Black American Dad Story


Pitchfork: G-Side - "Gz II Godz"

Reviewed G-Side’s comeback album. It’s pretty good, though not as good as a Starshipz and Rocketz or Huntsville International, but if this is your first G-Side album then it might effect you just as much. Also kind of sad there average dude rap still hasn’t found a way to reach a broader audience, but maybe they just gotta keep grinding. 

Post-Grading Updates and Musings

In case you don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram, and aren’t facebook friends with me. I graduated from Elon University yesterday! 

I updated my “Writing Highlights” and “About” pages, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while. 

My summer plans are freelancing, trying to write more for the Singles Jukebox, enjoying my hometown of Charlotte, eventually seeing you people at Pitchfork Fest and reading. My god, I haven’t read enough this year. 

So, I don’t know. If there are any writing opportunities you know about let me knoooooow. And either way the college years of this blog were fun, so let’s hope the same of the post-grad ones!

Thank You, Love You

To close out Acid Rap, Chance’s father ends the opening conversation with his son on “Everything’s Good (Good Ass Outro)” simply saying “I’m supposed to do that stuff for you anyway.” During this one-on-one call Chance’s youthful bashfulness is so great that Ken, his dad, tells the rapper to cut it with the appreciative platitudes as Chance stumbles over his words. And once Ken finishes his spiel of fatherly praise and promises, Chance’s only reply is “thank you, love you.” What more could he say?

In rap parents can take on this mythical role in the lives of rappers, whether it is through an overwhelming level of sacrifice or simply that they’ve passed away—a forever youthful “R.I.P.” adlib. But Chance never makes that kind of mythology. More than simply allowing his dad to call into the tape, Tyga’s mom called into his 2012 album Careless World missing the same emotional marks. Acid Rap establishes a world where a rapper’s parents can call in to express familial pride and still be allowed a song devoted to paternal disappointment. Chance’s parents on Acid Rap become integral featured guests instead of a distant unheard paternal force.

Chance a Post-Kanye, and certainly Post-Drake, rapper is in a position where he no longer needs to try and hide his middle class upbringing or his parents’ previous success before his pursue of a rap career. Chance, Kanye and Drake don’t leave behind their elementary years and instead look for ways to weave those past lives into their musical narratives. Chance raps in Acid Rap, probably due to youth, about paternal conflicts that Kanye and Drake have since moved from once entering the rap world’s spotlight. Chance never places his parents on alters to make them larger than life figures, “Everything’s Good (Good Ass Outro)” he says: “And it felt good for me to thank you / Put that money back in your bank account.” Drake used a similar approach with “Look What You’ve Done” a couple years ago, a parallel tale of familial relationships that exchange both “I love you” and “I hate you” and have days of regretting both declarations. But where “You’ve Done” ended with Drake’s grandmother giving encouraging words of self-empowerment, Chance conversates with his father and struggles to accept such positive sentiments.

Earlier in the tape, Chance similarly struggles to deal with another bit of paternal advice. On “Everybody’s Something,” Chance cannot accept the of thought having him “talk right,” because he’s ready to fight anyone who’d say he’d “talk white” and at the same time lies to girls and by saying he’s “dark light or off white.” Black self-loathing, generational condemnation and youthful indignation, so simple it really is. This light-skinned Negro uses that racial leg-up, and takes pride in lying about maybe not being a pure-bred nigga, maybe his mother is White or maybe his dad is Hispanic. Whatever combination he might think up and say is going to fall apart once his speech patterns take away his “Black Card.” But that is how his parents want him to talk; they want him to “talk right”: to keep from falling too heavily into slang, to E-NU-CI-ATE each word and keep precise grammar at the forefront of his mind. They’re sending a signal that gets scrambled once Chance has to take act on the advice, but there is no fault to be placed. Black parents understand the signals get crossed, but that Chance spends time trying to decipher and understand, shows that their advice was able to get through.

Chance spends a lot of time talking about smoking, which surprisingly isn’t weed; and though it isn’t burned, despite the title, acid plays a relatively minor role on the tape. His drug of choice is cigarettes, but he doesn’t get mired down in brands of smokes or nicotine’s effects; he instead focuses on hiding this habit from his parents. This professional entertainer straight out of high school, a rapper of the Kobe-Era NBA draft, has a vice. These small details provide Chance an emotional weight that neither confronting Chicago street violence nor combing through the bristling black hair of love can provide. Chance’s cross-country and musically-inclined career is brought to a halt, as Acid Rap is his the first time navigating the unforgotten hallways of home. New vices are brought to familiar places and Chance is unsure if his old home will support who he has become or if it’s just time to Scott-Heron away for good. 

Until the final track, it’s hard to place exactly where Chance really stands with his parents and how they’ve grown to accept his new life. He’s gone on tour with Troy, he says he’ll take a deal to help provide for his mother and yet he devotes a song to hiding the smell of cigarettes from her. “Cocoa Butter Kisses” has himself, Vic Mensa and Twista covering and hiding, not sure whether to reveal, and if so and when is the right time to show, the men they’ve fully become since leaving childhood roofs. Chance’s mother doesn’t like his new scent, so he masks it and falls into a nostalgic trip of Nickelodeon shows and pre-packed school lunches. But nostalgia on “Cocoa Butter Kisses” isn’t an exercise in style or simple recapturing of memories; Chance uses these references to appreciate when his simple life decision—a pack of smokes—didn’t impede approaching those closest to him. Vic Mensa relaxes on his verse by getting a laugh at those higher and more out of it than him, as he chills fully blunted observing the world. Then Twista offers sage old man rap advice of being an adult and still hiding the smell of weed smoke from older family members. And Twista picks up Chance’s internal conflict from earlier in the song, and approaches the issues with neither malice nor frustration at family older than him; he rhymes with a wistful wishing of circumstances being different, but understanding this is how all reunions with family must be.  

Parental phone calls aren’t enjoyable. Parents ramble, ramble and ramble. But if they don’t ramble, one wonders why they don’t want to talk to their own children. It’s a no-win situation for them, weighing showing affection or risk smothering. But some days their children get over-emotional, and all they can say is “I Love You” and take a tear-filled trip down memory lane. But that is an empty phrase knowing that a simple hug and “thank you” expresses all that needs to be verbalized. That they sacrificed so much: School expenses, trips to basketball games, birthday presents, and those days paying for a meal even after seeing their child’s credit card on the table. They are always ready to pick up the phone to hear every breakdown, long pause to regain composure and all, and are quick build-up their child and to never forget to say they’re sending prayers.

Or maybe a child’s emotions don’t swell. Their mouth opens to no avail. The words that fall from Chance’s lips towards his father are just “thank you, love you.” Four word far too simple words. But the shoe was on Chance’s foot; Ken told him not to worry about what’s been done for him or to make a concern about monetary repayment. Thumbs up, a head-nod, a pat on the back. Ken and Lisa are proud of him, of course they are—have you listened to Acid Rap?—then Ken asks Chance to just keep up what he’s doing. What more could he say? 

Wondering Sound: Deniro Farrar - Rebirth

I reviewed Deniro Farrar’s Vice Records debut Rebirth. I wish the liked the EP more, but I enjoyed getting to do some riffing on Charlotte and how Farrar presents the city. 

On one of the album’s more reflective songs, “Interference Fits,” Graves sings of watching the lives of her friends, who are growing older and marrying, and confronts the sickening structures of modern romance. “When did we all decide to give up?” she screams, “Since when do we say yes to love?” 

Hazel Cills from her review of Perfect Pussy’s Say Yes to Love.

That question has not left my mind the last month. I consider it not with judgment, but with a genuine petty curiosity. Whenever I see people my age getting in serious relationship, a solid post-grad job or worst going to grad school, part of me is like these niggas are taking a short cut in life, where I’m about to take a long-winding road to a niche, unusable skill set and an unbendable desire to make use those limited talents. Again, if you to believe this narrator, I’m not bitter.

This is the paranoid mindset ends up viewing life as a giant to-do list and viewing these other people being halfway done with major goals already finished. Then I look at my list with no unmarked boxes and wonder what is taking me so long to put pen to paper. Maybe some people want to see that list unchecked and are at calm without those arbitrary markers of life completion, but I’m not sure what my life is without a list to mark-off. All of these concerns make it feel like my life at 22 is on a timer that apparently started in high school and I didn’t receive the memo that said the list must be turned in by 27. 

But a couple weeks ago reading The Media’s year anniversary issue was a necessary kick to my dumb skull. Beyond the “I haven’t done shit in my life” thought I have whenever I read anything by Liz Pelly, it was Faye Orlove’s recounting of her last year that burned down my looming internal checklist. Her recounting of the last year and her move from one coast to another and experience of working on The Media was more than welcomed into my life on a Friday afternoon. So much can happen in a single day, week or month; it’s easy to assume nothing or that ever will happen when it seems nothing is happening. Have I mentioned I’m a very impatient person? I check my email constantly in hope one refresh will eventually lead to a writing assignment, a job offer or maybe one of those Syrian Princes offering me $850000 emails turns out to be real. I worry about the to-do list of life and have to keep reminding myself that it isn’t worth the concern. Instead I remember the song that said 22 is a time worth feeling.


I always think that writing out these posts will help me understand how I feel at the moment, and maybe make that day, if not the next, a bit better. It never does. The day of writing remains confusing and frustrating. So does the next day and usually even the day after. A week later looking at the piece I barely recognizes the person, the writings, the feelings and wonder why I wasted the time. But months later, lying in bed I’ll look back and wonder how I knew that’d I feel the same way. That those feelings I thought could not be explained, were sitting right there on a computer screen for the whole world to see. The more things change the more things stay the same, I guess. 

PItchfork: Iamsu!: Sincerely Yours

I reviewed Iamsu!’s debut album! The album is okay though I’d recommend Sage the Gemini’s Remember Me over it, if only because it has more varied production. But both albums are cool Black Nerd albums without overstating those qualities #NODISRESPECTOLUPEFIASCO #ALLDISCRESPECTTOCHARLESHAMILTON