Monday, May 29, 2006

just in case you didn't get it.

If I Had...

Life.. by Marshall Mathers
What is life?
Life is like a big obstacle
put in front of your optical to slow you down
And everytime you think you gotten past it
it's gonna come back around and tackle you to the damn ground

What are friends?
Friends are people that you think are your friends
But they really your enemies, with secret indentities
and disguises, to hide they true colors
So just when you think you close enough to be brothers
they wanna come back and cut your throat when you ain't lookin

What is money?
Money is what makes a man act funny
Money is the root of all evil
Money'll make them same friends come back around
swearing that they was always down

What is life?
I'm tired of life
I'm tired of backstabbing ass snakes with friendly grins
I'm tired of committing so many sins
Tired of always giving in when this bottle of Henny wins
Tired of never having any ends
Tired of having skinny friends hooked on crack and mini-thins
I'm tired of this DJ playing YOUR shit when he spins
Tired of not having a deal
Tired of having to deal with the bullshit without grabbing the steel
Tired of drowning in my sorrow
Tired of having to borrow a dollar for gas to start my Monte Carlo
I'm tired of motherfuckers spraying shit and dartin off
I'm tired of jobs startin off at five fifty an hour
then this boss wanders why I'm smartin off
I'm tired of being fired everytime I fart and cough
Tired of having to work as a gas station clerk
for this jerk breathing down my neck driving me bezerk
I'm tired of using plastic silverware
Tired of working in Building Square
Tired of not being a millionaire

But if I had a million dollars
I'd buy a damn brewery, and turn the planet into alcoholics
If I had a magic wand, I'd make the world suck my dick
without a condom on, while I'm on the john

If I had a million bucks
it wouldn't be enough, because I'd still be out
robbing armored trucks
If I had one wish
I would ask for a big enough ass for the whole world to kiss

I'm tired of being white trash, broke and always poor
Tired of taking pop bottles back to the party store
I'm tired of not having a phone
Tired of not having a home to have one in if I did have it on
Tired of not driving a BM
Tired of not working at GM, tired of wanting to be him
Tired of not sleeping without a Tylenol PM
Tired of not performing in a packed coliseum
Tired of not being on tour
Tired of fucking the same blonde whore after work
in the back of a Contour
I'm tired of faking knots with a stack of ones
Having a lack of funds and resorting back to guns
Tired of being stared at
I'm tired of wearing the same damn Nike Air hat
Tired of stepping in clubs wearing the same pair of Lugz
Tired of people saying they're tired of hearing me rap about drugs
Tired of other rappers who ain't bringin half the skill as me
saying they wasn't feeling me on "Nobody's As Ill As Me"
I'm tired of radio stations telling fibs
Tired of J-L-B saying "Where Hip-Hop Lives"

But if I had a million dollars
I'd buy a damn brewery, and turn the planet into alcoholics
If I had a magic wand, I'd make the world suck my dick
without a condom on, while I'm on the john

If I had a million bucks
it wouldn't be enough, because I'd still be out
robbing armored trucks

If I had one wish
I would ask for a big enough ass for the whole world to kiss
You know what I'm saying?

I'm tired of all of this bullshit
Telling me to be positive
How'm I 'sposed to be positive when I don't see shit positive?
Know what I'm sayin?
I rap about shit around me, shit I see
Know what I'm sayin? Right now I'm tired of everything
Tired of all this player hating that's going on in my own city
Can't get no airplay, you know what I'm sayin?
But ey, it's cool though, you know what I'm sayin?
Just fed up
That's my word

"I'm running up on someone's lawns with guns drawn."
Rock Bottom

Thursday, May 25, 2006

the show: Ngoni

Do I rave a lot? You better let me know now because I’m about to go on one of my binges! I can’t contain this and Lovely Amphibian is to blame. Well, not directly but he started me on this scent way back when we were slaving for one of the meanest bosses you can ever have the misfortune to work for this town. Holla for the Sunset days! That fat assed bastard…okay, anyway, back to one of LA’s greatest moments of searing insight, prophecy, whatever you’ll call it.

The year was 2004, late 2004, September, October, Decemberish. Nobody knew it but I was tired of Makerere University’s shit (The One you’re not alone!) and I wasn’t going to take it anymore. Kampala had just been through the tidal wave called Eno Mic by some Tanzanian based singer strangely and appropriately named Ziggy Dee and the few times I got to hang out with Ernest I was trying to get him to explain how such a shyly retiring effeminate guy could produce one of the most suggestive macho songs shocked and delighted Ugandans had ever got to listen to. Not since the glory days of a band called Afrigo had a musician pushed the limits like this!

The deceptively revolutionary Ragga Dee had just begun to play for the aisles truncating Red Banton’s witty new rhyming scheme in Ugandan music, a trend that musician was never able to reverse (shall we blame his shallow educational background?). Jose Chameleone was KING and Bebe Cool was still trying to figure out how a skinny, hungry vagrant he had housed in Nairobi had superseded him. No one thought Alex Ndawula could ever be bumped off the Capital FM Morning Crew or that Seanice Kacungira would one day abandon Sanyu FM for greener Nairobi pastures or be sufficiently replaced by Melanie. You would have been deemed a political naïf if you declared your faith that ‘President’ Kizza Besigye would one day return. “Black Mamba” was a yet to be coined phrase. The signs were there but we were not reading them.

National Theater, opposite Parliament Avenue, was the place to be. LA was the editor of The Sunrise newspaper (a newspaper that had been threatening to shut down for four years but never quite could bring itself to). I was a columnist in disgrace under a pseudonym. LA was the editor I could never impress who would not have raised an eyebrow if the Ugandan Parliament had been blown up by Osama Bin Laden in person. Until THAT afternoon!

The afternoon he came garbling about something called Goodenuff. Half repeating the phrase, seated deflected at his desk like someone had stolen something from him (his unruffle-able blasé virginity) and the same time given him reason (faith) to persist in a job he had been planning for months to quit and aggressively chase the Museveni shilling. “Goodenuff, Goodenuff,” was all he could keep repeating. Now we know what he was all about. Now I know.

Have you heard a song called Nasiima Gwe by a group called Ngoni from Goodenuff Studios? Goodenuff is a studio that belongs to the Ngoni duo where they produced this stroke (and I don’t use this term lightly) of genius called Nasiima Gwe. Ngoni are not exactly obscure in Uganda right now. 2005 and Digi can never be separated. You have to understand that in 2004 when they approached LA there was absolutely no reason to believe that their potential (Saint CA, Red Banton, Michael Ross, Dorothy Bukirwa, Lyrical G, Klear Kut, Chagga, Extra Miles where are you guys??) would be translated into actual accomplishment. Writers for newspapers see everyday deserving talent neglected and you have to be a buffalo skinned motherfucker to keep in the game. Big E’s writing his opus on this.

I was going to say that there was absolutely no reason for LA to believe in Ngoni. Then I realized that events have proven me wrong. Digi was a monster hit (not that LA would have approved of the subject matter! I largely ignored the phenomenon when I wasn’t trapped in our coffins-on-the-road-taxis and never suggested to my new editor in 2005 we interview them) but with no one breathing down my neck and largely thanks to LA’s intro and DJ Dino of Blue Africa now I can’t spend a day without listening to my Nasiima Gwe fix.

Nasiima Gwe is a song about a phase of my life and some of my closest homies (holla O.B.D. for those fly MUK Uni girls!) and all the poor, lucky S.O.B’s in love for the first time on the rack of unrequited affections. Nasiima Gwe is a song about being young and feeling it even when your youth is past you, taking you back. Like Biggie authentically rapping, “I know what it feels to wake up fucked up,” I know what it means when Ngoni to softer beats declares because of this unnamed girl, “I know you’re blessed with divine looks … This is why I work so hard to win your heart…That is why I bother you with my phone calls...Although you never pick up… I have written letters you only tear up… “ So been there!

One day when its funny to me too, I maybe be able to tell you how Ngoni were not in the least bit exaggerating when their scorned lover pitifully and comically complains how for this stone-hearted girl, “I waited for you the other day and you were nowhere to be seen…mosquitoes that night bit me waiting for you, Police arrested for being idle and disorderly...” Wandegeya Special Hire Taxis stage standing soaking in the rain Wednesday night after Evening Classes waiting in vain for a glimpse of her. God! LA knew all this two whole years before Ngoni swept all before them! And he tried, inarticulate for the first time, to explain it all to droopy-eyed me who was only interested in getting out of him if the miser bosses had finally added me onto the list that qualified for fare-back-home money or should I rent my usual lugabire for the trek on foot back. Saving up on shoe soles you know. I wasn’t listening then. I’m listening now. R.E.S.P.E.C.T, LA!

in my headphones: IF I HAD: Eminem

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

before the show...

Timebends, Arthur Miller’s autobiography, was a crushing disappointment but I have to send my props here to the coolest guy in the room who helped me get my hands on it: Magoba Brian. Next project (and all my trusted grouchy critics assure me it won’t be a downer): leafing through Bob Dylan’s Chronicles Volume 1. If anyone out there owns a copy, could we be friends please?!

But bad though Timebends was, I was truffle hunting for one thing only: Marilyn Monroe through the eyes of a former husband whose writing career ground to a halt after a brush with her. I didn’t get exactly what I hoped for (non hysterical explanation of the magic of Marilyn) but some nuggets for you fans slavering!

first, meeting Marilyn:

"on one of these evenings a young woman to whom kazan had introduced me some days before created quickened center for the company's interest, attended by its barely suppressed sneer. in this roomful of actresses and wives of substantial men, all striving to dress and behave with an emphatically ladylike reserve, Marilyn Monroe seemed almost ludicrously provocative, a strange bird in the aviary, if only because her dress was so blatantly tight, declaring rather than insinuating that she had brought her body along and that it was the best one in the room. and she seemed younger and more girlish than when i had first seen her. the female resentment that surrounded her at Feldman's approached the consistency of acrid smoke. an exception was the actress evelyn keyes, a Huston ex-wife, who managed to draw Marilyn out, sitting with her on a settee, and who softly said to me later as she watched her dancing with someone, "they'll eat her alive." the eye sought in vain to find the least fault in the architecture of her form as she moved with her partner, her perfection seeming to invite the inevitable wound that would make her more like the others. and so it was a perfection that aroused a wish to defend it, though i suspected at the same time how tough she must be to have survived here for so long and with such relative success. but apparently she was now alone in the world."

and all too common phenomenon enuff 2 terrify any insecure husband:

"the three of us wandered through a bookstore, marilyn wanting to find salesman. when i turned to hand her a copy i had found on the drama shelf, i saw out of the corner of my eye a man, chinese or japanese, staring at her from the next aisle while masturbating in his pants. i quickly moved her away from the man, whom she had not seen. she was wearing an ordinary blouse and skirt, not at all provocative, but even here, with her attention on other things than herself, the air around her was charged."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

the value of heroes

Yesterday very early morning, I was unfortunate enough to be in the same room as a tirade against any sort of heroes: Ugandan sports heroes to be exact from a small philistine (I expected that) and from a failed or frustrated ex-athlete (I haven’t yet been able to ascertain which, never mind that his education was paid for by the State and that the opportunities that opened up his mind were funded by the same ‘silly’ programmes he was denigrating). So riled up was I that I was forced to undertake the first of my investigations into the nature and fate of Ugandan sports heroes (a subject I had skidded away from till that morning) but more of that later in Uganda’s leading daily. Buy the edition.

I just wanted to state here and now that I would not even be doing this were it not that when I was growing up I had a couple of heroes. That what I’m doing now even today, jaded and cynical as I’m, there are still a couple of people out there, people in my life and people whose work I look upon and feel strengthened and encouraged to continue in my own unpaid work, who inspire me. Heroes. And that one of my first heroes, and a hero to me to this day though he is no longer among the living and during his last years existed them out in disgrace was a sports hero. The kind of hero that those masquerading charlatans were trying to make little of yesterday morning.

He made mistakes, yes. He drunk (I suspect, I have no proof), he loved many women (that is totally okay with me, a big heart is necessary in a hero), he was careless with his money (a hero must be generous not just with his talent but his time too to inspire more heroes after he or she is gone), he was emotional (you can never be a hero if you’re ruled solely by your intellect, be a stone cold library omnivorous academician then), he was religious (all heroes are though to the superficial observer it may not seem so).

It was a memorable afternoon and evening (so memorable was it that to this day I still cannot recall who facilitated that outing) seeing him on the sports field in then Uganda’s only reputable national stadium—Nakivubo or World War 1 Memorial Stadium—speed and skill and force and beauty in motion, in full flight with a football at his feet bearing down goal that for the first and only time in my life I ever considered becoming a sportsman. Right before my eyes I saw again and again, to the delight of slum dwelling and shilling empty pocket masses (the only audience worth writing for, the only ones who will come when the times are hard and you’re down on your luck, the pallbearers who will buy your coffin when you don’t have a kanzu to be buried in) that in their unconfined joy would not sit down in their seats applauding this beauty, masterpieces being created selflessly and joyously. I was a boy, I was a child. I forgot myself, I wept. I leapt up and cheered. I wanted to know who that man was. His number 9 became my favorite football shirt number. His face was the only face in a Uganda Canes football team of stars I looked. His name was Majid Musisi (1967-2005).

Thursday, May 11, 2006

the treat

and because i'm in that mood from which only the rawest of Fatboy's diatribes will pick me up and there's no bottled concotion of that yet, you and i will have to settle for this calmer...

“One must be able to return in thought to roads in unknown regions, to unexpected encounters, and to partings that had been long foreseen; to days of childhood that are still indistinct, and to parents whom one had to hurt when they sought to give one some pleasure which one did not understand (it would have been a pleasure to someone else); to childhood’s illnesses that so strangely begin with such a number of profound and grave transformations, to days spent in rooms withdrawn and quiet, and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to oceans, to nights of travel that rushed along loftily and flew with all the stars—and still it is not enough to be able to think of all this. There must be memories of many nights of love, each one unlike the others, of the screams of women in labour, and of women in childbed, light and blanched and sleeping, shutting themselves in. but one must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in a room with open windows and fitful noises.”
The Open Night by John Lehmann


Yours truly has contracted a screen saver bug mania (is this phrase for real?!) that leaves me trawling photo blogs and arty websites for memorable historical photos. And like any failing grade blogger going through a long over due What-am-I-doing-with-my life phase, my latest whim is my current blog entry (yes Savage, I promise to update more regularly, Undo apologies for the Sanctuary desecration but in the very mortal words of Degstar "Shit be tight," and I know Ernest wants in...ohmigod (!) this is going to be a list!) anyway so...

in a dusty Serbian town...

"One of the last known photographs of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Hapsburg, heir to the throne of his uncle, the octogenarian Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria-Hungary, shows him coming down the steps of the city hall in Sarajevo a few minutes after eleven on the morning of Sunday, June 28 1914. Under the refulgent uniform topped with a plumed hat his stout body is rigid; his heavy features seem congested and his neck swollen above the tight fitting collar; his thick, curling mustaches bristle like a wild boar’s. Besides him walks his morganatic wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, her plump face looking pinched and taut. They are just about to step into a waiting car. Both are clearly uneasy, but not yet really frightened. The local Bavarian dignitaries, who line the steps, framing the doomed couple, are not frightened either. They know that man does not evade his fate. The knowledge is written on their faces: the photograph catches them with their gloved hands raised to their flower-pot hats in a gesture of awe and resignation, as one salutes a funeral.

The whole scene, captured for posterity by some anonymous cameraman, stands out so vividly across the years that in looking at it one almost has the impression of reliving a personal nightmare. As in certain nightmares, incredulity wrestles with the sense of doom. Surely someone will cry out a warning before it is too late, surely someone will try to do something. In fact, someone does, but it is the wrong thing, and already it is too late. In five minutes Francis Ferdinand and Sophie will be lying unconscious in their speeding car bleeding to death from an assassin’s bullets: an ancient dynasty—and with it another way of life—will start to topple; and then another and another and another. Close to nine million men will fall in World War I as a direct result of those two shots fired in a dusty Bavarian town."

Edmond Taylor