Sittin’ in Wicker Chairs with Sir Thelonious [SIDE B]

2021, Discussions

aw shit, it’s time to flip the record…

SIR THELONIOUS and MAX MCMAHON are still sittin’ in those wicker chairs.

Coded Language
(nu)ubian soul


MM: Oh, I turned thirty in November, so.

ST: Damn, you’re gonna be thirty, bro?

MM: I am thirty.

ST: Oh, you turned thirty in November?

MM: I. Am. Thirty.

ST: So, you’re gonna be thirty-one this year?

MM: I’m gonna be—don’t say that. Oh.

ST: Wowwww.

MM: Yeah [Laughs]

ST: Bro!

MM: Thirty forever, now.

ST: Sheesh!

MM: Time to count down.

[MM and ST laugh out loud]

MM: The old people rule.

ST: It’s a beautiful thing, though.

MM: Yeah, no, it’s nice.

ST: Like, I’ll be thirty-two this year.

MM: Nice, yeah.

ST: Yeah. My lady [Mufasa Bastet] just entered into her thirties as well.

MM: Congratulations.

Mufasa B.: Thanks.

MM: Welcome.

MB: [Laughs]

ST: Yeah, it’s definitely been, like, an eye-opener for her in a lot of ways. For me, in a lot of ways, too.

MM: Do you feel like a cognitive difference? I feel like I’m hitting a new growth in my brain cells.

ST: For sure, for sure.

MM: I hope it doesn’t reach the point where I’m forty and I feel like my plasticity is down, and I’m not learning anything new.

ST: Nah.

MM: Like, that’s the thing I worry—’cause I see a lot of the older generation, I don’t know, it might be a generational thing, and maybe the area that I’m just in, but it just seems like a lot of the old people, they just feel like they’re right, or something. Or they don’t want to hear it from you.

ST: Yeah. Woo!

MM: Maybe it’s ’cause you’re younger, but, like–

ST: We literally just did an episode on our podcast [The Authentic Hippy] about bridging the generational gap. About, like, the elders just being so complacent within their stance, of their truth, and not even allowing, like, the younger generation to have a voice, to be listened to, to consider what they’re talking about, so we can come together as one. And again, I don’t want to always blame that on age, sometimes it’s just the – I don’t wanna say ignorance – but sometimes it just comes from the placement of, like, where the people are, how they were raised, what they grew up with, like what times that they were in when they were younger, uh, because even a lot of the elders when they were, like–let’s say if you have an elder that’s sixty-years-old trying to have a conversation with, like, a thirty-year-old, sometimes they look at themselves when they were thirty and compare it to how the kids are at thirty now. It’s like, “Oh, I would never do what you’re doing right now, so I’m not gonna even listen to you because when I was your age, or back in my day, like, this is what we had to do.” But not even take into consideration of, like, how the times are different. Like, how things are different for this generation, for last generation. It’s like you have to allow yourself to be open to at least have the conversation to hear them out, to meet in the middle, to like—“These are our differences. I’m this way because of this.” “I’m this way because of this.” “Okay. So, how do we meet in the middle?”

MM: And it’s like now in this day and age, it’s like there’s no excuse for the gap in a way.

ST: It’s not. It’s not.

MM: Like, back in the day, I mean – when I’m talkin’ about back in the day, like Sixties, you know? That was the same thing happening then, like the thirty, twenty-year-olds in the Sixties, like, you know? The older generation was looking at it like, “They’re ruining our society.” Well, is society that great right now? I mean, look at all the, you know, race problems, and segregations, and violence based on race and everything, like, that was crazy and outright back then, you know what I mean? Like, in front of your face. So, that generational gap was harder to bridge because people were stuck in a mindset already, but you could still compare it, though. Alright, say like when jazz came out, right? When jazz music came out, it was like, “What’s this noise? I want my classical—” whatever popular recorded music was before jazz, I guess even.

ST: Yeah, I wonder, like, was it—mmm. That’s actually a good question.

MM: I mean, jazz is one of the first recorded forms of music. One of the first recordings I think was, like, Dixieland, or something like that.

ST: I believe so. Man, you’re right. But, what was before jazz? That’s a good question.

MM: Like, what was the first recorded [forms of music]? ’Cause there’s sheet music, folky kind of, or classical music.

ST: Classical, for sure.

MM: Ya know, and upper echelon kind of mentality about music, so like, when jazz came out, it was this dirty, grimy club music, “What is goin’ on?” And now, like, I’m thinking about it – me being thirty, and I’m looking at the music now, and I’m like, ugh, the music that’s coming out is kind of trash right now, but it almost seems kind of like on a more, I’m sorry, but on a more objective level. Like, you can scientifically study that, ya know, there’s something going wrong in the music industry, ’cause it’s, ya know, popular music I’m referencing.

ST: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. ’Cause it’s the trajectory of it is, like, off. It’s like, it should have hit this certain plateau of sound, and sonically as well, but it’s kind of like–

MM: Yeah, the growth is hittin’–

ST: Yeah […] it’s reach its peak. But, listening to how we’re speaking about music right now in our thirties, same thing they were doing back in the day.

MM: Right. It was like, “Oh, what’s that noise?”

ST: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like, we’re literally saying the same thing.  So, it’s interesting how that goes.

MM: But, the comparison is that, now, in jazz music, it wasn’t like it was promoting—like, it was promoting something in your consciousness ’cause it was mostly instrumental music, improvisational music, like it was breaking out of structure, so that’s where the first thing was like, “Well, there’s no structure. They’re just riffing for days out here.”

ST: Like, “This note, why is this horn sound here, like just blatant?”

MM: Yeah, like, “That’s a wrong note.” Like, ya know what I mean?

ST: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MM: Like, “They’re not playing in a scale, proper scale. They’re not in the major scale.” Like, ya know? That kind of analysis of music, which I guess, is even more of an analytical argument that you could put to [jazz specifically]. But, now if you read popular music lyrics, it’s like, “Pop a xanny,” ya can’t even understand what they’re saying sometimes.

ST: Ya really can’t. Ya really can’t.

MM: And that’s what people were saying about rap music even in the beginning, but nnnno, you can understand what they were saying. Like, you know, it wasn’t like that. Like, ya know? Now it’s more of, like, promoting something else. You know what I mean? I feel like it’s promoting something else and it’s not from the streets, this is [supposed to be] the sound of the streets, this is what the industry thinks that should be the sound of the streets, promoted back to the streets. Ya know what I mean? You’re not gonna have your, uh, someone that’s tryna break everyone out of the mentality be popular music, like, you know what I mean?

ST: That’s true. And again, it goes back to–

MM: Unless you have a sound that just–

ST: That’s what I’m saying, it goes back to the sonic, like how it sounds sonically. And–

MM: ’Cause the music itself could be complicated, could be complex, or at least even the minimalist makes you think, “Wow, there’s not much really goin’ on, but this is interesting. It’s doing something to my mind in the music,” but the actual—what the words are saying, that’s the thing I’m talkin’ about, the analysis of the words. It’s like the content. Now, jazz music was instrumental, so how do you–?

ST: True. And when voice was on jazz – and this is sometimes when I can compare it to how the music is now, because I also think at times we give it too much power in regards of, like, what people are saying or not saying when they are saying something – ’cause even back with jazz, like remember, scatting was a whole thing, too.

MM: Right, right.

ST: Like, you really couldn’t make out what they were saying when it was scatting. Some people were using actual words, but it rhythmically, it sounded beautiful. But, think about what was, like, really transforming at that time, ’cause a lot of—and also, a lot of times scatting was like a different language for people to understand each other. Like, kind of like some coded language, coded verbiage.

MM: Yeah, exactly. Coded language is a very important thing when talking–it’s the reason why it was instrumental, it’s like, ya know?

ST: Exactly. Exactly. Like speaking through the music. Like, um, ’cause even my foundation of a rapper, MC, or lyricist, you know, like, that comes from scatting. Like, putting actual words with the rhythm of a scat. So, it’s like–’cause like, if anybody ever asked me, like, “Yo, what kind of music do you do?” As far as me rapping, I would say scat rap. Or, like, jazz rap. Because, bro, I say Jazzy all the fuckin’ time.

MM: [Laughs]

ST: That’s my foundation. That’s the idea–

MM: Jazzy with the trademark. [Laughs]

ST:  And I still need to trademark that shit. I do.

MM: Honestly.

ST: I definitely need to. Uh, but, yeah, that’s with me enjoying jazz, with me just listening to the different waves of where jazz took you, like you know, Thelonious Monk. That’s why I named myself Sir Thelonious. His music – just how he is on the piano, bro.

MM: Yeah, he was an interesting case. Somebody would look at Thelonious Monk, and be like, “He’s crazy.” Like, he was yellin’, probably was dressed like a madperson on the streets, like yellin’ some days, maybe, I don’t know [editor’s note: There’s really no evidence to suggest he would have these sort of outbursts – on the contrary, Monk had extended bouts of silence]. But, like—and the music he made was, like, jaunty almost […] and people would say he was doin’ it wrong, or something. He was playin’ weird and offbeat, but listen to that.

ST: It’s amazing.

MM: Yeah, like you gotta hear him out, ya know? And I understand that—but was Sir Thelonious—I mean…[MM meant to say Thelonious Monk] [Laughs]

ST: [Laughs]

MM: What was Thelonious Monk’s intentions, and everything like that? That’s also another thing, I really feel like jazz music – of course there was the cats that were like, “I’m tryna make the quick buck, I’m tryna play and get these gigs goin’,” but the people that stood out and, like, the legends of the time that were influencing the people that were like, “I gotta make the quick buck and follow the trend, make the quick buck,” the people that were making that music, I don’t even think they were thinking of it in a sense of like, “I’m just tryna make money.” Like, I’m sure Thelonious Monk wasn’t making that much money. Like, I think he was one of the jazz musicians that probably died without a penny to his name kind of story.

ST: I would love to see his story ’cause there’s lots of things I don’t know about him. But that’s the thing with music and artistry as well, so even with everything you just said, that can still be said for these artists nowadays, like the mumble rappers or people saying anything just to like—because it like, sometimes – and I’ve learned this a while ago too – a lot of people make music because the beat is so good, it doesn’t even matter what they’re saying.

MM: Right, yeah.

ST: So, a lot of people would just put words together as if they, like, just freestyled.

MM: And that’s cool. That’s cool.

ST: Yeah. The art of freestylin’ – ya already know. But I don’t think a lot of people think about it to that degree of, like, what I’m saying can translate in a certain way. It’s like, “Fuck. This shit make me feel good, like, when I hear this beat, so I was like, I’m up in the party / shit, I’m sippin’ Bacardi,” ’cause, like, you can get lost in the rhythm of that, which is also like an undercoating, like language too, getting lost in the rhythm. So, that’s why I don’t mind a lot of mumble rappers.

MM: Nah, I don’t mind mumble—like, I don’t mind the genre of mumble rap. I think people would say, “Mumble rap – that sucks.”

ST: Yeah. Nah, it’s—it’s fire. But, yeah.

MM: Yeah. There’s things where it could work. But what is coded in the music, and popular music, when you turn on the radio, what the kids are listenin’ to? They think that’s the life you have to live, and they look up lyrics, and they take the lyrics to heart. It’s like, you could make the argument, “They’re only doing it for the fitting-in-the-rhythm – kinda like scatting,” but, nah, they’re looking up the lyrics, they think that’s cool to do, “I’m gonna take Xanax now and listen to this music to really understand,” because the interesting about drug culture is it’s very intertwined with counterculture, music, and stuff like that, so, “I wanna live the life of the counterculture, so I have to take these drugs to truly get it, to understand, and if I don’t, then I’m not authentic in what I’m listening to.”

ST: Or, “I’m not cool.”

MM: While meanwhile, the actual person that made the song, they just said it on the track, they don’t even do any drugs. [Laughs] You know?

ST: And that’s the thing too, ’cause even if you go back in the day to someone like Jimi Hendrix. Like, he was talking about all the shit he was doin’, like taking all those psychedelics, ya know, like acid and all that shit.

MM: And literally took it every day of his life.

ST: Every day. Yeah, so, it becomes this line, this barrier of like are you trying to implement the music that you hear? Are you trying to implement the lifestyle of the artist that you like? And sometimes, like, they don’t exist within the same realm, they don’t exist within the same space, because what you said, the artist sometimes is not really about that life, but they’re causing an influence on people who are influenced by them, or they are living that life but they’re also tryna tell you not to do it, because this is like, “I’m expressing to you my demons for you to get it through your head, like, yeah it may sound good, and yeah I might make a song about, like, doing xannies and poppin’ pills and shit, but I’m also telling you, like, don’t do this shit. Like, I’m still battling with myself. You don’t know what this industry is like. I’m trying to be the medium of the industry, me, and then my voice to you.”

MM: It’s careful, it has to be articulated in a way. You don’t wanna be corny like, “I do xannies and I’m goin’ out my mind and goin’ crazy and all this stuff–”

ST: Yeah, because again, that doesn’t sell. That doesn’t sell.

MM: Yeah. And like, “Oh, by the way, don’t do what I’m doin’.” [Laughs]

ST: Yeah, but it’s still artistic. And for it to be 2021, bro, it’s no excuse for you not to have a message, and to make it, like, pop for people to really get it, ’cause you can say those things, but if you know what pulls in the kids, what kinda music pulls in the kids – what kinda beats, what kinda rhythms, what kinda cadence – you can still say that, you can still say these things.

MM: Yeah, say the things that are real to you, you know what I mean? And say the things—like, expression is, at the end of the day, the key point of music.

ST: Indeed. Indeed.

MM: I don’t know. Maybe people are just more easily influenced nowadays and [you have] to be more careful with what you say. Can’t diminish what’s happening with music, but the artist has to take more responsibility to break the mold a bit. And, I mean, I know there’s artists that do try to break the mold, but the artist tryna break the mold – it’s the same mentality – they’re not doing that for money, they’re not trying to do it for popularity. It’s hard, it’s a tough game these days, it’s not the same, it’s not the same. I was thinking, like, maybe streaming music, the accessibility to music, and the easiness of listening to music at your convenience is diminishing the value of it, too. It’s, you know—so, it doesn’t matter what’s being said or what you’re hearing now. “I put this on, I put the same playlist of fifty-some-odd songs, because that’s background music of my life, and that’s it.” You don’t realize what those lyrics are doing to you internally, you know what I mean? Like, on the underlying level. You’re just trying to be cool, and maintain–

ST: Trying to be cool, or like, again, the background music. And depending on what you’re doin’, like, you won’t change it. It just keeps goin’ and goin’ and goin’. But, to make another point in regards about influence, I will say that I give kids a lot more credit nowadays as far as, like, kinda just standing in their own truth. It’s moreso like the generation above them that’s kinda still stuck in that wave of, like, really being influenced by these rappers. Like, you’ll see, like, twenty, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven-year-olds mimicking what they hear in this music rather than kids. Kids nowadays, like teenagers, they’re like, “Oh shit. I just learned about Kid Cudi. Oh shit, Kid Cudi went through some shit, I don’t wanna go through that, but his music is dope. Andre 3000?”

MM: Yeahhh! Yeah, they’re more into older artists, and the 90’s sound, the 90’s aesthetic, and everything like that.

ST: Yeah. Like, the early 2000’s, the early 2000’s hip-hop – alternative hip-hop – is what these kids are moreso, um, kinda influenced by. And, again, that’s teaching them about drugs, that’s teaching them about anxiety, that’s teaching them about depression.

MM: But if you’re really listening – listening listening, like, ya know? You take it all into scope.

ST: Yes.

MM: Uh, the thing about the early 2000’s and the 90’s is that it’s the albums, so you listen to the album in whole–

ST: Yes, the albums!

MM: It’s like, “Oh, the single’s cool,” of course the single is like a party single, but if you listen to the next song on the album, it’s like, “Careful at the party – wear ya rubbers.”

ST: That’s a fact, like, “Hey / I went to a party / then I went home / I don’t feel good / Yeah.”

MM: [Laughs]

ST: [Laughs] Like, shit like that. And that was the era of, like, when albums were really important, too. Like the early to, I would say, the latter years of the 2000’s. Maybe like 2000 to 2007.

MM: Mhm, so funny. 2008, everybody says, 2008 was the turning point for everything.

ST: It was! It was! Because a lot of people’s attention span got shorter. A lot of people wanted to hear music just like the single. And that was kind of in the brink of coming off the Ringtone Era, too. ’Cause, so it’s like, if it’s not like a ringtone song, if it’s not like that catchy, it’s like, “Yeah. Okay. I only wanna hear thirty seconds of this. I wanna hear a minute of this.”

MM: Mhm. Something to repeat at school, like, so you could sound cool in the classroom.

ST: Yeah, and lengths of songs got shorter and shorter and shorter. A song would be, like, four minutes to now it’s like a minute and thirty seconds.

MM: Mhm. Which is cool. I like—I do like kind of shorter songs, like, if you do it well, if you have a lot of changes in short amount of time, but the thing is, it’s not like that. It’s just, like, ya know, you got your hook. It’s a hook for a minute.

ST: Yep. Yeah, it’s like an interlude. It’s like an interlude. Your single is an interlude, which is fire ’cause everybody can’t pull it off, but, yeah. Yeah, man.

[MM and ST crack up]


MM: Yeah. That’s deep.

ST: Very deep. But, ay, you take what you can get from it and you give what you want people to receive from it. So that’s why I’m very conscious about, like, the music that I do, that I have influence on with people, what they take from my music, what I am saying, ’cause there’s a lot of undertones in my music, but at the same time, even me being in a metaphorical state with my lyrics, you still get from it what you need to, and it’s about two to three definitions that you can get. It’s like a, um—wudyoucallit? It’s like a—I just said it the other day, too. It’s like a triple entendre of, like, ways that you can take my lyrics, ’cause I want you to think, like, I rap about shit to make you think. I don’t you to ever walk away from you hearing me rap, and just be like, “I knew exactly everything he was talking about because it made this sense in this one pattern.” It’s like, “Nah, like damn, like, wait, hold on. That shit kinda connected to, like, the first song on the album.” Like–and that’s why, like, I’m big on the albums too. Like, my first album echoes of a (nu)bian soul was connected each track ’cause the whole album told a story. And, it’s like, you can listen to that shit on a single play or, like even if you skip to another song, sonically still where I just left you from the other one. So, intention.

: Yeah, that was a genius piece of art, man. I love that.

ST: I appreciate it, bro. I wanna get that album on vinyl, like, so bad. I might make that a gift for myself ’cause it’s gonna be six years this year, just the original release.

MM: Wow. I wanna play those songs live again.

ST: Yeah! Yeah! Aw, bro–

MM: Those were my favorite live experiences.

ST: So, [Mufasa’s] favorite song of mine is cnn..

MM: Ohhhhhhhhhh!!!

ST: And that’s one song that we jam hard on.

MM: Woooo! [Laughs] I still feel the energy.

ST: That’s the—that’s the spirit! Yo! That energy takes over all of us, man.

MM: Feel the build up. [Laughs]

ST: Yeah! Like, right? Like. We jus’ perked up when we said it, like. That song still holds so much power, man. So much power.

MM: Yo, but, manumission..

ST: manumission is the jaun, too. Aw, the bassline on that one when you play the bass?

MM: Yeahhh.

ST: Crazy.

MM: All credits to Tamen [Hade] on that one, but playing that bassline, the intensity of that bassline, and playing that song – yo, I’m not lying – when we were playing with the Max drummer and everything, I swear I was about to cry, man. The song was touchin’ my soul.

ST: Like, that’s what it’s about, man. That’s what it’s about. From, like, the instrumentation that goes into it, from the lyrics, from how it gels together, how it’s being performed, how it’s being received. Like, it’s a trance. It’s like a necessary trance. It’s like you’re still in the full embodiment of what’s going on, but at the same time you’re allowed to, like, escape that for a second to kinda see yourself outside of that experience for you to really have control over what’s going on. It’s like–that was the single for the project, bro. So, that song means a lot to me. That was the—I think that was the last song I recorded for the album. And, yeah, manumission.. into cnn.., like, those two songs, they’re parallels, like. But, yeah. But definitely working on some new music this year. I’m pushing myself to release an album this year. I’m gonna do a very, like, “Oh shit! Sir Thelonious got a new album out?!” […] I’m just gonna release it, and, um, there’s gonna be a build up to it. Like, I’m gonna make it aesthetically creative.

MM: Are you gonna have some of the others songs that you put out? Like, the one hits that you put out? Like, se7en transits?

ST: So, that, if I do, it’s gonna have to be on a different beat because that’s a J Dilla beat that I recorded on.

MM: Awww.

ST: So, a lot of stuff that’s on Soundcloud is on somebody else’s beat.

MM: But that’s cool, I mean, to have those tracks just floatin’ around and have the project be an entirely different thing.

ST: That’s true. That’s true. So, even with that, se7en transits ago.., the second part of the verse was the last video I did for Thelonious Tuesdays. So, I’m rolling it out, slowly but surely. Like, I’m tryna see how long I’m gonna do Thelonious Tuesdays every week. Uh, I’m gonna kinda switch it up soon, maybe do some’ with beats, and just get real creative widdit, man. ’Cause that’s, again, pushing me more to, like, record, to work on beats, to write, all that jazz, so. The music is there, and that’s one thing that I was reawakening within myself, ’cause it was a while when I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t doing anything. The most I was doing was doing photography, and even that was, like, kinda, like. Yeah, so. I don’t wanna say I’m back in the space that I should be in, but I’m finally feeling full.

MM: I know what you mean. I’m getting to that point, too. Ya know? ’Cause I’m somebody that has a million and one things always happening to the point where it’s like I can’t do any of it because I got too much now, and I have to, like, take a step back. Uh, I’m writing a book, I actually just finished writing a book.

ST: Congrats, man.

MM: Yeah. Um, tryna get that to an editor, get it officially edited, and all that stuff. And then, um, I was doing the beats for a little bit, making Seventh Jhana and everything.

ST: Yeah. I remember, yeah.

MM: Yeah, and I was bringing that back, because that vibe is just–

ST: Yeah, that’s how I met you, like, on that vibe.

MM: Yeah!

ST: Like, when I saw you do the show with Rughda.

MM: Right, uh-huh.

ST: And then when I did my little research on you, I was like, “Oh. This dude is dope. He makes beats too?”

MM: Yeah, exactly. So, I was getting back into that and doing it with Beatstars, like, I wanna make it something. Get it out there and work with people that are beyond just me making the beats and putting it on Soundcloud. Put value to it in a way, ya know? But it’s hard. It almost conflicts with my own self in a way, it’s like, “Well, it’s Seventh Jhana, though,” and it’s like a spiritual feeling, and it’s like, is it for money? Or is it for—so it put me in a mind state where it can get confused almost, and I’m like, “Well, this is Seventh Jhana.” Like, it gets too much into the ego, but that’s the thing I have to, like, get myself beyond as well, um, and just do it, and forget the label of it.

ST: You gotta do it. ’Cause I was doing the same thing with my music, like. ’Cause, again, a lot of spirituality is talked about in my music to a point where I wasn’t even allowing myself to, like, have people pay for my music. It’s like, this is gonna reach you the way that it was supposed to, but also giving people that option of paying for your art is a beautiful thing.

MM: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s time. Look at it as more of your donating to the cause, like, ya know?

ST: There ya go. Exactly. Exactly.

MM: If, you know, you wanna see me survive in life, ya know, unfortunately money is the bows and arrows, ya know? So, supply me so I can live, so I can focus on this.

ST: Thas real. Thas real.

MM: Um, so, that’s the mentality. But, yeah, I gotta put you on some of the new beats that I did, too.

ST: Please do. Please do.

MM: I do have it on Beatstars, and if you ever want one of the beats, I won’t make you pay for it. [Laughs]

ST: Word? Nah, don’t tell me that, bro. Don’t tell me that.

MM: ’Cause, also, with making beats, it’s like, I don’t wanna get myself stuck in a style. I have so many ideas, I would wanna make Seventh Jhana beyond making beats. I would wanna make that a full experience, you know? I would love to have, like, a horn section, do a live band, and use those beats to make ’em into live performances, and like, parts where it’s jazz, essentially, ya know? So, I always want to hold on to that for the rest of my life.

ST: [Laughs] As you should. I like that.

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Sir Thelonious and Empress Mufasa Bastet produce a podcast called THE AUTHENTIC HIPPY

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Sittin’ in Wicker Chairs with Sir Thelonious [SIDE A]

2021, Discussions

SIR THELONIOUS is a rapper, lyricist, MC, photographer, DJ, music therapist of sorts, and a man of many names

MAX MCMAHON is the editor of THAT VOODOO

Cultural Genetics

ST and MM were in the centerline of the living room – a creative space and a home office of sorts – sittin’ in wicker chairs, creakin’ as they settled in their seats. The black cat named Nova was a little shy at first, but it started clackin’ around some toy. Mufasa typed away on something – dunno what – at a desk in the corner. They were gettin’ caught up – damn its been a while. Strange how the artistic pursuit doesn’t always quite line up with the working world, but it’s all to teach some lesson. If anything, it has taught these two that some of these salesy corporate types got some sneaky language puttin’ spells on people.

Cultural Genetics


ST: Yeah, that’s true. But ah man, and I don’t wanna get too deep into it, but my lady and I were watching What the Health last night, and it was my first time seeing it – it’s maybe her third time seeing it – and man, it was such an eye-opener in regards of like these companies working hand-in-hand, companies that’s telling you what to eat – like, eat healthy, eat safe – but they also have, like, recipes for things that are gonna harm you, so like beef, and like, not really saying the true effect that chicken may have on you.

MM: Ah, man.

ST: And like, getting sponsorships, and like, all this money from companies that are supposed to do the opposite, like, um [snaps], like, Perdue is a sponsor for breast cancer awareness and all that stuff, and it’s like, what the fuck?

MM: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, mhm [laughs].

ST: Like, huh?

MM: Right. It’s weird.

ST: […] Yeah! And not really giving people the option of really knowing what is safe, what is really good for your body, and even saying that like how sugar gives you diabetes, and it’s like, a lot of the meat, if not meat only, gives you diabetes as well.

MM: Wow.

ST: Like turkey, chicken, and shit like that.

MM: Really?

ST: Even learning that, like, the same things as we try to stay away from pork, it has the same amount of things as in it as chicken, so it’s really no difference of, like, if you’re eating pork or chicken.

MM: Right.

ST: So.

MM: Oh my god, so that’s why after you eat turkey, you get, like, the crash goin’ ’cause your blood sugar’s freakin’ goin’ crazy [Laughs]. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Actually it may be the sides of Thanksgiving that causes a blood sugar increase due to the high amount of carbohydrates more than the turkey. Turkey is recommended without the skin if you got diabetes]

ST: Psh. [Laughs] Yeah. So it’s like, it makes sense, like, once you realize what’s goin’ on, and lucky for my lady and I, we’ve been vegan before, like even before our journey together, um, so we know the benefits, but like, learning – not the true benefits, but more of why you should be eating this certain way. It was definitely an eye-opener last night, like, to a point I was damn near in tears at a point of thinking about my father, like, dealing with all the things that he dealt with as far as high-blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, shit like that, and then also learning that a lot of things that we think are genetic, it’s not.

MM: Yeah!

ST: This shit can be changed, like in your system, in your body, in your system.

MM: The genetic thing is more of a cultural thing where, down the line, we’re all obviously eating the same way, so obviously we’re gonna have the same health problems. They’re gonna say, “Well, it’s a genetic thing,” it’s this or that, it’s–

ST: It’s not. It’s like culturally genetic. I like that, ‘cause that’s really what it is. And, to a point, where people will allow themselves to think that, Well, my father had that, his father had it, so I’m gonna have it no matter what, so I’ma eat this way ’cause I already have it, oh I’m already gonna get it at this point in my life. Like yeah, if you keep eating that same shit. But, you don’t have it automatically just because you’re father, or his grandfather had it. So it’s like just allowing yourself to be really open to the information that is out there now, ’cause now it’s no excuse – we have these documentaries, we have the rabbit hole of the internet sometimes, and sometimes it’s not even the rabbit hole, it’s what’s actually there. Like, being open to the truth.

MM: Mhm. Yeah. And you have the options now, too, to eat and to go that route.

ST: You have the options. Like bro, I haven’t eaten fast food in I don’t know how long.

MM: Aw, Burger King’s got me with their Impossible Whopper, I’m not gonna lie [Laughs].

ST: See? See, man?

MM: Ah, RC and I, sometimes it’s like, “Burger King?” Like, “We’re back on it!”

ST: [Laughs] Your whole body jus move like you just did too. [Laughs] They got you, man. They got you, Max.

MM: I think they put something in there. And we know it’s not pure vegan either, because when they put it in the microwave to make it vegan, you know what I mean, they make it dry and disgusting. So I was like, “Cook it on the greasy freakin’ burger grill.”

ST: Yep, with everything else that it cooks with.

MM: Yeahhh, so.

ST: It’s not vegan.

MM: Ya know?

ST: Yeah, it’s a guilty pleasure sometimes.

MM: I mean, I still—I just drank this thing, I’m still drinkin’ it, got milk in it.

ST: Yeah. Nah, you always liked Nitro.

MM: Nitro Brew, yeah. And the energy drinks. Aw, man.

ST: [Laughs]

MM: Another thing I’m pretty sure they put something in their drinks – it’s Starbucks.

ST: Of course! Of course.

MM: ’Cause I had a headache today like crazy, like, ’cause I had a Nitro Brew two days ago, and you know. It could be just coffee in general, though, but Starbucks coffee is actually extra potent.

: So, I’ve–I don’t think I’ve ever had Starbucks, ’cause again, I’m not really big on coffee.

MM: I work right next to the Starbucks. And we’re just like, “Guys. Starbucks?”

ST: Damn, bro.

MM: Yeah, ya know? It’s like the cycle, it’s the–

ST: Yeah. Yeah?

MM: It’s the same thing with food. Wherever you’re living near, you know what I mean? Those are your options, and if you don’t – you know, you’re in a cycle of, like, work and eating, work and eating, like, ya know? It’s a natural cycle of modern society. You don’t wanna travel too far ’cause you don’t have that much time, so you’re, like, gonna get the nice, quick thing down the street, and it may not be the healthiest, but it tastes pretty good and gets me full and sleepy.

ST: But, does it really taste good, though?

MM: Mmm…

[Both MM and ST crack up]

MM: Yeah, I know what you mean, once I got off—I haven’t eaten meat in a long time, like two years now? It’s a long time for me, at least.

ST: That’s a long time, yeah.

MM: I think two years. Two, three years probably. No, you know what? I did eat chicken on our wedding day because [RC] was like, “You can eat the chicken. Go ahead, it’s okay,” ’cause it’s, ya know, Portuguese barbeque.

ST: Ah, that’s–

MM: And you know what? It wasn’t so–it wasn’t as good as I thought it was gonna be. Like, the sauce was good. Ya know, that’s what it is – the seasonings – it’s the seasonings, and your sauces, like, that make the food taste really good.

ST: That’s true.

MM: So, if you know how to play the seasoning game right, then [Shrugs]. I’ll make some bangin’ tofu, ya know?

ST: But that’s what I’m saying, like, you can—if you enjoy seasoning, and you know how to season your food well, that’s something that would make it easier for you to be able to transition.

MM: Right.

ST: And also, even to the point of, like, being so used to what’s around you as far as, like, fast food or Starbucks, this is another reason why people need to meal prep, bring stuff from home, cook your own stuff. I think a lot of people – ’cause I was even like this way at a point in my life, too – I used to make excuses in regards of, like, not meal prepping or not bringing stuff from home. Also sometimes peer-pressure when, like, you have a group of friends – especially working in retail, when I was working in retail.

MM: Yeah, that’s what the Starbucks move is like.

ST: I worked in a mall, bro. So, we didn’t have a food court, but we had, back in the day, we had Johnny Rockets, the Johnny Rockets left, then we had a Qdoba, we had, like, this uh, American bar and grill place in the mall – Short Hills Mall.

MM: Okay.

ST: Then we later got, um [snaps], Cheesecake Factory.

MM: Oh, no.

ST: So it was like, “Fuck.” So, even we didn’t have that for a bit, we would go to Livingston Mall ’cause it’s not that far, and they had the whole food court.

MM: Were you driving by other places to eat just to go to the food court?

ST: Yeah! Yeah!

MM: [Laughs]

ST: It was sad, bro. Even looking back at that now, it’s like—and a lot of those times it was because, like, “Yo, bro, you hungry?” “Yeah, I want some Popeyes.” And they got Popeyes in Livingston Mall–

MM: Yeah, and it’s fun. It’s like, the act of going out and eating is fun.

ST: Yeah.

MM: You know?

ST: So, you really don’t know, consciously, what decision you’re making that’s harming you until you dwell on it when it’s sometimes too late, when you already have high cholesterol, when you have already, like, diabetes, and shit like that, and its like, “Fuck. I should have been more mindful.” Or you’re still playing that game of like, “Fuck. My father fucked me up, and ’cause he had it, I got it.” Like, nah, you got it ’cause you did it to yourself.

MM: Right, mhm.

ST: You did it to yourself. And once you have access to that information to help you out – to, like, make it better for you – it’s no excuse, man. It’s no excuse. No matter how much you work out, and still eatin’ crappy, you’re still killing yourself on the inside.

MM: Right. Yeah, so, I tried, like—in the beginning, I was, I guess, making the excuse of why I was still eating meat, and all this stuff. I was, like, making excuses in my head. I guess I kinda make the excuses for, like, milk products still and, like, eggs. Umm, but it’s more of like, I know I’m making this choice. I just want to eat it, and ya know?

ST: See, that’s the difference.

MM: I’m not gonna cause an issue, ’cause the problem is, like, people are more—when somebody’s vegan, they’re proposing like, “Well, actually, ya know, meat agriculture is destroying the planet,” kinda thing, too, like with wasting too much farm[land] when we can actually use that farmland to make something more sustainable and vegan, you know what I mean?

ST: Yeah. All true things. But, yeah.

MM: Ya know. And people are like, “Well, what about the farming industry? Ya know, it’s been a part of human society for so long,” et cetera, et cetera. But it’s like you could still come up with counterarguments, but it’s like they’re almost like, “No, I want to, like, just keep eating meat.” It’s like, “Alright…”

ST: Like, if you wanna do it, do it.

MM: Yeah.

ST: And I don’t mind that, like. Of course, I’ll wanna do my part in making the environment better, I’ll wanna do my part as far as, like, animals not having to be slaughtered just for my enjoyment of food, um, but at the same time, if I’m having a conversation with someone about me being vegan, and then them still wanting to eat, like, chicken, pork, beef, and all that shit, if they can honestly tell me like, “I do this shit because I enjoy it and I like it. I don’t give a fuck about how it’s affecting the world. I don’t give a fuck how it’s affecting me. I like it because I like it,” I will be like, “Sir, ma’am, I respect that.”

MM: [Laughs] Yeah.

ST: “But you do that over there.” Because it’s like, I’m not here tryna to convince you to, like, be like me or to eat like me, but at the same time still be respectful and mindful of what it is causing, and how you are harming yourself and the world. But if you are perfectly okay with that, go ahead. Go ahead. I’ll make–

MM: Just think about it, like…

ST: Yeah. Just keep it in ya mind, because there’s gonna come a point in ya life when this conversation is gonna stick out to you, and again, sometimes it’s when it’s too late.

MM: Yeah, you got gout.

ST: You got gout. We [ST and Mufasa] say that shit every day, “Ya got gout?”

[MM and ST laugh]

ST: Your fuckin’ Achilles are tight. Like, ya can’t even walk. Ya can’t even, like, run after your kid, after your grandkid, after your cousin, like, bro, I don’t wanna be like that. And I’ve had moments where I’ve been obese. Like, I’m comin’ down from being obese. I was–

MM: Yeah! The last time I saw you were puttin’ on the dad weight. It was comin’ on quick.

ST: Yeah, and again, like, we call it dad weight, we call it happy weight.

MM: [Laughs]


ST: I wasn’t happy as a dad at that time [Laughs]. I was happy to be a father, but that weight was not happy dad weight. That weight was filled with a lot of depression. A lot of like, like, shit that was eating at myself. Like, not really being where I wanted to be in life. Like, not really having things figured out the way that I wanted it to be. And I was allowing that to get the best of me to the point where I was that person. I knew that I was harming myself, I knew that I was eating, every day, fast food, eating pies of pizza by my damn self.

MM: Oh my God.

ST: Eating fourteen fuckin’ cheeseburgers from White Castle.

MM: Oh, noooo.

ST: Because I knew I could. Because I didn’t even have capacity, I went past the capacity of my stomach. I didn’t even know how to be full anymore. Bro, I was over three-hundred pounds.

MM: No! What?!

ST: I was over three-hundred pounds.

MM: Like, from that time period?

ST: Yeah. From that time period.

MM: Woah.

ST: From the last time you saw me I was definitely over three-hundred pounds.

MM: Dude.

ST: I’m one-ninety-five right now, bro.

MM: That blows my mind, man.

ST: Yeah. I was stretching. [Laughs]

MM: Oh my God [Laughs].

ST: I was stretching. From being that to like a medium, damn near being able to wear a small or medium shirt to like having to wear damn near double, triple X shirt.

MM: [Gasps] That just blows my mind.

ST: I was big. I was big, bro. And it’s like—and I look at that time, it’s like just a learning period. It’s like, fuck, like, yeah, I wasn’t happy, um, and I was, like, telling myself that I was, and I knew that I wasn’t. And then also just making sure that people around me weren’t concerned about me. So, that’s like why you never knew that I was going through a depressive time, because, like I said, when I was making sure  I only depend[ed] on the truth I was sharing with others and making sure they were good, I wasn’t sharing that same truth with me knowing that I wasn’t, because I wasn’t allowing people to come into my world to be like—I wasn’t allowing people to help me the way I was helping people.

MM: Yeah, that’s the hard thing about depression, it’s a very—I don’t want to say it’s a selfish thing, but it’s [a] very internal thing, that it’s easy to be happy for people, it’s easy to be happy and be a good friend, like, you know, not bring them down – at least for certain personalities, you know what I mean?

ST: Thas real.

MM: But, um, you know what I mean? Like, it’s easy to have the smile and be laughs, but when you go home, and your mind starts again, it’s like, [rapping on the table], “Gotta get some White Castle.” [Laughs]

ST: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

MM: Turn this off real quick, and just like–

ST: Yeah, ’cause it’s like—like, you know, naturally I’m a happy person. Like, I’m always joyful, I’m always lookin’ to make people smile and make people laugh, but it came to a point where, like, organically that’s who I am, but then it came to a point where I was doing that a little bit more just to like kinda hide from myself, of like showing that, like, yo I’m going through something right now, or when I go back home, I’m not happy at home, like I—yeah, and I would, like, run to, like, a White Castle, and sometimes eat White Castle in the fuckin’ car before I go home because I was not even willing to deal with the fact of, like, be coming home with a big ass bag of White Castle and shit. Like, I was like–I was dealing with a lot, bro. And it took me awhile to, like, really work through that. It took me time to, like, really just make decisions on making myself better, like putting myself first again, ’cause I hadn’t put myself first in a long time. And with me doing that, and realizing that it had to be done, for the fact of saving my own damn life, because who woulda known, like, if I was still in that same space right now, like, where would I be?

MM: That’s a lot of weight to put on in a short period of time. That could backfire. And you said that your father experienced health issues, so, not to say it’s genetic, but—

ST: Yeah, but again, culturally genetic.

MM: Yeah, exactly.

ST: ’Cause I – and I told my lady this before – like, it was a point where when I put on that weight, I looked in the mirror one day – and my father used to where sweatpants, like, sweatshirts and shit, or like just kinda like dingy t-shirts at times, with a dad hat all the time – I remember, I was looking at myself and I had on a similar outfit my father would wear.

MM: Mmm, like, ah shit [smacks knee].

ST: And I looked at myself in the mirror, and was like, “Yo, I’m my fucking father.”

MM: Damn.

ST: And not in a way that makes me feel good. And I was like, “Nah, bro.” And that was leading up to the time where I was like, “Nah, fuck it. Like, I’m not happy in the situation I’m in now. Um, I’m not happy with myself.” [Shrugs] And I just had to make a change. I had to make a change.

MM: It was either go hit rock bottom or do something.

ST: Yeah, exactly.

MM: Or go further than rock bottom.

ST: Yeah, like underneath the rock.

MM: Yeah, ’cause once you go underneath the rock, there’s no getting out of it.

ST: Nope. No, no, not at all. Not at all. So, yeah.

MM: Yeah, that’s wild. That’s really crazy.

ST: I went through a lot that I kept away from a lot of people, but I’m able to express it now because I would hate for someone to feel like they would have to go through something similar, and feel like they can’t let it out, because especially if you’re only, or always, the person who is helping other people when you’re not allowing people to be a help to you, or just to be, like, a shoulder, to be an ear. ’Cause I wasn’t necessarily not telling people for them to, like, feel bad for me, I just didn’t wanna, like, put my burdens on someone else who already has their own burdens that I’m helping them with. So, it’s like, the majority of people I was around, I was helping them with their issues. So, it’s like, I can’t even allow you to be the person that you may try to be for me because I know that’s not of you right now, because you’re still working through your shit, and I’m helping you work through your shit. But, I wasn’t allowing myself to help myself to work through my shit with helping people work through theirs. So, it’s like, I wasn’t—I lost sight of that.

MM: Yeah, ’cause it’s hard. When your friends, and you’re helping a friend through a situation, that could easily become something where it’s like dependency, and now they’re always reaching out to you when they’re feeling down – they’re not going through it themselves in their head, they’re hearing it from you, and they’re like, “Yeah, you’re right,” but then they still hear the part of their own head that is going on still, so they always need you to be right so they can feel like, “Oh, I figured it out,” but, nah, you didn’t figure it out – somebody else figured it out.

ST: Yeah, like, they didn’t figure it out at all.

MM: Now they don’t have to take the advice, like. [Scoff]

ST: And that’s why I had to separate from a lot of people, too, ’cause a lot of people became dependent on me of, like, always being there, always—and kinda just having the same schpiel. It was, like, scripted to a point where it’s like you’re complaining about the same thing every day to a point where it’s like you probably worked through this already, but you still want that connection of conversation, you still want that connection of the person that you have taken on as your friend now, when lowkey I was just, like, your unlicensed therapist.

MM: [Laughs] Shit.

ST: I wasn’t even your friend, like. So, even realizing that with a lot of people, it’s like, “Nah.” And one thing about me, and I’m being better with, [is] I play the disappearing acts game. Like, sometimes I will disappear from someone for them to kind of figure it out on their own that they didn’t need me in the first place, or that if I’m not contacting you as much as I used to, what does that look like? Are you gonna contact me now? Or are you gonna check in with me? And nine times out of ten, it wasn’t the same way.

MM: No, yeah, of course.

ST: Like, you would see somebody, and it’s like, “Yo, it’s been awhile! Like, yeah. Yo, ’cause, yo, I’m, yo, I’m still dealing with that issue.”

MM: Awwww. It’s not even a conversation, like, “How you been? What’s going on?” Like, ya know what I mean.

ST: Nah. No. Or some people would do that just to kinda clear the surface of I gotta say this, I gotta say that, “Yo, you good? How’s the family? Yo, you look good! Haven’t seen you in awhile. Aight yo, so this what’s been goin’ on with me.”

MM: [Laughs]

ST: It’s like it takes over the whole fuckin’ conversation. It’s not fair.

MM: Yeah, it’s not. It’s hard. Like, that’s the tricky part about conversation ’cause you don’t wanna just be—but if that’s the nature of the relationship already, then it’s like, “Alright, alright, alright, alright my problem.”

ST: Exactly. Yeah, you know? And it’s like, how mad can you be at that as the person who allowed that to happen for so long? ’Cause I even had to look at myself with that too. Even like a lot of close, best friends that I’ve had along the time of, like, just giving into the sob story. And it’s like, they expect for me to be there all the time to hear the sob story, and now that I’m not there, I don’t hear from them. Or when I do hear from them, it’s not genuine. It’s like, they’ll hit you with the, “Oh, so you—um, um, what happened, uh, stranger?” That’s where the stranger word comes through, like, “Nah. Like, nah, I’m not goin’ for that.” So, that’s when the disappearing act for me works in the best way because I don’t really feel like I’m ghosting you – I feel like I’m actually giving you what you actually need, as far as like that isolation, because you’re either gonna take it on with somebody else, or you’re gonna sit with yourself and be like, “Damn, I haven’t heard from Selah in a while. Damn, it’s been two weeks, it’s been three weeks, it’s been a month? Damn, is he okay? Nah, I know he okay ’cause I see him on social media, and he’s laughing, he’s doing his podcast, he’s doing his photoshoot – I know he good. Nah, but why hasn’t he contacted me? Oh, so he actin’ brand new now? But damn, like, but did I ever put too much on him? [Smacks lip] Nah, nah, he woulda said something.”

MM: [Laughs] Oh, you would hope someone–

ST: Yeah, see, see? You would hope.

MM: ’Cause a lot of the times, people that are like that, don’t even – they’re already jumping to the, “He’s a stunter, man. He’s on social media. He’s not hittin’ me up, like.” Ya know, like? It’s one thing if, like, you know, they hit you up and you didn’t hit them up, and you’re on social media, like [Laughs], that wouldn’t be the best look.

ST: Yep. Yeah, that annoys everybody.


kama begins

Poetry, Thoughts & Dreams

a heart murmur bangs in beat to the swing of your samba
and we steam like rice, but this flame ain’t low
we rise from the Earth a fire eternal in the Kingdom of Heaven
where drama ceases and kama begins
and leagues beneath the ocean
the creatures can feel the heat

and though we’re knee-deep in Jersey snow
we’ll leave behind what made us cold
fold our lives in carpet bags, wave away traumas of days past
the mask can crack, then shatter, and we can laugh with tears
’bout how this will be the last
drive down streets with smoke in hand
yet so far from final blunt inhaled

that will be when our lungs breathe old,
when laughter’s never easy yet always needed,
when even our bones hurt to bump,
and our sinking sun kisses earthen crest
just know the flare that sparked this
lioness omniscient vibration eternal
danced along the finite reach
far from the light of stars

kuru in a tailored suit

Poetry, Thoughts & Dreams

traitors sold short lead seats

diamond fangs feasting

long pork and cheese pizza

tweakin’ on adrenochrome

power tripped out on a trophy coma

thousand dollar virtue signal

cyclops nodding secret elitist

a late night talk show buzzword speech

the red glow of canned screams

echoes hypocritical in your empty head

like bloody sheets on the checkered bed

fixers can’t clean sins off wicked hearts

so better think twice

kissing feet of fallen stars

know that evil sits inside

the most popular of arts

and another rape is funded

by a falling crimson candlebar

and ballots load clips with bullets

that will tear the flesh off a Child of God

like white teeth of famous cannibals

the ones we see on small screens

hiding behind closed-door meetings

planned out psychological beat-downs

on we beings of most modest means

where all meaning bleeds out dreams

sold out and served on tap

down the hatch of three-pieced fiends.

Drum Major

Poetry, Thoughts & Dreams

you oughta be marching with us
life’s final common denominator
tragic race prejudice with a thin veneer
all men are brothers, you fail to see
and don’t let anybody fool you
you are put in the position of the same forces
and I think about my own funeral
if somebody doesn’t bring an end to this suicidal thrust
and we’ve seen it happen so often
bitter, colossal contest for supremacy
and we are criminals in that war
none of us are gong to be around
with every one of us
that isn’t what Jesus did
we got down
nothing but a little social club
and not only does this thing go into the racial struggle
all of the other shallow material things will not matter
tell them not to talk too long
in Birmingham
about the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is white
the most tragic
transformed the situation
you ought to be out here marching
God didn’t call America to do what she’s doing in the world now
dropping a nuclear bomb
the right hand and the left hand are not mine to give
we can make of this old world a new world
why would you raise
senseless, unjust war
great because they are out of your place
I want you to be first in love
and I am sad to say I was saying
Standing before Children of a common Father
the only thing he has going for him
was what goes into
the struggle of nations

I was a drum major for righteousness
but this is why the poor white man
don’t give it up
and every now and then I think about my death
nations of the world
we are drifting
that something we call death
I always try to do a little converting when I’m in jail
keep feeling the need for being
forced to support his oppressor

I was a drum major for peace
I can’t give you greatness
the nation in which we live
I’m sorely afraid that we won’t be here
The God I worship has a way of saying “Don’t play with me”
Love and serve Humanity
if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy
a dead cold church through our senseless blunderings
we were in jail to stop this
through prejudice and blindness
and then another one is going to drop
what is wrong in the world today

I was a drum major for justice
where through blindness and prejudice
true to its nature
I’ll rise up and break the backbone of your power
you want to be common and can’t hardly eat
its the need for being first in moral excellence
everybody can be great
by giving a new definition of
the most tragic religiosity you want to be
that it leads to feed the hungry
now the other thing is
if something doesn’t happen
enjoyed coming around
I want you to be first in genorisity
master and savior
should be the same
engaged in Jesus Christ
I want you to see
somebody’s going to make the mistake
those who are prepared, reordered
and makes his ends meet
supporting his oppressor
whosever will, let him come
where everybody has been
in a matter of seconds
I don’t want a long funeral

Source: MLK

holy wood profit seeds

Poetry, Thoughts & Dreams

tranced out on silver screen negatives etched inside eyelids
batting no lash when knowledge bombs drop on pop culture

a hollywood mock lobotomy
don’t even know it all, not even right

freedom of what’s allowed to be talked about
like it was one’s own substance bought off the shelf

’cause the self ain’t one
without the mass affirmation

every word programmed from the writer’s room
and, like hieroglyphics, onto the larynx

focus group focused on the crystal ball
remake what you loved, lace it in red

a poly-tic-amorous affair
coded green like matrix rain

mass hypnotic emotions ranked on a scale of one to ten
social media monitor dem algorythmically manipulated children

filling in the gaps for the betterment of whatever it is
that benefits like medicine for mental illness

burnt out and burdened in america like dirt on my coffin

Poetry, Thoughts & Dreams

if what furthers one through life
is but a knife stroke down cross
past passion’s throat, then
what says the sacrifice
laid dead ‘pon the table
but a laugh that sells itself
down the river with no water?

The Vacuum of Social Media

Opinion, Thoughts & Dreams

Like all political posts, I feel I have to make a disclaimer because it seems as though one cannot question an opinion or choice or event without being haphazardly lumped into a pile.


I do not agree with most of Donald Trump’s sentiments or his style of politics.

The actions on Capitol Hill were more like a wannabe revolutionary act with no real focus. If anything, it should be an inspiration for those that actually want to enact real change in the name of justice – by utilizing our right as Citizens of the United States to organize and protest. The standard has been set, no?

I also don’t agree at all with the sentiments of the modern United States political machine – it all is a show, and we are all the captive audience.

So, excuse me as a fuel the fire.

Banning Donald Trump from social media has dire implications.

Whether you agree with him that there was voter fraud, or, on the contrary, you believe Trump incites violence with his words – a US President has been banned from a social media platform.

And yes, these are privately owned companies with their own Terms of Service, and reserve the right to ban anyone who they believe violates these Terms, but remember that a large percentage of the world’s population are users of these two platforms. Millions and millions every day log in and mentally imbibe so much information, a majority don’t even realize how much it affects their worldview. It is clear that peoples’ opinions on these platforms have such an impact on how we think so much so that Facebook and Twitter are essentially public spheres of thought. Anyone can join for free, and there is no selection process to become a member – so all are accepted, regardless of affiliations or prior histories.

With that in mind, it is clear whose message of revolution will be curated moving forward. Are users (leaders and layperson alike) actively moderated, suspended, or outright blocked, on these social media platforms for inciting violence, or spreading misinformation, against Donald Trump, Republicans, or the police? Is it okay to ban or censor users when the rebellion and protest is incited directly towards Democrats or the Federal Government – the very government that has passed inherently racist laws throughout its history that allow the police to act in the way they do, the very government that had promoted the genocide of the Native Americans, and now only seemingly serve the interest of private corporations over the actual working class? Is it then that it is okay to go ahead and ban such a person for even suggesting that something is going wrong inside Capitol Hill?

Isn’t that what the public opinion been hinting at? Upheaval? Rebellion? Destroying the old to bring in the new? Wasn’t that what was supposedly happening in response to police brutality? Were those leaders banned for encouraging violence, encouraging civil war, even though that wasn’t their intention either? Of course, it felt justified then because it was for justice, against the years of oppression.

And I’m sorry, but when we find out that these big shot politicians and celebrities have been involved with covering up, or taking part in the sex trafficking ring, will they be also reprimanded to the same extent as Donald Trump?

We can say whatever we want about Trump, about abusive police – we can call for their death even – and there is rarely repercussion on these platforms. I mean, who doesn’t disagree with police brutality, truly? But should it be okay to call on a civil war against the police, and not a civil war for the manipulation on part of the Federal Government? That is what is being suggested. Donald Trump only questioned the election results, he didn’t even call for a revolution. Imagine what would happen if someone actively called for a violent rebellion? What would be the response? What if it was a revolution that YOU could get behind, and it was that opinion that was being censored?

Because it seems that it is only fascism when one party doesn’t simply agree with the other – and that goes for left AND right.

[As another disclaimer of opinion – the police and the federal government both equally need revolutionary reform. Revolution is never easy. Revolution is often violent. The Constitution even allows for the Citizen to take up arms against the Federal Government if they feel there is tyranny. I personally think there is still a peaceful route – without destroying the entire system, without violent revolution – but as we devolve into the future, that option progressively fades. I digress.]

Look at the way curated opinion is far more dangerous than expressing opinions freely – even the expression of violent opinions, racist opinions, and the opinions based in ignorance. Yes, bring these fools out into the open; let people see the idiocy unfold before their eyes. The more we allow the banning of dangerous opinions, the more those opinions brew in private in places where they can ban you for your opinion, and the measures taken against actual equality and justice will only grow more divisive, more violent. It is like making fun of the dumb kid in class until he kicks the shit out of everyone that bullied him.

Don’t be afraid of an opposing view. Why are we all so afraid to listen straight from the horse’s mouth? We’d rather hear it from a soundbite and get caught up in the mass outrage. That’s how events like the BLM protests and whatever happened on Capitol Hill escalate into mania – nobody is actually listening, nobody knows what they are fighting for. It is a revolution without actually having an organized meeting beforehand, without actual leadership. It is all controlled by the social media algorithm which is literally designed to make you feel some type of way.  

Between the mainstream media and social media, the public is trapped in a bubble of popular opinion. It never has anything to do with the quality of thought, but it rather has to do with most controversial, the most views and likes. It rarely ever has to do with truth, but more about how angry it makes people. It strips away our personal responsibility for discernment of fact the more we give this kind of power to opinion. Donald Trump, both his presidency and the general reaction to his time in office, is the culmination of an outraged public stuck inside social media vacuums. Banning Trump has only served to kick the vacuum into high gear. Watch as the echo chamber shrinks and we are deafened by our own shouts for change and democracy, not realizing the political machine has left our sentiments far behind.

Yes, we are all being played – no matter what party line you vote across. But, we are all actively making this choice to be played by creating our social media profiles, adding our opinions to the algorithm, and getting gamed by the very system that we wish to reform. This isn’t Trump’s fault. This is our own fault for letting these mediums in which we express ourselves control the way we think, feel, and act. Would we hold the political opinions we have today without the influence of social media?

Clearly, it has some sort of power over us if we truly believe meme bots have influence over our elections.

When I step back to see the outrage and the demand for opinion curation, I truly feel social media platforms should be taken off the internet. Think of the harm we have caused ourselves. Think of all the leaders and innovators behind these platforms who have admitted to their manipulative tactics to keep us engaged, emotionally attached to likes and attention. Think about how these platforms are an easy tool, a direct line from governments all over the world right into our subconscious minds. Think about how it has turned us all into uneducated experts, where opinions are formed off brief google searches, rambling Youtube videos, or from just another person’s post.

If you want to connect to your friends and family, give them a call. If you want to express yourself, make a website. If you don’t want to see what you’re seeing, just close the damn browser and read a book. Realize how manipulated your opinion has become, and make yourself better when you awaken to that fact, because we are living in a time where there is instant access to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and we are the blindest we have ever been.

Birthed Stripped of Will

Poetry, Thoughts & Dreams

whole lives priced at face value
by corporate lies that sold you
a poor man’s dream for some new shoes

yes, even the most high and mighty
need to buy food.

after all, we’re all born in the dark
taught to talk, write, and walk
on works of dirt so hollow

so who’s rules are you into?
who knew which path hath called you
free will – it don’t mean real truth

we’re blind lights self-chained to blood
strife, guns, knives, and work tools.

A Late Holiday Special with Anton Corazza

2020, Discussions

ANTON CORAZZA is a composer specializing in video game soundtracks and Digital Fusion

MAX MCMAHON is the editor for THAT VOODOO

Checkers Fries
Luna Ascension

Digital Fusion

It was Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 when MM called AC at around 11 PM


AC: Yo.

MM: Yo.

AC: Yo, waddup?

MM: What’s happenin’?

AC: Nothin’, I’m just chillin’. Bout to work on some music in a minute, but, uh, ya know. I was just chillin’, eating some Checkers fries […]

MM: What’s that?

AC: Huh?

MM: You said what?

AC: I was eating some Checkers fries, and I was, like, bullshittin’ for a second –

MM: [Laughs]

AC: And I was gonna get into music in a little bit.

MM: Word. Yo, I’m boutta, uh – I was looking into this, and I have to…I have to ask you before I do it because you live in the state of Maryland – or you live in Washington D.C., but…I have to ask for your consent to record this phone call [Laughs]. Although, I wouldn’t put it upon you to record the phone call.

AC: Wait, what? Say it again.

MM: I’m gonna record the phone call, so remember I was gonna do the thang?

AC: Uh, yeah. Explain the thing. What’s the thing? What you talkin’ ’bout?

MM:  It would be kinda like a podcast, but I’m gonna transcribe it. So, um, howdoyamacall…So, we’re gonna have a normal conversation as we normally would.

AC: Oh, you wanna do that right now?

MM: It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter what we talk about. It could be very mundane, but if something interesting happens –

AC: Okay. Alright.

MM: Yeah. Yeah. Don’t worry I don’t have, like, a list of questions I’m gonna ask you, or anything. [Laughs]

AC: I was boutta say, like, “What is this? A fucking interview now?” I was tryna catch up with my homie, really. [Laughs]

MM: [Laughs] Alright man. Where were you born? Nah [laughs].

AC: [Laughs] I don’t know, man. Shit.

MM: Psych nah, but, um…but nah, how ya livin’?

AC: Um, pretty good, I guess [yawning and groaning]. Um, ya know, it’s been a weird year. Ya know, haven’t really been at my day job, but I’m going back in January, so…

MM: Mmm…

AC: They got some, uh, old positions open at a different location, so I’m gonna start going back part-time, but other than that, I’ve been focusing on, ya know, composition. Things been going pretty decent on that front. I got a few clients that I’m working with. Um, I got a few more that I’m pitching to. I’m feelin’ alright about sort of the trajectory of where I’m going, so…yeah.


MM: Yeah, man. Yeah, I really appreciate, uh, appreciate the production value of your livestream. That was like –

AC: Oh yeah, that shit was, uh [laughs]. That was kind of ridiculous. I had no idea it was gonna be like that.

MM: Like, how did you get it so that you were floating in the video game? Like, what was that? [laughs]. That was crazy.

AC: That’s software called VSet 3D […] So, I was on a green screen and using VSet 3D.

MM: Wait, you had a green screen?

AC: Yeah, I mean how else do you think that’s gonna work?

MM: [Laughs] I have no idea. I guess so – yeah right. So wait, how big is this green screen? Like, you were literally standing in it, like you were reaching into the ground, and your hands went through the floor. It looked like an N64 game [laughs].

AC: [Laughs] Yeah, that was kinda funny, actually, um.

MM: You, like, did this thing where you reached down with both your hands and you came up with the E-Sax and the Brita filter [laughs].

AC: Well, we had a green screen on the floor. We also had it on the wall. But, uh, we’re getting green screen flooring, so we don’t have to actually use a wall piece on the [floor].

MM: Oh, shit.

AC: So, yeah, yeah, we’re gonna be upgrading some equipment. And there was some things, uh. There were some issues with the stream, like we had some stuff running in the background, I think the audio and the video sort of disconnected. There was like a few millisecond delay, like a second delay, so –

MM: It really didn’t affect the experience at all, man.

AC: Well, I think the fact that it was such a bizarre theme to see, the people might have not really even been paying attention to the actual timing. They’re probably just more like [wowed or bugged out] by the fact that it was like – that we did it how we did it.

MM: Yeah I was surprised too. I was expecting, like, you know, standing in your room. I wasn’t even expecting Yusef on the drums, and uh – who was on guitar? What was his name?

AC: Uh, so, guitar was AEOXIS. And he, um, he does vocals and guitar and a lot of the arrangement. He did one of those arrangements that we played, the one where you were commenting on all the layers and stuff.

MM: Mmm.

AC: That was his arrangement. Luna Ascension from Tower of Heaven.

MM: Yo, that song where it was so intense. Like, I don’t even remember the title, but – you know what I’m talking about?

AC: Yeah. Luna Ascension.

MM: There was such a vamp in it, it was like, “Woah.” [Laughs] “This is so crazy.”

AC: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s hardcore.

MM: It sounded like it was Sonic Adventure or something.

AC: Haha, yeah. Shit. Sonic Adventure’s music was great, matter of fact.

MM: Yeahhh, I love that, I love that.

AC: I’m not even a big Sonic fan, but the Sonic Adventure music […] was fantastic. Like, the Sonic series in general has great music.

MM: Mhm. That’s the only reason I truly enjoy those games, ’cause, like, the whole Sonic Adventure soundtrack is like ya never get tired of it.

AC: Right. Yeah, it’s really good, really good. Um. I actually – I’ve only played Sonic Adventure for like five minutes, then I played a bit of Sonic Adventure 2 before. But, like, my neighbors had it. We’d play on, like, multiplayer mode, like racing each other. And all I remember is that Chaos Control bullshit that Shadow could do – cheap as hell.

MM: Oh, that’s in, uh, the second one – with Shadow.

AC: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly.

MM: The second one is crazy. The second one has mad features, and it’s just, like, crazy gameplay – a map. But, the first Sonic Adventure game is great, but it’s glitchy as fuck, and there’s just, like, moments where the voice acting is terrible. [Laughs] The voice acting is not the best.

AC: Yeah, honestly, I don’t know much about it, to be honest. Yeah, I like […]

MM: What was that?

AC: Yeah, I don’t know much about it to be honest, but the music is great. So, yeah.

MM: All you need to know is that song that ya’ll were playing, though, was phenomenal.

AC: Yeah, I’ll send you the link. Uh, it’s not done. There’s a shorter version. He has a shorter version on Youtube. But, we’re gonna do that version that I’m featured on, and do a new version ’cause I wrote that verse.

MM: Yeah, that was, like [laughs]. I don’t know how to explain it, it was just something else.

AC: That’s one of the hardest verses I wrote. And, honestly, I haven’t really been writing much in the past few years, but for some reason, this year specifically, like, I just started getting back on my rap shit, so…um – a little bit, not [full force], but I’m just getting back into it, and uh, I feel pretty fortunate that I spent all that time back in the day just, like, sharpening my skills in that arena, so…yeah.

MM: Mhm. Yeah, even my mom said you were a really good rapper.

AC: Aw, shucks.

MM: [Laughs] Yeah, and believe me, she got taste in music.

AC: You said what?

MM: I said, “Believe me too, she got taste in music.” You know what I mean?

AC: Oh. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Um. Yeah, that was very nice of her […]

MM: What was that?

AC: Nah, I was saying that was very nice of her to come through and watch it with Brian. That was cool […]

MM: Yeah, Brian said you were great. He’s a hard critic too, so…

AC: Yeah, I know.

MM: [Laughs] But, nah. That’s, like, needless to say. You’ve always been an incredible musician, so, um…what the fuck was I – oh –

AC: I don’t know about all that, but […]

MM: [Laughs] Shut up. Take it.

AC: [Laughs]


MM: Is it, like, a scene in DC – the video game music scene? Because It seems like a genre in and of itself. It, like, doesn’t necessarily need to be in a video game, but it is so highly influenced by video game music, it just seems like –

AC: What genre were you talkin’ ’bout?

MM: What ya’ll were playing. Like, I knew you guys were doing covers and songs that are featured in video games that you guys have written – or at least in projects related to it. But, it just seems like a genre in and of itself. It has this, like – it was just the way Yusef was playing the drums that made me feel like this. It was like a Fusion, like Jazz Fusion, but with a heavy video game influence.

AC: Um. Yeah, Yusef actually has a background as a metal drummer.

MM: Mmm, I could see that.

AC: Yeahhh. But, yeah, he loves Jazz Fusion, and he does a lot of, like, Fusion and Hip-Hop beats nowadays when he’s practicing and stuff. Um, and Latin. He loves doing Latin shit.

MM: Aw, yeah, I can hear it. I can hear it. Mhm.

AC: AIOXUS – his real name is Tovaun Anthony – he does a lot of Metal stuff. And also EDM type stuff. He’s all around, so – everyone in this house is really tryna do a bunch of different genres, so it’s really hard to place exactly, ya know – it just depends on the day. We’ll just do something different if we feel like doing something different. But, um…ya know, uhh. I mean, there’s a lot of talk about Digital Fusion. [I think] that’s coined by, um, Aivi Tran, who is one of the composers on Steven Universe. I think they was the one who coined that term. It’s basically, like, a lot of people who work in video games, and incorporate, like, um – like, they tend to be sitting at computers a lot, and, you know, a lot of us are instrumentalists but also, like, you have to be at the computer, like program MIDI data for all these different types of sounds that we’re using. So, um, I think out of that, people are tryna say – and, I dig it, I totally dig it. Basically, people are saying Digital Fusion is the new – well, it’s not new – but it’s like an umbrella term for music that incorporates elements of, you know, improv, but also, like, written solo – well, not even necessarily live improv, but just, like, soloistic material –

MM: It’s amped up. Um, well, I mean, it’s not always amped up, but there’s something about it that just makes me feel like there’s the timbre of the tones that are chosen. Ya know? Like, the way you have it going with the E-Sax, you know what I mean? That adds that element of improv to it, so you could just, like, be rippin’ what you would be doing on the sax, but the timbre is literally like a video game synth. Like, 8-bit, 16-bit synths, like, so –

AC: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, and you’re literally correct in some instances because, um, at least one of the sounds I use is an actual sample from an NES pulse wave.

MM: Mmm. Yeah, it sounded authentic. It didn’t sound like [laughs hard]. Shit was crazy, I don’t know. So, do you sculpt the sounds? Do you, like, create those sounds to put into –

AC: I don’t create all the s – I don’t create – actually, I’m not creating – I’ve created some patches for the synth that I use within Logic Pro X. Everything I am playing is through Logic Pro X – working in the ES 2 which is one of the included synthesizers in Logic Pro X. It’s pretty easy to make sounds that you could use the breath parameters to manipulate filters, and –

MM: [Laughs] This shit is crazy, like, I feel like I can hear that.

AC: Yeah. It’s really cool. Um, and you know, I’m kinda mad because they just announced a new professional version of the controller that I have, and it’s like sixteen hundred bucks. But, I really want it because the sounds that are included on that thing are, like, wayyy better than the sounds that are included on mine. And that’s why I have to rely on Logic Pro to get sounds that I want ’cause almost all the sounds that come on the Aerophone that I have are kind of ass. I mean, there’s maybe, like, five or ten that I could imagine being useful in certain situations.

MM: Mhm.

AC: And there are some that I use when I’m [at a] live gig, when I need to use it and I’m not able to use the computer.

MM: Ah, shit. […] I see; so you’d have, like, versatility in the different sounds. But, what if it’s, like, twenty ass sounds now? [Laughs]

AC: You said what?

MM: What if it’s, like, twenty ass sounds? So, it’s like you bought this thing that’s eight hundred dollars, but all the sounds aren’t that, like, as good as what you would put on it. Not to hate on it, I mean, I don’t know what it sounds like, but, I mean if you heard a demo, and you were like, “I need that,” that’s a completely different thing.

AC: Yeah, I heard the demoes of the new shit, and I’m like, “Damn bruh, that’s all I need.” Like, some of these sounds are all I fuckin’ need. But, um, I mean for a lot of things. But, um. So, just to give you an idea – like the shit I have – it comes with about, like, I think a hundred thirty presets. And, like, ten of them are okay to me. Some of them, like, there’s a handful that are really good, but I think then there’s a handful that are, like, okay. And then, like, a hundred of them shits are just like, “Wow, who would ever use this? Why would you subject somebody’s ears to this bullshit?”

MM: [Laughs]

AC: The sounds are, like, processed.

MM: Can you sculpt the sounds? Can you edit them?

AC: Nah, not really. Not in any meaningful way.

MM: Oh.

AC: Yeah, I mean, you can edit the reverb and, like some sort of – they have a certain amount of effects built in, but it’s like, eh.

MM: [Laughs]

AC: Ya know, fuck that. If the base sound isn’t good – and I don’t mean bass like B-A-S-S – but if the sound that you’re using dry is not at least kinda dope, and I don’t think – I mean, yeah, you could dress it up with effects, but you know, [sighs]. There’s only so far you can go. I mean, it’s contextual because I guess you can take some – you can use some of those sounds that I think are shitty in most contexts, but they might work in certain contexts, but-

MM: Probably post-production

AC: You know? I want something more versatile.

MM: Yeah. Like on the spot versatility as opposed to post-production shit.

AC: Yeah. It’s like having to go through a bunch of menus and create presets just to sound half-decent. Like, this new shit – I’ll send you the link later – it’s the Aerophone AE-30, it’s the Aerophone Pro. What I have is the Aerophone that came out four years ago. So, they got the Aerophone Pro, now, AE-30, and it’s like, um, it’s way better, but the problem is the cost is much.

MM: Yeah.

AC: But I happen to have two Aerophones right now. I’ma try to sell both of them. I bought one as back-up because I was at a concert in D.C. on U Street sometime last year – it was like a Hip-Hop concert – and I was playing the Aerophone on it, and I was using my Logic Pro with my Mac Book, and I accidentally stepped on the MIDI cable, and ripped my fuckin’ MIDI port out of the fuckin’, uh [laughs], out of the fuckin’ Aerophone, and I had to get it sent in for repair.

MM: Aw shit. Damn [laughs].

AC: Aerophone doesn’t come with 5 Pin MIDI, it comes with USB MIDI, that’s the problem.

MM: Mmm.

AC: USB Midi is more prone to damage in situations like that because the wire is not as secure.

MM: Yeah, it’s not like a guitar cable – you can step all up on a guitar cable.

AC: Right, right.

MM: [Laughs] I can’t even imagine. It would suck to have a guitar cable that’s the size of a MIDI cable.

AC: Yeah. But uh, so, that’s kind of a tangent, but I do want that shit.

MM: Yeah, man. Is it, like, the body’s different too? They, uh, improved –

AC: Oh yeah, it looks cooler in my opinion.

MM: Mm.

AC: The keys are a little more condensed. It looks kinda sleeker. Um, apparently it feels easier to play. And the most important thing that I’m hearing from some people is that the breath control is more responsive. That’s, like, very good. Sometimes, when I’m playing my current unit it’s like, you know –

MM: What was that? It’s –

AC: Like, when I play my current one, sometimes I get lag between when I’m actually trying to blow a note and when it actually hits – it’s very small, but, you know, when you’re trying to play an instrument and you’re tryna, like, really feel it – you know, as responsive as it can be, it’s of paramount importance, so, yeah –

MM: Yeah, delay can kill it.

AC: It’s kind of a big deal. But if I were to upgrade that, like, that would be fuckin’ lovely.

MM: Mmm. Do you think there’ll ever be a thing where you literally – I guess that’s what it is, you blow into it – but, like, something you can blow into, it would create the sound out of the instrument without the use of something external like a speaker. Do you know what I mean?

AC: Um. Yeah. That’s called a saxophone.  

MM: [Laughs] I meant a digital sound coming out of it.

AC: It’s an interesting idea. I suppose if there was some sort of – that’s actually great – but it would have to be, um, there could be electric components, like motors and stuff that move the internal materials around to create different types of timbres, and different types of surfaces for the air to react to.

MM: Interesting.

AC: That’s something that, you know, maybe in the distant future could be feasible, but definitely not now. Um. Yeah. I mean, that’s really interesting, actually. I’ve never actually thought about that.

MM: And when you said it like that, that it made it more, like, tangible.

AC: That’s way too advanced especially for our technology right now.

MM: Yeah, we got, like, other things to kinda worry about, but somebody out there could do it. I feel like that would be an invention of somebody that was, like, in their basement and they figured it out, like, “This is how you can create sound with air and electronics, acoustically.”

AC: ’Cause the way I see it, like, the electronics would only really be responsible for moving the internal components around, sort of. But, then again wouldn’t it really need to be – would that need to be an electronic? I mean, I guess for the most convenient settings, than yeah, I guess some sort of electronic mechanism that moves the materials around inside the instrument would be the way to go for that. But, um, ya know, I don’t know. I’m not an engineer – I don’t know nothin’ about that.

MM: Yeah, right. It’s like making an electric guitar without having to need an amp or a cable.

AC: Right. Right.

MM: That’s weird.

AC: Yeah.