Tag Archives: Philadelphia

Avoiding the Potholes of Life

5 Apr

PotholesWaiting for the snow covered road to be plowed and cleared takes patience. Dealing with the plethora of potholes that follows the snow takes not only patience but skillful navigating and being circumspect. This year, in  the city of Philadelphia and nearby areas the potholes seem insurmountable. Nevertheless, they do serve a genuine purpose.

Potholes force us to slow down and pay close attention to our surroundings. Sometimes, we’re driving along, and the car in front of us may swerve to avoid a pot hole. Not paying attention and failing to do the same could result in a blown out tire or even an accident. Going the speed limit is fine, but potholes force us to use common sense. If there are a series of potholes, switching lanes or decelerating is necessary if you do not want to ruin your shocks. These potholes represent more than just a nuisance; they are an analogy for those moments in life when we need to be attentive or risk sustaining damage to different aspects of our lives. When we are speeding along, they slow us down and give that jolt we need to keep going on.

All the best,

Tanya

Advertisements

The Ultimate Workshop: Discovering Me!

15 Sep

Tanya Harris Franklin aka AnonomzI just started an MFA program in Creative Writing for poetry, and a main component of one of the courses I am taking is participating in workshops where I provide feedback (I prefer the word feedback to criticism) on the work of my classmates, and they provide feedback, which I try not to take as harsh criticism, on my work.  Having someone look at my work, my heartfelt, overflowing-with-emotions work, has proven to be even more difficult than I expected.  I’ve always struggled with confrontation, shying away from it whenever possible, and in some weird way, I am being confronted about poems on which I have worked so diligently and hard to produce.  Last week, I submitted my first set of poems, and I am pleased to say the feedback was not as severe as I thought it would be; nevertheless, the differing opinions and suggestions and the picking apart of my poems line by line is a lot to process.  It has left me mentally depleted pondering over what feedback I should accept and which ideas I should discard.  Having a support system is wonderful, but how do I not lose my voice as a writer and not simply conform to what others think is best for my work or my writing style?

What’s interesting is that this dilemma has got me thinking about an ultimate workshop: discovering me.  An internal conflict I still struggle with in my everyday life is wanting the approval of others and upholding an image others deem appropriate or noteworthy.  My poems cannot and will not be everything to everybody.  Some people will be quite fond of them, and some people will loathe them.  Therefore, trying to figure out how I should revise my poems or if I should even revise them at all is a pinnacle moment leading to a huge turning point for me.  I am being forced to make decisions on my work, and there is no way around it.  As a result, I am discovering more about me and what I think is best based on other people’s insight.  This line of thinking extends well beyond my poetry, and with each passing day I am finding out a little more about myself, what I like and dislike and trying to figure out how to filter through the beneficial thoughts of others without getting caught up in what they think is best for me.  It will be a lifelong workshop, but I can already sense some growth occurring.

All the best,

Tanya

The Journey Continues

1 Sep

Tanya Harris FranklinIt’s been a while since I’ve written a post, and I feel so guilty.  Even though I haven’t lost sight of my goals, I have allowed life to consume me.  The purpose of this blog is simply to share my musings, journey and whatever else strikes my fancy and to be able to possibly inspire others, and lately, I’ve had a lot of ideas, so I need to make more time to get them all down.   I’ll keep this post short, but I am eager to take you on my continued journey.

All the best,

Anonomz

Profound Hip Hop Quote #37: How Native is Your Tongue?

1 Oct

Two weeks ago, I posted a blog entry on A Tribe Called Quest to celebrate their documentary coming to DVD on October 18, and it got me thinking about the collection of positive-minded, “real-talk” rappers whose voices were prominent in the 1980s and 1990s: The Native Tongues.  Even though there are a sprinkling of artists presently doing their things who are on the same vibe, during the 80s and 90s is when they actually received consistent radio play and were able to get that positive message out there. So I thought, why not dedicate a post to reflecting on some of their profound quotes.

“Buddy” is a song that represents a few of the Native Tongue members.  Check it out!

  1. Black SheepBlack Sheep, “The Choice is Yours:” “You can get with this, or you can get with that.  I think you’ll get with this, for this is where it’s at.”
  2. Jungle Brothers, “Beyond This World” “Confused, no landing, no understanding.  But I knew not to give what life was demanding.  Found a new tab, thought I’d take a grab.  Tired of brothers who feign to backstab”
  3. De La Soul, “Stakes is High:” “Man life can get all up in your ass baby you betta work it out.  Let me tell you what it’s all about.  A skin not considered equal.  A meteor has more right than my people.  Who be wastin’ time screaming who they’ve hated.  That’s why the Native Tongues have officially been re-instated.”Jungle Brothers
  4. Queen Latifah, “U.N.I.T.Y.:” “Instinct leads me to another flow; Every time I hear a brother call a girl a bitch or a ho.  Trying to make a sister feel low.  You know all of that gots to go.”
  5. Leaders of the New School, “Understanding the Inner Mind’s Eye “Word is bond and I give my, Life before my word shall fall.  Do me a favor listen up y’all.  We got to activate social;  Activity for one common cause,  Cherish your mind or you will perish.
  6. Brand NubianBrand Nubian, “Wake Up:” You see, the answer to me is black unity .  Unification to help our bad situation
  7. A Tribe Called Quest, “Oh My God:” “Listen up everybody the bottom line.  I’m a black intellect, but unrefined; with precision like a bullet, target bound, just livin like a hooker, the harlett sounds.”De La Soul
  8. Monie Love, “It’s a Shame:”  “Get back on your feet please.  I’m beggin you to check out all your own needs.
  9. Large Professor, “It’s About That Time:”   “There’s a whole lotta rappers in the world today; Some good, there’s some that gotnothing to say, Some fake, some false, some imitation, But I’m the uncut raw for your generation.
  10. Fu-Schnickens, “Ring the Alarm  ” You can tell I’m a lyrical prophet from the words spoken and broken up.  In these books and scrolls that I unfold.  The knowledge I use does make me bold.  The intelligence in my system converts itself and becomes wisdom”Monie Love

The Limitations of not only ten songs but ten artists with ten specific lines from those selected those ten songs is no easy task; there’s so many more songs I could reference.  Who’s your favorite artist from the Native Tongues?   Please feel free to share.

All the best,

Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin


Profound Hip Hop Quote #35: Imagine Beats, Rhymes & Life Without A Tribe Called Quest

17 Sep

A Tribe Called QuestWhen they left their wallet in El Segundo, we empathized and went along for the ride to retrieve it. We rooted for them to be put on by Bonita Applebum. They taught us how to check the “rhime.” Interestingly, they asked repeatedly if they can kick it when of course anyone plugged into hip hop during the late 80s throughout the 90s can attest to this group’s ability to come with that butter flow in any scenario and bring that electric relaxation to take us on that long overdue award tour. If you have yet to figure out who I’m referencing, then you are missing one of the prototypes who represents authentic hip-hop.  During the summer of  2011, a documentary, by Michael Rapaport, entitled, “Beats, Rhymes & Travels: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest”  was released in select theaters.  Unfortunately, by the time I and many other interested viewers were made aware of the film, it was no longer on the big screen.  Nevertheless, all hope is not loss.  This documentary, which has received praise, will be available on DVD on October 18, 2011, approximately one month from now, and I plan on being one of the first people to obtain my copy.  A Tribe Called Quest has always been one of my favorite groups.  I love their jazzy vibe beats, the delivery of their rhymes and their topics about daily life occurrences that range from record label headaches, to date rape to just partying and having a good time.  They will always be on my top ten list of best rap groups. So,  I’d like to not only celebrate the pending release of the documentary but my love for these artists by providing a playlist of some of my favorite ATCQ songs and lyrics.

A Tribe Called Quest

  1. Check the Rhime“Rap is not pop, if you call it that then stop.”
  2. Butter: “Your whole appearance is a lie and it could never be true.  And if you really loved yourself then you would try and be you.”
  3. Award Tour: “The wackest crews try to dis, it makes me laugh. When my track record’s longer than a DC-20 aircraft. So next time that you think you want somethin’ here. Make somethin’ differ, take that garbage to St. Elsewhere.”
  4. Bonita Applebum: “Hey, being with you is a top priority. Ain’t no need to question the authority. Chairman of the board, the chief of affections. You got mine’s to swing in your direction.”A Tribe Called Quest
  5. Jazz “Stern firm and young with a laid-back tongue. The aim is to succeed and achieve at 21. Just like Ringling Brothers, I’ll daze and astound, Captivate the mass, cause the prose is profound.”
  6. Buggin Out: “I never walk the streets, think it’s all about me.  Even though deep in my heart, it really could be.  I just try my best to like go all out.  Some might even say yo shorty black you’re buggin’ out”A Tribe Called Quest
  7. Oh My God: “Listen up everybody the bottom line.  I’m a black intellect, but unrefined; with precision like a bullet, target bound, just livin like a hooker, the harlett sounds.”
  8. Lyrics to Go:  “A Tribe Called Quest we on the run for whatever. Trials and tribulations that we have to endeavor”
  9. Scenario:   “I could give a damn about a ill subliminal.  Stay away from crime cause I ain’t no CRIMINAL.  I love my young nation, groovy sensation.  No time for hibernation, only elation.”
  10. Show Business:  ” So you still wanna do the show business?  And you think that you got what it takes?  I mean you really gotta rap and be all that…And prepare yourself for the breaks

It was extremely difficult to not only limit myself to ten songs but to only include specific lines from those selected those ten songs.  What’s your favorite A Tribe Called Quest song?   Please feel free to share.  Also, if you saw or plan on seeing the documentary, share your thoughts as well.

All the best,

Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin


Profound Hip Hop Quote #29: Don’t Let Me Fall

23 Jul

“Well it was just a dream
Just a moment ago
I was up so high
Looking down at the sky
Don’t let me fall
I was shooting for stars
On a Saturday night
They say what goes up
Must come down
But don’t let me fall.
” 

—“Don’t Let Me Fall” by B.o.B.

B.o.B.I have a tendency to mainly listen to underground artists with a few sprinklings of the mainstream.  Perhaps one of the reasons is that most of the rap music being promoted today either sounds the same or has limited sustenance for me, or maybe I’m just getting old and turning into one of those “back in my day when music was good” type of people.  As a person who loves all different types of music, I know it is not fair to discount all mainstream sounds, so I do occasionally listen to the radio to hear what’s new. Actually, I require my English Composition II students to analyze a song of their choosing as poetry, and it gives me the chance to be exposed to different types of music or some mainstream music that I might not otherwise hear.

Last year, a student of mine selected B.o.B.’s, aka Bobby Ray Simmons Jr, song “Don’t Let Me Fall” to analyze as poetry, and I quite impressed.  We’ve all heard the cliche phrase “shoot for the stars,” but is it potentially missing the stars that stops some of us from even making the attempt to shoot?  Maybe, but I think one of the major reasons is being addressed by B.o.B.   What if you shoot for the stars and make it?  Then you have an even bigger concern: trying not to fall from the sky.  Hey, there are people who don’t fly on airplanes because they are terrified about falling out of the sky; therefore, the thought of figuratively falling out of the sky or not being successful with one’s dreams may be frightening as well.

“They say what comes up must come down,” as B.o.B.  points out; nevertheless, how you come down or even when you come down can depend on your own actions.  If you come down unprepared, well, you’ll hit the ground like a brick, and there may be no recovery from it.  However, if you pack a parachute, you’ll be ready just in case.  If you use a glider, the wind can guide you, and you might have even more air time and get to enjoy the breeze as you decline.  Let’s face it; to fall has a negative connotation.  Who really wants to fall?  But sometimes it’s necessary so that you don’t run out of oxygen, and other times you need energy to keep flying. Sometimes it’s just a matter of refueling or coming back down to pick up or drop off passengers along the way.  Also, it’s excellent when you have a solid support system including God, family, friends, co-wrokers, students, etc. to lift you up even higher or to help you if you begin to descend.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
B.o.B.  uses figurative language to demonstrate his success.  He is not literally flying high in the sky, but the impact of the potential fall can be emotionally damaging.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #28: Ready to Self Destruct?

16 Jul

“I don’t understand the difficulty, people
Love your brother, treat him as an equal
They call us animals mmm mmm I don’t agree with them
I’ll prove them wrong, but right is what your proving them
Take heed before I lead to what I’m sayin’
Or we’ll all be on our knees, prayin’
.” 


—Stop the Violence Movement, formed by KRS One, quoted lyrics by Heavy D “Self Destruction”

Self DestructionAccording to the homicide statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department, there have been 176 homicides this year (including July 15, 2011).  (Crime Maps & Stats)
Of course, this data does not account for other violent crimes such as armed robbery, rape and aggravated assault.   Is there something about the summer or hot weather that causes people to be even more violent than in the winter?  Is it that more people are just outdoors, so they are bound to resort to violence to address issues of contention they may have.

What about when it comes to people of color?  Are some people innately more violent than others, or does the environment in which people are raised or presently residing play significant roles in how they behave?  Last year, there were 306 homicide victims, as reported on Philly.com. Interestingly,  60 of the homicides involved people who were classified as white, and 242 of the homicides involved people who were classified as black.  This means that nearly 20% of the senseless deaths were white people, and nearly 80% were black people.  I am no sociologist or statistician, but this information is alarming.  In regard to neighboring counties and townships, many of them do not have “murder maps” because homicides at the rate they are occurring in Philadelphia would be considered an anomaly in those areas.

What conclusions would you draw if you just went according to the data and did not get to really know the people involved, their plights and struggles? (Not that this in anyway justifies the actions of these violent acts)  “Self Destruction” is a classic rap song where KRS One brought together some of the most renown rappers of the late 80s and early 90s for the “Stop the Violence Movement.”  Even though some of the slang terminology utilized in the song and some of the allusions may be dated, this song sadly still reigns true today.  Most people have heard the phrase, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”  Heavy D uses this very same message in his lyrics, “They call us animals mmmm  mmmm I don’t agree with them. I’ll prove them wrong, but right is what you’re proving them.”  I’ve heard people refer to blacks and latinos animals.  There are even teachers who do not think twice about using such a derogatory term.  Perhaps you don’t care about what “they” think, but do you care about your family, friends, classmates, colleagues, neighbors, etc. who may eventually wind up on their knees praying and mourning the loss of a loved one?  We’re all in this together, or at least we should be.  Don’t let our people, neighborhoods, towns, cities and nations self-destruct!

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Heavy D chose to drop the “g” from the words “sayin” and “prayin” for dialectical and meter  purposes.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #27: I’m Back With Power!!

9 Jul

“Listen, dude, for you that ain’t in the cards
Think the power is in the gun, but over all it’s in your heart


—TI, “I’m Back”
    View Video

TI "I'm Back"TI, aka Clifford Harris, was dubbed the Jay Z of the south, yet has had his share of run-ins with the law and difficulties staying out of trouble. Nevertheless, there’s something special about this guy. Perhaps it’s that we both share the same surname or that my paternal grandparents also hailed from Georgia.  Actually, his profound lyrics and innate “swaggerability” (Yes I just made up a new noun) are two attributes that have made me a follower of his music.  Regardless of what has went on in his personal life, lyrically speaking, this guy is alright with me.

Ironically, TI’s trouble with the authorities has, more times than not, been associated with firearms or artillery charges of some kind, but he elicits a positive reaction from listeners with his lyrics from “I’m Back.”  These in particular lyrics, “Think the power is in the gun, but over all it’s in your heart,” address an issue all too familiar with people living in the inner city and even in rural areas: gun violence.

Even though I’ve never been fond of guns mainly because of the inauthentic power they instill in people who can impulsively take another person’s life within a flash, I do understand why guns have become so prevalent over the years.  Some people carry guns for protection, others carry them with the intention of committing a crime or causing harm, while others simply get an adrenaline rush of power by having guns in their possession and just going to shooting ranges to practice.

However, who are these people without the guns?  What do their hearts reveal?  Is it anxiousness, fear, confusion, desperation, anger or even worthlessness?  Whatever it may be, people must eventually deal with the matters of the heart because that is where the true power begins, and when it comes to violence, let’s hope “for you that ain’t in the cards.” Address those issues first rather than seeking power in an inanimate object that can potentially cause a lifetime of heartache for animated human beings who are passionate about making this world a better place.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
In TI’s profound lyrics, he chooses to omit the pronoun “you” in the second line of his lyrics, “You think the power is in the the gun, but over all it’s in your heart,”  causing the listeners to refer back to the antecedent, “dude” so that they know to whom he is referring.  Also, as a result of TI excluding the pronoun you, this particular line can refer to anyone who believes that the power is in the gun.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #26: Rapping Up Violence

2 Jul

In our community it’s funny how the unity,
it seems to fall from tragedy instead of love from you and me.
As we move from war to peace
and back again while mothers all cry in the streets
from the gunshots.” 


—Nicolay & Kay, featuring Chip Fu “The Gunshot”

If you’ve never heard this song before, it is a “must hear!” 

Nicolay & KayThe summer is supposed to be a time of fun with people enjoying the weather, going to the beach, the park, enjoying family and friends, vacationing, etc. Sadly, the opposing force to these moments of jubilation is violence which plagues some cities more than others.  According to the homicide statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department, there have been 159 homicides this year (including July 1, 2011).  Even though it is 21 percent lower than it was in 2007 (the homicide rate was 202 by July 1st), this is still a relatively high number. Actually, from June 1st to July 1st of this year, there have been 37 homicides; that’s more than one per day! (Crime Maps & Stats)

Yes, it is true that many rappers choose to promote and glorify violence, but that is not always their agenda.  Some actually are quite positive and influential in their communities and want to put an end to gun violence or any type of violence for that matter.  One artist in particular who addresses the need to do something about gun violence is Kay, a Houston, Texas rapper who paired up with Nicolay, the ultimate producer extraordinaire from the Netherlands to compose the classic album “Timeline.”  The production of song, “The Gunshot,” featuring Chip Fu, alone is enough to captivate listeners; however, most people would be able to resonate with and enjoy the profound lyrics of Kay as well.

It is unfortunate that many people with whom I have come in contact with can attest to having a direct or indirect experience with gun violence.  My first experience with gun violence was during my senior year of high school where two of my classmates, in separate incidents, were brutally slain.  Kay makes an observation that is unfortunate as well, “In our community it’s funny how the unity…it seems to fall from tragedy instead of love from you and me.”  Why do many of us wait for violence to strike before we take action?  Why not rally together in masses and take back our neighborhoods from violent offenders rather than have to undergo candle light vigils and teddy bear and balloon shrines for innocent bystanders and children caught in the crossfire?  Can some of these senseless tragedies be prevented with the love and peace from the community to stop the mothers from crying in the streets from the gunshots?

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
In order to make a poem or rap more complex and rhythmic, the writer may employ an internal rhyme, which is a rhyme that occurs within the line of verse.  For example,  the word in the middle of the line will rhyme with the ending word in the line.  “In our community it’s funny how the unity, it seems to fall from tragedy instead of love from you and me.”  In the second line, Kay actually uses assonance, meaning that the rhyme focus is on the vowel sound, specifically “tragedy” and “me.“, rather than the entire words rhyming.

Profound Hip Hop Quote #25: Rappers Need Love Too

25 Jun

“Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.
But I love a whole lot more than I hate about them.
They look good feel good and smell even better,
So why you acting like your mama didn’t use that leather?
B word this H bomb that.
And in the midst all of this I wonder where your moms at?
Cause if she ain’t one, then tell me where the hate from.
You just calm down and maybe you can date one. 


—Murs, “Love & Appreciate 2”


MursMurs is by far one of the best lyricists and storyteller style rappers that I’ve heard in a long time.  Even though his hair is a bit much to take in, I love how he does what he wants to do and doesn’t get wrapped up in having the “perfect” image.  On numerous occasions, Murs has paired up with Ninth Wonder, a producer I’d love to work with one day, and released classic albums that belong in any true connoisseur of real hip hop’s collection.

Love and relationships are two themes that have made appearances on most of his albums.   In 2008, Murs included “Love & Appreciate 2” on his album “Murs for President,” which is actually a follow-up to “Love and Appreciate” on his album “Murray’s Revenge,” released in 2006.  In these particular lyrics, Murs speaks not only for himself as a man but for men in general.  We’ve all heard the cliche phrase, “Can’t live with them, can’t live without them;” however, Murs admits that “he loves a whole lot more than he hates about them.”  Men may groan about what their women are doing to aggravate or frustrate them with their male friends occasionally, and women are definitely known for doing the same, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the love and appreciation you have for one another.

However, Murs, does take it a step further by indicating that there does come a point where some men do cross the line with how they treat and interact with their women or women in general.  He juxtaposes the mothers of these men and the women with whom they are involved or wish to be involved and questions how men treat women .  The implications is that women should be treated with the same respect these very same men would give their mothers. Even though Murs is speaking directly to men, this stance also reigns true with women.  I’ve heard women who often refer to men as dogs or bums even when they’ve done nothing to substantiate being referred to as such.  Is this love and appreciation?

It is necessary to not only show love but appreciation for one another, and how can this be done when you use derogatory words to represent the person you are with or would like to be with.  Is it ever acceptable?  Some people may say, “Well, I only say those things to her or him when I’m angry.” I say that it’s never acceptable, even in anger.  In order to have love and appreciation, one must give respect at all times.  Remember, you get what you give, and if you are still in pursuit of that special person, if “you just calm down and maybe you could date one.”

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Even though I love rap music, if a person was attempting to learn the English language or grammar rules, a rap song would definitely not be the best place to start.  One of the reasons is that several rappers include not just slang but dialects which usually contain blatant grammatical errors throughout their lyrics.  Murs is no exception.  In the following lyrics, Murs has a very common grammatical error which is actually a dialect with the “to be” verb as been dropped from the sentence.  He says,   “So why you acting like your mama didn’t use that leather?”  But if this sentence was put into standard English it would say, “So why are you acting like your mama didn’t use that leather?”  I love slang and dialects, but keep in mind that there is a time and place for standard and what is considered non standard English, a dialect or vernacular of some kind.