If Tupac Were Here Today (Would He Be Here Today?)

Tupac Shakur is phenomenal. I use present tense because his influence is still with us today. Just like in our minds how fictional characters never die, same with ‘Pac.

I’m sure you all are aware of the rumors about how he’s hiding out in Cuba. Again I ask, if Tupac were here today, would he be here today? I don’t believe that he would be hiding out, when the world is in flux. Not after he catalyzed the modern resistance which the world is facing right now, by addressing police brutality that plagues inner cities, by addressing how the black community has been underserved and left vulnerable to poverty and sickness.

He is, in many minds, a symbol of the resistance against inequality. His words resonate with not only the fans who were there to witness his ascension in the music industry, but with kids and activists today, who are younger than I was at the time he was shifting the paradigm of gangsta rap away from the murderous depictions of Black on Black crime, to the social injustices that keep a knee on the neck of the Black and Brown community.

Tupac is here today. He’s in everyone who is involved in the struggle. I think he’d be proud at the fact that the foundation he laid out for the people has been bucked but not broken. In a sense, all eyez are on him, on me, on we. Happy bornday, Tupac. The shit ain’t over…

Loup D in a limited edition 2Pac Collection hoodie by Oakbay Fits

Burning Down The House

“We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will win. But I’ve come to believe we’re integrating into a burning house.

I’m afraid that America may be losing what moral vision she may have had …. And I’m afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears at the soul of this nation.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s 2020 and integration is a reality. Even though Black people are seeing the fruits of Dr. King’s dream, we are still experiencing the nightmare of oppression in America. Nearly thirty years ago, Rodney King became the first victim caught on tape in a case of police brutality, and Los Angeles and the country let their voices be heard at the absurdity of the trial and the system that allowed the four officers to walk away without lawful rebuke for their savagery.

Obviously, George Floyd’s televised lynching is a tipping point. We cannot have another outcome like the Rodney King trial. The whole world is watching. It’s rivals are calling the killing of George Floyd a symbol of America’s hypocrisy. The great defender of democracy and free speech uses military tactics against protesters marching against oppression against Black people. How dare America judge other countries about human rights atrocities?

People revel in the unifying language of the “I Have A Dream” speech, but who knew that even the great Reverend himself could see WTF was up with the mess Black people were about to get into, seeking equality in White American culture. Why do we have to seek equality? I thought that was a Constitutional given. The Black Lives Matter movement is asking this integrated society for the same things Dr. King and his followers asked their segregated society. What does that say about how far we’ve come and how far we have to go? It’s a deep seated anger that needs to be quelled. We’re tired of being afraid, waiting, not breathing…

How I Shot Tupac

 

April 11, 1992. I was a writer for a magazine called No Sellout: The Tip-Top-Hip-Hop-Raggamuffin-Black-Rock-Mag-Rag. It was the first time I used the Loupy D moniker in print. One day I was walking around Hollywood soliciting “donations” for the publications to make soem extra dollars. As I walked by the Pig and Whistle on Hollywoood Blvd. I look in, and there was Tupac sitting at the bar alone, drinking beer from a mug. I walked in and sat next him. “Check out this magazine ‘Pac. I got the cover story,” I bragged. He reached in his pocket and gave me a couple of dollars. We talked about one article on misogyny in hip hop adn agreed that the community had to come together to stop all the self hatred we were inflicting on one another in the music. After our chat, he invited me to come to the release party for his debut album 2Pacalypse Now. I told him that I was already on the guest list because of the magazine, so we peaced out and I went on my way.

I bought a disposable, black and white 35mm camera from the Thriftys on the corner of La Brea and Rodeo. Later that night I got to Glam Slam, Prince’s old club on Boylston Street downtown. I couldn’t wait to see this brotha perform. I loved the energy he put out on stage as a backup dancer for Digital Underground; the same with his performance in the video when he dropped the verse on Same Song. I knew that he was going to give it up that night for his debut release party. Surprisingly, there weren’t many people at the show: mostly industry execs and a few heads from the underground community.

In 1992, Tupac was another brotha in the game coming up and shining his light. Who knew what he would become in the span of his short career and beyond? For millions, he represented the reawakening of a black activist movement that took a nap during the narcissistic decades of the 70’s and 80’s. He, along with other rappers, writers and influencers of Generation X, was a beacon for a future that has not forgotten the original resolve of the hip hop spirit, which is each one teach one, earn our fair share, and share it with the culture.

You can buy merchandise featuring photos from the night by clicking here.

The Saga Continues…

Twenty years ago, I was working for a magazine called Kronick, The Underground Chronicle. Everyone in L.A. – if they had any connection to the underground hip hop scene – knew about the Kronick. It got it’s name from the official soundtrack of the West Coast dropped by Dr. Dre in ’92, but the Kronick carried it’s own weight in notoriety.

Kronick had quite a reputation for an independent magazine. Just about every hip hop artist who blew on the mic between the years 1993-2003 knew what was up with the Kronick, and twenty years ago I met with one group that knew what was up with the Kronick.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Wu-Tang Clan Double CD, “Wu-Tang Forever“, I am reprinting the interview that I took part in conducting while on set of the first video from the groundbreaking LP, “Triumph.”

The thing that artists liked about the Kronick was that we never minced words. We left the interviews uncut and pure, unlike many commercial magazines back in those days who would edit their stories for content. And that’s what was up with the Kronick… besides the fact that we smoked mad blunts with everyone we interviewed… (Did you see that one coming?)

Click here to read the Kronick Wu interviews.

Happy Holidays!!!

Hospitalized: Redo

IT HAPPENED AGAIN.

I love my work. I get to go places and see things most people don’t (until it’s broadcast), and get paid for the experience. But seriously, one of the best perks about the biz is the food!

My first year in the film industry I gained about twenty pounds, easy. Craft service was heaven laid out on three 6-foot long folding tables, free snacks and drinks to satisfy a hungry crew’s snack habits.

The first time I was ever hospitalized was because of craft service. I was producing a behind the scenes shoot for a Disney Channel show. It was a long day because the shoot schedule didn’t allow many opportunities for my team to interview the cast, so with all this wait time, I’m at crafty, munching on popcorn and cashews, calling myself being healthy. See, I gained those twenty in one year and it took me five to figure out how to lose it. I learned to stay away from the candies, sodas and the chips, and stick to the fruits, nuts, veggies and dips.

What happened that day is briefly documented in three previous blog posts, Hospitalized, Hospitalized – Do and Mended. Well, a few days ago, I had another ill food experience while working on a spot for the City of L.A. It was a run ‘n gun deal across the L.A. landscape, from the heart of downtown, to the Watts Towers to the beaches, we were catching some of the gem tourists spots of my sprawling town. On Day 2 of our shoot we stopped and ate at the Echo Park picnic tables with the locals. I made sure to hand sanitize but still, a little bacteria can creep up from just a thoughtless swipe on a bench or table and contaminate a meal in a minute.

Early the next morning, I was earling in the toilet, but I wasn’t going to let a little vomit keep me from making money, so I gathered myself and joined the crew for Day 3 of our adventure. By the time we got to action I was able and ready, but by midday, earl was calling again…

Needless, to say, I was sent home for the day. The situation was worse by the time I got home. I drove myself to urgent care down the street, and when she took my blood pressure, the nurse freaked. “220 over 180! You need to go to the hospital right now!” An ambulance was called, but my niece and her bae got there quicker. They rushed me to a Mid City emergency room and I was admitted immediately. The preliminary EKGs were abnormal… and they said I had the symptoms of a heart attack.

Oh shit.

I remained calm like an old Roots song, and let the doctors run their tests and scans. I was sad and glad to be there this time. I needed something to slow me down to think about what’s been going on. Lying there in that hospital bed, I thought about the past year and how much I’d done. The changes in my daily structure, like having to take two kids to school almost everyday, and dealing with a newly endowed teenager, are things for me now. I thought about the near death experience I had a few months ago: I was on my way to work one dark, early morning, barely a car on the road. I’m at the light, waiting to turn right on the green arrow. I get my light, and out of nowhere a Yukon came speeding through my turn lane, where I had to slam on the brakes to keep from getting smacked out of existence. After a pause to gather myself, I kept driving. The next song on my playlist was Deja Vu by Teena Marie. The words to that song took on a whole new meaning for me, and I cried my eyes out as I listened to it over and over again, until I decided that it was time for me to do something new. This is what set in motion a series of events leading up to the setting of the deadline for my memoir’s publication. Three days and many more thoughts later, I was released with a clean bill after all test results came out negative, no heart tissue damage, blood pressure hereditarily high, but controlled with medication and a better diet.

I’m at the dawn of my golden anniversary on earth. My health should be my primary concern from now on. My time with my loved ones is so important to me, and that’s why my approach to making the gold is taking a new turn. My vision is vast, and this last speed bump was a reminder to just pace myself. It’s all about to come to together. Thanks for participating in the vision, my readers. Every look counts.

New Look, New Book!!!

Just a quick update. A few changes are underway as you can tell from the housekeeping on the site, but it is a work in progress.

I am officially announcing the release of my first book “Rebelation: A Memoir with Photos” in March of 2018. It is a look at my life in back in 1992. Living in Los Angeles, it was my first year as a hip-hop journalist. It is a familiar tale about a young man coming of age, but in the unfamiliar context after the most violent civil disturbance in United States history. A series of events and alliances with people near and far help me forge a new perspective on life, black unity and personal responsibility. Now I’m ready to share my story with the world.

Come back soon and I’ll throw some pages up. In the meantime, I am just trying to figure out all the links and and click stats that are going to lead to this automatic money I’m gonna get once I figure out web commerce. Yippee ki-o!!!

The South-East Bounce

OK… The deadline for the e-book has passed. I’ve only organized the first round of pictures and there a lot more. Cataloging has become the unforeseen monkey wrench in my show. I thought it would be easy, laying out provocactive pictures and justifying them along  with my peppered prose, but the more I looked at each picture, stories emerged that had eluded my original narrative, and took on lives of their own. If I put more time in earlier on pre-production like I do on my filmed narratives, it would have been done on time and hopefully with great fanfare. I’m still pressing forward, though. I’m going to see what kind of help I can get by reaching out to my community of fellow artists, writers and photographers.

Earlier this month, I had a chance to travel away from L.A. for a couple of weeks. The first stop was Todd Mission, TX, where the first Middlelands music festival went down. The venue was the Texas Renaissance Fairgrounds. I was told that at least 60,000 people attended this 3-day event that popped up in a dusty wood, an hour northwest of Houston. There were many people who attended on a day-to-day basis, but a great majority stayed on the campgrounds. Oh yes, there was camping, and with the camping came the night parties til the dawn and brilliant displays of light. Being Loupy D, I had the luxury of a golf cart and an all-access pass. All day I was getting hailed by partygoers who after partying til the breakadawn were making their way from the campgrounds to the stages. I had a couple of interesting offers in the later hours of the fest, but due to the nature of my duties, I had to give every sweet-faced girlie the go-by. Even if I’d listened to that devil in the white nightgown whispering in my left ear, the best accommodation I could offer was the RV space I shared with two roomies. Three funky fellas in a tight quarters over seven days is an acquired aroma, but when one of the ladies from our group poked her head in our space one day, her acquisition couldn’t quite handle our aroma.

Febreze handled it.

Next week, new stop. After a quick repack in L.A. (and a long shower), I boarded United Airlines for a nonstop flight to Washington, D.C. aka Chocolate City with an orange glaze on top… oh well. The occasion for the destination was not to hate, but to celebrate the bestowing of rights and privileges thereof decreed up on my niece… as a PhD recipient! Her dissertation is titled Concussions, The Emerging Public Health Crisis, and Why Media Advocacy Is Needed. Looks to me as like she’s taking up the mantle against the NFL, and anyone else who puts profits as a priority over health. From day one when she learned how to talk she hasn’t been quiet and, I don’t know a bigger sports fanatic than @ProfCDP. As a teenager, I saw her go head-to-head  at a cookout with a grown man over some college sports stats! Christian caught the journalism bug in the heart of my freelance writing days. She began writing articles for the sports section of her high school newspaper and was the sports editor in her senior year. She was accepted to Spelman College and breezed through in three years with a double major in English and Spanish. Without missing a beat, she tackled the cold of upstate New York to get her master’s degree from the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. I still see that tough, gangly 9-year old who I took hiking in Kenneth Hahn Park. The end of our hike was a short, steep incline. Poor Christian lost her footing and and took a frightful dive near the bottom. When I checked her out there was no blood, just a few scrapes. “See, if you can walk away from it then your okay,” I reassured her. By the time we made it back to my red Mazda B-2000 pickup, she was already asking, “can we come back tomorrow?” I feel so good that I kept telling her to put the books before the boys, too. It was the most solid piece of advice that I could have given her as a youngster. The reward for having that kind of patience and focus was getting engaged with her sweetheart of seven years, the day after defending her dissertation.There was a lot to celebrate that week!

You never know how the things you say to a person or the way you treat them, will influence them later on in life. I always tried to give my nieces and nephews aspects from my life that I wished I had more of: inspiration and motivation from an adult. A person who gives the go-ahead to try something new and not be afraid to fail is so hard to find in a competition-minded society. I gave them the freedom to be, and they were able to pick up on the pieces of wisdom and understanding I dropped on them at a young age. I had to wait to get it straight from my grandpa down in New Orleans as a wild youth in my 20s, while running with the hip hop crowd in the 90s. I remember always being told what to do, what not to do, what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I did my best to make other people happy, not knowing that I was the source of my own happiness. Like many misguided youth, I rebelled, made lots of mistakes and engaged in shenanigans that would have put me in the hospital, jail or in the ground. I’m here by the blessings from the good Lord above. I’m happy the ones coming up under me didn’t have to experience life the way I did. I’m not saying that life is hard, but it sure ain’t easy. I just had to change if I wanted to raise my own kids one day. Now I have two boys, and it’s the same with them, but different. Time will tell.

These two weeks of travel have sure put me in a reflective state. Life is short and precious and I enjoy the variety that it brings day to day. I’m getting used to the expereinces that will get me through the next phases of life. I don’t need a lot to be happy. I can be lonely in a crowd or at ease in my own company. There’s no use in remembering what I did for others when I’m going to forget it a year later. What you sow is what you reap, and I’m alright with what I’m seeing so far.

 

R.I.P., B.I.G.

20 years ago today we lost one of the most prolific rappers in the history of the genre, Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls. Three years prior to his untimely demise, I was one of the first journalists to interview him. It went down the night before his debut album Ready To Die hit the charts, hours before his debut performance at Glam Slam West, Prince’s downtown L.A. hotspot in the 90’s.

I’m posting this article in honor and tribute to this fallen soldier. I can easily say that Biggie was the most humble rapper I’ve ever interviewed. After we finished our formal interview session and the recorders were off, Biggie said to me, “I hope people like my album.” I looked him straight in the eye and said “dude, people love you!” “Ain’t no guarantees in life,” he shot back, “if this shit don’t jump off, I’ll be back on the streets hustling tomorrow.”

I think you will see a side of Biggie in this interview that most people didn’t see during his short tenure as the king of rap. That’s the reason why I put up a picture of the brother smiling. He had reason to be mad muggin’ all the time, but he also had reasons to smile.

Wait until you read the article. I’m sharing this remnant of the past, before the Internet forced me to go back and get my hustle on the streets. I hope you enjoy, comment and share. Blessings to you all…

Click below to open the PDF:

biggie09032017

P.S. I know I’ve been off the radar for a while (I was supposed to go to Europe, but the funding didn’t come through), but I’m working on a new project that I pray will be in time to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the L.A. Riots on April 29th. Details coming soon!!!