7 Years- Time Well Spent

Peace fam! I do hope this post finds you well. I have been having the damndest time carving out time in my schedule to write my annual Loc-versary post. But, here I am, a day (or few) late but, here nonetheless!

This month marks 7 years as a loc’d goddess, 7 years of having a head of kinky dreads. The number 7 holds so much significance. For me, 7 has always represented completion, self-mastery, god status; 7 is the number of my spiritual goddess mother Yemoja.

A little research and one discovers the number 7 also represents the seeker, the thinker, the intellectual, and so much more. 7 is a highly spiritual number, which brings me back to myself and this celebration of sorts.

 

I am for once standing in my truth, allowing things about myself to be known, sharing gifts that I had hidden for most of my life, and discovering new things about myself along the way. I am finally feeling free enough to fully express my truth through word, video, action, and more. Talk about fucking liberating!

It has taken me years to love myself deeply enough to honor ALL of my emotions, my desires, my needs, my space, my time, the entirety of me! 7 has been a year of completion for me.

I have let go of people, places, situation, and things that are no longer serving me or were unhealthy to me and have no qualms about further releases that are to occur. I am not holding onto anything that will keep me from living my life the way that it is truly intended.

I can actually see my destiny and it is beautiful. I know my purpose and I am walking in it each and every day that I rise and give my tribe what they need through the gifts that I have been given.

Life is coming full circle and I am here for it. As I look at my hair, lightly decorated with new silver hairs, I am pleased. I see the rough times, the successes, the heartaches, the growth.

It is absolutely beautiful.

And it is not over.

 

Peace,

Ashaki

Surveying the kingdom
The journey is getting better and better!

Remembering Tupac

Greetings fam! Hope all is well with everyone on this Saturday evening. Today is the day that the majority of hip hop fans spend celebrating the birth of Tupac Shakur. If he had lived, he would be 47 years old, which seems crazy to me.  Maybe it is because I was so young when he was alive. Or because we have been nearly suffocated with tons of t-shirts, mugs, memes, artwork, multiple album releases, and so much more.

I was sitting in my house thinking back on my first encounter with his music. I first saw him with Digital Underground (Yes, I used to do the “Humpty Dance”). But, when he emerged as an artist and I saw the video for “Brenda’s Got a Baby”, I became somewhat enthralled with him.

The message and images in the video were things that I knew all too well myself. I had a close friend who had been molested by her own father for years, young girls being pregnant was commonplace, drugs were prevalent, and social workers decorated many a doorstep. But, the way that he weaved the story was special and I had found a new rapper to follow and music to consume.

Tupac spoke on topics that had not been displayed so openly which appealed to me greatly. I seemed to always be on the lookout for music that spoke to my own tortured soul. “Keep Your Head Up” gave us hope, encouraged us, and solidified the fact that he loved us. I followed him closely, listening to “If My Homie Calls”, “I Get Around”, and more but, then he began to change a bit and I began to fall back.

That thug shit was a theme that although very familiar, was absolutely exhausting. His roughness bristled my nerves and I found myself tuning out when his music was played. But, as soon as I was going to throw him away, he dropped his “Me Against the World” album, and I was rocking with him again. The album displayed his feelings towards his mother, the revolutionary Afeni Shakur, displayed his sexuality on “Temptations” and highlighted vulnerability on “So Many Tears”. I was impressed and once again captured.

I remember when he died very vividly. I was almost 16 years old, living in a place that I didn’t want to be, selling dime bags of weed, struggling to adjust once again. I was sitting on the stoop in my projects when news broke across the radio airwaves. One of my homeboys stopped by as they began to play Tupac’s music. Tears ran down our faces but neither of us spoke. He was gone just as so many young black men had. Our spirits sagged.

I often sit and listen to Pac and reflect on the state of hip hop today. Lyricism is not as highlighted as in decades before and at one point, I honestly felt like throwing the whole culture away. Then, I recall some old heads talking about Tupac in similar ways that some speak on artists today.

He was a thug and a revolutionary talking about gangs, pussy, struggle, drugs, and more. They didn’t know what to do with him.  There is a difference between him and some of these untalented, new school rappers– he had a message. He was like a hood prophet, politicking on the state of affairs. So, I hang in there, as an unofficial hip hop ambassador. I feel a sense of responsibility to preserve a culture that rocked me, nourished me, fed me, and kept me in some of the most difficult times of my life.I have said before that hip hop saved my life and that is not an understatement. Tupac is another artist that played a part in my evolution.

It seems redundant to say that Tupac’s memory will never die, but it is so true. He will forever be remembered for his substantial contribution to the culture, for his influence on so many people, for the indelible mark he made upon this earth. Peace to his spirit.

 

Rest on Tupac,

Ashaki Omikunle Ali

 

Photo Cred: https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/tupac-shakur

Life is Stillmatic

Peace, love,and light to the fam! Hope you all are well. I am feeling quite nostalgic after watching “Time Is Illmatic”, the 2014 Nas documentary. Now, let’s flashback to 1994 when Nas’s first album dropped. I was a 13-year-old struggling with issues of family drug abuse, neglect, and poverty. One day as I sat at the kitchen table doing homework, the video for “The World is Yours” came on. I dropped my pencil and became hypnotized by the words. “Understandable smooth shit that murderers move with, the thief’s theme; play me at night, they won’t act right. The fiend of hip-hop has got me stuck like a crack pipe…”

Quickly I moved to my dresser drawer to see if I had enough money to buy the tape. To my surprise, I did. I jumped on my bike and headed to the record store, praying along the way that the record was not sold out. No, I was not from Queensbridge, but his tales of life in the hood were all too familiar. “Illmatic” was a pivotal record in my youth. I was coming of age in a time where crack was king. Many children were left to fend for themselves or depend on grandparents to care for them. But the music, the hip hop of 1994 was absolutely historical. The music told the untold stories of ghetto life, from the dirty South to the slums of the city. We all were experiencing similar things in life. Nas tapped into the energy. Nas spoke to my soul. He was more gritty than A Tribe Called Quest, but he still flowed effortlessly and with intelligence. His lyricism was crisp, poetical, and poignant. His presence made a huge difference on the scene of hip hop.

People think that I exaggerate when I say that hip hop saved my life. Yo, it is far from a lie. Many times I considered suicide and illegal capers, but hip hop was salve to my soul. “The World Is Yours” gave me hope. I began to visualize my escape from my condition. I knew that life was much more than living in projects and seeing drugs rip your community apart. I knew life was more than drinking, getting high, and having sex. I knew that I was not destined to be a part of the nonsense. I knew life was good and also what you make it. That record is an anthem for me until this very day.

Another of my favorite Nas lines is “Life is good, no matter what, life is good.” It is my creed. I am a child of hip hop. Much gratitude to Nas for his contribution to the art that is hip hop. He may never know the true impact, but “The World is Yours” had a direct impact on the essence of Ashaki Ali.

 

Peace, Love, and Light,

Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali

 

 

 

 

Photo Cred: http://columbiaspectator.com/arts-and-entertainment/2014/10/02/new-documentary-focuses-inspiration-importance-nas-debut