25 QUESTIONS BEFORE WE SAVE THE WORLD with~ Ash Wednesday!

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I think I know Ash Wednesday through fellow rapper Lamon Manuel. It’s through Twitter, though, definitely~ we went back and forth #OnThere trading Drake lyrics, mostly from 2015’s What A Time To Be Alive. And I saw them do a sweet 16 on Instagram once! What a time to be alive, and they booked me and the amazing MFn Melo for the show tonight at Township.  Come see a set tonight from someone with naturally good taste in fun shit! The Ho Ho Ho Show w/ Plus Sign, MFn Melo, Squeak Pivot, Ash Wednesday, M.U.T.T., Hank McCoy, and DJ Stepchild. 2200 N. California, Chicago, IL;  doors 8 PM show 9 PM $10 @ door!

THE INTERVIEW

What’s your favorite color? easy, green! 
Who is your favorite athlete? although he’s technically retired I have a long standing love for Marshawn Lynch

What is your favorite poem and why? I’ll give it to HOWL by Allen Ginsberg. A sprawling work! It was my first foray into wildness as art/life/choice/being and it stays with me
What is the name of your fictional autobiography? ASH IS A FAST CAT 
How tall are you? 5’4
What is the title of the earliest work of yours you can remember? My first EP was called “Part & Parcel” – released in 2013. I googled briefly and am happy to report it’s not online anymore haha 
What is the title of your most recent piece of work? “Show It Around”; an unreleased song 
Tell me about it?  It’s about knowing what you’ve got and showing it off. Confidence, self-possession, drive, no fucks to give 
How did this show Thursday come about? My buddy Hank McCoy got the 12/15 date at Township to celebrate his homecoming from Europe! Hank has helped me throw shows in the past, so I jumped at a chance to pull this bill together!
Where is home? near Central Park and Belmont
What is home? home is where i keep my bicycle 
Who is home? no one b/c I don’t trust anyone enough to keep my bicycle 
Whose home are you? I am the home to many microorganisms !
What is your favorite plant? tree(s) 
Who is your daddy and what does he do? Bradley; he’s a business man
Who are you? Ash Wednesday 
What do you do? project manager slash rapper 
Who would you like to collaborate with? I’d love to get Joseph Chilliams on Show It Around! I dug those recent features on Noname’s Telephone and Saba’s Bucket List – go listen if you haven’t! #pivot! 
Where are you going? ALL THE WAY UP
Where did you just come from? I just came from Chicago on an airplane; so magic 
Where are you right now? I’m at an office in NYC right now @ Madison Ave & 52nd street; swanky right?
Who is Vashti Bunyan? I don’t know! I had to google her. I learned she’s a delicate sounding songwriter/performer who in 1970 put out a record that didn’t sell well. She gave up music after this, but by 2000 people were feeling that record! She released 2 more studio albums (2005, 2014) and is now ~70 years old. Vashti reminds me this life is circuitous
TELL me some impressions of the other performers? 
MUTT – his rap name stands for “Music Used To Transcend” and it’s true; experimental, expressive! His “deep self” definitely comes thru in his music 
MELO – a sweetheart! can i say that? he’s doing it for the music, he loves his people; i see the drive! MFN Melo what it look like!?
HANK – raps like a beast, hairy like a beast, a mans man, and bookers love him!

PLUS – i love the vibes. i’m ready to see some queer shit pop

squeak: squeak has got it! so polite, great swag, great look, and he knows droogs by anderson paak is a hit even tho it sounds unfinished

stepchild: jack of all trades in the iridium jersey. dj, live beats, host, swear i heard him freestyle for like 10 min straight; energy crazy

Why are you still performing? I (still) perform because I like to show it’s possible to do unconventional behaviors
What does a free world look like to you? a free world is a world free from pre-fab box-like expectations 

25 QUESTIONS BEFORE WE SAVE THE WORLD~ with MFn Melo!

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MFn Melo is one of the warmest people I’ve ever met, perhaps the warmest. His voice is warm, his dreads look warm,  his beats are warm, I’m telling you. I get to perform with him again for the first time in a long time at Township on December 15th. We’re sharing the bill with one of his PIVOT homies DJ Squeak Pivot (PIVOT = Melo, John Walt, Saba, Joseph Chilliams, and more. PIVOT = a lot of melodic, jazzy raps and versatile lyricists), Ash Wednesday, M.U.T.T., Hank McCoy, and DJ Stepchild. 2200 N. California, Chicago, IL;  doors 8 PM show 9 PM $10 @ door!

THE INTERVIEW

What’s your favorite color? Red
Who is your favorite athlete? Kobe
What is your favorite poem and why? Roses are red. It’s a legend
What is the name of your fictional autobiography? MuhfuckinMelo: What it looks like.
How tall are you? 6’1
What is the title of the earliest work of yours you can remember? “Call me Melo” sampled “umma do me” remix by Rocko. Rick Ross first line, it was “ima true baller bitch call me Melo” lol
What is the title of your most recent piece of work? MeloDramatics 
Tell me about it? It’s my first solo project I’ve been working on forever. Maybe one day I’ll put it out
How did this show Thursday come about? Ash Wednesday is thee homie. She asked and I’ll never tell her no
Where is home? Burb life
What is home? My room
Who is home? My nephew
Whose home are you? Depends on who’s looking for shelter
What is your favorite plant? Cannabis
Who is your daddy and what does he do? He retired
Who are you? I’m Muhfuckin Melo
What do you do? I take care of my nephew and write about my thoughts in my spare time
Who would you like to collaborate with? NoName
Where are you going? To the top
Where did you just come from? Studio
Where are you right now? Studio
Who is Vashti Bunyan? Google say she sing. Ima check her out in a minute
TELL me some impressions of the other performers? Ash is T’d. Energy always high. Great person.

+ is an amazing person as well. Helped me out in ways he’s unaware of. He that nigga

Riki cool as hell. Vibes go crazy

Why are you still performing? Cause that shits fun. Best part of being an artist. To know that people connect with me while I’m up there makes me feel. Feeling is cool
What does a free world look like to you? Papa doc and nem

ESSAY// VIEWS: Album of the Year Edition

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“But unlike his earlier solo efforts, Sign “O” the Times wasn’t a record by an ambitious kid trying to make impression. At 28, Prince had already made himself into a pop superstar  (and movie star too), and he easily sold out arenas. In one sense, he had nothing to prove. Yet Sign “O” the Times is the most varied, accomplished record of his prime 1980s period, a testament to the range of his gifts and the bold artistic ambition that gave his music shape.” ~ Pitchfork

Previously.

The reason why it’s not STARBOY is because Drake isn’t sounding like Michael Jackson in the future, he’s sounding like Drake in the future. The reason why it’s not The Life of Pablo is because Views is easier to listen to. The reason why it’s not LEMONADE is because Views is easier to listen to. Drake is, if you want to listen to it that way, furious throughout for sure. Just like Pablo and Bey, Drake is terrified and at the end of his rope and fighting for his fucking life and the lives of his family and friends.

But he never screams his heart out or has a multi-part breakdown. He and his collaborators stay ice cold~ even the warmest, most bounciest beats have a grim determination undergirding them. There’s an unshakeable momentum to the music, a timely airtight-ness. VIEWS is the album that got humanity through this year, it’s the sound of the biggest star in the world on the eve of revolution.

The reason why it’s not Coloring Book is Drake doesn’t sound like Kanye anymore. I mean, everybody sounds like Kanye but Chance the Rapper REALLY sounds like Kanye; he sanded the edges off Graduation and brought it to the present. However, candy-coated Christianity can only take one so far in the real world and Lord knows it’s taken us far enough, thank you but please no thank you! Drake keeps it real. Chance’s “Blessings” aren’t actually coming for you: you’re not as handsome as he is and your dad isn’t friends with Obama. You’re not going to blow up without a record deal! But you might be able to get your ex back if you can grit your teeth for long enough through all of life’s beat changes and let da riddim guide you through the God-less, gunshotted summer. Better yet, you might even find someone new. Imagine that.

The reason why it’s not Solange is because that album is too slow. The reason why it’s not Blonde is because that album is too sad! The reason why it’s not your album is because your album isn’t this sexy or well-produced and it doesn’t have “Hotline Bling” as a bonus track.

More Life is on the way.

OLD ESSAY// Why I Quit the United States Postal Service

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This piece originally appeared in Side by Side Magazine.

I quit my job this week. This is why:

I wake up at four, angry, dark as the sky. I lay in bed a few seconds, then throw my upper half up. I change the music on my laptop and start working out. Around 4:20 I alternate between making lunch and working out. I’m making spaghetti. At 4:55 I take a shower. I start wrapping up the odds and ends of my morning: snacks, keys, decide what I’ll be listening to as I leave out the front door. It’s old jazz. It’s February so I’m on the 30s in my jazz discovery program. Next month it’ll be the 40s.

It’s cold, I’m still angry. The walk soothes me, somewhere deep inside. I’m still smiling on the bus, on the train. “Good morning. Thank you!” We huddle.

I brush my teeth at work. I look in the mirror. I look good. I go out to the floor.

There’s always something. There’s always something not right when I get to the unit, something to compensate for, to ask a supervisor for, to restock, to reorganize, that just isn’t there but should be. I’m angry and I’m moving fast. There is no trickling in for me, I am the bowl.

I am the Expediter.

That means I have patience, discipline, balance, speed, strength, empathy, and hopefully, eight hours of sleep. It means I am everything I was not growing up. It means that when I f*ck up, or when someone tells me I f*ck up, it soaks me deep. It means I’m angry. It means I’m grinding my teeth. It means there’s nowhere else in this building I’d rather be. I only started grinding my teeth after I started expediting. I started expediting around the same time I got back in school. The employees who were doing it before me all quit. An employee and her friend, the supervisor, got me to do it one day, two days, three days, weeks, and now they’re both gone and it’s my job. Time flies when you don’t have enough of it, and I have mail falling always. Always containers getting full, always containers to pull out and dispatch, always containers full of mail designated for a flight that’s leaving in 30 minutes 20 minutes 10 minutes right now it’s late, always people asking me to make a new container, always something late, always something they can’t find, always homework to do, always lover, always lonely, always independent, always an attitude, bury the attitude with love. By noon I’ll be fine. I’m just underrating the day because I’m grumpy. But this is my life, this is all I have, this is work, this is production, this is beautiful. Look at all these people. I love them. And I am the expediter. They depend on me. Always never knew I’d be here.

Written summer, 2014

One of the last things Bruce told me was “Don’t Panic.” He told Benjamin I had a good heart. He told me I was a kid, that he was in high school in 1992, a year after I was born. Bruce was working 7 days a week, 4 hours overtime. Bruce was in the Marines eight years, was a sergeant. Bruce got there an hour early every day, at six, to get paid, but also to clean. “I hate chaos,” he couldn’t work in an unclean area.

I’ve been trying to reorganize myself. Make this writing thing happen, make healthy veganism happen, make being a weed smoking genius artist happen, befriend everybody everywhere. Watching Bruce, talking to, working with Bruce is the most fruitful work relationship I’ve ever had.

It happened fast. I was asking him and Marcus to stop making fun of me, they had taken to calling me “MIGOS!” I don’t know why, and chuckling to themselves. I’d been “experimenting” with sticking up for my self. I asked them, in front of another guy, to stop calling me “Migos,” I had asked Marquez if he was making fun of me for my pink hat. Both experiments changed their attitudes toward me, toward one of quiet respect and deference, both confrontations rattled my bones and made me anxious as hell.

Then, the holidays started again. I started telling Barbara I was going to need help expediting. For a while last holiday season every day someone or multiple someones told me I needed help. Expediters from other shifts, people in my unit, the military people watching the mail. This past November, I got Bruce.

I had just started listening to Dr. Dre’s 2001. While playing some from his speakers, Bruce looked at me “Best producer of all-time” I said “I dunno. Maybe Pharrell” he winced skeptically. The few days Bruce and I worked together before the speakers shorted out, every day at 2:45 PM, 15 minutes before closing time he would put on “Still D.R.E.” I loved it. One time after the speakers shorted, I played it on my phone and showed Bruce my screen from far away. It’s been very hard for me to connect to black men, to feel comfortable to love. To feel worthy as a friend. Everyone at my job was my friend.

My job was rife with prostitution, illicit drug use, fat black women, tired mothers, nepotism, abrupt and unexplained regime changes, corrupt supervisors, an easily manipulated justice system, a corrupt and cantankerous union, white people in button-ups with power, brown people covered in dust, in-fighting, gossip, repression, oppression, safety hazards, sharp and drastic personnel changes (Firing/hiring hundreds of people in months), failures of command, gambling, sexist men, sexual harassment, fights, unsafe driving, and deaths on the workroom floor. I quit because that’s fucked up, and hopefully I can make it as an artist or at least a human being out here.

Oh, and it matters because these are these are the people in the system handling your mail.

25 QUESTIONS BEFORE WE SAVE THE WORLD~ with Carl Nadig!

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Carl Nadig is a conductor of positivity in Dekalb, IL. He awesomely invited me to
perform at November’s Majakka Monthly Music Marathon, a benefit he helps
organize for the Dekalb Area Women’s Center. Carl lives life as a dedicated journalist, generous thinker, and he plays music in the duo The Pleasant Street Players and Human Drag.

THE INTERVIEW

What’s your favorite color?
I don’t have one yet.

Who is your favorite athlete?
My younger sister, Stevie. She’s a wrestler. Wrestling as a female includes more challenges that I can only imagine.

What is your favorite poem and why?

“The Rime of The Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is one of my favorites. The longer you read it, the more you become the protagonist in the story’s main plot.

What is the name of your fictional autobiography?

How tall are you?
5′ 10″, according to some medical experts.

What is the title of the earliest work of yours you can remember?
I remember painting a dinosaur in first grade. I don’t remember if it even had a title, because I was probably enjoying myself too much to name it.

What is the title of your most recent piece of work?
My new band just finished a song called “Make Me.”

Tell me about it?
You’ll have to hear it.

How did this monthly series come about?
The director of DeKalb’s Area Women Center, Anna Marie Coveny, asked Daerielle if she would play a few shows. Then we tossed the idea on hosting shows at Majakka Hall once a month for other bands and let all the proceeds go to the Women Center.

Where is home?
Right now? Pleasant Street in DeKalb.

What is home?
My mother’s voice.

Who is home?
Many people that are silently fading away.

Whose home are you?
That thought petrifies me.

What is your favorite plant?
I enjoyed walking to a specific willow tree back on my father’s farm, resting in the bottom of a valley, planted next to a creek.

Who is your daddy and what does he do?
My father is Rob Nadig. Farmer. It’s a profession that’s been in his bloodline for at least five generations.

Who are you?

What do you do?

Who would you like to collaborate with?
My mother’s father. He was a musician and lived in New Boston, Missouri, so I’m told. I never knew him.

Where are you going?
Down, according to some religion experts.

Where did you just come from?
Up, according to some religion experts.

Where are you right now?
In the middle.

Who is Vashti Bunyan?
I don’t know. Tell me about them. I’m curious.

TELL me some impressions of the other performers?
Grateful to be playing inside a new music venue in DeKalb, so I try to return that gratitude as much as I can.

You have to hear them.


Why are you still going?
I don’t understand.

What does a free world look like to you?
Probably more trouble than it’s worth, frankly.