The Main Ingredient, 1994 | Producer: Pete Rock | Samples: “Sun Goddess” by Ramsey Lewis, “Escape-ism” by James Brown, “Outside Love” by Brethren, “Enchanted Lady” by Milt Jackson, “Yes We Can Can” by Pointer Sisters
I went to a yoga class this evening, and the teacher ended with this prayer… a nice reminder that made my heart smile
May today there be peace within.
May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities…
May you use those gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given to you….
Let this presence settle into your bones,
and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
It was one of those rainy Saturday afternoons where sleeping in until 2:00 PM seemed appropriate. After only being awake for an hour, Hellen came to pick me up. We were going to The Fox, a local strip pub (yes, a strip pub). Why were five girls meeting at a strip pub at 4:00 in the afternoon? Why else, but for some free booze! This was the first time I was meeting Hellen’s close girlfriends. I don’t know if it was the alcohol, or the naked girl (who resembled Marsha Brady) dancing seductively in front of us, but they welcomed me as their own. One girl even offered me half of her chicken sandwich.
I sat in a booth behind perv row, half listening to the girls converse about the latest guy drama they were facing, the other half of me pretending not to observe Marsha Brady eye up a 60-year-old man; all the while delicately eating my chicken sandwich half. Why did I even care if I was messy – I was at a strip pub for God’s sake!
Notorious BIG’s Hypnotize started blasting through the speakers. My eyes lit up and the rest of the girls began shimmying their shoulders to the beat. Now I couldn’t just simply pretend not to look at Marsha. A slab of mayo dripped down my chin. Eyes wide open, I watched in awe as her booty bounced triple time.
A stripper flipping tricks to some Hip-hop? How… fitting. I suddenly felt at home. What can I say? Hip-hop resides in my heart, and I can enjoy it anywhere. If I am at a strip pub, vibing out to some killer tunes, then so be it.
Peep the article my homie (Eric) Berg wrote for one of our courses. Genius…
Also, we are in the development stages of writing a collab article on Tokin Blaq.. Dude’s got plenty of insight and steez to offer…staaaay tuuuuned!
Check some of Tokin Blaq’s music here… you won’t be disappointed!
The bass throbs from the speakers as rapper Tokin Blaq spits immortal lyrics from hip-hop’s vault of classics. It’s “Covers for a Cause” night at Victoria’s Lucky Bar, and Blaq’s essence has captivated the crowd. They go wild for his energetic performance, and then seem to regress to being tame, as if the television was shut off, people lost in idle banter and distracted once again. There is an irony in the air, mingling with conflicting colognes and smoke machine vapour: Vancouver Island, long revered as a counter-culture haven for artistic types, nurtures a dismal local hip-hop scene. Awareness of hip-hop’s true essence has been lost in translation.
If hip-hop culture is a temple, supported by the four pillars of MCing, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti writing, Blaq says it’s beyond crumbling. “Oh the temple has done been in ruins!” He smiles half-cocked, his mouth a loaded gun. “There’s still the villages that lived in the shadow of the temple though, venerating its fortitude and maintaining what’s left. The hard part now is finding a place for the four elements in today’s hip-pop culture.”
Cool has been commoditized. Hip-hop, homogenized. As Blaq laments, in a world where “breakdancing is a dance crew show on NBC, rap is Drake, DJing is done on computers with everything spelt out for you, and graffiti is posh gallery fodder,” it’s a challenge to find anything truly authentic. The fabled history of hip-hop, the deep roots of the ultimate counter-culture movement, is often forgotten in our society of attention deficit and instant gratification.
Blaq grew up in Toronto, Canada’s hip-hop capital, where he witnessed the history first hand. “Hip-hop had found its way up and permeated the hood the way it did in the states – it hadn’t found its way to the burbs yet – and I experienced jams in the park, kids freestylin’ and breakin’ in the street.” His dark eyes flicker with light at the memories until a police cruiser drifts past and he scowls. “Then it got gangster, and lost its roots and we all got to see it happen.”
From the other side of the country, Blaq observed the Victoria scene take shape over the years with help from “the elders that gave this place that counter-culture vibe.” The more he watched Toronto rappers fall prey to materialism and vanity, the more he grew to respect Victoria’s scene. “The whole time I was thinkin’, man, Vic is so much more in touch with shit.”
Soon after moving to the Island, in search of the elusive greener pasture, Blaq became disillusioned with the hip-hop culture that he hoped to find. “Victoria has this amazing way of being a time capsule for certain things. Hence, times change, but at a slower pace.” His hands draw the air into his chest as his rhythm adapts to match the words. “So what happened is, that bullshit lifestyle that I hated about Toronto found its way here. Then ego followed behind it. The whole ‘Scarface mentality’, sooner or later it’s all just the same and the ‘real’ becomes an afterthought.”
And afterthought just might be what Victoria needs to achieve the awareness it’s meant to represent. Meaningful lyrics might resonate then, resurrecting a culture that isn’t dead, but merely dreaming.