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Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

February 2005

"Art is not for the cultivated taste. It is to cultivate the taste." ~Nikki Giovanni


[ INGREDIENTS ] [ MIND THOUGHTS ] .......................................1 Atiba Edwards [ LET EM KNOW ] .............................................2 Become A Drug dealer Paradise or pennyless [ POETICS ] .........................................................3 Cell Love Poems Love Poems [Fuck Poems] Heat of My Night [ THREADS ]........................................................5 Oski-Slim [ VERBATIM ]......................................................5 Christian Pierce / Pound Magazine Miami Kaos / Illestrations’ CEO Spike Lee S.M.A.C.K. DVD MAGAZINE

Many people have asked what I mean by ‘Creativity is King.’ You ever felt happy because you tried to cook something new and it turned out great or you laced your sneakers up a new way and everybody was feeling it or your poem said just the right things? That is the essence of ‘Creativity is King.’ When you create something you give balance to life, not only your life but the lives of people around you because your positive energy reaches their world. “But I’m not an artist.” That is the most ignorant thing you can ever say because art is within you from birth. From the way you make your E-Z Mac to the way you wear your clothing to art forms, such as painting, poetry, music etc. The problem is we do not always seize that art and cultivate it so that it grows and flourishes. When you embrace the arts, your life will change completely due to the balance.

[ BRAIN FOOD ]................................................19 Dreams from My Father

FOKUS wants to help you find that balance. We have started a movement to open everyone’s eyes to the value and importance of the arts. We don’t waste our times talking, we deliver! So tune into the movement. There is something for you in FOKUS.

[ SCREEN EM ]..................................................19 Million Dollar Baby

Either you are with us in the movement or you will be left behind witnessing the movement.

[ UNDER THE NEEDLE ].................................17 The Game Geto Boys


[ THE HUDDLE ]...............................................20 DANIEL HORTON / ENTRY TWO [ TECH IT ].........................................................20 Psp On Its Way [ HAPPY VALENTINES ].................................20 Valentines Day Shout Outs

[ COVER ARTWORK ] Chamira Jones, is the artist who did the cover. She is currently a junior in the School of Art and Design. Contact her at It is a self-portrait, showing the artist as a young adult. The little girl she is holding is also the artist, but many years younger, and so she is holding herself. Looking over them both is the artist yet again.

[ Generals ] - Alma Davila-Toro, founding publisher - Atiba Edwards, founding publisher - Allison Lasky founding publisher [ Contributors ] Nicky Avant Senesi Blake Porsha Cills Lhea Copeland Nikki Faison-Miller Daniel Horton Julio Jamal Chamira Jones Erick Michael Jillian Webb Lauren Whitehead Deborah Wiggins Phononzell Williams

Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

February 2005

Become a Drug Dealer

[ LET EM KNOW ] .: I’m Your Pusherman :.

I’m your mama, I’m your daddy,

I’m that nigga in the alley. I’m your doctor when in need. Want some coke? Have some weed. You know me, I’m your friend, Your main boy, thick and thin. I’m your pusherman… Ain’t I clean, bad machine Super cool, super mean Dealin’ good, for The Man. Superfly, here I stand. Secret stash, heavy bread, Baddest bitches in the bed, I’m your pusherman. Silent life of crime A man of odd circumstance, A victim of ghetto demands. Feed me money for style And I’ll let you trip for a while. Insecure from the past, How long can a good thing last? No, No, No Heavy mind, every sign Makin’ money all the time My ‘E ID’, and just me For all junkies to see Ghetto Prince is my thing Makin’ love’s how I swing I’m your pusherman

As mentioned on the site, “there are 3 million children living with HIV and 14 million who have lost one or both of their parents to the disease.” You can become a drug dealer by purchasing these drug dealer t-shirts worn by stars like Miss Keys, Tyson Bedford, Toure, India Sebastian, DMC, Manon Von Gerkan, Gloria Rueben, Periel Aschenbrand, Common, Cara Seymour, Alan Cumming, and Daryl K. The tshirts run for $35- pretty expensive I agree, but the proceeds go directly to buying drugs that will help keep children alive; “100% of your donation goes directly towards helping children in desperate need of AIDS fighting drugs,” such as antiretroviral (AVR) drugs that makes a huge difference in treatment for these kids. It’s straight up ‘a-dollar-a-day.’ The one dollar a day we might spend on a coffee, pack of gum, bagel or even a paper to read could be better put to use by way of this cause. The donation is small, but the participation and motivation is priceless. For more information, visit or visit to get informed or join the fight against AIDS. Losing mothers, losing fathers AIDS is killin’ little bodies They have doctors – they’re in need ARV – help them please! Got a dollar? Lend a hand Do some good for this land. I’m a drug dealer!

Two bags, please For a generous fee Make your world what you want it to be Got a woman I love desperately Wanna give her somethin’ better than me Been told I can’t be nuthin’ else Just a hustler in spite of myself I know I can break it This life just don’t make it Lord, Lord, yea

These were the lyrics that came to mind when I picked up the latest Vibe Magazine and saw Alicia Keys wearing a ‘DRUG DEALER’ t-shirt on an ad for Become a drug dealer? Huh? Am I supposed to take that literally? After a double take, I decided to check it out and low & behold, this is what popped up: Every minute a child dies from AIDS in Africa. You can’t turn to the government. You can’t turn to the pharmaceutical companies. What can you do?

.: paradise or penny-less :.

Wouldn’t it be nice to escape onto a deserted island with a few friends, bathing suit [optional, of course], tanning lotion, and a full stocked bar? Well, for most of us undergrads, the fantasy of a paradisal vacation this spring is just a hope, not a reality – and of those for whom it is a reality, can FOKUS be your friend? I thought it might be fun to share with you a few penny and break-friendly places to go… #1. Fort Lauderdale @ $350 for airfare + 4 night stay on the beach #2. Toronto @ $300 for airfare + 3 night stay downtown #3. Atlanta @ $400 for airfare + 3 night stay downtown #4. Orlando @ $300 for airfare + 4 night stay in Disney/Sea World areas #5. New York City @ $200- #350 for airfare + 3-5 night stay in Manhattan


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success #6. D.C. @ $150- $250 for airfare + 3 night stay downtown #7. Miami @ $370 for airfare + 3 night stay downtown #8. Tampa @ $360 for airfare + 3 night stay at multiple resort/casinos #9. Bahamas @ $500 for airfare + 3 night stay at beach resorts #10.Vail/Eagle, CO @ $370 for airfare + resort /ski package #11. Telluride, CO @ $500 for airfare + resort /ski package #12. Honolulu @ $500 for airfare + 4 night stay at resort/spa #13. Waikiki Beach @ $550 for airfare + all inclusive resort stay #14. Mexico locations @ $550 for airfare + 4 night stay at multiple resorts For more detailed information, visit,, or any of the following resort sites to find out how you can save money on your spring break vacation! [final note] it’s always a good idea to think about driving to your location with friends or family members, traveling to a location where you know someone and can stay for free, and utilizing your student status as much as possible! Whether it’s skiing, surfing, tanning, or cozying up to that special someone... Enjoy the 2005 Spring Break because for a lot of us, it’s the last one we’ll ever have! - A.Mari

February 2005 you reach out and touch

another’s mind.

Your whisper is only true in your world, because it is actually as loud as if you were shouting. As soon as you start to speak the next word, a sea of noise-vibrations; ringing, both charming and annoying and two tunes from favorite songs- flood the bus you ride home. An old woman sitting in the back is staring at you with a look of confusion. She cannot hear your conversation but sees you mime your thoughts and words. She moves closer, as the bus gets overcrowded, to pick up what you are saying to the earpiece tucked in your jacket. Hearing your repetition of staying late at work as an excuse from a date. She t a p s

on your knee, and points to the back of the bus.

You brush her off thinking she is just a nut, The second tap makes you react with wonder as to if she did not get the point.

She points again but this time it is accompanied with her telling you to stand up. You rise and follow her plea hoping that this would get her to leave, she taps you again telling you to look to the back where she [ POETICS ] pointed. As you peer over the heads of the people holding desperately to their phones, you .: Cell :. ~Atiba Edwards realize the person you are having the conversation with is sitting all alone in As we assimilate to a new state in ways to the back of the bus. communicate, small devices catch our thoughts flying through the air. .: Love Poems :. A phone book that’s never enough to hold the ~Deborah Wiggins people we will meet, but it is all the reason to forget those we know. Love Poems write me No longer is there a need to dial a number, now Sideways it is the simple press of a Legs spread button or the sound of their name, Mouth Open Stretched 5 miles of open field As you try to whisper quietly so you do not 12 stars and 7 moons disturb those surrounding,


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success Mix to form my complexion A roasted hazel On a canvas of life. Hair swirling around poles of Love-forsaken after-dinner mints Ink jots pigmentation And paper reads epidermis White and red blood cells I can’t write But love poems write me. They sketch me casted into the Great Nile Flowing downstream Up north Shackled and bound to 170lbs of ink ink ready to write, ready to paint, ready to taint the steady flowing streams that sweeps my ankles and mashes me between these pages. I am the lines but, I don’t write... I can’t write... I won’t write... Cuz they tied my finger to a train track And the train to my thumb Now I’m profusely bleeding emotions And no one can see where from A rouge screen of crimson tint hangs over my eyes And my hand glides through the paper Am I unable to write Love poems write me Cuz when I write them, They bend me over and don’t use mush Vaseline. I can’t seem to mold them Or hold them, Fold them in my pocket Or control them They just write me Backwards and forwards And all out of order Then when they’re done, They scribble their initials on my feet Or possibly my head And pass me off to the back of some random book to read. Never once do I see their eyes Or hear them speak aloud They never improvise And never explain how they wrote me... When they wrote me... Why they wrote me...

February 2005 They simply scribble their initials On my feet Or possibly my head Love poems write me Cuz in order to write them You have to understand them So they understand me Struggling to find 3 little words in my eardrum Or ten fingers grasping my waist They see me Pasting chocolate hugs & kisses To my lips and torso Just waiting to know When love will teach me how to write... When love will teach me how to write... When will love teach me how to write? Guess until, Love poems will write me Sideways Legs spread Mouth WIDE open Upside down and choking On the idea that one day Love will teach me how to write But until then Love poems write me.

.: Love poems [fuck poems] ~Nicky Avant & Lauren Whitehead

he's beautiful chocolate the way he milks me finger licks my ear lobes palms my shoulder blades and resonates himself inside me [It's been 6 months and I ain't had none so fuck me cuz it's needed not too proud to plead either so please...grab me now rub it down, beat it up, bang it out whichever you'd prefer cuz i'd prefer you to relieve me of this insatiable hunger that's eating me so get on your knees i need you to fuck me] he's beautiful stunning the way he illuminates me with his teeth arches my back takes my hips into his and brushes his lips about my neck


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

February 2005 [wasting time]

he's beautiful the way he lifts me effortlessly like my spirit weigh nothing sets me atop his waist and trampolines me / giggling toward the ceiling

he's love temple shrine [while i remain unsatisfied] lotion massage at bed time

[I have bodily seeds that need to be released and replanted so hit my switch and let that shit flow then use your hose to water and help it grow you can use your tongue just for fun but i want teeth nibbling and chewing at my gummy skin] he's beautiful the way he speaks soul in the open honestly and timid as if truth were sin

a light lick french kiss with my legs around his neck [good head, my definition of a soul well-fed so feed this need please my coochie's growling not because it's untamed but because it's starving

[I'm willing to let you in if you promise to fuck me hard don't hardly fuck me cuz i won't break like glass won't shatter or clash just need your deft fingers to grip/grab my baby soft ass I have a longing for lascivious lechery meaning you on top, beneath or behind me stroking and sweating now ly down but stay up so i can ride flip me on my side and hit it as fast as you'd like] he's so beautiful the way he takes me the way he creates me magic the way he flips me dips me tips me toward the edge of ecstasy then slows to roll his tongue down my spine

my sexual instincts are telling me that i need a good bone for my salacious soul] he's beautiful the way he lingers like lavender incense smooth and extra light blue mint cherry lime reminiscence he's beautiful the way he makes me moan [anything that can make me moan] oh moans [to moan] my inspiration for this [my inspiration for this] love poem [fuck poem] To see them perform, check out the U-Club Poetry slams every other Thursday or hit up the infamous The Cypher

.: HEAT OF MY NIGHT :. ~Lhea Copeland

[I don't want to escape this horny hurricane unscathed so fuck me good no...fuck me great fuck you for not fucking me vivaciously or at all stop standing by} he's refined

[grab a breast leg or thigh left hand tit, right hand clit you need to hit me with dick sooo good i run from it leaping from the cliff that is the edge of the bed]


of Black Thought through Black Struggles in Black Skin My Black Brother, Black Lover Black Teacher, Black Kin You are the Passion of which I write The enslaved & enraged for which I fight The resented, mispresented & underepresented Plight The missing link of my family


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success The heat of the Night I have tested you, I've tried Bad-mouthed your intelligence, capability & pride I've cursed the home in which we reside And doubted the possibility for sanity to abide This is my apology May I be your support? Hide not your tears from me, I will shield them from the world. I will be your prayer, you have yet to recite The hug you need, the embrace that excites Your ecstatic, emphatic, erotic, exotic side The kiss of comfort, monogamous truth The stability in old age- still reminding you of youth Black man, of Black Thought Through black struggles in anti-black world In dark skin in an unfair, fair world Black Brother, Black Lover, Black Inspiration, Black Truth Black Teacher, Black Parent, Black Poetry, Black Proof Black Ancestry, Black Future, Black Husband, Black Youth I am you Black Woman- your Half and your Whole Your sister, your mother, your wife and your comfort The journal you hide, but confide in at nightThe unspoken speech you have to recite This is my promise, May I be your support? Hide not, your fears from me Together we will take on the world.


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February 2005

[ VERBATIM ] .: Unlearn What You Learned :.

Christian Pierce touches on the importance of the arts; the state of society, the roles of media and much more.

FOKUS: Introduce yourself Christian Pierce: I am the cofounder and editor of Pound magazine, which was started in Canada in December of 1999. It has been quite a journey even before we put the first issue out, it took about a year and a half to get the business setup and figure out what we were doing and get a little bit of support. We have been doing our best to build this thing into something that is sustainable on a long term basis. and just play whatever role in non-profits that I could given my other responsibilities and what I felt were my gifts. F: What do you think are your gifts? CP: I guess I am an okay researcher. I am good at finding out what is going on here and there and making it interesting to our readers. We have tried to deal with some pretty serious political issues. From the war on drugs to the war on Iraq to the war on journalism- which is the next one I am doing. We dealt with some pretty heavy issues and we have a broad readership from 13 year olds to 35 [year olds]. So presenting these issues in a way that is accessible to that wide age group, in a way that is entertaining has been something that I feel I have been pretty successful in doing. So I guess that is my gift. It has translated into us doing a book based on the similar structure of writing and information compilation. I guess other people are starting to recognize that this is a format that works and is appealing and can have an impact. That was a big stamp of approval. The book gets finished in the end of August, hopefully and then it will be out early next year. We have been talking to all kind of artists, like we talked to about 70 MCs by now. I just did the C-Bo interview and we spoke about gun culture and gun violence and that is basically what the book is about. We take a hip-hop perspective on the life cycle of a gun and try to illuminate people on the issues related to gun violence and dispel some of the nonsense that comes up any time there is a problem with gun and gang violence which immediately turns to hip-hop, from the Geto Boys to Tupac to 50 cent.


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

Everyone wants to blame it on the most prominent gangsta rapper but the problem is much deeper than that and hopefully we will shed a little bit of light into that hole because it is a hole of knowledge. People take the simplistic way out because they don’t want to search for the answers but they are out there, and you just have to look to find them. You do society, in general, a disservice by adopting such a simplistic way out. You gotta be real and mainstream society has a hard time dealing with the reality of problems it created or helped create. I don’t know? Maybe there will be a big backlash for coming out and doing something like this. Gun manufactures don’t want to be blamed for the problem but the fact is they know which stores are selling the most guns that end up being used in crimes and yet they turn a blind eye to that because that is like 25% of their overall sales. When you are dealing with a billion dollar industry that is a quarter of a billion dollars; it makes sense to the capitalistic society to turn your focus away from things like that but that to me seems to be a bigger factor than problems of gun violence and the influence that hip-hop has. That is where we are going with that the book. F: What role do you think media has or should have on educating people? CP: What you guys are doing is great man! I think that is a reflection of the fact that a lot of young people like yourself and myself feel pretty alienated by what mainstream media is doing so we are making an effort to get out there and find out everything they are missing, which are all the good things. So I think that is the true role of journalists and media. If you are talking indie media, it is to get out there and fill in all the holes that the big corporate media leaves. People need to know about that because that is the truth. If you have a critical eye, you can watch the mainstream media and find out what’s really going on by connecting the dots, but if you don’t have that critical eye you might take everything at face value and that is pretty dangerous.

February 2005 As we start with this election that the U.S. had and the war in Iraq and all the lies that went with that. I think it really is just a responsibility to school people. To help them understand the issues that affects their lives - to place importance on them because they are busy with all the responsibilities people have to underestimate the importance of the political superstructure that we are living within and under. So you gotta really redirect people’s attention to the reality of how that perpetuates their struggle and how becoming familiar with that can really play a key role in changing it and the process is gradual but it is happening. Things are changing for the better, the media, I guess, is getting better despite the fact that on the surface it is horrible. You look beneath the surface and you find us and yourself and all that that plays a role. Indie? media are like termites, individually one might not do much damage but you put them all together and they can eat away at the whole foundation of the whole system. F: What would you say is your art? CP: I don’t know if I think of myself as an artist. I don’t know if you consider journalism an art. If it is then I guess art forms in pursuit of that are research, writing, interviewing, connecting the dots, and taking the chances at digging. I’m okay at all those things. I interviewed Robert Fisk, he was in Beirut when I talked to him, and he described the role of a journalist as being one in which we are required to monitor the centers of power and I think that is a pretty apt description. As a pretty young guy, I made an effort to monitor the centers of power as I see them in my country and on our continent because that is what affects me the most. I have made it my art to keep a close eye on what the centers of power are doing and try to relay that information to society. I don’t think of myself as an artist- I am more in awe. I am a fan of art and I am a fan of all the arts that are a part of hip-hop, I love graffiti, emceeing, DJing and break-dancing. Some people might define art as being something that is just creative but I think it is more to it than that. I have never been able to articulate it for myself but I think that there is a distinction between a professional endeavor like journalism and a purely artistic occupation like one of those things I just mentioned. So I’m not an artist. F: It all depends how you define art.


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success CP: I guess that’s true. I think it is more important in life to be good at what you do. Just to try your best and take the most advantage of the gifts that you have as an individual. There is maybe too much emphasis in this society on art and that has the affect of downplaying everything outside of art. We exaggerate, to an extent, the importance of actors and musicians because that is all inherent in the supremacy of the art mentality that society has. A good human rights lawyer or a good surgeon, to me, is at least as important as any artist. In life the art of every individual is to be as perfect at whatever they do as is possible. That’s what art is to me and in that sense I try to be an artist by being as good at journalism as I can be. F: How did you get started with Pound? CP: My homeboy from Toronto, Bascunan, was running a hip-hop club at his university and he came back one summer. He was like ‘I think we can start a magazine, I think there is a window there.’ I was like ‘I’m with it, lets give it a shot.” At that stage we probably didn’t know everything we were getting into and in fact I know we didn’t. We believed in ourselves and I guess we knew we had the capabilities between us and with our other friends in the city. Bascunan took the reins and started building it up. I started out in marketing and then I moved over to the editorial side and that’s where I have been since. It’s just an idea and a lot of belief in yourself because it is a long process. Building something up to the point where you can be really satisfied and say you did it, takes time. Time implies a lot of ups and downs, so you can have a good idea but you have to be willing to go through the downs as well as the ups. We were willing to do that, we went through them and now, I’d say it’s mostly ups. F: What were you studying at the university? CP: I was a poli-sci major. I study law now. I always knew I was going to go to law school. I took some time off after undergrad to work on the magazine and I was working on the book but then I was like ‘if I don’t do law know then it might not never happen.’ I felt that it was a practical extension of what I was studying in undergrad. A poli-sci degree doesn’t really take you too many places but if you take the extra 3 years and build on that and do law school then there is a bunch of other options that are available to somebody. So now I work on the mag, the book and go to law school and try to balance it. F: What kind of law do you want to study?

February 2005 CP: That is yet to be decided. It’s all interesting to me but I hope that I can do something and help people that will never have the kind of opportunities that I had. A lot of people that I am studying with, their primary focus, sometimes even their sole focus, is on moneymaking. I think that really loses sight of the fact that we’ve incurred to society, even as undergrads. We incur a debt to society to play a role that assists those who don’t have similar opportunities because education is key. That’s the dividing factor and in order to shrink the gap I think those who have an education have a responsibility to share and support and potentially facilitate those who haven’t had an education getting one or their kids getting one and breaking that cycle of division and inequity. So hopefully I will play some kind of role in society with the education I am getting that helps people that don’t have what I have and haven’t had it. F: You think its society, the nature and machine of society that engrains into students who go through education and focus on getting a job to make money? Where they don’t always look back and say ‘how did I get here’ and think about the people they met along the way. Society places more value on monetary issues versus social, the value of a friendship for instance or the value of talking to somebody is more important but a lot of people are concerned with getting the next dollar. Do you think it’s the nature of society that we have moved towards that as a big thing?

CP: I think that is absolutely right. Certain things capitalism can’t commoditize, like you said a good conversation between friends, so it shifts the emphasis to the little consumer trinkets, 75% of which nobody will ever need, in order to perpetuate itself. That’s the nature of capitalism. It emphasizes everything that people can buy and deemphasizes that which people can’t buy. All the really valuable things in life, I think, are part of that latter group-those you can’t buy. I spent some time in Cuba and saw that people there don’t have much but they are well educated and they are very social. People are very interdependent and they know what’s going on and they share with each other. I think that is a lot of what life is about; not everything because achievement and productivity are important but also some sort of connection with


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success the people you live among and around is the most important thing. I don’t know if that answered your question. I think you basically answered it better than I could. F: No you did answer it. It is always good to hear more insight and advice on that subject. CP: Yeah, it’s crazy like that. There is so much emphasis on making money and buying and selling. The fundamentals of human connection all get lost between boss and worker, and worker and customer. It’s just mostly about ‘how I can affect this purchase or this sale’ and not about ‘how can I connect with this person;’ that has people feeling trapped in something like a matrix but it’s not a matrix because it is real. F: What do you think the arts of all types, music, fashion, poetry, etc., have in education? CP: Well it is creativity. That’s how you get all the shit out. People paint something that is really positive but it is because they have that creative outlet it makes it possible for them to release other emotions and thoughts that may not all be positive. Creativity is the element for people that is key. I feel bad when people get stuck in the grind and never have the opportunity to experience creativity in their daily lives because their human potential is locked in and never explored and all those emotions and thoughts are repressed in the day to day struggle. That is something that I will never wish on anybody but unfortunately majority of people have to deal with that. In terms of art as a mechanism for learning and educating people- it’s the best because it interacts the subconscious. You look at a painting and you may be in awe; nothing may be crossing your conscious mind but it could be a piece by whomever, Salvador Dali, one of my favorites, or a graffiti artist, Skam is big in Toronto. You could be thinking nothing but having all kinds of reverberation throughout your subconscious which really shapes a lot of who were are without knowing it. Art teaches without us even knowing and that is the most effective form of education- when you don’t even realize you are being educated. Art is beautiful at its fullest. I can’t imagine what life would be like without music and dancing and all the things that anybody can do. You could be the poorest person in the world but you could sing and

February 2005 dance. That makes art something that is universal. Again, even though it can be commodified, there is something about art that attracts economics because it can done in any place, whether its some dude in the deep South playing spoons on his knee or some cat in the Bronx playing a flipped over bucket with some sticks, that’s still art that can impact as much as art that is done in a multimillion dollar studio. F: One thing I saw on the site was the links to the articles that target the negative aspects in music, such as the hyper-sexual portrayal of woman in music and music’s negative influence. They seem to focus on the Nelly video or Ludacris video but never give light to somebody like Jean Grae or the struggling up and coming artists who never get that big media spotlight or even a small shadow of it because the media always wants to look at the negative vs the positive. CP: The media wants to look at what’s prominent. Jean Grae, if she is lucky, may sell 20,000 albums but if Nelly only sells 2 million it’s not a successful album. The media tends to emphasis what’s most prominent, that’s why they attack a 50 Cent or a Tupac because those guys are at the top. I think in respect to the first part of the question, that is all part of the pornographication of mainstream culture. The stuff that happens in hip-hop is not different than the stuff that is happening in pop-culture, generally, which is all part of the general sexual exploitation and objectification of women for the purpose of selling product. It’s funny because the main stream has such a problem when Janet Jackson shows her nipple but when whoever, like Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera, makes all the gestures and goes way further without showing a nipple they have no problem. It’s a whole twisted contradiction and hypocritical set of values. Like Randy Moss can’t act like he is showing his ass but Britney Spears’ camel toe can be on the cover of Rolling Stone. F: Similar to the Randy Moss thing, Jessie Palmer gave the middle finger to the crowd but he didn’t receive half the backlash that Randy Moss did who did the act out of fun and humor. CP: Those are the additional aspects of capital subordination. It’s all a classism. People think racism or sexism is at the forefront but those are just different tools that are used in capitalism to keep different classes down. It’s


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success always going to work out that if you do the same thing and your black its worse than if you are white and if you’re a black woman its worse than a black man. It goes down the chain, like if you are a black woman who is a lesbian then its even worse. The same act can be viewed entirely differently depending on which class you come from. F: Even over the holidays, Fat Joe gave some computers to a Bronx school but the news didn’t report it until a few days after. Tupac with the positivity he had, they only emphasized the negative aspect of him and didn’t take a look at the things he said in interviews and conversations. For example, one interview he said “the most beautiful picture he can see is when everybody gets together. Then it is really when we have power.” What do you think on that subject? What is preventing that, in a light answer because I realize that is a very heavy question? CP: In terms of what is preventing unification? F: Yeah. Actually, what are some steps that can be taken? What should be the next big push? We will celebrate Dr. King’s birthday until January 31st and then we have Black History month for 28 days then its okay let’s move into Easter. Everything is a one shot deal and there is no consistent flow on pushing unity and the value of a community. CP: Dr. King was influenced by Gandhi. Gandhi said you must be the change you want to see in the world and I think that’s the idea that has to be pushed. No individual among us can change the world but if we each make a decision to change ourselves for the better, then by virtue of a collective action, that can change the world. Gandhi also said you start by working on your own community. You help those closest to you first. Get your home in order and then you can branch out from there. Nas has the line ‘how can the president fix other countries when he hasn’t fixed home yet.’ I think the U.S needs to do a lot of work within its most disadvantaged communities. I’ve seen a lot of people when I was in NJ last summer, who are acting as individuals that are organized with other individuals that have made the decision to be the change they want to see in the world. Each of us has to first commit ourselves to on-going change as the individual. If you look at the bigger world and you look all the problems, of course it’s going to be easy to say “Aww there is no point. There is always war we have never been unified, blah blah blah, etc

February 2005 etc.” If you just look at yourself and say, what can I do to make myself better, then somebody else is probably going to look at you and see the positive changes you are making and it will have that fire-starting effect. When I was younger I used to believe that I can change the world and do all this. I wanted to become a lawyer then become Prime Minister then branch out and talk to all these countries about peace. Then I realized that before I can do all that, I need to get myself in order. I try to work on myself each day and try to live each day not only for myself but to make a positive difference in the lives of whoever I come across. That’s all you can do.

FOKUS: Fat Joe donated computers to PS 146 in the Bronx. “Major” media didn’t pick it up until a couple days after. It is a great thing that they looked at it but they could have given it more attention. All they show of him is the next “Lean Back” or next Terror Squad song. CP: Exactly, “Lean Back” doesn’t shatter any stereotypes that people have so it is easier for them to digest. Its when something doesn’t fit into traditional world views then people have a harder time understanding it because it shakes their whole perspective on things. Like “how does this fit in? It doesn’t.” Their [media’s] views are screwed up. That’s mostly how I see mainstream media nowadays, as just convincing people that all their stereotypes and preconceived notions are all legitimate and acceptable. We know that that’s not true. We need to unlearn. We are taught so much, again by coming up in a television based society, so much of what we learn is learned on a subconscious level. We have to unlearn all that stuff that is forced on our subconscious, since the time we were old enough to sit and stare at the box. F: Not too many people value a good sit-down conversation. It’s always ‘let’s do it over email’ or I’m too busy now. Not too many people just want to take the time out of the day of getting from point A to point B to hang out in the middle and get to know each other. CP: Exactly, that’s part of the whole isolation dimension of this society. People are caught up in making sure they get by day to day and they forget about everything around them. They forget that people are going through the same struggles and that by talking to the people going through the same things, people gain understanding and we start to feel less crazy.


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success The more you keep shit bottled up inside your head the more you are going to feel like an Indian giver. Once you share and find out other people are going through the same things, you start to feel a whole lot saner and you start to gather the things that are wrong. Therefore you have a more focused perspective, in terms of understanding what you with that other person or other people need to get changed. Conversation- that’s an art, that’s a lost art in our society. Because it’s so easy, even I hang out with my friends and I haven’t seen them in weeks now. They come over and the TV goes on and that’s it, conversation ends. That’s part of living in a society where you are brought up watching TV and having all these things, you know video games, movies and everything, that don’t require you to exercise your mind by engaging other people and then thereby exercising their mind. You go to other placeslike Cuba is a place that the people’s minds seem fitter than me. If you can think of a mind being really fit, they seem to engage their mind more often and as a result they are more responsive and more thoughtful. It weird to me man. F: What are some of the great moments you had working with Pound and what are some of the ones you foresee? CP: There have been so many. Getting to talk to people I am a fan of, from K-OS to Ghostface to meeting Shaq. Talking to world famous professors like Noam Chomsky or like talking to Robert Fisk. Having the credibility to get interviews like that have been to me enough to make the whole process worth it. It’s something to sit in a university hall from someone who is an expert on a topic for an hour but being able to sit on the phone or sit across from somebody for an hour and ask them any question you want- that’s a crazy and very rare blessing, so I’m grateful for that. Before I talk about future, the struggles have been mostly monetary. There have been tight strings; the banks didn’t really want to help us. We were young minorities working in the magazine business, which is notoriously over saturated, and therefore most people don’t think new business will survive the competition let alone a new business developed by a bunch of young punks barely out of university. So it’s been tough getting the money together, keeping people working on it and convincing them that it is worth the sacrifice- those have been the struggles. We are all friends and when

February 2005 you have those monetary difficulties, it takes the strain on the friendship but we have made it through. Now it’s just a matter of letting it grow. We have almost paid off all our debt which is a huge achievement. We borrowed mostly from family so you could imagine the added pressure. With friends and family anytime you see them they are like “you got my money.’ That’s another issue. We have a book deal and New Era wants us to design caps for them based on the magazine. For me, the thing I love most about life is the surprises. I think life is more enjoyable if you don’t have expectations. For us now, it’s just like go ahead and see what comes our way. Now it’s like day to day, we can barely keep up with all the opportunities we have so it’s beautiful, it’s a very beautiful thing, it’s all been worth it. F: Congratulations again. CP: Thanks man, you guys seem to be off on the right pace and path. I look forward to seeing where you will be a year from now. Keep going. It’s not easy but it’s worth it. It is worth just having that documentation. No one can ever take it away from you! You did it, you put it together you made it happen. You could show that to your kids and your family. No matter what, money comes and goes but when you have something like that it will never go. It’s always there for future generations. One of my friends at law school talks about media and journalism and writing as being an intergenerational dialogue. When you put it like that, it’s a big responsibility because you could be talking now and speaking on behalf of whatever generation to your grandkids and their generation. So it’s a big responsibility to have but it’s a good one to have. F: You interviewed Noam Chomsky and Fisk? CP: I interviewed a ton of people from all different walks of life. Doing the book, we have interviewed people that make guns, shoot guns and sell guns. I guess God gave me this ability to be able to relate to anyone. So I could talk to C-Bo, who is behind bars, and then go talk to a diplomat who works on small arms. I think that is pretty rare. My granddad told me that a long time ago maybe I would be able to put that gift to use and I guess the book has given me a way to do that. I am still like a kid to these people because I am so in awe. I’m blessed man. You can make it out that that is the beauty of media. You can shape the experience for


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success yourself. You can let your own intellectual curiosity and artistic curiosity dictate what you cover. Whatever you are interested in, you can go out and find that person and talk to them. The more you are interested in it yourself the more you can go out and relay that passion and interest to you audience. I think a lot of times media sucks when journalist, if you want to call them that, don’t really care about the subject matter. It’s just so routine where they don’t feel the issues out. They are either trying to be too objective or they are just not interested. In both cases, if you are not interested, as the media and the person relaying the information to me, how is that going to make me interested? When you can portray passion, [it] has a big impact on your audience. Forget about objectivity, that’s a myth. There is no journalist out there that is objective, I think more than being objective, you gotta just try to present as much of the picture as you can and then you can let your own biases being included in whatever you are describing or relaying. The media fails when it leaves out big pieces of the picture. That’s the problem. FOKUS: Any closing words? Christian Pearce: This has been great to talk to you man. We are expanding into the states more, we already have issues in some Barnes and Nobles so people can try to pick it up there, or you can hit up the website for a subscription, its not expensive. Or you can check out online editions, we’re going to improve the website in the future. We have the book coming out which I think will be interesting to see and the hats and all of that stuff. . Just educate yourself. Don’t deal with the goal of solely making money. We all know that we want to be comfortable; some of us want to be rich, but keep in mind that when you get that opportunity you are getting one that more than 95% of the world will never have. Think about how you can use what you are learning to change that situation, so more people have the opportunities to learn what you are learning. I don’t want to sound like I’m lecturing but that’s it. Yeah man, big up and keep it moving. FOKUS: It was great to talk to you. Christian Pearce: Great to talk to you too. ~Atiba Edwards

February 2005

.: Illestrator :.

Connect with Miami-Kaos. He has been doing sick designs for years. You can see his work on mixtapes, flyers etc.

FOKUS: Introduce yourself to the readers. Miami Kaos: Greetings FOKUS readers. I'm the graphic Illestrator Miami-Kaos. F: What do you mean by Illestrator? Does that differ from illustrator? MK: Yeah ‘cause my artwork is sick! [laughs] F: [laughs] What is your art? MK: Graphic Illestrations FOKUS: Where did you come up with your name? MK: Miami was my nickname & Kaos was a graf crew, Krazy Artist Of Sin, so I would tag the Miami with Kaos under it but people thought it was my name so I just adapted it and became Miami-Kaos.

F: Where do you draw your motivation from to keep doing illestrations MK: God. God gives the drive and sanity to juggle an incredible workload and family / social life. I draw inspiration from comic books & anime. F: I saw that you had an X-men design on your site. What are some of your favorite comics and anime? MK: The Ultimates, X-men & Avengers, Fist of the North Star, Dragon Ball Z & Justice League Unlimited. F: Which comic character would you be? MK: I would be the Flash, that way I could get so much more done in a day FOKUS: How long have you been doing graphic design. MK: The last 5 years. FOKUS: Why did you start? MK: Because I wanted to do something else with my artwork, to go to the next level. Then one day I saw a commercial for the Katherine Gibbs school starting courses in graphic design.


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success FOKUS: So there is where you enrolled? MK: Yeah. I have a degree in Applied Science. FOKUS: Do you think that may play a role in your future? MK: Not in hip-hop, [since] it's a culture based from the streets. Raw unrefined talent. No one asks to see resumes or anything, [as] long as they like what they see, it's all good. FOKUS: Do you feel that hip-hop has shifted focus to mainly support refined and polished talent and no longer look for or take a risk on the unsigned hype? MK: No the streets still dictate what the corporations do. I spent years trying to get work from the labels up to a year and a half ago to no avail then I stopped and just started doing all these CD covers and logos and now labels contact me to do album covers. FOKUS: What was the first work that you sold to the labels? MK: In the process now, but I signed a deal to do artwork for Def Jam Enterprises, [such as] album covers, screensavers, t-shirt art, etc. FOKUS: Congrats MK: Thanks, God is awesome, never underestimate the power of prayer. FOKUS: Majority of your current work has been for mixtapes correct? MK: Yes.

February 2005 and don't want to ruffle the wrong feathers when they turn to political aspirations. At the end of the day, Delores Tucker wants to be a record exec, she tried to work that deal out with Interscope years ago, to supposedly "monitor" the rap industry content while running a label of her own. Even phony ass Dionne Warwick, who came out against rap at that time, later on did a song with snoop & others when all that psychic friends money was gone. FOKUS: Never knew about Delores' record dreams. The bottom line it seems is that they are two faced and are mainly trying to shine in the people's eyes but collect the bucks in the shadows. What criteria do you take into consideration when selecting people to work with? MK: The concept has to be interesting now, no more just big guns & violence and actually not famous. I rather deal with underdogs who are trying to get noticed. FOKUS: Discuss why you feel this is important MK: Because everyone deserves a chance to shine. Tthe mixtapes are for promotional purposes. You use them to promote yourself and get into something bigger. FOKUS: That is very true. Where does Illestrations, Inc fit in with Infinite Graf? MK: The sites owner is an aspiring rapper named Sense, he did the site for DJ Radio and then reached out to me and basically created & maintains my section of his site for me. He keeps it updated which, if you see how much work I do daily is something in itself. FOKUS: I peeped the gallery of ‘05, ‘04 and old covers and portraits etc. The latest thing I saw was that new Slay and Juelz CD. MK: Yeah I dropped 2 more today, a best of Foxy and a Styles P vs 50 Cent.

FOKUS: Regarding the images that are done. What do you say to the C. Delores Tuckers and mass media that might say you are just perpetuating the negative aspects of hip-hop? MK: I say before you condemn us, start with Hollywood and all the violent movies, then the labels that make the most money off hip hop. When labels like Murda Inc & Death Row get shut down or investigated never are the parent companies (Interscope, etc.) penalized for profiting off these ventures. FOKUS: Why do you think that is? MK: Because they have friends in high places

FOKUS: Your friend that helps keep the site updated is working hard. Discuss the importance of valuable trust and person you could count on. MK: It's important to have that dependable person because I'm in deals all the time where the corporations ask ‘do I have a site?’, so when I give them the url, I have to know my site is updated and provides a good look for myself as well as the webmaster who gets just as much recognition through the constant upkeep FOKUS: Did you run into people who had ulterior motives but fronted like they were dependable?


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

February 2005

MK: Not really I've been blessed and mostly keep to myself but I have dealt with people who wear too many hats, they try and multi-task multi-tasking.

F: Congrats once again. Any last words you want to share with the people? MK: Put God first and everything else will fall into place

FOKUS: Have you encountered any obstacles or been through any struggles throughout your graphic design career? MK: Well the biggest headache now is a lot of people think a program does this like I press a button and voila. They don't understand I draw the picture from reference for the faces but then I paint & color them being conscious of all things like light & shadows.

FOKUS: I'm glad i got to do this interview. Hopefully more people will start to take notice. I look forward to all of your work in the future. MK: Thank you for the exposure.

FOKUS: how long has your longest piece taken? MK: About 2 weeks that's the cover to Justo's DVD mixtape documentary. FOKUS: Any new concepts or ideas you want to leak to the readers that will be seen in your upcoming works? MK: Look for the cover to DJ Kay Slay's next album "The Game of Death" and my line of tshirts with Clinton Sparks called "Illestrations." Oh yeah and my cartoon series "Hardcore: Not all rappers are studio gangstas" online at FOKUS: Yeah, I peeped them. What are some of the long term goals you have set? MK: To draw a couple of graphic novels for "Hardcore" and to open a design firm one day. FOKUS: How many people you have with you behind Illestrations inc. MK: 3- me, my manager, Isis, and silent partner Big Tigger. I also have a version of Hardcore on his site called "Teen Idols." The new site should be up soon,

FOKUS: How did he get involved? MK: My nieces went to that school on 106 & park where they originally taped rap city and they asked me to do a portrait of Tigger. So I did. They ended up showing [them to] him and he called me; we met up and I've been his personal graphic artist since 3 years ago ‘til today

FOKUS: No problem. Each one reach one. See you at the top though! Miami Kaos: That's cool, the Each one reach one. Peace & God bless. ~Atiba Edwards

.: Spike Lee :.

In the Realm of the entertainment industry,

during an era filled with reality shows, media violence and Nelly’s “Pimp Juice.” There will always be an abundance of controversial subjects for the American public to indulge in. In an effort to fulfill America’s unquenchable thirst for controversy, for the last two and half decades Spike Lee’s films and media antics have provided us with more than our fair dose hullabaloo. I recently was able to catch up with Spike Lee in Detroit at the Don Bosco Hall: Dream Makers Youth Conference, a collection of seminars geared toward empowering African-American boys for greatness. During the conference he spoke about the current state of America, particularly Black America. He touched on the topic of the media in the urban community. “The imagery that rappers put out are killing us,” said Lee. This comment was made in response to an increase in rap videos that display women being degraded, like Nelly’s video “Tip-Drill,” where Nelly slides a credit card down a girl’s rear end. He also spoke about the current options and social values that young Black men have in this country. “In the Black community a young man is faced with the option of being a rapper, athlete or drug dealer, these are the choices that are available and that we value in the Black community.” He went on to speak on the state of education in the Black community, “The history of education in the Black community has lost value, because we fought for education, won, but we still lost. This is because education has been put to the background. We are not taking advantage of the opportunity and feel that those options are enough in society,” Lee said.


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success As I listened to his comments, I couldn’t help but to interrupt him and ask whether there was still a need for historically Black Colleges, Knowing that he was an alumnus of the Historically Black College, Morehouse, I was eager to hear his response. “There is still a place for Notre Dame and Brigham Young, that serve the special interest of their students, therefore there is definitely still a need for Black Colleges,” said Lee. I was slightly tugging at Lee’s ego, so with his tough New Yorker demeanor that more than made up for his vertically challenged stature; he and I met after the seminar to talk. During the interview I noticed Spike kept looking at my Tshirt, which had Jim Brown on it as the character “Slaughter,” in the blaxploitation film. This moment had a touch of irony because the last time that I had seen Spike was at the screening of the Jim Brown film that he had directed a year ago. So, I had to ask him, “You like my shirt?” With an astonished look on his face he said, “No.” While on the subject of Black actors in Hollywood, I asked, “Now that Denzel Washington is falling from his reign as the most prominent Black actor, who is the next rising Black movie star?” He took offense by my semiattack on Mr. Washington’s career and Spike responded by saying, “Don’t count Denzel out. He is still making $20 million a film.” Unable to answer my question, I asked him again, and again lost for words, he mentioned the name Anthony Mackie, the guy who was in his last film “She Hate Me.” If you saw “She Hate Me,” then you would have received that ridiculous statement with the same amount of amusement as I did while I tried to refrain myself from laughing in Mr. Lee’s face. If you still do not know who Anthony Mackie is then you may remember him as Eminem’s rival Poppa Dock in the film “8Mile.” Do you remember? Didn’t think so. On the state of Black’s in Hollywood and their roles, Spike said, “The best films and scripts are available but they are not being made. The reason is because White studio executives feel they know what the Black experience is, more [so] than the Black audience. The experiences that they show are of Blacks as one dimensional marginalized characters.” So what is the Black experience that is not being shown, “Watch any of my 18 films that I have made. We are more than rappers.”

February 2005 As for the future of Spike Lee, he talked about his upcoming film about Joe Louis, which he has cast Vin Diesel to play the Brown Bomber. The film will focus on the legendary bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmilling. This production will begin next year and will be filmed in Detroit. ~Phononzell Williams

.: Real Recognize Real :.

S.M.A.C.K. DVD has been and continues to bring you the best artists’ interviews, real footage and the sickest freestyle battles! FOKUS: Introduce yourselves to the readers. S.M.A.C.K.: Craig Davis and S.M.A.C.K. F: What would you say is your art(s)? CD: My number one art and passion is film. Filmmaking, painting, drawing and music-not just hip-hop all music, all sounds. SMACK: Filming. I have a real passion for filming, making hot videos and everything like that.

F: What is S.M.A.C.K. DVD magazine is? S: SMACK DVD Magazine is a movement. We are basically giving people in the streets an opportunity to display their talents to the world. It’s a movement in hip-hop. Its something that hip-hop is missing. C: SMACK is everything that is considered Streets Music, Arts, Culture, Knowledge. It is something that all the artists that we like, the Jadakisses, Beanie Sigels, Cam’rons, the Ghostfaces, they are not getting their shine on TV and mainstream but they sell just as many records as everybody else. They are platinum artists but they are not getting exposure. So, we felt that there was a need to bring that. So we started the whole SMACK DVD movement as a way of showing the culture what it is now. The culture changes many times, from the late 70s to early 90s to now it’s this phase. I feel there are 3 phases in the hip-hop game: first was the B-Boying and breakdancing; then in the 90s, it was more gangsta hoodies letting everybody now that hiphoop can be real too; its not just about partying and shit like that. Now we have a time now were hip-hop is a business and a culture.


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success F: Why do you think the Beanie Sigels and the Ghostfaces are not getting the shine that is reflected in their album sales? S: Basically because they are keeping it real. They doing the music that they know and they are representing where they are from. They are not going real commercial with the bubble gum hiphop like how everybody else is doing it to sell records. They are just keeping the raw hip-hop alive. In Corporate America, right now, if you are not doing no commercial shit you ain’t really selling those units. With that type of music, they keeping it real but the radio don’t support dudes like that. So if the radio ain’t behind you, you aint going to sell those units. CD: A lot of the time mainstream people don’t want to accept it. They don’t what to accept that what they rapping about is really going on. It’s a shock to people out in Ohio, Seattle, Michigan to see that this is going on. We travel to all the hoods across America to show you what’s going on, to show you what they spitting is what they experience. We are adding another dimension to hip-hop that wasn’t there. You knew everything else about commercial hip-hop but you wasn’t really seeing it or believing it. You felt like a couple of people came out the hood got legit, that was their perspective.

February 2005 They were mobsters and they stopped doing the bootlegging of liquor to move onto other things, and started getting things like that and establishing power. So when the balance changes they don’t know what to expect. Not to say they are trying to hold people back but the reality is when 50 Cent is selling 10 million records. It’s a very scary thing for one guy to get that much money, especially somebody from the streets who is telling how it is and all this connectivity behind it. S: The streets are the only way for dudes from the street to create and live for themselves. The reality is the dudes from the street, who got felonies, misdemeanors or whatever they can’t go to corporate America and get a job. If they got a record in the United States, then basically Corporate America ain’t checking for you. So without a job, you are forced to rhyme and rap to feed our families. Everybody is basically going into the doors of entertainment to try and support their families.

F: The whole DVD magazine market is starting to get saturated and flooded now. What separates S.M.A.C.K. from everybody else? S: I feel we are realer. We are really from the streets; we are really in the hood; we are really on the block. We are running around with the realest of the realest. We just are transforming it into the Now you see a lot more young blacks and latino DVD. Real gonna recognize real, regardless. When entrepreneurs come up from the street to tell their story. Corporate America is afraid. Nothing we got the cameras out on the street we with the people that we rock and we associated with we against Corporate America, but the only reason do it real. When people watch the DVD they are why I would say that they are afraid is because hip-hop is a chance to empower young black men going notice that. I know what we about and its specifically. It gave them money, it gave them an all real over hear and it shows in our product. audience and it gave a voice and that is scary CD: I think that we also bring another dimension because it can change the balance of money very of it. We are just good with the business side, the easily and quickly. You got dudes that came marketing side, the editing. A lot of things are in home and a few years later they are place, we don’t just come in to bullshit. We come multimillionaires. It could be very scary to with that real product and that quality that people Corporate America. don’t get a chance to see. I see other products but there is a big difference. All the people in the DVD F: Do you think that is also because Corporate market all use the same equipment and cameras America can’t really control them, they can’t and we have access to the same artists but why is monopolize and puppet them to make money off there such a big difference in what ours looks of them. You think that’s another big fear, they like? Yes we’re realer but we also got our shit are scared of the unknown and what they can’t together on this end. We do everything in-house; control. everything from our editors to our promotions CD: That is the biggest fear. The longer I do this, team to our marketing team is all in house. It’s all the more I start to realize that this is a new wave. our blood sweat and tears. It’s the team, its how You know how the mob had their things in the we move. We are not putting out bullshit to just 30s, 40s, 50s and Las Vegas and Rat Pack and drop it and put it out. all that. Now, you have a new movement where S: We don’t false advertise, we don’t put anybody these street dudes are coming up and stopping all on the cover that really ain’t in the magazine. their negativity and trying to do business. A lot of CD: The other DVD magazines have done in the people converted and that’s how they got their past. Another thing people try to do is take shots start, that’s how their grandfathers got their start. but whatever.


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

February 2005

F: Any closing words? S: Shout out to everybody that supported the smack movement from day one. I appreciate everybody that buys the official SMACK DVDs. If you don’t know where to buy the official joints you can always go to the site. You don’t gotta buy the bootleg; shout out to the bootleggers because they are getting us out across the country so you can’t knock them. I would like to give thanks to everybody that move with the movement CD: The last thing I want to say is it’s a lot of hard work on our side. They we’ve been structured is F: What has changed from the first one to the last we have the streets on one end and the college experience on the other end. I’m more towards two that just dropped? that end-the college preppy-but that doesn’t mean CD: A lot of things changed. When we first came out we didn’t have anything to go off of. You know we can’t put out a street product. It’s a culture and what you know. You could still make the how most magazines and publications have a hottest product out right now in my opinion. certain way that you are going to do it. When we started it we didn’t know anything from a whole in I just want to give big shout-outs to the whole the wall. We are going to be the ushers to a new idea. When we did it we tried different things like movement, the whole staff of SMACK DVD because without them it wouldn’t be anything. We what the features were going to look like but have different opinions views and we argue all the someone wasn’t feeling it we changed it we had time but its all love. They make the product that to take that ‘L’ or loose that customer if they we have right now. Everything is in house I cant weren’t feeling it. Over time we got it right; DVDs say that enoughgot longer, the tracks got tighter, the editing got better, and the quality of our artists changed. We S: Yeah, everything is in house. We don’t go outside for anything! The only thing we go outside always have goals with every issue of reaching a for is duplication. We ain’t get to that level yet but certain group of people and we have been we got the plan for that. As far as all the editing, meeting those goals. Now we are here with #7 graphic design, promotion, DVD authoring- we and #8, dropping two DVDs at once, something don’t go outside for nothing. that the comp isn’t doing. There are other DVDs C: Marketing, promotion, distribution- everything on the market but we are trying to stay on top. If people don’t think we are on top, we think we are in house. S: I appreciate the support and giving us the on top and trying to stay there. opportunity to express our whole movement in our magazine and everything that you doing. I really appreciate, so link up. F: How long has the movement been going? S: I’ve been doing this since the last six years. It was my vision and my dream that I wanted to pursue. It took me a minute to get the equipment but once I got it; me and Craig linked up and we had a mutual vision. We got together and basically started putting in that work. The first DVD dropped in November 2002. That DVD was headlined by Juelz Santana from Dipset, big shout out to Juelz and the Dips. We have been running ever since.

FOKUS: Go check out the website,, and get #7, hosted by Eminem and #8, hosted by Ja Rule. ~Atiba Edwards

[ UNDER THE NEEDLE ] Understanding the Numbers

F: What are some of the goals you have set? S: We are basically trying to get our mainstream distribution setup. I don’t really want to throw it all out there yet but we in the kitchen cooking up. We are just trying to put out good product that we know our customers and our SMACK heads across America appreciate; that real raw and uncut, that gangsta footage.

0 / 20 – Waste of space, time and whatever it is on 5 / 20 – Tolerate once but anything more may hurt 10 / 20 – Average. Squinting may help somewhat 15 / 20 – Good. Not a solid picture but close 20 / 20 – Solid. Not enough faults to knock its picture


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

The Game The Documentary 20 / 20 Now Playing .: Game is better than everyone :.

February 2005 Dre, 50, and anyone else paid by Aftermath. I’m surprised he didn’t talk about how nice the secretary downstairs, the janitor, and the hobo outside were too. “We Ain’t” feat. Eminem (produced by Eminem): Game gives his wacker version of Em’s “The Way I Am”. The only thing that saves the song is Em’s rhyme skills. He just gets better and better. ~Senesi Blake

Geto Boys

Game is better than everyone on G-Unit.

Period. Especially Yayo. I wasn’t looking forward to writing for this dude who is supposed to represent the New Compton. I really didn’t like his mixtape stuff, but I listened anyway. The Documentary amazed me right from the jump, such as the Dr. Dre/Scott Storch produced “Westside Story.” I grossly underestimated Game’s lyrical skill, one that makes anyone else in Guerrila Unit grab the pad and realize that they might not be able to sell trash anymore. He has a flow mixed with Eazy-E and Shyne. Although he isn’t as angry as E or as cocky and witty with his rhymes as Shyne, his mixture definitely works. Some of his lines are so nice they might make you rewind a couple of times, like “I got two long heats/call ‘em Shaq and Alonzo.” Game’s lyrics are accompanied by just as good production, featuring the industry’s biggest names, like Just Blaze, Kanye, and Timbaland. This is definitely not like the usual G-Unit album, with a lot of medium-ass production. Like West, Game was one of the few rappers in recent times to live up to the hype. Hopefully he makes Guerilla Black realize that you might have to be good to come out of Compton. Highlights: “Hate It or Love It” feat. 50 Cent (produced by Cool and Dre): The song brings out the best in both 50 and Game, and their reflection on their lives. This beat is the sickest on the album; overshadowing Kanye’s, Dre’s and maybe even Just Blaze’s work. “Church for Thugs” (produced by Just Blaze): Game spits an angry flow filled with a large amount of bravado. You can’t listen to this song without banging your head up and down. The beat is hard as hell.

The Foundation 15 / 20 Now Playing .: Good For the South :.

After nearly seven years The Geto Boys are

back with their new album The Foundation. The Houston, Texas rap pioneers’ latest album has 15 tracks including the intro and outro. The production on this album is impeccable; the lyrics on the other hand are a bit questionable. The production changed from track to track making every track sound unique. Most of the albums production was done by Scarface with some tracks also by Mike Dean. Scarface and Bushwick Bill totally shine on the album while I find Willie D to bring little if anything special lyrically to the table. The album has variety and has its shining moments. Some memorable tracks include “Declaration of War”, “Yes, Yes, Y’all”, “We Boogie”, “When it Gets Gangsta”, “I Tried”, “G-Code”, and “Leaning on You”. “Declaration of War” is a track in which all three members vent their frustrations and are telling people not to test their gangsta. “Yes, Yes, Y’all”- the chosen single to the album. “We Boogie” is a dance track that is reminiscent of Terror Squads “Lean Back” but with a Geto Boys twist. “I Tried” is about the Geto Boys trying to do there best in life, “…but I guess my best aint good.”

Lowlights: Game’s constant love (read: d***riding) of Dr. Dre and others: Game should be a pink dot on the groupie map with how much he name-drops


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success “G-Code is a solo track by Scarface where he talks about the racial profiling of minorities by the police. “Leaning on You” is a track where the Geto Boys express that when things get tough they lean on the Lord (God). The rest of the album is mainly down south gangsta rap; wild talks about killing people, drug dealing and declarations of you don’t want to mess with me. The token down south tracks that people in the south love to bang out of their rides. This is one of the best down south rap albums out right now, but with that said, are there really any good ones out? ~J. Jamal

February 2005 [his] life as a Black American.” – Publisher’s note. It begins in New York, where Obama learns that his father has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional journey first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother's family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father's life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance. I would encourage any reader to take the time and confront the racial constructions within this novel. Though Dr. King’s celebratory month is over, we all still can make an effort to educate ourselves on the lives of others and their struggle to survive in American culture. ~A. Mari

[ SCREEN ‘EM ] Million Dollar Baby 20 / 20 Now Playing

[ BRAIN FOOD ] Dreams From My Father

This film deserves all that is coming to it – Oscar

nominations for Best Film, Best Actress [Hilary Swank], Best Actor [Clint Eastwood], Best Supporting Actor [Morgan Freemen] and Best By Director [Clint Eastwood]. The star struck film was Barack Obama created to inspire, enlighten, and cast reality into the lives of athletes. Though the focus centered 20/20 namely around the training of Maggie, [Swank] the true heart of the film was the relationship sparked out of distaste between Boss [Eastwood] and Maggie. The New York Times stated that Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and “'Million Dollar Baby' is the best movie released Inheritance, by Barack Obama has received no by a major Hollywood studio this year, and not less that five-star ratings from both prominent because it is the grandest, the most ambitious or and personal reviewers such as The New York even the most original.” commented Times, Oprah, and myself. that “Eastwood invests with rewarding reserves of intimacy, tragedy, tenderness and bitter life Obama, the son of a white American mother knowledge.” Both reviews are reflexive of the and a black African father, scripted a gripping fresh camera style and soultry-classyness of the biography that impressively articulates actors’ performances. This movie will go down in America's racial battleground and tells of his history as one of the greatest to ever be made. It search for his place in black America. The book proves that dreams do come true no matter your included 8 pages of complementary age sex or race. This is definitely number one on photographs and reads like an autobiographical my list of all time favorite films – thanks a million diary. The memoir sustains its focus on Clint! Obama’s search for “a workable meaning to ~A. Mari 19

Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

February 2005




.:Valentines Day Shout Outs:.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change – grant me courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I say this prayer to myself every morning to ask God to help me stay focused in the midst of everything that’s going on. There have been tough times for me lately, but I know with God’s help and the support of my “true” friends and family, I’ll be okay. I am currently suspended from the basketball team while I try to resolve some legal matters. It has been tough watching the guys struggle these last few weeks. Not only have we been losing, but we have been losing badly. Teams have had an unbelievable amount of confidence when they play us because they know we are short-handed. The guys have been playing really hard, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Hopefully I will be back soon so I can help the team out, but until then I will continue to not watch the game.

Below are the responses from four questions

FOKUS asked: 1. Your most memorable spring break moment? 2. One song from your Valentine’s Day playlist? 3. Any personal shout outs or messages 4. Best Valentines Day gift? Eric’s responses: 1. I went to Colombia for Carnival. The colors, the beauty, the benevolence, the people, the parties, the music, the all night dancing, the hugs, the kisses - all priceless! 2. “Best of your Hear” - Rufus ft Chaka Khan. 3. Sweet girl, you said I was your angel. I miss you. It's been far too long, but my arms are forever open. Until I see you, be peaceful. 4. Last year, like this year, I didn't have a sweetheart for the holiday. My homeboy Swift surprised me and stopped by. We didn't talk, just played music for hours. The songs are still and forever will be with us as mystical expressions of inner harmony and brotherhood.

Porsha’s responses: 1) Negril, Jamaica 2004 Spring Break...staying in School is going ok, but it has been hard the bungalow with no phone or TV and not having concentrating lately. I find myself day dreaming, water one day and the people at the desk telling us or sometimes even asleep because it’s hard to ‘it was normal not to have water somedays. Also sleep at night. Through all of this, I have learned a meeting this Jamaican dude name CashMoney with few lessons about life. I have been able to find a dollar sign that stalked us the whole trip. some positives in this madness that is in my life right now and hopefully going through this will 4) A build-a-bear. make me a stronger person. If it doesn’t then I am in deep trouble. Nikki’s responses: ~Daniel Horton 1. San Diego, when Pump locked the keys in the rental car, tried to blame me for locking the door, [ TECH IT ] then tried to open the door with the antenna until he gave up and we went inside to see Shamu!!!

.:PSP On Its Way:.

Sony has announced that it’s latest handheld device, the PSP, will be released in the U.S. in March. Planning on getting one? Better start saving up because its estimated cost is $249.

2. “The Reason is You”--- Hoobastank and “Stay With You”--- John Legend. Who just has one song?, I don't think it's possible to pick just one song, I had enough problems picking two. 3. I'm glad we're growing, ‘Because you lie beside me now, I dream of kites and carousels and sleep at peace within myself and fear the night no more...’

It will be able to play movies, games, music videos, and take pictures. On paper it’s dynomite! 4. The one Pump is going to get me. In a this-isn'ta-Valentine's-day-present non-commercial way. (repeat in your best J.J. voice). ~Prime (this year or next year).


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success  

[ POETICS ] .........................................................3 Cell Love Poems Love Poems [Fuck Poems] Heat of My Night [ UNDER THE...

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