Below the Barometric Pressure (Live Blonging the Vice Presidential Debate)

I’m feeling pretty under the weather.

Plus, I’m swamped with real work.

Plus, my mother in law is in the next room.

I wanted to live song blog the entire vice presidential debate but I didn’t feel much up to it.
So, I freestyled (made up) one verse as I recorded, with the security portion of the debate playing in the background. I posted it last night.

But, it was a mess. Like Paul Ryan jabbed, “Sometimes the words just don’t come out the right way.”

I probably shouldn’t even have posted in the first place. But, that’s the game. News rap.


Live Blonging Verizon

I did a live song blogging event at Verizon today for their employee appreciation week. Verizon’s theme for the day was “Diversity Energizes.” We built a song together over the course of 6 sessions.

As usual, we recorded a live bridge with the audience and I took relevant topics to freestyle the verses.

Verse 1 freestyle words (Verizon): LTE, Number 1, iphone5

Verse 2 freestyle words (Community): Greenville Drive, Mellow Mushroom, Falls

Verse 3 freestyle words (Education and Career): Dropout Rate, No Child Left Behind, Art in School

Remember, this isn’t about making the best song. Thank goodness. It’s about the collective live experience of making something creative together. In the process, we model the personal innovation that can happen when we allow the disparate parts of who we are to collide unexpectedly.

Special thanks to Coach Kendrick, Terry, Cliff, Mellissa, Ms. Celeste and all the verizon employees that made it a super special day.

Written and recorded live at Verizon Employee Appreciation Week. Freestyle verses and other vocals performed by the ipoetlaureate and participants. Additional vocals by San Juan from upstairs and Walonda from somewhere else in the building. Respect.

San Juan. My wife thought the original version was too scandalous. The wonders of Photoshop. Sorry ladies.

Music produced by juicebox jackson.

Today’s live song blog here:

Verizon Line


Imagining a Naked Crowd: Live Freestyling the Debate

There’s this saying that if you are nervous about public speaking you should picture the crowd naked. I think the idea is that you will be put at ease by the imagined foolishness of the unclothed audience compared to your relative and clothed normalcy. Depending on the quality of your imagination, however, it seems like this sort of strategy could backfire terribly.

I mean, surely the effectiveness of this advice turns fairly dramatically on the particular physical composition of the crowd and your ability to conjure them, right? The thought of your classmates? Probably effectively amusing. A plumber’s convention? Not so much. A Daytona Beach crowd of Spring Break coeds? Might bring your entire speech to a screeching halt. I’m just saying. Be careful.

The first presidential debate was this evening. Here’s to hoping that the moderator, Jim Lehrer, was not too accurately imagined by either candidate. But, whether or not the naked-crowd technique was specifically employed, the debate is full of all sort of psychological strategy.

One of the most peculiar is the dance of expectation-setting the two campaigns waltz in the days leading up to the debate. The campaigns actually leak praise for their opponent’s chances while diminishing their own. Both sides had all sorts of reasons why the other would prevail. Gout. Low blood sugar. A pulled hammy. Better hair. This sort of underdog baiting enhances the likelihood that any reasonable performance will be viewed as a win relative to expectations.

There are numerous other examples of campaigns “thinking out loud” either as trial balloon or set up. It’s all very unnatural. Romney’s campaign confessed to having discovered the secret to winning the debate which you would never, in fact, share if you actually thought it was the secret to winning the debate.

We have a month more. So pace yourself.

I decided to try a new idea tonight. A lot of political bloggers live-blog various events, especially the debates. I have been meaning for a while to try and live freestyle one. Tonight was not an ideal time for me to try; I have a long day tomorrow. But, I thought I would test a beta version. So, I wrote an initial verse and then freestyled certain portions of the debate as I watched. The debates are literally playing in the background as I recorded. For the first two versions below, verse one is written and prerecorded. The second verse is the topical freestyle. In the third version, both verses are freestyled.

It’s kind of a mess. But, that’s just growing pains. Sort of thinking out loud.

Plus, I imagined all of you naked and I felt a lot better about myself.

Beat by Dave Santos.

Thinking out Loud Pt. 1
Romney Tax Plan (9:18)

Thinking out Loud Pt. 2
Social Security (9:44)

Thinking out Loud Pt. 3
Health Care (10:06) – verse 1
Dodd Frank (9:58) – verse 2


Back Off Holiday

Busy weekend. Getting sort of late. Just decided to do an unadvisable three minute freestyle. If it sounds like nonsense, that’s a direct reflection on your upbringing and education not my ability. Because, trust me, in the words of Alexander Graham Bell, “this will be one of the most important freestyles you’ve heard in the last few hours or even days.” Alexander Graham Bell has not actually endorsed this freestyle but I have it on good account, from his estate, that he probably definitely would have.

As always, a freestyle is an unwritten, unrehearsed rap.  Entirely extemporaneous.  [I have previously and briefly recognized some of the confusion over the etymology of the word “freestyle,” here, and won’t do it again, now.]

A verbal screenshot.  Not written.  Not premeditated.  For better, but mostly worse, spontaneous.

“. . . split it like a log at a saw mill . . .” You’re welcome.

Performed by ipoet.  Music produced by pumpkinFoot.

Today’s song blog here:

Off the Head (lines) 9-4-12


Behind the Blong

I’m about as excited for today’s installment as almost anything I’ve done in quite a while. And, that’s saying something because I watched an entire Family Ties marathon just last weekend. Remember the poignant amphetamine episode? It’s like the sitcom Pietà.

It happened inadvertently last night, while driving to Charleston.

So, I necessarily have to always be planning the next blong. It’s essential to getting them done at all. Searching for a topic. Writing a refrain or sketching out a take. Listening to every available podcast on voter suppression or The Bachelor Pad. I have tight windows in the evening to record and bring them to completion, and all the groundwork I can lay as I go about my day is the difference between 1am and like 3am.

When I’m in the car or a place otherwise unsuitable for writing or typing a thought down, I record a voice memo into my phone. I’ve done this for years. Many of you probably do the same. I actually have thought to myself what an embarassment it would be if people got a hold of them. I figured I sounded like Sandusky pillowtalking Jay-Z lyrics.

Too soon, right?

Well, last night I was recording pieces of the chorus for Atlas Shrugged, when I decided to listen through some of the older ones. As it turns out, they’re amazing. Maybe not amazing. Brilliant? Prodigious? Unsearchable? Timeless? Awkward.

The engine of this site is my own pleasure. The affection and listenership and opportunities that follow from song blogging are a tremendous carrot. But, the personal value to me of having journaled in song the important events and stories and ideas of this thin sliver of my lifetime is a gift irreplaceable. I have mentioned before that I have never regularly journaled. And, so the reward of this exercise, to capture my experiences and view of things, for my own personal posterity is special. Not in some self-important way but in a for-your-girlfriend-summer-mixtape, friends-sign-your-cast kind of way. I suppose, that probably explains about 90% of the hobbiest blogging phenomenon anyway.

So, what these recorded audio snippets represent, for me, is more of this sappy nostalgia-making drilled one step down. My kids in the background. Or a car door slam. Or a seatbelt alarm. Or the radio. The solace of my voice and the quiet road behind it. They are all psychological time signatures. Marking where and who I was, when I wrote some portion of a song blog. Corny. But pretty special to me.

What you will hear are zygote drafts of the eventual songs. Part of my process is to take a set of phrases or words and freestyle them into a more workable concept. I repeat myself often and stumble through the geometry of the lines “with words that tear and strain to rhyme,” to quote Simon and Garfunkel. Or maybe don’t.

I had wanted for a while to do some material that would better invite people into my process. Videotaped examples were all snoozers. I thought these were pretty cool, though. But, maybe they’re skippable. I don’t really care.

This is all for me. And, by “me,” I mean you and me. But, mostly just me. And, you. Me.

Performed vulnerably and extemporaneously by the ipoetlaureate.

Today’s three part medley of song blog drafts here:

Behind the Blong Vol. 1 (Part A) Behind the Blong Vol. 1 (Part B) Behind the Blong Vol. 1 (Part C)


TED Talks

By some miracle of modern cinema, my man Bobby, was able to edit together the video from my TEDx performance, which in fact had a pretty significant technical intermission. Plus, he had to splice in audio for portions of the presentation that weren’t originally captured by the house P.A. Really thankful. I still have regrets about the freestyle. By the time we had worked through all the technical difficulties, my brain was just fried. But, hey, that’s the risk and reward of making a song live on stage. Thanks again to all who supported me in it.


Everybody is Listening In

TEDxGreenville gets busy on a live track.

Thanks to Wise, Bolick, and von Frank.

Oh and Happy Anniversary to my wife!

Written and recorded by the TEDxGreenville community live on stage. Freestyle verse and other vocals performed by the ipoetlaureate and crowd.

Music produced by Juicebox Jackson.

TED Talks

[Post Mortem: The day was very special. In so many respects it was the fulfillment of many hopes and dreams. In a few, it was nightmarish. In the middle of my presentation, which had gone mostly to plan, I had an audio issue with my macbook that was unnavigable. It was beyond essentially all the contingencies I had made. I didn’t know whether to scrap the effort entirely or pitch my computer into the crowd — both alternatives to the same effect I suppose. To the absolute credit of Marc Bolick and Aaron von Frank, TEDxGreenville Directors, and many others, I was given grace, reassurance, and most of all time to complete the presentation. All sorts of other problems arose, induced by the first, including a reduction in my headphone volume, which made my freestyle a rambling effort as I tried to hear myself and the measure in the song where it had to be terminated. I was disappointed by failing to deliver a clean piece but overwhelmed by the response of the live and at-home audience. I think in truth the best possible outcome was reached. The A/V hiccup created an authenticity and informality and a connectedness with the very generous audience that might have been wanting in its absence. Those candid moments are what make live music and art singular. My many, many thanks to the immense and voluntary and selfless TEDx staff and team.]


Keeping it Lorax Real

Seriously, who knew that the best two freestylers in the fam, were my 5 and 6 year old daughters?? I mean they’ve been around it a good bit, but this all started today. Like never done it before. I was spitting a little over beats on my phone in the mini-van on the way to my son’s basketball practice (I swear that’s not typical). At the gym, my girls were coloring on the bleachers, cyphering. No kidding. All the way home in the van.

Is that a Lorax battle that breaks out about halfway through??!

They don’t even know what a battle is. This is some serious insight into the psychology of the freestyle cypher. Literally, no coaching. Nothing written. I mean, they were lapsing into traditional clutches and claiming to keep real and not real various animated movies. Demanding the mic. Reppin’ their faith. My girls.

I swear I’m not a stage dad like that. This site is turning into some sort of horrible Disney Jr. Choo Choo Soul audition tape.

Was that a Brickhouse reference??!

Props to the Juicebox Jackson beat that makes a cameo.


Above-the-Fold Freestyle Feature [Take 2]

This is always a punt of sorts.  To do a freestyle instead of a song.  But, I feel like my relative consistency has bought me at least some goodwill, right?   Plus, I think the freestyle feature keeps things interesting, and people seem to like it for the novelty.  It’s just one more variation on this experiment in song-blogging.  Freestyling the news stories of the day elevates an already contemporaneous exercise into one of almost pure spontaneity.

As always, a freestyle is an unwritten, unrehearsed rap.  Entirely extemporaneous.  [I have previously and briefly recognized some of the confusion over the etymology of the word “freestyle,” here, and won’t do it again, now.]

I logged on to CNN.com, noted the time, and then freestyled the headlines.  A verbal screenshot.  Not written.  Not premeditated.  For better, but mostly worse, spontaneous.

Performed by ipoet.  Music produced by Sundance.

Today’s audio word jumble here:

Off the Head (lines) 3-6-11


Above-the-Fold Freestyle Feature [Take 1]

My earliest visions for this site, included news freestyles.  For those who don’t know, a freestyle is an unwritten, unrehearsed rap.  Entirely extemporaneous.  [There is some debate over the etymology of the word “freestyle,” however.  Among the first east coast emcess, the term originally referred to a topicless, albeit prepared, verse.  “Off the top” or “off the dome” was the phrase used to describe an ad-libbed rap.  Regardless of its origins, the word “freestyle” has since plainly evolved into the most common term for an improvised rap that has not been previously prepared and that is written simultaneous to its delivery.]

I’ve hesitated on the feature just because freestyling, while a comfortable and longstanding practice, is not my bailiwick.  But freestyling is hip-hop at its essence:  wit and style under pressure.  And, hip-hop is almost always about putting yourself out there.  I couldn’t in good artistic conscience run a rap blog and not allow space for the kind of spontaneity that the culture was built upon.

So for my first attempt at the feature, I logged on to CNN.com, noted the time, and then freestyled the headlines.  A verbal screenshot.  Not written.  Not premeditated.  For better, but mostly worse, spontaneous.

In other important news, my son won his game on Saturday;

we caught a Shonlock show on Sunday;

and we remain Gamecocks for life.

Freestyle by  ipoet.   Music produced by Sivion.

Today’s by-the-seat-of-my-pants audio here:

Off the Head (lines) 12-5-10