Ntale #2: Universal SoulPosted on Jan 13, 2011 by Jason Minnis |
Over the years, I’ve become fascinated with the many cultures of the African diaspora. Ive always been interested in finding the common cultural thread that links black people throughout the world. This connection can be clearly seen in the fashion of women throughout African Diaspora. From Brazil to Trinidad , the US to Cuba, women of the African Diaspora have a certain flair and charisma that cannot be denied. The use of head wraps, elaborate jewelry, bold prints, and bright colors are distinct traits instantly recognized all over the world. African fashion is fun and full of life. It breathes the culture around it and tells a story on it’s own. Music and fashion have always been close friends, so it’s not surprising that African fashion also played a role in my inspiration for Ntale’s Groove.
For this article I teamed up with 16 Stone Vintage for a vintage African themed photo shoot. These talented ladies were able to use clothing and accessories from their vintage collection to create a unique take on traditional West African garments. I feel that these photo’s reflect the timeless quality of African fashion, as well as its futuristic appeal. I hope you enjoy.
Sonya Freeman: Model, Styling & Owner of 16 Stone Vintage
Bilen Gaga: Model & Muse for 16 Stone Vintage
Elaine Hynds: Photography
Karen Swaby: Make Up
Mike Mc Kenzie: Styling
Ntale’s story #2: This is Me & Ntale Vs the Machine by Bayo Awesu
Full album on classicbeatz.bandcamp.com
I sound better when mastered.
“But this is my style without incarceration. This is me…”
My voice tenses from the energy of my delivery. After 30 minutes it takes its toll. I sound strained. Subsequently, I could have spat that 3rd verse better – my breathing pattern is off live. But in the studio I killed that shit on the 5th take.
“This is my style without airbrushes. This is me…”
That freestyle was kinda wack, a few punchlines didn’t connect. I even used a line or two from the new album. Niggas will notice that when it drops. But it was a freestyle. From the heart. Engineered from 28 sporadic years of movies, TV shows, middle class education and hand me down ghetto fantasies.”
“This is my style in standard definition…”
I wipe the sweat from my hand as the microphone starts to lose its grip. I look back at those that watch. Some nod their head, a few talk amongst themselves, others hate. There are no widescreen TVs positioned on the corner of the stage. Nobody will arise from a trapdoor. Girls don’t scream. Nobody passes out. There are no lasers. There will be no copyright violations if this shit ends up on Youtube.
“This is my style manually-tuned. This is Hip-hop…”
Ntale Vs the Machine
I always wanted to be an emcee. Every kid on my block said that, most didn’t mean it. Not really. They haven’t done the knowledge. If they did, they’d know being an emcee is one of the dumbest career choices ever. Me, I knew that when I was 6 years old. When I first saw my cousin get booed off the stage at an Open Mic jam in Mott Haven. Yeah he was wack…but not that wack. They didn’t need to do him like that. This was the first summer after Krush Groove dropped. I didn’t really understand it, but for my cousin Joey this was like the magnum opus of African American industry. To Joey this movie captured the root of Black social alienation like a firefly in a glass bottle and lit it up for world to see. Joey saw that light and took it upon himself to take up the mantle for a lost people far from home…Me, see now I just thought it was a movie about a bunch of niggas trying to get paid – but who was I to argue with Joey. He was the coolest nigga on the planet.
“Yo, I’m out, little man. Wish me luck,” Joey said to me while scribbling down the last notes on his writing pad. I looked up at him as we sat in his bedroom. His moms always baby sat me on Saturday nights. If Joey was at home we’d listen to Rap attack and he’d tell me who was fresh and who was not. To Joey most were not. Joey assured me that he was gonna change the game. His first album would be like the 24 second shot clock of Hip-hop.
I looked up at my 17 year old cousin as he put on his jacket. He was performing for the first time tonight. One slot. 32 bars. He’d been working on this rhyme for the last 2 months. He had hundreds of verses by now, but to Joey this was his best – by far.
“Can I come?” I asked more in hope than expectation. Joey looked back at me for a split second, then burst out laughing.
“This is a club, my man. Shit I ain’t even meant to be up this muthafucker. I’m just lucky I’m that dope that I got juice like that.”
I looked back at my cousin, visibly disappointed. He’d been hyping this up for so long. Joey looked momentarily thoughtful. I guess in his mind this was my only chance to see how the other half lived as his mom was constantly reminding him how “bougy” my side of the family were. Joey flipped his gold chain inside out in an attempt to hide the sections that had turned green.
“Aaight. Here’s what’s gonna happen. We gonna tell mom dukes we going to the store, then when we get to the club, I’ll get baby girl to let you in the back so you can watch. Then we go straight home – ya dig?”
I nodded sheepishly, an ear to ear smile creeping across my face. “Bet!”
We walked to the club a few minutes later. I was never normally out this late. The neighbourhood took on a whole different structure in the non waking hours. I barely recognised the path I walked to school or the candystore at the end of the block. Everything was quieter, but a silence that came from methodical design rather than a vacuum of activity. Everything was of purpose at night from the girls on the corner to brothers sitting on stoops slowly exhaling cigarette smoke up towards the moon as we passed. Nothing was on accident. I walked closer to Joey who still held his notepad 10 inches from his nose.
“What’s your rap name?”
Joey looked down at me then back at his lyrics.
“Yeah H.E.A.R.T….the Humbly Earthbound African Righteous Teacher. H.E.A.R.T.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I’m a Humbly Earthbound African Righteous Teacher. What else? damn.”
I let it be. Joey was nervous. I was old enough to realise that.
We got to the club. As hoped “Baby girl” on the door let me in the back. I watched as H.E.A.R.T took the stage. I couldn’t believe my cousin was gonna be a rap star. I wondered how long it would be before he cut his first album. Would he still be able to listen to rap attack with me if he was on it?….
My thoughts were interrupted by 4 words. 4 words I’ll never forget. “Please pass the mic!!”…..Please pass the mic!!” I looked up from the stool I sat on. Joey was rapping already. This was the first time I had ever heard him. He didn’t sound like any of the rappers that he called fresh. He didn’t even sound like any of the ones he called wack. I was 6 years old. But I knew when somebody sounded off beat…when their delivery was lacklustre. Joey stuttered, he was overshadowed by the beat. “Please pass the mic!!!” chorused the crowd. I couldn’t see Joey’s face, but I could tell he was sweating. Somebody started booing…the tone had been set. The crowd booed mercilessly. Joey carried on but was drowned out. He faded to black. My cousin dropped the microphone and walked off stage. H.E.A.R.T never performed again and to the best of my knowledge Joey has never wrote another rhyme since.
That’s being an emcee. Chances of “blowing up” are mathematically insignificant. You will be booed of stage, you will be told you need to sound more like son, you will be told you need to sound less like dude. You will get promised the world. You will swear you are better than “this nigga that just went platinum” and sometimes you will be right…but that won’t matter. You will put your soul into this shit and maybe just maybe nobody will ever give a fuck. I knew that when I was 6 years old.