I sent out a forward to my mailing list about a month ago.¬† It was meant to announce my availability as a freelance editor to trusted, friends, fans and colleagues.¬† But I hit ‘send’ too soon.¬† And I sent a letter with type-Os out the wazoo to like 1000 people.

Disastrous?   Possibly.  But when I thought more deeply about it maybe that was what  I needed to do.  And I had come to hate editing.

Writing had always been there.  But initial intent had been to go into film and television, a dream struggle that had been the equivalent of banging my head against a wall for 15 years.

When you write books and they get published it means you belong there.¬† I could never really get that kind of validation in Hollywood, a place where when they call your work “smart” and you wear the skin I’m in, then it means your chances of seeing it up on the screen are nil. Empire and Power kind of changed the game, but they came years after.

After the worst three years of my life, years where not a single door opened for me, on top of four years of semi-homelessness and a general desire to settle into a marriage and domestic life because Jagged Edge said I wasn’t getting any younger,¬† I finally decided to throw the towel in at 37.¬†¬† After eight or nine years of threatening to give up,¬† I was going to be content with being the guy who was on Teen Summit on BET back in the day,.who had written a few books along the way.

All I wanted was a desk and a regular paycheck so I’d never have to beg accounting departments for my money ever again.

Then an old Teen Summit guest I’d long since forgotten about came in like the breeze via my boy and fellow writer/producer Tracy Grant.¬† And the camera I’d bought via the kind crowdfunding investments of a handful of folks including Juan Gaddis and Dave G-Soul transported me into the world of documentary film-making ahead of the attempts to make short films that had been stalling out for close to two years.

This documentary of mine is still in progress and I’m keeping the details nil.¬† But as I frame shots and log footage I strangely feel…at home.


Did a photo shoot and interview with David “Oggi” Ogburn, a retired photographer based here in DC.¬† For over 40 years he captured images from the worlds of entertainment and intellect.¬† At 74, he’s retired from taking flicks of Black entertainment’s A-list.¬† But he still takes a dope shot…wherever he sees one.




I wasn’t expecting from A Tribe Called Quest based on their first single, “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo”.¬† It was a dope single and video but I wasn’t sure about the album.¬† And then I listened to the album.¬† Then I couldn’t stop.¬† I was literally going through painful withdrawal for the three years before their second album, The Low End Theory, dropped.¬†¬† Tip, Ali, Phife and Jarobi reminded me of my own homeboys.¬† They were a reflection of myself, of my crew, of the green-lawned and tree-lined streets of Fairfax Village, Washington DC that were a bit more treacherous than they appeared.¬†¬† And then there Phife.

In character Phife was the older brother to Outkast’s Big Boi.¬† His words and stories were grounded, slightly street, and less mystic and poetic than Q-Tip. Phife was the classic little guy with the big ego.¬† And on ATCQ’s second and third records he was the fire to the fluid loops that fueled the group’s sound.¬† When I met him with some of¬† my own boys after he did a surprise performance at the Morehouse talent show in ’94 it was like meeting a head of state.¬† My man B gave him his beat tape at got Phife’s number.¬† It was like all of us were on the phone with him the few times B got him on the line.¬† But now he’s gone.

Tribe’s discography didn’t finish as long as it started.¬†¬† But Phife was also the spirit of the group.¬† Even in illness he carried himself with a swagger that Dwayne Johnson might bow to.¬† On those high school Friday nights when I wrote before rounded up my boys for whatever was cracking, “Excursions” and “Butter” were on every mix I piece together. When I learned about his passing my tears were for ALL of us.¬† The quartet I’d hoped to see return to my earbuds is now no more.¬† And so are those times…¬† Letting him move on was doing the same with my own past and even the niche where I wore a crown for a short little while.


When Dark Comes to Light (My First Novel 14 years later this month)

Dark IMG_20150630_143511

Youth are so remarkable. ¬†This is not to say that I ever sleep on a generation. ¬†I mean when I think of all that they dumped on the Gen-X Hip Hop Nation, it’s a miracle that any of us made anything happen at all. ¬† Right after college, as I sat in my first apartment as an adult, I found myself drawn to telling a story about the dudes I left behind, all the young Black Men who didn’t choose higher education, who were trapped between the 9-to-5 life and their boys in the streets, unable to make a choice. ¬†My parents made that choice for me, and I’m thankful to them for it. ¬†I thought that the book that became Dark, my first bestselling novel, ¬†was about other men and me telling stories. ¬†But after I read the book from start to finish to my students last summer I saw all kinds of pieces of myself that I hadn’t recognized before. ¬†I saw people and places, foreshadows of a future I didn’t see coming, that like most of us, I just couldn’t have.

After reading two chapters to this new class, my loudest and most brazen student, a half blonde, half black weave-wearing student with her tats, mid-riff showing and her determination to do things her way, heard my words and saw a truth within them that I couldn’t see clearly until she mentioned it today. ¬†The book, which chronicles the story of Thai Williams, a 19 year-old kid from DC who walks in on his girl with another guy on top of her and the murder the subsequently forces him to leave town for the first time in his life to lay low in an apartment in Charlotte, wasn’t so much about the streets, or Black-on-Black violence, the golden age of hip hop, or anything else. ¬†It was really about my fear, my fear of murdering a boy who betrayed my trust, someone who even now thinks that I didn’t know. ¬†I just didn’t want to believe. ¬†I wouldn’t care about it so much if he’d ever copped to it. ¬†But he’s always assumed I was either too stupid or too loyal to call him out.

Time and distance are a funny thing. ¬†As I’m not the 25 year-old I was when the book dropped, my current perspective clearly explains many things about the path of our friendship then and since. ¬†Because the truth, overwhelmingly, was that he’d saved my life through his selfish betrayal. ¬†That bullet I dodged would have surely killed me slowly as it wound through my gut, tearing me apart from the inside. ¬†And the one with his name on it never left my chamber. ¬†God stepped in to make sure that didn’t happen.

Until today,¬†Dark has been the first child I never felt like I raised right. ¬†I wanted to be Baldwin or Mosley or some literary archetype for the macho male when I was alpha enough as it was. ¬†But I had to figure that out too. ¬†Through all my books I was leaving this trail of breadcrumbs for my lower self to follow, for me to under why it went the way it went and to know that I most definitely wasn’t the loser in that particular triangle. ¬†More importantly I’m glad that almost 20 years later it’s message and characters still say so much to so many.

To you, my dude, you are forgiven. ¬†She was a mess you could’ve taken off my hands full-time. ¬†I was worth more, and though it took me a long time to figure that out the lesson is worth it’s weight in platinum. I’m happy to see so much promise in this new batch of students and to wonder what other mysteries within they might help me unlock.

A Graduation

1 was 12 when my cousin Jesse was born and I was 17 when my sister Annia entered the world. ¬†Now they are both college graduates, now fully-grown adults learning to put up with the same things we all do. ¬†But as we celebrated it wasgood to have the whole clan with us. I hope you can see that¬†in the picsūüėČ