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March 11, 2009


Peace! I'm jacking somebody' linksys on the homie's MacBook Pro real quick to let U know that I still exist. My name isn't Miranda Jane anymore, though. My name is Walasia Mirandajane Shabazz-Oxun. A mouthful I know, but ain't I always?

My fans will be hyphy to learn that I have about 75% of my Hip Hop cookbook complete, and am now testing recipes and seeking a good print photographer to get the "beauty shots" complete. And I suppose that will make the haters hate more.

Bizwise I'm doing exciting and fascinating things with CLEAR LABEL RECORDS, www.clearlabelrecords.com and owner/founder Tajai Massey (from the mighty Souls of Mischief / Hieroglyphics crew) as his GM. He has signed some incredible artists like Baby Jaymes, Deep Rooted, Chris Marsol, and more. I'm surrounded by light these days with the music clientele I'm blessed to affiliate with! He and I are also partnering up on a Media venture (marketing, radio promo, video promo, PR, press, viral), CLEAR LABEL MEDIA. For a menu/rates of services, reach us at CLEARLABELMEDIA at GMAIL dot COM. To request promo from CLEAR LABEL RECORDS, reach us at media@clearlabelrecords.com.

Bro. Tariq L from United Nations / Hemisphear / Konvict Music / etc. has finally launched his internationally-based label, SOUNDRIGHT MUSIC / SOUNDRIGHT INTERNATIONAL. I am also GM'ing this for him. He has a song called Fast Life f/ Tajh (formerly of the Boyz) that you really must hear. Reach us at soundright.intl AT gmail DOT com to request the MP3 and be added to the SOUNDRIGHT mailing list.

My young stunna of a Sun, Paco "TRUNKS" Youngel, has really come into his own as a mogul, label head, executive, A&R, shot caller, and Gunshow champion. His workout makes 50 Cent's Get Buff or Die Trying diet look weak and tawdry. With his new multi-tiered media (ad)venture GO*KID*GO, he and his posse are at the forefront of sound and are cutting a new swath in many fields of music, entertainment, tech, sk8, clothing, lifestyle and culture. He has this group called Flash Thompson that is so Gnarly, they have to be heard to be believed. You know you wanna...gmail me at LASANGELITAS at GMAIL dot COM if U want to hear this astounding aural innovation. If you want to sign Paco, his groups, his producers, his label, his lifestlye/marketing brand, or just want to pay him in general to ghostwrite for your wack rap acts you signed three quarters ago when you should've offered us a $500k advance and $250k marketing budget; I've got good news. He's become such a motherfucking BOSS, you can negotiate with him directly and bypass me and my murderous music-mogul-killa mouthpiece and get right at him, MAGNUMPACOY at YAHOO dot COM. Serious $$$$ and inquiries only, don't waste yourself or our time.

Besides the usual suspects, I have some new music thangthang's a gwan. One of these may surprise you, his name is 40 GLOCC and he's considered a "Gangster Rapper". He's actually extremely intelligent, his business savvy makes yours look anemic, and his music is DOPE. For music & vids from 40 GLOCC, TIP TOE, and his ZOO GANG affiliates, drop them a line at ZOOGANG333 at gmail dot com. He has some Ning thing too, I don't really even understand it and he does all this shit himself. Killer. I don't manage him, he's too ill, I don't womanage him, it'd be too much work, I'm just a culture consultant trying to create a new paradigm where nobody on my TV or radio or in my magazine has a cock & balls and wears skintight jeans. You'll never catch Big Bad 40 in anything resembling hipster trendoid fashion...we keep it real live gangster gully over here with white wifebeaters, white Ts, blue Levis, and clean kicks. Everything else is so...NOT FRESH.

So what about me, just "MJ"? Why don't you read me in Vibe, XXL, The Source, or another mag in print? Well...I guess those are questions for Danyel, Datwon, and whatever the damned editor of the moment is at The Sauce. I hate being pigeonholed as a "Hip Hop" writer who only knows about urban music. Anyone who ever categorized me this way, you're an asshole. I hate/love writing better than 99% of the men in the print media game and/or blogosphere (excepting of course Harry Allen, BONZ MALONE, kris ex, Kenji Jasper, to name a few). I should be able to make $5000 checks as an Editor at Large at a real magazine; but instead I'm guerillahustling and doing my own thing. But I digress.

Shouts out to Kevin Sakoda, LORD SCOTCH 79th (check his bloggieblog at www.12ozprophet.com, what up KEO?!) , my baby bro. Mike, and the many people who said they missed my eloquence. I just haven't been typing it or macroblogging, you should hear me on conference calls going Damita Dash on ninjas who thing shit is sweet or who haven't cut my gotdamnmufukkkking check on time. Or just check me out microblogging and cold getting dumb on TWITTER, www.twitter.com/WALASIA.

Finally, before I have to relinquish the borrowed MacBook Pro (p.s. If you owe me money, love me a lot, or just want to do a good deed, pay me back in MacBook Pro. This thing is butteryslickuiloquent. ) ... Waleed C-Rayz Walz Shabazz gave me this most beautiful attribute as a friend, brother, partner and one who knows my mind. He said that his twin sister would have been called Walasia, and I am his mental twin. My daddy ain't shit, and I been stopped using his janky name, and I always wanted to have a last name. Miranda was my born name, Jane was my Granny's born name. But that was first and middle. Becoming a Shabazz is such an honor and a privilege. I'm blessed by Allah and thankful for every Master Teacher who has added on with me over the years. The Shabazz attribute has many connotations for many people, all of them positive, and all anyone really needs to know is that I embody these attributes, as does Waleed, as do the rest of his Women and Children. I am not religious, I am a scientist, mathematician, statistician, sociologist, Master Teacher/Student, and a member of the greatest Research and Development department on Earth or any planet.

More later as we once again embark on unlocking the Master Keys to the Universe and debunking myths and destroying mysteries (and devils). It's that time again, time to ask yourself a question, and really analyze the answer. HOW DID WE GET FROM THE PYRAMIDS TO THE PROJECTS?


June 15, 2008

Grand Closing ... Grand Opening


The new blog is @ http://projects2pyramids.wordpress.com

Nothing new is here...please enjoy the archive.


January 11, 2008

Jamaica, Nature's Koolaid


Movie poster from Tragedy: The Story of Queensbridge, Still Reportin' album cover, & Tragedy and Ching Bing runnin' the streets of NY

"You love to hear the story again and again/
of how it all got started way back when/
The monument is right in your face/
Sit and listen for a while to the name of the place...
The Bridge, Queensbridge/"
- "The Bridge", MC Shan

This is the actual, factual, true story of how I became a journalist, how I met Tragedy Khadafi (the person who re-named me "MJ"), and herein lies a review of the first documentary film about his life. Read about it...

QB is the largest housing projects in North America, with 96 buildings. Over 3,000 miles away, in Mar Vista Gardens, one of L.A.'s smallest projects, I got my first tattoo from a cholo with an electric toothbrush motor for his tat machine. Sitting in the basement headquarters of 4080 Hip Hop Magazine some years later, I took a call from Zenobia Simmons, then publicist for Penalty recordings. That call would soon send me to Attica, New York to the Wyoming Correctional Facility, to visit Kiam "Capone" Holley and interview him. A small part of our Q&A would be published in Trace Magazine alongside a N.O.R.E. feature. It was my first trip to New York, and I decided to stay awhile.

The first temp agency I looked up in the yellow pages got me a job at "a record label, I think they do rap," Gee Street Records. I ended up working for Jon Baker as his personal and executive assistant. One day, he sent me up to Spring Street to deliver some papers. I walked in the building, went up to the office, and saw Sincere, Screwdriver, Agent, and the rest of the 25 to Life crew. A few minutes later, Tragedy Khadafi walked in.

Upon being introduced to me, he immediately realized who I was. "You're that lady, the writer, the one who been going to see Ki." He showed me mad respect, and mad love. He gave me some money from the stack in his pocket to put on Capone's books the next time I saw him. Tragedy told me that I had to keep in touch with him, and that he wanted me to come to the 'hood so I could see where it all started. Queensbridge - where they say that there's something in the water, something to make a majority of the residents nice with theirs when it comes to hustlin, rhymin, or both.

After 9 visits upstate to see Capone, writing our interview out on napkins and scraps of paper with the tiny golf pencils provided for visitors & inmates' card games; I was done. But I still had my job at Gee Street, and business had brought me in touch with Tragedy more than a few times for it to be a "coincedence". So I called him one day and he invited me to QB. I rode the train up, and called him from the payphone in the station. He gave me directions of where to walk up, so I went, and waited. And waited. When he finally did come to meet me he brought 20 or so youth from Queensbridge with him, and he told them, "that's Miranda Jane, she's a journalist, you want to be like her when you grow up, stay in school and you can be a writer like her." At that point I didn't really consider myself a journalist, but I felt golden.

It was 1997, really 20 or so years after the height of Hip Hop in New York, and the jams in the park, or in the case of QB, the jams under the bridge. So we stood in that spot, Tragedy and I, and we built a foundation for business, education, and friendship that stands to this day. It's been almost ten years, but we always stay in touch somehow even though we're constantly moving around the country. As a matter of fact, I had to save this as a draft a few lines back 'cause out of nowhere, seemingly, Trag called to give me his report on what's goin on out there. Mind detect mind, King...mind detect mind.

So when I sat down to watch the screener copy of the feature film, TRAGEDY, THE STORY OF QUEENSBRIDGE; I watch with my eyes accustomed to the gray, foggy environment of QB in the winter. My vision's already been acclimated to the poverty of the Queensbridge Housing projects, with it's endless towers filled with struggling youth and adults who've, in many cases, given up on life. Tragedy's own story, for the most part already known to me, is a multi-faceted kaleidoscope of pain, suffering, poverty, struggle, revolution, uprising, and...tragedy. The film reveals much about his personal life, his personal pain, and all that he overcame to become one of our generation's greatest unsung heroes of Hip Hop. With cameos from Poet, Delorean, Corleone, Capone, Havoc, Killa Sha, Littles, Marley Marl, Synysta, and many other QB MCs, artists, and 'hood legends, the truth about Tragedy Khadafi and his illustrious career thus far is finally revealed; as well as the real deal on how he lyrically fathered QB's most famous MCs.

Fact. Tragedy's father was a street legend who died at the age of 18. He never saw his son in the physical form, and Tragedy never saw his father save in dreams or later when his mother showed him a picture. Fact. Tragedy's mother became a heroin addict, leaving Trag and his brothers and sisters to fend for themselves; and Trag would often steal groceries from the nearby Associated supermarket to feed them. Fact. He started writing rhymes on the stoops, benches and stairwells of Queensbridge housing before he even became a teenager. Fact. Between working with Marley Marl, Poet, and Popps Mobb; Tragedy recorded songs like "A Tragedy" in his early teens, and became the youngest member of The Juice Crew; even performing in that legendary park under the bridge. Fact. Queensbridge legends like Nas, Havoc of Mobb Deep, Capone of C-N-N, and so many more would never have reached their status without the example and mentorship of Tragedy Khadafi. Fact. Tragedy's career was (and still is) put on hold more than once, interrupted by a run-in with the law and an unfortunate incarceration. Fact. Tragedy Khadafi isn't a criminal, he's a revolutionary from the street, and a 'hood educator. Fact. Tragedy, The Story of Queensbridge, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the story of Tragedy Khadafi, an Intelligent Hoodlum, and his birthplace, Queensbridge Housing.

This film is a documentary, with certain events reinacted by family and close friends of Trag. At the moment the film is screening at various film festivals as the filmmakers seek distribution on the national and international level. Visit
www.tragedymovie.com for more information and for trailers of the film. प्लेस अदद ऑउर म्य्स्पस.कॉम पगेस म्य्स्पस.कॉम/tragedykhadafi म्य्स्पस.कॉम/auraradio andIf and when you're able to see the movie in its entirety, watch with an open mind ऎंड an open heart, as some of the facts of this film contradict the media myths about QB certain of QBs sons. True story.

- MJ , Love is Love

April 02, 2007


Video of the MGT-Gcc In London England

April 01, 2007



“They built it by walking across our collective backs. When I was at the source, Women ran shit literally and figuratively. We led the editorial meetings, we held down the fort, we provided the research, development, fact-checking, writing, planning and scheduling it took to print the most popular rap magazine on the planet. But we also provided the ass.”

—Miranda Jane, former and present Source staffer

A few weeks ago I did posts both here and on my own site on the insidious new trend known as minstrel show rap. Young jigs in ghettos across America, no longer content with making black people look stupid through normal means, have taken to reviving actual songs and dances from the minstrel show era.

A buncha other bloggers did posts on the trend as well and eventually the story was picked up by one of the columnists for the New York Daily News.

They’ve brought in a team of columnists not unlike XXL’s (a pure coincidence, I’m sure), which is made up of a who’s who of aging, non-writing Bol haters. The lone story posted today is by Adisa Banjoko, who’s leading a one-man boycott of XXL over that Lupe Jihadist bullshit.

Another post, by a 40-year-old sasquatch of a so-called hip-hop feminist named Miranda Jane (the quote above is from another blog of hers), is filled with bitter subliminal shots at yours truly. Then she goes on to rip off my minstrel show rap story right there in the same post. Shamelessness, thy name is woman!

And the magazine’s editor-in-chief has posted two entries so far, both of which make reference to XXL’s own Pravda Splinter. In one post, “Fahiym” is inspired to ask PS out on a date after watching Magic Johnson give a speech at some Hip-Hop Summit Action Network conference, but in the next one, he gets all mad because PS called the Source irrelevant on an episode of the Parker Report. Aww…Speaking of Blogging, I see XXL’s own kris ex has officially quit his blog here in order to spend more time smoking weed and looking at Internetsporn while he’s still young enough. It’ll be interesting to see who they bring in to replace him."



'Pon De Replay: The RIAA Knocks The Mixtape Hustle, While Labels & Artists Turn Blind Eye
Monday - August 1, 2005 by Miranda Jane

In the early 1980s in Los Angeles, a young hustler named "Freeway" Rick Ross took some powder cocaine and cooked it up, creating a product known as "ready rock". Chances are the powder he used came from a contact based in Mexico or Central or South America. But Ross didn't have an airplane or a helicopter, and he wasn't the one bringing the coke into America, or assisting the locals in Peru and Nicaragua in getting the supplies needed to turn raw coca leaves into the illegal narcotic, cocaine. Many speculate that the manufacturer and distributor was in fact the U.S. government or one of its "shadow" subsidiaries. As Ross rose in wealth, fame and 'hood power', he acquired the accoutrements of the rich - cars, mansions, furs, jewelry, and beautiful women. High off his success, he hit the studio and released some recordings on L.A.'s underground scene under the name, "Freeway Rick". Rick was at the end of the line on the drug-money food chain, the head of the crew who'd be the last ones to touch a rock before it went into the hands, and pipe, of a consumer. So who was to blame, in the eyes of the media, in the "war on drugs"? Who took a loss, and was hit with a long stretch of time in the penitentiary, a casualty of this war? "Freeway" Rick Ross, the "retail distributor" of the crack game.

Fast forward to 2005, and there's a new dope game being played out in the streets, and in the corporate boardrooms at major record labels and distributors. While some are just pawns in a chess game, others are making decisions from inside the Recording Industry Association of America, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspector office, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and at local and state police departments. On the flipside, mixtape DJs with decades in the game are dedicated to creating raw product - mixtapes - the CDs that function as Hip-Hop's primary source of promotion. This is Mixtape Incorporated, where Hip-Hop culture and corporate America are in bed together behind the scenes, and putting on a game face for the media and the public. Music is the uncut raw. Subject to copyright law, with the artist owning some rights and often "leasing" other rights to their record label and/or distributor, the fact remains that label representatives are giving unreleased tracks away to mixtape DJs like candy. The DJ is the businessman. He, or she, is using the original product - music - and cooking it up with a formula that includes blending, cutting, juggling, remixing; adding freestyles, drops, and exclusives from hot rappers and MCs. The final product is the mixtape, a smooth new blend of Hip-Hop, Rap, Breakbeats, Reggaeton, and R&B.

Different regions have varying criteria of what's dope in their neck of the woods. In New York, home of the mixtapes, DJs, and record labels; the bar is set high. Most of NY's top DJs have moved on from hustling mixtapes and their masters; securing major-label recording contracts, distribution for their own labels, producing DVDs, working in television, and moving their mixtape hustle to the world wide web on satellite radio networks such as XM Radio and Sirius or to online radio providers like AOL. Without a platform like NYC's HOT 97 or LA's KDAY to sustain them, southern Hip-Hop and rap fans use mixtapes as their radio stations. On the West Coast, mixtapes are a means to an end, a tool used for street promotions on an upcoming album, a hot new movie, or a specific brand of clothing or footwear - rather than as a product for sale on the streets.
Many consider Mixtapes illegal property. According to Diplomats capo Jim Jones, within the Dipset camp, "Mixtapes are like cigarettes [and] marijuana - cigarettes are the albums people put in stores, and mixtapes are the marijuana that you can't get in stores." The majority of actual mixtape DJs, true to the art form, would never release a CD compilation disguised as a mix, nor would they bootleg copyrighted material. They spend countless hours and dollars perfecting each release, ensuring their CDs are chock-full of exclusives, unreleased material, drops and freestyles from artists, remixed tracks, original beats, and unprecedented collaborations. Their CDs include original cover art, and some DJs even shrink-wrap their product before it is sold.

So what exactly is the problem, legally? According to Bradley Buckles, Executive Vice President of Anti-Piracy for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), "State law requires that the true name and address of the person responsible for producing the CD appears on the label and the product. In all of the cases where you see local police involved, they simply did not comply with state law. With some of these products you almost have to listen to the entire CD to tell if it is remixed to the point of being original. You can't tell that by looking at the label. But the police look at the label and see no one is identified, or in some cases a false name and address is given, they might have the name and address of a legitimate label and we can take a look." Additionally, retailers are most likely receiving the attention of the RIAA because someone's called in a complaint against them, Buckles told SOHH.com.

There have been numerous raids conducted recently on retailers, and while none specifically targeted mixtapes per se, tens of thousands were confiscated as a result of these raids. One of the largest raids took place in Indianapolis, Indiana, at a store owned by Alan Berry. Contrary to the newspaper headlines that followed the raid, Berry was a reputable businessman with strong ties to the music industry.

"That's the thing that we are totally dumbfounded by, we were a Soundscan store. The record labels loved us. We'd get in-stores with artists like 8 Ball and MJG or David Banner. We'd get a box of Def Jam CDs to give away or scan through to get a higher place on Billboard. We bought so much and we'd been around for so long, we felt that what we were doing was what the Hip-Hop game wanted. We wouldn't fuck with counterfeits, bootlegs, none of that stuff. If I got wind of another store selling a counterfeit or a bootleg, I'd go talk to them about it. So we had no indication that what we were doing was wrong. We had police officers who would come in and buy mixtapes all the time, and I had one local police officer who offered to go to court for us if we went to trial," Berry told SOHH.com.

Mr. Buckles offered a possible explanation for Berry's raid. "We also get complaints filed by competing retailers, and we get complaints from consumers sometimes who buy a product and decide that it's a ripped CD and they feel cheated. Quite frankly, sometimes we will get complaints from record companies or from artists on piracy that they'd observed. In none of those cases does it make it automatically a priority. We have to assess those complaints and the context of all of the problems we've got going on and make decisions from there. Sometimes we engage in a lot of training for police departments as to what piracy is about, and what state laws are about. Sometimes we'll get a call from the police department and they'll ask for our technical advice. The implication of your question and what you've heard is perhaps there's some undue influence of some labels, targeting specific retailers, but that's not a major driving force on what we do on a regular basis."

Alan Berry bounced back after his shop was busted, opening a new location called Naptown Music. "We opened up almost a year ago, and we're selling mix CDs out in the open. I'm in defiance, like. 'Let's go to federal court." Now we have addresses on the back of our CDs, come on RIAA, come knock on my door. Let's get Eminem on the stand; let's get 50 Cent on the stand; let's get Interscope Records on the stand and see how it should be done. My point is that we've got this store open, tomorrow we could be raided and have federal charges put up against us, but in a way I'd be happy to do that. The state couldn't really do anything other than say we didn't have the addresses on the back of our CDs. That was the thing that burned me up, trust me I have mad respect for the artists and DJs, it just seems like [they should] stand up for people that are in the game with [them]. Why didn't anyone stand up and say this is wrong, drop these charges. We agree that the mixtape game works.

According to Berry, his store never sold bootlegs or burned copies of anyone's music or movies. "One of the biggest things that really killed us was in the local paper the headline was "brothers accused of bootlegs." That's the thing, the fact that the public, the RIAA, and the local police, they don't differentiate between a bootleg and a mixtape. There is a difference."
In other progressive activities, Berry has placed an op-ed in the New York Times and founded a new online venture to share mixtape-style music from peer to peer called LegitMix.com.

Responding to Berry's case Buckles said, "Well let me stand back and say I don't want to get into the facts of any particular case because it may be law enforcement information that I may not have access or may not be at liberty to share. Basically we have programs where we constantly survey the retail music market looking for people who are selling product that violates state or federal law in terms of copyright. This is something that goes on around the country, all the time, and we do it by generally surveying thousands of stores." So why doesn't the RIAA go directly to the DJs, instead of confiscating their mixes at retail? "I don't think you should assume we don't ever go after the source, sometimes you've got to start at the retail level. Everyone involved has to understand that certain activity is illegal. In cases like you've seen in NY and the Berry case, these are generally cases that don't have anything to do with federal copyright law - whether or not someone was authorized to use copyrighted material - it has to do with whether or not product was labeled in accordance with state law," he explained to SOHH.com.

DJ Jelly, one of the foremost mixtape kings of the south, describes how an anonymous call about bootleg clothing in the local flea market recently affected his business. "They just shut down one of my stores about two weeks ago. We have six retail spots, and one is in the flea market where I sell my DJ Jelly mix CDs. They arrested one of my partners. I mean, it's really a bigger problem for everybody involved in Hip-Hop - that we don't have control over what we do.

Atlanta's DJ Drama, also been affected by the recent raids; stressed that his products are original creations and should in no way be confused with illegal material. "I know some raids happened down here, I don't know which stores. I try to keep below the radar. I know most of the time they go more after the retailer than the actual DJ. One hand scrubs the other; the retailers are some of my best friends. The problem is that the RIAA don't really see the difference in bootlegs and mixtapes, and because they have that confusion the lines get crossed. If they go to the retailers that have bootlegs, that's one thing - mixtapes are another. It's ironic 'cause most of the mixtapes that I do, if it's not with the artists themselves, the labels are paying me to do it. For the RIAA to tell me I have to stop is bullshit. I mean, 75% of what I do is original material, and it can take anywhere from six months to one month to work on a tape.

In Miami, FL, Mr. Marc, owner of Mixtape.com and Mixtapes.com, was one of the first casualties in the war on mixtapes. "I started in 1993, I was pushing NY mixtapes to a lot of local stores in Florida. In 1998, I took it online and was the first mixtape site out there. I was able to buy 'Mixtape.com' and 'Mixtapes.com' because no one else owned them at the time. None of that brought any attention on me. I was carrying nothing but mixtapes, but there was a well-known rapper out there who put out his album himself through his manager, basically he'd left his label and started selling the album on the street. The manager approached me and asked me if I'd sell it on the site. I put it on the site, and got a cease and desist order from the record label saying that the label owned the masters. I sent the label the remainder of my CDs and I told them who I got it from, 'cause I thought they were selling legally. After that there was no other trouble, until a guy who claimed to own a store in a flea market started coming to my office once a week to buy wholesale. It turns out this guy was an undercover cop. The reason I bring up the rapper is when I was in court; they had a copy of the cease and desist letter. They probably saw the CD, went to my site, and then saw all the mixtapes; that's my assumption. I'm still shocked that all these big mixtape sites are up online.

The raids on Mr. Marc's business created a wave of fear that still permeates the Hip-Hop and music business in Miami; driving him to legalize the two websites. "What happened to me drove a big shock through Miami, there were just a lot of people scared. I do still listen to mixtapes, but only underground stuff. I never listened to the stuff I sold. Mixtape.com is now a clothing store. I sell a lot of independent clothing lines. I like to support them the same way I liked to support mixtapes. At least I know with fashion there's no way for me to get in trouble. I only knew the music industry. I used to do street team work and I just lost the taste for it after this happened to me. So, I started my own clothing line called Graff Gear."


March 29, 2007

The Glitch in the Space-Time Continuum ... My Time Machine Needs a Tune-Up

I'll admit it. There's something wrong with me. I'm a mistake. A glitch in the matrix, I somehow slipped through the crack in the space-time continuum. You'd have to know my family to fully understand the meaning, but it's as if my Granny was my mom, I was her daughter, and my mom is my daughter. At least that's what was SUPPOSED to happen...

See instead of dropping in on this planet on April 6, 1974; I was supposed to drop in in 1944. That way, I could have dated in the 1950s. I never saw a prettier car than a '58 Cadillac. All I ever wanted was a promise, the truth, and a band of gold. And my true career goal is to become a housewife, balancing a baby on one hip, with a frying pan in one hand, and a toddler pulling on my apron strings.

The biggest red flag is the music. I love Hip Hop to death, always have, but for me it's always been Solid Gold, Killer Oldies, Slow Jams, and Doo-Wop. When I hear Gene Chandler singing "Duke of Earl", I don't say to myself, hey it's that Cypress Hill song (much as I love 'em). Nope, I just close my eyes, and imagine swaying to the music, my head resting on my guy's shoulder.

Even in the late 50s/early 60s, I would've been wearing Jimmy's ring like the girl in "Leader of the Pack". I would have had my run-ins with those "Mannish Boys". Naturally my man would be from the wrong side of the tracks, shit wouldn't be THAT different.

Dating, going steady, a promise ring, an engagement, a wedding...all of that reads like a fairy tale to me. I can count the women on one hand I know who've had things go that way. Sure there were a few babymamas back in the day, the result of messing with one of those ne'er do wells...but those babies ended up adopted by happy families, the mamas ended up in homes for wayward girls, and everyone turned out peachy keen!

True, I'd have missed the computer age, so no blog. But you know me, I would have kept the mother of all diaries.

My Surreal Life Goes On

Yet again I've travelled without a plan.

"She dropped everything, and ran."

A new night in a new place, I'm restless like late-night Xmas-eve. Laying in a strange twin bed, writing by the light of a lava lamp, surrounded by posters of pop princesses and a profusion of pink. Ensconsced with a menagerie of stuffed animals and all the precious playthings of a tween (nee child).

If I close my eyes tightly enough, can I drop off to sleep a nearly 33-year-old lady, and awaken as the wonder-woman-costume-wearing, someday-to-be-a-veterinarian (or-a-ballerina), feeding-my-meat-to-the-dog-under-the-table girlchild?

The room is cluttered, messy, but not dirty; as my rooms (and homes) often are as an adult. It's not that I'm immature, or lazy, or crazy - far from it. No, it's just that I had more than my fair share of cleaning, scrubbing, mucking-out, washing, laundering, and picking-up-after during my childhood to last me more than this lifetime.

So spare me your prejudgments, if you please. Leave me to my candyfloss, pony-filled, glittering stardust dreams.

March 28, 2007

(Baby), Your Time is Gonna Come

My face. Pretty on demand. Cute at sunrise, fresh and clean. Only for one moment in time was this visage ever too painfully beautiful to behold.

I saw the reflection of that hurt in your eyes.

Each and every time I was sweet, you chose to see a flaw. When I brought you dinner, you didn't care for the way the light hit me...not that I was ugly...just that my beauty was, in the eye of the beholder, secondary.

Days when you were sick half to death, and I nursed you back to health? You only appreciated my inner glow. The beauty from within.

Until one night, cold, crisp, clear and starry. I'd reached the point of no return, you see, Baby? And at that very moment, my heart turned colder than ice, and I erased the memory of you from my mind. Just then you gazed into my eyes; ashamed, so you quickly drew me into your embrace. Terrified, yet so drawn to me, when you saw the haughty, self-righteous, cold-hearted and utter beauty of my face.

December 18, 2006


I've been working on this long, drawn-out, in-depth research study that will either end up as a magazine, a book or a series of articles. It started out being about Black skaters, then ethnic skaters in general as I discovered D.L. Castillo and Chico Breaves and Javie Nunez and P-Rod and Apache Skateboards, etc., etc. Then there's this thing we're working on about O.G. VENICE...a/k/a DogTown.

One name kept coming up again and again, PEP WILLIAMS. Here's a really interesting Q&A from him...I didn't conduct this interview, it's from the online mag ILLTEMA.com. Check it out...>

Pep Williams

December 18th, 2006

I was born in 1971 in Los Angeles. While growing up my mother was a teacher (Mrs.Espinoza) in L.A and she still teaches today. It’s funny because she use to teach at Venice High and some of the kids I sponsor were her students. I came up with my sisters and my mom. I lived with my grandmother for awhile too. I grew up in Huntington Park, Watts, and Venice. It was rough at times but it made me who I am.


I saw my first skateboard in 1975 when I was 4. The way that happened was that my sister wanted one so badly, my parents actually got her one. My sister’s board was the GT Coyote 2. It was so fast. I still remember the big red wheels it had. It was about 2 feet long. Me and my sister Coti would fly up and down the driveway. I’m actually trying to find one now to cruise around on.

We always fought over that GT Coyote 2. I remember when she would go to school in Kindergarten, I’d be home so I could skate it. My sister is a year older so I wasn’t in school yet. My mom bought us roller skates thinking one of us could roller-skate and the other skateboard .Well I skated the left skate and my sister skated the right. They were so fast. Something just felt natural to me about skating with one foot.

I skated for years without meeting another skater. I didn’t really look up to anyone because I didn’t know anyone who even skated. Back then it was looked at as a habit you break out of and move on or grow out of it. I never did. Of course I had a bike growing up but I always had a skateboard also. I didn’t even meet another skater until I was 11. It’s crazy because I just skated for the love of it and nothing else. I felt as comfortable skating as I did walking. It was just a natural feeling.

I skated for six years straight without seeing another skater. In 1978 we moved to my grandmother’s house. They put my bike and our skates in the garage. I was bummed I couldn’t ride my skateboard or bike. It just so happened that my cousin had an old skateboard at his house. I think it was a Madrid. It was the first time I saw a wide skateboard with really big wheels. I was blown away. I skated that thing everyday. I actually learned how to jump off curbs on it. It’s crazy because that was in 1978. I would do it on my knees too. My neighbors didn’t really mind it because it was just me flying on the sidewalks and driveways.

I met John Conti when I was 10 in 1981. I never knew that older people skated. I was shocked. John was 5 years older then me. People would look at him and wonder why he was still on a skateboard at 15, but he skated anyway. It was crazy that people thought that way, but that’s how it was. I didn’t care, I still did it. We would skate a few hours together and then he would leave. I would skate about 7-plus hours a day. Even in the rain I had a spot at a school. I would wrap my board up in shirts and run to the 99th street school and skate the benches in the covered cafeteria area.

I was already street skating for about 6 years (street skating meaning tic-tacs and going on and off curbs) but he would always talk about pools. There were no pools near us so I just skated in the street. John still skates pools to this day, and he’s still good.

When I reached 13 years old my whole life changed. I made a fake bus pass and would ride all over L.A. One day I wound up in Santa Monica and decided to skate the bike-path. I skated through Venice and it was heaven. I met other skaters but they weren’t your average looking skater with the surfer look. They were more like a gang. My being from Watts at the time made it all love. We were all lil’ gang members back then.

We use to make fake bus passes at school. Back then it was stamps on a bus card and you just buy the stamp monthly. I would make mine out of construction paper, put it in a plastic case, and just cruise the city. I actually had Kareem’s (Campbell) pass for a long time after he got a car.

Kareem Campell is my lil’ bro. I first met Kareem around ‘87-88, about 18 years ago. We use to skate together everyday and ride the 33 bus down Venice Boulevard at night to get home. Sometimes the bus rides were the best. You didn’t know if you were going to get in a fight or anything but as long as me, Kareem, and my bro Herdon were rolling together it was going to be fun. I was just talking to Kareem a few days ago. He’s an amazing person. He came from nothing to running an empire, but he still owes me $2 from when we were little.

Malcolm Watson is another one of my lil’ bros. I watched him grow up on the beach. I think I first met Malcolm in ‘88. He was just a lil’ kid, then. It’s crazy because I use to tower over him and now he’s taller then me and I’m 6’1. I’m actually having lunch with Malcolm tomorrow. Stevie Williams is a cool guy. He came around later on. I’ve hung with him at a few clubs and events.

Whether I was alone or not I would always roll to the Valley or Beach. I would catch the bus to Thousand Oaks to go skate. It would sometimes take close to 5 hours, but it didn’t matter. T.O. had killer spots and there I made some cool friends who I skate with to this day. Mostly I would take the bus to the beach. I would skate the sand gaps, benches and curbs in Santa Monica. Actually they were the first gaps I skated in ‘86. I would skate with Natas there. Also that is where I really learned to railslide the famous Santa Monica curbs. Thanks to Dan Clements (lead singer of EXCEL). He taught me how to go as fast as I can and just hit it. Actually me, Dan, Jason “Wee Man” Acuna, Heavy Metal Chuck, and Herndon would skate there pretty much everyday when we were young. I’m thinking 1988.

My first Ollie I remember well. It was on the Corner of 97th and Clovis in 1985. I was riding one of my bros pro models so it felt even better. It was a Natas Kaupas deck with OJ wheels, and Independent trucks (of course). And I had my Vans sneakers on. I was so excited I called my Mom to come outside to watch. Back then I slept with my skateboard next to me. I did my first wall-ride in the Summer of 1986 at the 99th street school. I was actually skating there last month and still busting wall rides.

Back when I use to skate in school there wasn’t much to skate, just walls and benches. I would kill benches. I’d just go as fast as I could and do frontside and backside railslides and lipslides (disasters). I never got sweated by anyone because no one was skating like that in L.A. and the Valley, only in Venice. People had never seen it before outside of Venice and just wanted to see me do it again and again. This was in 1986.

I started going to Venice often after that and meeting more people. Summers I went everyday. My first skate mag was Thrasher Nov/Dec 86. For months I’d put skating pictures from the magazine all over my wall. Then one day I realized something. The people looked familiar and the spots as well. On the wall were all of my friends and I didn’t even know. From Christian Hosoi, Jesse Martinez, Eric Dressen, Tim Jackson, Jay Adams, Aaron Murray, and so on. It was a trip. I had no idea I was skating with the best guys in the world everyday. They were my bros and I didn’t know they were pro. It’s still funny to me how I didn’t know.

People ask me sometimes how I didn’t recognize my bros in the mags. Back then it was just about skating for me, nothing else. And the people in Venice were famous all over the world but that didn’t matter. They just wanted to skate. I think that’s why I got along with them so well because I just wanted to skate. I just thought they were cool pictures. So I put them on my wall. It’s funny because the photographer who took most of the photos from Venice in Thrasher is my bro Cesario “BLOCK” Montano. He actually shot me for my first cover for Thrasher Magazine’s May 91 issue.

The way I got that cover was because BLOCK shot it and because I was getting a lot of press coverage that year. Thanks to Tim Jackson, Aaron Murray, and a super big thanks to Eric Dressen. They kept me supplied with boards. My friend said something to me the other day that I didn’t even realize. Eric Dressen use to come to my house to drop off boxes of boards for me. At that time He was the #1 skater in the world. Imagine the top pro out now coming to your house dropping off boards for you? But I just saw it as my friend coming by.

Today, I’m still the same. I have many friends I hang with and some are very famous actors and rappers and I didn’t find out until someone told me or I was invited to a premier or something. If you are cool people I don’t care what you do. Let’s go skate or just hang.

For that same reason, I started claiming Dog Town around 1986. Not the company but the people from Venice. We were always down for each other and had each others back. I remember skaters being afraid to go to Venice because Dog Town was looked at as a gang. And if you got into it with one of us you had about 20 or more people to deal with and more on the way. From skaters, surfers, Crips, Cholos, and just homies. Dog Town isn’t just skaters, it’s everybody who was down for each other in Venice. But we all skated or surfed.

The Late 80’s were the best time. No one was really caring about getting sponsored. Then the 90’s hit. Skaters found out you could make a ton of cash. Special thanks to my bro Steve Rocco for flipping the skate industry on its head. At that time it was still hard to make a living only skating. I’d sell my boards on the beach to make money. Summer was cool because I toured a lot, but being 18 and having to pay rent was tough. But as long as I had my board who cared?

I don’t think it was one trick that changed the game in my opinion. What changed the game was the videos getting out to more kids. Then kids started making their own videos and that’s when it was over because skaters started becoming stars over night. Before, it took Thrasher or Transworld to make you popular. You did that by winning a contest or getting a lot of coverage in a magazine. In other words, you earned it. People call the skaters who get that over night fame, “video pros.” No disrespect but it is what it is. Many “video pros” make well into the six figures. I’m proud of them for coming up through skating. I’ve skated with just about all of them on tour or at the beach and not to knock them but thank god they had a good video editor. It’s all love, though.

I skated for Bronze Age. Tim Jackson hooked me up with the DogTown flow. I skated for Grind King too. Actually I was the tester for all of Donald’s products. I was the first to test and skate a Grind King truck. So if you skate Grind Kings, you’re welcome :)
Also Eric Dressen hooked me up with Santa Cruz stuff. I skated for Seek, Circle Skate, Pep Wheels(What I use to own), Slix Wheels and PepStar (My 2 companies).

I started PEP Wheels in 2002 with a partner. It went bad so I started SLIX Wheels which spawned PepStar Clothing. It’s going well and I’m building a really good skate team. I’m always looking for talent.

These days I’m just running my companies. I own Solo Distribution which sells blank skateboards all over the country and also Distributes PepStar, Suicidal Tendencies, Real Headz, and Break Water.

I was on the cover of the LA Times because they had heard of me and wanted an interview about me and my Blackberry. I conduct a lot of my business on my Blackberry. Most people I email or have a conference call with are in an office while I’m on my longboard, skating the bike-path in Venice and Santa Monica. And because of my Blackberry I can run my business and still skate the beach everyday.

Skateboarding today is more business-like. Meaning kids are skating to get sponsored. Not all, but many. It is rare I find people who skate just for the love of it. Also seeing kids skate because they heard it in a rap or a video I also think is cool. It’s cool that Pharrell and Lupe exposed many kids to skateboarding but we all know it’s a trend to most that will just pass. How can you skate with a $200 hoody and Bape sneakers and be
serious? It’s all good though.

The skaters I respect coming up you probably will never hear of most of them. They are just kids who could care less about what there wearing or if there is a photographer or videographer filming them. The skater I respect is a skater that just skates for the love of it, nothing else.

I’d like to shoutout my Mom and Family, Sev, RHD Crew,The whole DogTown Family,Tony Creed http://www.tonycreed.com, TLT Kicks, Suicidal Tendencies, Mike Muir, Aarec Baker,The Seventh Letter, Frame DTK and RIS Crew, Mara Milicevic, Rip City Skates, Miranda Jane Neidlinger, Sergio Arguello, Evan Cambell, Brenda Bourges, Tai Savet, Bod Boyle, Mike Hill, World Industries, Socrates Leal, Sal Barbier, Kareem Campell, and Illtema.com. Thanks for making 2006 real!

December 10, 2006



Sunset Blvd. 3-something aye-em. Walking fast, it’s cold, it’s raining, just trying to get back to the hotel room unscathed.

“Ay! Ay! Ay, bitch, you’re in violation for reckless eyeballing a pimp!”

My internal monologue said “Is this m’fucka for real? I have on Airwalk sneakers, khaki cargo pants, and a black t-shirt that says “Silence is Golden…Duct Tape is Silver” across the front. My eyes are done up, but there's no lipstick, blush, facepaint, none of that shit on my grillpiece. And I'm with bright blue hair, pinned up in a chignon with silver & rhinestone butterfly clips. Carrying a camo XXXL men’s coat from the Army Navy Surplus. And this fool thinks I’m some fukken whore.”

He kept talking, so I finally did look at him out of the corner of my eye. Very, very pretty man. Beautiful black sleek wavy hair in a ponytail…no perms for this guy. Nice lamb coat. So he looks like a smooth operator but spits like Mr. Gorilla Pimp-of-the-Year?

I can feel him coming up behind me, I can sense him over my shoulder. Too many oncoming cars for me to get to the other side of the street. Ah, fuck it.

“Check this out, homes, I’m not a whore. I don’t have to follow any of your “rules”,” I casually commented over my shoulder, direct yet not sharp in tone.

So I kept it moving, swinging my hips and diddy-bopping way more than I ever normally walk. Sassy! Those cars were finally clear and I made it across the street. Halfway into the intersection I tuned back into pimpn’s nonstop gutter monologue.

“Well Baby I see you hip to the game, you need to come see ‘bout some of this pimp’n over here, you’ve seen the rest come see the best…” Yada, yada, yada. I was finally out of earshot.

Little does he know, he can hardly handle any of this funkrock right here regardless. And if I ever were to become a whore, he’d be the second-to-last man in the world I’d choose.

But it’s nice to know the money’s out there for the making, taking and breaking if times ever get so rough that it’ll never happen, so don’t you worry ‘bout a thing. Earthbody wise all the time on mines ninety-nine kinds of Civilized.

So XO to the next hoe,

Down and Gone

Miranda Jane, walking faster than your average pimp…>

December 08, 2006


Logo for the film Shampoo (1975), in which I appear in a cameo performance with my beautiful mother as a newborn being breastfed in a bar scene as moms puffs on a joint (I'll have to ask if it was "prop trees" or b.y.o.b.). The scene is unfortunately cut when the film is aired on non-cable television due the breast being fed upon.

My blood family was a mixed bunch of ancestors already by the time I entered the universe circa August 1973, made moreso upon my homebirth into the physical on April 6, 1974.

My first breath wasn't fetid hospital air recirculating disenfectant fumes like most - no nurse, no needle, neither City of Angels nor Cedars of Lebanon (Sinai) - rather the crystal pure nature air of Laurel Canyon - oak, pine, sumac, orange, eucalyptus, oxygen, and the most potent second-hand marijuana smoke known to man, woman or newborn child.

The closest person to a doctor there was an off-duty chiropractor, but none was necessaryfor the delivery of the most powerful medicine woman this family had ever known - until one dayI bring a daughter here, or if she's not in the divine plan; when I've trained one of my nieces - all of whom have the innate gift and certainly the wisdom.

I grew up surrounded on all sides by a perimeter of concrete jungle and ghetto heaven, but with the safe haven of the Holly Wood Hills all around me whenever I lay my head down to sleep. Instead of roaches and rats, it was scorpions, snakes, deer and coyotes.

My poverty was a paradise five days a week at home with my Mother, at least when comparedto the two torturous ones spend trapped in an opulent castle with an evil and dastardly villain - my Father - and his minion-slash-childbride, my wicked stepmonster.

No one ever got the story straight, but regardless my first memory is in the second house, the one on Lookout Mountain Avenue, in the bathrooom looking up as my father strikes my mother, she falls back toward me, and I fly back until the back of my head meets the cold porcelain of the bathtub.

While not the reason for his eventual departure and the obvious divorce proceedings, nor my mother's becoming so tired that she one day boiled a teakettle - lucky for him he awoke just as she was beginning to pour the scalding water into his ear canal...the memory stands alone.

Less than 18 years later, in that same bathroom in the morning dressing for school as my mother's new boyfriend beat her relentlessly in my brother's bedroom just five feet away, I again heard the sounds of a man's fist meeting my mother's face.

She knew that my gang friends would eventually remove the boyfriend by force, and if they didn't do it my play-brother would; so instead she chose. After trying to get through the locked door I'd left for school, only to be called into the office out of class once I got there to learn I'd suddenly become a homeless teenager whose only belongings in the world were now in trash bags in front of 8706 Lookout Mountain Aveue.

There are trillions of pieces to the puzzle of my life, and I'm a mere 32 years old. Since I never imagined I'd live to see 18, this is quite the accomplishment already. And I've only just begun to heat my many irons in the fire. These words are the only sword I'll draw, the only gun I'll load ammo into, cock, and let off. Nowadays.

Story of my life, how heaven must be missing an Angel. The only explanation I have, I learned from Teena Marie and Rick James - HERE I AM, YOU'RE PASSING HOLOCAUST...SCHOOLED IN VENICE, HARLEM, IT'S SO SWEET, THE SOUR SAUCE...I TOSS MY HEAD UP TO THE SILVER SKY, AND THEN I SIGH...LOOK AT ALL THE BLESSINGS IN MY LIFE.


(And that's not even Chapter I)

- Miranda Jane, fresh for '06 U sukkas.

November 24, 2006


I'm sitting on the couch in my best friend's living room in Minneapolis, MN. Her daughter TiTi is on the other side of the couch, feeding her baby brother S. Jr. for the first time in her life. My friend Rae is lounging on her chair to the other side of me, and Daddy, her HUSBAND is at work. There's a refrigerator full of food that I cooked, a freezer full of food I cooked, and more to come today - Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables, and Lasagne with Turkey Sausage and homemade Garlic Bread. Also an Apple Pie will be baked today to go along with the massive Peach Cobbler already in the fridge and in the freezer.

When I first met Rae she was doing her first screening of her first big documentary film at her alma mater. I helped with the PR, not having seen the film or met Rae in person. When I first met TiTi she was still in diapers herself. Now she is so big and grown up, helping me in the kitchen with the homemade crust for the pies, asking me to wait until she gets home from her playdate before I start the Lasagne so she can help. She's doing an excellent job of feeding this beautiful little boy.

I notice there are fewer friends hanging around Rae's spot than last I was here. Now she's a married woman and she has a new infant. I hated to tell her what I know about that, but I said it anyway on the phone recently. A lot of females who say they are your friend or your "sister" or "sista" or that they have your back really are jealous of you and your accomplishments and your life, but they'll stick around through that. What they won't stick around through is a happy relationship, a beautiful union, a marriage, and a newborn Son. That's a little too much jealousy for most women to bear.

Ti's burping the baby. I'm more than impressed. He burped. He's impressive too, for a few-week old. She says it's good to be a big sister. I remember that feeling, and it was good.

Rae says it's strange to have a new little baby. But I can see from her face that she's happy, and that she's safe. She went through the hell, and now she has a real Love in her life, and things are right for her.

I talk a lot on here about my relations, and my relationships, and maybe more about men than I should. Shit most of my family has been in some kind of therapy, or on some kind of meds, or self-medicated with drugs, alchohol, or death of some kind. But I'm not the one. I'm a writer. I live, breathe, and observe. And what I'm seeing now is the truth. This is why we're here. Not just to procreate randomly/rapidly, definitely not to create more monkey business with babymamma/babydaddy drama...but to manifest the human family.

That's what's up.

Give thanks, everyday...

Nasira Miranda Jane
live from Minnesota

November 20, 2006


Peace. I've often questioned my path in this life, and wondered what led me to certain cities, to certain jobs, through certain struggles. In this case today an empty question has been fulfilled for me - did I go to Complex Magazine to edit stories about "bitches & dogs"? No. I went because my going led Rachel Raimist to go as well, and that led to she and Vee going to Chile to document Hip Hop in Vina Del Mar. When Rachel came home with the footage, there was an amazing B-Girl full of light and love and grace and inner beauty, who shared her journals laced with Tupac Amaru Shakur's lyrics and poetry, and with her own rhymes inside. She stood in front of a Chilean wall and blessed the Earth with her Graffiti. Her name is ACB...and she is Hip Hop. Through the message she sent me on that footage shot by Rachel and made possible by Vee, I learned that our culture is global, and that there are girls like me in every city, every ghetto, and every urban place people live. That even where people have NOTHING, through "inventos" they keep Hip Hop culture alive as they live and breathe.

I was sad to hear of her illness after she was stricken with cancer. Today after a day full of high highs and low lows (and it's only 1:20 PM yet) I came to check my email and found this message, sent by DENZ KD. I send all the blessings in the universe to ACB's family and friends, and I send her my love in her new place. ACB...we never met, however I know you'll know me when I arrive. CHINO, send us some Montana up to the heavens when it's time, so we can bomb the skies.

A message from VEE BRAVO:

Hello everyone. It is with tremendous pain that I share with you the passing of our sister and friend, Andrea Cecilia Bernal, aka ACB.

Andrea could no longer resist the pain and suffering of her cancer, which she bravely endured for nearly 15 months. On Sunday, November 19, 2006 at precisely 9:10 AM Andrea's spirit and soul left this earth in search of a better place, or as she often liked to say "el mundo feliz de ACB". Andrea was 25 years old.

Andrea will be buried, November 20, 2006 in the Valparaiso region of Chile in a place called "el Parque del Mar".

We invite her friends and family in New York to come pay tribute to our wonderful sister, share a story about her glorious life, and offer a prayer on her behalf.

Date: Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Time: 6-9 PM
Where: La Peña del Bronx
Address: 11 Bruckner Blvd., 3rd Floor (corner of Lincoln Avenue and Bruckner Blvd.)Directions: From Manhattan and Queens: Take No. 6 Train to 3rd Avenue/138th Street Stop. Take last subway car, and exit at rear of the train station. You will be on Lincoln Avenue, walk towards the Major Deagan highway, walk underneath overpass, until you reach Bruckner Blvd.

Vee Bravo

November 18, 2006

Where the Angels Fear to Tread (Heart of Darkness)

This is so much more than just me. It's so much more than just you. Greater than emotions. I only want to exhale, but you leave me so breathless; I can't inhale in the first place.
I felt your fear in the passion of your desire, the heat of our embrace, the depth of our kiss. My pain and your fear became as one, and the Angels hearkened.
Here on this Earth we live in a world of deception, as we've fallen greatly from grace. Image is everything, taste is nothing, desires are instantly gratified, and we spontaneously combust.

Must've got me too hot, and burned off my wings? I think not.

The culmination of my years on this planet, combined with your presence, manifested the wings with which I'm now permanently scarred. Sign your name across my heart, miracles need wings to fly...for those who chose to see my true Angelic ways and the unseen wings across my back, turn away, and deny.

Of all my paragraphs and parables, and all the parallels between us and among us; the words about you drift down from the heavens. I'm merely a conduit between the skies, the most high, my mind, my hands, the keyboard, the pen, the paper, the mic, the speaker.
All I have is this English to convey what God wanted me to say, but didn't give us the keys to unlock the mysteries. The Sanskrit, Hieroglyphics, Arabi, and the languages of the lost tribes float in and out of my consciousness; yet I struggle to retrieve them here and now.
But we're alone now, and I'm writing these words for you. You taught me precious secrets, a true love, withholding nothing. My time is limited...hard knocks too. When we've both loved so hard for the wrong reasons, and been so torn, shredded, dismembered, and nearly destroyed by love; how hard is it to fall hard, and truly take a leap of faith?
I've been known to do the impossible. And tell it like it is. I only ask one thing of you, and one thing only. Don't open the doors to heaven, if you won't let me in. Please don't touch me...if you don't love me...don't do it, sweetheart.
All those precious moments, when we found love on a two way street, the love we had stays on my mind; and I'm constantly elevated by the memories of your lips against mine. I'm refined by the heat of your touch, Black steel in the hour of chaos, the eloquence of my softness in your hands.
I implore you not to let me be lonely, let's not lose this on a lonely highway. I'm just that killer ride or die chick in the body of a girl from L.A., they used to call me Hawah but they blamed me for a snake being a snake, a man being a man, and the apple that fell far from the tree.

I cook, I clean, I rock, I write, I roll, I sew, I reap, and I sow.
Let a woman be a woman, and a man be a man. I don't care how you get here...just get here if you can. The greatest moments in this life are those which occur by divine right, the lesser ones are those we plot and plan.

Don't let my sunshine fade away. It's just like heaven, being here with you. I'll fly away, one of these days, and I hate to fly alone even in friendly skies.

But now, I have to give this up, this is no way for us to communicate. You can't really read this, or hear me when I speak.

There's only one way between us, the smoothest operation, for you to hold me in your arms, and stare into my eyes.

Mind detect mind. Magnetic connection, one Love, Allah's refection.

November 17, 2006


I am the waves of the sea but You are its depths.

It is You who accounts for my fecundity.

You hold me up to the light so that I sparkle.

When You are stern it is I who storms and destroys many things.

When You come to me with joy it is I who bestows, yielding up treasures to the shores of the human world.

You are the Source and the destination, I the Love which shows the way.

It is You who makes me Mother, all these babes to tend.

You are the dark well I drink from, so that Love has no end.

My breasts are never empty for I sip from Your cup.

I am always beautiful for it is You who makes me so.

You are known by many names, but one is for my lips alone.

You are inside as I ride astride You.

From the first day to this, You are the throne.

Surrender is not for me to choose, for there is nothing else.

I yield glad from my womb again and again.

There is no beginning.

There is no end.

November 16, 2006






November 12, 2006

Another Night in Dogtown...>

It’s morning, and I slept the night away. Alone for the umpteenth time. I wouldn’t note it or commentate about it, were it not for the few recent nights I spent, not alone, awake and restless in your bed. Your sleeping habits aren’t unattractive to me, just very abrubt. I learned more about you observing you sleep than I did during our conversations or watching you while you’re awake.

You snatched the covers away, as well as your embrace. The first time I traipsed across the freezing concrete floor to the couch to get another blanket for myself – which you also tried to snatch away. Granted you were sick and had a fever. I hated to wake you up because you looked like a perfect angel…so I didn’t. When you woke up I can imagine exactly what you did – noticed I wasn’t there, thought little of it, as you went to the formerly-empty fridge to heat up the Creole Pasta I made. And just like you said you would, I’m fairly certain you heated it up (if you even took the trouble to do that) then took the entire pot and a fork to your bed and grubbed.

You’re killer.

The second time, you were most likely exhausted. I couldn’t sleep for shit. Too bad I’m not one of those girls who goes on dates and fucks. Maybe I could’ve been worn out by you and caught a few winks. Maybe not. Fact is, that’s all supposition. I know that in one of my trips downstairs to the restroom, I gouged the inside of my knee on your bedframe corner and I had to stifle a scream. Had the worst bruise ever, of my entire life. So bad it’s still lingering in shades of red and yellow, faded from the darkest purple-black I’ve ever seen on my own skin.

When you woke up you sent me a message that you were missing me. Then another asking if I left candy on the counter. I knew, and I did. There were also leftovers in the fridge for you, once again. Call it brunch.

The other night I was shocked to get a text from you with a firm commitment. A date, if you will. 10 o’clock. It pulled at my heartstrings something terrible, gave me that tight feeling in my chest, the itchy palms. 10, 11, 12, 1. Better late than never. 2, I tried to rest. Couldn’t sleep. And you weren’t even there to snatch the covers. 3, got back up and made spaghetti from scratch. Kept messaging you so you’ll know that I’m not the one for you to say one thing then do another. Dude, don’t ever scorn me. 4:26 am…I told you that I can’t see you anymore. I’m not young, I can’t play games or wait around. I’m not a piece of bitch, or one of these snowbunny heiress broads you see taking drugs at the parties you frequent.

The next morning (yours), afternoon (mine) you responded. It’s cool. I had a great night for business.

Of course you did, and you always will. Since that message I’ve seen you more times than I ever saw you when I was hoping we’d end up together. I’ve fed you twice, both times in the car. And even though I explicitly asked you never to touch me again, you’ve insisted on hugs/embraces when you see me and when you leave me.

And although you’re the greatest man alive, in my eyes, and more attractive every time I see you…while your ancestry still stands, your accomplishments are awe-inspiring, your physical frame leaves me breathless, and I can’t stand to reminisce on the hours and hours and hours we spent kissing and in love…I feel nothing.

Don’t take it personal. Somebody already broke my heart. And if you don’t like the size…if you don’t like the fit…you can split…you can quit…you can exit. Anytime.

November 11, 2006



There were many ways I could have come across in this Village Voice cover story, which is one of the greatest truths never told previous to now. The truth shames the devil, and the truth shall set us free. The Most High shall restore all the days eaten away by the locust. The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. We believe these truths to be self evident, yet so many have worked against us to cloak them and to create an aura of mystery, masks, and miscontent. I exist only as Allah's Reflection; to shine back the energy given to us by the Suns of Light. We are one. To all of my Brothers, my Akhis, mis Hermanos y Carnales, and especially to my Sons...I thank U for your respect, protection, Love and Light. For you to speak my names on record, and issue the true word power to me - the Angel of Anaheim/Palestine...Mary Magdalena...Isis the Alchemist...Madame Moreaux...Allah's Reflection...MJ - was meant. It was for this purpose in this time to this planet I was sent. Ask yourselves always, whether you're reaching toward Enki or channeling Dogon, "WHAT WOULD CHIEF BLACK EAGLE DO?"

"Out on bail and awaiting trial for narcotics and weapons charges, Carey made a risky move in early 2000. Lacking a driver's license, he bought a fake one and used it to board a plane to Los Angeles.

There, he met Dumile. They came to negotiate with executives from Readyrock Records, who planned to release MF Doom's solo debut, Operation: Doomsday, and K.M.D.'s second and final album, Bl_ck B_st_rds. Carey contributed financially to and is credited as an executive producer on both albums.

Carey hadn't seen his friend in a while, as Dumile had moved to suburban Atlanta with his wife and their young son, Daniel Jr.—Carey's godson. After the meeting, the two men revived their bond and, stepping into a record studio, quickly recorded hours of songs, one of which Carey would use for Grimm's own The Downfall of Ibliys: A Ghetto Opera, which was dedicated to stepbrother–shooting victim Jansen Smalls. "I expected me and Doom to make good music and become legends," Carey remembers of the session.

Miranda Jane, a Los Angeles–based music consultant, came to the studio to interview the guys for Stress, a now defunct hip-hop publication subtitled "NY's Illest Magazine." She even brought along dinner for them: homemade jambalaya and smothered cabbage. "They had a really good synergy together," she recalls.

Jane, who later became Dumile's manager, was one of last people to see his face. Since Operation: Doomsday, MF Doom has taken to wearing a metal gladiator mask onstage, in press and album photos, and even in everyday life around people he doesn't know very well. "Hip-hop tends to be about who's the flyest, who has the biggest chain," Dumile explains. "So it's kind of like the mask is the opposite of that. It's like, it don't matter what he looks like, what race he is. All that matters is the vocals, the spit, the beats, the rhymes."

The mask has metaphorical implications as well, Jane says. Having been scarred by the music industry, Dumile was reinventing himself as someone who wouldn't be played for a fool. "Doom was concerned with making money right now and feeding his family by any means necessary," she says, adding that this differed from Carey's long-term goal of building a black-owned distribution company from the bottom up.

"I got a different agenda," Dumile agrees. "It's about getting money, and that's that. I got children to feed." As for Carey: He "ain't got no kids."

Shortly after the L.A. meeting, Dumile returned to Atlanta, and Carey to the penitentiary. During his three-year confinement, he was transferred to institutions all over New York State. "I've been moved and moved. . . . Most of them wasn't wheelchair accessible," he says.

"I remember visiting him up in Fishkill, New York, and the facilities were a little better," recalls Elinor Tatum, a friend. "But he told me about how, before, he'd basically had to crawl to the shower. In another case, medical staff didn't want to have to change his catheter, so they gave him a drug that kept him from having to urinate. He got very ill because of it, because he was not eliminating the way he should have been."

Yet Carey found ways to make the most of a miserable situation, working on his chess game, teaching himself to cook, and studying the music industry.

"I got my hands on Billboard, Forbes, Fortune—anything that dealt with marketing," he says. "And I learned the business models of people like Quincy Jones, Russell Simmons, Tommy Mottola, and Jimmy Iovine. I basically took my years in prison and I used it as college."

Dumile visited him only once during that stint. Adding insult to injury, upon Carey's 2003 release, Dumile told him that the album deals with Readyrock had fallen through. He'd struck new deals to release Operation: Doomsday and Bl_ck B_st_rds, but they would pay the two men only a fraction of what was guaranteed by the original agreements.

"Dumile promised that he was going to do something to make it right, to get some thing to me," Carey says. "But he never did."

Answers Dumile, "It's funny how motherfuckers want to complain about how 'The Villain jerked me, and this and that.' I'm like, 'Get a lawyer!

To quote Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones..."PROPS IS A TRUE THUG'S WIFE."

p.s. Thank U to Ben Westhoff, who took the road less travelled by writing this thought-provoking, actual/factual, well-researched news piece and having the balls to know it was meant to be on the cover of the Village Voice.

p.p.s. 2007...there's only 5 years left.

November 10, 2006





November 09, 2006


Private Enemy
Two New York rappers dreamed of stardom.
MF Doom got it. MF Grimm didn't. (NB...GRIMM'S GOT IT NOW!)

by Ben Westhoff
(NB's by Miranda Jane)
November 7th, 2006 1:32

Sometimes you need to cut niggas off like a light switch. MF Doom, 'Deep Fried Frenz'

I don't deep-fry friends/Grimm Reaper nuke 'em/Hearts don't mend/Brothers turned to enemies, nigga/Enemies I eat them raw, nigga/MF Grimm is god of war. MF Grimm, 'Book of Daniel'

Percy Carey is a strong man. The 36-year-old South Bronx rapper, known professionally as MF Grimm, has broad shoulders and chiseled arms, the result of a daily routine including sit-ups and push-ups; he also regularly wheels himself six to eight miles in his wheelchair. Once an NFL-caliber outside linebacker and middleweight boxer, Carey was shot and nearly killed by rival drug dealers in 1994. He eventually recovered his vision and speaking ability, but he may never walk again. "I wronged a lot of people, but it's balanced out," he says. "And that's why I can live with myself in this chair."

Although Carey was once poised for mainstream success, his years as a drug-dealing thug led to a lengthy imprisonment, stunting his rap career while friend and onetime recording partner MF Doom was blowing up as a simultaneously whimsical and menacing underground supervillain. Now Carey feels that Doom has forsaken him, and he's fighting back with a dis track, a triple album, and a multifaceted company hawking everything from horror movies to energy drinks.
For a man who calls himself Grimm, Carey is optimistic, but he knows things could've been different. He grew up in a loving middle-class family on the Upper West Side. "I had decent parents that would always try to do for me," he recalls. "From a young age, I was taught right from wrong, how to be a man, to be a hard worker." Morgan Freeman, the family's next-door neighbor, quickly put Carey to work; the actor thought a three-year-old Percy—who then had an Afro and a potbelly—would look great on Sesame Street's stoop. Freeman put Carey's mother in touch with the show's producers, and for the next four years Percy regularly held court with Oscar the Grouch, Mr. Snuffleupagus, and the gang. "One episode, I lost my tooth, and me and Big Bird had to go through Sesame Street and try to find it," Carey remembers.

As a teenager, he spent countless hours at his friend Jorge Alvarez's 97th Street apartment. The guys played video games, smoked weed, and honed their rapping skills. Eventually, a young man from Freeport, New York, named Daniel Dumile joined their rhyme circle, well on the path to becoming MF Doom.

"Doom was more conscious at that time," Carey remembers. "He stood for something big. He was for black culture. I rhymed about beating people up, about shooting at people, trying to make money."

Guns and drugs were quickly becoming his reality. As a Park West High School student, Carey rarely went to class, preferring to shoot dice in the hallways, get high in the bathrooms, and chase girls everywhere. He was expelled for assaulting a school dean: "We beat him up in the snow. He was on drugs, and he owed us money for dope. So we kicked his ass."

In the following decade, Carey built a mini–drug empire and a reputation for shooting enemies without remorse. "He was a fucking murderer. What do you want me to say?" longtime friend Sebastian Rosset recalls. "I have other friends that are a little less organized with that shit. He was a little more organized."

Nonetheless, rap remained a passion, and Carey spent increasing amounts of time making music with Dumile. Influenced equally by the styles of KRS-One and Dr. Dre (both of whom he eventually collaborated with), Carey tells straight-ahead gangland narratives in his raps, peppered with political—and at times New Agey— messages. With Dumile, he formed a clique, Monsta Island Czars (M.I.C. for short), named after the mythical home of Godzilla. For stage names, Grimm and Doom shared the "MF" prefix, which Carey says stands for "Mad Flows" or "Mother Fucking." After Dumile began wearing a mask, it took on another meaning: "Metal Face."

During the late '80s, Dumile founded the group K.M.D. with his brother Subroc and had a minor hit with "The Gas Face," a collaboration with affiliated group Third Bass. K.M.D.'s playful, politically conscious debut, Mr. Hood, came out on Elektra Records in 1991, but tragedy befell the group two years later when Subroc was struck by a car and killed. Shortly thereafter, Elektra dropped K.M.D. and refused to release their second album, Bl_ck B_st_rds, which featured an African American cartoon figure hanging from a noose.

Alone and depressed, Dumile disappeared from the music scene for five years, turning to Carey for support. "Things was on the downslope," Dumile admits, on the phone from his Atlanta studio. Carey is "like a brother," he says. "We've been through so much hard times. When we were both struggling, we had each other to lean off of."

Things got worse. On a snowy January day in 1994, shortly after getting his hair cut in Harlem, Carey stepped into his stepbrother Jansen Smalls's car en route to a meeting with an Atlantic Records representative, who was courting Carey for a record deal. But just as Smalls turned the ignition, bullets riddled the car, puncturing Carey's left arm, gut, neck, and lungs. Smalls was killed instantly.

"It was a blizzard, and snow was all over the windows, so I couldn't see much," Carey recalls. "There were several different people shooting, and the whole car was annihilated. I don't know who shot me. I was dealing, and when you get to a certain plateau, everyone knows you, though you might not know who they are. They think that doing something to you will benefit them, whether it's for a rep or financially."

At Harlem Hospital Center, doctors ripped open his rib cage to remove bullets, and for months afterward he couldn't see, hear, or talk properly. Spinal cord damage confined him to a wheelchair, and larynx damage affects his speech to this day. But his afflictions didn't stop him from dealing dope. Five years later he was pinched on narcotics and illegal-firearms charges and imprisoned for three years. Upon his release in 2003, Carey pledged to reform his ways and had reason to believe things were looking up.

During Carey's incarceration, Dumile found success as a solo artist, assuming aliases from Viktor Vaughn to King Geedorah and collaborating with increasingly famous artists. (His next album, slated for release in early 2007, will be a collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah.) Known for his dense flow and intelligent wordplay, Doom's become a hero or villain to hip-hop heads worldwide. His 1999 debut album, Operation: Doomsday, was a big seller by indie standards, and Carey, who, before his incarceration, helped finance the album and supplied samples in his role as executive producer, expected fat royalty checks. More importantly, he and Dumile could resume making groundbreaking music together, now with an audience to receive it.

But it wasn't to be. Dumile had left his friend in his dust. He says they grew apart, but Carey feels betrayed. "I consider him a brother to me, and it shouldn't have gotten to the point where it's at," he says, adding that his visionary former friend has changed. "Sometimes the line of genius and acting crazy is so thin, you might fall over the line and need someone to bring you back."

Carey's modest apartment in a gentrifying South Bronx neighborhood overlooks basketball courts, a concert pavilion, and rows of tidy houses. From the pale brick building's open windows, mothers yell in Spanglish for their kids to come home for supper. Inside, his abode is a shrine to hip-hop and comics. Action figures still in their plastic cases line the walls à la The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Most belong to Carey's roommate, rapper Robert Warfield, who became a member of M.I.C. in 2003, around the time Dumile dropped out. Warfield, a lanky Puerto Rican, plasters Transformers stickers on his recording equipment and assists Carey when he needs it, both with his record label and in pushing him up steep hills or lifting him up out of his chair when he needs to zip up his pants. Though Carey navigates the world with the relative ease of a man who's spent one-third of his life in a chair, there are still a few spots beyond his reach.

"There's nothing cool about being shot," Carey says. "It hurts. It changed not just my life, but also the ones around me. People have to help take care of me. I can't do shit on my own sometimes."

On this drizzly late-September day, Carey sits atop a towel in his black wheelchair. He rolls himself out into the hallway at the request of a photographer named Dumas, who has come all the way from Brussels, Belgium, to take his picture for an Internet site called 90bpm. ("Le 1er magazine de la culture Hip-Hop en France depuis 2000.")

Carey has dark skin, a thin goatee, and a muscular upper body that looks like it could still absorb punches. From beneath a backward-tilted ball cap, his deep-brown eyes stare menacingly back at the camera. He doesn't smile. But immediately after the shutter snaps, the veneer fades. "You got enough light?" he asks.

Though even now his lyrics don't always reflect it, Carey has renounced his violent past, and he's exceedingly polite. He calls men "sir" and women "ma'am." His deep voice contrasts with his still childlike personality—he prefers candy to beer and remains a comic-book fanatic.

It was his interest in superheroes like Superman and Green Lantern, in fact, that helped convince DC Comics to publish his life story as a graphic novel. Next fall will see the worldwide debut of Sentences: The Life of MF Grimm. Written by Carey and illustrated by Brooklyn artist Ronald Wimberly, the book will be released on DC's Vertigo imprint, known for titles like V for Vendetta and the Sandman series.

"There's a lot in common with comics and music, in particular the underground aspect of it," says Vertigo executive editor Karen Berger. "Certain songwriters, certain hip-hop artists, they're storytellers. That's the beauty of it. Percy has so easily moved from writing songs to writing a graphic novel. He's a great storyteller, and he's now found another medium to tell his stories."

Carey and Berger are also in talks to develop a comic series called Candy Land, set in an urban ghetto controlled by gangs of sugar-filled personalities. "There's a crew called the Donuts, led by Choco, a chocolate donut," Carey explains. "Chewy P. Newton, he's the political one, and tells kids they shouldn't be out there using bleached flour and refined sugar."

Comics aside, Carey's days are dominated with running the company he founded in 1999, before he went to prison, Day by Day Entertainment. Its musical arm has become a major independent hip-hop player in recent years, securing worldwide distribution and selling nearly 100,000 units by Carey's count. That figure includes 10,000 or so of an MF Grimm–MF Doom collaboration called Special Herbs and Spices, Volume One, released in 2004 though produced years earlier.

Originally conceived as a vanity rap label (NB...I DON'T THINK PERCY AND I WERE VAIN AT ALL IN IT'S CONCEPTUALIZATION!) Carey's release from prison three years ago Day by Day has taken on more than two dozen artists (Rob Swift, Hasan Salaam, Mudville) and now features a successful rock 'n' roll division (Serengeti, the Shadow). Carey is also in discussion with Verve to collaborate on a pair of jazz albums. Day by Day's film division is set to release a low-budget, straight-to-DVD Australian horror movie called When Evil Reigns. Finally, there's an energy drink called MF Potion in the works, not to mention a makeup line featuring lip gloss, blush, fragrances, and soap.

"There's not a lot of products for women of color, from my understanding," Carey says. "It has to do with the pigments. A woman my complexion, normally, whatever type of makeup they use has elements of pink in it. But they need something that's based in yellow."
Expect Day by Day cosmetics at a store near you this summer.

His varied projects aside, Carey's focus for now is his own new triple CD American Hunger. After spending much of the '90s working on other people's projects (he wrote songs for Kool G Rap's classic album 4, 5, 6 and, he says, Dr. Dre's The Chronic, though he's uncredited for his work on the latter), it's his fourth solo album, following The Downfall of Ibliys: A Ghetto Opera, Digital Tears, and Scars & Memories.

Released in July, Hunger is among the most ambitious projects in rap history, featuring 60 tracks, including collaborations with hip-hop royalty like Large Professor and PMD of EPMD. At its heart a pop album, it sashays between themes of love and loss, redemption and revenge, flirting with the political but finally settling on the personal. "Trapped in the belly of the beast/Trying to get regurgitated because I am the feast," Carey raps on the first of the album's three title tracks.

Making a three-hours-long album is, of course, insane, but Carey somehow makes it work, partially through his compelling story and partially by stacking the deck with top-notch underground beat-makers like St. Louis's DJ Crucial, who plans to release his own album featuring the 12 songs he produced. "I was told it could not be done, but I like to do things people say can't be done; gives you a reason to still be on the planet," Carey says. "They can say the other 59 of them suck, but if somebody likes one song, I'm happy." (American Hunger is available at daybydayent.com for $13.50.)

A recent, largely praiseworthy Spin print review called Carey "the rapper who's taken almost as many bullets as 50 Cent." Wrong. "He was shot nine times, and I was shot 10 times," Carey grumbles, referring to both the crippling 1994 assault and a 1986 party in which he was shot in the stomach, knee, and wrist.

The Spin review also notes the album's Molotov cocktail of a final song, "Book of Daniel," which threatens Dumile by his first name and his stage name from his K.M.D. days: Zev Love X. "Zev Love X used to be merry/The mask took control of you like Jim Carrey," Carey raps over a blistering acid-rock sample, adding: "When the bullets start flying, who's gonna hide you?"
"You ain't a man/You a character," puts in crewmate MF Mez, adding, "M.I.C. gave you life/And we can take that shit away."

"Book of Daniel" is a response to a track on Doom's biggest success story to date: The Mouse and the Mask, his 2005 collaboration with superstar producer Danger Mouse, he of the Beatles/Jay-Z mash-up The Grey Album and this year's buzz phenom Gnarls Barkley. A goofy, literally cartoonish venture featuring the voices of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim stable (itself a favorite of Doom's largely white, frequently stoned fan base), Mask was a critical and commercial smash. The Washington Post called it "the craziest, coolest CD of the year," and it reached 41 on Billboard's album chart.

On the Mask track in question, "El Chupa Nibre," Dumile obliquely references his past: "Once joined a rap clique, Midgets into Crunk/He did a solo on the oboe, could have sold a million/Then the Villain went for dolo and cited creative differences."

Carey sees the "Midgets into Crunk" line as a dis of M.I.C. "I view 'Midgets' as saying he's big-time and we're small. And he probably thinks crunk is like a fad, so that's just his way of saying we're out of here."

"I never looked at it like that—if I want to dis niggas, I'll say it straight up," Dumile responds. "But, if the shoe fit . . . you know what I'm saying? People can take it how they want to take it. If somebody feels offended by it, that's on they own self."

Whether or not Dumile intended to hurt him, Carey reacted viscerally and immediately crafted a response. "He just gets in [the studio] and starts ripping this verse, and I'm just like, 'Oh my gosh!' " recalls producer DJ Crucial. "I'm looking around at everyone, 'cause Doom is like everyone's favorite right now."

"Book of Daniel" has listeners around the country duking it out on Internet message boards. Some see Carey's rage as justified, while others find the song a pathetic attempt to cash in on Dumile's celebrity. "Maybe Grimm looked at his sagging sales and said, 'Damn, I need to start a beef with someone,' " reads a comment to a blog posting about the song written by someone calling himself "i'm the skwidawd."

Carey insists "Book of Daniel" is not a publicity grab. "I do mean what I say. If I'm going to kill somebody, I'm gonna kill them. Am I looking to go hunt him down and kill him? Nah. But can it get to the point where someone could get hurt? Yeah. It's about respect. People get beat up for less."

So-called "dis tracks" are commonplace in rap music, of course. But "Book of Daniel" is different. When Carey isn't threatening Dumile, he's appealing for reconciliation. "Come home, Zev," he pleads near the song's end. "I can't act like I don't have no love for him," Carey says now. "I care about him so much that it caused the conflict that we have today. The more I speak about him, the more it becomes to the world like I'm bitter toward his success. He was bound to be successful, but the plan was for him to direct that success toward the others. If our plan is to get up over a wall, and I push you up and help you get over the wall and you don't throw a rope for me, then it's going to be an issue."

Dumile hasn't heard the song, but says he has no time for Carey's issues.

"It's funny, how, once it gets to where the name is getting recognized, everybody want to act like they got a problem with the Villain," he says. "I ain't got no friends. As soon as you think somebody's your friend, that's when you gotta watch out. When you're successful, there's always somebody that's cornering you, somebody that used to be your friend, talking about, 'He did this, he did that.' I open up my home to people, help people, and then motherfuckers turn around and try to stab me in the back." (NB...HMMM...SPEAKING OF OPENING UP YOUR HOME TO PEOPLE AND HELPING THEM THEN THEM TURNING AROUND AND STABBING YOU IN THE BACK, DANIEL DUMILE THOMPSON...ISN'T THAT EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO ME IN BROOKLYN?!)

Out on bail and awaiting trial for narcotics and weapons charges, Carey made a risky move in early 2000. Lacking a driver's license, he bought a fake one and used it to board a plane to Los Angeles.

There, he met Dumile. They came to negotiate with executives from Readyrock Records, who planned to release MF Doom's solo debut, Operation: Doomsday, and K.M.D.'s second and final album, Bl_ck B_st_rds. Carey contributed financially to and is credited as an executive producer on both albums.

Carey hadn't seen his friend in a while, as Dumile had moved to suburban Atlanta with his wife and their young son, Daniel Jr.—Carey's godson. After the meeting, the two men revived their bond and, stepping into a record studio, quickly recorded hours of songs, one of which Carey would use for Grimm's own The Downfall of Ibliys: A Ghetto Opera, which was dedicated to stepbrother–shooting victim Jansen Smalls. "I expected me and Doom to make good music and become legends," Carey remembers of the session.

Miranda Jane, a Los Angeles–based music consultant, came to the studio to interview the guys for Stress, a now defunct hip-hop publication subtitled "NY's Illest Magazine." She even brought along dinner for them: homemade jambalaya and smothered cabbage. "They had a really good synergy together," she recalls.

Jane, who later became Dumile's manager, was one of last people to see his face. Since Operation: Doomsday, MF Doom has taken to wearing a metal gladiator mask onstage, in press and album photos, and even in everyday life around people he doesn't know very well. "Hip-hop tends to be about who's the flyest, who has the biggest chain," Dumile explains. "So it's kind of like the mask is the opposite of that. It's like, it don't matter what he looks like, what race he is. All that matters is the vocals, the spit, the beats, the rhymes."

The mask has metaphorical implications as well, Jane says. Having been scarred by the music industry, Dumile was reinventing himself as someone who wouldn't be played for a fool. "Doom was concerned with making money right now and feeding his family by any means necessary," she says, adding that this differed from Carey's long-term goal of building a black-owned distribution company from the bottom up.

"I got a different agenda," Dumile agrees. "It's about getting money, and that's that. I got children to feed." As for Carey: He "ain't got no kids." (NB...YOU'RE RIGHT, DOOM, HE DOESN'T. NOR DO I. I HOPE THAT IN YOUR HEART AND SOUL YOU REALIZE THAT OUR FAMILIES ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS YOURS. THAT'S WHY YOU FEEL GUILTY WHEN YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND ANOTHER REASON YOU HAVE TROUBLE SLEEPING AT NIGHT.)

Shortly after the L.A. meeting, Dumile returned to Atlanta, and Carey to the penitentiary. During his three-year confinement, he was transferred to institutions all over New York State. "I've been moved and moved. . . . Most of them wasn't wheelchair accessible," he says.
"I remember visiting him up in Fishkill, New York, and the facilities were a little better," recalls Elinor Tatum, a friend. "But he told me about how, before, he'd basically had to crawl to the shower. In another case, medical staff didn't want to have to change his catheter, so they gave him a drug that kept him from having to urinate. He got very ill because of it, because he was not eliminating the way he should have been."

Yet Carey found ways to make the most of a miserable situation, working on his chess game, teaching himself to cook, and studying the music industry.

"I got my hands on Billboard, Forbes, Fortune—anything that dealt with marketing," he says. "And I learned the business models of people like Quincy Jones, Russell Simmons, Tommy Mottola, and Jimmy Iovine. I basically took my years in prison and I used it as college."
Dumile visited him only once during that stint. Adding insult to injury, upon Carey's 2003 release, Dumile told him that the album deals with Readyrock had fallen through. He'd struck new deals to release Operation: Doomsday and Bl_ck B_st_rds, but they would pay the two men only a fraction of what was guaranteed by the original agreements.

"Dumile promised that he was going to do something to make it right, to get some thing to me," Carey says. "But he never did."


Nonetheless, Carey was willing to let bygones be bygones, and he thought Dumile felt the same way when he invited Carey to perform at an MF Doom concert at Times Square club B.B. King's last year.

"I wasn't going to do any more shows," Carey says. "It's a very uncomfortable feeling sitting down and having to rhyme. It's like boxing—you don't want to be a boxer in a wheelchair. You want to stand up and fight."

But the chance to be with Dumile was more than he could pass up, and in a video of the concert DVD Carey has, he looks as happy as a kid at his first baseball game. "All the people on the sides know MF Doom is hot, MF Doom is hot, MF Grimm is hot," Carey raps from his chair at the beginning of the show, wearing a heavy sweatshirt and winter cap. "This is my brother, I love him," he adds as the lights are cut and Dumile bounds onto the stage, clad in a Patrick Ewing Knicks jersey and, of course, his silver mask. He continuously shouts out Carey throughout the set, using his other stage names, Jet Jaguar and Grandmaster Grimm.

"It felt good being onstage with him," Carey recalls. "It was good to see him rock. And after that, I thought we would be back to normal. It's apparent that he didn't think so." Carey heard "El Chupa Nibre" shortly thereafter and became convinced that Dumile had fundamentally changed since their days as teenagers on 97th Street. "I think he's caught up in an image he can't escape from. He has to be a villain."

Dumile doesn't entirely disagree. "The whole Villain thing is really like looking at how other people see him," he says. "The oppressors usually look at the people they're oppressing as the villains. But the oppressed are the heroes to the people, so I just accept it now. I'll be the villain. I'll be the hero to the hip-hop world." (NB...SO WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS THAT YOU'RE THE OPRESSOR. I'M GLAD YOU ARE AWARE THAT YOU'RE OPPRESSING THE PEOPLE WHO'VE WORKED TO HELP FURTHER YOUR CAREER, ESPECIALLY THE ONES WHO'VE HELPED YOU WITH YOUR RHYMES OVER THE YEARS AND WHO'VE DONE FLAVOR VOCAL APPEARANCES ON YOUR PROJECTS OR BEEN 9/10THS OF THE GROUPS YOU'VE PUT OUT UNDER YOUR AUSPICES.)

Carey's apartment is full of cardboard boxes, some packed with promotional T-shirts and copies of American Hunger. Others are troves of old mementos. After digging around for a few minutes, Carey produces old copies of Right On! magazine, a locally based hip-hop fanzine aimed at young girls in which he once authored a column called Grimm Reaper's Harvest. Also in the boxes are photos from Carey's Sesame Street days and a picture of him standing with DJ Roc Raida in the early '90s, before Carey was paralyzed.

Eventually, Carey packs up the boxes and puts them away, along with the Doom concert DVD. The sun has gone down in the South Bronx, and the interview is almost over. But before that happens, he'd like to show off a new trick he's been working on.

"I'm learning how to stand up," he says, moving from his wheelchair to a leather recliner and motioning for Warfield to hand him his aluminum walker. He grasps the walker's soft handles and, trembling, pulls himself up. After a few seconds of struggle he extends, fully vertical, his muscular arms supporting his underdeveloped legs.

"I fully expect to walk again, but it's difficult for me to put a timetable on it," Carey says, after sitting back down. "It's not my body anymore. My body's back. It's just, there's a lot of things I've got to overcome in my mind."