My Random Thoughts After Watching ‘Queen & Slim’

Disclaimer: Spoilers, brethren. Y’all know how this goes.

So, as I promised at the end of my The Irishman post, I finally went to go see Queen & Slim. Real talk, while my wife and I were waiting for our son’s chess tournament to conclude, we dipped away to see the movie. Now, to be transparent, this post is going to be more random (and much longer) than usual, son. Frankly, I have so many sporadic thoughts that I couldn’t put it in a decent narrative, man. All in all, I loved the film and here are some of my takeaways:

  1. Angela “Queen” Johnson annoys the shit out of me at first. On the real, during the first date with Ernest “Slim” Hines, I think she’s unnecessarily rude. Shit, the way my patience is setup, if I were Slim, I would’ve ended that date early, fam. But, as the movie goes on, I realize that her behavior is based on her trauma. She’s guarded but learns that she doesn’t have to be combative and simultaneously isolated all the time.
  2. There are several quotes in the film that resonate with me for different reasons. During a scene after the shooting, while trying to hitchhike, Slim says that he hopes the inhabitants are Black. Queen highlights the fact that this isn’t always a good thing. This ends up being some crazy foreshadowing since a Black man is ultimately the one who sells them out for the $500,000 reward. The phrase “it be your own people” is real as fuck, bruh. Next, when they’re at Uncle Earl‘s house, Queen asks Slim is he’s okay and he says that he is. She asks him how that’s even possible and he says “I guess I’m so used to saying I’m okay even when I’m not.” Son, I feel like that’s the story of my life. Sadly, a lot of us operate like that waaay more than we should, man. It’s okay to not be okay, brethren. Lastly, there’s a scene where Slim asks Queen if she’s a good lawyer. She says that she’s an excellent lawyer and he responds “why do we always have to be excellent? Why can’t we just be ourselves?” Now, I ALWAYS strive for excellence, but I understand where that quote is coming from. Growing up, I was always told that Black people have to work twice as hard as White people to get half as much. So, we end up (unjustly) putting LARGE amounts of pressure on ourselves and our loved ones. We just need to be us and do the best that we can.
  3. I was thoroughly triggered by that initial police stop. Listen, in my 34 years of life, I’ve had NUMEROUS interactions with the cops. The truth is, the vast majority of them weren’t positive, bruh. Hell, just two years ago, I wrote about a tense exchange that I had with four officers who were determined to belittle me. In addition, I lived through Rudy Giuliani and the Michael Bloomberg stop-and-frisk era. Son, I’m a Black man with a college degree and a federal job and I STILL don’t trust the police, man. In my eyes, I’ve seen WAY too much unnecessary aggression to ever release that fear.
  4. I’ve seen some criticism about the film not being “realistic.” However, I think people are missing the point that it’s still a movie and a form of artistic expression. With that being said, I can agree that a Black cop probably wouldn’t just let Queen and Slim drive out of that garage. I can agree that the Black community might not necessarily look at the two of them as pure heroes. But, I do believe that the community would understand their plight. All I can say is, there’s a feeling of hopelessness when it comes to police violence. I mean, there’s NEVER any recourse for us. Our murderers are almost never held accountable for their crimes. In the film, Queen and Slim rightfully defend themselves and I believe that minorities would empathize with their actions/pain.
  5. I’ve also seen criticism about the ending of the film. On one hand, a few people are upset with the way that Queen and Slim die. But, how else did they expect this movie to end? If we’re talking about realistic, there’s NO way that the two of them wouldn’t end up dead or in jail. Regardless of circumstance, a cop killer would be hunted to the ends of the Earth, fam. To me, death was definitely the most likely outcome, bruh. Also, I’ve seen people lament that the film doesn’t give any “answers.” Son, what fucking answers were they expecting? Since when was art designed to answer social issues? Now, I’m not comparing this movie to Do the Right Thing, but there are no answers at the end of Spike Lee‘s film, man. If anything, all of these works are designed to make us feel and think, brethren. No more and no less. From there, it’s up to us to come up with definitive plans of action.
  6. The death of Junior fucked me up, son. Keeping it a buck, this is another scene that I heard complaints about. Like, even my wife was uneasy about this scene juxtaposed with Queen and Slim having sex. Now, I get it, man. I definitely do. It’s a hard 10 minutes to digest, fam. But, I internalized it all in a different way, bruh. The way I see it, Junior’s just a young man who doesn’t know how to process his feelings. He’s enamored by the story of Queen and Slim, but he doesn’t fully understand what it all means and the ramifications. He doesn’t yet understand the nuance of the minority experience in America, but he’s hell-bent on action. This leads to extremely irrational decision-making. The truth is, Queen and Slim don’t want to be heroes. They don’t want to be martyrs. More so than anything, the people around them are elevating their meaning and importance. While Junior is in love with the idea of “immortality,” Slim just wants to be remembered by his family and his lady. From my vantage point, Junior’s death highlights the fact that we need to explain to the youth what’s really going on out here, instead of just leaving them to filter the information on their own.

In the end, I know that I just said a lot, son. Ultimately, there was no easy way for me to write this post, man. By and by, I judge a movie’s quality by how much it stays with me. Truth is, my wife and I have been talking about this film all weekend, fam. So, shout-out to Melina Matsoukas (my Co-op City sister) and Lena Waithe for putting this together, bruh. Side bar, I still don’t like the way that Waithe handled the Jason Mitchell situation, but I give credit where credit is due, folks. Anyway, this movie gave me strong emotional reactions and I thank them for it. At the end of the day, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. All I can say is, I personally loved the movie, brethren. That is all. LC out.

Thanks For Supporting My Music, Pt. 2

So, I won’t lie, son. On the real, a lot has transpired since I first thanked everyone for supporting my music, man. Shit, at this point last year, I was getting ready to release my The Charlemagne Renaissance album on streaming services. As of today, I now have two projects out here on these streets: the aforementioned The Charlemagne Renaissance and The Charlemagne Overture. All in all, none of this would be possible if the good people out there didn’t help a brother out, fam.

In any case, I don’t have much else to say, bruh. All I know is, I have a lot more shit on the horizon, son. First, I’m about to start getting into my music video bag. I mean, out of the 20 records I dropped this year, a few of them need that visual treatment, man. Second, I’m also planning on getting my website and mailing list up and running. Lastly, the shows will continue to pop off, fam. So, be on the lookout for all of the shit that I’m doing in 2020, brethren.

In the end, since Thanksgiving just passed, I felt like it was only right to show my gratitude, son. Ultimately, there are millions of people out here doing music. By and by, folks aren’t obligated to support me, man. With that being said, keep streaming the projects, keep coming to the shows and keep dropping the lines of encouragement. As an independent artist, it goes a long way, fam. It really does. That is all. LC out.

Jorge Masvidal Schooled Nate Diaz

So, it really happened, son. I mean, Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz really went at it for the “Baddest Motherfucker” belt. Side note, I really hope that Dana White and the UFC compensated Diaz for that trademark, man. On the real, we ALL know who invented that title, folks. In any case, outside of that maddening doctor stoppage, the fight went exactly the way that I thought it would. All in all, Masvidal is a much better fighter than Diaz, fam.

Ok, for those who missed it, Masvidal and Diaz headlined the UFC 244 card. Now, keeping it a buck, I’d have to write an entirely separate post to talk about all of the other fights, bruh. Anyway, when it came to the main event, it was a pretty one-sided affair, son. Like, through the first three rounds, Masvidal was easily handling Diaz, man. Between the body kicks, the faster hands and the harder punches, Masvidal was straight piecing Diaz up, fam. Listen, I don’t think the doctor should’ve stopped the fight, but I also don’t see how Diaz could’ve changed the result, bruh. Yeah, his cuts were bad, but Masvidal deserved to finish the brilliant fight that he was fighting, brethren.

Now, to my confusion, I keep hearing Diaz fans say that he would’ve turned it around in the fourth and fifth rounds. Shit, even Diaz himself said that his game plan was to tire Masvidal out and then take it to him in the championship rounds. Well, I have some bad news for Diaz fans: there’s literally NO evidence to support that theory, son.

Look, based on my research, Diaz has fought six five-round fights in his career (Masvidal, two against Conor McGregor, Benson Henderson, Jim Miller and Hermes França). The truth is, he’s lost four of those fights, man. In fact, the two fights that he did win (against McGregor and Miller), he finished in the second round. Meaning, there was no last-minute onslaught that secured the victory for him. So, the way I see it, he didn’t have a fucking prayer against Masvidal, fam. Frankly, Jorge proved that he’s a way more talented fighter than Diaz, bruh.

On another note, Diaz always has some excuse for why he loses fights. Listen, before he clashed with Masvidal, Diaz said that he previously lost matches because dudes wanted to “hug him” and not actually scrap. Well, Masvidal didn’t do any of that, son. In actuality, he sonned Diaz in a mostly stand-up battle. If anything, I’m mad at the doctor for giving Diaz a way out, man. Real talk, I wanted to see Masvidal finish that dominating performance, fam.

In the end, Masvidal is in his prime right now, bruh. Ultimately, he should absolutely get a title shot against the winner of Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. By and by, I’m not really interested in a rematch between Masvidal and Diaz. At the end of the day, there was no proof that Diaz could do anything against him, son. All I know is, Diaz and his fans need to come to grips with reality, man. Then again, that’ll probably never happen, fam. That is all. LC out.

My Beef With Elizabeth Warren’s View On Charter Schools

So, here we are, son. It’s October 25, 2019 and Elizabeth Warren is one of the frontrunners for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Now, I won’t lie, man. On the real, I go back and forth about what I think about Warren. On one hand, I like some of her ideas. On the other hand, I can’t get with some of her stances. Side bar, I genuinely don’t believe that companies like Facebook or Amazon will allow her to break them up. But, that’s neither here nor there, fam. In any case, I legitimately have a beef with her position on charter schools. All in all, I think these institutions are always unfairly maligned.

Ok, for those who are unaware, Warren has a “plan” to improve public schools while simultaneously ending funding for new charter schools. Now, according to her vision, she wants to impose a 2% “wealth tax” that would hit households that make $50 million and up. The goal is to use that money to improve K-12 programs nationwide. In addition, Warren is looking to stop federal funding for new charter schools and subject existing charter schools to the same “accountability rules” as public schools.

Look, the way I see it, this plan perpetuates the idea that there’s something inherently wrong with charter schools. Now, to be fair, I may be a little biased, bruh. I mean, I currently have two children who are benefiting from a charter school education. Side bar, shout-out to Success Academy, son. In any case, while my family is thoroughly entrenched in the charter school system, I can admit that there are some issues. Namely, the lottery system. Real talk, the idea of a lottery system is problematic as shit, man. Basically, it’s designed in a way that prohibits all children from receiving the same education. So, I can readily see the fault with that, fam.

But, with all of that being said, let’s keep it a buck, bruh. The truth is, charter schools exist because public schools are fucking awful. Listen, I’ve heard the “let’s tax the rich” argument for fucking years, son. All I know is, that shit hasn’t worked yet, man. The way I see it, as long as public school funding is determined by tax bracket and property value, underprivileged kids will always get the short end of the stick. Shit, I grew up in the Bronx and my middle school principal personally gave me an application for Prep for Prep as a way to get me out of my school district. Sadly, he knew that there were better opportunities outside of my neighborhood. So, he decided to look out for me.

In the end, charter schools are not the problem, fam. Ultimately, charter schools are unfairly targeted by people like Warren and Bill de Blasio because no one has come up with a sensible enough plan to fix our broken public school system. By and by, taxing the rich works in theory, but that idea has never gotten off of the ground, bruh. At the end of the day, I’ll take my kids out of their charter school when wealthier people stop getting better free education. That is all. LC out.

My First (Real) Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Class

So, I won’t lie, son. On the real, I love fighting, man. Now, I haven’t been in a real fight in years, but I still need that type of aggression, fam. Shit, I grew up doing Taekwondo, I’ve boxed, I’ve done Muay ThaiJeet Kune Do and general MMA. Needless to say, I’m semi-addicted to pain, bruh. In any case, last night was a first for me. Last night was the first time I took a real Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. All in all, I’m still processing my experience, brethren.

Ok, to be clear, last night was not the first time I’ve rolled. Shit, thanks to previous MMA classes, I’ve had the pleasure of putting someone in and being put into a rear-naked choke and an armbar. However, those experiences didn’t necessarily prepare me for a full hour and a half of BJJ, son. Frankly, despite my years of martial arts training, I’ve learned that I don’t know shit upon shit about fighting on the ground, man.

Now, before I continue, I have to give a major shout-out to Babs Olusanmokun. The actor/BJJ black belt runs Babs BJJ out of Phil Nurse‘s The Wat school in lower Manhattan. Side bar, I have to give another shout-out to my wife for finding this school, fam. Keeping it a buck, she’s the real MVP, bruh. Anyway, since the spot is only a few blocks away from my job, I figured I’d give a class a test spin, son. All I know is, I wasn’t exactly prepared for this shit, man.

In any case, the class went as follows: I first learned to shrimp, followed by front rolls and back rolls. From there, I learned how to do the technical stand-up. Next, I learned the basics of the triangle choke. After that, I spent the majority of the class drilling kimuras with other white belts. Side bar, one of the white belts had one stripe and the other had three stripes. Meaning, we were not the same, fam. Frankly, both of those dudes could fuck me up, bruh. It just is what it is.

Moving on, I was involved in all of the activities until it came time to roll. Babs knew that I would get mangled if I got my ass down there, son. Instead, I just watched and came to the realization that a 5’5″ woman with a blue belt could choke the fuckity-fuck out of me, man. All I can say is, it was a very humbling experience, fam.

In the end, I’m still trying to process it all, bruh. Hell, look at my face in that above picture, son. Ultimately, that’s the face of a dude who got his innocence took, man. By and by, I’m pretty sure I’ll go back, fam. At the end of the day, I just need my knees to cooperate with me, brethren. The truth is, it’ll be easy as fuck for someone to double leg me if I don’t get lower to the ground. But, I only have one life and I need to try everything, people. That is all. LC out.

P.S. Someone tell my boy Fabo that I’m renigging on my word to roll with him. Son, I ain’t ready for that type of smoke. Talk to me in a year, man. Good day.

Little Brother’s Back!

So, I won’t lie, son. On the real, I’m having a hard time containing my excitement, man. Seriously, Little Brother is one of my favorite groups ever, fam. Like, EVER, bruh! If I’m being honest, PhonteRapper Big Pooh and 9th Wonder completely changed the way I thought music could be made. With that being said, even without 9th’s production, I’m fucking HYPED that they dropped a new album, brethren!

Ok, before I continue, let me take a trip down memory lane. Now, I started rapping when I was 15 years old. Back then, all of my lyrics were littered with copious amounts of Bronx shenanigans. Real talk, some of the tomfoolery I rapped about where things I’ve done. However, a lot of it was just fuckery that I saw around my neighborhood. Basically, I embodied my entire block, regardless of whether or not it was my individual story.

Fast forward to 2003, my life changed, son. Now, in February of that year, Little Brother dropped their debut album, The Listening. As a 17-year-old dude, I was blown away by the record, man. Frankly, I didn’t know a rapper could rhyme about shit like that, fam. I didn’t know that a rapper could speak about the everyday struggle of hating a job, paying child support or shitting on poetry slams. Keeping it a buck, a lot of Rap music only embraced the “gangsta” aesthetic. So, it wasn’t until Little Brother, and later Kanye West, that I realized an artist could wholly live their truth, bruh.

Now, as many fans know by now, the group went through a lot of upheaval over the years. They dropped two more albums (sans 9th Wonder), beefed publicly and then went on with their respective careers. Side note, I’m not the biggest fan of their Leftback album, but Getback was fucking great, son. I don’t give a fuck what anyone says, man. In any case, I never thought they would ever release more music as a collective, fam. Thankfully, I was over-fucking-joyed to listen to their new May the Lord Watch album.

Look, to be clear, 9th isn’t on the album. Yeah, it’s disappointing, but honestly, the project is fucking great without him, bruh. First, Phonte and Pooh recruited producers like Khrysis and Nottz, who are both part of 9th’s Jamla Records and his Soul Council production team. In addition, the group got producers like Focus… and Black Milk to keep their distinctive sound alive, son. The point is, this project is cohesive as shit and the skits are fucking hilarious, man. Like, they brought back a bunch of themes from their The Minstrel Show album, such as Joe Scudda in blackface, Percy Miracles and Roy Lee. All in all, this shit is gold for a diehard fan like me, fam.

In the end, I could keep on going, bruh. But, everyone should just go listen to the album, son. Ultimately, I couldn’t have asked for a better project from them, man. By and by, it would’ve been great to have 9th on the record, but I don’t think it takes away from the music, fam. Also, I’m pretty sure 9th was busy finishing up Rapsody‘s Eve album. At the end of the day, this album just put a new battery in my back, bruh. Hell, I feel like making a new song right now, people. That is all. LC out.

P.S. If anyone doubts my Little Brother fandom, just take a listen to “The World Is Mine” on my The Charlemagne Renaissance album. Fam, I literally have lyrics that say “I’m just tryna navigate through a cold game, and sell a mil as Phonte with a gold chain.” The point is, I fucking love these dudes, son! Good day.

Why I’m Not Happy About Daniel Pantaleo’s Firing

So, here we are, son. Five years after the murder of Eric Garner, the officer who killed him, Daniel Pantaleo, was fired by the NYPD. Now, because of this decision, I’m seeing certain factions of people celebrate on social media. However, I don’t really feel good about this, man. I mean, yeah, it’s great that Pantaleo was fired. But, that’s not enough, fam. The way I see it, if there was enough cause to fire him, there was enough cause to indict him, bruh.

Ok, keeping it a buck, the first paragraph should speak for itself, son. Basically, after a department trial, killer cop Pantaleo was relieved of his duties. Anyway, according to the presiding judge, Pantaleo’s “use of a chokehold fell so far short of objective reasonableness that this tribunal found it to be reckless — a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York City police officer.” Essentially, he got canned for murder without actually facing charges for murder.

Now, therein lies the cotdamn problem, man. The fact is, folks can agree that Pantaleo fucked up, but no one will seem to give that asshole any prison time. First, back in 2014, the Staten Island courts refused to bring an indictment against him. Fast forward to this year, the Department of Justice, excuse me, Attorney General William Barr, failed to bring any federal charges against Pantaleo. In the interim, the Garner family reached a $5.9 million settlement with the City of New York and Pantaleo lost his job. So, there was enough reason to give them money and take his pension, but not enough to put his fucking ass behind bars? Nah, fam, miss me with all of that bullshit.

The truth is, this isn’t justice, bruh. Seriously, all we want is accountability. Like, Pantaleo can eventually get another occupation, son. The Garner family can’t get another Eric, man. Frankly, a few million dollars won’t fill the hole of a dead family member, fam. So, I feel like all of this is a slap in the face, folks. It’s on some “yeah, we know he killed him, but, this is all we’re offering” type of shit, brethren. All in all, I don’t feel like it’s nearly enough, people.

In the end, I know it’s a better situation that Pantaleo is out of a job. But, his punishment should’ve been waaaaaay worse, son. Ultimately, he killed an innocent man before our eyes and he’s basically getting a tap on the wrist, fam. By and by, all we ever ask for is justice, bruh. At the end of the day, the powers that be always make it clear that they don’t intend on holding up their end of the bargain. That is all. LC out.