Stone Soup Servings Presents: DiDi Delgado

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Jason Wright’s Jagged Thoughts are a critical component to Oddball Magazine, but the  online magazine is more than one feature deep. Chad Parenteau’s Stone Soup Poetry, a poetry / spoken word open mic night whose origins in the bay era date back a few decades, is another crucial piece of the Oddball puzzle. Stone Soup Poetry meets from 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Monday nights at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery, located at now at 541 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square Cambridge, MA. The night consists of featured poets sharing their art, but all are welcomed to participate as there is also an open mic sign-up at 7:30 p.m.

With that in mind we at JP Lime Productions are happy to introduce Stone Soup Poetry to our readers. The following poem is from Stone Soup’s featured guest from this past Monday night, Boston area poet Didi Delgado, entitled ‘Seasons’. Enjoy.

Seasons

Spring inspires.
People, places and things like to bloom.
Blossom and burgeon.
Bright colors, blue skies
High pitched laughter, worries on a school vacation hiatus.
I remember this time last year, we didn’t know so much.
I never knew why it is
only some mornings
you can hear the birds sing
their songs.

CLICK HERE to finish reading ‘Seasons’ by Didi Delgado…

Rap Flashback – October

This month on the Rap Flashback we dissect recent contributions from Pusha T and Kendrick Lamar along with Old School album releases from Public Enemy, Common, Ghostface Killah, Mos Def, and the Diabolical Biz Markie. Don’t miss Professa join Scholar for an impassioned, albeit brief rendition of a Biz Markie classic and as always, all your prominent October Hip Hop Birthdays courtesy of your boys at JP Lime.

THE OCTOBER RAP FLASHBACK CONTAINS 3 SEGMENTS – CLICK HERE TO VIEW, LIKE, & SHARE EACH SEGMENT INDIVIDUALLY…

Hip Hop Psych – Can Rap Music Help Treat Depression?

Depression sucks. Plain and simple. At the risk of trying to come across as an expert on the subject, I’ll share a few statistics and direct you to this link , this one, and this last one for a more in-depth look at just how many people depression in all its forms affects. Roughly 9% of Americans suffer from some variation of depression, with major depressive disorder being the top cause of disability for 15 – 44 years olds, affecting almost 15 million Americans yearly. The most alarming statistic I came across is that though roughly 1 in 10 Americans suffer from sort of depression, only 20% of those with symptoms actually receive treatment for it. I’ve been on both sides of that fence, having received treatment and counseling when my depression was at its peak but having dealt with it since, choosing to fight it off on my own with no formal counseling and no antidepressants. Depression is a nemesis of mine, and when it rears its ugly head I lace up my bootstraps and go to battle. That of course is a metaphor. I’m also a writer / emcee, so I’m quite fond of metaphors. So while I don’t literally throw on some boots to go to war, I have at times written and almost always listen. Listen to who or what you may ask, if not a licensed medic? Hip Hop of course. I listen to Rap. And it usually helps. Usually… Sometimes it does more harm than good. Let me expound.

A buddy of mine who’s also a writer (though not of the emcee ilk, but rather a columnist for a prominent New England based online magazine) sent me this article which I recommend you read. The headline of the piece immediately piqued my curiosity. ‘Hip-hop therapy is new route to mental wellbeing, say psychiatrists.‘ “Really? Well that’s pretty cool,” I thought to myself. The subtext however, ‘Pharrell Williams song Happy highlighted for possible use in helping patients to tackle their own problems‘ admittedly made me skeptical. I’ve just really never liked that song too much. I always thought it was corny and my knee jerk reaction was, “You’re telling me Pharrel’s ‘Happy’ works as treatment for depression? No way!” At day’s end however, the connection is very real and personal to me. I love Rap music. I make Rap music. I write about Rap music. I struggle with depression. I often turn to Hip Hop (for better or worse) when I’m depressed. My intrigue was greater than my skepticism, so I continued reading.

The article’s focus is on the Hip Hop Psych project which aims to utilize Hip Hop as a “powerful vehicle for raising awareness of mental health.” hip-hop-psych-tmIt states that “hip-hop provides individuals with a sense of empowerment and self-knowledge that could be exploited to help people tackle their own psychological problems. There is an intrinsic awareness of issues connected with mental health in many forms of hip-hop.” Alright… I can see a connection there, but how exactly do these researchers interpret this? One of the women involved with the study, Becky Inkster, a neuroscientist at Cambridge University department of psychiatry goes on to explain that “many key rappers and hip-hop artists come from deprived urban areas which are often hotbeds for problems such as drug abuse, domestic violence and poverty, which are in turn linked to increased occurrences of psychiatric illnesses. These problems are rooted in their language and in their songs.” She concludes by stating, “hip-hop in general, and rap in particular, often carry messages that are much more complex than is generally appreciated. That makes it an ideal medium for helping individuals understand their psychological problems and for finding ways to deal with them.” The article notes that the therapy doesn’t just involve listening to Rap music, but also encouraging patients to write their own lyrics as a means of not only better understanding their current situation, but also forecasting where they’d like to be in the future.

I get that. I understand that many Rap lyrics do in fact deal with issues such as violence and poverty that can lead to depression. Also as I mentioned earlier, I’ve both listened to Hip Hop and written my own lyrics to help alleviate my depression in the past. Of course, my own experiences doing so have not been under formalized medical supervision. Reading this article however made me think about my history with depression and Hip Hop. My depression was diagnosed in my late teens, not long after I graduated high school. I may or may not have been depressed prior to graduating, I’m honestly not sure. What I do know is that it peaked during my freshmen and sophomore years in college.

Click here for more of Scholar’s experiences with depression and Hip Hop…

Snoop Dogg, One of a Kiz-ind

young snoop behind recording micThe memory of my first Hip Hop music purchase is crystal clear. I asked my Mom for it and she went and got it on cassette the next day, despite its bright black and white “Parental Advisory: Explicit Content” sticker only then rising to popularity. To this day I don’t know whether it was greater part ignorance to the incredibly graphic images contained within or the desire to let her son explore the new music genre that was emerging in Gangsta Rap, but one thing is clear: had my Mom not gone out and bought me The Chronic my life would be sincerely different. I’m sure much to the horror of my teacher Mr. Sperry, I brought “Nuthin’ but a G Thang” in on assignment to share our favorite song with my seventh grade music class. How bold for a quiet little white kid, eh? Or did my own ignorance to the adult themes play a role in this ambitious act? Mind you, seventh grade was my first year out of Boston Public schools and into the small, nerdy and largely Caucasian One True School. And there I was, alongside my future JP Lime partner, Space, bobbing to the sounds of Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg in front of 25 other 13-year-olds. This is a long-winded way of talking about one of the most instantly recognizable figures in Hip Hop, whose impact is immeasurable not just because of its size but because of its singular uniqueness. His style and identity are no gimmick but they are certainly trend-setting, for with every “izzle dizzle” and new nickname he gives himself (“Nemo Hoes aka Finding Nemo”) the one known as Snoop Dogg is every bit himself, someone universally liked and respected, somewhat stunning given his gang affiliations and role in the East Coast West Coast feud of the 90’s (see the 1995 Source Awards). He is constantly in a process of re-invention and discovery, always in search of a new venue or enterprise to expand the Snoop brand, with varying levels of success but always with a hustler’s ambition that is not to be deterred. This past Monday, October 20th, marked the 43rd birthday of the man we’ve watched grow up with Hip Hop, from “Deep Cover” to Doggfather to Reincarnated as Snoop Lion, so roll ‘em if you got ‘em as we salute our Uncle Snoopy, the one and only Snoop Dogg.

As I said, Snoop’s work with Dr. Dre stands out sharply among the fog of my adolescent memories, one of the first few musical choices I made for myself, the beginning of my own Hip Hop history, and I can’t really pinpoint a source or inspiration other than Jam’n 94.5. I didn’t choose Hip Hop, it chose me and it did so in 1993. I remember photos of Dre and Snoop from the Source decorating my wall, and I can remember being confused by Dre’s White Sox hat but wanting one just the same. I knew every word of every Snoop verse on The Chronic, including all kinds of references and slang I wouldn’t understand for a decade, and I have a picturesque memory of my 13-year-old self playing “Stranded on Death Row” on my Walkman as I entered 7th grade home room. Mind you, I have a moderate degree of difficulty remembering the events of yesterday (we are in October, right?) but somehow Snoop was formative enough to deserve a permanent place in my psyche. Hell, just for the fun of it, you guys want to pause for a second a watch a video? Cool, me too.

Trevor Banks and Inet6: The Star

Here at #JPLMagazine we’re all about cross-promoting other folks who are working hard to bring you new and interesting content.

Trevor BanksTrevor Banks has been a DJ in the Boston area for 16 years. He first crossed paths with the Lime back in 2008 as part of Umass Lowell’s radio station WUML. It’s there that his Inet6: The Star (WSTR)  began, doing live shows with people like Clinton Sparks and Slip n Slide DJ’s as well as interviews with folks like DeVin The Dude, Tony Dofat, Statik Selektah, and Tony Sunshine. WSTR has now run independently online for the past five years and is looking to expand over the next decade.

You can follow Trevor and Inet6: The Star @inet6thestar and check out www.inet6thestar.blogspot.com for track lists, interviews and fashion.
Keep Liming!

Jagged Thoughts #47 – Hard Work Being Somebody

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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.

1.

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

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“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

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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

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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…