Tag Archives: hip hop

Breathe…Easily or Not

Breathing is so easy you can do it in your sleep…what’s interesting is that it’s much more difficult when you’re actually awake and aware of it. The importance of simply interrupting your crazy life from time to time to focus on your breathing recently hit me, at the most unexpected time.


Fatherhood is relatively new to me. I have a two year old little boy as well as a 3 month old baby girl, both of whom are the most beautiful things on this planet, next to my lovely wife. During the first month of her life, my daughter had it pretty rough. She had been experiencing a lot of belly pain and reflux that led to her crying pretty much anytime she wasn’t eating or sleeping. As you would imagine, that led to some pretty exhausting nights after also working a full-time job during the day – props to my wife for dealing with it all day long.

One night while trying to calm her down around 2-3am (I think, although everything at those hours is a bit blurry), I held her and found myself getting more and more anxious the more she kept crying. Nothing I did helped – feeding, changing, rocking…nothing. I felt my breathing getting a bit more intense and started to lose my cool, which certainly wasn’t helping matters. As I became more aware of my breathing, I started counting to myself and my brain jumped to one of my favorite tracks by the great Jay-Z, Lyrical Exercise.

1 – 2 – 3 – 4 … breathe easy

The song never jumped out to me as providing a larger lesson for life and showing the importance of controlling your breathing to calm yourself down and gain control of a situation. Maybe Jay had that in mind, or maybe he was just talking about his delivery when rapping, but either way it was speaking to me in the wee hours of that morning.

Regulating my breathing helped me control the situation and soon, I found that my daughter followed suit. As I caught my breathe, she began to do the same and soon we were both calm and able to get some rest.

Control your breathing, control the situation, achieve the desired outcome.


Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/marilusa/o/



Nas’s “Rewind” is genius. The whole jam is a story told in reverse, which I’ve never heard done on another track. It can be a little hard to follow at first, which really makes you listen to get the story. As I was listening, I realized an important lesson.

As Nas does in this track, take a “rewind” approach to your life. No, don’t focus on the past and what might have been had you made a few different choices. Instead, focus on the present and future, looking to the past as a lesson.

Study the choices you’ve made and the results that came of them. If you’re happy with where your choices have led, then continue doing what you’re doing. If you’re not happy, look back and see where you might have gone wrong. Rewind the story, figure out how you should have dealt with a certain situation and take this approach when presented with a similar situation now.

As your tracks play out, find time to rewind and evaluate how things have worked. It’s never too late to make some positive changes in your life.

Nas – Rewind


“Society today won’t do anything unless there is an award involved or some kind of reward. They don’t want to make music unless they are going to get a million dollars or they are going to get a bunch of girls or gold chain or car…something that basically tells other people that they did something. People don’t just do it because they love it.”

– Apollo Brown via kevinnottingham.com

Live your life for you.

Not for others.



O.C. & Apollo Brown.

Comfort Zone


Chess Life

One of the hardest things to do in life is to step outside your comfort zone. We all like to be around people that we know well and do things that we’re very comfortable with. Being comfortable is a great feeling and one that you should be sure to enjoy when you have it. If we never stray from always seeking comfort, however, our growth will stagnate and over time, you will be less likely to accept new challenges. You will find yourself being comfortable, but never reaching your true potential. For some that is OK…for others, that is not an easy truth to accept. I tend to fall in the latter group.

Take time to reflect on your life and what you’ve accomplished to this point. Is that enough for you? Do you think you can achieve more? If you think you can, then you can. One way to start down the path of continued growth is to find ways of taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Seek new challenges at work and in your personal life. Doing new things will surely bring about fear, anxiety and a general feeling of being uncomfortable. As you learn more about these new experiences, however ,you will find that there is nothing to be afraid of. Knowledge overcomes fear and will lead to strength. In time, you will look back and be grateful that you accepted new challenges. You will realize that stepping out of your comfort zone has made you a stronger person, one that has overcome fear and replaced it with an excitement for becoming a better person in life.

“By deliberately putting yourself in situations where you have to face fear, you familiarize yourself with it and your anxiety grows less acute. The sensation of overcoming a deep-rooted fear in turn gives you confidence and presence of mind. The more conflicts and difficult situations you put yourself through, the more battle-tested your mind will be.” (Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War)

Ain’t nobody been where I’ve been…

They’re at a standstill…

I know that I ain’t got much time here…

Nas – “Let There Be Light”


Break The Law

It’s so easy to get used to what we do everyday, to get used to a routine.

Wake up.

Get ready. Commute. Work. Commute. Eat. Relax.

Go to sleep.


Sometimes we need to push ourselves to do something out of the norm, something that’s out of our daily routine. After you wake up, go out for a run before you get ready for work. Write down some thoughts that come to you while you’re working out. What I’ve found is that this is usually when I do my best thinking. The mind is fresh and it hasn’t yet been polluted with the stresses of the day. It may lead you to thinking more about your life and the lives of the people you love.

Are you really treating yourself and others the way you want to? 

It’s doing different things, maybe things that are typically out of your comfort zone, that start to provoke thinking differently. Maybe the situation I mentioned above is something you do everyday anyway, maybe it’s something you never do. What you should really start to think about is how you approach life and the things you find yourself doing all the time. Growth comes from doing something new and different, and that can only start with you. Know that it’s OK to do something out of the norm and “break the law” every now and then. Not in a literal sense, of course, but you probably wouldn’t have kept reading this blog if you thought of everything in a literal sense anyway…

Mac Miller – “Break The Law”


Life is filled with distractions and excuses.

Before going to bed at night, you tell yourself you’re going to get in a workout at the gym before going to work the following morning. When you wake up, the snooze button on your alarm looks so tempting and you tell yourself a few more minutes and then you’ll get up. After waking up to the second alarm, you remember the nightly news said it would be quite a chilly morning and to watch out for snow and ice. One more snooze couldn’t hurt. Finally, you realize you’ll be late for work if you don’t get up now and you mosey on to the shower…that whole workout idea just wasn’t meant to be…

Upon your arrival to work, the first thing you see is a stack of papers on your desk and the “to do” notes you left for yourself from a lazy Friday. Today is definitely the day you get yourself caught up, but rather than digging in, you decide to log into your personal email and have a quick chat session with some friends that happen to be online. After this, it’s off to the kitchen to brew up some coffee and make your breakfast. On your way to and from the kitchen, there of course is some small talk with your colleagues. Once you finish up your breakfast and realize your a few minutes late for your first meeting of the day. Next, it’s lunch time. Then running out for a quick errand. One more meeting for the day…getting to all you said you would just wasn’t meant to be…

With your day just about complete, it’s finally time for the hobby you’ve been telling yourself you’d get back into to keep your mind on point and attempt to earn some extra cash on the side. Right after dinner, of course. But wait, the newest episode of your favorite show is on tv tonight! You can’t miss it…getting back to that hobby just wasn’t meant to be…but tomorrow is the perfect day!

I do these same things all the time, but have tried to realize that without focus and discipline, nothing will ever get done. Discipline is essential for success and without it, you will not continue to grow and better your life and the lives of those around you. Train yourself.

People here’s something that you should be considerin’

Things could turn bitter when you don’t use discipline

You might wake up the next day upset and in fear

Buggin out, yappin’ bout “How the f!@# did I get here?”

Gang Starr – “Discipline”

Self Esteem

It’s not something that everyone has. I suppose whether a person has it or not is determined by the environment that person comes from. Maybe it comes from this environment, plus a collection of experiences, relationships and situations that result from living one’s life. It seems to me that it all has to start at home. We’re all born as a clean slate. From day 1, it’s the love that our parents, siblings and family show us that leads us to think something of ourselves. To think that we should be loved and that we deserve it. To think that how we feel, the things we do, the things we accomplish…it all matters.

I have been blessed to come from a close-knit home with loving parents and a great older brother. This has led me to think something of myself, but it has also led me to be able to realize that not everyone out there is as fortunate. It’s easy to see the results of being raised in a loving home and also the results of being raised in a home that was not as loving. It may lead to doubts, may lead to stressful relationships, maybe even trust issues. It may lead to a lot of things…

But as long as you want to make yourself better, you can. No matter where you came from. No matter who your parents were or what your home was like. As you move through life, make a point to learn everything you can about the world and about yourself. Open your eyes to everything around you and turn the smallest things into lessons to improve yourself. This will hopefully lead to a high self esteem, and the realization that you matter. After you love yourself, it will be possible for others to love you as well.

One person we all know that does not have any self esteem issues is Kanye West. I’ve been a fan of Kanye since I first heard him back in college before College Dropout even came out. I always thought the amount of talent he has is amazing, and I always found that I felt good after listening to his music. It left me in a good mood, feeling positive and motivated…I recently watched a very cool interview with Kanye and Zane Lowe. Sure, he has his moments throughout the interview, but I always find a great message when he speaks. After watching this interview, something Kanye said made me realize why I enjoy his music so much…





You will find in your life that success often comes with a price. People in your life that have always treated you one way may start to act differently around you once you begin to become more successful than they are. As Jay-Z said in “Lucky Me”…

Any type of success breeds envy.

As you live your life, continue to make progress. Get an education. Use this education to secure a well paying job, or create your own job. Keep your life balanced with hard work and relationships with loved ones. Keep your family and friends close. Keep that one person that means most even closer. Grow together.

All the while, know that there will be people around you that will not continue to grow. They will get stuck in their ways, become satisfied with the status quo and no longer have the desire to better themselves and their situation. Because of this, they will see your success and jealousy will begin to set in. Always be aware and take people as they are, knowing that the only person you can change is yourself.

“Every dollar you make comes with a set of eyes and a set of loose lips if ever you ever hide.”

Skyzoo – “Necessary Evils”


top priority

peace before everything

The most important thing you can have in your life is peace. Peace can mean something different for everyone, it’s all about how you define it. It can literally mean a lack of violence, which for some, is everything. If you grew up in a home or neighborhood where violence was present, finding a way to escape that violence is key to improving your life. Peace can also mean an inner peace. An acceptance of what your life is and an acknowledgement that there is only so much you can change. Find the peace you need to lay the groundwork for moving ahead in life.

god before anything

I’m not a very religious dude, at least in the church going sense. I do believe in something, however, which I think is very important. In no way will I preach anything on this point, but I do feel it’s a good idea to think about the possibility of something bigger out there. If maybe there was something, and maybe someday you had to look back on how you lived your life, would you be happy with how you did? Always think about this question as you encounter different situations, problems, relationships, people, jobs etc.

love before anything

When you find peace in your life, it allows you to find love. Without peace, you’ll never truly be able to love anything or anyone and feel that love in return. As you move through different stages of life, love can mean drastically different things. When you’re a kid, you (hopefully) love your parents. You might love a sport, you might even love a new toy you got for Christmas. As you mature, you’ll find that love is a much bigger thing than you ever thought, and it relates to not only yourself but to others. Love shifts from being about things that make you happy to being about things that make others happy. Never force love, just let it enter your life when it’s ready and when you’re ready. It’ll hit you someday and that will be a good day.

real before everything

It’s important to always remain true to yourself. Never fall victim to doing something because it’s cool or because you’re friends are doing it. Everything you do should genuinely interest you and everyone you associate with should be a part of your life because you truly want them to be. If you don’t remain true to yourself, you’ll never find peace in your life and never find the love that peace allows.

home before anyplace

I’m fortunate to have grown up in a very loving home. Family is one of the most important things you can have in life because the support of a loving family is necessary to deal with everything life is going to throw at you. You may not have grown up in an ideal home, but that does not mean you’re a lost cause. Family can mean many different things. Friends, partners, co-workers, mentors, anything. You do have family in your life, you just have to realize who that family is and that they will be there for you as you come across different hardships throughout your life.

life is good…as is mos def…

Mos Def – “Priority”


At a friend’s party not too long ago, I met the dude Jay Humble. We got to chatting and found that we were both huge hip-hop heads and beat junkies with similar styles and taste in music. I recommend you click on that name and give his music a listen.

While browsing on Facebook one day, I noticed Jay had posted a link to a mixtape by Mike Be called “..From DAT to This..” I got to listening and loved the vibe of the mixtape. Classic hip-hop, beats and chops. One track stood out for me called “Excuse Me.”

“I know today ain’t what it should be, but we can change what tomorrow will bring. Fast pace cause the waste is a horrible thing, excuse me while I follow my dreams.”

Think about that line. Everyone has their own dreams and goals. Unfortunately, everyone also has their own problems and has to face the reality that’s given to them. It takes understanding that you’re not alone when you face some hardship to get you through it. Everyone is going through the same struggle, and for most of us, we’re not totally happy with some aspect of our lives. The best way to deal with that is to focus on the things you can change and do something about it.

Today paints a picture of everything you’ve done in the past. If there are certain aspects of your life you’re not necessarily happy with, there may have been something different you could have done that would have made today a bit different. If you’re still at a job you’re not happy with, you could have worked a bit harder to move to a position you would like, or you could have put in some effort searching for a new job. If you’re not in an ideal physical or mental shape, you probably could have found some time to hit the gym or read a bit more to get you to that place you want to be.

Tomorrow paints a picture of where you want to be, a picture of those dreams and goals. “We can change what tomorrow will bring” so stay hungry and shift to “fast pace cause the waste is a horrible thing.” Follow your dreams and paint the picture that you will look back on and be proud of.