A Renaissance is coming to Oak Cliff, and Taylor Toynes and the For Oak Cliff community center are two of its driving forces. What began as a small school supply drive in the former teacher’s classroom has since grown into a full-scale community center whose programs have garnered the attention of Mark Zuckerberg, J. Cole, Bay Bay, and the late rapper Nipsey Hussle. But beyond the glitz and glamour, Taylor has one goal: Liberate Oak Cliff from systemic oppression.
Can I be honest?
The past few weeks have been heavy in my world. A lot of push and pull, and trying to figure out why certain things refuse to come together while other things continue to fall apart. This week was the first time I recognized it for what it really was:
Sometimes our plans don’t pan out because we’d never step into what we’re actually supposed to be doing if things were shaping up how we wanted. We’d never take hold of the best our lives have to offer because we’d be so comfortable with lives, careers, relationships, and plans that are just, well . . . decent. Even when it doesn’t feel quite right.
So on this Friday I’m grateful that God isn’t letting me stay comfortable enough to settle for decent, even though it’s been uncomfortable in the in-between.
Ah, yes! #FeelsLikeFriday is back on Kenny and he has a lot to say!
“As I waited patiently through the weeks to talk to y’all again, I thought long and hard about what I could’ve possibly shared with y’all that would stretch beyond the surface. See, for all of you who don’t know, I’m moved on inspiration and often times, self-reflection is the-trigger that gets me going. This week, that self-reflection met me in a way that I definitely wasn’t prepared for.”
People had me fucked up this week. It’s probably because I was fasting. But my curls have been flourishing so I count it all joy. I’m ending the week on my St. Louis shit, doing shit to make me feel better. #TGIF #MakeThatMoneyDontLetItMakeYou
Art imitates life in all aspects and on all accounts. There has been recent talk of the dilution of good, creative, thought provoking hip hop. Whether Little Yachty or young artists that sing “I spy with my little eye” are to blame for the possibility of hip hop and rap eroding, we can all agree black culture music has fluctuated into another vain. It’s easy to hold mumble rap responsible for the current climate or "quote...unquote" greats choosing not to indulge in the foundations of hip hop and/or battle rap. However, I tend to think beyond the surface, and I believe some responsibly falls on the consumer, the fan, the music heads, us.
Music apps like Tidal and Apple Music are more convenient but there is something about holding a CD, vinyl or even cassette in your hand. Getting up after waiting for months and going to a music store, scrolling through various rappers and singers to find the artist you were initially looking for should still mean something if you're a true fan of an artist's music. This also opens the opportunity to run across a new artist’s project that you wouldn’t have if predictably searching on iTunes for the piece you wanted. The actual music stores also have a vibe that can inspire and allow you to meet new people with your same musical taste. Constantly only utilizing streaming is limiting, it leaves us ignorant to the complete concept of the creator.
When I was younger, going through the little book of cover art in CDs was part of enjoying the music. I loved it so much I’d use it as a poster on my wall. Obtaining something physical for the art we revel in so much makes history. It reminds us later what part of our lives we were experiencing during such a simplistic purchase. The cloud will not always be there for us and iPhones will not be forever. When’s the last time you’ve taken a day to listen to a project as a complete body of work; as opposed to only listening to the tracks you see people you don’t even know tweeting about with flame emojis. Listening, no REALLY, listening to a project as the artist formatted it is essential to the feeling of the sound in its entirety. Music is the only art form that is continuously shorted. We don’t look at the only parts of a movie we heard was good or only subject ourselves to the corners of a painting. An appreciation is obviously needed for music to evolve and avoid digression. Our society has somehow began to treat music as if it’s disposable, if it doesn’t play on the radio or isn’t the first week of release, the majority does not talk about it let alone listen. Our attention spans have been reduced to the margins of snap chat posts.
I still listen to Supa Dupa Fly with no skips. The same goes for Solange's A Seat at the Table and J. Cole's Born Sinner. People who swear they love Drake or Migos only listen to their most recently pushed singles. Can any of us recall the last time we’ve listened to Take Care from “Over my Dead Body” to “Hate Sleeping Alone”? Wasting gas, riding around embedded in the production and samples of songs that make us want to be gangsters or call our exes use to make us feel good and replenish the music as well, where did we get away from this mutual interaction? My mother use to record Luther from the radio to cassette even when CDs had come into effect because of the feeling of it all, the energy. She would even accidentallly record herself in complete bliss and admiration singing and screaming “Oh!” to cuts like “Superstar” and “Bad Boy (Having A Party)”. There’s still an overwhelming amount of good music but we as listeners in my opinion have neglected our music; we have become captives of our present environment instead of thriving in the alternative realities music invites us to.