lyrics to go (part 6 of 7) “trouble is”

It contributes greatly towards a man’s moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate. – nathaniel hawthorne

just this week, i’ve had the tremendous pleasure of reviewing the final cut of our first music video. the decision to use trouble is as the lead single for Tobacco Road came after a circular process of parleying; it was, from the beginning, the foundation for the LP’s agri-centric concept, but when prospects of distribution for TR grew dimmer, the song became the core of an idea that rapidly developed into BPW. it wasn’t until promotional work for TR began that i started to regret the decision to include it on both projects. by that time the song had become old and uninspiring to me, and despite the pleas of a gathered mass, assembled over barbecued burgers and hot dogs for the purpose of assisting us in the selection process, i had no interest in using trouble is for a video.

in the end it was zia who convinced me. you have to give credence to an opinion formed during a deliberate, 27-hour musical fast of sorts, in a honda accord en route from seattle to phoenix, during which time no song was played that cannot be found on Tobacco Road. the kid had a vision, and he sold me on it.

the most intriguing aspect of this process, for me, has been the evolution of the storytelling from written/spoken word into visual depiction. it was enough of a challenge to articulate the summation of my experience with the town’s hiphop scene in a metaphorical folk tale, harder still to explain to zia how i thought the visual representation would best serve the point. in the end i am beyond satisfied; i can’t wait for you all to see it. here are a few stills from the shoot, including a couple of screen grabs to show you what we’re workin’ with:















…Service, work it

The vagrant came upon a plot, shop – set it down
Found vacant, he gon’ make it into something better now (1)
Barn hand, conversant in farm land, planted seven rows (2)
Will it ever grow? Heaven only knows, though he’s
Hopeful, never boastful about the ethic (3)
Set it deep into the earth, work and serve, all the rest let it
Come or not, hot summer sun, son – bumper crop (4)
Over night, or so some thought (now they’re talkin’ that)

What you really did to get this windfall, spendin’ all year estranged? (5)
Better not be mystical, typically the criminals here they hang (6)
Aint nobody ever seen you cultivate, rake or till, ya dig?
Take a lot to win a pot, wanna pay the rate? The stakes raised, you bid? (7)
In or out, what the men around here ‘bout, finna count a pound of cheese
Double down, you intend to win the prize, otherwise bounce and leave ( 8 )
We don’t care where you came from, since day one seen the game constructed
We gon’ watch it all fall, frauds claim to save it in the name of love? Nuh uh. (9)

Bubble, fizz – what the trouble is?
This is hustle biz – what the trouble is?
A couple kids – what the trouble is?
Muzzle ripped, tell ‘em what the trouble is, come on now

Trouble is love don’t want you, boy, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you, baby, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you, no, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you here

Not one to gamble, lit the Camel, took a long drag
Sat back and blew, inside he knew these folks had gone mad (10)
Through the smoke proposed a wager: tails, you can take my fields
Heads, you accept my station; they deliberated, deal! (11)
Coin turned for what seemed like eternity, slow breath
Some folks wept and fretted while the peasant never broke a sweat (12)
Confident he had ‘em in the talisman’s descent
By the time they shouted “TAILS,” he done packed his bags and went (13)

Best never try to test the vets, you wanna settle? Better pay your dues (14)
To the boss you done lost your crops, in one toss I’ll take your food (15)
Better be gone, set about and keep on a boulevard towards the boat
Ever come back get about a ton of that d-CON down your throat
In the meantime we find these fine fruits do quench a thirst (16)
And for pay we may persuade and convince some of these men to work (17)
In the end we sup and supplement the income caught in the trap ( 18 )
We must be blessed, best of all – that farmer’s gone, thank God for that (19)

Double-dipped – what the trouble is?
That’s hustle biz – what the trouble is?
A couple kids – what the trouble is?
Knuckle, fist, tell ‘em what the trouble is, come on now

Trouble is love don’t want you, boy, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you, baby, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you, no, see the
Trouble is love don’t want you here

1) well, vacant may be a slight exaggeration, but when it came time for me to do me i definitely found a void i thought i could fill. just like the vagrant, it was never my intention to blow somebody else’s spot – i was good to work the plot i came up on.

2) seven rows = seven tracks, a reference to apostrophe, the EP.

3) among the first five comments on my myspace page (est. early 05) was a nod from the young homie marc sense expressing appreciation for my humility. unfortunately, i let the comment go to my head.

4) bumper crop = bumbershoot, and other such measurements of accomplishment as perceived by the townsfolk.

5) ironically, the same people askin’ “who is this motherfucker all up in the stranger/on the cover of seattle sound/playing showbox (no sodo)/headlining benefits/blahblahblah?” are the same motherfuckers i tried introducing myself to six years ago. c’est la vie.

6) witchcraft and sorcery, the only logical explanation for fruits without labor. in seattle, as in salem, folks don’t take too kindly to the necromantic.

7) observe how the antagonists flip it, insisting the only way to “win” is to play the game (as opposed to working).

8 ) the ultimatum: put it all on the line or pack it up and go home.

9) i come from a long, long line of uncompromising, bull-headed dimwits who can’t see the fucking forest for the trees (not you, mom), but these “i’d rather the whole world think there’s no such thing as seattle hiphop than think that common market is what seattle hiphop sounds like” types take the cake.

10) agreeing to play along doesn’t necessarily mean you agree to play by the rules.

11) this is the farmer’s counter-offer; he’s all in, and if he looses they can grab the land, crops and all. but if he wins, they agree to accept him for who he is; a simple farmer who has, in fact, worked to produce every benefit. stakes is high.

12) in the heat of the moment, the townsfolk are nervous, while the farmer remains calm, cool and collected. this should give you a pretty good idea of who has more at risk.

13) tails it is. big bank take little bank (i see you, skizzle). but who really wins? more importantly, has anybody lost?

14) typical town rhetoric.

15) LOL @ “boss”-types braggin’ about their luck.

16) the fulfillment of purpose; the plan all along was to raise crops for the benefit of the entire community. good god – is any of this making sense?!?

17) one of the most significant lines in the whole song. as they enjoy the benefits of someone else’s work, the townspeople contemplate hiring laborers to maintain the field, all the while failing to realize they’ve driven out the most qualified candidate.

18 ) an honest living will forever be seen as an alternative to easy money.

19) irony here, too, in the motivation for giving thanks to god. dig deep.


lyrics to go (part 5 of 7) “bonanza”

easily the most slept-on cut from the BPW EP, hell maybe even the whole CM repertoire. not that i’m complaining, i’d much prefer my favorites to be safeguarded from the knee-jerk criticisms cordially invited by the “connect fornomenon” of myspace profile themes and heavy rotation on KEXP. it took some time to appreciate the subtleties of this rap shit, in cadence and in content alike, and personally i feel like this track embodies the best of what that laid-back flow has to offer. it could be the ’95-live-era vocal sample, the beautifully buzzy bassline, a host of things – whatever it is that makes this joint lope along with the confidence of a g-stroll just works for me.

extra-large shouts out to my guy Asim who came through london bridge studios to breathe a hot breath of vivacity into the track; folks should know the omission of his verse was the result of complications in mixing, lest the wind (or any other element) lead you to think otherwise. for your enjoyment, and for the purpose of adding some value to Asim’s hour-and-a-half-long commute to shoreline, i’ve included the raw version at the bottom of the post.  note:  e-real’s third verse bonus is not the only variance in this version – i’ll let you discover the other one on your own.

… a lotta suckas always front that we made it by luck…

live from out a silent town where talent abounds

the area where pavement covers sacred burial grounds

sound off two for those who came first and laid the work

laborers and mercenaries mining diamonds out the pay dirt (1)

worth inequitable, yet to get what’s deserved

for official recognition i press to spread the word (2)

act like you aint heard we on the verge of a breakthrough

youth crammin’ the gate sayin’ ‘i just can’t wait’

it takes a dreamer type to keep the hope alive but don’t shut those eyes

it’s cut-throat comin’ from both sides

and when the gun smoke rise, only one’ll survive (3)

‘not two, not three, not four, not five’

six years on the grind here, take it if they give me ten

principally paid dues, who’s seein’ dividends (4)

where the kid begin? around the City of Cin

another sea-sickened immigrant attempts to fit in

i seen your citizens around, shower praise on a duck

bust the bass-pound speakers, sets played in my truck (5)

a pot struck under the rainbow, the stage i touched (6)

‘a lotta suckas always front that we made it by luck’

never left fortune to chance, nah i took a second job

just to finance the pressing of a respectable effort (7)

i’ve come to terms with the significance of Live & Learn ( 8 )

kid’ll get his turn only after they listen and spurn

so necessarily my resolve was tested, told ’em

i’ll be back in a second to wreck it with a better record (9)

a set objective i said it how i knew best

rooted in the east movin’ due west, of the etiquette clueless, uh (10)

i bid adieu, do i say ‘bon jour?’ how long you be gone for?

maybe forever on this award tour (11)

playin’ for none, can i do one more? prayin’ for an encore

bangin’ on a drum at the contour (12)

the long shot, survival at sea – got to paddle

paychecks for prize money at the beatbox battle (13)

big up’s to VERA, my debt forever paid in fine art

one of the biggest reasons we fuckin’ with dave meinert (14)

service to my constituents, a purpose in fuzed

word to love, son – we got a lotta work to do (15)

real recognize and appreciate real, but

‘a lotta suckas always front that we made it by luck’

aint nothin’ foreign to the formula, you reap what you sew

spent these summers on the come-up, you just seein’ us blow

some conditions are beyond control – nevermind that

the difference in victory and failure is where your mind’s at

wild speculation on the state of the section

some missin’ the bigger picture while they’re posin’ the question

it’s the answer i’ve been trynna pass along to the amateur

while they stand around and wait for the bonanza.”

1) for a short while, we used to kick off our live sets with a joint called “The Wind,” in which i would preface what was to come by saying: “in all things, and for all things, we give thanks to those who came before us.” simple, but effective i thought. it is essentially the same sentiment i attempted to convey in “Connect For,” before i became acclimated to the city’s acute aversion to anything resembling name-dropping. the line here is a toned-down reference to two notable noise-makers from the town’s pre-jiggy-rap goings on: Source of Labor and Diamond Mercenaries; no linksies – do your fuckin’ homework, son.

2) in the earlier days of conducting interviews with both local and national press, sabz and i would make every effort to give due credit to the town-counsel endorsed pioneers of seattle’s hiphop sound; nothing was more important than giving the impression we were not responsible for putting the 206 on the coveted rap map. it didn’t take long to realize that portion of the interview never made it to print, as if media cared no more to cover RCKCNDY-era rap from an historical perspective than they did as a current event. furthermore, the city’s “keep my name outcha motherfuckin’ mouth” mantra left a bitter taste in mine. now it is what it is.

3) live in this town long enough and you’ll learn a few things. or you won’t, it’s up to you.

4) at 33, i look at validation in a whole new light. you know that feeling you get when you show up to the office and find out your boss has unexpectedly taken the day off? accolades and acceptance from my
townmates feels like that; like a substitute teacher on a test day, or a hundred dollar bonus on your paycheck, or a free cookie in your quizno’s bag – it comes as a surprise and i’m ever appreciative, but i go about my business regardless. sure, it’s necessary to prove yourself at times, so long as you realize it is to yourself yourself you are proving.

5) attendees of sasquatch ’06 holla. neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night can stop the kid from delivering.

6) depending on the context of the conversation, i can credit a half-dozen spots with giving me my very first stage appearance in seattle. in the context of this conversation, the distinction goes to that bedrock of burgeoning battle rappers at the intersection of 45th and I-5, the piss-drenched, smoke-stained and curiously aquatic-themed hellhole formerly known as The Rainbow, where o-deezie and the rowdiest of rhymesayers from the EVT converged every tuesday for a hiphop “showcase.” round about may of ’03, if memory serves correctly; me and my djembe and a couple of homies did the dirty-footed hippie hop thing for no less than seven ex-bandidos who, after a fourth round of cuervo shots, actually gave us a round of applause. interestingly enough, i DJ’ed this weekly for a short while, too – why The Rainbow’s patrons never dug on that iomos marad is far beyond me.

7) true hollywood story: I got into the property management business when i took on a part-time position changing common-area light bulbs at three different condominium complexes on the east side. the job responsibilities were simple and required no more than 8-hours-a-week to complete, but the compensation was enough to cover studio time plus mixing and mastering of my first real effort at making music.

8 ) i am not delusional. my first two albums were not very good, and i’m not mad at anybody, not even j. moore, for flaggin’ ’em as feeble freshman attempts. no disrespect to the folks involved in the production of Live & Learn, it just couldn’t stand next to the quality of rap Conception Records was putting out a full decade prior. in the end, though, were it not for that album, i would have never gotten the chance to step up to the plate sans tee. nice toss, fam.

9) in case you were wondering, i never had any intention of walking away from the studio content to rest on the laurels awarded to L&L by larry’s diplomatically gracious pen – the plan all along was to walk through the next door just as soon as it opened. some of you been hearing me knocking for some time now.

10) a modest admission: i’m a stranger in a strange land. not to be confused with the stranger in this strange land. mistakes, i’ve made a few – most of them the result of having a sharp tongue not filed on the whetstone of the in-crowd. believe me, i have made amends with those who deserve apologies, and if i’ve never offered my regrets to you then, quite frankly, you can wait.

11) it’s crazy to me that i can be so certain i’ll never return to live in KY, yet i’ll never feel comfortable calling this place home.

12) yessir. me and the djembe hollered at the monday night open mic a time or two. i doubt roc’phella would remember, but you could definitely ask sonny bonoho.

13) i probably wouldn’t have said shit two years ago, but seeing as how things turned out the way they did, blake lewis owes me $500.

14) honest to god, can you believe after all mr. mineheart has done for local hiphop that it’s taken this long to get a freekin’ namecheck? IT’S A TRAVESTY, I TELL YA! well, within these 2 bars i have carved out my place in the annals of seattle hiphop; already it’s hot in this motherfucker.

15) it’s your cousin, gabe. shout out to toni hill.

as promised:

and i leave you with this: