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Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

September 2005

"My good friend, I’ve got a 35-millimeter camera in my pocket. You’ve got a 45.automatic in yours, but I feel my weapon is probably more powerful than yours." ~Gordon Parks

[ INGREDIENTS ] [ MIND THOUGHTS ] .......................................1 Atiba Edwards

Hathaway, and how crucial his impact to this thing we call “Tru Livin’ Soul” was and continues to be today. This is dedicated to you. ~Alma

[ OUT REACH ] ....................................................2 Michigan Miracle


[ POETICS ] ...........................................................2 1st Year Of Maize Vision Seen For The First Time [ VERBATIM ]........................................................5 Rodney Saint-Louis / LACED Jamel Shabazz / Life’s Lens [ PIC’D ]...................................................................7 Works By David Dennis [ WELCOME TO ANN ARBOR ]........................9 Heat It Up Graffiti In Da Deuce [ UNDER THE NEEDLE ]...................................11 Late Registration Harlem: Diary Of A Summer The Best of Lauryn Hill

So it is another year. Many of you couldn’t wait to return and at the same time many of you still want just one more week. Embrace the return of September and all that it brings. Everything from back to school anxiety to increase of business at work comes with the fall foliage. FOKUS is back at it notches above what we did last year. It is good to see that we inspired so many people to do something! So please don’t try to stupid-stunt on us and when you see anyone on the team—show respect. We have a helluva year lined up, everything is G14 code blue classified though, so you have to join the team to find out more. Trust me I got something for you to do that is helpful to you and the group. Shouts to everyone doing their thing and keep on doing it.

[ SALUTE ].............................................................13 Keep your eyes open because the greatest things Doug E. Fresh are right in front of you. (oh you didn’t know I had that philosophical fortune teller ability also) [ MY WORDS ]......................................................14 Charlie’s Sweetheart F.O.K.U.S. – we got that one thing like Amerie.. The Impossible -Atiba [ GAMEDAY ].......................................................15 Madden 2006

[ EDITORS ] Alma Davila-Toro • Atiba Edwards


Front cover: “Tru Livin Soul” by Alma DavilaToro Stevie Wonder once said, "Soul is being able to express yourself. Being able to express yourself so much that people are able to relate to what you're saying, what you're seeing, and to feel what you're seeing and to respond to what you're seeing and that's the one thing we brought to this country." This quote inspired the piece you see. When I read this quote, the first person that comes to mind is the one true legend, Mr. Donny

[ CONTRIBUTORS ] David Dennis • Adenike Huggins • Knowledge • Ali Lasky • A. Mari • Tami Jackson • Lev Grossman-Spivack • Walter Lacy • Z. Lund • Hyatt Michaels • Prime • Soul • Brett Thames Jillian Colby Webb


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success


~Words by A. Mari


so many of us, the time we have for ourselves is too limited…by the time we get home from spreading ourselves so thin between our academic, social, family, and community lives that we may have forgotten about making room for other who can benefit from our experiences. This summer, F.O.K.U.S. members Alma and myself took the initiative to make room for others besides ourselves as we sought out community projects we could get involved in. A few years ago, Alma and I had watched a Bryant Gumble presentation on “The Miracle League,” a national organization which united the game of Baseball with those children who were struggling with both mental and physical disabilities. Alma located a chapter of this org. in Southfield, Michigan, and we dedicated our weekends to working with the league as the ‘Buddy Coordinators;’ ‘buddies’ are the volunteers who come out to assist the athletes [the kids] on a one-on-one ratio – they are responsible for making sure the athletes are able to hold and hit with the bat, help run the bases, protect the athletes from other highly active or aggressive athletes, and, most importantly, serve as a friend and teammate for the athletes while cheering on the games as they go along. The two of us were amazed by the well-planned out field - an astro-turf baseball diamond with two dugouts, a gazebo for the announcer, and two sets of bleachers for parents and other fans of the league - which was located in the

September 2005

Southfield Public Civic Center Campus off of Evergreen Road. In addition, we were taken back by the over- whelming number of athletes which such a wide range of disabilities whose spirit to play ball and have a good time surpassed the physical and mental limitations they struggle with on a daily basis. I have previously worked with disabled children due to the fact my younger brother has conservative learning disabilities and his current college status, has been enrolled in multiple special education schools in New York City. I have also come to understand that there are such a limited number of programs which caringly and selflessly dedicate themselves to positive experiences for kids with disabilities that the availability of an organization such as the Miracle League is a true blessing. During our summer with the League, Alma and I met some inspiring athletes and their adoring families. At some of the last games in the summer season, the park was given a treat as one of the athletes sang the National Anthem, by memory, with cheer in his small, whispery voice. It was a fitting culmination to such a fun season with the league, proving the nonbelievers that kids can do anything, no matter how fast or how slow they are able to reach home plate. The league’s motto is “Miracles Happen,” and if you would like to get involved, please visit the Miracle League of Michigan site at:, as well as the National site

[ POETICS ] .: 1st Year Of Maize :.

~T. Tami Jackson

I went from Blue and Gold to Maize and Blue, My journey began traveling across a Bridge. Knowing that I had to sacrifice my entire summer, I was too through.

Across that Bridge, I met scholars that looked and felt just like me. And although I hated to admit it, It took the whole damn summer of 03' to see...


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

September 2005

all knew my name. To see that, this place I called “Ace Deuce” was where I was meant to be. Fate, no, Destiny brought me to a street named Thompson, and a Quad called West. And when God chose a bubbly, blonde, bright, sophomore named Lindsay as my roommate, I knew the first day we met, I was truly blessed. Classes started on a Tuesday in September. And that cold, long, wet walk to the “Ice Box” Was a freshmen move only, and a night to remember. I met a girl with a ‘tude from the Boogie Down Bronx. She wore white pants, sported grey Timbs, gold jewelry and had long, dark-brown, beautiful locks. I went to a homecoming with a new friend, from a Planet of Black. I danced and sung, wore a dress of blue and he sung back. I studied Japanese and was murdered in Stats. I socialized in the Union learned everyone’s name. And found myself in the Grad lost in the Stacks. I watched a sleepy-eyed sophomore play guard to the points. A freshmen from the D Blaze 6 consecutive threes. I saw a kat from the ‘Yak step back and a Down-South Georgia Boy Break the laws of gravity, like he had springs imbedded in his knees. I was faithful from the start, I never, ever missed a game. I popcorned in my seat, on the floor, at the half court line. I was at Crisler so often the coaches, parents and staff

The “Underground Railroad” was my favorite route. I kicked it with the fellas from 1st Adams. Some who played a sport so sacred in the city in many eyes they held some sort of holy clout. I argued and joked at South Quad dinner with my crew. For hours we argued who was better, Biggie or ‘Pac. And when it was time to depart for our studies No one came to an agreement, not one of us had a clue. I went to Black Frat parties in groups no less than 10 deep. Returned to the hallway and talked all night And only decided at 6am it was finally time to go to sleep. I woke up to snow that was piled 5 feet high. Walked through Angell Hall for warmth, almost froze getting to the Frieze, and listened to “The College Dropout”, on repeat, ironically, for motivation just to get by. Midterms and Finals came and went. Stressed me, Tested me. Had me crying in my sleep, my mind in doubt and my soul bent. I befriended a beautiful girl from the Windy City who had braids and a voice of a bird. Clicked with an intellectual, dapper Baller. The three of became friends through our love of Spoken Word. I said Goodbye to “Big Dad” who was family head. Lost touch with a old friend who I thought I could go to. Tried to figure out why the absence of both made me so mad.


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success we remember, so it will never happen again. but, for who? jews? jewish-americans?

And although I tried to be superwoman. I learned that I am not that. I learned to let things be and sometimes take a step back.

¡¦they used to read me this poem¡¦they used to plaster it across my unborn memory¡¦

Most importantly I found this tall, unique, black girl from the ‘burbs. Who is different from the rest, Sings “Hail to the Victors” proudly and is sometimes known to sport a Block “M” on her chest.

when they came for the poles, the catholics, the gypsies, the browns, the blacks, the indigenous, the Native-Americans, the sandnigger-rag-head, crack-head, welfare-mother, kik, spik, faggot, no-good-pieceof-shit-lying-in-the-fucking-gutter, vermon-not-of-the-earth-get-a-job-you-fuckingworthless-immigrant, alien! intruder!

.: Vision For The First Time :.

~Lev Grossman-Spivack

where do eyes search

when concrete walls, twisted metal atop chainlinked fence enclose vision? the stench of death that reminds life that there is nothing new in the afterlife, when the after-life has lost its vision, thought, dream, imagination, color, has been cornered, boxed-in reduced to black and white starvation of the spirit. where does a voice fly when the chords that vibrate its song are parched with enslavement? i never knew how to respond when the chills flowed up and down my spine sitting in jewish day school in the sixth grade, watching films of auschwitz, seeing images of skeletons moving, doing, being, living with death. but, once, they were mothers, babies, children with eyes so wide, life made sense when you looked into them. and we saw mass graves, chain-links, skin-onbones, disbelief, despair, a barren wasteland left in the soul when the wounds heeled enough to speak, to begin to remember our jewish-american educators taught our young impressionable minds, never again they told us,

September 2005

we are not special. we are human beings. we are all special. we are human beings. the holocaust is life looking for the blade of grass in a concrete wall, the yellow butterfly flying through the ash of bodies incinerated by denial, it is the unthinkable that is reality. the story that i learned in Jewish day school was told with white skeletons from a land called Europe. As reality comes into focus, I see those bodies¡¦the ones that are dying... today. ¡¦they are brown, black, red, yellow, not white. now, i ask, what are we remembering? what have we learned? ¡¦never again¡¦?¡¦in bagdad, the congo, venezuala, attica, robbin island, new york city, los angeles, south boston, darfur, abu graib, columbia, chile, cambodia, ramallah, gaza, jerusalem, vietnam, and the list goes on... and I know its not the jewish empire, but the american one, but can we just say ¡°WE STAND WITH ISRAEL¡± and stop the conversation there? can american-jewish educators deny the guns, the bombs, the war-machine that pumps its blood into the heart of Jerusalem and then tell us never again during history class? please¡¦


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success stop saying never again until you reach the never-ending end of your eternity and find the bliss of the end of this downward spiral in the new beginning of the last ending to this cold winter¡¦ the roots grip the soil after a long slumber. the seedling courageously reaches for sunlight through the ground. from the earth, its bed, its home, from comfort it reaches into the unknown

[ VERBATIM ] .: Differentiated Enigma :.

~words by Adenike Huggins

“Not even in a dream, my mind never stops, I don’t want it to stop.” In his mind, Rodney Saint-Louis has it all figured out. For now he’s impatient, but staying quite busy while waiting for the slow pace of life to catch up to his preordained plans. “I want tomorrow to be today,” exclaims the fully focused 22 year-old in dogged pursuit of success. He doesn’t dream success, it’s in him, he actually oozes it. Rodney’s got skills, persona, and most importantly a ten year plan. “In 10-15 years I want to have the flash of a Puffy, the attitude of a Hov, the enthusiasm of Mr. West and the business savvy and power of a Russell Simmons,” smiles Saint-Louis as he marvels at his super-mogul creation. Forget the 10-15 years Rodney is already developing his supermogul ethos. And if I didn’t know any better, I’d say I were interviewing a well established entertainment industry type—always super busy and important beyond explanation. While he might not be rich yet, he plays the important and busy role of celebrities very well. Speaking about himself in the third person, and persistently trying to control the tone of interview, Saint-Louis’s exterior SCREAMS obnoxious and self-obsessed, and he is all of that but much more. Below the surface, he’s a community-minded, work-a-holic who really only wants “to make you feel good [and ensure that] you wake up with a smile!” On a sunny yet comfortable day in Chelsea I call and tell him I’m at our meeting place. Jauntily striding to our meeting, late and on the phone,

September 2005

Saint-Louis sheepishly flashes his teeth, acknowledging his err. Over his thin but sturdy frame he wore a black button-down shirt and Antik jeans. He hands me his latest read, Trace Magazine to occupy me while he wraps up his conversation. After a few minutes he tells the person on the other line that he’s being rude by having me wait. The first thing I notice is his hair. An ornate scene of dice etched into his head, and the letters ‘NY’ to show his hometown. The other part of the temporary artwork was a whimsical abstract pattern, which Saint-Louis described as “tribal designs,” (translation: some hot stuff the barber thought up). Here is where Saint-Louis’s enigma begins. He laments about wanting more time in the day to do things, apparently the 24 hours that you and I have is not sufficient because Saint-Louis ideally needs 30 hours, along with an assistant to “do paperwork” which he absolutely hates doing. Interestingly enough, he’s deadly serious about needing more time. But how can such a busy person find spare time to “chill with [his] peeps and pop tags”? Not to mention the two hours his intricate hair designs take to create. While it might not make sense to most people, what he does in his spare time is directly linked to his success. By day he is employed at DRT Entertainment, an independent record label that he found on Craigslist and worked up to a paid position from an unpaid internship. But before that he was living another life of a college student and the recipient of a prestigious scholarship/internship at JPMorganChase. Those dreams were dashed when he resigned from the scholarship due to poor grades at the academically rigorous Polytechnic University. Saint-Louis took time to reassess his interests and realized entertainment was his calling, it was what he loved and he was bound to make it what he was good at. His other ventures include Design Attic, a creative boutique that he is working with to make a full scale production company. Trustees of Ivy is an event marketing group. Then there’s Laced Magazine, a fledgling internet start-up with dreams of becoming a full-fledged glossy mag. Charged with acquiring funding for the magazine’s first printing, SaintLouis critically distinguishes Laced from its competition “we analyze the sneaker culture, rather than the sneaker itself from a true hiphop perspective.” Saint-Louis who is a selfprofessed sneaker enthusiast, was sure to note


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success the “OG” (sneaker aficionado term for original issues) status of his black and purple Nike Flightposites. When asked if he’s stretched too thinly, he scoffs at the idea: “I stay forever busy on the next move, plan, venture … I wanna die contributing.” Besides his goal is to “try to be good at a lot of things, a Renaissance man.” So the tag popping is part of his plan, if he wants to know his clientele, he’s got to be the ultimate consumer and be fresh to def while doing it. His immediate goal is to be a lifestyle entrepreneur, someone who markets every facet of living, “tailoring people’s dream lifestyle into a reality.” He wants to be “that dude” who tells you what’s blazing fire all the while steering you away from life’s cold banality. No he is not a control freak, rather, he “like[s] thing[s] to be in control and in order.” It really isn’t all about the money but rather the power of notoriety. Saint-Louis enthusiastically offers up his master plan: “a network of people doing their thing, so when we come through we make noise.” This is where he differentiates himself from the current entertainment socialites. “I gotta save these kids, man, Sharpton tries to relate but he can’t.” So his network aims to “utilize what they have for the power not just the money … for influencing policy issues in the Black community.” Truly generous goals and altruistic intentions for someone who boasts of being just “a little narcissistic,” Saint-Louis strives for balance. With the same jaunt and confidence in his stride, Saint-Louis walks back to work after his three-hour ‘power’ lunch.

September 2005

F: Describe the process surrounding your first photo. JS: I picked up my first camera, back in 1975, and my first photos were of the Brothers and Sisters I went to Junior High School with in Brooklyn. The process was always to communicate my intent, and express to my subjects, how great they looked, and that history has been recorded. I always tried to give them copies of the photos once they were processed. F: How has your photography developed over the years? JS: In my developmental stages as a photographer, I spent most of my time in NYC and focused on mainly youth culture, as time evolved, I started creating photo essays, to bring my subjects to life. My first two assignments were on homelessness and prostitution in which I documented for over ten years. In the late 1980's until the present I've been blessed to travel outside the State as well as the Country to record the History and beauty of other people and the culture they reflect. F: How has your photography influenced and impacted your life? JS: Being a photographer has allowed me to understand my purpose in life. The camera for me is a tool of communication, when I engage my subjects; I make it a point to converse with them about life and the many challenges we face as a people and what we need to do to make a difference. This exchange has provided me with a great wealth of information, about the hopes and dreams, of many of our youth. I realize more now, than ever before, that I have a duty, to save our youth, and the Creator has given me a tool, to make that happen.

.: Look Through My Eye :. FOKUS: Who is Jamel Shabazz? Jamel Shabazz: Jamel Shabazz is a Brother, who is concerned with the well being of his people, and uses his camera, as a tool to communicate with them. F: What is your art? JS: My art, is the gift that the CREATOR has given me to capture the beauty, pride, and strength of our people. F: How do you define photography? JS: Photography is also a gift that we have been given, to record history and the circumstances that make it.

F: Why “A Time Before Crack,” why do a book on this subject? Why tell it through photos? JS: My desire to do a book, entitled ' A time Before Crack' was necessary because many of this generation today were born during the crack era, and they have grown-up to believe that it has always been here and the conditions that the crack epidemic produced are normal. My photos tell a very unique story, not with words but by smiles and innocent eyes. We live in a time when smiling and looking peaceful is considered being week.


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

September 2005

Pictures by David Dennis


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success Thousands of Men and Women are returning to society, after being confined behind bars for many years due to the crack plague. They need to see these images to remind them of a better time. I recently connected with a young brother, who in the mid-eighties was one of the biggest drug dealers in Brooklyn. During the cause of his life, he created a situation that destroyed the lives of countless brothers and sisters, both mentally and physically, many of them are in my book at the peak of their lives, and then came crack. It was so profound to see this Brother, and share my book with him. He had served many years in prison for his action. What was special about this moment, was the fact the he had changed his life, and wanted to dedicate his time, now to help rebuild what he helped destroy, and I saw in his eyes, pain and sincerity. As he turned the pages of my book, I know that the faces of these innocent Brothers and Sisters, who are no longer in the state in the book, had to have impact on him. So I say that to say, that CRACK was devastating in our community, and a lot of the negativity we see today is a result of it. My book creates conversation and hopefully, it will inspire those that were involved to change their lives and help in the rebuilding process. F: Describe the process and experiences for each of your three books. JS: The process and experience in putting forth, “BACK IN THE DAYS”, I first went the magazine route, providing them with images that were rarely seen, unless you were a rapper. I felt the need to show real images of real people that reflected a forgotten generation. The first 2 magazines to embrace my work were “THE SOURCE” and “TRACE”, when the work was shown; the readership loved it and wanted to see more. I then realized that it was necessary to do a book. My main purpose was to create a situation, were people could see images of themselves and the era that made them. That's how “BACK IN THE DAYS” came about. “THE LAST SUNDAY IN JUNE”, came about due to my 10 years of research, on the Gay pride parade, and the impact that it has on Black youth.

September 2005

I wanted to show a world, that many of us wanted nothing to do with, or had no ideal that it exited on such a large scale. The concept actually came about after I met and photographed two very beautiful gay sisters, who told me, if I wanted to see more of their particular life style I should go to the parade. They told me that the date is easy, "just remember, the last Sunday in June" That was over 12 years ago, and I've been documenting it since. With "A TIME BEFORE CRACK" I wanted to share my images in a way that it would allow many of my subjects to see and process these very important archives. Second, I wanted the world to see positive images of our youth. Often times the media, sheds a negative impression on Black folks, and I wanted to use my craft to revise that poison. The discussions that have come about, behind this book are incredible. To look at Sister's in their glory, and to learn later on that they got strung out, is tragic. Every week, I am hearing that a brother or sister in the book has died or is incarcerated. In a sense, this book show's them in another light and gives them dignity. F: How would/do you inspire others to try to realize their dreams? JS: I inspire others to realize their dreams by having goals, and writing down their goals, surrounding themselves with positive people, seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave, and give back to the community. F: Complete the sentences. -Photography is to life as _______ is to ______ -One way we, as a people can advance is _____ -Hip-hop has impacted everyone's life by______ -The concept of the camera has impacted life by __________ -One thing in life you should strive to do is _____ -A picture is worth _________ -If it wasn't for __________ -I am ___ JS: Photography is to life as water is to the earth. One way we, as a people, can advance is by knowing our history, and coming together in unity.


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

September 2005

Hip-hop has impacted everyone's life by, becoming a universal language.

time, but they don’t need to prepare the music…they live it.

The concept of the camera has impacted life, by recording the history.

Going behind the scenes, through soundproof doors and people carrying equipment pieces, we come to the room where things go down. It’s time. The energy they bring is nice and the sounds they put on the waves are a mix of the nothing but the best: the old and the underground.

One thing in life you should strive to do is, live in peace. A picture is worth timeless memories. If it wasn't for the CREATOR, we would be nothing. I am here for a purpose. F: Any closing words? JS: We are living in some very serious days and times, it is important that we make proper preparation. We must strive to strengthen our families, and learn the history from the elders, and pass it on to the next generation. Let work to improve the conditions, in our community, give charity to the poor, and mentor the youth. EACH ONE MUST TEACH ONE!!!! LOVE IS THE MESSAGE.

It doesn’t sink in until I’m being dropped off a little after dawn just what I’ve experienced: people calling with demos and announcements, artists being interviewed, and freestyles that would put us Northerners to shame. Most important, however, is bearing witness to an art that has been critical to the success of damn near every artist that has produced a track. These people don’t get fame, recognition or a percentage of the cut. Their simplest and greatest feat is bringing the music. To DJ doesn’t just mean throwing some tracks on the radio or talking about shit that only those in the booth care about: being a true Disc Jockey means to live by the beat. Like I said, there aren’t that many out there who keep it correct, but I know a couple that truly do. Keep it going. Love to Kasey and Zin @ 90.1 KPTF Pacifica Houston Texas

Peace and Blessings Jamel Shabazz


.: The Life :.

.: Heat It Up :.

~Words by Knowledge

It is two thirty in the morning and I overslept. I have ten minutes to get up and out the door. Somehow, I manage. “Ready?” I’m asked and I respond with a mumbled “yeah”. Riding amidst a sea of tapes and CDs, with the radio on the necessary station, the mental notes are being taken…he goes on air in thirty minutes.

~Words by Ali Lasky

Whether your summer was spent on land, at sea, or way up in the mountains, there is no reason to stop enjoying the heat of the summer here in Ann Arbor! Below is a list of the top 10 hot spots from the summer in A2, so check ‘em out and let FOKUS know how you heat it up! [top 10 are in no particular order]

Pulling up to the station isn’t a grand event: routine daps and other acknowledgments are given as we walk through the door. Everyone knows how it goes.

10. autBar @ 315 Braun -Sunday brunch with friends or special someones

Following suit, the co-host walks through the door with similar exchanges. They run over last week's review of the show while getting their updates ready. I expect them to go through a list of tracks they want to play before show-

8. Heidleberg @15 N. Main Street -Wednesday night karaoke followed by

9. The Necto @16 E Liberty -Thursday hip-hop reggae night

7. Colonial Lanes @1950 S Industrial Hwy


Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success -late night bowling specials, drink specials, nd munchies 6. Kilwin's Chocolate Shoppe & Ice Cream Parlor @ 107 E. Liberty -for inexpensive, handmade sweet treats 5. Goodnite Gracie @ 301 W Huron -for fresh cubans, signature martinis, and live jazz 4. Red Hot Lovers @ 629 East University -specialty hot dogs, waffle fries, & outdoor seating at red hot tables 3. Broken Egg @ 223 N. Main -homemade breakfasts, and prices that won’t burn up your paycheck 2. Cold Stone Creamery @ 3597 Washtenaw -in Arborland center next to Starbucks – the sweetest fresh cold cream desserts made to match your summer pleasure 1. ZA’S @ 615 E. University -the best Italian and the hottest prices, also featuring Cheesecake Factory desserts ** also check out themed nights @ Café Oz & Studio 4 in downtown Ann Arbor on S. Fifth and S. Fourth streets**

.: Graffiti In Da Deuce:.

~Words by Soul

“You started on your street, then you went to the buses. You take over your neighborhood, then you take over your home line, then you take over your division, then you take over all city.” Luke “SPAR ONE” Felisberto Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop by Jeff Chang

The encyclopedia says the term graffiti is ‘a type of deliberate human markings on property.’ While it’s something society cannot control, understand, nor entirely appreciate, it’s one of my true loves and in my eyes, and those of many others, it’s a revolutionary, [avantgarde] priceless art form. Since 2001, I’ve had a jones for graffiti in Ann Arbor. To tell you the

September 2005

truth, I never thought it really existed. The most graffiti I ever saw around here was probably the red spray paint on the South University bus stop that says “No War” or some chalk throw-ups telling me to vote for someone in the ‘Students First Party.’ Yea, there were some random throw-ups like the swan lookin’ pieces all over the place, but being a graffer from Harlem makes all that shit dry to me. I was a graffer lost in colorful ‘Where is Waldo’ pages looking for that one spot to satisfy my hunger. It took me almost (5)ive years to find some hidden masterpieces in this little town we call Ann Arbor. It wasn’t until I hit up the Neutral Zone this summer to help out with their Graffiti Art Fair that I found something worth my time. Not only did I have the opportunity to pass on my love for graffiti to some of the kids dying to give their lil’ wrist some rhythm, but I met a local graffer by the name of Blake aka CIST who knew all the ‘diamond in the rough’ spots that used to claim graffers fame. Now, please keep in mind that I live a couple of blocks from the infamous ‘Graffiti Wall of Fame’ in NYC. If you don’t know about it, then check out the mini flick we have on our Graffer CIST took me on a grand tour at unusual locations and it was definitely the closest thing to the Wall of Fame that I could get. Check out the first spot in Downtown Ann Arbor [picture above]. We rolled up to this parking lot near the train tracks, walked behind a building, and there it was – a graffers dream. Walls so long, it was a piece of canvas waiting to be taken over by a NENA blockbuster. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were actually pieces worth looking at. As I was standing on the train tracks admiring some of the art, some of the kids from the Neutral Zone were on their way to the site. CIST was a lil’ pissed

- 10 -

Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success because the day before, he had taken the class to these local graffiti spots. Today he noticed one of his pieces got buffed (wrote on top of) and realized it was one of the kids from the Zone who were on their way to the site. Please note that due to the laws of graffiti, if you go over a graffers piece with some garbage, just for the hell of it, there will be repercussions. It’s major disrespect for the artists, especially if the piece was done that week and looks as if it could run (stay up) for a couple of months. Shorty was warned and was told to never throw up there again. After the first site, he took me over around Maiden and Plymouth road where I was about to see some real work. We hopped over this cement fence and walked down a steep hill that led us to the Fuller Recreational Area. We walked under the bridge and there it was. This was the first piece I saw. It was pretty dark and there was shit all over the place because a lot of the homeless people around town kick it underneath the bridges, but it was definitely worth seeing. He took me into these woods and back around to another bridge and some more train tracks and the graffiti only got better. You had pieces from international katz thrown up too. When we got to the 2nd under path, there were some homeless dudes hanging out that told us they were some Vietnam vets and that right before we came, a class of about 10 students had just rolled up to see some of the graffiti. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, shit was worth making a field trip on. For real - it was unbelievable.

[ UNDER THE NEEDLE ] Understanding the Numbers 0 / 20 – Waste of space, time and whatever it is on. 5 / 20 – Tolerate once but anything more may hurt. 10 / 20 – Average. Nothing special. 15 / 20 – Good but missing something. 20 / 20 – Solid. Not enough faults to knock it.

September 2005

Kanye West Late Registration 15 / 20

.:Registration Under Review :.

Remember when the hype began for Kanye West’s new LP “Late Registration”? Well for those that don’t, it came just after the release of his first LP, “College Dropout.” Kanye has been publicly hyping his upcoming release for over a year now and will do so until the August 30th release date. While “College Dropout” is arguably a hip-hop classic, Kanye has insisted that “Late Registration” will be even better and back up all his bragging. After listening to each track a few times, I must beg to differ. Yes it will be a commercial success and a few tracks will be near the top of music charts, but it is far from a “classic” by any means. The major problem is that the first single “Diamonds” is, to put it bluntly, is that it’s already old. By the end of April, anyone with a computer and/or radio had heard the track and here it is September and the LP is just now being released. Many of us will simply skip over “Diamonds” because it’s been played out by every bar, club, car cruising down Lake Shore Drive, and radio station in the nation. Even I was able to obtain a legit copy of “Gold Digger” when it was released to the public. After building that much hype with those two singles, the album takes a nose dive south. Adam Levine of Maroon 5 makes a guest appearance on “Heard ‘Em Say”, which don’t get me wrong, is a decent track, but will also take some getting used to by many hip-hop listeners. This is one of those songs that has to grow on you. “Touch the Sky” is definitely a track that will be in heavy rotation on radio stations throughout the country. It’s got that Kanye old school feel to it in addition to featuring Lupe Fiasco or “the guy that wrote Diamonds”. There are a few other tracks, which most likely will not be released as singles but nevertheless help make “Late Registration” a good album. “Drive Slow” with Paul Wall and GLC, “Addiction” and last but not least, “Gone” featuring Consequence and Cam’Ron. All three

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Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success tracks have the same Kanye-style beats sprinkled with just enough of the guest appearances to not take the focus away from the beat or Kanye himself. In my eyes, a major disappointment is how Game, Common, and Cam’Ron are utilized within the tracks they appear in. “Crack Music” could easily be one of the top tracks of the year yet where is Game at in the track outside of a couple lines? Common appears on a track that is under 2 minutes in length. Cam’Ron does have a verse in “Gone” but these 3 could have and should have been utilized more. Game and Nas both have beefs with Jay-Z and upon hearing those two would be featured on “Late Registration”, their appearances were widely anticipated. Sorry to burst your bubble, but there isn’t much to look forward to. Overall, expect a solid, but not great release. However, given the competition Kanye is going up against, I can’t see anything coming close at the present time. The album does fail to reach the heights that Kanye promised us. In Kanye’s defense, it’s hard to raise the bar he set for himself with “College Dropout”, especially only in a year. Some might even go so far as to say he set himself up for disaster. It’s interesting to see some songs such as “Bittersweet” did not make the track list given the hype surrounding that song. A portion of was leaked during an interview with Kanye during last years MTV awards show yet has yet to be released. The collaboration with producer Jon Brion is interesting as well because these two men are arguably the best producers in their field yet on different ends of the musical spectrum. This alone will intrigue many new people to purchase “Late Registration” who weren’t along for the ride that “College Dropout” offered. ~Z. Lund

Jim Jones Harlem: Diary of A Summer 15 / 20 .: Ryder Man :.

September 2005


is probably the most powerful movement in music right now. They keep dropping music but have little to no promotion for their products. The average listener cannot appreciate music that comes from the Diplomats and their multi-label affiliations. They are undeniably an acquired taste of music. Jim Jones’ sophomore album falls along that path again. This time around he has 3 videos, “Summer With Miami,” “Baby Girl” and reportedly “What You Drinkin On.” Capo’s second album picks up where his debut disc left off. While the argument can be made that he isn’t the most lyrical of an artist but his music is powerful. The album features a new artist, Max B, up-coming R&B prince, Trey Songz, various Diplomats and friends. My only issue was “where is Killa at” because a Dipset project seems incomplete without Cam’ron blessing it, even for an adlib. ~Atiba Edwards

DJ J. Period The Best of Lauryn Hill 20 / 20 .: Spit Hot Fire and Water :.

When you start a fire, you put it out with water. This summer, many of you witnessed the Fugees reunited at the BET Awards and got a taste of a long awaited L. Boogie. It seemed like she was still using her “Unplugged” vocals, but for whatever reason it felt good seeing the urban legend back in the limelight. As some of you might’ve read this summer on xanga, Yours Truly got a copy of one of the years hottest mixtapes, ‘J. Period presents The Best of Lauryn Hill, Volume 1 (Fire) and Volume 2 (Water).” Hosted by the hip-hop diva herself, the Mixtape offers exclusive personal interviews from Hill, special remixes, and elusive songs from days touring the globe with the Fugees to nights as a solo artist. This Mixtape classic starts off with [Fire]:

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Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success 1. The Passion (Welcome) 2. J.Period L-Boogie Intro 3. Lost Ones (j.period get the *&^% up remix) 4. Lost Ones (j.period definition remix) 5. Nas On Lauryn Hill Interlude 6. If I Ruled The World 7. If I Ruled The World (j.period lost tapes remix) 8. Keep It Tight w/DJ Skribble 9. Poetry Interlude (exclusive) 10. Family Business w/John Forte 11. Year Of The Dragon w/Wyclef 12. The Score 13. Meeting The Fugees Interlude (exclusive) 14. Nappy Heads (remix) 15. Flex Freestyle (j.period smooth operator remix) w/Wyclef 16. Black Thought Interlude 17. Doo Wop (j.period atliens remix) 18. Doo Wop (j.period brooks remix) 19. Sweetest Thing (mahogany remix) 20. Mahogany (j.period relaxation rmx) w/John Forte 21. Ready For The Show 22. Ready Or Not (j.period relaxation remix) w/Biggie 23. Message Music Interlude (exclusive) 24. Recognition (panther)w/Wyclef 25. Rumble In The Jungle (remix) w/Q-Tip, John Forte 26. Refugees In Sweden Interlude (live exclusive) 27. Zealots 28. 96 UK Freestyle (unreleased) 29. How Many Mics 30. How Many Mics (j.period truth remix) 31. Kill A Soundboy (remix) w/Buju Banton + Steele 32. Strictly Roots Interlude 33. Watch Out For Babylon Freestyle 34. New Jersey Interlude 35. Allies w/PRT 36. Cowboys w/Outsidaz, Rah Digga 37. Bam Bam Interlude (remix) 38. Fu-Gee-La (sly & robbie remix) 39. Ex-Factor - Simple Breakdown (j.period headache remix) 40. Ex-Factor (j.period respiration remix) 41. Change Comes Eventually Interlude 42. Everything Is Everything 43. Freestyle

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9. Be With You w/Mary J. 10. Too Personal/Can It Be Simple Interlude 11. Ex-Factor 12. Ex-Factor/Manifest (live in uK) 13. The Sweetest Thing (original) 14. Ziggy Marley Interlude 15. Turn Your Lights Down Low w/Bob Marley 16. Rita Marley Interlude 17. War (live in tokyo) 18. War (live in tokyo) 19. The Human Element (backstage rehearsal) 20. Zion 21. Having Children Interlude 22. Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You 23. Bonita Applebum Interlude 24. Kille Me Softly (j.period remix) 25. Kille Me Softly (j.period remix) w/Mos Def 26. Mos Def Interlude 27. Like Water (j.period rmx) w/Common, Black Thought 28. Musical Influence Interlude 29. I Never Dream You'd Leave In Summer 30. Nothing Even Matters w/D'Angelo 31. Mr. Intentional (live) 32. Tell Him (live) 33. Message To The Critics 34. Sam Cooke Tribute 35. A Change Is Gonna Come 36. Message To The Fans/Chris Rock Outtro 37. Redemption Song (live in jamaica) w/Ziggy Marley 38. On Gratitude/The Passion (reprise)

I’m telling you, it’s worth the couple of bucks you might spend on some late night munchies at Pizza House or NYPD. Please believe it’s been on heavy rotation all summer and it’s something you won’t get tired of. To purchase this double cd collection with over 80 classics, check out ~ Soul

[ SALUTE ] .: Make The Music :.

~Words By Knowledge

Then [Water] cools you down with: 1. Light My Fire/Jose Feliciano Intro 2. Superstar 3. Guantanamera w/Celia Cruz 4. Fu-Gee-La (refugees remix) 5. Fu-Gee-La (global remix) 6. Fu-Gee-La (j.period story remix) 7. All My Time w/Paid & Live 8. Honey Mary Interlude

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Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success

Six minutes…six minutes…six minutes Doug E

Fresh you’re on!

What follows these words helped form one of the most respected careers in hip-hop history. In 1985 Doug E. Fresh brought his creative genius out the streets of Harlem and to speaker boxes of fans across the world…but that was a while ago. People might ask what does a pioneer in hip-hop do now that the lyrical art has gone commercial. It may surprise some, but Doug E. Fresh is still out there doing what he does best: bringing original sounds of hiphop to new ears. Fresh represents someone that most artists wish they were: he is among those who created the most successful genre ever in music history. He has always understood hip-hop and is therefore able to create it, while newcomers only understand parts of it - like the profits - and thereby fail when they try to imitate it. Doug E. Fresh is out there because he knows hip-hop’s not dead…it’s waiting. So until some genuine artists take hold of the reigns, this original will continue his reign as a king of hiphop.


.: The Impossible :.

~Walter Lacy (an excerpt) I didn't fall in love with hip-hop until I got to college, but don't get it twisted: I've always loved to hear my brother spit and he's been rhyming since I was about three (still at it). Seventeen years on the local scene anticipating his big break; holding down shows on his own in many cases, though the opportunity to fully succeed has escaped him. He's got his stories... shady producers/management, iconic status amongst his peers throughout high school and college, rubbing elbows with well-knowns, from Wyclef to Chuck D. His life's ambition is simpleJUST DO THE IMPOSSIBLE. In one regard, he already has. Currently working on what he hopes will be his breakthrough piece, entitled, "There is a God," Khalil (age 30) is more passionate and driven today than at any other point in his life. This past April, he completed his first video for a track called "Earl Flynn," inspired by Rakim's old-school classic, "I Ain't No Joke." Maybe

September 2005

moreso than the video itself, the video shoot for "Earl Flynn" was a true work of art. The shoot for "Earl Flynn" accomplished something that was long overdue-it established a seed of hope within our 'hood, which we refer to as "The States." The event brought generations of "State Boys" together as well as others, most notably, our brothers from the Jefferies Projects of Detroit. The images of children dancing and laughing, the anticipation amongst the "O.G.'s" concerning the video's completion and release, and the love displayed throughout the entire process was, in a word, SPECIAL. Khalil is inspired to leave an indelible mark on hip-hop culture, and it is that aspiration that motivates him. Whether or not he becomes a household name remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, he is not facing the journey alone.

.: Charlie’s Sweetheart :.

~Hyatt Michaels (an excerpt) There was a rumble in his chest. He was getting closer, and his silver watch kept reminding him. Charlie was dressed too nicely. Probably because last time his sweetheart saw him, his pants were down to his knees and he was fucking her cousin Bette down and dirty on his father's office floor. There were always rumors about the town regarding Charlie's loose zipper, but his sweetheart paid them no mind before she saw her fiancé with her hideous cousin. She knew he lacked restraint when it came to beautiful women, but what surely upset Charlie's sweetheart was that her cousin had the crenellated face of an albino raccoon. How embarrassing it must have been for her to see her handsome young man fibrillate with an ugly incarnation of her own family! It had been a long time since he last saw his sweetheart. He thought his fortune was closed with her after she caught him, but Charlie felt he finally had a second chance as he left the fork in the road that lead to her house. “Why else would she send for me?” he asked himself. He was now in eye-distance of the house. His pulse vibrated, and sweat dripped from the sides of his face. Strange, cause it was a chilly day in the small town of Defiance, Ohio. Charlie's quest for forgiveness had been diligent, but for months his sweetheart didn't answer any of his letters. For nights he dreamed of her sitting in her pink room underneath her pink fan, wearing a pink dress

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Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success and smoking a cigarette from a pink cigarette pipe. He imagined her tearing each of his letters angrily, but like a lady. He loved how much of a genuine spoiled girl his sweetheart was. He missed her jade colored eyes, and olive toned skin. Charlie loved playing with her silkylike hair. He imagined how beautiful it would be to play with it on their honeymoon. As he continued down the road leading to his sweetheart's house, his heart sustained its violent beating. His sweating became visible on his white shirt, and navy pants. Charlie reached for the handkerchief that was in his shirt's pocket, but he fell to the ground before he could wipe the thick drool of sweat from his face. He laughed at his clumsiness until he realized something was wrong. He tried to get up, but the green grass was like quicksand underneath his knees. Charlie looked to his sweetheart's house, and realized he could no longer speak, nor scream. There was no panic in his movements. Charlie knew that would only make whatever was happening to him worse. His sweetheart's father was a doctor and he should be home soon. He lay at the crest of a roadway that led to her house. The grass began to feel warm as the sun turned a yolk tinted yellow and Charlie closed his eyes.


.: Madden 2006:.

~Z. Lund

Electronic Arts rocked the gaming world with

their announcement that they had locked in the NFL license exclusively, instantly killing off competition from Midway and Sega. Later, they also announced that they had sewn up the rights to the college teams as well, guaranteeing them 100% of the NCAA pie this year as well. I guess someone at EA enjoys the game of "Monopoly" a little too much... Last year Sega released their awesome sports games at a lowball $19.99, which obviously

September 2005

pissed off Electronic Arts to the point where they wanted to ensure that wouldn't be happening ever again. Hence, the NFL monopoly. With Madden 2006 your only choice for officially licensed football this year, will you support Electronic Arts and their Draconian policies or will you show them with your wallet that you don't care for their business practices? After reading that, you may guess that I won’t be purchasing the product, well guess again. The very fact that I’m in Iraq, with literally nothing to do, lead me to purchasing this game. The following is my review. In my opinion Madden stopped being a great game a long long time go. Sure, it’s been a roster upgrade here, visual tweaks there, new move here, old move removed there, new game play mechanic here, old game play mechanic removed there. EA has successfully been selling guys like I and other college aged men and women alike, a game they didn't really need for at least 5 years now. That's come to the end of the line now with 2006. There are enough substantial improvements to warrant buying the new game and now that EA holds the official license of the NFL it’s the only game to buy. To be blunt, Madden 06 has some revolutionary tweaks that will either make it or entirely break it for the gamer. That's usually nothing out of the ordinary, but this time I really mean it. In the last ten years Madden has gotten by with little revision, but 2006 features game play that is entirely different than what you're used to. Quarterback Vision & Precision Passing has all of the makings of a fantastic idea; ergo it makes the game far more realistic. When the ball is snapped QBV & PP provides you with a field of vision that you must train on your receiver. You must focus this field of vision on your receiver before throwing your intended play. If you don't keep the receiver within your field of vision, you can kiss any yardage goodbye because the pass will suck. It will be about as good as a Joey Harrington thrown pass for you Lions fans out there. In terms of realism, you can't really beat it. A real QB doesn't have that wonderful view of the field while sitting on the recliner in front of the big screen like us arm chair quarterbacks do. Unfortunately realism doesn't always translate into entertainment and in this case, your enjoyment level of Madden 06 will be directly proportionate to how well you adapt to this new scheme, particularly because it makes Madden harder rather than more enjoyable. The field of

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Fighting Obstacles Knowing Ultimate Success vision works two ways. As the QB, you'll need to keep your eyes on the intended target, but linger too long on your receiver or select him before the snap, and the other team will pick up on exactly where you're looking and it'll be Monday Night sack time almost instantly. The realism of the new feature extends to large or small vision lines depending on your QB, which again, makes the game that much more realistic and consequently, much harder. Personally I like it but it's not perfect by any stretch. It has added depth to the game which hasn't been present in previous games, but most casual gamers might be in for a total shocker. Thankfully for those who hate it, you can turn it off in the game options, therefore rendering this fat paragraph of text and the coolest upgrade to the series in ten years null and void. If you don't feel the love for QB Vision, you're going to dig the Truck Stick which allows the Jerome Bettis’ of the game to charge their way through the opposition with a quick jab of the R Analog stick. This is an innovative move (sort of like the Hit Stick), to be sure, but you have to know when and whom to use it with. As I said, if you use a smaller player, it's not going to work and you risk fumbling, interception, loss of possession, yardage...everything. When you do work the magic, you'll definitely feel that this is one of the touches that Madden has been missing. It feels so right it should have been included years ago. It can literally make or break a game if used correctly. Superstar mode is the only new mode from Madden 2006. Although a great idea in concept, it’s an utter failure in practice. You create a character by choosing the combination of your parents (because why shouldn’t a kid decide who his parents are?), pick an agent (that ranges from all-star representatives to sleaze balls you wouldn’t trust with a piggy bank), take an IQ test (with brain teasers such as “what is your favorite food?” and “do you like football?”), a few interviews, and prepare for the draft (my character was 4th round pick for the Bears, although I’m sure you will have better fortune). Soon after, you will attend training camp, and then hopefully begin your road to the Super Bowl. Sponsors will come around once and a while for possible endorsement deals as well as movie roles. Sounds pretty cool, eh? Not. Most of the work done off the football field is viewed through a calendar displaying specific events to attend. There is no timeline, however, in the way the

September 2005

calendar works and you can jump three weeks to any one event. Also, most of the activities you engage in is purely text based and offers the blandest role-playing system I have seen. After my first preseason game, I found myself praying for a mortar attack for some entertainment. In terms of play tweaking, it seems every year Tiburon goes through the unenviable process of balancing the defensive and offensive lines to that special nth degree which makes Madden play a little bitter than it did the previous year. In last years game for example I found that the defense often knew what you were doing before you did, and therefore the AI was far too frustrating on the higher difficulties. 2006 sees a dimming of the AI in the opposition and it makes for a far more entertaining game. It doesn't make them stupid by any stretch; it just makes them far less "psychic". Visually I defy any of you to notice any drastic improvements in the animations - although there are a few new catches that I've witnessed - and overall presentation is much the same as last year. I can't wait to see this series on the 360 although I have a distinct feeling we won't be seeing exactly what Tiburon can do on the hardware at least until 2007. Maybe I'm wrong. Hope so. If you take the time to adjust to the new QB Vision elements, you'll find a far deeper game under the hood than you've ever experienced. Granted it makes the game much harder, but as I already declared, realism is the payoff. If you want to continue to play your fantasy football game where you have the vision of a God, turn off the newfangled feature and play as you normally would. Superstar Mode is worth the $49.99 alone and I would love to see this area fine tuned and advanced upon as I'm sure it will be for years to come. Madden 2006 is a great game of football and while most of us game journalists say that every year, this time it's spot on. For the first time in years, the game has been redesigned which completely alters the game play at its foundation. Tiburon appears not to be satisfied with just creating an entertaining representation of video football but to advance the realism so that the experience brings players that much closer to what it feels like being on the gridiron. They've succeeded. 2006 is a must buy for most Madden faithful.

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INSIGHT Vol.I Issue 9  

We have 2 special entries from a soldier from Iraq. The first is a review of Kanye's "Late Registration" and the second is a review of Madde...