Midwest Hip Hop Unite

Prophet The Rebel here with an update on the best in the Midwest hip hop scene.  First off, I have a question: Who is killing it these days behind the boards and making killer beats?  With Dilla gone, and Kanye not returning my nor Razer’s calls, and Dwayne being a blatant, lying S.O.B., it seemed as though we had our backs against the wall this weekend when Razer and I met up to discuss some things.  It all changed when Razer’s HDTV had issues.  What does Razer’s HDTV have to do with hip hop, you ask?

Here’s the story.  Razer was talking to this guy he sees everyday at his day job.  Usually they talk about xbox 360 or something else meaningless, but this HDTV issue caused their conversation to change direction a bit.

Razer: Ya well it sucks.  I won’t be seeing you on xbox live for awhile.  But on the bright side, at least I can focus on my hip hop now.

New Guy: Uhhh hip hop?  What you mean?

Razer:  Oh I recently got dragged out of retirement and have decided to help out this guy, Prophet The Rebel, put together the best Midwest Hip Hop CD the world has ever seen.  Now that my HDTV’s dead, I can really focus on making this Cleveland hip hop CD. There’s just one problem…Now that I’m ready to devote all of my extra time into this hip hop project, we’ve had to scrap all of the work we’ve done so far because as luck would have it, we don’t have any beats. I got to start from scratch, and now I’ve got all the free time in the world!

New Guy: Wait…What do you mean you are out of retirement? What’s your name?

Razer: Well, I was once known as a lil underground Detroit rapper by the name of Razer.

New Guy: No! You’re  him?  Wait a minute…If you guys need beats, I make beats, man, and I’d love to help you guys out.

Cue the sound of angels from upon high complete with their cliché white spotlight.

Razer: You what!? We need to talk son!

And that is how we met The Katalyst!  Note: He’s a  great up-and-coming Cleveland producer.

Just when life could not get any better I get a surprise ring on my cell.

It was my boy Mooch: Remember the radio show in January?

Proph: Yes, sir.

Mooch:  Well The Kameleon wants to help and produce music for you.

I’ll tell you…Life has a funny way of making things happen right when you need them, huh? Right after that, I made plans to go off to church and Razer headed off to synagogue because we both had some major thanking to do.

It looks as though my Cleveland Hip hop dreams will be coming true after all. Now with beats in place, it’s time to focus on enacting hip hop plan B!  Razer will join a small super group with Chemist, Mooch and myself! (Insert evil laugh).

Prophet The Rebel, Razer, Mooch, The Katalyst, Chemist and Kameleon will make hip hop history.  Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit have united.

Cleveland Hip Hop Love Story: The Sequel

Proph here interrupting my regular Cleveland Hip Hop updates to drop a post about my personal life…

I passingly mentioned this earlier but I have met someone.  In school, I have been friends with this beautiful Asian girl, Lucy, for awhile.  We’ve been passing each other in the hallways since freshman year, shot a “hi” back and forth every once in awhile, and for the past year, we’ve talked non-stop on Facebook.  Well, our relationship spilled out from the internet and into real life recently. We began to talk and hang out in the real world.  We found out quickly that we get along in real life just as well as we had on Facebook…For one thing, we really make each other laugh.  And unlike Sara, she is actually supportive of my hip hop dreams.  Lucy’s been behind me 100% in my acting and hip hop careers which is a breath of fresh air these days.

Well, one night we were chilling at my crib (the fact that she sees where I live and still likes me is special in and of itself), and then in one of those stereo-typical awkward romance movie moments, our friendship became something more.  You know what I’m talking about, right? That silent moment where you stop talking and look in each other’s eyes and get that funny feeling in your pants, errr…stomach.  Before I knew it, we were kissing.  In my head thoughts were racing, but they weren’t really the kind of thoughts you’re average college guy should have…No, Prophet The Rebel has to start thinking:

What the hell is going on?

Are we ruining our friendship?

Could someone actually like me, actually not be using me?

Do I deserve someone this great?

This is going to blow up in my face!

And so on and son on.  I interrupted the moment and had to ask: “Lucy, are you sure you want to do this?  Are you sure this is the right thing for us?”

“I have never been more sure about something in my life,” she responded.

The next few days were a little odd, for me at least.  We had those funny, puppy love type conversations: So what are we? Can I see you tonight?  You know…All that crappy love story type stuff.  And I, for the first time in a while began to feel a little joy in my personal life.  But the point of this post isn’t so much to tell you guys I finally have someone. It isn’t to gross you out with my love life; it’s really about me and my messed up view of life.

See as much as I should be happy that I found someone new, I’m not.  I have been surrounded by what can best be described as poisonous relationships for what seems like more then a lifetime.  Beyond my own messed up love life, my sister, my friends, they all have relationships that involve fighting, cheating or abuse, physical or mental.  I haven’t had a good relationship since I met the love of my life, Anesia, and look how that ended.

Now I’ll be honest, Razer has quickly become one of my closest friends. Watching him and his wife, Nikki, together has been a breath of fresh air.  To those who know them, you know exactly what I am talking about.  They click as friends, as a couple, as a team.  Sure they have their ups and downs, but they have really given me a new found hope on love and marriage.  If you don’t believe me, check out her Clueless Newlywed Blog, and you’ll see a glimpse of what I’m talking about.

The point of all this is that being around them makes me want more out of my relationships.  I don’t want to be messing around anymore; I want something solid and lasting.  I want someone I can grow with, someone who makes me a better person.  I want all these games to end and have a fulfilling relationship.  The problem is that as much as Lucy says that what we have is true, and as much fun as I have being around her, I can’t help but hear this voice in the back of my head that says “Proph, don’t get too comfortable.  She will screw you like everyone else.  This will come crashing down like everything else in your life.”

I know this is wrong.  I know I shouldn’t tell myself that, but I can’t help but think the worst.  I do this about everything, and I can’t seem to break the cycle. Maybe that’s because for me, life has never broke its cycle. When you’ve been shit on as long as I have, it’s tough to believe in yourself.  So as much as I like to believe in “us,” and that my life in general will be get better, a large part of me can’t shake this feeling that failure and pain is right around the corner.

Any advice will be more than welcome at this point.

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.