Archive for June, 2009


Backstage at the No Doubt tour!

2.0 by Niki Flix
*Photo by jovian zayne aka Niki Flix*
We were sitting backstage and Niki Flix shows up with her camera.  Mild mannered manager of individual giving for TFA during the day, Scoop Photographer to the stars (and comets) by night.  It was a wild evening. Cliff came up from V-town because I had some extra passes, and despite being from Jersey, I knew nobody else to invite. Quietly, I needed him to verify that it (Holmdel) actually was Jersey, since GPS didn’t seem to know. The tour was unbelievable. It was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had. Tour Webisodes Check JM’s vimeo page for some of the webisodes I shot and posted on the fly via TheChasemasters But here is the most compelling story of the ENTIRE tour: We found out that the band Paramore were a band of believers. They knew Christ! As we were leaving, they handed Young Pete an envelope and insisted that he not open it up until we had traveled several miles down the road. We did as they said.  When we opened up the envelope there was a letter and a monetary gift. The letter insisted that we not be offended:

“We don’t even know if you guys need this money or not. But the Lord put it on our hearts to give this to you.  We have been blessed abundantly and God knows we don’t need it. We know what it’s like to be a young band starting out, hope this helps. Use it however you need.”

At the bottom of the letter was a scripture. Jeremiah 29:11. TGBTG.


“Gone Too Soon”

Young Michael Jackson“It’s a little embarrassing,” said the young Indian woman interviewed by CNN. “I tried to hide it from my mom. I didn’t want her to know that I was crying over a man that I had never met.”

It had become hard to be a fan of the greatest entertainer to ever walk the face of the Earth. We had allowed everything else to get in the way of what truly mattered. The Music. But when I heard this woman’s voice solo out from the chorus of television commentators and “close friends” on the various news stations, I completely understood.

And if you were born in the early 80’s, you understand. You understand even more than your parents could ever hope to understand. Michael Jackson was ours, the way Sammy and Stevie had been theirs. The way Frankie Lymon belonged to the teenagers of the 1950’s.  We had a personal relationship with the man who effectively changed popular music, video, fashion, and performance across the globe. We performed his songs in front of our families way before we knew what “Mama-say-mama-sah-ma-ma-coo-sah” meant. His were the songs that were beyond okay to play at the cookouts, they were mandatory. Our families demanded that we danced and that we not stop until they got enough.

It was May 16, 1983 and I had been born exactly 22 months before the unforgettable evening that was Motown 25. This would be the very first thing that I would remember seeing on television. We lived in Sicklerville a quiet suburb of New Jersey and as much as the comfort of my home and its conveniences may have influenced that moment, I believe that I could have been any kid in America or around the globe for that matter and I would have felt the same way. I was awestruck. I was in love. And I was sure that I was more excited about seeing this Black man moonwalk than my parents were to see a White man walk on the actual moon.

I would liken it to the moment when Neo died in the Matrix. You are stuck between (dis)belief and (mis)understanding. You think, “He’s not really dead.” But he is. The King of Pop is dead.

What if someone told you that [arguably] the most time honored and perhaps the most recognizable superhero (which makes him a perfect comparison) ….Superman was dead? How are you to react to the reported death of one that has…had…seemed larger than life?

I didn’t. I didn’t react at all. I went into my hotel room and went to sleep.

I was on a “tour bus” with the rest of the Wondaland Arts Society, a fellowship of musicians, writers, actors, thinkers, and artists who are probably best known for our support of the burgeoning career of one Ms. Janelle Monáe.  Monáe, who has been compared to a young Michael and an old James Brown as often as she has been lauded for having the range of Jessye Norman and vocal agility of Lauryn Hill (we’ll get back to her later)  had been invited to be the opening act for the No Doubt tour.  We were riding through New Jersey on June 25, 2009 when my phone buzzed. It was a friend who asked rhetorically, “Michael Jackson is dead?”

I decided to confirm it with my sources…my twitter friends.

Blame it on the Boogie

Blame it on the Boogie

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. But it was true. Michael Jackson had passed. For a moment, I think I was okay with it, not just because I handle death well, but because I knew he was finally at peace. There would be no more bullying or tabloid sightings,  there would be no more “Jacko” or punchlines at his expense. But with that, there would also be no more new music. There would be no more concerts. There would be no more magic.

Everyone on the tour bus took it in their own way. Some of us cried, but most of us were silent. I believe it was because we didn’t know what it meant for him to be dead. We couldn’t decide. We couldn’t understand.

We stopped at the first shopping district we could find. Nobody wanted to be in the van any longer.  I couldn’t move. I sat there for a little while, thinking that if I didn’t get out it wouldn’t be real.  As I gazed out the window I could hear “Smooth Criminal” playing across the parking lot and I saw this kid impersonating Michael. This black kid was standing with his white friends grossly mocking Michael, gyrating and grabbing himself to the amusement of his audience. I jumped out of the van and I ran over there to say something, but I just couldn’t get the words out. How was I to explain to this kid that the black artists he now covets would never have been on MTV if it weren’t for the trailblazing of Michael Jackson? How would I convey to him how influential Michael Jackson had been to EVERY single artist to produce a record after the record selling album “Thriller”? (101 million records sold) Did he even realize that Michael, not Diddy, was the reason he wore sunglasses in the club??

It was in that very instant that I knew just how devastating the loss truly was. I understood.

In 1997 “Blood is on the Dance Floor” was released and admittedly I had already decided to let Michael go. For me that meant separating the tabloid scapegoat that he’d become from who he was to me, personally. I wasn’t at all interested in all of the stories on him. I was proudly unfamiliar with them.  I didn’t really care for this character that had been created. It was a divorce that I hoped I would never have to go through again. One that made me never want to marry myself to another artist. (But I did, years later. Her name was Lauryn Hill and we are still trying to get back together. It doesn’t look good.) So when Michael Jackson passed away, I felt the way I imagine ex-wives and ex-husbands would feel…devastated in a way that won’t allow you to look at pictures and hear stories about the person you knew better than anyone else; even if you had let them go long ago.

Everything he had for us he had already given us. His music could never be changed or misunderstood or confused for me, by anybody.

45 years in the music industry? How long is that? What I mean is: are those 45 regular people years? Or are they like dog years, where each year has a greater value? He gave his life to us. He literally gave his life to us, keeping only 4 of his almost 51 years to himself.

“We broke Michael Jackson’s heart, way before it gave away today.” –The Rev. Al Sharpton

For that reason I will celebrate his life through music. Every time I hear a Michael Jackson song, no matter where I am, I will dance. I will not be sad. I will not hold up the wall and be embarrassed about how his music makes me feel. After all…”Life ain’t so bad at all, when you’re living off the wall.”


an excerpt from the forthcoming mixtape

I always had a groove that I had to pursue
While most choose to be amused, I chose to be a Muse
still a kid at heart don’t get it confused
But adults spend dreams that the saved up as Youths
When I’m sequestering the mic you’d better call the dispatch
Cause I’m an animal a beast that you don’t wanna see hatched
Best believe I am the question every audience asks
I’m just a student of the game that started teaching the class

-From “I like to freestyle” by 2.0


I am 2.0

I am one of the baddest nigros you know. Period. I am the infinitive’s definitive. I have always wanted to be more of myself and I am just getting started. The more me I become, the more me I need space for. But the scariest part is that I am going to live forever, so there is no need to be anxious. I haven’t found a box yet that could hold me, or a cloud that had enough rain to soak me. I haven’t found a mind that could challenge me long enough to keep me, or a pen with enough ink to record me. Hell, I ain’t met a sweet tea sweet enough. I haven’t met ANY nigro who, if I wasn’t (yawn) bored, I couldn’t out spit. Poetry, Verses–Bible OR Rap..and sadly I haven’t studied either…enough. I haven’t been to a club that stays open long enough, or a concert with enough encores. I am just that much. I am 2.0


“I know you seen me on the Vimeo…true!”

On the side tab you will find an easy link to my vimeo videos. Check them out, they truly tell the story.

“It doesn’t matter if you can see me (or hear me) cause I’d be doing this anyway.”

I'm watchin you watchin


Faux Toes on Flickr

The Vault

June 2009
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