Why I Do It

Allow me to give a brief explanation of who I am and what I do.

I am a creator. And creators create.

I have a myriad of reasons why I create. It’s how I release tension. It’s how I articulate ideas, opinions and concepts that I would normally have a hard time explaining. It allows me some modicum of control in a world where quite a bit is out of my control. It’s a great sense of pride to look at a finished product and know that it is my creation and the product of my work. I can dive into the creative process and forget about the crap I deal with in the real world for a bit. And I love it when someone else takes a liking to one of my creations, because it validates my idea as a good one.

I create in a variety of different ways. I write novels, I make music, I draw. I invent card games and board games.

I like to share my creations. I want people to read my books, play my games and listen to my music. Yes, there are monetary reasons for that – it’s awesome when someone likes your creation enough to want to pay for it. But it’s much more than just that. I like the things I create enough to want to share them with the world. I believe in my creations enough to think that somebody somewhere will enjoy what I have concocted. It could be one person. It could be one million people. It doesn’t really matter.

Would it be cool if one of my songs was a hit? Yes, it would be, and I put my music out because a song can’t become a hit if I’m the only one that knows it exists. Would I like to be a best-selling author? Yes, I would, and I actually believe I’m capable of that. But if neither of those things ever happens, I’m okay with that, too. I will still continue to create. And I will still strive to make my next creation bigger and better than my last one.

You can think that what I do is a waste of time. You can call my pursuit of greatness “chasing a pipe dream” it’s par for the course for people that don’t understand the creative process to critizise or not see the value in it.

So let’s talk about that. If you think my pursuits won’t be successful, then let me ask how you define success. If your only definition is me quitting my job because my ventures are bringing in money hand over fist, then I’ll concede that I haven’t hit that mark,…yet. Doesn’t mean I should give up striving for that though. After all, every profitable entrepreneurial venture started off as a farfetched idea.

But let me introduce this perspective. Many people have said they were going to write a book someday. Now how many of those people, realistically, would you say actually wrote one? Not a very high percentage, I’d wager. I wrote not one book, but seven, and number 8 is almost finished. I would say that in itself is a success story. And of those books that people in general say they’re going to write, how many of those actually see print? Out of the 7 finished books I have to my credit, four of them have been published, people bought three of them, and they are still buying one of them and have frequently asked me when I am going to start writing a sequel. The webcomic I maintained for four years had more than paid for itself in ad revenue, and believe it or not, a few people actually enjoy my music enough to pay for it. Considering that many creators don’t make a dime off of their creations, I consider these to be successes. I of course aim for bigger and better, but I appreciate the progress I’ve made so far.

And I feel no shame in having confidence in my projects. I will always believe my next book will be a best seller, and my next song will be a viral sensation, and my next game will become a gaming staple. If I’ve succeeded at one level, then why can’t I succeed at the next? If 50 people bought Godmode, then why can’t 500 people buy Queen of Hearts (that’s my literary novel that I will be self-publishing soon)? Why can’t 5,000 people buy Needle of the Southside (that’s my urban fantasy thriller that I’m almost finished with)? Why can’t 5 million people buy Return of the Tyrant (my high fantasy epic that I’m about 2/3 finished writing)? I don’t put limits on what I’m capable of. Never have, never will.

And it’s not like I create to the detriment of my normal life. I still work two jobs. I still do freelance graphic and web design. I still mow the lawn every Saturday and do chores around the house that my wife asks of me. I still bring 20 cases of bottled water into the house every week because we live in Flint and the water situation is far from resolved. If something in the house breaks, I will still try to fix it. The bills will still get paid regardless of how much (if any) I make from my creations. I still spend quality time with my wife and loved ones. I’ll still even take time to unwind by playing video games or playing the occasional game of Magic the Gathering with my brother (although I wish I could do that last one more often).

But despite all of that, I still create. It’s what I do, and it’s who I am.
That’s all.

Birthday Food Freebies 2 – This Time It’s Personal

With me just having had my 40th birthday, I’ve tried to get my hands on as much free birthday stuff as I could muster. I’ve had discounts on oil changes and free movie popcorn sent to me, among other things. There is absolutely no shame in my game: where I come from, the system was set up for me not to make it past 21. So I’m going to enjoy every year anniversary of God getting me through another year. And if somebody’s offering something to me for my birthday for free, I’m going to take it.

In a previous blog, I’ve given my rundown of a few restaurant birthday clubs I was part of, with ratings of how valuable their birthday deals were. The clearcut winners were Red Robin and Ruby Tuesday. Well, now it’s time for another round of birthday freebies. Check it out.

Freakin Unbelievable burger: if you are fortunate enough to live in Southeast Michigan or Kentucky, you should give these guys a try. They make very unique burgers. Their offer is pretty simple: you get a free, custom-made burger for your birthday. You can’t beat that (unless they throw in some fries). Just make sure they get the order right. The location near me gave me the wrong burger and I didn’t find out until after I got home. Rating: 4.5 birthday candles

Texas Roadhouse: these guys offer free ribs or appetizer with purchase. Since I am a rib fanatic (don’t tell my anti-pork wife though), this is a great deal. One can always make room for some extra ribs. Rating: 4 birthday candles

California Pizza Kitchen:
Their offer is pretty simple: free dessert, no questions asked. I can dig that. pair that up with their initial offer (a free side dish just for joining) and you have a nice offering to go with. Their fried mac n cheeze balls are TO DIE FOR. Rating: 3 birthday candles

Golden Corral: Their birthday club offers a BOGO buffet. Basically, it allows somebody to treat you to an all-you can-eat meal. You’ve still got to pay for your own drink, though. I strongly advise you avoid their Apple Soda. It tastes horrible. I wasn’t really impressed with their burboun chicken entrée and their steak mini-sandwiches were a bit dry. Their fried chicken and taters were decent, tho. Rating: 3 birthday candles

Applebees – these guys offer a free dessert with any meal. Their desserts are decent, and they have a nice selection. You gotta make sure you go to the right one, though, or they’ll make you have to dine-in to get it. Rating: 2.5 birthday candles

Chilis – These guys also offer you a free dessert. It would be as solid as CPK, but there’s a catch. Not every Chilis’s participates in their rewards club, so there’s a chance youmight get a hassle when trying to redeem your dessert. At the one in Flint, I had to not only purchase an entrée, but I had to dine-in to get my dessert. Not optimal when you want takeout. Also, you only get 2 weeks to redeem. Rating: 2 birthday candles

Bagger Daves – Their birthday offer is weaksauce. They only give you a 5 dollar credit off any purchase. Considering how ridiculously expensive their burgers are, that’s not much of a deal. You might be able to get a beverage out of it. Like with Red Lobster last time, their birthday offer basically covers the tip. Rating: 1 birthday candle.

So that is round two of the birthday club freebies. Use this information wisely.

GODMODE is NOT Demonic!!!

Okay, I just heard some news today that really has my blood boiling. I tried to let this go, but I can’t. Somebody made a VERY false statement about my sci-fi horror novel GodMode (that person called it Demonic) and I need to get some thoughts about this off of my chest.

I take a lot of pride in what I do creatively. I put a lot of thought, work and effort into my novels, music, games and other creations, and I only ask for people to give my creations a chance. If you like my isht, wonderful. If you’re not feeling it, I can live with that. Even if something I created isn’t your cup of tea, I can respect that, too.
But what pissed me off is when people make false assumptions about my work without even taking the time to see what the deal really is. If you don’t like science fiction or horror, then that’s okay. But don’t run around claiming my novel GodMode is “Demonic” when you haven’t even read the book to know what’s so allegedly demonic about it. That’s a slap in the face to me as a creator.
Let me make this clear: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING DEMONIC IN GODMODE. This book is about science, not religion. Do I make reference to Greek Mythology? Yes. Do I make reference to HP Lovecraft’s Cosmic monsters (called the elder gods)? Yes. But I will attest that the person who called my book demonic doesn’t even know who HP Lovecraft is, let alone the concept of cosmic horrors. But dig this: I also have a righteous, upstanding, bible-quoting Christian in the story as one of the prominent characters, and actually is the moral center of the book. What is so demonic about that?
My story deals with eldritch horrors and grotesque, deadly monsters. All of these creatures are MAN-MADE. The story deals with biotech, and what happens when science is abused and man tries to play God. That is the crux of Godmode, and that is part of the reason for the title. And if you don’t think mankind is capable of creating the stuff I depicted in my story, then you are horribly naïve. In fact, mankind is ALREADY creating stuff along the lines of what I write about. An entire country just got banned from the Olympics because of performance enhancing drugs, which is the tip of the iceberg of what the villains in my story creates. There are no satanic rituals, no Ouija boards, no human sacrifice – well, not literally, and, I repeat, NO DEMONS OR OCCULT IN THIS BOOK WHATSOEVER. I defy whoever said that about my book to show me ONE INSTANCE where something even remotely resembling devil worship, occult or anything of the sort happens in my book. Since I’m the one that wrote said book, I can assure you it’s not there.
And you would know that if you bothered to actually read the effing book.

But you didn’t read it, did you?

You looked at the scary cover, looked at the weird title, and decided that “oh this book must be demonic.” WRONG. Do you know what book has more demons in it than Godmode? “Left Behind,” Probably the most popular series of Christian novels this side of Narnia.
Do you know what other book has more demons and witchcraft in it than Godmode? The Bible. You wouldn’t dare say that book is demonic, would you?
And that speaks to a totally different point I want to make, and I really need to make this clear. Having something in your story that could be considered occult does not necessarily make it demonic. You read a story about police investigating a ritualistic occult murder. Does that make the detective show demonic? You watch a movie about a catholic priest performing an exorcism. Is that movie demonic because they showed someone posessed? How about a story where your demons and practitioners of the occult are the bad guys that get defeated at the end of the story?
Or are you the type who thinks that ANYTHING involving the supernatural is automatically demonic? Well, that’s good for Godmode because there is NOTHING supernatural that happens in that story. It’s all science and stuff made by human hands. But I need to warn you now: my next two manuscripts have magic in them. And lots of it. They also make mention of systems of belief that aren’t Christian. So when these books are published, I’ll save you a complaint and not give you an autographed copy.

And finally, how can you accuse ME, of all people, of creating something demonic? Did I EVER say or do anything to imply that I’m not a firm follower of Christ? Especially in my stories? Sure, I write about evil in many different forms. When you’re writing fiction, good fiction involves conflict, and the easiest conflict to write is good vs. evil. So yeah, my stories delve into some dark stuff. I’ve written about rape, domestic abuse, deadbeat parents, corporate sabotage, murder, genocide, corruption, robberies and crime sprees, prostitution, extortion, infidelity, and getting eaten alive by giant freaking monsters. But in my writings, the good guys with the good Christian values always win out in the end. My stories might discuss things that run contrary to my beliefs, but they don’t PROMOTE anything that runs contrary to my beliefs. And to insinuate otherwise means you don’t know me as well as you think you do…which means I don’t know YOU as well as I thought I did, also.

To everyone else, forgive me if I sound a bit pissy. Like I said, I take my creations very seriously, and when people come out and say ig’nant stuff like that – especially when I gifted said people with an autographed, limited edition hardcover of my book (we only printed 50 hardcovers and were selling them for 30 bucks apiece), I consider that a slap in the face and a HUGE sign of disrespect to my craft and the talents that God gave me. So yeah, I’m going to have something to say. I was told to take the high road with this. I believe I AM taking the high road, because I didn’t name names. I know who you are, and the fact that you said that about my stuff without knowing anything really disappoints me. But in the future, before you make assumptions about somebody else’s work (because I’m not giving you any more of mine for free), do your effing homework.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

State of The Quan

Okay. I’ve had a number of things happen that have dictated a change in direction for this blog, and this site, and the Bahamut Ali brand in general. So let’s do a “State of the Quan address” for 1st quarter 2016.

  1. The indefinite sabbatical of “The Seizure” has turned into a full-out shelving. I posted my last page on theseizure.com recently, along with my farewell blog post. In a nutshell, I have four more chapters written, but absolutely zero motivation to do the artwork or update the site. Also, I’m letting that site die. All is has been since I foolishly got my google account canceled was a showcase of my wordpress design ability, and I have better examples of that on other sites. If/when I repost all of my Seizure comics, it will be on a free webcomic host.
  2. In the meantime, I still have my MUCH easier to update spinoff webcomic, “Weekend Heroes” available! I just started posting the next story in that webcomic, and I have at least one more planned before that story is finished. Check it out here.
  3. I recently fond out that Red Rose Publishing, the company that published my e-novel Double Entry, is out of business, and has been for the last year. I’ll always appreciate Wendi Felter for giving my book a chance, but I think ti was kind of foul that she didn’t let a bruh know. But I still want my book to be available, so I did the next logical thing: I published the book myself. And now, unlike then, it’s availalbe in print as well as on Kindle. If you haven’t scooped your copy yet, go to this link and do so now!
  4. Development on the new album has slowed down to a crawl. Getting the time to really focus on getting a final mix I like has been the main obstacle, as well as finding the time to do the last couple of illustrations for the chapbook. I can say, though, that the “official score” is ready for upload. I just need to find the time to do it. And is it appropo to make the instrumentals available before the actual album? I don’t know.
  5. I am still creating, though. I’m currently 40,000 words apiece deep into not one, but TWO novels I am writing. They are both high fantasy, but with distinctly different twists. One is “Return of the Tyrant” which is a traditional high fantasy story about a hero having to join forces with his archnemesis to defeat a larger foe. it’s supposed to be the first book in a series. The other novel is “NEEDLE,” which is a high fantasy quest story, set in the Southside of Chicago. I’m having a lot of fun writing both, and I alternate between them: I write a chapter for one, then switch to the other.
  6. I am still looking for proofreaders for my literary manuscript “Queen of Hearts, King of Spades.” I think once I get a draft I like, I’m going to go the self=publishing route with that story, too. If you’re interested in reading a love story about two college sweethearts dealing with the harsh realities of post-grad life, get at me.
  7. Now for the BIG announcement: I am overhauling this website. I created this version as a showcase of my understanding of HTML5. But things and times have changed. I usually unveil a new site every few years, and with some of my links going haywire, now is as good a time as any to unveil a new one. Besides, the old site is not responsive at all, and that’s important. So the next time you see a post from this blog, it will be on a shiny new site design. Thanks for your patience guys. It shall be rewarded.

What will be Quan’s Next Big Project?

For those of you who really know me, you know that I can’t go very long without creating something new. I get bombarded by new ideas on a daily basis, and I have to at least try to bring some of them to life. When I say have to, I mean HAVE TO: there’s some cool stuff (if I do say so myself) I’ve thought up and I don’t want my ideas to go to waste.

So I try to work on at least one large-scale creative project per year. Whether it’s a new album I’m recording, or a new book I’m writing, or whatever. My free time is very limited and will be getting even MORE limited in the future, so I don’t have the time I really need to tackle all of the projects I want to develop.

I expect to be done with this year’s Big Project (my You Only Die Once nerdcore album and illustrated chapbook), and now it’s time to figure out what’s on tap for next year. So I’m going to need your help in choosing which stuff I’ll be working on in 2016. I’ve narrowed it down to 8 options:

  1. I’ve got 30,000 words written on a new novel called NEEDLE. It’s an urban high fantasy thriller about a guy searching for a magical artifact hidden in the southside of Chicago. I’m kinda planning it as the first in a series.
  2. If you’ve read my old webcomic SEIZURE2, you know that I took a hiatus from the story at the halfway point. I’ve got scripts for the next 4 chapters written and they just need art. Should I go ahead and finish the story?
  3. another old webcomic I never finished is my humor strip UNBEATABLE HEROES. I’ve got scripts for another month’s worth of strips, but no art. And plus, the majority of you have never seen the original strips the first time I posted them.
  4. I’ve got two music projects I’m mulling over. One’s an EP, so I can actually knock out both at once. The EP is called SUPERGODS and is full of motivational and inspirational rap songs. The full length project is another concept album called A MAN WITH A GUN, this time based on macho 1980’s action movies. The twist is that I want to recruit my nerdcore buddies to contribute all of the lyrics over my production. This might be the most complicated project on the list because it depends so much on others’ contributions.
  5. I’d like to release my mafia-themed collectible card game SYNDICATE as a mobile-compatible video game, and start developing a prohibition-themed expansion for it. Or better yet, develop my other educational card game RULE THE SCHOOL! As a mobile game.
  6. Speaking of adapting stuff for video games, I want to do a Zelda-styled action-adventure game based on my latest novel, called GODMODE: ESCAPE FROM BAAL.
  7. and finally, I have a completely original idea for a shoot’em up game in the style of either Contra or Operation: Wolf called ZERO SEED. In this game, you lead a crack antiterrorist crew to shoot up a ruthless terrorist anarchist organization.

    so, let’s assume I’ll only have time to work on ONE of these projects next year. If you were in my shoes, which one would you choose? Drop an email or a comment and let me know. Thanks in advance.

You Only Die Once Update 7-4

Happy 4th of July!

I just received the art for the promotional poster for my concept rap album You Only Die Once from Jennifer Prentice, who is an awesome illustrator and an old friend of mine. She did all of the hard work: all I did was add the movie credits. Some of the money I’m raising will go to pay her for her services, as well as bringing more illustrators I know aboard for some more cool art.

YODO-movie-poster

The lovely lady pictured with me is Nyima Funk, a ridiculously talented actress and comedienne I met during my freshman year of college. Her credits include starring roles on “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?”, “Key & Peele,” “Wild ‘N Out” and “Undercover Cupid.” She has graciously agreed to be “Cast” in my story as Agent 69, a secret agent sent from MI-5 to back up Agent 008 ½ in his mission to recover a stolen Neutron Bomb.

This image is available as a poster to everyone who contributes at least $20 to the campaign, and they’ll receive it along with the illustrated chapbook and three bonus songs.

I’m also going to have this available on YODO-related merch, so if you’d like to see this image on a T-shirt or coffee mug, that will be available also.

Oh, and in case you were wondering what type of role Agent 69 plays in my story, she is a major part of the song “Find Out,” which I’m giving you a sneak peek of…right now.

Like what you hear? Then PREORDER THE ALBUM! You can contribute as little as $5 to get your copy reserved at the link below.

http://www.gofundme.com/jugghead-yodo

You Only Die Once update 6-28

As all of you know, I’ve been working diligently on my new album “You Only Die Once.” You also probably know that I’ve started a crowdfunding campaign to raise the necessary loot to put the album out myself. Well, I plan on giving you all periodic updates on how the album is coming along.

As of this posting, 14 of the planned 19 songs of the album are completed. Well, actually, 12 are completed. One song – the theme song – has the music and lyrics done, but I’m waiting on a special guest singer (my sister Tia Callee) to lay down the vocals. She really liked the song, so I’m giving her first crack at it. The other track features my cousin Mr. Wre and my brother LyriCal. We’re waiting on LyriCal to lay his verse down before that one is done. It’s a bonus song called “From The Shadows” and will be available exclusively on the Deluxe version of the album…but those who contribute to the campaign will get the song before everyone else does.

 

I’ve picked the singles for the album already, and I went ahead and created cover art for each one. Check them out below.

The QuartermasterSeduxion Where am I?The Henchmen

The fourth one wasn’t originally planned as a single, but it came out so well that I felt it would be a crime not to release it. Kudos to Rex from Flint’s Lost Millenium crew, to my man Nic Bolas, and to both Masdamind and Unique the Eskimo from the Nerdcore collective for lending their guest verses. You guys are the reason why I’m making this song into a single.

Oh, I guess you’re wondering what I’m talking about. The song is called “The Henchmen.” It’s a remix to my song “The Henchman,” and you can hear a sneak peek rough version of it right now.

Here’s hoping this makes you want to invest in my album. More updates as they come.

SUPPORT MY ALBUM! Click Here to preorder your copy of You Only Die Once. There’s bonus goodies in it for you if you do!

#YODOiscoming

Lookin’ for Hip-Hop in all the Wrong Places

I’ve heard from quite a few people lamenting about the state of today’s hip-hop. Whether it be the lack of innovation and creativity, or the redundancy and general ignorance and foolishness of the lyrics and subject matter, or the oversimplification of the lyrics and instrumentals. You’d think from listening to these people that there’s no other alternative.

And yeah, if you think I’m talking about you, I probably am…but you’re not the only one I’ve heard this from.

What bugs me is that these people complain so much about the “ignorant stuff,” the Street/Trap/Drill rap, the club/party rap, the pop rap, the stuff that’s popular on the radio and in the mainstream, and yet they neglect to acknowledge that there are plenty of established, successful rappers who don’t fit into that vein.

These are the guys who say there’s no more pure lyricism in hip-hop, but have nothing to say when I mention rap legends Talib Kweli and Pharaohe Monch forming a new rap group with 9th Wonder. They complain so much about Iggy Azelia’s pop rap but ignore and underground queen like Jean Grae. They say there are no more real musicians in hip-hop but refuse to acknowledge The Roots, who are rap’s first – and still best – live band. And they talk about Lil’ Wayne and Boosie Badass and everything wrong with hip-hop without acknowledging J-Live (who just released a new album), Lupe Fiasco and everything that is right.

Mainstream audiences are what they are. We always insinuate that the record labels are pushing some agenda on music listeners and are trying to dictate what is trendy and popular. But I’ve actually worked with the young audiences that buy and request the majority of this stuff. I’ll play some so-called “real” hip-hop for them while we’re riding around – the type of stuff that I and my fellow hip-hop snobs love to listen to, and basically get no reaction from these kids and teens. But then I switch to an ig’nant club/street song like “My Hitta” or even Myley Cyrus’ “23” and the kids are instantly excited, dancing around and singing along with the ig’nant lyrics. These audiences (youth, women, dudes in the street) want something for them. They want rap music that’s catchy, that they can dance to, seduce the opposite sex to, or feel like the toughest/richest guy in the world to. And as long as these are the majority of the people who buy and request rap music, this will always be the case, for better or worse. Back in the late 1990s, Neo Soul was a big subgenre in R&B music. D’Angelo and Erykah Badu were breakthrough artists that created a demand for it, and the labels catered to that demand until audiences decided they wanted something else. You could argue that without the Neo Soul Movement, there would be no Alicia Keys, and Angie Stone and Raphael Saadiq would be strictly making songs for other people instead of putting out their own music.

And guess what? There will ALWAYS be kids who gravitate towards simplistic guys like Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em. There will ALWAYS be women who want to see “urrbody in the club getting’ tipsy” and do the latest ratchet dance. There will ALWAYS be dudes in the streets (or wannabes) who think the street stories of Jeezy or Meek Mill or Rick Ross match their lifestyles or their fantasies. That’s not going anywhere. So wishing those types of music will go away is a pipe dream.

But even with that, there is still a solution. If you don’t like the types of rap that permeates the mainstream, there are alternatives, and this is the thing that I want you all to recognize. Judging hip-hop strictly by what’s popular in mainstream audiences is like saying your local WalMart needs to be completely overhauled juts because the produce section has rotten sweet potatoes. If you really want quality hip-hop that doesn’t fit the mold of the street, club and pop rap, then all you have to do is look and dig a bit deeper. These guys are out there, but they may be a bit harder to find because major record labels don’t sign them. They are signed to smaller, indie labels like PRhyme, M.I.A. and J-Live are. They put out their own music like Ras Kass and Jean Grae do on Bandcamp.  They have better-paying dayjobs and put out albums only when they feel like it like Common, the Roots, Mos Def and Ludacris do. These are rappers with smaller but fiercely loyal followings like Mega Ran and Adam Warrock, who tour relentlessly and constantly keep their fans in the loop. These are veterans emcees like Masta Ace and Rah Digga who still find ways to stay relevant even as Hip-Hop changes and evolves. These are guys like Childish Gambino, Chance The Rapper and Run The Jewels, who have sidestepped the record label machine altogether and reinvented how music is consumed. Once you stop looking in the usual spots for the next big thing and really broaden your horizons, you will find that there are more than enough quality rap acts that are closer to what you want than the stuff that you’re complaining about now. And don’t forget, there are a handful of guys in the mainstream who put out quality, non-typical rap, too. The top MCs in the game now (Kendrick, Big Sean, Drake, J-Cole and Big KRITT) didn’t get to that status by putting out bad music.

My point is that the only reason you don’t see a quality alternative to the “Bad” rap is that you aren’t really looking for it. But it’s still out there, and there’s plenty of it. Ghostface Killa, Pharoahe Monch, and Black Thought are three of the most well-respected emcees in rap music, regardless of whether you acknowledge them or not. Techn9ne and Hopsin are two of the most creative and technically proficient rappers in the game, whether you acknowledge them or not. Lecrae leads a whole subgenre of Christian-themed rappers that fit all of your criteria, and they are successful whether you recognize that or not. Slaughterhouse will be rap’s number one group with or without an endorsement from either you or Eminem. And Run The Jewels II is still one of 2014’s most critically acclaimed rap albums, regardless of whether it was on your list.

Just like all of you, I wait for the day when mainstream audiences start demanding more thoughtful, intelligent and creative hip-hop: the labels won’t change until the people who give them money change what they want to listen to. But I’m not holding my breath. In the meantime, I am going to find and enjoy (and in my case, write and record) the type of hip-hop that speaks to me. Let the lil’uns have their Soulja Boy, Meek Mill and Iggy: I’ve got something else altogether in my music player.

Birthday Food Freebies – The Inside Scoop

Yeah, it’s my birthday. Yeah, I’m thisclose to 40, and yeah, I’m getting my second (third? Fourth? 25th? I’ve lost count) creative wind. But that’s not important right now. What’s important is that I’ve signed up for a whole bunch of food clubs at the high end restaurants near my home. I expected to be inundated with a deluge of free entrée offers to have I and my wife blissfully munching for all of this week. The actual results? Not so much. Can’t say I’m not disappointed.

But anyway, here’s the inside scoop on the restaurants I signed up for, and what they offer in terms of birthday freebies, as well as my ratings for them. If I ordered an item, I would try to split it with the wife, because I’m that type of guy.

  1. Red Robin – you can’t go wrong with “free burger and fries, no questions asked”. The only restriction is their premium burgers. I got the Whiskey River BBQ burger. Good stuff, but I don’t like steak fries. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosy. Rating: 5-birthday candles.
  2. Ruby Tuesdays – they also offer the free burger and fries, but they also include a free biscuit (describe the biscuit). The burger selection is limited to $8 and under, though. I ordered the Smoked cheddar roadhouse burger. Excellent sammich, but the wife couldn’t eat it because she doesn’t do pork, and I didn’t know they put bacon in it. Rating: 5-birthday candles.
  3. Logans – they offer a free appetizer or dessert. Pretty nifty but they have a $8 limit, which only covers about half of their appetizer menu. Their dessert selection was rather limited too. On the plus side, the appetizer comes with four of their rolls, which are REALLY good. I ordered their bourbon BBQ wings. I liked ‘em, but they were a bit spicy for the wife. Rating: 5-birthday candles.
  4. Don Pablos – they add ten bucks to your Habaneros club gift card, which is good for pretty much any single item on the menu. Needless to say, you can get a LOT at Don Pablos for ten bucks. I ordered a combo of two enchiladas (one beef, one chicken) and a large chicken taco with some chili potatoes (which were deelish) and some great Mexican rice, along with the standard homemade naked nachos and salsa. These guys LOAD YOU UP. Rating: 5-birthday candles.
  5. BD’s Mongolian Barbecue– buy a bowl, get an unlimited meal free. This one is sneaky good. It’s basically an all-you-can-eat deal for one cheap bowl. And if you’ve ever been to BDMB, you know that you can go wild with those ingredients. Rating: 4-birthday candles.
  6. Famous Daves– buy an entrée, get one half off. This one’s respectable, especially considering somebody’s going to be treating you for your birthday. Basically it’s a half-off discount on either your meal or whoever’s treating you. It doesn’t beat free, but it’s still a decent bargain. Rating: 3-birthday candles.
  7. UNO- $10 off a $25 order. I’m giving this one a passing grade only because I looooove their shrimp skewers, and getting half off an order of those is a good thing. Rating: 3-birthday candles
  8. Joe’s Crab Shack – free appetizer, but have to buy an entrée first. I don’t consider this much of a deal because Joe’s food is pretty durned expensive, and some of that crab is literally PAINFUL to eat. Have you tried cracking that spined crab? My hands were sore for a week! Rating: 2.5-birthday candles
  9. Fuddruckers – $5 off a $25 order. This one really isn’t too spectacular, since $25 won’t really get you that much at Fudd’s (Maybe a bigger burger, but that’s it). So the $5 off is really just a supersize option, to take your burger from merely huge up to gargantuan. Rating: 2-birthday candles
  10. Olive Garden – free appetizer or dessert with purchase of 2 entrees. I can see some value in this. You got a nice romantic dinner with your luvved one, and then you get a free appetizer to boot. Bonus. The wife wasn’t too impressed with it, though. Rating: 2-birthday candles
  11. Red Lobster– $5 off any 2 entrees. This is probably the worst deal of the group. A dinner for two at Red lobster can easily run you anywhere from $30 to $80 with appetizers, drinks and dessert. Taking a measley $5 off your bill is weaksauce – basically it barely covers the cost of the tip. Rating: 1-birthday candle.

So now that you know who’s got the hookup, why are you still reading this? Go get signed up for these clubs RIGHT NOW!

The Taste of Humble Pie

I’ve always said “if somebody can prove their point, then i’m big enough to acknowledge it and adjust my opinion.” Not to sound arrogant, but that hasn’t happened a lot. usually there’s enough truth in my opinion or my way of viewing a topic that I can stick to my guns, even when I have to acknowledge the truth in the opposing arguments.

So until recently I didn’t realize just how HARD it is to actually admit I was wr….
wrrrrr…..
wwrrrrr……

Dude, I can’t even write it. Let’s just say the perspective i was basing my opinion on was inaccurate with the circumstances at hand.

But I can’t argue the facts. Sid called me up after my last blog post to settle our disagreement on the free music thing once and for all. I actually appreciate that. I encourage healthy, respectful debate. If we have different ways of looking at things, let’s talk about it. maybe
our differing opinions and perspectives will help round out each other’s views. I don’t like when things degenerate into namecalling flame wars and things like that. There are no ideas being shared, and all it becomes is a bunch of stubborn idiots trying to prove how much better they are than the other guy by any means neccessary. And yes, I’ve been one of those idiots before. we all have at some point in time. Part of the reason of that is that’s it’s so hard for one to admit when he or she is wr…..
wrrrrr…..
wrrrrrrrr…..
see? it just won’t come out.

Usually, when discussions degenerate into arguments, or it appears as if we’re about to cross some lines, i’m at least civil enough to make my bottom-line point and then agree to disagree. But for some reason I couldn’t let this free music debate go. maybe I just wanted to justify my own behavior.

I’ve downloaded my share of free music and I’ve offered my own projects for free. I offer my stuff for free mostly because I know I don’t have the time, budget or motivation to “properly” release and promote an independent album (which includes doing shows, getting radio play and scraping up the money to get my stuff professionally mastered) and as you probably saw in my last post, i don’t trust record labels to do it for me.
But I still get these ideas and I want to share them with my people – most of which wouldn’t pay 10 bucks to support their boy regardless of how good the music was (I know because I’ve tried. people say they liked my songs, but there are still copies of 48505 sitting somewhere collecting dust). so I give it away because getting you to listen to my stuff is more important to me than making money off of it. (and yes, Uncle Bo, I do have the luxury of a dayjob, freelancing, books and other ventures to fall back on. I’ve never put all of my eggs in one basket. If all I had to feed my family with was music, I’m sure my perspective would be quite different, which is what Sid explained to me)

Most of the music I’ve downloaded is either old albums that are out of print and I literally couldn’t get any other way (you know your album is rare when neither amazon nor ebay has it available. i recently bought the single “Rag bag” of an old Dave Grusin album via emusic. I ran out of money so I had to save up to get the whole album, and by the time I did, they had taken it out of circulation! Now how am I going to get that one song Biggie sampled?), or new artists I’m discovering. Some of the stuff is music I really don’t like, which is why I’m glad I checked their music out before I actually wasted any money on them. But the vast majority of artists I’ve downloaded free music from I actually support financially in some way, shape or form. In fact, a good number of artists who’s albums I buy consistently now I discovered via a free album (Slaughterhouse, Mega Ran, Mister WIlson, Lecrae, Childish Gambino and Run The Jewels come to mind). And a few more like Sammus, Wordburglar and Adam Warrock are on my “must buy” list – I even asked a few of them their rates for dropping a guest verse on my next music project (kickstarter is your friend).

When De la Soul offered their entire back catalog for free, I was quick to snatch that. But I’m one of the proud milion that actually bought “3ft. high and rising” when it first came out, and have a few De la albums (that i paid actual money for) in my CD collection. Believe it or not, I do believe in supporting artists, so if you offer a free album I’ll take it…but whether it be buying your next album, or some of your merch, or coming to your show, or contributing to your kickstarter campaign, if I like you, you’re still going to get some of my money (if I don’t like you, you’re SOL. stop making crappy music.)

The mistake I made was thinking the majority of audiences do things the way i do them. and yes, Sid very eloquently pointed that out to me. Among other things. Urban consumers are notorious for not wanting to pay for anything. So if I give you a free album now expecting you’ll buy my next album or come to my show, I’ll probably end up sorely disappointed. and i had actually seen this happen before with other urban artists, which was why it was easy to concede that point. i just never took part in that culture or way of consuming music.

Sid also pointed out some flaws in my “free album as demo” argument. back when i actually was doing shows at hole-in-the-wall clubs, hustling for radio play, shooting videos and doing all the other stuff independent artists did to build an audience (waaaay back in the year 2000), it wasn’t uncommon for a rapper to build a nice following underground this way and get the attention of a major label. that’s why i listed guys like Fiddy, Drake, Nikki, Bino and Soulja Boy as examples, because offering the free album was just part of their grind of building their audience. Sid brought up another group who did the same thing – Mackelmore and (what is that guy’s name?). but their difference is they were in a more supportive (re. non-urban) music culture that was more supportive (and let’s be real, more white). It’s not 1984 anymore, but it’s not 2000, either, and labels aren’t looking for those kind of credentials anymore (wchich is kind of backwards to me, but then again, a bunch of Detroit rappers got signed that way back then, and almost all of them flopped, so it is what it is).

And so on and so on. most of the stuff Sid pointed out was stuff I would point out to others in music conversations, just pointed in a way that directly addressed my arguments. When a
guy convinces you that your opinion is really closer to his than to what you thought your opinion was, it’s time to raise the white flag. I’m pretty sure he could hear me tapping out on the other end of the phone. My wife definitely heard it, and after my conversation was over, she had no problem reminding “mr. know-it-all” that he got pwned.

So you win, Sid. You got your point across and I’m not going to bother you about the free music debate anymore. As much as it pains a bruh to humble himself and admit he was schooled, i was indeed schooled. ‘Nuff respect due.

That all having been said… I’m still giving a bunch of my music away for free. Maybe not my next album (trust me, y’all. it will be worth every penny of the five bucks I’ll be charging you. this next album will be EPIC – and it might also be my last. might as well go out with a bang, right?),
but definitely select albums in my back catalog. so if any of you want some free vintage Jugghead music, get yer butt over to jugghead.bandcamp.com NOW before I raise the prices.

And if an artist i support offers me a free single or album, I’m still taking it. Childish Gambino just offered a combo free Gangsta Grillz album and regular “pay for me” EP and i copped ’em both. I downloaded the free one, and then shelled out 9 bucks for the EP.

So there ya have it. I was able to concede my argument without actually admitting I was wr……
wrrrrr……
wwwwrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr……

(give it up, y’all. it’s not gonna happen.)