Category Archives: Quick Thoughts

But words though..

Ask me any day what kind of music I like, and I will tell you hip hop. Don’t ask me if it’s old school or new, but know it’s definitely not that mumble rap and it’s certainly not Migos. I’m currently loving “Clipping.” so check that out, but to be warned don’t listen to it too loud, the afro-futuristic, electronic, sci-fi sound is definitely a lot to take in the first couple of times. Hip Hop has always told a story, and that’s what I love. The feeling of completion at the end of the song is so similar to finishing a book.

And that’s what it is meant to be. Hip Hop and Rap are forms of storytelling, it comes from the voices of people otherwise not heard. Those in urban, disadvantaged communities found a way for their story to be told and it started something so great in music. Hip Hop is a revolution in itself. It is something that can take the old and re-brand it and shape it into something new. Need an example? Take a look at Hamilton. No one aside from historians, could be bothered to care about Hamilton until it was revitalized, and modernized into an amazing musical, from then on everyone wanted to know about the life story of Alexander Hamilton, and those who know the music can tell you what Hip Hop has done to assist in the renewed interest in the Revolutionary War era and the interest and understanding of the Political system. The songs from Hamilton do so much more than convey the story and feed information. It breaks down the barrier of time and makes the characters, our Founding Fathers, relatable. I myself, am very much of a Lafayette, at least according to the “Which “Hamilton” character are you?” quiz on Buzzfeed. But when listening to the album you get a sense of how each respective character is, and what they stand for, and their developmental arc throughout the musical. Hip Hop has a way of telling stories that eliminates the frills and it gets down to the bare bones.

The next best thing about Hip Hop is it allows the tough stories to be told. So many claim that Hip Hop is violent but that isn’t always the case. In terms of the older hip hop, or the more true hip hop, it’s the story again. It’s the experiences of a person, so if that person has seen someone get shot or had to deal drugs in the past that is their way of expressing it and coping with it. Hip Hop has a very psychological element to it. Think on this for a moment. Those who come from good backgrounds are able to afford the necessary mental care and treatments after a traumatic event, those in underrepresented and disenfranchised areas are not given the same resources. When someone goes through something traumatic an emotional outlet is needed. Some paint, some exercise, some make clay sculptures, but when these options aren’t available to you the best you can do is verbalize your feelings. One truth of living in the underrepresented areas, is there is a large population of minorities, mainly African Americans and Hispanics, and if there’s one thing these cultures have in common it’s their proclivities for rhythm and beats, and musical talent in general. So one is able to take the pain or joy of their experiences and combine it with their culture around them and make music that tells their story. They can heal through this process.

I love spoken word. I don’t believe I’m any good at it, albeit I’ve never tried. Spoken word is the root of Hip Hop, it has no music behind it, it is raw and emotional and life-changing. There is something so amazing about the art of speech that true spoken word artists have. One thing that should always be minded is the fact that spoken word is more than speaking. Which sounds confusing but the reality is almost anyone can speak but those who have mastered spoken word, have the talents of understanding inflections, and flow. Spoken word isn’t on paper and thus it focuses less on how the words look and more on how they sound. To every spoken word piece there is an ebb and flow that makes every listener feel something, the back and forth creates such an auditory pleasure that when you find the right piece you feel like you could start change, that you alone could create change and it sometimes only takes 2 minutes to listen to. A two minute revolution and revitalization. Every spoken word piece I have heard sounds like the artist is trying to sell me something and at the end I will always buy.

Hip Hop is something that can cause change and those in power are aware of it, and to help this come full circle, here’s a fun fact. Currently in Russia, China, Thailand, and Turkmenistan Hip Hop and Rap is being used to assist the respective Government’s draw younger crowds, encourage voting and spread the political parties agendas. Whether the youth and general public agrees with them or not, there is something to be said for the effort that it would take. But in all of these countries Hip Hop started as a way to disagree with the Government and begin revolutions and form change, it was all based on the underground communities and was almost banned in many cases. Until the Governments decided to wield that verbal weapon against them.

We are currently living in a world where, in my honest opinion, good music is hard to come by. It’s all very perfectly primped, and polished, and has an aesthetic that it is not trying to stray from. Many artists sound so similar they might as well be the same person. But Hip Hop is something that is able to stand the test of time. It’s in a rough spot right now thanks to SoundCloud rappers, but true to it’s form it get back up and finishes the story. It stays as a way to express opinions and tell stories.

Start at 2:22
Black Panther/F*** Batman

Finding your tribe

Your vibe will attract your tribe.

For the longest time I waited for my tribe. Someone who complemented my personality and wanted to do everything with me. Many failures have passed and eventually I just thought fine, I’ll go it alone. Now of course, my best friend, is currently in Australia and I believe she helped me grow in more ways possible. She is to me, the catalyst of who I am today. So when she left, I was left to find a tribe again. I did it the same way I did before. I traveled for a bit, and gave out my true energy, never faking it, and now my tribe is slowly coming together. People I feel comfortable with, people who energize me rather than drain me, and people who are ready for any adventure that comes our way.

Poder en musica

Before I had left for Europe I found Spotify was having a sale, three months for .99 cents. Perfect, I thought. I’ll just make a giant playlist, download it on the app, and use it while I’m traveling then cancel it when I come home. So the cancelling never happened. I still pay for my Spotify, because the music has memories.

When Avicii’s “Wake me up” plays I can still find myself wandering Berlin.

When The Animals, “House of the Rising Sun” plays I’m in the Garden District of New Orleans.

And when Willy William’s “Voodoo Song” plays I’m in France.

Music will play such a powerful role in our lives. Since some of it gets played over and over, by our choice or not, lets enjoy the memories that come with it.

They call the wind Maria.

I knew one day my view from work wouldn’t be the ocean. I knew someday I’d be doing a nine to five or working in some kind of office or closed environment. A place where the surfers aren’t. A place where the salty air and sand doesn’t invade my senses as well as the building I call work. It would be a matter of time. I just didn’t expect it to be so sudden. What was my life before Maria hit? I just finished college and was getting ready to start my masters. Perhaps in psychology or business. I have a travel bug so I was looking at international business. My university offered a program that would allow me to live in South America so that was a good goal. But I came into work one day and was warned about Irma. Prep had to be done. I did what I thought was important. Picked up my cat, grabbed some food, water, filled the car with gasoline. I mean Irma was a category five hurricane, she wasn’t supposed to be nice. But she passed. My coworkers and I joked about how she wasn’t as bad as we thought. But Maria was coming too. I’ve explained this many times since moving. If a storm comes from the north the Bermuda Triangle does some kind of magic and it usually doesn’t hit Puerto Rico bad. If it comes from the south. Well hold on to your caña and hope for the best. But we did it again. Prepped and joked around saying Ave Maria. But all the Ave Maria’s in the world wouldn’t stop her from being a rotten bitch. She came at around 3am. Immediately took the electricity. Immediately took the storm shutters off one window. Immediately destroyed the garage. That day was full of immediately. Nothing seemed to happen slowly. It just happened. When she passed. I walked out of my house. I walked out to a new island. One I didn’t recognize. I imagine it’s how buzz aldrin felt on the moon. All the green I was accustomed to was replaced with grays and black. Grass was replaced with mud and debris. The trees looked as though they were toothpick for giants. Cracked in half and distorted. Even my home had the paint stripped off it, revealing its murky concrete walls. My grandpa and I got to work clearing out what we could, we honestly didn’t even know where to start. But machetes in hand we tore down and paved a way for trucks that we hoped would come soon to handle the bigger pieces. Days passed, we heard nothing from the outside. We eventually set out to see my uncle and my work. This would be one of the big influences on if I would have to leave home. When we arrived my work was missing pieces of the patio and the roof. I commiserated with my coworkers and the sorrow hit like a truck. Some were left without homes. Others couldn’t contact family. The streets were deserted. No songs. No chatter. Nothing. I walked to the town square. And still nothing. The silence spoke the loudest. I walked back to my grandpa and he said “It’ll be best that you stay with your mom. Just for the winter”. His words were coated with a forced, false optimism. I went home and started trying to figure out what to do. There was no cell signal. I couldn’t even figure out how to get a ticket out. Our plan was just to go to the airport and hope for a ticket. I packed my backpack with five shirts and three pants, a skirt, a dress, and my work apron. I had five copies of my resume ready and could only hope for things to work out. Days passed. I gave my room a good cleaning and on my last I took all the meat and sorted the good from the bad and made a small fire and cooked what was left, hoping it would be enough for my Grampa to last until the power came back. After that he called me to the truck and dropped me off with my grandma in San Juan. I spent a week there. In and out of contact with my stateside family. They were struggling to get me a ticket out, but when they did it was a blessing. I landed in Pennsylvania after a couple of close calls and delays. I settled in to my room, at my mothers house. Two days later I had a job. Four days later my reality struck and I sobbed. There are days where I think I’m doing good and I see this move as a happy accident. But then there are days where I long for home. I want to hear the coqui’s. I want the waves crashing as my background noise at work. I want the reggae, the Bomba y plena. I want to smell cafe bustelo or pilón in the morning. I miss the warmth of my people. The buen provecho and buen día y ay benditos. But I am in the states now and I have to make due. Granted I am fortunate. Much more than other. I have work, I had a home to go to, I have my life. Maria has taught me that try as I might I can’t control everything. I can only control my reaction to it. At work many customers try to pity me. I am no ones sob story nor am I someone’s feel good story. I remind people that Island life is not just piña coladas and dancing in the waves. It’s hurricanes, it’s struggles, it’s being able to adjust to the rising tides. As I write this I’m at work hiding my phone, with my view being a mall parking lot, 80’s music blaring from the bar and mariachi music from the dining room. I’m hosting in the morning and bartending at night. Doing a fair hustle. I have hope for my future what I worry about is my Island. I hope that with the current government my Island doesn’t get swept under the rug. I hope I can return soon and see my Island thrive again.