Black American Dad Story


A Trip Down I-85: A Visual History of Atlanta Rap | Facebook

Yo, people and people. On April 24 at 8pm at my school (Elon University, I’ll be presenting my undergraduate research on Atlanta Rap music imagery, which more or less means I’ll be talking about mixtape covers from 2003 and playing a number of music videos for about an hour. 

This is just kind of covering all my social media bases, but on the off change you do want to come, but haven’t met me IRL. Just shoot a message or something, so I know and make sure to introduce myself and make really bad jokes. 

And I’ll probably make another around of announcements about this closer to the event’s date. 

I’m almost 22—dear god—that’s so fucking old. 

I’d like to say that I don’t remember first impressions. Usually I try my damnest to cast them off as meaningless moments not worth fixating upon, as one day both parties will forget initial interactions as more lasting memories supersede that one fleeting moment in time. But recently I’ve have had a hard time accepting my reasoning to so quickly dismiss first impressions. Typically I’d say I cannot pinpoint the first time I met someone or the day that I we became “friends,” but those moments exist, I know they do.

That precise moment of a friendship separation is something throughout college I’ve tried my best to ignore. Instead I’ve left my head up in the clouds with the thoughts that these moments don’t signal anything, whether the beginning or end of a relationship, they’re non-starters. I guess it’s easier to deal with my shittiness as a friend if I pretend that we just “grew apart.” Least I confront the wedge I’ve put between myself and former friends, and each day hope they’ve drifted far enough from me that they’ll stop yelling my name. And other days I’m the person yelling desperately to hear their voice again, immediately willing to forgive all of the unanswered texts and missed phone calls to begin our friendship again.

This dread is something I’ve considered more as I’ve committed—baring a sudden and amazing job offer—to going back home once I graduate from school. In one way the fear of reaching out to someone and never hearing back doesn’t linger with me. Silence can mean many things, and fortunately, or unfortunately, I’ve gotten better at interpreting dial tones. My fear is that the people who’ve kept shouting my name and I let float away aren’t interested in my delayed response, and that maybe we both should’ve let the phone keep ringing. I have no idea how I’ll do in terms of keeping up with the people I’ve met these last four years in college, but part of me knows that relationships I’ve kept were sustained because I wanted them to thrive. And the ones that wilted away were ones I did everything in my power to end without using my hands to pull up the roots. This might just be that “growing apart” talk, but the last four years of that has involved too much self-imposed silence for my talkative-ass-self.

The Freshest Shrimp Catch Vol. 6

This week at So Many Shrimp, I got the crew together to write about various R&B projects from the last few weeks or so. If every week could be this good I’d be so happy, so I guess this is the new bar!

Jojo’s #LoveJo - Crystal finds a lot to love in #LoveJo. I’d apologize for the pun, but this is almost too bad be a pun. 

Ne-Yo’s 3 Simple Rules - David L provided not a good little review of Ne-Yo’s little mixtape, but highlighted other strong moments in his entire discography. 

K. Michelle’s Still No Fucks Given - I found something to say about this tape, beyond that the opening lyrics which share the same title as the mixtape are amazing. 

Mya’s With Love - Katherine not only gave a nice review of With Love, she provided a detailed list of Mya’s most underrated tracks. 

Pharrell’s G I R L - Daniel seemingly had a good amount of joy analyizing the decades long lover tendencies of Pharrell Williams. 

The Freshest Shrimp Catch Vol. 5

It is “Dalatu Week” over at So Many Shrimp this week. Mostly, because we’re planning a cool week of R&B related stuff next week. And, so this week has just been me writing about stuff I’ve been recently listening to while reading about Contemporary African Art. 

Put the Bop on Shuffle - A little piece on the joy of listening to DJ Moondawg’s We Invented the Bop on shuffle. 

The Art of Killing Shit - Finding a bit of context for Casino’s Frank Matthews, which is the best Waka Flocka tape since the summer of 2011. 

A Very 2014 #BlackHistoryMonth - A bad title. An odd piece just kind of about learning about Black History and some mixtape that re-contextualize the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Not 100% this works, but it was worth a shot. 

I wonder about too many “what ifs” with my parents. Most questions wonder if my parents stuck with their more Arts & Entertainment path of life instead of the reality tracks that lead to a responsible black middle class existence. What if my mother was an artist? That is what she majored in. What if my mom was a Smithsonian curator? She did work at the Museum of African Art once finishing undergrad. What if my dad was a new reporter? I’ve seen his post-grad local reporter clips. What if a political cartoonist, unsurprisingly his great interest in comics and politics manifested in these kinds of drawing at one point? The profession I never assign to my dad, but have recently started to wonder more about has been “Dad, the photographer.” 

Last year, I remember receiving on my phone a photo my dad took of my mother and my immediately thought was “Mom looks happy.” And, not like “photo smile happy,” but as if he caught her in a genuine moment of discovery and joy. I hesitate to overstate this fact, because anyone else looking at the photos might not see the connection. But as I continued to get photos from dad showing him and my mother on their own home adventures, while I was away at school, I’d continually be surprised at the joy on my mother’s face. She never looked posed; her strained family portrait smile doesn’t appear in any of these candid shots. My father captures a person I barely recognize as my own mother. Her face looks to me how I imagine my mom out on the quilting trips she speaks so highly of or maybe out to lunch with an old friend. My mother with a first name of “Stacy” not “Mom.”  

That surrealism even persisted in photos that he took of me and my then girlfriend during our family vacation last summer. There would be the Hallmark-esque shots that I’d put on Facebook that racked up likes and made for a nice profile pictures. But then there would be shots that I and she would stare at to wonder how exactly he pulled off the shot without either of us noticing him. My dad isn’t a photographer, he doesn’t have a high-end digital camera; he just uses more patience than I’ve ever seen a person devote to a cell phone camera. In December, I deleted old photos on my phone and was struck again by those vacation photos. It seemed my father had captured something was too nice to have been true. Photos of this former couple walking about Charleston as if we were being followed by a one-man paparazzi crew. But it was a crew seeking to capture of the joy of his subjects instead of trying to strike them with surprise.

Each photo for me is a little personal “what-if.” A “what if,” not about “when something might occur.” The “what if” is a “remember when.” Some days I do, and other days I keep on looking at my dad’s photos hoping to retrigger the memory he somehow caught.

The Freshest Shrimp Catch Vol. 4

Again general thanks and appreciate to all those that are working with me on this. And even more so to the initiative people that’ll hopefully be seen/continue to be seen with some upcoming features in the upcoming weeks. 

Codie G’s Curation of Rap Regionalism - Daniel researched and delved into Codie G’s The Greene Cottenham Project. Again, many thanks to the work Daniel has been doing. Dude kind of is the site right now. 

Disney Meets Ratchet - A small little bit by myself about Zendaya’s “My Baby” remix, which included Bobby Brackins, Ty$ and Iamsu! It’s more or less my dream remix and it doesn’t disappoint. 

5 Atlanta Songs You Might’ve Missed - Maxwell dug into some lesser known tracks from Atlanta artists you’ve probably already forgot about (Yung L.A.) and others you’ll probably know by the end of the year (Johnny Cinco). 

So Many Shrimp: What are Outkast?

On the return of Outkast and why tons of young people shouldn’t/probably don’t know a ton about the group beyond that “Hey Ya” song. If you grew up with Outkast and cannot fathom someone having not heard “Hootie Hoo,” this piece may annoy ya, sorry! 

The Freshest Shrimp Catch Vol. 3

This batch of pieces are soooo good. Again I cannot thank everyone enough that  has contributed so far. Sorry if I get annoying with self-promotion or anything but I really like the stuff we’re getting to do, so please don’t hate me too much! 

MOVE THAT DOPE PHARRELL MOVE THAT - Daniel on the still ringing in my ears “Move That Dope” by Future. 

The Boss and the Snowman are War Ready - Daniel again taking on a southern rap single. #blessDaniel

10 Brief Years with a College Dropout - Matthew Ramirez on Kanye West’s “The College Dropout.” This is a nearly 2500 words essay and goes everywhere that an essay this long on Kanye West can go. And probably a few other places one might not expect. Thanks Matt! 

Singles and Jukes Vol. 10

Part of me is sad that such a perfect Bay Area song got fucking polluted with the white-washing of language that somehow conflated this song with “twerking”. But fuck it, “Selfie” was revived despite the fact it wasn’t never dead. So, I cannot complain too much that “Gas Pedal” was one of the early benefactors of Vine and became a crossover radio hit last year, but I’m still bitter.


Sage the Gemini (feat. Iamsu!) - Gas Pedal

I’m gonna get rid of my Poptimist card, at least for the year of 2013, because I missed all of the big pop albums so these third and fourth singles are brand new songs for me even months post-release. There isn’t much I love about this song, but I love the introduction. It sounds like it’s about become an euphoric 90s Trance track, but then becomes a “Trap (The white boy genre)” song. That 180 of playing with my musical emotions is worse than having my heart eaten out by Juicy J, which I’d hope he’d wear some grillz to protect his teeth if that were to happen. 


Katy Perry (feat. Juicy J) - Dark Horse 

I don’t do “love.” I barely can stomach “like.” Both words send chills down my spine heightening my internal doubts, so any self-confidence I might have can be snuffed out by a girl in black-and-white print leggings and white Cons. I worry everything I say is stupid and assume anything she says just is a nice way of saying “not interested.” “Paranoid” isn’t about anything resembling my life except an unreasonable concern that all women are out to get me. Maybe I’m just paranoid.


Ty$ (feat. B.o.B.) - Paranoid

Yes. Yes. British people really like this vanilla house music. But actually, to be fair, not only do British people love this stuff, because Disclosure are fucking huge everywhere it seems. “F for You” isn’t awful, but this youthful duo doesn’t do bad. And not ever stepping their foot in “bad,” the duo rarely steps their feet in “good,” “exciting,” “daring,” or “enjoyable” either. Trade-offs, I guess. 


Disclosure (feat. Mary J. Blige) - F for You

How does one believe in love at first sight? One’s physical beauty cannot be enough to tell you that you’ll enjoy being with someone when they almost knock you off the bed after a restless night of sleep. And yet we’re supposed to value first impressions. I heard this song nearly a dozen times before I liked it. It was mostly grating and seemingly too simple to have any redeemable factors. A few dozen more times I began to really like it. And at this point, it’s my favorite rap song of a young 2014. One cannot rush love. 


Que - OG Bobby Johnson 

Not gonna lie that “OG Bobby Johnson” write-up is a bit out there! And sorry, I’ve been Jukebox slacking!