had anything to do with this shooting. In fact, the movie made this fact too clear. Shakur however was convinced that the East Coast rapping entourage had everything to do with the shooting. From that point onward, the feud began between the West Coast rappers and the East Coast rappers.

We all know the rest of the story. Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas. Nobody knows who did it. Wallace was to suffer a similar fate in Los Angeles. In fact, many young people throughout America are suffering, being gunned down using damnable Hip-Hop words and messages like, “Murder, murder, murder…Kill, kill,kill.” The Bible states that the power of life and death lies in the tongue. What ones says is what one gets. Momma used to say, if you cant say something good, say nothing at all. We need to stick to what mom said and speak life if we want to live.

So what is next in the world of Hip-Hop. Is the rivalry over? Will black on black crime decrease? After all, there is a Black President in the White House. One thing that is puzzling. According to the movie, Combs was in the middle of every development yet unscathed and blameless. In fact, he is celebrated in Time Square with a big image. To have lost two major players like Biggie and Shakur and yet profit off their story as a Wall Street corporate tycoon is sort of weird and insensitive.

NEW YEAR — can I start over?


Do you remember the times when you were a kid and things weren’t going your way (especially if it was while you were learning the rules of a new game at recess) and you would look to the teacher with puppy-dog eyes and say “can I have a Do-Over please”?

There have been many, many twists and turns in the month of December 2008 for me and my family. So, here at the very beginning of 2009 I would like a Do-Over.

I’d like to just start fresh with a clean slate from square One.

IF it were possible this is what I’d do:
— erase ALL of my email inbox right now without reading any of it. Just tell my friends to resend anything that is important.
— take all the post-it stickies all over my desk office and spilling out into other areas of the home and miraculously have the info on them stored where it should be or thrown away!
— have a very trusted friend come into my home and help me blast through the piles of receipts and papers and files and throw out all of it except the “important” (defined by taxes, medical, assets). Now that I think about it…it might take more like a group of friends… but they’d need to know what they’re doing, ‘cuz Lord Knows, I don’t.
— tear up my Social Security Card and recreate my identity. Start with fresh credit records, medical records and all the other “Past”, so I could have it stop dragging me back into the past.

I really think it would be funny if someone stole MY identity… they wouldn’t know what they were getting into. They certainly couldn’t go out and ruin my credit… we don’t use credit cards and there are so many medical bills that they would receive instant justice when all those bills came to them!

Do you remember that pop song [Talking Heads “Once In a Lifetime”] where the guy wakes up in Hollywood and he asks himself “Well… How did I get here? ” Well, that is what is running through my mind right now. HOW did I get here? One major life twist after another. Especially as it pertains to health issues, my time up until now has been chaotic when it comes to keeping things filed away in an organizational manner. On top of that the papers just keep comin’ in.

I don’t really make a list of New Year’s Resolutions because I know that it is beyond anything that I can do apart from God’s power. Rather I do reflect and see where I can improve in the upcoming year. One of my top priorities for 2009… get out from under the paper mountain and stop some of the inflow of more paper… UNLESS or course it’s the green variety with the numbers on it. Making money using my skills is also at the top of my list.

I’d say “wish me luck,” but I really don’t need that. However, if you want to pray for my discernment of doing that which is right and obedient as I learn to sort this all out… please do.

NEW YEAR — can I start over?


Do you remember the times when you were a kid and things weren’t going your way (especially if it was while you were learning the rules of a new game at recess) and you would look to the teacher with puppy-dog eyes and say “can I have a Do-Over please”?

There have been many, many twists and turns in the month of December 2008 for me and my family. So, here at the very beginning of 2009 I would like a Do-Over.

I’d like to just start fresh with a clean slate from square One.

IF it were possible this is what I’d do:
— erase ALL of my email inbox right now without reading any of it. Just tell my friends to resend anything that is important.
— take all the post-it stickies all over my desk office and spilling out into other areas of the home and miraculously have the info on them stored where it should be or thrown away!
— have a very trusted friend come into my home and help me blast through the piles of receipts and papers and files and throw out all of it except the “important” (defined by taxes, medical, assets). Now that I think about it…it might take more like a group of friends… but they’d need to know what they’re doing, ‘cuz Lord Knows, I don’t.
— tear up my Social Security Card and recreate my identity. Start with fresh credit records, medical records and all the other “Past”, so I could have it stop dragging me back into the past.

I really think it would be funny if someone stole MY identity… they wouldn’t know what they were getting into. They certainly couldn’t go out and ruin my credit… we don’t use credit cards and there are so many medical bills that they would receive instant justice when all those bills came to them!

Do you remember that pop song [Talking Heads “Once In a Lifetime”] where the guy wakes up in Hollywood and he asks himself “Well… How did I get here? ” Well, that is what is running through my mind right now. HOW did I get here? One major life twist after another. Especially as it pertains to health issues, my time up until now has been chaotic when it comes to keeping things filed away in an organizational manner. On top of that the papers just keep comin’ in.

I don’t really make a list of New Year’s Resolutions because I know that it is beyond anything that I can do apart from God’s power. Rather I do reflect and see where I can improve in the upcoming year. One of my top priorities for 2009… get out from under the paper mountain and stop some of the inflow of more paper… UNLESS or course it’s the green variety with the numbers on it. Making money using my skills is also at the top of my list.

I’d say “wish me luck,” but I really don’t need that. However, if you want to pray for my discernment of doing that which is right and obedient as I learn to sort this all out… please do.