Never Give Up On Hip Hop

Never give up on hip hop. Never give up on a dream.  That’s what I learned this week.

As you know, last week sucked.  My B-sides debut went horrible, my mom has been struggling with her health, and Dwayne screwed me over big time.  My sanity has been pushed to the limit and as you could probably tell, I cracked just a bit.  But Razer would not let me slip for too long. Thanks to him, I headed back to B-sides.

As I got off the bus and walked up, you could hear the freestyles from up the street.  MC after MC spitting their best rhymes trying to outdo the other.

“Yo man you wanna jump in the cypher?” A guy shouted out to me.

Razer’s words came back to me: You want to be a legend or battle on the streets for the rest of your life?  You want to be a rapper or an artist? A battler or a hip hop poet?

“Naw I’m good man,” I said and headed down the stairs to B-sides.

I sat there a bit…Worried…anxious…second guessing myself and occasionally peering over at the exit.  I remember thinking to myself: I could walk out now and no one would even know. Almost as soon as I thought it, I shook my head. No Proph, you will stay and prove you have something to offer Cleveland hip hop.

Just then one of the hosts said, “So where are the noobs tonight?  Who have we not heard from?  You there, the ruggedly handsom man with all the women (okay I added that), we haven’t heard from you yet!”

Proph: “Uhh me? Yes you have. I was here last week.”

The host quickly fired back: “Yeah, but that was a freestyle.  Can Prophet The Rebel spit poetry?”

How could I walk away from that challenge?

I stood up and said confidently, “Yeah. Yeah, I got something to say.”  Truth is…I may have sounded confident but inside, I was dying. I was a complete mess and on the verge of a full blown anxiety attack.  I stepped on the stage, closed my eyes, and sent off a quick prayer: God please be with me right now, I need your help.

As I opened my eyes, all I remember is those bright lights, my palms dripping with sweat and a microphone that at that moment seemed to pick up every single subtle sound and amplified 100x over the loud speaker.

Here we go… “Now listen. No word to your mother I’m serious. Quiet down and listen……”

Somewhere on that stage, a transformation occurred.  I heard my words echoing behind me; My own syllables and rhymes were blasting out the speakers, the audio waves physically crashing against my back.  My fears were now gone. The words and I were one in the same, and before I knew what hit me, the phrase exited my mouth.

The silence erupted with applause, snapping me back to reality.  Isaiah Isaac had finally become Prophet The Rebel.

Mother of All Hip Hop Setbacks

First, B-Sides goes bad. Then Dwayne shows some hesitation with letting us use his beats. Now we have yet another damn set back!  Like I said in my previous post, I called Dwayne to talk to him about launching his career. I was explaining how Razer has really started to deliver lately. Because of Razer, I have clocked in some studio time, met some major hip hop personalities and really got cracking on the few beats that I have accumulated.

I thought Dwayne would be psyched to hear this news, but all he said was that he wanted to talk to Razer and get an idea of how serious we were and what we have planned to unleash on the Midwest Hip Hop scene.  So…I got Razer on the phone to give him the 411. He pretty much told Dwayne: We can secure your music, get you legal representation, and copyright your work. I have people I’m setting up for marketing. Mooch is gonna help get the live shows organized, and we can launch your career, help you get a record deal…The whole thing.  A year from now we will all be sitting pretty with record deals, touring, etc.  Everything ends cool.  Before hanging up the phone, Dwayne said that we were alright to use the music, and we planned on meeting the next day to finalize things.

A half hour later the phone rings, and nothing could prepare me for the bombshell that Dwayne dropped…

“You’re going to kill me, man.” Dwayne said.

PROPH: “Why am I going to kill you?”

He goes on, “Ahh geez, you’re going to kill me. I didn’t think you were serious.  I thought we were just gonna freestyle and talk about becoming stars.  I didn’t think you were serious.  Now you are hanging out with super stars, working in the studio and doing radio shows.”

PROPH:  “What are you talking about? Calm down, and just tell me what you are talking about!  And how did you not know that I was serious? Look at all the things I gave up. Look at everything I’ve lost.  I lost my girl; I lost my crib; I lost all my equipment and half my friends.  What part of that did you not take seriously?  Now what the hell is the problem?”

“The beats aren’t mine…I stole them.” He said quickly.

PROPH:  “What are you talking about?”

“The beats, I took them from another guy years ago.  You guys can’t use em cause they aren’t mine. They’re his, and he probably sold the rights years ago.”

We spoke a little longer as he clarified that I hadn’t gone deaf and that I heard him right.  I hung up the phone and just looked at Razer.

PROPH: “We are fucked!”

“Huh?” Razer took off his head phones and looked at me.

PROPH:  “Dwayne lied…He stole the beats.”

“Which ones?” Razer asked.

PROPH:  “All of em! The entire CD is shot, and all those weeks of work and writing are for nothing.  We have no CD, no beats, and we are now way behind on the deadline.  Dammit, we’re broke and don’t have time to start beats from scratch, and Chemist can’t make that many quality beats in time, we’re done.  Screwed…I’m gonna kill him.”

Razer just laughed. “Well, at least we found out halfway through the CD’s rough drafts rather then in court after we pressed the damn thing.  No one said this would be easy, and you got to expect some speed bumps.  We just gotta look at this as an opportunity. Now we can buy or make better beats…You keep telling me to get back in the game. And I definitely believe in this project! Do you think this is gonna stop us?”

I was taken aback by how calm he was.  I guess that’s what experience in this industry can do to a person.  Razer just took it in stride.

“I got your back, man.  I believe in you, and I won’t let you fail.” He said.  “Now get your ass home and practice your spoken word, you have a date with B-Sides, and you are going to blow them away this Tuesday!”

My Hip Hop Ship is Sinking

I cannot believe this! Even more shit is going down right now!

After the B-side debut, I decided to focus on recording some more, which is something I have been steadily doing behind the scenes for the past few weeks (with Razer’s help of course!).

We have been working our ass off lately polishing tracks. We’re now 5 songs deep! I went last night to get some paperwork and rights signed off on by Dwayne, and he said we can’t use any of his music.  Apparently, he’s pissed, and I’m not sure why. I think he had hoped it would just be Prophet and Dwayne. Now that Razer’s been helping out a lot on the side, he’s not happy.

I can’t believe he is doing this! We’ve been so incredibly busy writing material for those beats, and now Dwayne wants to take it all away?!?!  What’s more…He is super pissed that I have decided to ditch the gangsta fab direction that he originally wanted.

Razer, Chemist and I came up with a plan though. Instead of getting all upset about this, we are going to call him tomorrow and try to bring him more into the hip hop scene.  We figure we can sign him as a solo artist and promise him some studio time.  This way, he doesn’t have to feel left out, and then hopefully, he won’t be so pissy anymore about the situation. You know, we scratch his back and give him some mic time, so then he can scratch our backs by sharing his beats.

I just hope he agrees to this plan cause he owns 75% of the music for this album…

A Cleveland Hip Hop Debut To Remember

What could go wrong?  I had my bus money. I had my cover charge. I had a positive mind frame, and I had a game plan.  I would get on the bus, head to Coventry, enter B-Sides round 9pm, watch some artists, hit the stage at 10:30, and then head back home.  Simple, right?  WRONG!

I got in B-Sides fine. And at about 9:30/10ish I went to sign up to perform.  I was scheduled to debut at 10:45pm.  There was no turning back now.  Cleveland Hip Hop was about to welcome a new MC, one Prophet The Rebel.

While I was waiting for my stage debut,  I mingled with some cool cats, watched some amazing Cleveland poets and started to flirt with two very fine looking women.  Two things began to hit me at that point.

1)  I had to get ready for my performance.

2)  Why the hell am I flirting with these girls!?  What am I supposed to say at the end of the night “Hey you wanna come back to my place?  The bus will be here in about 45 minutes. We can hop on and go back to my crib.”

FOCUS PROPH

Yeah, I ended up leaving my new found friends and headed on up to the stage.  While waiting in line, I started talking to the guy ahead of me.  Somehow in the conversation I mentioned that I was an MC.  That’s when the guy in charge says, “You’re a rapper?  You can’t go up!  Rappers don’t go up until the second half of the night.”

FUCK!

Immediately, I started the calculations…If I can’t go up until the second half of the night, then I wouldn’t get on that stage until 12:30am at the earliest.  Problem with that is that the buses stop running at midnight.  But I said I would do this…I said there was nothing that would stop me, so bus or not, I was gonna stay put.

One a.m.  roles by, and it’s FINALLY my time.  I headed to the bathroom real quick to get my head right.  Looking in the mirror (ironically, it reminded me of that  scene in of 8 Mile), I tried to shake my nerves and compose myself.  I hear the last MC finishing up (my cue that I’m next), took a deep breath and went up on the stage.

I stood there…Lights burning down on me…Crowd staring, and the band behind me anxiously waiting.  Three, two, one…I took one last deep breath and thought, My freestyle was not going to fail tonight.  I was determined to live up to the hype.

The band fired up, and we were off.  I let loose in a verbal onslaught.  My words and the beat started pounding through the speakers, filling that basement club with my hip hop debut. Both the crowd and time itself seemed to melt away as I performed; I was completely lost in the moment.  Finally, after 4-5 straight minutes of non-stop rhyming off the top of my dome, I finished my last few words perfectly in sync with the band.

And then it happened…….

Nothing!  Absolutely nothing!  I stood there, and it was silent…Not a sound…Not from me, not from the crowd, not from anyone.  You could hear a pin drop.  It only lasted 5-10 seconds but it felt like an eternity until finally my two lady friends from earlier clapped which really made me seem more pathetic.  The ringleader of the night was like “Okay thank you Prophet” in an almost condescending way. (Then again, I could have been reading into that reaction too much.)

Nothing?!  NOTHING?!  I got NOTHING?!

It could only mean one of two things–I either killed it and people had no words; or I sucked, and people were not going to applaud.  I, of course, figured it was the worst of those two options, grabbed my coat and headed home.

I did a lot of thinking on my 30 minute, cold ass lonely walk home.  I arrived back at my crib pissed and confused.  That’s when I decided to call Razer.  I went off on his voice mail, venting all my frustrations. I told him all about the wonderful reception I had, and I told him about how my beat makers haven’t been doing shit lately. I even complained that if  he tells me one more time about how having a car is expensive and a pain in the ass, then I may punch him. Then I wrapped it up saying how fuckin pissed I was and how I  needed to focus on my freestyles and battle raps. Of course, I ended on a high note: “Damnit! Something has to change, and if you have a problem with it, then go fuck yourself!”

So folks, that was my night!

FYI:   I was a little more level-headed and in a little better spirits when Razer aka The RZR called me back this afternoon (Granted, this was after I wrote the majority of my pity-party post above).  So now, I am not as angry as I was when I wrote this but it does represent how I felt at that moment.  So I will leave it as is.  Expect more in the future because B-Sides, I ain’t done with your ass yet!

Razer Hip Hop Two Cents

So Razer The RZR calls me up this week and says,  “What’s up Proph? How was B-sides, and are you ready to go on our next lil trip?  It should only take a day to get up to this studio, and this guy is psyched to hear you do your thing!  I’m not even gonna tell ya who it is cause you’ll flip.”

Remembering that horrible night at B-Sides and how I thought the hip hop sky was falling, I responded: “I don’t know man.  I’m just not feeling it right now.”

I told him the whole story and waited to hear him tell me how much I blew it or how there will be other days or something.  But he didn’t.  In fact…his take was entirely different from what I had expected.  He said simply said, “So?!”

Proph :  “Uh what do you mean, so?”

Razer :  “I mean so what!?  Look, it was just a battle, just freestyling…So what?!  Come on, it’s not talked about much, but you and I both know that the truth is 75% (if not more) of “freestyling and battling” is pre-written or pre-practiced rhymes.  MC’s go into their mental rolodex and grab a line here or rhyme there and paste together a flow in some juvenile attempt to make the other MC look bad (minus maybe you and a select few others.)  After all, who the hell else can rap about Star Wars on the cuff like you pulled off on the radio.  That was crazy and hilarious!”

Then he went on, “You know what? Freestyles don’t sell!  At best, freestyles are what their name implies, “free.”  I (Razer The RZR) got tired of hearing my rhymes on other peoples stuff  back in the days, but what do you expect when you hand out freestyles?  People aren’t downloading freestyles onto their Zunes and iPods. They aren’t played on the radio, and they don’t make music videos to them.  The hours rappers put into crafting their mental rolodex could be better spent working on song structure, learning how to write a hook and how to best “ride” a beat.  Nas said it best man, ‘Hip hop needs to grow up.’  We need to focus on the music, not on lyrical cock-measuring contests.  So you got beat in a meaningless freestyle.  But can you write better then him? Can you compose a more meaningful rhyme?  There is a reason why people like Nas and Saul Williams grab a pen and a pad and take time crafting a song…Because their rhymes are poetic hip hop masterpieces.”

Razer finished up by saying something like this: “You want to be a legend or battle on the streets for the rest of your life?  You want to be a rapper or an artist? A battler or a hip hop poet?  Oh and as for that review, just never let it happen again.  Work so damn hard, practice so damn much that critics may be able to say they don’t like your music. After all, not everyone’s taste is the same. But they will never doubt your drive, determination and sacrifice to the art.  That’s just my hip hop two cents!”

So I admit…He may have a point.  It kind of picked me back up. I ended up telling him: “You know…You may be right.  I’ll be ready in a few hours to head out.  And with that I am off to hand out, network and meet some more people in the “Industry.”

But I’m also interested in hearing my Punk Revolution Blog readers’ take…What’s your 2 cents?

Drop me a comment.

Cleveland Hip Hop’s Sky Might Fall

The sky might fall; It may have fallen; It is falling! However way you want to put it, Tuesday night’s rendez-vous at B-Sides sucked!

It’s been a long time since my battling days, and I admit, it’s been a long time since I battled people in hip hop on a daily basis. It’s been an even longer time since Kid Cudi and I faced off.  Why am I reminiscing on my rap battling days, and where am I going with this?  Well, let me bring you up to speed on how B-sides went…

The night started off on a bad foot.  A few hours before I headed over to B-sides I decided to read some of my reviews for The Aperture.  It all started well enough “Isaiah Isaac presents a far more pleasant human being, but” (there had to be a “but”) doesn’t quite have the discipline or acting chops to stay in character…” . I know that criticism is part of the learning and growing process, but this one really hit me hard.  I couldn’t help but start thinking: Where does this guy get the right to tell me I don’t have the chops?  If I was that horrible…Then how did I get the part? How was I able to breeze by to the top of the class in the theater department? How come no one else seems to think so low of me? I’ve been getting raving reviews about how far I have grown as a performing artist…Until now.

Of course last Tuesday, somewhere deep in the back of my mind I let this critic get to me. I started thinking, “Maybe he is right.”  Not that I don’t have the chops…But maybe I did not dedicate myself enough to the role.  I’ll admit, I have trouble buckling down, staying focused and doing what has to get done.  When I should study, I don’t. When I should be practicing, I often chill with my friends instead. When I am supposed to write…I’d rather play video games.

Maybe the review stings so much because I know I could have done better. Although I think he was too harsh, maybe some part of it was true.  (Side note: This is not the mind frame one should be in before their debut, but that’s exactly where I was when I picked up the bus to B-Sides.)

I headed in and asked about the night’s events.  They gave me the 411,  but told me I had to leave until the open mic night began, which fortunately for me was another hour and a half wait.  I figured that I could use the extra time to clear my head.

I headed back outside where a bunch of people had got together to cypher (a circle in which people take turns freestyling).  One group caught my ear because of how hot one of the MC’s was spitting his game.  I jumped on in the circle and waited until I got my chance to jump in.  When the timing was perfect, I stepped in and began flowing, but I got a little overzealous.  (I say this because this friendly cypher was about to transform.)

As I did my thing, the crowd got hyped, and the air filled with the sound of “ohhhs.”  This did not sit well with the cypher’s original star, Freddie.  He cut me off and switched it from freestyling to direct attacks at me. The battle had begun.  He came at me, and I cut him off and spit right back in his face. The crowd grew silent, he took a step closer into my personal space. I took a step closer into his. We were eye to eye, nose to nose. His rhymes got more and more vicious until finally….finally… I just stopped.  I was beaten, hands fuckin down beat.  This 18 year old kid had me.  For the first time, the crowd erupted with an earsplitting “OHHHHHHHHHHH,” and this time it was not for me.

Defeated and at an all time low I headed into B-sides.

Door Guy : “Five Dollars!”

Proph : “Huh?” I responded.

Door Guy : “Five Dollars to get in,” he said.

Proph : “But I was already in the bar, you guys told me to step out a sec so you could get all set up.”

Door Guy : “Yup, and now it’s five dollars to get in.”

Proph : “But all I got is bus fare!”

Door Guy : “Then sorry bro you’re not getting in.”

With that I headed back up the stairs and waited for the bus and wouldn’t you know it, at a bone chilling 40 something degrees, the rain came pouring down.

I made it home soaked, defeated and thoroughly depressed.

It was not a good night…

Prophet The Rebel out!

RAZER HIP HOP INTERVENTION PLAN B COUNT

Proph here with a quick Cleveland Hip Hop update…First off, my sister is okay now, but they aren’t exactly sure whats wrong yet, so I’m just praying for the best. (As a recap, she went into the ER last week when she started having some stomach pains.)

I also want to take a second to say thanks for reading my Midwest hip hop blog and spreading the word about my dream to make it big. It really means a lot when I see the stats go up, and I hope you keep telling your friends to read, what I think, is the most real and interesting hip hop blog out there. Of course blogging about hip hop means that I also tend to read other hip hop blogs, and I have to be honest…Most of the hip hop blogs out there are boring. I just hope the drama known as my life is at least good for one thing, a great story to read. (Oh and if you want to add the Punk Revolution blog to your blog roll, I would be super thankful and get you into a show for free, promise!)

Now moving on, like I mentioned in my prior post, I’ve been meeting up with some amazing people on the road. Even if it’s killing me to keep it quiet, I’ll save all of those stories for one big post some other time, maybe when I have a dull week.

As for Plan B, the count in the convincerazer@gmail account is at a staggering 56 email requests, but I still need more! So please get some more friends to email…Or at least leave a comment on the blog! Between your emails to Razer The RZR, and the people we met also pushing him to get back on the mic, I should be able to pull this off.

It has been absolutely crazy here. We keep meeting, talking, networking, and hell, just chilling with …(can’t say yet) and everyone is loving our freestyles. Razer will play a beat and I’ll just go off, then all of us will keep dogging Razer till he spits something and BAM, magic man, pure magic. Everyone seems to like our stuff and keeps asking when we are going to put out something. That’s when Razer pumps the breaks and shines the spotlight on me saying well, “we” aren’t doing anything, but Prophet here is going to blow up this summer. You watch!

(My two cents: Yes, Razer, “we” are going to blow up this summer. You watch!)

Oh and did I mention in between all this crazy shit I managed to spark something between me and this girl in school. It’s been a couple weeks now, and I have been hesitant to say anything here. (I don’t want to jinx myself, you know.) I think this one may be different. Maybe I’ll dedicate a few posts to her in the coming weeks. Between traveling, school, getting sick, getting better, trying to start a relationship and writing music, this has been one hell of a jam-packed week.

By the way, look out because my Cleveland Hip Hop debut will be tomorrow night at B-Sides, and no pain or exhaustion will stop me this time. I can’t wait! Hit me with a comment here or email me if you want to meet up with me in Coventry at B-sides.

Proph out!