About Blockhead

Hi, I'm Tony. but some people call me blockhead cause that's my rappity hip hop alias. I live in NYC and i have never driven a car. Sometimes i write obnoxious things but i'm only half serious so don't get sand in your vagina over any of it.

All My unlikely remixes

So, if you follow me on social media , you may have noticed I have been churning out remixes of old songs. What started as an exercise in song arranging (and also my most favorite thing to do for fun) turned into a mild obsession. I ended up making over a dozen of them , during the course of a few weeks in august. After that, i slowly leaked one or two a week on youtube. Thing is, these are all songs i can never sell or put up on any website cause they’re unofficial remixes and would never make it past any copyright laws. At first i thought it would be fun to just have them be their own thing on youtube but then people started asking me about owning them. i considered a few options but , at the end of the day, there is no legally viable way to disperse these for money or make them streamable. So, instead, i gotta do this…

You can only download these remixes (and a bunch of older ones I threw in for good measure) RIGHT HERE. I don’t want your money. I just wanna share them cause I’m proud of them and want people seem to enjoy them. Well, most of them. Lots of angry George Michael fans out there and apparently the 80’s band Simply Red fucked some of your moms or something cause , wow…

anyway, here’s a link to songs. I’m giving them as MP3’s , not WAVs cause it’s a much smaller file and I honestly couldn’t find some of the older ones in WAV form. Sorry audiophiles…these wlll have to do


(if this link goes down, lemme know and I’ll put a new one up)

Here’s the tracklist

A song for you- Donny Hathaway

Ain’t No Sunshine- Bill Withers (feat YUNG MJ)

Bad and Boujee- The Migos

BellyAche- Billie Eilish

Bitch betta have my Money- Rihanna

Break on through- The Doors

Careless Whisper- George Michael

Classic man- Jidenna

Codiene crazy- Future

Crazy- Gnarls Barkley

Don’t stop Believing- Journey

Fast car- Tracy Chapman

Holding Back the Years- Simply Red

I can’t feel my Face- The Weeknd

In the Air Tonight-  Phil Collins

Jolene- Dolly Parton

Return of the Mack- Mark Morrison

State Trooper- Bruce SpringSteen

Take On me- A-Ha


Here we gooooo!

I wanted to start this off on an upbeat note cause it feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel for all this madness the last 5 years or so. So, cheer up, you’re not dead yet and enjoy.

album drop September 3rd on Future Archive recordings.

Let’s talk about death, bay-be

Something happens to people when a famous person dies. While sadness and shock are the immediate responses, the second wave of emotion is something very different. I don’t know why we are wired this way but , any time someone of notoriety passes, things inevitably become a mourning contest to many of that persons fans. Who was the REAL fan. Who was an actual day one. But more than that, it’s about pointing out the fault in others and how they perceive another persons dedication to whoever the recently deceased is. 

Obviously, the passing of MF Doom is what brings this to mind but , lets be honest…this is a regular occurrence.  In fact, death in a spotlight seems to have these steps

1)shock and sadness

2)outpouring of honoring his/her legacy

3)people trying to claim personal ownership of dead persons legacy

4)calling out others shortcomings in their fandom

5)backlash where some people find is necessary to pick apart said dead persons life to prove “hey, he/she as a flawed human being” ,which is always just read as grieving fatigue 

Dr Dre is in the hospital with a brain aneurism  and I have no clue how he’s doing. Obviously, I hope he pulls through. However, if he were to pass away, i know exactly how it will go on a social media level. An outpouring of grief for one of hip hop’s greatest figures, followed by a dick measuring contest , followed by tweets about how Dre once beat up Dee Barnes. In a way, I’m glad these famous people who die don’t have to be around to witness this cause , while it’s nice to be given your flowers, it also must be weird to watch people go out of their way to subtly dance on your grave. 

I’ve always had a somewhat removed relationship with the passing of famous strangers. I can really only think of a handful of those types of deaths that hit me in any way beyond “Man, that sucks…”. cause , at the end of the day, these are people i didn’t know.  I know of them and i know what they’ve left behind them but, on a personal level, they were absolute strangers, even though their work may have had an indelible effect on me. Yet, People like Phil hartman, Chris Farley, Big L, Patrice o’neal, Doom and ,strangely, Kobe seemed to hit harder than others. I say strangely cause I was never a Kobe fan.  In fact, i probably actively disliked Kobe, as a basketball fan from NYC who was raised to hate the Lakers. His talent was undeniable but that’s just how sports works. there are some people you just don’t like. However, i remember being on tour , en rout to a show buffalo in the morning and finding out he had died and just feeling taken aback. Kobe wasn’t supposed to die. Add on his daughter was with him and it all just felt like a different level of tragedy.  When death is unfair, it’s much harder to rationalize and , ultimately, process. And Kobe’s death made no sense. It’s not like he was living life on the edge or he had been sick for years. He was perfectly fine and then he was dead. Just like that. 

I think what applies to all the names i listed above is that i felt they weren’t done. They all had varying levels of gas in the tank. And this is an incredibly selfish but honest feeling to have. After all, i only knew them for their output. What they gave to me was just that. They weren’t a fixture in my life like a real friend. They were something else.  And it’s the same reasoning that the deaths of people like Prince or Bill Withers didn’t hit me as hard. Cause, as a selfish fan,  they had already peaked. i realize how fucked up that is to vocalize but , if i’m being honest , that was our “relationship”. With a death like that , all i can do is honor the legacy they left behind. But to pretend their passing has a profound effect on my life? That’s just ridiculous cause , regardless where they exist on this physical plane, their work lives on. That said, any time someone suddenly dies, it really puts the fragility of life in perspective. Anyone can go at any time. Prince was a shock. Kobe was a shock. Big L was a shock. And, for that reason, I really try and take a practical approach to how i view and deal with death cause one thing you can never do with death is reason with it. It truly doesn’t care what you think.

I am not a person who believes in anything. Meaning, I don’t think there is a heaven/hell, i don’t think we are reincarnated. i don’t think we exist for a higher purpose. I think we just live until we die and that’s that. I don’t think there is a meaning of life to decode and questions that can never be answered do not monopolize my mind for a moment. We are living until we are dead and then we are basically compost or ashes.  So, with that life view in mind, I tend to take death in stride but the difference between losing someone close to you and losing a stranger you admire is unfathomable. 

Anyone who’s lost a close friend or family member knows this. As sad as i am that Doom is no longer with us, I also lost my mom last year so, you know, it’s a puddle next to an ocean.  But i’m also just me. i deal with shit the way i deal with it and, thus far, it works for me. So far, so good. i cannot turn to another person and tell them how to grieve. I CAN internally judge the shit out them though but that’s just for me. Let’s be honest, We all do that.  On micro and macro levels. The same way someone feels the need to correct me for not writing Doom’s name in all caps in a tweet cause it’s something he said on one song 15 years into his career is not dissimilar to when my dad passed away over 20 years ago, I sat watching my older half siblings have daily meltdowns about their place next to my dad and I just kinda rolled my eyes at the theater of it all. We all can try to be these soulful portraits of zen grieving but , no matter who you are, our brains don’t stop. What would be nice is if people could learn to filter those thoughts on a public level. That would be a good start but, lol, that’s not ever gonna happen at this point. Our thoughts are far too valuable to be kept inside (this is the sarcasm font), even if they serve no constructive purpose and ESPECIALLY if they can somehow cut another person down.  

A lot of people take death as a personal attack. Like another person dying has effected only them. I’d say this is a fairly common human emotion as we all exist in our own personal movie. you’re the star and everyone else is just another cast member. So, of course, no one feels how you do about something. how could they? They aren’t even you! People who do this can often become emotional tampons who manage to make someone else’s death about them on a level that their mere entrance into a room can suck all the energy dry.  i can recall many moments of a friend dying and some person swooping in , like a hurricane of misplaced emotions , leaving a trail of confused people behind them like “wait, were they even friends?”. But again, this all goes back to how we grieve and deal with death in general. Some people want the attention and others find their role is to try to keep everyone else’s head above water.

I think what’s so daunting to people about death is that it’s final. It’s not a break up. It’s not getting fired. It’s the definitive end of a story. People seem to need reasons to make sense of it all , in order for it make sense. But , personally, i find the finality of it calming. When my mom finally passed away after a week in hospice due to a stroke related to 6 years of cancer , there was finally peace. I was obviously devastated to lose her but relieved for both her and my family. Death takes it’s toll on the living, Especially when it’s drawn out. People always talk about people being in “a better place” once they pass. hell, I have a song called that. But perhaps “a better place” is just nothingness and that’s okay. Nothingness is probably a better place than most people are in the moment before they die. So, while mourning is all part of the process, in the long term, celebrating someones life is far more important. Cause, unlike the human body, that shit is forever. 

Blocking with Blockhead

So, over the course of the last 4 years , it’s fair to say the social landscape have gotten a touch more intense. The political divide has never been further and I’m not gonna stand here and pretend I’m not a part of it. As someone who is staunchly on the left of things , i realize some things i write online can be somewhat incendiary. In fact, i often post stuff like that with a purpose. To weed out the undesirables. I say some shit i actually believe but know will ruffle some feathers, they jump in my comments, i block them. It’s simple. Now, it hasn’t always been like this. In fact, I had a very strict “no blocking” rule for a while. My thinking being “everyone deserves to be heard regardless of their stance”. Well, after 4 years of this shit and talking with people who will argue the semantics of racism , classism, sexism, equal rights , etc… rather than even acknowledging they exist, I’m done “discussing” this. Clearly, no one is changing anyone else’s mind. We simply have different core beliefs. Thing is, the people i disagree with are arguing for something that seems very dangerous to me. It’s hate. It’s dismissing the lives of other people. It’s something that lacks a fundamental amount of perspective and empathy. , to the point where I simply need to throw my hands in the air and move on. If an unarmed black man gets shot in the back 7 times by a cop and your first reaction is “Yeah but what did he do?” or “But did he have a criminal record?” but when a 17 year old white kid inserts himself into a protest with an AR 15 and kills two people and you’re breaking you neck to rationalize it, then you’re missing the point enough for me to both not wanna talk to you and never wanna hear your opinion on anything ever again. So, i reached the point maybe a year ago where i started just blocking people. Fuck it. If i think your politics are dangerous and shitty, it’s my right to not have to be exposed to them. It’s not like I’m gonna miss some life altering take that will suddenly make me become an all lives matter pro lifer. We are both set in our ways and , for the sake of my day to day well being, it’s best i simply remove the cancers from my social media. After all, I’m a real person with real thoughts and real feelings. I think it’s my right to dictate my own existence. It’s not like by blocking these people, I cease hearing what the other side is saying. The difference is, I’m seeking out those viewpoints when I want to. Not having them personally shoved down my throat every time I post something with a political viewpoint.

I’ve always been a grey area person on many topics, willing to hear both sides out. But there is a line with this and it’s been pushed to the forefront more than ever since Trump got into office. Oh, it’s ALWAYS been there but never has the other side felt so cozy in their questionable stances. It’s funny cause it takes all types. You got the run of the mill “MAGA” morons , you got the Libratarians who don’t admit to liking trump but DEFINITELY are closer to his side and always a little racist for some reason, all the way to the “intellectuals” who will cite books and articles as proof their argument is valid even though, when it comes down to it, their bottom line is the same as your average trump conservative and they’re literally tying to argue against very simple issues like basic human rights and peoples lives MATTERING. Like Michael Che said “Not mattering more…just MATTERING”.
After a slightly baiting post, and a few blocks, I sometimes mention that i’ve done so. To which the response is either “yassss!” from my side or being called a coward who’s censoring people with opposing opinions. Now, I honestly can’t even argue that i’m not doing that. i am , in fact, removing people with opposing opinions from my social media. Exactly that. I can see how that would look Cowardly to people on that side of things. But here’s what you have to understand: i’ve been on the internet arguing with people since the mid 90’s. Sure, back then it was about if Ras Kass is gonna be better than Nas one day (he would not), but it was the same kind of fevered back and forth. so, if you take the same rabid fervor of a mid 90’s online rap argument, add actual issues that matter and even more divisive topics…shit gets hairy and frankly, it’s exhausting. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of strangers imposing their bullshit on me. Sure, I’m opening doors to it by putting my opinions out there publicly but you know what i’ve never once done? not ever ever? Popped off at a complete stranger in their comments. Not once. Live it how you give it, man. People have their agendas. i am no different. But I damn sure don’t impose mine on strangers. The day you see me in someone else’s facebook comments arguing over politics? just throw me off a bridge. when that happens, I am broken and cannot be fixed.

If you follow me, that’s your choice. If you unfollow me, also your choice. if you like my music and disagree with my opinions, that’s fine. We are all humans after all. HOWEVER, if you feel the need to pop into my comments and mentions with some shitty take and even shittier tone? Bye. We are done here. I’ve had people approach me in thoughtful and constructive ways about these topics and i don’t block those people cause , at the very least, they were respectful. We will never agree but they came at me on a human level. I can appreciate that. Sadly, the majority of the comments I get are

“You’re a fucking sheep dude…”

“Actually, here’s an article written by some guy that explains why black lives, in fact, don’t actually matter…he’s a professor so…”

“Typical libtard…”

some dumb shit where patriotism is used as an argument for all thing shitty about America.

Or the devils advocate guy who thinks he’s clever but really has no point to make outside that’s he’s a argumentative asshole

and might i add, i’ve got no patience for some of the radical liberal side of things either. It’s less offensive but it’s also just as short sighted to me. I have blocked the “Hillary and trump are the same thing, sheeple” faction as well. Only difference is that i can somewhat relate to their ideals at the core (of course i’d rather have bernie than biden but it’s sadly not gonna happen so we must move forward and stop fighting with ourselves in order to find a greater good…getting trump out of office no matter what) but their rhetoric is dangerous in my eyes as well. It’s funny cause what they want is a less selfish country but the fact they’re putting their personal ideals above the bigger picture is actually the most selfish shit you can do.

Anyway, I wrote all this as a means to explain myself. If you’ve ever been blocked by me, I hope you know there is more nuance to my thinking than simply “Fuck this guy”. In fact, i wish you no ill will. I just don’t want your voice in my life. It’s about me, not you.
I’m sure the response to this will be shitty. I’m sure more opposers will come out because of this post. That’s fine. I got endless blocks to spare but here’s an idea…instead of jumping in my comments with anger, simply unfollow me. Mute me. Whatever you like. I won’t care and I won’t miss you. I’m really nobody. So if you don’t know me on a personal level, nothing i say should effect you personally. Hell, you can even still listen to my music if you’re able to separate the man from his art. Or not…It’s all fine with me. Live you life as you see fit. I have endlessly more respect for people who take that rout than ones that feel it’s their duty to let me know how they feel , when i wasn’t asking. Also, if you’ve ever announced to anyone you’re unfollowing them…you’re the biggest loser on earth and should be ashamed of yourself.

Acknowledge Your History

When i was 13 years old, my interests in life included jerking off with no abandon, listening to rap music, playing basketball/baseball and joking around with friends as much as possible. Not much has changed since then but I just wanted to spotlight a brief but indelible moment in my life that has had lasting effects. During that era , i was very much starting to ramp up my obsession with hip hop music. In the 3 year period from 11-13 , my hyper focus had really zeroed in on it as something I was all about. That said, when you’re 11,12 or 13…you’re at that age where low brow is king. So, while I loved Big Daddy Kane and Rakim, the adolescent in me was especially drawn to the dirty rappers. NWA, The Geto boys and, most of all, 2 Live crew.  I loved that shit. At an age when your hormones are absolutely out of control , what’s better for a boy going through puberty than some grown men rapping about sex in a way that my young mind couldn’t fathom. On one song , Fresh Kid Ice,  of 2 Live crew, bragged of having a 15 inch long, 8 inches thick dick. Hearing that now, i laugh cause, well, that doesn’t exist and have you seen what fresh kid ice looks like? He was a short fat guy with what was likely a very humble penis. 

Anyway, i say all that to say this…and this is a story I’ve told before in a few places but it’s crucial to where this is going. One of my friends in grade school was also a guy who was into hip hop and we would tell each other about new rappers. One day, he came into school and told me about this group The Jungle Brothers. I hadn’t heard of them and he framed them to be another super dirty rap group i would love. I left school what day and went directly to sam goody to buy the cassette. I hadn’t heard a second of them but i trusted his opinion. Also, the internet didn’t exist so it’s not like i could try it first. When i got to the record store, they had two titles, one was their debut album “Straight out the jungle”, which actually looked familiar to me. I looked at the cover and recognized the song “Jimbrowski”. It was a song about their dicks! Bingo.

The other album had just came out that week , with colorful cover art work blending reds, blacks and greens together called “done by the forces of nature”. I only had enough money for one of them so I opted to get the new one cause, for some reason, I felt they would have only gotten dirtier. So i took the album home, popped it in my tape deck and let it ride. It was different. They were talking about stuff I had never heard rappers talk about in a way that was unfamiliar. I honestly didn’t know what to think about it. But, more than anything, it was clean. So clean. there wasn’t a curse on the album. In fact, the dirtiest line in the whole album is on the song “Belly dancing dina” where they say “How hard? hard about a yard” (take that fresh kid ice, with your tiny 15 inch dick). But, outside of that? This album was downright wholesome. About peace love and , most of all, afrocentricity.  Now this wasn’t a totally new concept to me. Rakim rapped about his faith. Public enemy was fighting the power.  BDP certainly did. I even think X-clan’s first single had dropped at this point. Maybe even the Poor righteous teachers. But i had never heard it portrayed this way, nor had i really had much interest in it.  So, while i was disappointed with the lack of sex tales on this record i had bought specifically for its sex tales , I found myself playing it over and over. I was drawn to it in a way i had never felt before. I ran that tape back for weeks, learned it inside out. Sure, i still also played my 2 live crew albums but this was the first album that actually made me think outside my existence as a white kid. One song in particular was very heavy to me and that was “Acknowledge your own history”.

Mind you, i was a kid in grade school learning about history in the late 80’s/early 90’s. I would legit read from encyclopedias for all my historic info and to say that version of history was slanted would be an understatement.  To think some of my most enlightening moments in that time came from rap music is wild but it’s absolutely true.  When we are that age, we are so impressionable. I understand why 12 year olds can be easily radicalized by their parents when all they hear every day is racist, xenophobic vitriol. Same reason kids stay in church after growing up in it. We are groomed by our surroundings. But, looking back at me during that time, I could have easily gone the rout of the 2 live crew and been a womanizing psycho misogynist . But , even then, I always looked at that kinda stuff as comedy. Like rappers talking about their dicks and murdering people was no different to me than wrestling. It was entertainment. Not sure how i knew that then but I just inherently did. So becoming that person was never even a thought to me. Meanwhile, listening to the Jungle brothers, i felt a genuine connection to it but, more importantly, an empathy towards what they were talking about. I knew i was just a little white kid living in NYC. My life was good. i had things. I could say I was aware of my privilege but i certainly wasn’t aware of that as a concept back then. At that age, all you know is what’s in front of you. Still, I believed the injustice they were talking about. That song was made over 30 years ago and still resonates today. Which is crazy when you think of how badly so much hip hop ages, ESPECIALLY on a social level.  

Now, I don’t want this to come off as an “In my day…” old man rant but hearing this kinda music at that specific age was hugely influential on the person I have become. And i’m certainly not gonna turn this into a “Kids these days with their trap music…” cause i honestly don’t think it’s a fair comparison. In my day, we had no internet. Our information came from tv, movies, music, teachers, books, and parents. That’s it. So, without these kinda of songs that the Jungle Brothers made, no one would have ever opened my eyes to such topics. Not cause they were racist or trying to hide truths from but cause it just wasn’t something people really made an effort to speak on. There was no urgency then to teach these kinds of things, on top of the reality that most of us were taught the wrong things to begin with so we didn’t know what was real to begin with.These days, for every song about a gushy pussy or drug deals there are countless social awareness outlets constantly being thrust at you. While it can seem almost overwhelming at times I also realize i’m not the target audience for this. some 13 year old in the the middle of bumblefuck white america questioning whether his dad calling someone a “beaner” is okay ,however? Stuff can really make a difference. At the very least make people question things they’ve been taught to believe from a young age. As a species, we need these voices from the outside. We need to be able to compare and contrast out experiences cause, otherwise, that’s all we really know. You wonder why motherfuckers are refusing to wear masks or calling BLM a terrorist group or thinking gay people shouldn’t have the same rights as everyone…it’s often cause they can’t see past their own nose when it comes to experiences. Trust, if any of these people had a gay kid , had a son killed by police for nothing, or got covid, they might start to reevaluate their stances. At least i would hope they would. Which is why it’s so important to expose people to all walks of life as much as you can at a young age. Perspective is everything. For me, one song by a rap group I had hoped was gonna rap about fucking bitches turned out to be a door opening to help me understand social inequality. Everyone just needs that door. Man, I hope some of these fuckers find a door soon.

Blockhead merch bonanza!!

Hi there.

So, Prior to this pandemic, I had ordered a bunch of merch i was planning on selling when I toured. Seeing as it looks like that won’t be possible for a long time, I’ve decided to make it available for order online. Now, keep in mind, I am not a business. I am one person with minimal organizational skills so I’ll be sending all this stuff out by hand. Also take that into consideration when considering the method in which i sell them. If you want any of these items below, email me at phatfriendblog@gmail.com. All payments can only be made over venmo or paypal. Like i said, i’m not a business so sorry if this limits things. Also, shirt sizes range from s-xl. Shipping costs included in the price and I’m only sending these within the US (unless you’re willing to cover those shipping costs, then we can try and figure something out).

Anyway, here’s what I got available and the price:

Blockhead “Blockbuster” hat. $40

Blockhead “blockbuster” T shirt Blue $30
Blockhead “Blockbuster” Shirt Cream $3o
Blockhead “Blockbuster” Beanie $23
Blockhead Pin $12
Blockhead baseball hat Black $25

These following items are all VERY limited in quantity. Sizes range from s-xl. They are all drawings of mine that Aesop found in an old sketch book of his. i liked them so much I decided to make them into shirts.

Light yellow Lil’ Devil shirt (20 shirts printed) $35

Forest green “Bag o’ bitch ass” shirt. (10 shirts made) $35
Grey “Almost Billy Zane” shirt. (5 shirts made) $35

That’s in. If you see and wanna ow any of these things, Hit me up at Phatfriendblog@gmail.com and we will make it happen.

Thanks for the support!

Check this remix I did: Fill up glass by The Giraffes

So, I do a lot of remixes. They’re fun. And i generally am very happy with how they come out. I recently got to do a special one and I wanna tell you about it.
Damien Paris is a guy I’ve known since I was 16 , when we met in an SAT study course. Literally one of my oldest friends but, more importantly, he’s the guy responsible for some of the best basslines and guitar riffs on all my albums. He’s THAT GUY. A better place? That’s him. Triptych 3 bassline? That’s him. Any solo…and riff on any album of mine you can think of, he did that.
Well, when he’s not doing menial labor for me, he’s in his own band, The Giraffes. They’re a hard rock outfit from brooklyn and have been doing their thing since the 90’s. We’ve always wanted to collaborate somehow but it’s tricky cause, musically, we are in different hemispheres. WELL, not anymore!
I’m happy to say i remixed one of their songs and it came out awesome.
So please check it out. We are all quite proud of it.

And while you’re here…
here are some other recent remixes I’ve done you might enjoy:

Coming back by Frameworks

Thoughts on Fiona Apple and Fetch the bolt cutters


I have a brief history with Fiona Apple. Well, that’s a stretch cause this history is entirely one sided but it still has always stuck out to me. When I was a senior in high school, Fiona went to the night school version of my high school. I guess part of the deal of being in that night school was working during the day and she was given a job in my school office. I remember walking by the administrative office (which was right by the school entrance) and casually glancing in one day and seeing a new girl. She was sitting behind a desk just kinda staring off into space. My high school wasn’t huge so a new girl was always a big deal…and she was striking. She glanced back at me wildly disinterested and I kept it moving. As the days went on, I would actually be excited to catch a glimpse of this girl every morning. She was beautiful. Huge green eyes, pouty lips and she didn’t dress like the other cornball girls in my school. She also never smiled. I don’t recall ever seeing her smile that entire year. Just a hard return glance was all i ever got. To a 17 year old boy, that was intimidating as fuck.

As the year went on, i realized I wasn’t the only one who had noticed her and pretty much every dude I knew was buzzing about her. One time, i was in the locker room telling a friend about how hot I thought she was and this dude “Mike” walks up “You guys talking about Fiona?”. “Mike” (as i will call him here) was a handsome, charming and all around liked guy in the school. He was a few grades below me but was definitely a “cool kid” by all accounts. We nodded and he was like “Oh yeah, that’s my girl…” and he said it in a way that wasn’t meaning a friend who was a girl. He definitely made it sound like they were a thing. Somehow the conversation swung to my crush on her and he was like “Oh you like her? Hey man, lemme know I bet i can hook that up”. Now, I was confused cause, well, that was his girlfriend as far as I knew and he was talking about her like he could pimp her out. Now, looking back, this was an absurd exchange and both bullshit and kinda awful but, at the time, my young brain couldn’t even figure out what the fuck he was talking about so I sheepishly just exited the conversation and went about my day. As weeks passed, I would see mike and her playing around (actually, she did smile in those times) and once he stopped me and was like “Hey Tony, this is Fiona”. I said hi. She nodded back and that was that.

The school year ended and she was just a memory as the mysterious hot girl from night school. A few years later , I’m watching MTV and a video comes on. I squint in disbelief. holy shit…that’s the girl from the office! Her debut video :”Shadow boxer” had dropped and ,man, I was shocked. While the genre wasn’t my first choice (i was literally only listening to hip hop back then) I thought the song was cool and definitely read any article I came across on her. This was the magazine era so they were plentiful.

As the years past, I kept an eye on her career. That weird thing where you feel some sort of vague investment in someone cause you have some distant connection to them. I didn’t know her AT ALL but i felt like I knew about her before all this. like a hometown hero syndrome or something. Every time she would come out with something new, I’d check it. Usually I’d glom on to a song or two of each album and that would be that. It was a case of be music being something i knew was great but wasn’t always my specific cup of tea. That was until her album “Idler wheel…” came out. I heard the first single “Every single night” and was obsessed with it. When the album dropped, I purchased it. I don’t think I had purchased an album before or after that for years. I was on tour in Europe during that period so it was perfect timing. There is no time in my life when i get to truly sit with an album and digest it more than when I’m on tour. Traveling with my headphones on…it’s all I have. And this album was the soundtrack to that tour. I ran it back, over and over for an entire month. To this day, I can honestly say it’s one of my all time favorite albums. Ever. Ever. Ever.

Which leads me to her new album. “Fetch the bolt cutters” dropped last week and I had no idea it was coming until the day before. I was psyched and, again, what timing? Here i am, trapped in my house for who knows how long. All i do every day is eat, watch things, make beats, play videos games, jerk off and sleep. THAT’S IT. So, when the album dropped, I woke up the next morning , put my headphones on and just took a walk. Cruising through the mostly barren city, face mask on, new Fiona blaring.

Now, here’s the thing about Fiona apple’s music. It’s not for everyone. But it’s also music that seems to only work in extremes. It’s either Genius or it’s garbage. At least with how it’s perceived by listeners, from what i see on the internet. The reality is definitely in a grey area, just like all art. That said, I think Apple is brilliant. That also said, I think some of her music is unlistenable. She can be both those things at the same time. This is a trademark of innovative artists everywhere. I mean, let’s be honest, Prince is one of the all time greats but for every few hits, there’s one that missed but, hey, he tried and that’s the point.

On this album, I’ve seen her described as “unhinged” and , musically, I can certainly see that. The songs are often incredibly manic , jumping from idea to idea with what seems like no real focus. But that’s kinda the beauty of her musical mind. There is an unfiltered aspect to her recent output that makes sense within the chaos. She colors outside of the lines like very few artists and it usually works. Fiona apple is the only person who could ever make a Fiona apple album.

Now, while her being stamped as “unhinged” is generally referring to her presumed mental state i would argue that’s bullshit. Unhinged means crazy. it means no control. If we are talking about lyrics, she’s as hinged as it gets. She is razor sharp and laser focused. Her songs are about specific things and feelings that a lot of people can relate to, while also being very personal and nuanced. They are about insecurity, discomfort and complex relationships. As someone who grew up listening to rap, i’ve often scoffed at modern rock lyrics. It often comes off as either corny or some emo high school poetry written by a loser pussy. The “woe is me” factor of it has never appealed to me. Say what you will about rap but, when the lyricism is good, it’s really another level of communication. Singing may emote emotions that rapping never could but, on a word for word basis, I’ll put rap up against anything (not all rap obviously, but there are a handful of truly special writers out there). Fiona writes lyrics that are almost rap like but , obviously, leaning heavier towards poetry. But it’s not some hidden message shit that requires a cliff notes. It just requires you to listen and really take it in for what it is. It’s a feat when a song has nothing to do with you at all and it still resonates. Take “ladies” , for instance. It’s an ode to the women who date the men she dated after her and how they should unite and not disregard one another. I mean, that’s my dumbed down explanation of it but you know what i mean. The song just rings so true on so many levels and her ability to pinpoint these minute things is part of what makes her a master of her craft.
She has a truly specific viewpoint that comes across in her songs. She probably gets very pigeon holed by the media as this or that but she’s far more multifaceted and level headed that she gets credit for. She’s not an angry feminist. She’s not some crazy bitch. She’s a distinct thinker that’s able to express that in a way not many people can.

So, all that said, this album is a brilliant mess. It’s often hard to sit through. It’s often jarring. It’s maniacal at times. Other times it’s soft and warm but far less than “idler wheel” was. The thing about a Fiona Apple album is that there is no such thing as a “Shitty Fiona Apple album”. She is beyond that level of critique. She makes music entirely for her and it shows. And while this album seems to have her unraveling a bit musically , it surely is with purpose and exactly what she wanted to do. And I can’t fault her for that ever. I’m happy an album like this can not only be made but can get heard by so many people out there. This is important music. it matters. I may not run it back over and over like i did the previous album but that’s simply cause “The Idler wheel” was MY album. that’s the one that spoke to me directly. This album, less so but that shouldn’t belittle the achievement it is, as a work of art and i’m pretty sure there are tons of people for whom it channels directly into their soul. And that’s a good thing cause the world needs more Fiona apples but I guess we are stuck with only one. But thank god/satan/buddha/allah we have that one.

This one time at a hippie electronic music festival…

I rarely play music festivals but I’m playing Shambhala this year and it got me thinking about this funny shit that happened at festival I played a long time ago. Usually, I go to these things alone, play, and get out as quickly as possible. It’s just not my scene. but this one time, it was a drivable distance from NYC so I invited a few friends with me and we made a night out of it. The plan was to take some shrooms and some molly and whyle the fuck out. My friends needed minimal prompting so it was an easy sell.

It was a super duper backwoods hippie festival in New Hampshire. We arrived on the grounds, got the lay of the land and pretty much had like 4 hours to kill before i had to play. My friends had no obligations so they took shrooms right away but I had to wait til after I was done “working”. I decided i was gonna pop my molly halfway through my set and see what happens. I did and , with like ten minutes left, it kicked in. For real, it was the most fun I ever had playing in my life. By the time I got off stage, I was HIGH. Right then, a camera crew starts to interview me. Reminder: I was so high…but I was also beaming cause my Serotonin was doing cartwheels in my brain. I willfully and joyfully do the interview and thank god it never surfaced cause I bet I looked like a complete saucer eyed psycho.

After I got off stage I located my friends and I took the shrooms , while my friends took their molly. They had been tripping for a few hours at this point and , adding the molly to it, were pretty far ahead of me. Because I was an artist, I had access to a special “backstage area” which was basically open farm land and a cabin where artists could chill, eat and use the bathroom. We were all tripping and decided it would be a great idea to go there and pee and be indoors for a little cause it was pretty cold out. But also, the whole “changing of scenery” quest one does when tripping was in full effect. We walked down this long, almost pitch dark pathway, lit only by scattered glow sticks (of course it was cause festival). We go the house and entered the main room. I recall it being pretty empty. maybe one of two people in it. There was a couch there so my friends and I b-lined for that. basking in the comfort of the couch, one of my friends needed to use the bathroom but just as she got up to do that, a very intense man in a pink fur coat came in and the other people in the room seemed very focused on him. Turns out, he was one of the festival paramedics (I actually named a song after him cause it was such a bizarre sight to see a guy who looked like the lead singer of Midnight Oil , in a pink fur , NO SHIRT underneath and some weird colorful raver pants be the person who might just save your life). Anyway, turns out a girl had locked herself in the bathroom and was unresponsive. The only girls in the room where my two friends. They turned to us and asked if anyone could go in and check on her. I guess they wanted a girl to go in , in case she was exposed or something. I was happy to not be an option cause I was way too high and that would literally be the last thing I wanna do…possibly find a dead person…ON SHROOMS? no thanks. But one of my friends reacted as if it was nothing and was like “Sure, I’ll do it”. This this day, that blows my mind. I don’t know if you’ve done Mushrooms before but taking responsibility in social and public situations is pretty low on the list of desired activities. I once had a near meltdown with friends , while shrooming, cause none of us wanted to go get a bottle of water from the bodega. We were scared of THAT concept. So, imagine being super high and being asked to go check if some random girl is maybe dead on a toilet. But my friend did that…and the girl was alive. Just passed out. She made sure the girl wasn’t in any compromising positions and send in Doctor sunflower to check on her. My friend was in the bathroom for what felt like an hour (but was probably like 2 minutes) so when she got out we are ready to GTFO there, Like, I’m not a “vibes” guy, in general. but in that moment, I was MR. Vibes and the vibes were dark and ominous so we needed to not be in there anymore.

Majestic black horse with hoof raised.

We stepped outside and it was like the cold air washing over us changed everything. The heaviness of that other situation evaporated and we were back on our path. We walked around the secluded area where only artists could be. It was a farm so we passed a horse.I almost didn’t believe he was real, at first. Ever seen a horse when you’re tripping? It’s something else. Pretty sure I tried to talk to her and told her how majestic she was. Or not. But it was something. The cold was becoming overwhelming so we decided we would go warm up in my friends car and listen to music. We got in and my friend put on “Drunk in love” by Beyonce and, I gotta say, it seemed like the best song ever at that time. I remember blabbering in about the production and being just blown away at the whole construction of the song cause I was absolutely tripping my balls off. I mean, it’s a cool song but high me REALLY felt it. Which is very funny to look back on and makes me kinda wish i had video of me in that moment so I could show future generations and be like “That’s what high people do”.

So, after we warmed up in the car, we decided to brave into the actual festival. This was a little nerve wracking but also kinda exciting. We walked on the campus and the first thing I saw was one of those art tents. At these festivals they often have these “shops” where people sell their art. It’s generally art based on drugs or hippie shit and, to the sober eye, is terrible. Well, when I saw it in that condition i was like “ohhhhhhh I get it now!”. Keep in mind, I still didn’t think it was good but I finally understood the appeal of it. And my mushroom mind went down that path for a while, which was amusing, to say the least.

So we are just walking around the grounds, It’s pretty dark and all the people passing us seemed like shadows. We decide to check out one of the music tents cause what else are we gonna do? Now, I’m no fan of EDM. In fact, I kinda think it’s the worst. That said, when on the right combo of drugs, I’ve been known to be more lenient to certain kinds of music. We walk in this tent and bunch of extremely high scattered hippies were dancing to music that can best be described as what would happen if you put some cymbals and a robot in a dryer and set it on “fuck your ears”. Not even in my highest state could I tolerate it so we dipped out. It should be noted that one of my friends who was with me came up in the NYC club scene and was very down to stay so sorry to her. Couldn’t do it.

I think we meandered around for a little more and decided it was time to leave. My friend who drove us there had been high for , i dunno, 6 or 7 hours so she felt confident about driving us back to out hotel a mile or so away. It’s 4 am in new hampshire in the middle of nowhere so it’s not like there was much activity. At least that’s how we justified doing what we definitely shouldn’t have been doing…driving anywhere on mushrooms and molly. So, we did it. She drove. she drove great. It wasn’t far and we didn’t see another car on the road. I’m pretty sure she drove like 25 miles per hour the whole way. The entire time, assuring us she was good. It was misty out and it actually looked very beautiful , as things tend to look when you’re high on mushrooms. We go to the hotel and she parked saying “Wow, I can’t believe i just made it here”. Score one for bad choices that pan out!

We got into our shitty Days Inn hotel room. The girls shared one bed and I had the other. we milled about, cleaned up and had high conversations for a while until we all eventually fell asleep. The next day we woke up, braindead as ever, and headed back the city.

A few days later, I get a text from one of the girls asking me if I had any bug bites on me. I did not. Then the other girls responded (it was group text) “Umm,..yeah, I’m covered in them”. WHELP…turns out the bed they slept in had bed bugs. OOOOOOOPS. Me being the lucky piece of shit I am, avoided it entirely but they go devoured. Go days Inn. They took all the proper precautions and were fine but , apparently , being covered in bed bug bites really sucks. All i could think about was those bed bugs sucking that drugged up blood and tripping their faces off before they died from an overdose. What a way to go out.

So, yeah, that was the last festival I played. Can’t say I’ll ever do any of that again but it was certainly memorable. And isn’t that what life is all about…memories? and Bed bugs. And festival paramedics dressed like club kids. God bless America.

The Real Influencer

The term “Influence” is heavily leaned on when it comes to artists. People want a simplified and generalized way to pinpoint why an artist does what they do. So to ask them “what/who is your biggest influence” is like the catch all question. Whenever you read an interview and that word comes up, the answer is typically something like “My parents” or “I heard this one album and it changed how I listened to music”. while those things are certainly valid and everyone has their own process when it comes to becoming who they are, personally, I loath the question. Between that and “What inspires you?!” I don’t know what i hate worse. But the reason I hate that question is cause , often, what influences you is subtle. It’s an amalgamation of things you can’t even clearly identify. It’s a whole lot of grey area. For me, my go to stock answer was “The hip hop I grew up on”. which is a purposely boring answer for a boring lazy question. If pressed further I’ll go into more detail about the producers of my youth that set the standard that would later be what I strive for. That said, it’s kinda bullshit. I mean, without question, I was inspired by their work and have taken little things from all sorts of people before me (as well as contemporaries and people 20 years younger than me). But, for me, my actual biggest musical influence was this dude Manny. Just some random nobody of a guy I once knew who had a profound effect on my life. Now, before I get into this, I realize this all is gonna sound like a set up for some fucked up pedophile story of horrors but I assure , it is not. Hell, looking back on it now, it’s crazy that it even happened. It really makes no sense. Like, when i think of people finding mentors, there are few cases where someone did it out of the kindness of their heart but I genuinely believe this was the case. But, hey, maybe I’m just blurry eyed from the nostalgia of it all.

So, Manny was a dude I met when I was about 12/13. He worked in the toy store section of a drug store called Mckays on 6th ave and west 4th street in Manhattan. I met him cause manny was a dork who would buy and trade japanese toys with my friend, Ko, who was also a dork and had japanese toys to buy and trade. No clue how they met but I would roll with Ko to see manny and they would conduct business. At the time, manny seemed endlessly older than me. In reality, he was probably 18 or 19 when I met him. So, just some background, when i was 12 i was obsessed with hip hop. This was far before the internet and all we really had to go one was Video music box, Yo MTV raps and WBLS. So, my knowledge of the music was pretty contained to whatever they played. Which was a pretty vast array of stuff but, you know, i was 12…I liked Kid N play just as much as I liked 2 live crew and just as much as i liked public enemy. I just liked it all. I guess manny caught wind of my interest in hip hop and he would chat about it with me. He’d mention groups I never heard of and tell me who was ACTUALLY dope and who was wack. He’d even explain why to me. Sure, this was one mans opinion. a 19 year old who works at a drug store and loves toys but, to me, his word was gospel. Lucky for me, Manny actually had great taste. On top of that, he told me he went to high school with slick rick and MC serch so to my young brain, that was the coolest shit ever. So, anyway, as time went on, I started visiting manny without Ko. He was like this fountain of knowledge and I couldn’t get enough of it. I should mention, he also was a rapper. He had a crew called DB4. He would read me his rhymes and break them down for me. Thing is, Manny was a good writer. A student of rakim for sure. That said, he was a terrible rapper. His voice sucked. His flow was suspect. His boys were actually pretty good and his producer was very dope. but, regardless, this was all very new and adult to me so I was with it. Around 14 years old, inspired by manny, i started writing my own rhymes. i didn’t tell manny cause, well, I was justifiably embarrassed. A year or so later, I felt confident to read him some shit. Not rap it, but read it to him. I was always good with punchlines. I was funny so those came easy to me. I’d sloppily read my raps to manny and he’s bug out over certain lines…and then one day, he asked if he could use some of my lines on a song he was recording.

I was over the moon. He changed a bunch of parts but the majority of it was my stuff. So, it was then I started doing a little ghost writing for manny. About a year later, I was chilling in Mckays with Manny and his producer, duke, was there. Duke was a huge dude who wore all those wooden africa medallions. While he looked pretty stoic and intense, he was actually incredibly friendly. Almost nerdy, in a way. We started talking about making beats and I was like “my dad has mad records, I bet he got some samples you will like” his eyes lit up and he was all about it. I went home and ran through tons of my dads old jazz records. I recorded all the parts I thought were good to sample and gave them to Duke on a tape. He listened in front of me on his walkman. I couldn’t hear what he was listening to but I was following his every reaction meticulously. His eyes would get wide at some parts and his head would bob and I would be overrun with an adrenaline burst. He took the tape and that was that. A month later, Manny played me a song where Duke had used a loop and some drums i gave him and manny rapped my raps over it. Granted, manny rapped them badly but still..this was the greatest feeling ever. and on top of that, these grown men were giving me props like I was a major piece of the puzzle. I wasn’t really but it felt like that. By the time I was 16, manny and I were just straight up friends. we would hang at his job for hours and shoot the shit. He would tell me about his life. His love life was particularly harrowing. I was used to high school stories of sex and relationships. Like “Oh she sucked his dick where? no way!”. Manny was another level from that. By the time he was in his early 20’s, he had just had a kid with his girl. At the same time, he was also fucking the girl who worked with him at mckays. He would tell me shit I couldn’t comprehend. Like i didn’t even know how to finger a girl right and this dude had a kid and side pieces. The craziest shit being how, on the night his child was born, he was literally fucking another woman in a nearby hotel while his wife was in labor. yes, manny was not perfect. In fact, the older I got the more his stories stuck with me and honestly bothered me. Even back then, it never felt “cool” even though it was presented to me in that way. When he told me these stories, it was in a matter of fact and almost charming way that it never seemed that bad at the time. Looking back, dude was a piece of shit with girls. No doubt about it. But he was also a kid himself. Not making excuses but I’m also not treating him like he knew what the fuck he was doing with his life.
But i digress…
So, At this point , Manny had molded my taste in rap music, inspired me to rhyme and put the very first bug in my ear to think about beats and how they are made. When I was around 14, he had introduced me to a new radio show called The stretch armstrong show. Now, those of you in the know, realize this was a huge deal. It was a radio show on Columbia universities radio station that would play from 1 am to 4 am every thursday night (technically friday). Manny would record them and lend me the tapes. This may have been the most mind expanding part of my formative years cause the stuff they played on Stretch was out there. It was experimental and weird but also creative and inspiring. What is was , was the beginnings of “underground rap” and it was exactly what my ears craved. It was that show that set me on my path and , shortly after, had me digging around for other similar things. Which would lead me to other underground radio shows and , more importantly, rap music from other places. Up until that point, I only knew NYC stuff with a little gangster rap from L.A. and Houston thrown in, This was all so new and exciting to me and, honestly, I was more on board with it than Manny was. He was more traditional than I was , musically but , still, I’d play him stuff he hadn’t heard and he would be down with it. We were becoming less of a mentor/understudy vibe and more on the same level. My opinions slowly became my own and we would debate rap stuff…which, when you’re a real rap nerd, is heaven on earth. Can’t say I ever wanna do that these days but back then? Wooooooo! I loved it.

Manny was the first person to ever bring me to a studio. He had gotten some studio time in Brooklyn and asked if i wanted to come along and check it out. I jumped at the opportunity. The day before it was planned, I started feeling very sick. It was strep throat and i felt like I was dying. But there was no way I was gonna miss this opportunity. So a dragged my sick ass to the studio in a part of brooklyn i didn’t even know existed. This was 1993. Things were different. I brought a 40 of olde english , with hopes it would both relax me and make me feel better. It did not , in fact, i took one sip and felt 100 times worse but it made a good prop for me to have in my first experience in a recording studio. So, nervously and sick as I could possibly be, I entered the studio. It was a small room with a few seats, a small couch and mixing board. There was a mic booth that could fit maybe 3 or 4 people if they were smashed together. Manny was there. His producer was there. They were the guys I was friendly with. Also there was this dude Darren. He was the best rapper in the group and also kind of a dick. He was openly not fond of white people in general and definitely barely tolerated my presence. I honestly can’t blame the guy. Who brought the 16 year old white kid? These were grown men. Granted , I was fully grown at that age and looked older but still, I had no business being there. He had invited a few of his friends and they were even less friendly than he was. His boys were thugged out dudes  from Brownsville, to this day still one of the toughest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. I basically sat back in the corner of the couch and just watched. I often wonder if I hadn’t been sick if I would have engaged more but probably not. i felt like a fly on the wall. What I saw was not what i expected. recording was sloppy. It took forever. It was boring. They were smoking blunts, drinking Hennessey and just kinda dragging ass. Watching a rapper do his takes over and over again was mind numbing (This is something I would later become well acquainted with later in life when I started rapping badly). Eventually, they finished a few songs. They were okay. Manny, in particular , struggled with his verses but it’s interesting. His boys seemed oblivious to him being the obvious weak link. Like, sure, he wrote good stuff but he couldn’t rap for shit. I was hyper aware of that then and , to this day, it shocked me that I didn’t see one shared eye roll glance between his group member when he fucked up his sloppy verse for the 27th time. They were all genuinely supportive of one another. At the end of the session they had some time left so they put on a beat and everyone kicked freestyles. This part was the best thing of the whole night for me. They all were pretty mediocre at it but the energy was amazing. Darrens boys got in and started rapping and it sounded familiar. Then one of them said his rap name Fish-b-one and i realized , holy shit, this is the dude from Da Bushwackass. A group i had recently heard freestyling for the first time on stretch and bobbito.

So, I’m like “Holy shit…this person is famous” when in reality, they hadn’t even put a record out yet but they had freestyle on the radio once. still, I was enthralled to be witnessing it. The was until his verse started veering into how much he hated white people. that part was a little uncomfortable. “I don’t give a damn about no white man!” he bellowed and i just kinda sunk into my seat a little more. Thing is, I was never mad at shit like that. I accepted my place and just kinda kept my head down. I was a guest in all of this, in my mind, so I acted accordingly. But , still, having those words snarled in your direction is, at the very least, uncomfortable. The session ended, manny put me in a cab and that was it. I missed school for a week with step throat but , when i finally came back and regaled all my friends with my story of studio time, they didn’t even know what i was talking about. In a way, part of what made this all so special to me is that is was something I had all to myself. It was this separate world from my normal life that was all I cared about.

By my senior year in high school, I began seeing manny less. I’d pop in and chill for an hour once a month or so , if he wasn’t busy. My social life started taking precedence over everything. The next year, i went to college and when i came back from my first semester, Mckay’s had closed. I still had manny’s number and we spoke on the phone a few more times but , eventually, we drifted apart…or his number got changed. I really don’t recall. In truth, it’s kinda like our mentorship expired. we were friends but I can’t say how much of that as one sided. Even though I never got a vibe from him that it was fake. That said, I do feel he genuinely enjoyed shooting the shit with me and he enjoyed being a teacher to an eager pupil. He set me on a path that really defined my entire life and he doesn’t even know it. I haven’t had any contact with him in over 20 years. every now and then I google him to see if anything comes up but his name is so common it’s pretty much impossible. Also, i know so little about him outside of his name and where he went to high school. He could have moved 15 times. he could be dead for all I know. In a way, i’d rather not know what happened to him cause his place in my head is such a specific thing. I wouldn’t wanna taint that. I mean, i hope he’s doing well and happy but outside that, he lives in that time for me and will always be one of those rare people I can look back on in my entire life and , without question, say was the most influential person, musically, in my life. Which makes the fact that he was a bad rapper all the more endearing.