An Anniversary: One Year of News Rap

October 2011 marks the one year anniversary of this song blog. It is sort of hard to put into words how the benchmark feels. To have memorialized, in music, a year in my life’s reflections on the large and small political and cultural stories of our time, is sort of out of body. I haven’t done much journaling or diary keeping in my life. So this sort of time capsule activity, of being able to return to my thoughts from a snapshot in time, especially as they are expressed and carbonite frozen, in song, is something personally special and gratifying. I’ll never forget the night I wrote the Osama Bin Laden entry, driving into Charleston, SC, frantically panning the static on my car radio. Or the tireless night compiling facts on each Commander in Chief for the President’s Day song. Or calling the Mavericks to win the NBA Championship on New Year’s Eve, half a year before they actually did. Or live song blogging a State of the Union address. Or when Giffords was shot or when Weiner was exposed or when the miners were freed or when Bahrain rose up or when North Korea opened fire or when the Packers won.

I don’t mean this in a martyred way but it’s been a lonely practice. Sometimes, I am writing and recording late into the night, often on the road, in a hotel or in the mountains or in my wife’s studio, or on occasion in my garage, not sure if what I’m doing will be worthwhile or worth the time or make any sense at all. I have had an abundance of feedback from so many of you who have supported this site throughout the year. But, trudging along writing two vignettes a week about scandalous pictures or other nonsense, makes you stop and question your priorities and time management and commitment to real work and family. Is all of this just hot-air-balloon-rising into the ether never to be heard from again? The answer is both yes and no.

Luckily, for me, it is all of great personal value. Although a pitiable confession, I’ve told others that in some ways this site and work feels like the culmination of who I am, as a person and an artist and as a professional. It calls on my complete self.

Of course, I’m limping to the finish line a little, as the slowness of these last few months is a testament to the toll this exercise has taken on me that, in spite of my desire to build to a nice crescendo of an anniversary, that ambitious goal has devolved into simply a hope to finish the race. And, so here I am. Over 75 news songs later. That phrase is hilarious.

There are a lot of people who have made this work for me. My wife, principally, who allows me to disappear 3-4 hours twice a week to meet my commitments. She takes beautiful pictures of me for my header and generally allows me to pursue this whole silly affair. To Josh (and in moments of crisis Jon and Jae, other Illect Recordings dignitaries) who support me in all my music adventures regardless of their financial and business futility. Josh supports me in the technical aspects of this site and gives me general encouragement to stay the course.

Most of all, I’d like to thank the contributing producers who have GIVEN me their heart’s work in the form of soundscapes, as though divined for this very purpose. It would take too long to describe the number of times that I chose a topic and scratched out a hook or refrain only to find in my library of beats something so perfectly tailored to accomplish the song that you might have thought I had commissioned it specifically. The talent and the generosity of these men are the engine of this site. It is that simple. The emotion that this blog is trying to ore from the clinical and mundane news of our time is pick axed largely by the musical beauty of their work and creativity. I would name them: pumpkinFoot, dj clutch, dj transform, sundance, jaq, gudo, juiceboxjackson, jordan santana, nomold, dj elder, sivion, doug krum, 2bit, fab.da.eclectic., and Diaz from Hungary. (Please notify me immediately if you have contributed music to this site and I forgot to name you here.) I would also recognize Wonder Brown for his supreme guest poet appearances to this site.

I hate to single any out but I feel like I need to say a special thank you to pumpkinFoot. Early in the launch of this site my beat options were thin. Some of my deepspace5 colleagues had given me material to keep me a float for a few installments, but I was quickly going to find myself in short supply. pumpkinFoot gave me my first real library of beats to draw from for an extended period. But, more importantly, his music, for the first time, was giving these news songs real emotion and structure. I felt like it defined a sound for me at a time when I really needed to find my voice in all of this. Now, there have been exceptional contributions since and others have given in even greater quantity, but that first step of faith by PF just to give me access to so much hard work paved the way for others to contribute in equal and even greater ways. Thanks to you, pumpkinFoot, and to all of the rest for your faith and generosity.

And, lastly, to all of you, the readers and listeners. This site is bouyed by some strange churn of lawyers and rappers and pastors and stay-at-home moms and teachers and administrators and students and soldiers and judges and colleagues and fans and bloggers and friends and strangers and thinkers and lovers and probably haters and politicos and apoliticos and my wife, who hates news. Your visits and emails and texts and tweets and comments are what help me sit back down again, sometimes on Sunday night and sometimes on Wednesday night and sometimes whenever I have a moment in between, and try and write a song about something that no one has ever written a song about in the history of the world — because the story just happened.

If you have a favorite song or experience with this site that you’d like to share please feel free to comment. You all are a tremendous blessing to me.

Concerning today’s song, it is mainly a celebration of this site and what it means to me. The title is inspired by a rapper friend of mine, paradox, who has a great sense of humor and who is also a great talent. He has been a supporter of this site from the beginning. But, he also knows me from my other life as a regular rapper, not just a fancy news rapper. And, more importantly, he knows, as many others do, of the religious faith that I have expressed for my entire career in that context. In a moment of exasperation over my not having completed a verse that I owed to him from many months prior, he said something to the effect that I needed to “stop rapping the news and start rapping the Good News.” But, albeit somewhat different than he meant, that’s what I get to do here. I get to make news good. It’s my privilege to find that sentiment of goodness or hope or humanity buried in the clinical and jaded and cynical 24-hours cable news cycle of bad news. The people in the news, the dead, the kidnapped, the raped, the shot, the blown up, the attacked, the drowned, those overcome by an act of God or their own stupidity, the laughed at and the ridiculed, those are real people. They’re not actors or video games or cartoons. Their loss is deadly real. A song blog can be a tool to ensuring that we never forget that real emotions lie below the surface of each black and white news story.

Performed by ipoet. Music produced by dj clutch.

And, as always, today’s blong hit here:

Good News

10 thoughts on “An Anniversary: One Year of News Rap

  1. First things first: The djclutch beat is as laid-back as a laz-e-boy: love it. I also enjoyed the “face the world” and “teddy ballgame” references from the 2nd verse–some of my favorite blong entries.

    But most importantly–thanks for a great year, man. I know that with a family and a job and a life, that this has been a real labor of love. From the songs to the written perspective on all the stories, the site has been very insightful. Thanks for putting yourself out there, dude.

    Maybe some day we can get a compilation album from the ipoet entries… I’d pay money for it!

  2. Yeah, Sam, dj clutch has been an all star. Another great, great beat. Thanks for the kind words. Something along the lines of what you are describing may be in the works. :)

    And, Nerd, it is definitely not the end although I completely understand why you might interpret the entry that way. It’s a melancholy moment for me. I feel accomplished in what has occurred but also unsatisfied in my hopes to have done more. I want to maintain the energy to keep it going.

  3. Well it has been a year hasn’t it? To be honest, there really aren’t many things on the internet that I find so interesting that I consistently come back to. I kinda see it as more of a tool or informational resource than something to fill my time up with. So, it is no small statement when I say that I have thoroughly enjoyed coming here week after week to read your thoughts on notable news going on in the world. The combination of truly thought-out words and song have often informed me as well as allowed me to question my own opinion on things happening here and abroad…something that I tend to think many people do NOT take time to do. You’ve given the spark of such thoughts, my friend, so I thank you for the investment of time and heart, on this blog.

    I feel the texture of your melancholy. I too tend to look back on what I’ve accomplished and take pride in it as well as some sorrow on what more I could have done.

    SUPPORT

  4. sintax, thanks for keeping this going. In the realest way, you are a continual inspiration and source of encouragement in my life! To see you operate in the unique, terrific way God created you to be is amazing every time.

  5. @Conduct, it’s an unbelievable privilege to do it. I am so thankful that you think that it matters. You know what your opinion means to me.

    @Greg, that blesses me sincerely. Thank you for saying so.

  6. Pingback: Occupied: A 2011 Year in Review | ipoet laureate

  7. i know i’m late to the party, but as a father of two little girls, the line about “my angels in the bathtub, scrubbing they wings,” was enough to sell me on this one. always love what you do. plus, i’m also always flattered to have my name in your mouth…

    in unrelated news, i’m just finishing up this book i think you would enjoy: “the shallows: what the internet is doing to our brains.” it was a pulitzer finalist, so it’s worthy of an interweb-addled brain such as yours.

    blessings for the new year.

  8. Nah man, all good, never too late. I’m just glad you saw it. Super, super blessed that you liked that line. Maybe in the top 3 I’ve ever written. Meant a lot to me, too.

    The Shallows — I’m on it.

  9. Pingback: An Anniversary: Two Years of News Rap | the press junket

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