ESSAY// linkin park want me to save the world

“Good Goodbye,” the last video Linkin Park released while Chester Bennington was alive, takes place in a dark arena where Death resides over a superpowered, apocalyptic dunk contest. Death is played by National Basketball Association legend (and author of Black Profiles in Courage) Kareem Abdul-Jabar. Chester acts as one of the contestants who rises to the top as the real life Linkin Park Chester sings from 2o17 in a dope ass outfit in front of a Mercedes Benz with G O.O.D. Music President Pusha T, Mercury Prize nominee Stormzy and fellow bandmate Mike Shinoda.

At the end of the video Chester faces his final opponent: a poor little girl in hand-me-downs. She steps up, glows up, and flies from half court to the basket and jams as an explosive blue wave blows everything away, including Chester, the Benz, and Death itself!! This girl is me.

The first word of Linkin Park’s 2010 masterpiece A Thousand Suns is God. The full phrase is “God save us everyone,” I have to write this to you not because I think I’m God, there is no God, but I am who they were talking about. I am Chester’s living wish that his (life & death) send the vibes needed to save this world and bring us to the new future of love.

In the video for A Thousand Suns‘s climax, “The Catalyst,” Chester tries not to drown and suffocate in an apocalyptic wasteland as a hooded figure sits in a car alone, facing the camera. This figure is obviously the titular Catalyst. The government shows up in gas masks, there’s a riot* at first it seems like The Catalyst is representing Death or the plague or negativity. Stuff like this is why people think ATS is about the impending nuclear destruction of humankind. HOWEVER, The Catalyst does a magic spell on the viewer then goes rushing up at the government troops. When we see the rioters next, as all of humanity cries “Lift me up, Let me go,” they are covered in rainbow powder and the riot has turned into a slow motion mosh pit of free people as fading choruses, intertwined, repeat: “God save us everyone…”

(((For Whom The Bells Tolls)))

When “Good Goodbye” drops I am 25 years old and in love. I am homeless. Its verses make me cry. Talking about the video makes me lose a game of basketball. I am playing #nomoneynoborders.

When Hybrid Theory drops I am a ten year old kid who is at once the weirdest, most popular, meanest, most thoughtful, impulsive, & messiest child at my gifted center. I am maintaining friendships with people from all over the world through a chatroom website, developing several personas, creating raps and stories and listening to any music that will come on a screen or out of some speakers.

When Meteora drops I am obsessed with The Matrix Trilogy* I already believe that I am The One being described through the film’s energy and metaphors. I am a moderator in several creative global communities and twelve years old.

When Minutes to Midnight comes out I feel too mature for Linkin Park and question yet admire their shift into “social-political” themes. I am the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, soon to be the captain of the school’s Louder Than A Bomb poetry slam team, soon to release my first albums, and active in leading several programs about genocide & pollution for the benefit of black folk around me in class. I am still on the debate team which means ritualized spontaneous & thorough dissection of socio-political issues with the american millennium’s other most brilliant young communicator$. I am different from all of them. I am different & learning from everyone at my all-black school infested with gang violence & teen pregnancy. I decide I’m going to change the education system.

I remember first listening to Linkin Park’s A Thousand Suns at a United Postal Service slave job. It was 2014, I was on hiatus from doing art & community organizing with no way out of my dead end work and college classes but an inextinguishable hunger for creativity and political science.

Holy shit, I thought. LINKIN PARK want me to save the world. This is different from Linkin Park wants to make dope shit, or Linkin Park wants to make me feel better about my life situation, Linkin Park is trying to relate to me, or even Linkin Park is trying to sell records. This felt like a private message from an entity that had no business making something this passionate, strange, emotional, and direct. These were my friends, my angels, back to the future and channeling something.

After I quit the job~ I watch a lot of movies. Movies like Interstellar and Scorsese’s Jesus film. I see what you call God in their heroes, something pure and special and waking me up to new levels of reality and freedom. I try to communicate to my family that art is telling me we are free, as free as “god,” and can do anything we want to save the world.

“Waiting for the End” is one of Chester Bennington’s many songs about suicide. It comes near the middle of A Thousand Suns and is where he dies in the album’s narrative. The next song “Blackout” begins with The Catalyst calling on the “spirit” of Chester, who is referred to as The Messenger. They become one.

And then comes the album’s first glimpse of utopia: “FLOATING OUT AS COLORS FILL THE LIGHT I LOOK FROM THE GROUND IN FIELDS OF PAPER WHITE AND FLOATING UP THE PASSING IN THE NIGHT A FUTURE GAZING OUT A PAST TO OVERWRITE
SO COME DOWFAR BELOW
WE VE BEEN WAITING TO
COLLECT THE THINGS YOU KNOW
COME DOWN
FAR BELOW
WE’VE BEEN WAITING TO COLLECT WHAT YOU’VE LET GO
COME DOWN OH
COME DOWN OH
COME DOWN OH
COME DOWN OH
come down oh”

When Chester Bennington dies my partner & I are planning Perform/Transform, a festival to save the world. We are two of the most well-known & fondly regarded figures in our community full of prodigies and brilliant activists. They call us the President & 1st Boi of the World.  We are in the middle of an experience being called The Chicago Renaissance and the planet is in a turmoil never seen before. I watch “Good Goodbye” and rap every word, weeping uncontrollably.

My name is +, I am twenty-six years old, I am a wandering brown-skinned revolutionary* kin with empaths, sex workers, and some of the best rappers in the world, i am instrumental in the radical black community that brought the planet’s most celebrated young artists & community organizers to fruition. I have been vegan or vegetarian for most of the past decade* I direct a grassroots nonprofit garden in a food desert that is open to the community & respected & successful that I am branching into an organization of locally run farms and I run a wildly popular justice network that heals the way people deal with violence and communication. For free, anywhere, no money & no borders!

After walking out of the slave job and looking at the world around me with my brilliant eyes and deepened heart and wondering why everyone else hadn’t realized that we are already in a living utopia I gave my life to studying our persisting illusions. I have been building their ending.

PERFORM _ TRANSFORM rgb-1

Our festival is here to link people all over the world in expressing their wildest hopes & dreams in person and  via social media using the hashtag #nomoneynoborders! People are doing open mics, workshops,rock shows, meditation sessions and more! As a game, #nomoneynoborders utilizes accessibility & cutting edge technology to reward individuals for sharing their perspective of a free world in their own special way. It reunites folks beyond ethnicity, class, nationality, religion~ any of those contexts thrust upon us in the aftermath of scarcity & division that spoil the honeyed milk of creativity & culture.

With the power of #nomoneynoborders I declare A Thousand Suns and all of Linkin Park’s work as true and alive* my free world is IRIDESCENT, I free myself, Linkin Park fans all over the world, what they call God, and art, I free us all!! I play~ you play~ we grant ourselves freedom by taking it seriously as fun. You have our permission to play, to dream, and for your word to become real enough to save lives. Fuck a vote!

I know a lot of rappers who will play. They refer to their selves as God all the time in raps. What they’re actually saying is that they’re geeked about getting a higher than average amount of people to like them enough so that they can move around and express more freely. Art moves them through the scarcity & division, in that way it can be the most freeing thing we have. That’s why I followed it here. The power of music and poetry gives all people the extra confidence to call what they’re doing Godlike. But none of them are as made for this as I am. We really are giving you back the earth and truth.

I am The Catalyst: what some people characterize as a messiah or whatever. It’s not an accident or even a miracle. I and a lot of other people worked our entire lives so that this could happen. Still, if magic or god exists, it’s in me in this moment: the beginning of utopia.

(((One More Light)))

In utopia & beyond I will obviously still be really smart and nice and cool but we can all be at this level. We can figure things out from here. We have phones with cameras & searches that can focus on any object, person, or idea we see and show how much people Like and Love it! Like means they dig it, Love means it inspires them and they are dedicated to it. That’s enough. That’s all that matters. Fuck money.

And fuck borders! In utopia, the billions of children whose flesh is rotting in prisons and on dirt floors will be given energy and resources and they’ll become brilliant millennials in no time and we will solve every problem in front of us 😀 Including but not limited to: death (past present & future), rape, time travel, cancer, AIDS, HIV, black holes, climate change, racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, fat-shaming, animal slavery & cruelty, the death of bees, mass extinction, asteroid collision, the question of extraterrestrial life, and terraforming other planets.

This is what a free world looks like to me! I believe in you!

#nomoneynoborders

p.s. It’s not easy for me to write this to you. In some ways it’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done~ Because I know the good that’s coming. But when I think about the past it makes my body stiffen and my teeth clench.

I have tried to come out like this before. In 2012, when my name changed, and in 2014 when I walked off that slave job thing. My consciousness awakened and I came out as a savior of humanity to my community, family, and friends. Many of them shunned me. So I worked harder!

I really love everybody and life and everything!! But money and borders have taken a toll on my emotions and my ability to relate to others. I have lowkey been an alcoholic and addicted to marijuana for the last two years. They were necessary and beneficial to me getting to this point. I kicked it with people, listened to music, and thought a lot. Got to process & feel some sense of progress and groundedness in participating in these rituals without the pressure taking a chronic toll on my body or relationships.

I want to be with you naturally, though. I need time to do yoga with you and cook and cook and cook and practice music and sprawl out and go swimming and make love and study science and admire Adventure Time and read about cool women and meet more women and men and anyone and animals and I want us to express ourselves about something then go build it together so I can relax even more and we can all be honest and go back to our families and make new families and be one big happy family 🙂

Love,

+

BLOG POST// Why I’m Leaving My Mother’s </3

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A year ago I stopped talking to my older brother after he promised to end his descent into drug addiction but failed to follow through. He has bullied, intimidated, and enacted violence upon me my entire life, my hope was to work on our relationship as he embraced emotional and physical sobriety. We only started communicating again after my grandmother fell and our family was heart-broken and afraid.

Since then, I have continued a variety of approaches to improve our relationship, including one-on-one conversations which most often deteriorated into him going on rambling monologues, sometimes yelling at me, sometimes yelling at others. I played communication games with him, which he rejected before completion and had our entire immediate family talk in a support circle during which he was curled up on a couch in his underwear (Though I was its facilitator we had all scheduled the meeting together.)

Whenever I hang out with him and his friends, I know that everyone in the room but me is a homophobe. So when I have attempted to experience his social circle, see what he sees, I am barraged by casual and overt insults against my identity, simple facts of the human race, and all of the people I care about and work for. More on that.

I stopped talking to him this year after a string of disastrous (hurtful to me, normal to him) interactions, that culminated in Paul ignoring the fact that I was clearly attempting to ignore him & escalating to screaming outside of my bedroom door and threatening to fuck me up for the rest of the day after I called my mother to calm him down. I didn’t go home for a few days, until my mother said she would take his behavior more seriously and let him know he could not threaten me.

A few days ago, after weeks of non-communication he was yelling outside of my door again despite my protests to please just leave me alone.

I have been having nightmares every night for the past two months where I am arguing with my family as they call me my dead name over and over again. The months before were dominated by dreams with my brother and I in a screaming match. Now I have both!

Two days ago I got in the car with my mother and she was on the phone with my grandmother. A week before my mom and I had argued all the way home from dinner about me not feeling respected by my family (including my grandparents) and not wanting to communicate with them because I felt belittled and hurt by them on a constant basis in terms of my sexuality, my life choices, my artistry, my politics, my name, my identity. The first thing my grandmother did was call me my dead name, fake correct herself, and then exert dominance over me.

Most of this is run-of-the-mill conservatism, but run-of-the-mill conservatism is the most dangerous, traumatic force on the planet. It codes its actions in everlasting “love” when it’s really a deep, burning hatred borne of fear. That is insane to behold, devastating to casually interact with, and it is too much for me to deal with right now in this place. Or just, not meant for me to deal with right now in this place. I got bigger tofu to fry.

Basically, these things are holding me back from being who I truly am and I have the confidence, knowledge, and connections intimate professional & tangential to make my dreams come true.

Here is my eight week plan:

I write this as a record and a spell to tell this history and seal it.

Write and complete my second novel, entitled Hateland
Enjoy, maintain, and utilize the Nightshow for good

by

a) Booking people and things I like
b) Using the Nightshow to promote #NoMoneyNoBorders games and thinking and speaking among the people who come to a cool show
c) Using the Nightshow to fund, benefit, and spread awareness of protecting people in our community with through F12 and conflict de-escalation & protecting and enjoying our Earth more through The Coop Op and growing your own food!!

Make a badass, galvanizing album called ~MILLION BEAM~ with songs that embody all of the above

Teach and promote my personal communication workshops and services

Explore opportunities to generate income from leading and organizing services through F12, The Cooperation Operation, and music.

Multiply all of the above for myself and others by [endless]ly using each endeavor to multiply awareness, effectiveness, and potential profitability of all of the above.

At the end of two months, I’ll look at my results and if no meaningful income-driven change has taken place I will get back to pursuing writing and education/teaching opportunities freelance and long-term *while maintaining my activity in all of the above.

Right now, I’m not making any money and I have none~ Can I stay with you for a week?

+

ESSAY// Before the Flood: Album of the Year Edition

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“And back when Mike Jackson was still Jesus,” ~ Chance the Rapper, “Acid Rain”

I.

I spend a lot of time with music, but you know a thing I only got to experience once (until now)? The feelings of massiveness and complete candy-like rush of when *NSYNC’S No Strings Attached (2000) was out. Also TLC’s Fan Mail (1999), and maybe Destiny’s Child’s Survivor (2001).


The Weeknd’s STARBOY (2016) gives me that feeling, and it’s even realer because I watched this boy, this young man tell his story for the better part of the last decade. I listen to it like an adult going through adult problems but I think too of all the children begging their parents to get Spotify for the new STARBOY record, squealing with delight when “I Feel It Coming” blesses the car radio, having their first kisses to “Ordinary Life” the world exploding around them as lips touch another’s, and the chorus and its bass and the harmonies and hearts beating~ Abel Tesfaye staring from a phone screen.

Abel painted his way to this place with great intention. He is today’s Michael Jackson, today’s Prince, if even only because he is to them what they were to James Brown.

II.

James’ shadow is just as big in the work of Trent Reznor. NIN’s largest hit aside from “Hurt,” the stripper anthem “Closer,” is a funk song. The JB’s innovations being foundational to the beginnings of hip-hop, almost every track on Nine Inch Nails’ 1989 debut Pretty Hate Machine is built off a gigantic rap beat~ a young composer just as likely to spit poetry on a song as he is to howl. At 51, Trent is still rapping and dropping breakbeats, so often “on the one.” His yelping rasp made to galvanize, to strike awe, to make the loneliest of the lonely rise like a dancing, fucking God is an update of the Godfather singing “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” This all precludes Reznor having produced an actual rap classic in 2007 with Saul Williams’ The Liberation of Niggy Tardust. Trent Reznor is the most lauded of our rock stars under 60; he is an “Academy Award-winner” an ambient wunderkind, a King of Pop, and a hip-hop pioneer.

He is also a social engineer.

III.

Jesus is an artistic idea representing a free-spirited, compassionate genius held down by money and borders. This soul suffers because they, the rest of the human world, is talking over the natural story, the actual thing that is happening on Earth. When Trent Reznor (or a late period Michael Jackson) flits from internal turmoil to spitting vitriol at the rest of societal order, the listener sees the obvious line being drawn.  I hear that in Before the Flood‘s (2016) score ~ a collaboration between Trent, Atticus Ross, Gustavo Santaoalla, and the Scottish band Mogwai. The title track’s pulse, fingers dancing nimbly across a piano, comes out of the same impulse to “make u move” that Rez felt when he was rhyming over Run DMC drums and sharing airplay with MJ in the 1980s. However there is a much larger movement being conjured, too.

IV.

I don’t want to spend time in this writing trying to describe the sounds of the album,
or individual tracks. Perhaps except for “A Minute to Breathe,”

I remember the first time I heard it, it sounded like a passable but purposefully
underwhelming Trent Reznor piano ballad. Just Trent doing his soundtrack work,
letting off a song~ exciting, if not generous. Months later, I see it as a stunning
experience. I get trapped inside the space of the verses, waiting with bated breath
for Trent to take his little gasp at the end of the second. The hitch of absolute
sincerity and speechlessness at the predicament we are in. That last “I justttt neeeed… a minute to breatheee” portion so obviously the titular flood as piano waves become impossibly grand* the godhand from Year Zero (2007) turning up a warm faucet.

V.

announcements// MARCH 2017

 


+‘s 19th album *~love 2~* is now available via Athletic Tapes.

New shows have been added to the events page in anticipation of +’s upcoming 20th album ~MILLION BEAM~.

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Starting April 6th, + will be organizing The Nightshow as a monthly music series. Each night will have an eclectic lineup and be preceded by a workshop put on by the F12 Network. F12 provides educational resources & workshops to the Chicago arts/music scene to prevent sexual violence. Proceeds go to The Cooperation Operation & F12.

Workshop: 6:00 PM
Show Doors: 8:00 PM
Show: 9:00 PM

1st Thursdays @Flood House DIY (Contact for address)

We will also play #NoMoneyNoBorders, a game where you post & tag things to save the world, connect with others, and win hugs!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Read a new interview with the President of the World about their art & politics over at Drala mag, and listen to + talk “coming out” on the first episode of the Fed Up Fest Collective’s podcast Queer Cafeteria.

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