Monthly Archives: January 2013

Positive Audio/Video of the Week (1.27.13 – 2.2.13) Dcypla – 24 (@Dcypla)

Here is our first installment of the Positive AV of the Week!

Local DMV Gospel Hip-Hop artist and Youth Minister Dcypla dropped the track “24” in 2012 as part of the More Than Music Movement. Here’s a quick synopsis:

“As followers of Christ, we’re called to be on our mission to make disciples for Him. Check out Dcypla’s 1st music video, ’24′”

To download this song and other free music go to: MoreThanMusicNow.com.

To learn more about Dcypla, visit disciplesthrumedia.com.

So, what did you think about the track?

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Friday Randomness Volume 2

Not to much randomness today, but let’s do this. Enter Random picture.

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1. Totally underestimated the Ravens so far in this postseason. Buutttttt, since I have another week to make a decision, I’ll hold off on the Super Bowl pick. So far, I’m 1-1 in picks. And no, I don’t pick any other sport but Football. Except for basketball. During the playoffs.

2. Men and women alike, don’t fall into relationship cycles that will destroy your relationships. Men need respect from their women. Women need love and affection from their men. Communication is key here. Guys, women won’t understand won’t always understand why you’d rather play Nba2k than watch a movie with them. Women, guys can NOT read your minds. So communicate your thoughts and feelings, and be willing to compromise.

3. Sho Baraka’s “Talented Xth” album? Amazing. Check out the album review I took the time to put together with great detail. Yup, track-by-track breakdown. Every song. Gonna keep guilting you into reading it. Just playing lol. But seriously…

4. It’s SNOWING! Got some snow angels to make.

That’s all I have today. Here’s what to look forward to next week.

– The first installment of Positive A/V of the Week (Didn’t make it up last week)

– A Poem Posting

– Friday Randomness Volume 3

Have fun this weekend, my good people! Enjoy the snow if you have it. If you don’t have snow, here…

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 You’re welcome lol.

~ Signing off

Sho Baraka’s “Talented Xth” Album Review

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Sho Baraka’s “Talented Xth” is a work of art that embodies so much more than music. The concepts and ideals portrayed throughout the album are serious ones that often get overlooked in Christian culture, including racism, hypocrisy, relationships, etc. Sho breaks down his album into “chapters”, with each song being named after a popular cultural or artistic person/character/place to represent what the corresponding song will address. Having missed “Lions and Liars”, this is the first full length album of Sho Baraka’s that I have heard, and I went through the album track-by-track multiple times to provide an in depth breakdown of Sho’s latest project. Before we get started, I don’t give “stars”, “mics” or “thumbs up”. My unit of measurement? “Props”. Here’s my review of “Talented Xth”

Bethesda” Track 1:

Quotables:

“To all my people who grindin’, what up, tho/To all my people who dyin’, what up, ghost”

“A vegen avoiding the beef that started in the garden”

I LOVE the “Wade in the Water” ending. This is honestly one of the best opening tracks I’ve heard. Most artists use an intro, a skit, or poem, but Sho grabbed my attention from the jump.  The track itself has so many elements to it. It truly prepares you for the entirety of “Talented Xth”. Awesome track.

“Michael” Track 2:

Quotables:

“Off the wall, moonwalk, no need for a drug/I been bad, I’m just tryna find my other glove”

“They may have heard about God, but they think ‘Why Bother?/They heard ‘Hail Marys’, but never knew ‘Our Fathers’”

The song is so immersive musically. It draws you in. From the instruments, drops, samples, I hear something new every time I listen to the track. The lyrical content carries over well from the opening track. No drop-off what-so-ever. Great work.

“Get Happy Intermission/Mahalia” Tracks 3 & 4:

Quotables:

“Trying not to lust for them clothes I can’t spell/If you don’t live behind your bars, you and I don’t jail (gel)”

“Yea, Blackbelt in a bad way/ Ju don’t (you don’t) know? I did what my Sensei (sin say”

“I got the church with me/I’m tryna be like the Bible, not a bad verse in me”

Three for three. The track is musically genius, one of my favorite productions on the album. The drops and breakdowns are in great spots, and the samples give the beat character. BUT….As strong as the beat is, as strong as Sho comes on lyrically, as catchy as the hook can be, the feature (Duce Banner) is weak to me. This isn’t an attack on Banner (I don’t know him personally), but I have to be honest. “Mahila” fell off CONSIDERABLY once Duce came on. Sho Baraka’s strong verse only further highlighted the weakness of Banner’s verse. Truly a shame; on an album with no true weak points, this song would have easily been my favorite. Would have.

“Mrs…” Track 5:

Quotables:

“I don’t need to lay eggs with another chick”

“Yea, they think you fly, but they only want to bug you”

I love the Neptunes feel this track gives off. I’ll say this now, Sho is one of the most creative artists I’ve come across, secular or Christian. I believe his creativity comes out on this track. Many artists make songs about their wives; Sho delivers a unique masterpiece. While their were some quotables, Sho’s lyrical content wasn’t as slick as the first few tracks. He focused on the feel of the track and the message, which comes across clear and concise and compliment the track perfectly. No problems here. Great track.

“Ali” Track 6:

Quotables:

“Let it be told, all that glitters ain’t gold/Life is a slam dunk when you’re living with low goals”

Sho again chooses to utilize less punchlines and metaphors, and instead focus more on the topic at hand.  He delivers the message with an unmistakable realness. The music perfectly sets the vibe of the song. Musically, it’s as immersive as any track on the album. The feature “Ali” delivers a very fitting performance on the bridge and hook on this song.

“Denzel” Track 7:

Quotables:

“To my fathers on their home work, because class don’t end”

Class vs. Swag. If you listen to the song, the music utilizes many jazz and beat boxing elements to represent class. Chantae Cann and Suzy Rock bring great performances as features, and I love the concept. Didn’t really connect with the deep vocals used on the hook, though, but the track grew on me overtime. That’s always a good sign.

“Madoff” Track 8:

Quotables:

“We’re tryna bloom in the city lights/I think we ask ‘whats up’ because we’re scared of heights”

“The same person addicted to caffeine/Likes to look down at the person who does smoke weed”

Once again, the music perfectly supports the theme of the song. “Madoff” is another example of the off-the-charts creativity “Talented Xth” portrays. This song, like many others, feels completely original. A very complete track.

“Jim Crow” Track 9:

Quotables:

“I guess I’m stuck on n***a island/Where n***as be wiling/Where color is violence/A moment of silence”

“That lady that you call ‘hoe’, that’s my lover/That women you call b****, that’s my mother/Them boys that you killed, them my brothers/Send a ship to the island, we can rescue some others”

You read that right. Sho Baraka pushes the envelope with “Jim Crow”. You may have heard all of the controversy surrounding the track, so let’s address the track and the controversy. The song has A LOT of quotables, but the hardest lines are also the ones at the center of all of the debate. Sho intelligently tackles the issue of racism head on in a time when many artists (and very few Christian artists) address the issue at all. Now for the controversial aspect: While I can’t fully agree with the cursing, because it can be a distraction to the message (which it has been, unfortunately), the truth is, this is the language that used by our celebrities, our musicians and our kids. When I first listened to “Jim Crow”, I literally played the song back to back for about 20 minutes. At first because I wanted to hear the conditions in which the language was used, but it eventually became deeper than that. This song is extremely REAL. I asked myself this question: If Sho had used a different word, or had said “That woman you can ‘B’…” instead of saying what he said, would it have caught my attention as hard, and would it have had as strong of an impact? The true answer to both questions is no. It takes a lot of courage to do, but I fully respect Sho’s decision and I applaud his courage. My prayer is that the message out shines the controversy.

“Peter Pan” Track 10:

Quotables:

“They never had a father that could walk them through the content/Teaching them the skill to discern all of the nonsense/That he’d extended adolescence so they can blow up/Hip-Hop, you’re close to 50, when can we grow up?”

This is a nostalgic story track. Musically, it uses old school sounding instruments and samples. This is another song that Sho ditches punchlines in order to make sure that the rings through clearly. The concept and story progression is awesome, even took me back to my middle school and high school years. Great track.

“Cliff and Claire” Track 11:

Quotables:

“They’ve given up on the portrait, so it’s back to the drawing board/They need the right frame of reference so they can paint some more”

“Cliff learned to cheat his job and not cheat his wife”

“Claire learned that small things can cause great fights/She’s tryna to serve in spite of and not serve in spite”

Sho follows up one story with another, and delivers the relationship story song “Cliff and Claire”. This is my favorite song on the album. Sho paints a full story over the course of the track. Each verse progresses the story, and the transitions are clean and smooth. A lot of that has to do with the feature, Christon Gray. Gray delivers an excellent hook, and I mean excellent. I’m becoming a Christon Gray fan based on a couple other features I’ve heard him on. The music is the glue that completes the puzzle, further setting this track apart.

 “Me!” Track 12:

Quotables:

“The know the Lord sees my greed, it’s so appalling/I spent my phone money on clothes, so I missed my calling”

“My sexual past just brings more scars/I’m trying not to compare my wife to porn stars”

Missed the punchlines and metaphors? Here they are! Sho brings back the dynamic lyricism on “Me!”, a song that mixes elements of both rock and blues. Lee Green, the feature who sings the hook, gives a good performance. Green’s voice is soulful with an old-school. Theory Hazit holds his own with his verse, but I feel that it could have been a little stronger. However, Theory drops some great concepts. Good collab.

“King” Track 13:

I love the concept of this song. However, I didn’t really have any quotable lines that stuck out to me. Sho and features Tedashii and Lizi Bailey paint a picture over “Dream styled” beat. The intro seemed long to me, and I must say, this is the only song where I feel that the feature (Tedashii) outperformed Sho. Decent song overall, but with such a dope concept, I feel it could’ve been better.

“Nicodemus” Track 14:

Quotables:

“Nothing could restrain us, from walking with our Maker/Then we decided to be gods, and now we’re so dangerous”

Final song of “Talented Xth”. Sho closes the album with a reflective, feel good track. Like most of the album, the music again compliments the theme and ideals expressed perfectly. I enjoyed the fact that the feature came in at the end. Some parts of the feature’s performance shook a little too much (I understand the feel she was going for) making her words harder to understand, but decent vocal performance overall. This is a great closing track to end an album.

Overall: 4.5/5 PROPS

Hits:

–       Music production was on point the entire album.

–       Creativity and originally was off the charts. Didn’t feel like I’ve heard any of the songs before.

–       Lyrically dynamic album. Other than a few songs, Sho brought awesome lyricism track in and track out.

–       Most features held their own and enhanced the songs they were on, especially the singers.

–       Quotables. There are lines in on this album you can share with anybody and catch their attention.

–       Attention grabbing hooks.

Misses:

–       Feature on “Mahila” limited the effectiveness of what could have been my favorite song on the album. The song went from a track that I would bump nonstop to a track that I would play the first half of before skipping to the next song. With a better feature, this would’ve been a five-prop album. On my first review, too haha.

–       King. Think the concept could’ve been portrayed better, and while I wouldn’t call this a bad song, every album has a “weakest link” so to speak.

I’ll re-review the album in 3-6 months for the my very first “Still Standing Review”, a retrospect look into the album to see if I was just a fan boy caught up in the moment, or if this album has staying power with it’s listeners.

What are your thoughts on the album? What did you think about the review? Weigh in.

~Signing off

Formula For A Great Relationship

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Let me start off by saying this: Forget finding your prince/princess in the EXACT sense of the word. Forget about much of what you see in romantic comedies/dramas. Forget about the PERFECT relationship.Now breathe.Yea, I know. If you’ve held onto those concepts for awhile, it might take you aback that I ask you to put them aside right off the break. Why? Because they’re whimsical (SAT word haha) ideals that put a mask on TRUE ideals, making themselves seem relevant and making what we all should be pursuing seem unimportant. So let them go.What are the TRUE ideals? Let’s run through them really quick…

1. Forget finding your prince/princess in the EXACT since of the word.
Instead: Understand what it means to have a prince/princess. Security, someone treating you like you deserve the world (because you do), honesty, respect and an enduring, unconditional LOVE. That is what is represented by the Prince/Princess syndrome. If you’re focusing on the fortune aspect of it, then you’ve completely missed the boat.

2. Forget about much of what you see in romantic comedies/dramas.
Instead: Understand that relationships don’t come from nowhere. Now I gotta admit. I’m a HUGE romantic comedy fan. Some of my favorites include Hitch, The Brothers, Brown Sugar, Two Can Play That Game, Deliver Us From Eva, and ANY romantic comedy that has Sanaa Lathan in it. Seriously. With that being said, I find that many people hold on to the ideal that love and lasting relationships just happen. They don’t, and it takes a lot more than an hour and a half of work to form a solid lasting relationship.

3: Forget about the PERFECT relationship.
Instead: Find the woman/man that put you first. No relationship will be PERFECT, just like no friendship is. There will be times when you can’t STAND the other person (trust me). When trying to decide if a relationship is a good one or not, I usually ask these question: If the relationship were to end today, can I honestly say that I have done all I can to make the other person better? Have they made me a better person? Have we shown growth from when we started til now? You want to find someone you can build with, someone you would fight for, and someone who, even after an argument, will say “I love you”. Also important: Find someone who’s flaws you can handle. If you KNOW you can’t handle a jealous woman/man, don’t get into a relationship with one, no matter how fine/gorgeous he/she might be. There is ALWAYS someone else, you just have to find the RIGHT someone.SOOOOOOOOOO….What is the formula?

Well, as much as I love playing with words, I’m still a math guy. So, I think the Formula looks like this…

              (Love + Honesty + Communication + Hard Work) x 2) – Distractions

GOD x  ——————————————————————————————   = Great Relationship

                 (1 x (Unfaithfulness + Secrets + Dishonesty + Assumptions)) + 1

Breakdown:
Love, Honesty, Communication and Hard work are all necessary to make a relationship a lasting one. Hard work means that you’re committed; not trying to run to the next girl/guy after every fight. Thing is, it takes BOTH parties to make it, hence the “x 2”. But you have to eliminate the distractions (other men/women, bad relationship advice, etc.). But even a relationship with all of these aspects in check can be “divided” by unfaithfulness, keeping secrets from each other, lies and constantly assuming your partner is dogging you when he/she isn’t. The more of this you have in your relationship, the bigger the divide will be. HOWEVER, when your relationship is built WITH GOD FIRST, it has the power to OVERCOME ALL OF IT. Gotta love it.

Agree or Disagree with me if you like. I’d love to hear you comments. What do you think?

~ Signing Off

Friday Randomness Volume 1

Oh. My. Yes. The randomness has kicked off ladies and gents. Let’s just dive right into it. Yes, even the picture is random.

1. One of the things I’ve learned over the last few years is that peace is found in Christ alone. People fail us. Money is spent. Relationships can sour and end. But we work so hard trying to hold onto temporary things that we can’t control. Operating in faith means that you’re giving everything up to the Father; a perfect Savior who has show He’s more than able time and time again. Hold on to your own burdens and find stress, depression and fleeting joy. Give your burdens to Christ and find peace, love, and joy.

2. You can find out a lot about someone by asking them random questions when you first meet them (although, admittedly, they may look at you like you have 3 eyes). Yesterday, I asked a student I just met would she rather have a wild elephant or a wild pelican (true story), and her answer shocked me. After some thought, she said that she would prefer an elephant because you can really ride a pelican, and if her animal decided to run away, at least she could find an elephant. Most interesting answer I got that night. And if you read that last sentence and said to yourself, “Why, that last sentence implies that he asked plenty of random questions to a group a  of teens giving introductions to break the ice!”, you’re either a certified detective-genius or you were there and you’re kind of cheating at this point. Not really. Maybe a little.

3. Patriots 31, Ravens 21. Ravens shocked the world (and me) when they beat the Broncos last week. They won’t catch me by surprise this week if they upset the Patriots. The fact is that Brady won’t make the mistakes that Manning made last week. With the Patriots ability to put up 40 points in basically any game, you get the feeling that they’ll outgun the Ravens early. That takes Ray Rice out of the game, and NO – Flacco can’t beat Brady.

4. Love and War by Tamar Braxton is a CATCHY song. Her first few lines got me thinking though. So many people go into relationships and even marriages thinking that everything will be sunny skies and skittle-flavored cupcakes. That’s the COMPLETE opposite. Relationships that last take WORK from both sides. You have to be willing to compromise and communicate. You have to make room in your life to let the other person in. When you say “I Do”, you’re committing to working THROUGH problems, not saying that you’re through when they show up.

5. It is extremely clear that John Wall was sorely missed by the Wizards. Welcome back, my good sir.

6. 49ers 24, Falcons 17. Is anybody confident in the Falcons after watching them almost give the game back against the Seahawks? Didn’t really think so. However, the real question is which 49ers team are we going to see. San Fran has been wildly inconsistent, going from world beaters one week to a practice squad team the next (remember when they played the Seahawks?). But, all in all, I think we see the same 49ers we saw last week. This team looks focused.

7. Had a BLAST on “The Music Box” last night! Thank you for all those who tuned in! Much love to Logic Da Teacher for bringing me on. We’re doing it again soon!

Ok, I think I’m done. Here’s what to look forward to next week.

– Album Review: Sho Baraka’s “Talented Xth”

– The first installment of Positive A/V of the Week

– Friday Randomness Volume 2

Have a blast this weekend, my good people!

~ Signing off

Who is Haelo? (insert epic thiller music here)

Me. Well, that’s the obvious answer. Funny thing is, it’s also the more complex one. I never want to be someone that rocks a stage but never shows his true colors. So on this blog, I wanna take a very refreshing second to Just. Be. Me. Open and transparent. I’m not perfect, and I never want to give that illusion. I can’t tell you how handcuffed one can feel by an “image”, so this is me sticking it to myself in order to be myself.

Don’t get it confused – I’m not some Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde type character that lives for Christ on stage and does the complete opposite in life. Nor do I do whatever I please and then all-of-a-sudden put on my “Get Saved” superhero costume when God calls like my life is some weird, spiritual Batman comic book. But I do have interests outside of music. I do enjoy having conversations outside of the deep, thought-provoking, life-changing topics. And, sometimes I just wanna bare my soul, standing arms open out in the open for the world to see…metaphorically speaking. But, I’ll just be me. Typos, geek moments, randomness and all. But for the record, I believe that God uses me either way. This isn’t a detachment from God in ANY way. He is the reason I’m alive. Period. Even through my flaws, my heart is one that wants to serve him. But, I’m human, and if you get nothing else from this blog, I want it to be that GOD USES ANYONE, INCLUDING AN UNDESERVING, SINFUL PERSON LIKE ME.

So consider this an unveiling. No curtains, no persona. Just truth and realness. That’s the goal. Like a spiritual window, I can’t show the Son to you if I’m not open or transparent (haha, metaphors for days). So, you’re going to find out a lot about me, and prayerfully, I get to find out a lot about you. Looking forward to this journey we’ll go on together.

~ Outty