How Do We Get From the Projects Back to Pyramids?

June 18, 2008



Tajai Massey heads up not one but two renown record labels/independent distributors, Hiero Imperium and Clear Label Records. Part-owner of Hiero Imperium with the other members of Hieroglyphics, the crew, he is the maker and owner of Clear Label Records, home to Beeda Weeda, Baby Jaymes, and a host of burgeoning talent spanning all genres. He’s also Tajai of the mighty Souls of Mischief (A-Plus, Phesto Dee, Opio and Tajai), the greatest Hip Hop quartet of all time.

He’s on the cover of the SF Bay Guardian this week, check the cover story The House That Hiero Built, that’s big for The Town, mayne.

There’s way too much crackin at Clear Label and Hiero Imperium (and Def Jux where Del’s LP ‘The 11th Hour’ is putting Def Jux back on the map.) So for the next week I’ll be featuring the Hiero OG’s and the Clear Label young stunnaz. Town bidness!


June 17, 2008


Ras Kass - Institutionalized

I’m severely behind in my prison correspondence. Pardon self that the letters are slow on the rebound, Brothers, but now besides friends and family I’m juggling kites to my comrades, clients and colleagues doing time. Khadafi, Joker the Bailbondsman, DJ K-Pook, Jon Forte, Don Diego….I owe you all a letter. Ras, 7 pages are on the way.

Write to Ras Kass, he welcomes letters from fans and friends. He will most likely be released at the end of 2008.

Mr. John Austin
P.O. Box 4400
Wasco, CA 93280



Today’s solid gold oldie is ‘Blind Alley’ from The Emotions. The break was sampled by Marley Marl on Big Daddy Kane’s classic ‘Ain’t No Half Steppin’.

But I don’t love it just for the break. It’s basically a soulful diss record directed toward some nameless, clueless cat of the 70s.

Have yourself a listen here.
“Hey Boy/You got a good conversation/You got a real smooth line/But you’re not penetrating/Somebody else has got my time/You’re running up a blind alley”

June 16, 2008


ONE BLOCK RADIUS are Marty James, Z-Man and MDA

I first met Z-Man in NY at a press lunch for Little Brother when I was editing Complex. We had a lot of Bay fam in common – Hiero, Trunks, True Justice, etc – but I wasn’t too up on his music at the time.

As soon as we sat down to eat I got that vibe from Z. I knew I was dining with a rockstar.

Fast forward all these years later, he’s finally getting some light as a member of One Block Radius alongside Marty James and MDA. Word is spreading that they’ve signed with Island Def Jam. The sound is universal, there’s something very pop about this underground sensation.

Check the tunes at their myspace page, preview a video/photo montage for ‘You Got Me’ here on youtube, or go to their artist page on

Start a Riot (Like Jamaicans Over Gas Prices)

Jamaica After the '99 Fuel Riots

Gas in L.A. is $5.09 per gallon this week, and that’s not including the immeasurable cost of the loss of human life in Iraq. I ride the MTA, where a day pass fare is now $5, soon to increase again; and as the middle-class get out of their cars and onto the buses, L.A.’s poor are being pushed to the back.

1979 Gas Riot, Levittown, Pennsylvania

In 1979 in a suburb in Pennsylvania, gas stations were torched when gas rose to $1 per gallon.

Jamaica had three violent days of gas riots in 1999. In 2003, Tehrananians rebelled in response to fuel rationing.

2003 Gas Riots in Tehran, Iran

I’m surprised at the ambivalence people are exhibiting at today’s fuel costs. L.A. seems more likely to riot if the Lakers lose the NBA Finals than over gas prices. But another $1 per gallon increase, or ‘fuel shortages’ during this long, hot summer could spark some rebellion.

After watching my city burn in 1992, I don’t necessarily want to repeat the experience, but setting shit on fire does make people sit up and take notice.

Now that ‘going green’ is America’s hottest trend, I hope to at least see rashes of people vote with their feet – walk, jog, ride bikes, ride mass transit, trade in their Hummers for Prius’, sell their Escalades and buy Smartcars. Supply and demand cuts both ways, if enough people stopped buying so much gas the price would start to drop.

So please, fight fire with fire, or demonstrate in a non-violent fashion…just don’t encourage a future where the wealthy drive cars and the rest of us can’t afford bus fare.

Jamaica (Sorrel) – Nature’s Kool-Aid

Jamaica on Tap

Brewed from the dried blossoms of red Hibiscus, Jamaica (pronounced Haa-My-Kuh) is a deliciously tart beverage enjoyed in many countries. Mexicans and other Spanish speakers call it Jamaica, while in Jamaica and Caribbean cultures its called Sorrel.

The drink was popular in ancient Egypt, even amongst Pharoahs. Today in Egypt and Sudan, the drink is called Karkade and is used to toast at weddings. In Senegal it’s called Bissap and is the national beverage.

Dry Hibiscus Flower

Served in restaurants here in America, whether Jamaican or Mexican, the sweetness ranges from syrupy to ‘hella sour’ and 99% of the time white/refined sugar is used.

the anti-jamaica

The best Jamaica is homemade – the dry blossoms are sold in “Hispanic” markets either in bulk or with the packaged spices, or in bulk at Caribbean shops. I experimented with drying my own but the California variety made a lighter, less fragrant brew.

I sweeten mine with honey or raw sugar. Fresh orange or lime juice is delicious mixed in. Frozen the drink makes a great sorbet or popsicles. This tropical, refreshing beverage is high in vitamin C and has no calories unsweetened. Known as a diuretic, also lowers cholesterol. Healthful and good for the immune system, drinking Jamaica helps your body/temple stay pure. The antithesis of kool-aid.


If you can’t find the flowers, order online here.

June 15, 2008


Filed under: Hip Hop — Tags: , , , , , , , , — projects2pyramids @ 10:05 am


This is actually touching, see P.O.S and Brother Ali with their children and read the full article here

Also a piece I wrote in ’05 on on Hip Hop & Fatherhood, here.

N*E*R*D … Outing My Guiltiest Pleasures

Fine-ass Pharrell and his Partners-in-Sublime

Oh Pharrell, why can’t you have a sex tape instead of Ray-J or that nasty R-Kelly?

SO…N*E*R*D’s first single/video from Seeing Sounds, Everyone Nose is, like, a cocaine anthem. Not since Laid Back and Melle Mel brought us White Horse and White Lines, respectively, have we had a song so virulently coked-out. While hardly a precautionary tale, Everyone Nose is deflnite social commentary on the socialite-nightclub-drug scene.

Sniff blow? Hell no. But I’m mainlining this song.

Okay, if you’re not up on it yet it’s kind of ghettocore electronicated technoish go-go funk rock…and that’s just the beat. The mean, infectious chorus/hook/refrain thing starts up “ALL THE GIRLS STANDIN IN THE LINE FOR THE BATHROOM” X100. Everybody nose what it is. Lindsaybritneyparis Fergilicious Kardashilton-Richie III. If she’s not going to POWDER HER NOSE, she’s going to powder her nose.

And that’s just the album cut. <a href=””>The remix for me is like chinawhite to the chicks who’re skeee’d. Lupe, Pusha T, Kanye, oh my!

‘Hey Pharrell, I don’t mean to kill your mood…but I can do the Startrak sign! See?’

“Killer, dude.”

You’ve created a new subgenre of Prep Hop…COKEWHOREROCK.

p.s. Clutch your pearls and gasp @ Pharrell’s Manpurse. Pharrell if you’re into guys this is an inconsolable, immeasurable loss to the female community.

n.b. Looks like someone else is singing about cocaine.

The Father’s Day Conundrum – Baby Daddy Blues

Man, Woman and Child

For me, it’s an old riff on an older rift. My ‘pops’ did the dodge-and-ditch move early. Remarried, to a child bride, who he’s always treated better than my mother or myself. He abused my mom verbally and physically. Thankfully I only caught the verbal personally. I had a school friend whose father raped and sexually abused her until she left home, so by comparison my father wasn’t so bad.

Properly traumatized and with little supervision, I was pregnant at 13 just in time for my first pelvic exam. Forced into abortion, I said goodbye to my first son, and coincedentally to the boy who would have been my first baby daddy. Hardheaded Aries that I am, I repeated this process twice in my early 20s.

Don’t get it twisted, I never had low self-esteem, I was never looking for a father figure in my male companions. Surprisingly, I eventually found Fathers. My first love came to live with me years after we broke up, and brought his son with him. I loved him and his boy like family.

As the years passed I watched my friends, homies, cousins and lovers grow and develop as they started their own families. Some of them kept it tight, some have gnarly babymamas, some are cool with being two-household parents…one even got married! Sadly most are single dads. But through love, friendship, babysitting, nannying and sometimes damn-near stepmothering; I learned what fatherhood is all about.

To the beautiful Fathers who have blessed me with the joy of their seeds, and to all whose children I’ve fed, I love you eternally if you never give me a biological child. I live and breathe to energize our universal family.

For the real fathers out there who love, respect and care for the youth – blood or by bond – I salute you. Every day is your day.

And to the janky, nasty, gnarly, no-count, mean-spirited, lying, broke-down, ruthless, trifleing babydaddies out there – you know who you are – don’t let the door hit you on the way out to the boulevard of broken promises. And oh yeah, happy father’s day, motherfuckers.



In chemistry class, the periodic table of elements is the foundation. In Hip Hop, for most 30- and 20-somethings, Wu-Tang is the foundation. For the uninitiated, Hell Razah and Shabazz the Disciple are ‘Wu Fam’, somehow derivative of the 9 (10? 11?) core members.

True Hip Hop fans, and those with a deeper knowledge of Razah and Shabazz tested out of chemistry class a while back. In Alchemy, the most pure substance is drawn up through melanosis and osmosis to form Gold (european lessons) or Black (Egyptian/Chinese lessons). Alchemically speaking, the T.H.U.G. Angelz Movement is what’s cookin’ in Brooklyn, Red Hook Houses to be exact..

The first installment , WELCOME TO RED HOOK HOUSES coming from Babygrande Records can be pre-ordered from Amazon anytime before the July 8 street date. Or support an indie and pre-order from UGHH Click here to purchase at!
T.H.U.G. Angelz (Hell Razah of Sunz Of Man + Shabazz The Disciple) – Welcome To Red Hook Houses

Click here on YouTube to catch up on your lessons before class is in session , the official myspace and crackspace, respectively.

Wingz up.

Miz Rap Supreme … BX (Yo, I Love That Slum)

Filed under: Hip Hop — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — projects2pyramids @ 2:31 am

Rece Steele IS Miz Rap Supreme

Say what you will about EgoTrip/VH1’s Ms. Rap Supreme… Too much like a game show? Less Serch, Much More YoYo? Not REAL enough for ya?

Well guess what, bitches? Get on your Hip Hop herstory while you’re shutting the fuck up. EgoTrip™ is a brand decades-old in the grand tradition of that old boom-bap…all about the braggadocio with a healthy serving of tongue-in-cheek, double-entendre laden hilarity to cut the rawness of the uncut real.

As much as I love my QB family, Hip Hop was conceived, born AND raised in Pelan, b.k.a. the Boogie-Down Bronx. Some of the first B-Girls were from the BX, and definitely the original Femcees. Rece Steele is carrying on a tradition, literally, the daughter of a female MC.

As far as her cursing too much, that’s like ‘Nas to Nigga to Nigger’ – taking it back and embracing it beats letting it break your back and erasing ya.

Byata does HER thing, but there’s something to be said for not letting the Russian girl win just because she’s white.

And let’s keep it real, Rece Steele won with her skill with the mic steel. She didn’t have to kneel, or suck, to get a deal. She’s a big-body girl just like me. So that means a young Queen who saw her win on TV can follow her dream even though she’s a size 18. Nahmean?

p.s. If her A&R is on point we’ll get a Rece Steele/C-Rayz Walz collabo.

n.b. If you know anything about my decade-plus documenting women in Hip Hop culture, you know like I know Rece is no Jean Grae nor Invincible nor Mystic…but she was willing to expose herself to the joys of ‘celebreality’. It’s what she does with her newfound celebrity that will define her caliber as an MC.

Banana Smoothie Royale

Filed under: Golden Nutrients — Tags: , , , , , , — projects2pyramids @ 2:04 am


2 Bananas
2 Young Coconuts
1 can Mango, Guava or Strawberry-Banana Nectar
1/4 cup honey
1 lime, juiced
Bee pollen, protein powder or other ‘boost’

Machete the top off your young coconuts, drain coconut water into ice cube trays, freeze.

Combine cococubes and other ingredients in the blender. Whip until smooth and icy, preferably while listening to The New Royales.

Makes 3 smoothies, 1 if you’re fat.

Script. Flipped.


In my 20s I began publishing How Did We Get From the Pyramids to the Projects – my perspectives on life, love, loss and Hip Hop as viewed through blackout shades, tinted windows, and the bullshit stacked eyeball-high.

After a hiatus spent detoxing from the music biz, I’ve done a lot of purification rites, mental gymnastics and deep-soul searching to return to you (the open-minded reader) with the other side of the game.

Some answers.

While not quite omniscient, I often channel beings who are. Even on my worst day, I hold the keys to many sciences. So do you, so please don’t hesitate to add on.

It is only together, as a unified front, that we can transcend the ‘projects’ and return home to the Pyramids.

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