Jagged Thoughts #47 – Hard Work Being Somebody


Poetry’s not all fun and games for the poet. Sometimes the process of tapping into that inner-artistic space and the self-awareness it requires can take you to dark, maddening places. With that said, we present to you this week’s edition of Jason Wright’s Jagged Thoughts as he explores these very concepts, courtesy of our friends at Oddball Magazine. Enjoy.


Relaxed, anxious,
Had my medication for breakfast
Sit listening to Ludwig, puff out his chest a bit,
And I am trying to listen intently
With little resent

Am I dying? I breathe in a cold calm,
My hands shake,
But I know I belong
Typing relentlessly at the keys,
Trying to understand madness.

A Scientist in the daytime, and bad at business
He falls quicker then the signs that we all have gone
To the wilderness.
That the simply joy he once had,
Has gone by with love and tenderness.
And the out of this mind poet,
Has had his medicine for breakfast.

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Click here for full poem


“We Love That Basketball” – Our Favorite Hoops Tracks

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James greets entertainer Jay-Z after his team beat the New York Knicks in New YorkBasketball and Rap music go together like peanut butter and jelly, Biggie and Tupac, Allen Iverson and Hip Hop (see what I did there?). While music and sports in general share a kindred connection, with athletes using music to either pump themselves up for a contest or to unwind afterwards, and musicians often utilizing sports references in their music, basketball and Rap in particular seem to be a perfect fit. Consider that the Magic and Bird era catapulting the NBA to new heights in the 1980s coincided with the rise of Rap music. Add to that the fact that many of the NBA’s athletes in that timeframe were products of the urban cultural fusions which birthed Hip Hop. It’s then no surprise that the two entities are tightly bonded.

Examples of Hip Hop meeting basketball and vice versa are plentiful. Jay-Z’s involvement with the Brooklyn Nets speaks for itself. Michigan’s famed Fab Five Freshmen were undeniably Hip Hop. No Limit Records mogul Master P is such a basketball enthusiast that he not only used his platform to try out for NBA teams, he actually scored 8 points in an NBA preseason game back in the late 90s. Movies such as ‘Above The Rim’ and ‘Love And Basketball’ are prime examples of Hip Hop culture crossing into basketball culture’s lane. Players such as Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, and Chris Webber have all (laughably) given Rap music a try. Regardless of how bad their attempts may have turned out however, what resonates most is the strong link between basketball and Hip Hop. With that in mind, here’s a hoops playlist consisting of six Rap songs about basketball that we at JP Lime Productions enjoy thoroughly because not only do we love this music, we love this game.

Honorable Mention: Boston Celtics Pop Bottles Remix – Akrobatik

Slam Dunk Lyric: Somebody do me a favor, this is important / Tell Kobe Bryant that he’s not Michael Jordan.

Borrowing its beat from Birdman and Lil’ Wayne’s ‘Pop Bottles‘, this 2008 track by Boston’s own Akrobatik celebrates the Boston Celtics’ 17th Championship, a title they won by defeating their arch rival and Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers. I’m not even trying to hide it people, I’m a homer, so you know I had to show my Celtics some love on this post. After a 23 year title drought for the NBA’s most storied franchise, on the strength of KG, Pierce, Allen, & Rondo the Celtics finally exorcised those Laker demons of ’85 and ’87 and returned to Glory. Big ups to Akro for capturing that moment in time masterfully on this track.

Click here for our top 5 hoops tracks…

The Roots of My Family Tree

AncestryLogoGrowing up I never knew my ethnicity or ancestral origins. I’m a white guy with reasonably straight hair, crooked teeth and a Romanesque nose so our guesses were pretty well contained to the British Isles. For some reason there was also rumor of Swedish blood, perhaps Dutch, maybe German as well. But again, these were all guesses as neither my father nor my mother had any real knowledge of their background. Neither of my parents shared a close relationship with their birth father so information about their paternal lineages were scant while the ancestries of each of my grandmothers were filled with stories about the generation or two before my parents but nothing further and events like divorce, remarriage, and foster care made connecting the factual dots a bit of a task.

My father, imbued with the same sense of temporal purpose that I now possess, began the research into our family line when I was a kid. In the pre-Internet 1990’s, researching one’s ancestry was a painstaking process, undertaken by some but certainly necessitating a dedication and a drive for tedium, searching for elusive birth and marriage certificates as one travelled between town clerk and record offices across a given region. A member of our church was an avid ancestry researcher and my dad and he began the process of discovery sometime around 1996. Their work yielded some, if limited, results. For one thing, it was beginning to become clear that the Everson family line went back a long way in New England. Exactly how far, though, would remain a mystery until I began the same research two decades later.

I’m not exactly sure what sparked my interest sometime this past January in Ancestry.com. I had long wanted to know the mystery of my history and perhaps I was simply a victim of their comfortable and engaging commercials.  As I mentioned before, history research is not necessarily the most entertaining pursuit and one of the more effective aspects of their marketing is that it makes the connections through generations seem easy and it shines a light on the most exciting rewards, the bits of specific information one learns about those who have come before us. The small green leaves that float through the commercials are what Ancestry calls “Hints”, possible connections to or records of a member of your family tree, and they transform the entire searching experience.

Levi has 2 Hints awaiting investigation

Levi has 2 Hints awaiting investigation

I opened up a free trial account, plugged in what information I knew and my voyage into the past was underway, quickly building a Family Tree populated backwards and sideways in time with family members of whom I had never heard. And I was all in. I spent all my free hours (and some that shouldn’t have been free) building branches on my tree, I downloaded the app, I couldn’t help but share my excitement with everyone I knew about how easy the site was to use and the wealth of information I was soaking in.

Similar to the explosion of fantasy sports (I was never around during the era of newspaper stat searching and don’t think I’d enjoy it nearly as much), with the advent of the internet ancestry research has been revolutionized and has found a whole new mainstream market of people wondering from whence they came. Ancestry.com has compiled online the world’s largest database of genealogical records and made them relatively easy to search. Items like birth certificates, marriage certificates, census records, and records of the events in individual towns, items that only a decade ago would have been scattered across the region, all now appear together in search results. And just as with fantasy sports, the advent of the internet took this niche hobby to mainstream popularity.

I’ve researched my maternal lineage as well but in January I began with my central focus: where did the Eversons come from? When did they first arrive in the United States and where did they come from before that?

Where has Prof’s search led and what has he discovered? READ ON…

Jagged Thoughts #46: Renaissance of Thought


For our poetry enthusiasts, we present to you this week’s edition of Jason Wright’s Jagged Thoughts, courtesy of our friends at Oddball Magazine. Enjoy.

Welcome to the Renaissance of thought

Where festivals begin and people dance
and talk,

where the beautiful mix with
the ugly

the poor with the rich
the stoned with the sober

the drunk with the rest.

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Click here for full poem


Lyric Analysis – “Hip Hop”, by Mos Def

MosDefBlackonBothSides‘Black on Both Sides’, from the artist formerly known as Mos Def, now known as Yasiin Bey, is one of my top-10 all-time albums, an absolute Hip Hop classic, without a single wasted track. It is a long album full of energy, character, and truth, with two distinct halves, in my opinion, that divide at “Umi Says”. The second half deepens what is laid out in the first half, with songs like “New World Water”, “Rock N Roll”, and “Mathematics” presenting themes of real substance (Water scarcity, racial cooptation, and (music) business numbers) while tracks like the music suite “Brooklyn” display Bey’s creative breadth. I’ve long been a fan of both his music (he’s one of my top 5 favorite emcees despite a relatively small catalog of work) and his acting career with great roles in movies like The Italian Job, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Something the Lord Made. In honor of the 15th anniversary of the album’s release this Sunday I’ll be laying out a lyric analysis of the its second track called simply “Hip Hop”. So hit the play button below and transport yourself back to October of 1999 as you follow along.

You say one for the treble, two for the time
Come on, y’all let’s rock this
You say one for the treble, two for the time
Come on

Speech is my hammer, bang the world into shape
Now let it fall
My restlessness is my nemesis
It’s hard to really chill and sit still
Committed to page, I write a rhyme
Sometimes won’t finish for days
Scrutinize my literature, from the large to the miniature
I mathematically add-minister, subtract the wack,
Selector, wheel it back, I’m feelin’ that
Ha, ha, ha, from the core to the perimeter black
You know the motto: stay fluid even in staccato
Mos Def, full-blooded, full throttle
Breathe deep inside the drum hollow
There’s the hum, young man where you from?
Brooklyn number one
Native son, speakin’ in the native tongue
I got my eyes on tomorrow, (there it is)
While you still try to follow where it is
I’m on the Ave where it lives and dies
Violently, silently
Shine so vibrantly that eyes squint to catch a glimpse
Embrace the bass with my dark ink fingertips
Used to speak the king’s Eng-a-lish
But caught a rash on my lips
So now my chat just like dis
Long range from the base line (swish!)
Move like an apparition
Float to the ground with ammunition
Chi, chi, chi, pow
Move from the gate, voice cued on your tape
Puttin’ food on your plate, many crews can relate
Who choosin’ your fate? yo,
We went from pickin’ cotton
To chain gang line choppin’, to Beboppin’, to Hip Hoppin’
Blues people got the blue chip stock option
Invisible man, got the whole world watchin’
Where ya at?
I’m high, low, east, west, all over your map
I’m gettin’ big props, with this thing called hip hop
Where you can either get paid or get shot
When your product in stock the fair weather friends flock
When your chart position drop then the phone calls
Chill for a minute, let’s see who else hot
Snatch your shelf spot, don’t gas yourself ock
The industry just a better built cell block
A long way from the shell tops
And the bells that L rocked, rock, rock
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock, rock
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock

After the introductory “Fear Not of Man” sets up a narrative exploring the progress of the art form that we love so much (“We are Hip Hop – me, you everybody. So next time you ask yourself where Hip Hop is going, ask yourself where am I going, how am I doing.”), Yasiin jumps into this two-verse, no hook exploration of Hip Hop’s identity. Over a jumping beat from Diamond D, led by a sample of David Axelrod’s “The Warning Part II”, Bey creates a song filled and layered with references to novels, public figures and other rap songs. As an introductory lead-in, he kicks things off by stealing a line from Spoonie G’s “Spooning Rap”, a line so often used that it’s become part of Hip Hop vernacular, exactly the point that Yasiin is making with the reference.

One for the treble, two for the time
Come on y’all, let’s rock this
One for the treble, two for the time
Come on y’all, let’s rock this

He then drops one of my favorite opening lines ever.

Speech is my hammer
Bang the world into shape, then let it fall (hungh!)

The concept of Yasiin’s speech being his hammer is a reference to the song from the 1950’s by Pete Seeger (and re-recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary in the 60’s) “If I Had a Hammer”, a song of protest, support for the progressive movement and specifically support for the working man and labor unions. The hammer is a strong symbol, a tool of creation and construction and Bey’s hammer is his words.southern road
The “hungh!” adlib that punctuates the end of the line and is repeated periodically throughout the verse is a device of rhythm and a reference of its own to Sterling Brown’s poem “Southern Road”, with the “hungh”s there being the rhythmic punctuation of a broken man on a chain gang.

Dig a little deeper into this thing called Hip Hop – READ ON…

I Used To Love H.E.R. – Lyric Analysis

I USED TO LOVEROn October 25th, 1994 Common (then known as Common Sense) released his second album, Resurrection. As its 20th anniversary approaches, we’re going to explore and run a lyric analysis on the album’s standout track, a true classic, the No I.D. produced ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’ Any true Hip Hop fan knows that in this track Common raps about his attraction to and experiences with a woman from his youth with whom he grew up. He talks about her progression over the years and how his feelings for her, though rooted in love throughout, changed as she went through different phases in her life. He introduces the relationship by rapping, “I met this girl when I was ten years old, and what I loved most, she had so much soul. She was old school, when I was just a shorty. Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me.” He goes on to highlight her purity by saying that this girl was “not about the money, no studs was mic checkin’ her.” Later in the track, Common explains that his love interest “didn’t have a body but she started gettin’ thick quick. Did a couple of videos and became afrocentric. Out goes the weave, in goes the braids beads medallions. She was on that tip about, stoppin’ the violence.

At this point in the track, Common approaches the woman and expresses joy in her responding favorably to him, but that excitement would be short-lived. Not only did his love interest move away, her demeanor and outlook on life changed in a way that didn’t sit well with Common. It’s at this point in the track that we’ll pick up our lyric analysis, but before doing so, for those unfamiliar with the song and who may not have yet figured it out, the woman in the track is actually a metaphor for Hip Hop itself, as Common reveals in the very last lyric of the song (“‘cause who I’m talkin’ ’bout, y’all, is Hip Hop“). The word ‘her’ is purposely acronymed (H.E.R.) in the track’s title. While only Common himself can tell us for what exactly each letter stands, the two most common (pun intended) suggestions are Hiphop in its Essence is Real (which works, but it’s too wordy for a 3 letter acronym in my book), and my preference, Hearing Every Rhyme, as in I Used to Love Hearing Every Rhyme. That second theory to me makes the most sense to me as it both rolls off the tongue and reads much more smoothly than the first suggestion. That said, our lyric analysis will focus on the following lines from the second verse:

She dug my rap, that’s how we got close
But then she broke to the West Coast, and that was cool
Cause around the same time, I went away to school
And I’m a man of expanding, so why should I stand in her way
She probably get her money in L.A.
And she did stud, she got big pub but what was foul
She said that the pro-black, was goin’ out of style
She said, afrocentricity, was of the past
So she got into R&B hip-house bass and jazz
Now black music is black music and it’s all good
I wasn’t salty, she was with the boys in the hood

Why do these lyrics stand out to Scholar? Click here to find out…

Jagged Thoughts #45: The Soldiers of Nevertown Winters


Take the Red Line to Nevertown – click here

For our Poetry enthusiasts, here’s the latest offering from our friends at Oddball Magazine. Jason Wright shares with us an honest and poetic look at homelessness from a uniquely Boston perspective. Enjoy.




A steam drained train
I mind the last stop
it’s a place of activity
a slow steady drop
people getting on
people getting off.

The red line will take
you where you need to go
next to the coffee shops
and strip shows.
Next to the people plateaued
and the ones bought and sold by dope.
Those who lost their soul so long ago
Juxtaposed to the business man
with a wife, a house in Lexington
with letters of acceptance
a guided tour
through everywhere
he’s been.

And the homeless man with street wisdom sits next to him
Waking up from
drinking himself to sleep in a cold city
where the world of whimsy, has left him sane
using the sun as an alarm clock again.

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Click to link to the rest of “The Soldiers of Nevertown Winters”


Charlo Greene- Strong Advocate or Wild Weedhead?

Last week, Alaska KTVA’s Charlo Greene made the move from reporter to newsmaker by quitting her job live on air to commit her time fully as owner and founder of the Alaska Cannabis Club. The video of her “fuck it, I quit” resignation quickly went viral (#FuckItIQuit) and Greene (whose real name is Charlene Ebge) has used the attention to further her cause, launching an indiegogo campaign with the original aim of raising $5000 and currently sitting at $11,223 with 8 days left to go. She and her team will be using the money to cover travel and other expenses as they raise support for November’s Ballot Measure #2 vote which would legalize recreational marijuana in Alaska (upto 1 oz, and 6 plants). In recent days, she has appeared on multiple news outlets, making an extra special appearance on Snoop Dogg’s online show ‘GGN’. An obvious supporter, during the Skyped interview the Doggfather agrees that if the state passes Ballot Measure #2 he’ll head to the Northern Frontier to put on a concert (a “wellness retreat concert” he calls it). Is Greene’s appearance a well-designed method of gaining support for her cause or is it more a chance to smoke with Snoop via Skype? Will the Hip Hop legend’s support move the public needle when it comes to the November vote?

Is Greene the right person for the job? READ ON…

NBA Preview Examined Through Rap Songs

NBA LogoWith the NBA pre-season set to kick off this weekend, we’re going to revisit a fun exercise where we use Rap song titles and lyrics to help paint a picture of some of the more intriguing plot lines heading into the season. We’ll be continuing with this theme periodically as the season progresses, but for now we’ll start with the defending champion San Antonio Spurs and their NBA Finals opponents, the Miami Heat. We’ll also take a look at the team who signed the Heat’s best player in the offseason, namely the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lastly, though admittedly not as big a story throughout the league as it is to me, we’ll end with the Boston Celtics, because I’ll be damned if I kick off my 2014/2015 NBA coverage without discussing the home team. I do bleed green after all. Let’s dive in.

San Antonio Spurs
Rap Song: ‘The Champ Is Here’ remix by Jadakiss & Big Mike


The Spurs enter the season as the reigning NBA Champions and bring back their core cast of characters to defend the crown. Having wonSpurs TItles 5 championships in 15 years during the Tim Duncan and Greg Popovich era, the Spurs are consistently excellent and poised yet again to be atop the Western Conference en route to defending their title. Their offseason efforts centered around keeping the band together, as Duncan exercised his player option for the 2014/2015 season while both Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich were granted a contract extension. As for the Rap song angle, the title of the track we chose speaks for itself, as the Spurs are the champs and if the last decade plus is any indication, they’ll be right in the thick of things again this year. That said, we all know success in sports can be volatile, and as such the key lyric we’ll apply to the champs comes from verse 2; “A thin line between living and being buried.” Given that every year, if there’s anything we worry about with the Spurs it’s old age finally catching up to them, one has to wonder if Championship #5 was in fact the zenith of the Tim Duncan era. Can this team at its advanced age make yet another title run? Of course! Provided they’re healthy.

CLICK HERE for more on the Heat, Cavs, and Celtics…

Sur5ill – Nerd Rap 101

Sur5ill 2The story of Sur5ill (@golerflame) is one of a growing trend of emcees from the inner city who acknowledge, but don’t necessarily identify with the street element behind much of Hip Hop. Born in Boston and spending the majority of his youth in the city’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Sur5ill would attend Boston Public Schools through his elementary years and go on to spend the bulk of his middle school and his entire high school tenure at a prestigious independent school in the Greater Boston area. During this time he began “internet battle rapping” as he terms it, a practice popular in the mid-late 1990s, where you post your raps in chat rooms via instant messaging programs and digitally duke it out for rhyme supremacy; the on-line version of a live Rap battle if you will.

It was also during these years that he came up with his stage name, “Sur5ill”, about which he states, “I was looking for a name that encapsulated my mindset, but it was stupid, I tried to include my favorite number in it.” After working said favorite number 5 into a few different nouns, he settled on “Sur5ill” – or “Survival” if sounded out phonetically. Though in a bit of a self-deprecating fashion he looks back on his insistence to include the number 5 as “stupid”, he also points out that he chose the word “ill” to round out his stage name because simply put, “I think I’m dope.” In one sentence, he admits that if you called him a “nerd”, he “wouldn’t take it as an insult,” and in the next, assessing the current state of Rap music notes that in his opinion there are “a lot of people bullshitting themselves thinking that they’re better than they really are.”

After graduating High School, Sur5ill would go on to split time between Morehouse College and UMass Boston before entering the work force, a period of his life which coincided with his first full foray into music, as a guitarist and vocalist for an alternative local Boston band called The LE Project . The birth child of a group of roommates and friends, Sur5ill notes that his time with the band was as a “good opportunity to evolve musically and not be hamstrung by people who were afraid of failure.” The result of these travels is a man who’s comfortable in both urban and suburban settings, whether among corporate types or in an artistic context.

CLICK HERE for more on Sur5ill, his latest mixtape, ‘Work’, and the Nerd Rap movement…