Hitched, Part One.

I was watching Hitch one day and once scene in particular really stuck out to me. Mainly because I felt it; I related.

I wasn’t a nerd. I didn’t catch her with someone else. I was a roving, insensitive asshole who always meant well. I just went about things the wrong way, using my foolish paranoia and insecurities to fuel my decisions. But once we were done, the way I felt about women (and life!) changed forever.

It was late in my senior year. Everyone has that one class that kicks their candy ass; mine was this weird Psych research stats class. Everyone used to fail it; the class GPA was putrid. I too botched it the semester before, but bounced back rather strongly. Anyway, we had this class AND lab together; it was somewhat preordained that we would cross paths. I knew who she was; she caught my eye long ago. I asked my guy Phil (who I always saw as an older brother) about her, and he gave me the rundown. She’s quiet, he’s seen her around, knew her friends. One of his friends tried to get at her for a while but she was never with it. His….shortcomings and & inabilities didn’t have anything to do with me. That story didn’t deter me. If my chance came around, I was going to take it. Or try my very best to do so.

That chance came early in the class. When everyone in the lab had to partner up and she came to sit next to me, I knew. I sort of knew we wouldn’t be just friends; partially because I just desired her that much. I didn’t know how it was gonna happen, or when, or if I even had control of the situation (I surely did not). I focused on not saying anything corny and not giving away how excited I was to just speak. We chopped it up. We shared laughs. We had common ground (both from the North, same majors, similar music interests, same big city edge). She had big, curly black hair, deep, expressive eyes and grinned as I spoke as if everything I said was as vital as air to her lungs. She was Dominican/Puerto Rican, which was a change for me. Even back then, I only loved my hashtag BLACK hashtag QUEENS, but something about her had me tied up. She was just so fascinating, and edgy, and determined. She was older than me, so I looked to her for her subtle wisdom. She was so modest, never really knowing that what she had to say was very important to me.

We were cool, that was about it. I couldn’t really gauge if she liked me or anything (I was 21-22, didn’t really gauge this well until MAYBE 25?). One specific turn of events woke me up to her intentions. I came into the Student Center to handle some business. I was a member of our college radio station and I was on the executive board for SGA. I had people telling me when I arrived that a girl was looking for me. I had no idea who but I soon pieced it together. She was swinging by my office, with her freshly injured/broken foot in a walking boot, trying to surprise me. Our campus isn’t tremendous, but you do NOT want to traverse it with one foot that actually works. She did this more than once and once I caught wind of it, things changed for me. Now I had to think “MAYBE SHE DOES LIKE ME”. The fact that “maybe” is there shows you how modest and how easily thrown off by female attention I was. I simply didn’t know how to read these situations well.

While that event showed how serious she was about getting to know me, my moment was coming. On a snowy night at Phil’s house, I was cooling with him and his female neighbors. This is my first time meeting one of the girls and we’re vibing pretty well. I remember kind of marveling at how smooth and flawless her deep brown skin was; her little voice so confident talking to this upperclassman who’s slowly building interest was becoming apparent. It’s going well then SHE
starts texting me. She wants to hang out. I quickly agree to meet at my apt, even though the weather is trash. I go back to talking to everyone. Naturally, I linger a little too long and get the “I’m here” text. I tell Phil I have to leave, and he sees in my eyes why. He lets me go and I hear that tinge of disappointment in his voice. I leave that girl and her chocolatey skin, somewhat knowing we’ll never really meet up again.

To make you understand, Phil’s crib is 5 blocks from mine. It’s snowing. I walked when it wasn’t bad. I’m late. SO I RAN. I think my lame ass actually fell doing this. Luckily it was dark and no one was outside. I get a half block away and stop to catch my breath. I didn’t want her to know that I really ran blocks, just to see her. I calm down, walk around to my building, let her in, and we go upstairs.

We chill out. She shows me her drawings. I remember flipping through her sketchbook slowly. I eyeballed every line, every area of shading, just taking it all in. I’m so honored she even shared this with me. We ate. We talked about Prince, and religion, and positive energy. She was changing who I was. Before our talks about doing the right thing and your energy mattering in the grand scheme of things, I pretty much said and did what I wanted to. I had respect for people, but I was just so rude. I didn’t understand how much my energy mattered to the people around me.I was moody, I shut down easily and kind of had a simmering anger to me. But she was talking me into a totally different direction. I valued our time spent and so did she. I always remembered feeling so freed of everything with her.

Thing is, as all of this was happening to me, I was pretending. No one knew how much I liked her, or even that we had something going on. Phil knew we were “talking” but I didn’t share details. I looked up to him(and still do), and girls loved him and his housemates (who were also like family to me). I was slightly a fish out of water; this was new to me in a way. At that time, I didn’t want to look “soft”. Soft. Soft for really liking a girl. My mindset was way off. My other friends used to ask about her when they saw her around. “This Spanish girl was looking for you at the station.” and “She’s cute, put me on!”. I just calmly brushed off both. I couldn’t get defensive, because now they’d know how I really felt. Little did I know, my silence as it came to “us” would hurt me.

 

Part 2. Soon.

By robbyrav

Rav Report Live: Kelela @ Rough Trade.

If you know me, or follow me on Twitter *points to sidebar*, you know that I am a Kelela stan on the low.

I listened to her album , CUT 4 ME on a whim sometime last year and I was SUPER impressed. For an alleged music snob who hates everything (I don’t!), this was big. I ran this album into the ground for months until I got tired, didn’t think about it, then bought it back to life.

I was lucky enough to catch her in October at the CMJ edition of Fader Fort out in Brooklyn. The Internet was also on that bill. Needless to say, crazy show. I also wanna put this out here, I was pretty drunk off of Captain Morgan Black by the end of this, so that was probably why I was in the front row, turned into pure putty while Kelela was singing. Yeah. The drinks. It’s not because I’m soft and partial to women who sing. Nope.

Fast forward to last week, and I remember that Kelela is doing 2 shows in Brooklyn. I HAD to attend at least one. I kinda had a lot going on that weekend (COOL GUY ALERT!!!!) so I saw that there were still tickets on Friday and took the plunge. I was flip flopping between this and the Natural History Museum party with Machinedrum , but an industry buddy (who I actually met at CMJ, and is a pretty nifty DJ) told me “IM GOING TO KELELA!”. I go to plenty shows alone, but if you have the chance to go with other people…you should take that. Plus she’s is also a stan, so it works out.

So that was that. I set out into a semi crappy weathered night and head to Williamsburg for the show. I step in and my first thought is “wow, there are a lot of bad, weird black girls in here, right now”. I move around a lil’ bit and hit the bar and get a rum and Coke, because I’m a cool guy who drinks boring shit. I’m drinking and watching the stage, which has a DJ duo just going to WORK. I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the transitions but they seemed to get better as the night went on. It’s a guy and a girl, who I later recognized were Shayne and Venus X of GHE20G0TH1K fame (if you know, you know). They were really playing some daring stuff (BMore club) and songs that will at least make you smile if you arent a lame (Aaliyah – One In A Million). Everything was working. The people were beautiful, the energy was good, I was starting to get into it (AND INTO MY RUM!).

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A little later, she texts me that she’s in Rough Trade, so I set out to find her and her friends. I start to walk over and I look up and see…Dev Hynes. Now as someone who loves Solange and pretty much followed Dev from his work on “True”, this was kind of a big deal. Dude’s a real talent and I had basically a few seconds to decide “Am I gonna walk over and say what up or am I just gonna drift over to my destination.” I opt to not be a bitch and quickly show my appreciation to Dev (very gracious and humble guy) and head over. FULL DISCLOSURE: I was guzzling Rum and Coke number 2 so I’d bet money I shook his hand too quickly and was probably talking too loud. SO WHAT. Also, someone on Twitter linked me to this. Dev is wild, son.

I get to her and her friends, introduce myself, and Kelela takes the stage immediately.

Let me be frank.

Kelela is fine.

Anyways, here’s some footage cause I’m tired of typing.

When I go to shows to see singers, I’m specifically trying to see can they recreate records live. If I found out Kelela was CB4, I might not have recovered. LUCKILY FOR US, she is not. Not at all. Her song “Send Me Out” is one of those test your vocal chops tunes, and she killed it. There were actually a group of girls next to us were just standing there dissing Kelela the whole show. While that shit is kinda weird, Send Me Out shut them the fuck up. So thanks Kelela, good lookin’. She’s powering through basically all of the songs you’d want to hear off of her album, including reworking a few with different edits (such as “Keep it Cool”).

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While doing this song, the j appears. Now mind you, this is an alt r&B show, of COURSE there’s weed right? But I’m gonna tell you something about me.

I am a rookie smoker. Possibly less than rookie. I could count on my hands the amount of times I’ve burned and still have enough fingers left to shoot a jumper. Or toss a frisbee, for our shoes off in the grass buddies. I’ve never really put time into learning the intricacies of smoking, because its just too ill. It literally feels too good; I feel like if I learn to roll, smoke in any situation and light roaches etc, I’m going to become Redman. I’m just gonna keep doing it. So, I stick to rare recreational settings where I don’t have to do too much but pull.

Anyone who’s been in the presence of weed will tell you, you got about a split second to decide are you gonna hit or not. I hastily said yes.

“Yo, you gotta relight it.”

 

I don’t know how to relight this shit, man. I’m in the dark, cant even see my fingers, trying to open the lighter, light the j, and pull in one smooth ass motion. I failed, almost burnt my upper lip off, and inhaled wild weed flakes into my mouth. Was like chewing mesquite wood chips. I’m so fucking wack. I got away with this with only one person peeping me PLAYING myself. I’m now in the dark, watching Kelela, constantly touching my possibly singed lip. If I fuck my lip up, my sex appeal gon’ be on E, and I can’t afford that. Luckily I was ok.

 

A little after this, Kelela walks into the crowd.

 

This is how close I was.

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I did not walk over there, because…well I don’t know. Seeing her up close confirmed my “Kelela is bad” thought, word to dude who was less than 5 feet away who refused to make eye contact. SHOOK!!!!! (As I notice this 10 feet away.) She thanks us, goes backstage for few, and comes back to encore a bit then close with “Do It Again” , which is a favorite of mine.

Show ends, I linger a lil bit, say my goodbyes, and skate up outta there.

It was a good night, Shayne and Venus did their thing and Kelela was very crisp and has a good feel for the stage. Most fun I’ve EVER had while trying to burn my face off with a lighter.

To summarize it all:

Drunk Levels: Low to Moderate (2 Rum and Cokes)

Bae Levels : A lot of weird brown/black baes who definitely talk about the eco system and co-washing in the same breath…..and thats my type of scene

Show quality: 8/10 -9/10

Venue : First time being at Rough Trade, and I loved it. I’ll be back.

 

If you guys like, I’ll keep doing Rav Report Live for events I go to. Any shows in NYC you think I’d like (even ones I wouldn’t), let me know!

Progression (aka Yeezus).

So earlier last week, a friend of mine shot me a flurry of texts that basically ended in “I have Yeezus tickets, I wanna go with someone who actually likes it….” I originally had plans with my DOG, KWAME but I got his blessing. He already saw Yeezus, knows how I feel about Ye’ and knew I needed to go. So I squared that away and I was on board.

Now mind you, I’ve been to Glow In the Dark. GITD changed my life. This was my first big concert and I was maybe 21-22. I paid damn near 300 for my seats (as if I had that, who was I fooling) cringed, and went after my spring semester ended. I vividly remember watching the whole thing thinking “Holy shit, why can’t I feel like this every day?” GITD was a culmination of Ye’s ego, imagination, and talent, all in one cohesive story that felt like a child’s well developed day dream. He has an IMAGINATION. Around this time I noticed that my own imagination was dying, and so was everyone else’s. He was “free” more or less. Kanye’s energy that whole show told me he wanted to be there, and there’s nothing else he’d rather do with his time. That was deep to me. At that age, I had only begun to understand passion and how it fuels you. Ye was operating off of passion and love, and I wanted that. The technology at the show was also out of this world, and directly affected what I wanted to do with my life.

So needless to say, seeing Kanye’ perform is kind of a different thing for me. I saw him at Watch The Throne but that’s a different type of experience from a Kanye’ solo show. I had to take part in this.

I get to Nassau Coliseum , we get the tickets (just happened to be GA floor, YES!), we linger a little bit, then we go in. First off, to get to the floor in NC, you have to go down like 6 -7 ramps, deep into the basement of the building. It’s basically like a bomb shelter, with tight ass hallways. We get down there, give in our tickets and walk in. (sidenote: My ticket number was “143″ aka shorthand for “I Love You”. I wanted to keep it but they wouldn’t let me. I’m just into symbolism, from little things like that to the more grandiose.)

The show starts about 40 minutes later and I’m pretty into it from the get go. I’m really not the wild out at a show type unless its just that kinda night. I  like to digest what I’m seeing, rap/sing along, and just enjoy the show. New Slaves/Clique/Black Skinhead….I’m engaged. Then something happened.

When it come’s to Kanye songs, Coldest Winter (and Streetlights) are somewhere in my top 10. These two songs are just honest, poignant, the kind of things anyone who’s ever had to deal with loss or feelings of inadequacy can relate to. He walks out to the edge of the mountain built onto the stage. It raises into the air, and he lays flat on his back and goes into Coldest Winter.

Right before he starts singing it, he tells us it’s about his mother (which I’ve heard before and always wondered if it was true). My heart sank a little, because I could never imagine losing my mother and feel for everyone who has had to deal with that. I only have one living grandparent, so, it’s affected those amongst me.

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During this whole performance I’m staring up there, thinking how lucky we are to have someone willing to make music like this. We’ve had Kanye for too long; it’s to the point where we write off what he does. If we’re gonna be honest, from the gate, he was a talented guy making honest music. He was so self confident that we couldn’t tell if it was arrogance or someone willing themselves to the top (which he did). He has Grammy’s, sales, notoriety, fame, but I don’t totally really think that’s enough. His…”talent” for falling in and out of public favor has somewhat affected how people view him. He’s said shit I found corny (ie his reactions to Kris Humphries/ lyrics about Amber Rose post break up), but I’ve kinda got over it all. Sometimes he loses himself in interviews, but I’ve never felt that he meant any harm. He’s been coming off to me as someone trying to find themselves, and last night made me feel like he’s progressing.Once he took his mask off, he was….happy. Last hour of the show was pure glee; you could feel how positive the energy was from every in the house that night. He was at ease; anyone who has lost that knows how vital it is to have.

With all of that said, Kanye always makes me feel motivated when I see him perform.  Kanye gives his all, every time. A lot of things have happened to me fairly recently that make me feel like I should try harder …with everything. I’ve become somewhat concerned about not using what I have to the best of my abilities. I don’t really feel like I lacked talent (you can be modest if you want), but I do know I lack drive and motivation, sometimes. My life did not improve until I continuously pushed myself to the edge, and I think that’s the “secret”. I’m uncomfortable; shit is weird….but that’s fine. I’m becoming better and I see and feel it.  If you don’t squeeze every drop out of what you have, can you really complain about your results?

Life isn’t something you just stumble through. YOU control your reality. Just try to grow daily and keep stretching as far as you can. I get that in order to reach a point that you can only imagine, you have to prepare yourself for that and be disciplined. Kanye always worked, no matter what went on around him. He saw who he wanted to become, and he believed it enough for all of us. Is that not what success is?

Smash REAL Fast.

You know what I never got?

Male cliches about dating and sex. Mainly sex. ‘Cause I’m in my mid 20′s and thats what every discussion turns into. Let us move along.

Sometime last week, a friend dropped the dreaded “She wanted to have sex too quickly” (wtf is too quickly, that’s like saying “Damn, this french toast and bacon with extra syrup has arrived in 3 minutes, I am UPSET”) arose. Now, don’t get me wrong, being a dude and not wanting to have sex immediately isn’t out of the norm. It’s pretty normal actually, I think (I don’t have any friends). But that’s not the issue here.

He DID want to have sex. As has every other dude who has bought this same situation to my attention.The issue here is she has now become a “hoe”, because she wanted to have sex with YOU, as soon as POSSIBLE.

This logic becomes more flawed to me the more it comes up; perhaps it’s time I express my thoughts and feelings.

To put it plainly, you’re probably attracted to her. I don’t know you, but you probably are, random guy. You agree on a date with a woman, you might even want to hit, my man! Let’s not waste time lying! Suppose the stars decide to align in a way that makes her wanna have sex with you “quickly” (what that means depends on who you are). Are you telling me you’re horrified and disgusted by her behavior? It’s cool if you are, but why?

You two want the same thing. If you don’t know what to do here (pls), you can decline. Declining is an option. NO ONE DECLINES HERE, BUT THEY CONSTANTLY CALL HER A HOE AFTER. If this way of operating is so filthy to you, are you not aware that you’re wading in that same muck once you remove your Green Lantern briefs?

Is it impossible that she likes you and is at ease in your presence? Aren’t you a SUPER COOL GUY who gets girls with ease? Shouldn’t sex come to you quickly, like that second drink you hideously overpaid for on vacation? So which is it?

A) You are not the Casanova you pretend to be.

B) Don’t believe a girl would want you sexually ’cause she just digs you like that, it has to be a charity case.

C) You’re just a loser IDK I got nothing.

Which brings me to “SHE DOES THIS WITH EVERYONE!!!!!”. This comes with 0 proof, 84 percent of the time. You really think she’s enamored to the point of sex with every dude she has a dry ass grilled chicken dinner with (with a WEAK ASS mixed drink on the side)? There’s also a bigger problem here….

You probably do this with everyone too (or desire to).

So, this is an interesting time to become the Morality Police.

She may really do it with everyone.

YOU DON’T KNOW. YOU STILL HIT. YOU DON’T ACTUALLY CARE.

The saddest part that gets overlooked is “She does this with EVERYONE!” is your first thought when offered sex. Your self-esteem is shot, and you are totally unaware of this. But no, really, she probably doesn’t do it with everyone. Men tend to horribly overrate sexual promiscuity while indulging in it and trying to say “Its different”. It’s not. You like to have sex? Go have sex. One less person bitching on Twitter about infantile things.

Actually the idea of “what is sexual promiscuity” lies on such a wide range that the term nearly no longer makes sense. Think the term made more sense in less liberated times (I’m not even sure these are “liberated” times, if I may be honest.)

Lastly, while still on the topic, waiting to have sex is not a gold medal of chaste. It just means, you want to wait to have sex. I’d like to think both genders have done it. However, this is more about women. I know for a fact, that dudes still use “She made me wait, she must be trustworthy/a good person/not juggling multiple sexual partners” in their grading system. No.

I tend to believe that most women who overlook your tendency to not brush your hair & wear jean shorts enough to have sex with you, wanted to do it beforehand. Some girls will have sex with you as soon as they decide they wanna do it; some will wait months/years/decades. It is, what it is. In my mind? When they make that choice doesn’t really change my view of their “purity” (Purity. LOL. You break 21, you’ve done some CRINGE-worthy shit, I PROMISE you).

I don’t think “OMG SHE IS HAVING SEX WITH ALL OF NYC THATS WHY SHE OFFERED IT TO ME SO SOON HELP PLS” nor do I think “She’s making me wait until Jay Electronica takes that fucking Ewok robe off and gets back in the studio before she’ll let me smell it! She must be a good girl!”. The urgency with which they have sex has nothing to do with whether they are a piece of shit, or not. JUST TRUST ME. It just means as I said before, that she likes sex. We all like sex. C’mon.

Before I Leave…

 In HS, a close friend of ours was parading around his girl and was bragging to us that she was a virgin. He couldn’t wait to 360 windmill in her paradise of VAGINE.

One problem. She was having sex with someone in our circle. Or better yet, she did it months ago. But she was making Close Friend #1 hang on, and he was excited to cash in soon. This girl he put stock in, and added points to because she was a “virgin”, was really just a liar, who had sex with his associates then struck it from the record. So there’s that.

I also grew up with a girl who was making some dude wait for months to have sex. She is well known in my hometown, for you know……having sex. Getting plowed. Getting excavated by the wee wee hammer. I knew, everyone knew, she was not shy about it.

Anyway, he didn’t know. He stuck around because he thought she was a “good girl” (whatever) and didn’t have a lot of sexual partners, thus making her more desirable in his opinion.

She was holding out so she could recover from Chlamydia.

Y’all have a nice day, though.

Washed!

For those unfamiliar, when two rappers are on a song and one’s verse(s) happens to be glaringly better than the other rapper, we say they got “washed”. This is a regional thing; I’m from NYC, you probably say something different in your hut in Des Moines, Iowa. “He got cornhusked/irrigated” whatever you bumpkins prefer. Moving onward.

But what happens when you’re a singer and you are washing other singers, or even WORSE, rappers? I take mental notes of when this happens, and I’m going to show you a few of my favorites. This happens more often than it should, actually. *begins lecture*

HOW MANY DRINKS.

Now, I am teetering on a Miguel stan. BUT. BUT! He didn’t have to add Kendrick to this. “How Many Drinks” is a wonderfully catchy song about Mig inquiring as to how many watery Cran and Vodkas does he need to purchase for you to come home with him and get UOENO’d. I wouldve preferred the original album version with him harmonizing and hitting mad wild notes as you don’t notice he’s singing about getting hoes loose off Peach Ciroc. Did Kendrick get “washed” per se? No. Could he have just stayed home? Sure. Never did I hear this song and think “You know what this smooth tune needs??? Kendrick Lamar rapping about eating the love box.” Kendrick is still the man though. Please don’t tell security to grab me by my lengthy tank top and Jazzy Jeff me out of your show.

Remember You.

The first time I saw this online, I thought “Yes! Wiz and The Weeknd!” I hit play and listened to a rapper get ran off of his own song. Wiz had 0 business on this (yes, I’m aware it was his single). Abel drug-yodeled Wiz right up outta here. From the moment Abel said…

Girl, take pride in what you wanna do
Even if that means a new man every night inside of yoOoOoOoOoWhoOoOoOoO (OH!!!!)

….I became concerned for Wizard Khalifa. Very concerned. Just got uglier from there. Abel also said he’ll “smoke anything thats handed” to him but let’s overlook a famous singer possibly smoking wet/sherm/The Shenanigans and lets focus on him cooking Wiz. Wiz’s verses were cheeks so I’m not gonna quote em. Just know: The Weeknd ate the first verse and you can cut it off after he does the hook.

Sex Room

Ok. This song is terrible. Sex Room, as I will tell anyone who will listen, is in my top 20 favorite songs ever. That explosion you’re hearing sound is my credibility disintegrating, but so what? Every time this shit comes on, I am  Richmond goon yodeling Trey’s every word, cause he killed it. The whole premise of the song is corny and Luda’s bars are super forgettable but soon as I hear that “OOOOOOO OOOOOO OOOO OOOOOOOOOO” I’m going in. Trey Songz ate FOOD on the last part. Son was just yelling “OHHHH OHHHH” mad loud in the background while dropping gems such as “Lemme get a vowel  I.O.U./I.E.U. MEANS I EAT U”. Flames. This was at a time when Trey was still the RnB filth lord (that spot has been usurped by this guy).

sidenote: Sex Room finished and it started to play the rest of the album…this shit was a trainwreck. If only it was actually the Shawnna/Luda collab album it was supposed to be.

double sidenote: I googled “Shawnna” and there was an image tab that just said “Ass”. Props to Google for being just as scummy as me and knowing what I was here for. *exclusive footage of me when the page loaded*

And now, for the star of the show.

UPGRADE U.

YEAH. YEAH SON. I was playing this stupid loud in my freshman dorm, being a stereotypical #Black and making the walls shake(not via sex, because Robby at 18? Getting girls? #LOL!). Everyone was prolly like “oh he jamming that cause of that beat and that Jay verse”…….

NOPE.

I was listening to Beyonce get BARS OFF. Don’t get me wrong, Upgrade U is possibly a top 5 Jay feature verse. He did work….but he stood NO chance against….

Audemars Piguet watch
Dimples in ya necktie
Hermes BRIEFcase
Cartier top clips
Silk lined BLAYYYYYZZZUUUUHHHHSSSSS

Beyonce singing her ass off about being the ultimate equal to her man in love AND business? Touching. Then she gave him wild high fashion bars back when I had 0 idea wtf an Audemars was (a 19 year old Meek Mill heard this and then spent 2 years straight telling us about his watch. There were more RAPS but you listen to the whole song and you’ll see what I mean. She bounced back nicely after Hov Knowles went off. Unlike that one time he hopped on that Kendrick song and got put in the dumpster.

Listen. Enjoy. Appreciate singers washing people and be great.

What I’m Listening To (Vol. 1)

The entire “Feel Good” album is great (if you follow me on Twitter, you saw me losing my composure about it last night). But this one…THIS ONE! Feels like I’m dancing in a mid 90s house music party (in some small ass jeans) and I’m eyeballing girls like this.

Big fan of BOY/FRIEND. When I first got ahold of Leather Weather , I played it for a good month and a half. Only thing I was listening to really. This song  is a standout off of there. I also spent lots of time at work with my headphones on at work singing this shit , like I can sing. Probably gonna do it again today!

Big fan of JB3. Saw him live at Apple Store Soho this summer and was blown away (also blown away by the ridiculous amount of natural/earthy black women…..looking like freshly made Hershey’s bars). He performed this live and I was completely sold. Great song from a great artist.

Danny Brown fan since the Hybrid *adjusts glasses and scoffs*. Really like this short cut off of “OLD”. Album is damn good too.

FLAMES. Not even describing this….hit play even if you don’t like FBZ.

If you’ve been to a club in the last few years you’ve heard this. Regardless, I accidentally played this off of my phone in a meeting….I stared at my phone like …damn technology BETRAYED ME!

and last but not least…..

Look. I didn’t know what to expect from Mr. Tesfaye on this go-round. HOB is a legendary…Thursday is “ok” (I really mean it’s wack)….Echoes of Silence is a frisbee. Still , I took the plunge because The Weeknd is a talented guy , no matter how you slice it. Then this started playing and my head exploded. Son is emoting on “ninja assassin running over roofs in the dark to come kill you for that late ass library book” keys on the bridge parts. How can I front on him???

By robbyrav

forefront.

A usual day at work ends with me navigating Midtown foot traffic on the way to the train. I get to live out my organized football dreams as I dodge and swim by hapless tourists and totally zoned out office dwellers. During the time , I either listen to music or my mind drifts elsewhere. These thoughts are usually serious analysis of my life or things that matter to me. Yesterday , my mind latched onto leadership.

Leadership.

I thought I understood what this meant in years past; I was wrong.

Being a leader requires a lot of things. It’s more than being the recognizable face, or the loud one , or the one who saves people’s asses.

It’s about knowing your personnel. It’s about knowing when to get under people’s skin and when to shut up and listen. It’s when to give people space. It’s deciding to keep your grievances to yourself and work towards the good of the team. It’s being aware of when it’s time to bust your ass and give absolutely everything you have (aka , every day you wake up).

the brightest star in the sky doesn’t hide from the role it must play. lighting the night sky is quite a job, but who says you can’t do it?

Most people lead by example. I no longer respect that. Why? Because it’s easy.

It’s easy to just do your job , and play your role to the utmost , while not really looking at your team. You have to speak up ; you have to be a shoulder to lean on ; you HAVE to inquire. Your lack of involvement in your (team/friends/coworkers) existence will cause shit to go south. Maybe the reason you can’t get to the next level is because you don’t accept enough responsibility. Maybe you’re afraid. Maybe you don’t think you have the talent. Whichever reason you choose has become fact. Solely because you’ve allowed it to be so.

I for one, speak up in the worst ways. I hold myself to an unbelievable personal standard that I really don’t reveal to people (and I won’t here). I hold everyone around me to that same level too. The thing is, everyone doesn’t feel like me nor do they see it how i see it. Sometimes, I’m rather insensitive to that. I know that my actions from here on out (and probably always) directly affect everyone around me , be it friends or a random person around for the moment. I listen well, but I can listen MORE. I do not shy away from (and at times have, caused) confrontation , so it’s always “us against them” or “me against them”. While I still agree with this ideology in a lot of situations, when people play off of your energy , you can’t constantly give them that mindset. You have to TALK. You have to take their feelings , mix them with yours and spread this all amongst the circle. You may have to go down with the ship but in the same breath , you may also hoist the trophy to the skies. You have to be fine with both. Not “oh i guess its ok”. I mean “success or failure is fine because I know we put everything into it”. I haven’t always been that person.

I was a shy kid. I never gravitated to the front. Up until I was about 19-20 , I only lead if I “fell” into position to do so. I was somewhat “elected”. Over time , I’ve grown to appreciate leading because I took on the role , and also knowing when it’s not my time to do so. I think things have changed and will continue to because I have truly begun to understand what I mean to people and the responsibility that comes with that. We all have different roles to play. I just think that when you’re up front, you owe it to yourself and everyone with you to be your very best.

By robbyrav

break from queens.

SXSW.Austin. 4 AM. On the Thursday of that week , I had a bizarre argument with a friend of mine who’s been around since high school(Kwame). Since we were 15. He was the cool one that everyone knew. I was just the semi awkward kid who talked a lot of shit. Grew together and have been through plenty. Ten years.

Poof. Into thin air. Why you ask? I had managed to make him feel….ostracized by my actions. Not taking into account when he wanted to chill in Austin or what he wanted to do. We discussed beforehand I’d be with other friends AND them in Austin , but things kinda broke down somewhere along the way. Honestly , I knew a lot of people in Austin this weekend (he didn’t). I was stretched kinda thin and I also had a few things eating at me during the whole trip. Well really , one ongoing thing involving a girl that I probably won’t admit to until years from now. Mainly because it makes me feel embarrassed (it shouldn’t) and I’m not even sure whether I’m intrigued or repulsed by what our relationship has become. With all that said, my attitude should have been better.

So here we are , arguing. I’m in a nice crib in Austin with my dude, at SXW…just how we mapped it out. But look what it was becoming. An argument.  I’m not even sure I was upset. I was really more confused than anything. No one was happy and no resolution was met. We kinda went through the motions the next few days. I grew angrier at the whole situation over time (I hated that the issues weren’t aired out as they happened, as opposed to held onto until it exploded). I covered up how “off” the whole shit made me feel and tried to enjoy my last few days of SXSW. I left alone on the final morning.

What really bothered me about the whole ordeal is he accused me of putting him by the way side for my “other/new/cool” friends. That stung , mainly because I don’t have any friends from before we met that I’m still cool with. I moved from BK to the very edge of Queens as a child ; a few friendships died with that trip. They felt I dipped on them because we left a 2 bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom house. Things were different. I had to “start over” per se. My WORST fear since I decided I wanted to be in the music/entertainment industry was losing touch with who I once was and my humble beginnings. His accusation felt like the start of me going off the deep end.

Me and Kwame spoke about 2-3 days after I got home. Tempers flared. I expressed how I felt, angrily and moved onward. I heard him and understood where he came from too .The thing about me is …I value those close to me. But inherently , I feel as if being “alone” is part of who I am. If I have to step away for you to see what point I’m making, I will do it. For however long that needs to be.

We spoke quickly in April , due to the urging of my ex. I contacted her on Easter because I “felt” something was wrong with her. We don’t speak consistently and I don’t see the reason to…but I could feel my heart pounding through my eyes when I woke up. I KNEW something was wrong with her and I was correct. Once we discussed that and got that straight , she told me “go talk to Kwame”. So I did. It was awkward but more peaceful than before. Halfway through , I kinda felt like “Why did I do this?” I was content with not speaking. I have a tendency to eventually be “ok” without people. This is a positive AND a negative , in the same breath. I also knew that the nature of our friendship was going to be “different” after this. Don’t think I wanted to deal with it. In addition to not talking to Kwame, I wasn’t really speaking to anyone in that friend circle. Didn’t want to make it awkward for everyone.

3 months pass. Three months. I did not talk to my best friend of 10 years….for 3 months. We spoke every day , about the dumbest of shit to the most serious of things..and now nothing. No real words until July. He reached out to me and was just very honest. He understood where I was coming from , told me what had been going on in the last 3 months. Very heartfelt. Very painful. From there, we started on the road to recovery. Things seem to be mending and going well now. I couldn’t tell you if our friendship will just be A-OK again but thats my dog. I love the guy and he’s held me down and looked out in situations where most wouldn’t.

So while I’m dealing with all this , I have other unpleasant shit going on. I quit my job in Feb on a leap of faith. I simply couldn’t do it anymore. It was taking too much from me. I couldn’t think , I wasn’t creative , I wasn’t even happy anymore. It was literally taking my soul. I had a great relationship with most of my coworkers; all love. But how did I leave? In silence. I emailed HR quietly. Turned in my stuff. Waved off and and all uproar. Just daps and hugs and contact exchanging and off into the sunset.

So…….I was broke. Not immediately. But soon after. Maybe 2-3 months. I didn’t regret leaving ; I had to. That job was turning me into someone else. I’m not a miserable guy. I am moody and intense; as soon as those feelings within become mainly negative I lose myself. And I totally lost myself , at that point.

So I had no money , not on speaking terms with my best friend , I’m INCREDIBLY lonely, I can’t go anywhere, and the wound of that nearly 8 month old, self initiated break up is still fresh , because my ex intermittently pops up via retweets or IMessage. So just add everything together…misery.

Me being the person I am , I didn’t tell a lot of people how shitty and worthless I felt. I didn’t want to come off like I was yearning for sympathy; I wasn’t. Life is difficult for everyone; how you perform under duress says a lot about who you are.  For this part of my life , I was not performing well at all. I was holed up at home doing nothing , being unhappy about everything. My hair length at the moment? It’s because I was sad. My hair represented how I felt; I grew attached to it. It was something I could “control”. Ive noticed when I have more hair i feel more liberated. And that’s one thing I definitely didn’t have at all…liberation. I felt trapped; by my own circumstances and emotions, with no real solution in sight .

Sometime in July, a ray of light appears. I got hired. First music industry job…ever. First time being paid to do something I like to do…EVER. The job itself has been going well and might really be the best experience I’ve had job wise. My contract is up soon , so this ride may end soon. Even if it does , I’m more than happy with what I’ve gained from it.

I made a series of decisions as it comes to my life , because it’s just time to do that. Had to choose my own emotional well being over speaking to my ex; decided to chop it up with Kwame like old times ; actually accept invites to places because I have some money now. I decided to use my qualities to be a positive guy , regardless of what’s going on. Things had to change. I had to exile myself in order to “gain control”. I’m usually in control but everything hit me at once and I completely lost it. I’m still not 100 percent but I’m much…MUCH closer than months ago. These things take time.

I’m learning how to be myself again. Before everything was so serious and heavy. Back when I just wanted to have fun and make people smile. When crappy situations didn’t weigh on me and push me off my center so easily. I feel different. I feel….good. I will only feel better moving forward, because I chose that path. I’ve become more self aware, and things are finally starting to brighten after such a rough patch.

Thank you to everyone who stuck with me.

P.S. I blinked back tears for most of this so I’m gonna do 3 sets wide pushups in front of a dirty bodega while listening to this. Probably shirtless.

the light in the darkness.

You never know when the words will touch you. Or what those words will be.

A long time ago, I was listening to “Murder to Excellence” and heard the ensuing lines.

What up, Blood? What up, cuz? It’s all black, I love us

-  Jay – Z

“I love us.”

The line always stuck with me. As a black man, I’ve always felt passionately about my racial identity. I was a  4 year old kid on the floor; in my draws and my little Hanes white tee…thumbing through books about African kids learning Swahili.A bunch of brown faces that looked just like me and my sister and my parents. Different skin tones. Braids. Big smiles. I felt pride then and I really didn’t know what it meant. I just knew that there was something important about my people. I always had this feeling in my chest that my race was a big deal and something to hold onto tightly.

I happened to be on UnKut.Com and saw this….

 

When BDK(Big Daddy Kane) came out….I felt the same way I did when I read those books about black children. I was proud. Look at that park full of people with the same skin, ancestry and culture as me. Everyone peacefully gathered in the park , simply desiring a good time. It doesn’t even feel like 2013; everything about the scene looks like what I’d imagine the 80s to be. I’m not one of those “YO RAP WAS THE BEST BACK THEN EVEN THOUGH I WAS BARELY ALIVE” people but certain things can’t be denied. This video is beautiful. In addition to BDK still having stage presence and the same talent that won crowds over when I wasn’t even a thought yet , the energy strikes me. The energy. From us.

I love US. US.

Black people. My brothers and sisters(black women changed my life.) and uncles and aunts and friends. Not just “black” in the typical sense , ethnic people. I think we all have some aspect of black culture or ideologies within us.

 

I can’t do certain things because of the presence of this….love. I can’t really fuck with WorldStar; I feel silly and embarrassed. I think we are far too beautiful and talented and strong to have a website thats 80 percent dedicated to us making a fool of ourselves. I can’t laugh at some of those jokes pointed towards black women; they’ve been around me all of my life (and instrumental in who I became over time). I can’t dig certain TV shows because they dont accurately reflect the black experience that I know and live daily.

 

In that same breath , the love makes me smile. I see a black person doing well and striving , I commend them because I know the shit is tough. The people who really pushed the hardest for what they desire all too often go thankless. I don’t ever let myself hold back credit when its due; but if its a person of color its even MORE important to me. I LOVE to see a black man or woman touching destiny and impacting people with their gifts. It’s vital. That is the real meaning of life. It’s what I really want to do before it’s all over.

 

Luckily for me , its nowhere near over.

Canal Street.

   I was on the train sometime earlier this week. This huge Latin dude with long , shaggy black hair and burlap sacks as clothing came into our car. If you’re a New Yorker, homeless people on the train asking for assistance is nothing new. I see people all over the car go into their “omg its a homeless dude” routine. Some fake sleep (the extremely fly white girl 10 seats away) , or suddenly pretend their reading material is SUPER interesting. He was really loud and usually this annoys me; I was at ease that day for some reason. By the time he comes over to me , I dig in my pocket for change. As soon as I reach into my jacket , I remembered I have a bag of Lays(PRODUCT PLACEMENT) Potato Chips in my pocket. I felt guilty for even having the chips , as I’m a fake healthy young goon. I nervously croak out to him “hey…hey…I have some chips! You want em?” “That’ll work!”. I hand the bag to him and he takes it graciously and ambles further down the aisle. He comes back and plops down noisily in the seat across from me. I noticed an older Jamaican woman in nurse garb look at him like he was the ASSIEST of assholes as he POPPED the bag open. She kept staring as he chewed. I moved on from the scene.
    He eventually gets off. A well dressed older white dude take his seat. This whole scene and experience kinda touched me. The train is the great equalizer. Everyone from the established(or those who look it) to people who don’t know where they’re sleeping tonight…all in one place. We all have somewhere to go; coincidence(destiny?) put us on the same route.
   Really , seeing the homeless dude and giving him the chips reminded of an experience I had in 2011. I was fresh out of college , on the way to my internship at Power 105. I was BROKE as shit and relatively miserable. I was glad to have the opportunity to be in the building with all of those talented people, but I had no job. They were doing well ; I was struggling. There’s almost always a person with a cart with food on it on my train. They start explaining their doing it for anyone in need and they’ll appreciate donations etc etc. I didn’t really pay attention. Next thing I know? The person with the cart rolls up to me and offers me food DIRECTLY. Just me. No one else.
    I was SUPER embarrassed and I never get embarrassed. All I felt was anger. I quickly said “Nah , I’m good” and then had to refuse again ; they kept pushing the sandwiches and snacks on me. I hid how i really felt and somehow stayed respectful. I could feel other people’s stares ; I felt even dumber. I didn’t need food but something about my energy bought that person to me.
    I was definitely in need ; I had no money but that wasn’t what I was really lacking. I needed hope. I needed signs that chasing the dream was “right”. I didn’t get it that night or even that month. I don’t fully have that now. I’d like to believe I’m on the right path but I don’t have much to show for it yet.
So I’ll just have to ride along until my stop arrives.