noun / the•glow / t͟hə glō
A rare, awe-inspiring moment, executed by an entity, that hugely impacts and changes those who witness and accept it. Big Piph was formed by the very thing he now needs: The Glow. Through songs, visuals, and stories, join him in his mission to shake up the universe. In this one-man show, crowd participation is a must, but ultimately, your journey may lead you to find something more important.
Epiphany “Big Piph” Morrow is a Stanford-educated international emcee and community builder. This noted TEDx speaker is a solo artist and front man for the 7pc jazz and funk infused, hip-hop ensemble, “Big Piph & Tomorrow Maybe”. His music, talks, and workshops have taken him abroad to countries such as Morocco, The Gambia, Seychelles, Thailand, Myanmar, and more. After a decade plus in the industry, his unique entertainment is relayed through the lenses of purpose, humor, creativity, race, and a global perspective. His latest project is a new age narrative, one-man show entitled, “The Glow”, with Corey Harris as music director. Tickets: $20 general admission
Nah Homey, Wrist Diss, & The Reason
Before I relay this traumatizing story, I must speak on this first. Yangonians (yup, made that up) are easily the friendliest city folks I’ve been around. I mean it aint real if you can’t see my grill friendly. I’ll run into dudes here who are tightened up looking both defensive and offensive, but then I walk by and they smile til their esophagus shows while hit me with a slight bow. Look, to illustrate both their overly friendliness and cultural differences, peep this: There’s an EXTRA friendly male hotel employee who always greets and then walks with me until I spark conversation. You know one of them “giggles in between every preposition” dudes. Anyway, I’m strolling into the elevator that he escorted me to and he says while beaming, “You workout. Your body. It’s very big. And very nice. I like.” Now as I hit him with the scrunched faced double blink as American Me tried to discern what was his angle, I understood this was just a compliment and nothing more. So, I hit Ole Awkward Southstar w/ a thank you and slight nod as I let the real and metaphorical elevator doors close between him and I forever...
(Just trippin. He’s cool folks and I enjoy our daily awkward convos where I don’t smile and he does.)
Now on to this trauma.
So the traditional handshake here is to shake with one hand, while the other hand is placed on the arm doing the handshaking between the wrist and “inner elbow”. If they feel you, it’s hand on the inner elbow. If they don’t, it’s “watch love”. This is humorous and dope to me in that you visibly see how a person receives you. Now, let me say this, my G. I’ve been killin it. I’m talkin bout fingers to elbows e’rytime. I’m showing love and getting it back. However, one day, I was buying some water fluid, rice, chicken, and an unidentified vegetable,when checking out of the supermarket in the middle of the mall. I first walked up to the cashier and he greeted me with elbow love. My dude. Love back. After ringing me up, I reached into my wallet to hit him with the 16,000 kyat, and handed it to him. He then handed me back my change, but get this, ole boy had his other hand on his wrist AND he hit me with the quick eye contact as if to say, “Yeah bruh, me and this counter don’t rock w/ you.’”. A wrist, my G?!? Not even some mid-forearm respect?!? Bruh, I looked back at dude hella hurt like “But why, tho?”. I straight felt like someone was cutting onions on aisle 16. He then just put his head down and started checking out the next customer. Mane, I haven’t felt that impacted by a random someone’s perception of me since I was like 12. I just slow strolled away and thought about how to become a better me...
Shall we proceed...
Just to reiterate, I’m in Yangon working with 3 other artists in complementary disciplines (DJ’n, B-Girl, beatboxing) and we have a site manager and photographer/videographer. Among other things we do individual workshops for about 70 students/collaborator, of which I have roughly 14 who are interested in emceeing. With that said, let me articulate that the students I’m working with is dope. I hesitate in even calling them students b/c most of them have been emceeing for a bit and perhaps I’m learning as much as them. Still, I’m running a workshop in which the musical aspects of the sessions are just the flashy part. We go much deeper in areas to spark personal growth as an artist and, more importantly to me, and all around person. In speaking w/ some folks who can’t get a grip on how I “teach rapping” to folks who speak a different language (b/c there’s very little English here), they’re surprised to learn how much besides lyrics is important in emceeing. Body language, flow, delivery, breathing, confidence, discipline, creativity, rhyme schemes, and on and on all can be perceived without me knowing one single work they utter. We forget how much of communication is not limited to words (and even more so with presentation). Throw in the fact that we’re also shaping the content (through which my translator helps me out with), we can go far down the rabbit hole. Plus, as long as they understand the word “dope”, we’re kosher. Anyway, the more I get to know them, the more I feel blessed to know them as people. More stories for another day...
Frogger, Thick Scales, & The Hot Spot
Fam gone. Work time. In Myanmar. Yangon. Yung P, move like the locals, brethren. Flow. Bruce Lee said, “Be like wahtah…”. However, Bruce Lee wasn’t a foot taller, cocked hat wearing, few shades darker, and 2/3 a sizeable child heavier than the average male. I mean, after some stares by a few Myanmars at the airport, one dude finally walked up, cupped his hands around my arm and said, “I like it!”. Then he did this Ric Flair flex (no “woo”), gave me a thumbs up, and walked away like that’s that new millenia dap. Anyway, all that’s to say is, I’m quite enjoying it. I like being in pockets where I’m the “oddball”, but I get to listen, learn, and grow. The goals not to fit in seamlessly, but to not stand out ridiculously.
My first exercise in such, was walking across the street. In a land where I’ve found that stoplights and staying in your lane while driving are optional, I wasn’t surprised to know that crossing the street is basically “Frogger” (as my folks/project site manager, Junious said). It’s not quite on Vietnam levels, but when I saw 3 folks standing stunt double style in the middle of a busy 6 lane street, waiting for the speeding bus behind and taxi in front to pass, I realized my chill George Jefferson stroll wasn’t the move.
Let me take a station break to get this out the way: This is the question that 89.3% of dudes think when their homeboy goes to a distant location. The question goes something like this: “But
what them women looking like dawg? (said in Tommy from Martin voice #noreboot). My response for Myanmar is, they look like...women. However, there is a feature of note. I’ve been to a few Asian countries and the Myanmar ladies are surprising more “stout” than what I’ve seen elsewhere. Someone called this country the Brazil of Asia. Now don’t go booking your ticket yet (b/c you know, brothas be thusty), as this country wasn’t consulted for the the early 2000’s BET Uncut videos. To put it on the coveted “Thick Spectrum”, about 1 in 5 is on the low end inbetween “hot sauce in my Ramens” and “Worldstar as my homepage” thick #respect Who knew?
Anyway, now that that’s out the way, here’s a few other notables from my first few days. This city of Yangon has the largest population of stray dogs, I’ve ever seen. However, they’re all well fed and look like the dog from Coco. And while writing, I realized I’ve yet to hear one of them bark. It’s a city of plump Pixared mute mutts. And I’m dig WAY too much sci-fi to find this coincidentally. And not on some “genetic mutations” tip, but more so on “these aint really even dogs at all my G…perhaps not even from Earth”. #staywoke
Anyway, cruised through their old school market, which was they type of old school market I expected. Anything you want within a huge area of huddled folks with 2 foot walkways and everything’s negotiable. Cats outside drinking tea on little tables while folks were spitting the red Betel nut juice that the locals like so much. However, the awe inspiring moments came when we visited Yangon's best known pagoda (Buddhist temple, which is typically a tiered tower) the shwedagon. It was big and gold on the outside, where they promptly make you remove your shoes and socks. Now, I’ma dude who wears chucks to the beach, but you know, “wahtah”. Plus, I had similar experiences in Thailand, so I strolled inside and was immediately surprised how folks were in there selling thangs in the covered walkway up. T-shirts, lil shwedagon ornaments, and I think I even saw chicken. It quickly reminded me of the “Jesus tearing up the temple” story, but I moseyed on through, walked up hella stairs, and hit the main entrance and was in awe. Gold towers, buddhas, and other structures everyone. Also, this hella long, curved row of lit candles around some of the borders. Oh, and people. Hella, hella, people. Some were praying, some were laying out flowers, some were on field trips, some were singing. (S/o to this one nun, who was meditating immobilized on a ledge, but on the cool I think it was for a profile pic. #ISawYourPhotographer #SuperSwipe #NunsBeShoppinToo.) It was a lot to take in, which I can’t describe adequately, so hopefully the pictures will assist. Still in the end, the new-ageness of some elements threw me off as there were flat screen TVs and animated neon signs over certain Buddha’s heads on some OG Asia meet Tron. It was…different. In the end, I was glad I visited, but I would like to check out some others that are a little less popular and of possibly different design.
On some last, but not least, my team here is beyond dope. For this program, I’m glad I got linked up with Junious Brickhouse (site manager), Benu (beatbox), Tsunami (B-Girl and really dancer extraordinaire) and DJ Trife (DJ and nominated spokesman) and Lisa (photographer/videographer) I’m sure I’ll be alluding to the squad in future write-ups, but wanted to give them shout-outs.
Also, I can’t go w/o making any reference to this. If any folks know about the current “climate” of Myanmar, just note that I will not be speaking on this too much while here. Not because I’m shying away from the subject, but rather because I want to extra ensure that my trip here AND back is safe and healthy. Yup #IllBeFreshAsHellIfTheyWatchin #GoogleIsYourFriend
Many try to tell you what Africa is and isn't. Unless they mention it's a vast continent with so much diversity, beauty, turmoil, and history...let them ride.
These pics are from Stone Town as well, which was a major slave port for East Africa. I'm sure most of my good folks know that the West African slave trade (to America and the islands) wasn’t the only one on deck. Well, this spot was a major hub for the “Arab slave trade” (a culture not a race). Given such, there was a museum on a former slave point. Heavy, but the education and reminder was welcomed. Well, more than that. Needed.
Although the entire museum was weighty, there were 2 areas that bore the heaviest load on me. The first being an actual “holding cell” for former slaves that patrons where were allowed to walk in. Now, I know I’m probably taller and perhaps larger than many of the individuals from that time, but my frame seemed to consume at least 5-8% of the area. (See picture.) The guide told us how up to 75 people were forced in there though. Read that again, seventy-five individuals piled on top of each other in a dank and dark cellar. Of course, many died before they ever touched a boat. Far more were injured and became sick. I’ve read books and seen shows, so know the get down, but sitting in the actual area made it all the more realer. Sickening...
Secondly, there were two primary African/Arab cats who gained HUGE wealth from selling slaves once certain crops and items became in demand and more labor was needed. After seeing the pic of one “Tippu Tip” on snap, my homegirl remarked he was like an OG Uncle Tom (or Sambo, really). However, in actuality he and others were far worse, b/c the Sambo’s were doing it for massuh suh’s “approval” and “admiration” whereas these dudes were just doing it for the dough. Truthfully, it’s easily to despise and remove oneself from the ways of these dudes but truthfully, the way many move nowadays through both their coded ways and behind-the-scene actions, I wouldn’t be surprised if folks would do the same given the chance. Anyway, this may just be dark and (justifiably so) infuriated/saddened me talking. Soul sellin’ for the mighty shilling. Hopefully, I'll be more hopeful soon...
Days 10-12 (Zanzibar): Native Piph, A Heavy Past, & Octopus on a Stick
Cruising outside of the gates of the hotel and beach was beautiful in a different way. Dark faces, bright natural colors, and beautiful foliage were on deck. We went about an hour into the heart of Zanzibar into the main area called Stone Town. In there (and the rest of Tanzania) standard conversation went something like this:
Me: Jambo (hello)
(Any) Tanzanian man: Jambo. [insert hella long Swahili sentences here]
Me (w/ a smirk): Nah. I’m from America. Like most there, I’m dumb and only speak English.
TM: Oh, sorry. I thought you were from here. [insert another hella long Swahili response]
Me: My G...we just spoke about this.
TM: Oh, you’re serious? I just thought you goofy. Sorry. Good to see you brutha.
This did my unidentified, stolen from my heritage black man’s soul proud. I’ve never tricked on a DNA test to find out where my roots lie. Although I doubt it’s East Africa, when the FEDS eventually start looking for me for either being the revolution’s food tester or pulling this Soderbergh heist I’ve been planning, I know a place where I could blend in.
Anyway, we hit the market full of dope sights, sounds, and smells. Ok. You called it,I’m lying about the smells. Due to butcher shops walks, seafood markets with squids laid out like Banana Republic socks, and the selling and usage of every spice except Old...the scents got intense quick. It is what it be. I travel a lil bit and have been in markets as such before, so my hoe-bred American nose got used to it quickly.
I did the same type of shopping I normally do at markets and malls, which is buy nothing. However, mom dukes more than picked up the slack as she’s good to purchase baby clothes for seeds that none of her children have and she can’t. But let me find out them blue pills that dad got in the mail aren’t the multivitamins for osteoporosis that he said they were. Hol’up...is that what he meant by “bone density”?!? Anyway, this just got disturbing, let’s proceed...
Food: It’s good. I eats bruh. Adventurously eat too which often leaves the belly on MJ kicks, but I lives dat lyfe. After chilling in the hotel at the special beach buffet on our final night, I found out that grilled octopus skewers (see pic) are my new crack. Although each clearly visible tentacle is like, “You know I’m an octopus, right?”, my gastric fluids were raised properly. #GetInMyBelly
For the buffett's big bang, some brethren from Stone Town rolled through to perform. They did stunts, flipped, literally jumped through hoops, and other junk that you tag folks in comment sections to peep. I can’t lie, I was amazed. Then inspired. Then even strategize how I could beat my body and mind up to achieve such feats as Stone Town’s Cirque du Soleil. But then I heard the lamb, rice, and cheesecake whisper “Jambo” in my left ear from behind. I smiled, turned around, and asked them, “How do you say “I want to be with you’ in Swahili?“ Jambo indeed...
A (Thoughtful) Ramble Sparked from Zanibar
If you're lame or your life sucks, I’m down to converse w/ you to figure out what to do to not follow in your footsteps. If we can’t figure out the root fo the problem, just to be sure, I’ll just peep the moves you make that (I believe to) spring from your ocean of lameness, and not do any of them. Not a judgement call on me thinking I'm better than you, but just rather, whatever you're doing, don’t look right on me. It’s a matter of stye and some of ya’ll are rocking w/ the wrong designers...
Speaking on such, as we were traveling to “Stone Town” in Zanzibar, a group of tourists in a van were entering the beautiful gated hotel we were leaving. Now across the street from the telli is what would be considered an impoverished area w/ the OG people of the land residing. You know, doing things like living and such. And wouldn’t you know it, on some “you keep saying we’re past this” tip, this group of (all white) tourists were taking pictures and vid of the folks. I can’t tell you for sure what they were doing and saying, but it just struck me as exploitation and objectification. Now, I’ll admit that I’m a tad sensitive when catching a white person (or group) dive into a predominately black environment and extract anything from it (b/c you know, history), but this wasn’t just that. I mean, I’m all about experiences when traveling and ya’ll know my pic game is legit. However, I realized that this problem formed from knowing that these “culture borrowers” were doing so from the safety of their bubble knowing that most would (probably) be repulsed to really set foot on these grounds, have meaningful interactions w/ the people, or exchange directly w/ their economy. All was “entertainment" as long as they could have it from their safe.
But Piph, aren’t you being a lil assumptive here? Judging by how real it got since I just used 3rd person to refer to myself, perhaps so. Also, I’m not removing myself from the blame either, however, my “assumptions” were further solidified by our “guide” (and others) when I did have a chance to hit the village. (Our “guide” was from the area and lived down the block.) He expressed, how some of the people there felt like they were being on exhibit by the tourists. Also, just to beat the point home, later, in that same stroll, the 4 French folks, who accompanied my mom and I, would literally run up on people and take a pictures on some, “this is just like the movies!” tip. Now before somebody tries to justify these actions, I aint NEVER been to any one of these European countries and seen anybody run up on a fool in a cafe like, “Oh my God! An Italian in the wild! The homies back home are never gonna believe how she brushed her lip to flee the espresso’s froth!” Anyway, mom dukes and I tried to fall back as if to let the physical distance symbolize our separation from this stereotypical elite peak whiteness. In the end, however, I just wanted to stomp out a beignet.
Anyway, perhaps this is a tangent of a post, or perhaps all the other posts are all tangents to this one. Whatever. I try to balance any extended stay someplace with diving somewhat into the culture and ways and sometimes this is what you get. Now, I know my leech-to-contribution ratio aint right cause Lord knows I be on that electricity heavy for my 7 devices. Still though, a brotha’s ouchea trying. Anyway, I’ll be back w/ some beach pics or something tomorrow… yay
*Thoughts on the huge economic discrepancy that existed within 500 ft apart of each other and the locals not being able to access the majority of the very beach which was once their backyard? Perhaps another time.
**Oh, and while in the village, as instructed, we bought and brought some food to give to some of the folks.
***The reason there aren’t pictures of people/faces is b/c they didn’t say it was cool-like. However, I’ma see if this one lady is on Tinder though b/c I know she felt something when I hit her w/ the eye contact.#SoIKnowItsReal
Hyenas are Your Shady Homeboy, Ninja Buffalo, & The Real Ruler
Elephants Aint Never Scared
Honestly, elephants are now higher on my "I run this" list than lions. Unless you bring your entire set, aint nothing messing w/ them. We passed a place in the bush with like 30 broken trees snapped off at the trunk. Our guide Emmanuel (you know, the dung beetle tosser) was like "Yeah...sometimes elephants break down trees to feed their young, scratch their bellies, or play stickball." Possibly the last part was made up, but trees mane. Trees! Yall think elephants can't run because they're big. Nah, young Padawan, they don't run because they don’t have to.#staywoke
Hyenas are Paid in Full
Hyenas are the ultimate you should “judge a book by its cover” animal. The suprisingly big (and unsuprisingly uncute) suckers have no care as they lay around wherever and just bite chunks out of animals, whether dead or not. Now, they come off as halfway cool folks because you know if they were human they would buy everybody a round, be down for whatever, got hella jokes, and watch all the ball games. But they’re like if I met a dude and I knew he was shady, but we became cool like homeboys anyway. He then begins dating my sister claiming he’s a changed man. Howver, he then cheats on her with scrippers and gets strung out on Xanax. I can’t be mad at my (ex) homeboy. I should be mad at myself for not believing him when he showed me who he was. In short, hyenas are essentially Rico (Cam’ron) from Paid in Full.
Water Buffalo Don’t Believe in Private Space
They told us that sometimes animals roam through our camp space at night, so don’t walk from your room to the main cabin without a guide. Now, I figured they were overhyping the situation until when walking with my guide at night from the crib to the lodge, dude flashed his light at 2 water buffalo about 60 feet away. Two hours later when walking back to crib, my guide shined the light revealing a HUGE buffalo within 15 feet. Chillin. 10 feet more, there were 2 more. 20 feet more, like 3 more. Now, I pride myself on my Pine Bluff roots and being alert for whatever, but these hairy Volkswagens just would stroll up in hoofed isotoners w/o much of a sound. NOTE: They do charge and have killed people. NOTE NOTE: The next day a pride of lions strolled through camp at night. NOTE NOTE NOTE: The next morning, we left...
The Real Ruler of Everythang
Flies. Point.Blank.Period. These junks are vicious. Plus, who knew the tsetse fly still existed? I thought they stopped trending in the 1600’s or something. Lions were aggravated. Ostriches were trynna fly away. Hyenas, well...hyenas just chilled. These beings truly rule the bush, jungle, and wherever else you may be in the wild. They’re big, persistent, the most prevalent, laugh at predators (and spray), travel in packs, are all alphas, and I’m unsure if can die. I repeat. We’ve been lied. “Conspiracy theory me” thinks white imperialists rewrote history to not emphasize their dominance throughout history, but I’m here to let you know, once again...#staywoke
Folks come for the animals and I get it, but there are some fa real beautiful things out there that don’t play prey or appetizer. I just enjoyed riding, watching, feeling, and existing in it for a lil while. “Blessed” was the only word that came to mind.
Although I couldn’t make it to the event, I heard I won Hip Hop Live Performer of the Year and Best Album (of any genre) for “Celebrate” at the Central Arkansas Music Awards (CAMAs) last night. Dope. Blessed dude who’s not mad at all. Huge appreciation to all who play a part in what I do performance and album wise, especially my MD Corey Harris and exec producers of Wayne Smith and Dondrae Vinson . I always say I have the cheat code due to the folks I work with. However, if perchance I heard the wrong information and in actuality I didn’t win anything…I’ll promptly delete this post and make a diss track for all who chuckled. If not though, preciate again. I’m motivated to work on whatever’s next. #WeAreNotThem#SaluteToAllTheNominees #PreciateCAMA
If haven’t heard the album, check the link: http://www.bigpiph.com/musicbigpiph/
Unicorn Gallops, Lions Aint Beast-Beasts, & Emmanuel Wins
Let me state my ignorance off top. I’ve been to hella zoos, B. I’ve seen animals I’ve ridden, eaten, drawn in kindergarten, and thought were imaginary. (Who knew reindeer were real, bruh?) Although, it’s always cool like to see a new critter, I rarely get excited. I’ve also seen The Lion King hella times. Besides, lightweight rooting for Scar and strangely finding Nala attractive when she did that on the back playful paw thing-thing, I just figured it was a dope movie. However, not once during either of these activities, did I ever think I needed to hit up a safari. That was my bad...
The following are my quick takes after being immersed for 2 days in the Serengeti. I'm not saying the following is insightful or enlightening. I’m just telling you this is what I saw and how I felt.
The Bush is the Animal Diaspora
I don’t know, mane. I kinda thought that all the animals would be spread far apart. But within a short drive of about about half-a--mile radius, we peeped zebras, wildebeest, a rock jumper thingie (that looked delicious), impalas, and cheetahs. And we would just roll up within 10 feet of these awesome beasts and they would sit there and Kanye shrug. Plus, zebras and every type of galloping animal, just seemed...happy. I think it’s coming into their home vs. them being in a cage, but they would just frolic and prance on some “just because it’s Tuesday”. We immediately landed and peeped a grand world of God’s creations that I felt humbled to take in. Still, w/ that said, if ANY one of them thangs was on the menu for the night, pass the Louisiana. #FoodOverEverythang
Lions Be Lazy
(Proper English.) There were 3 of them sitting no more than 15 feet away from our jeep playing patty cake. The ambitious lady one was pimp strolling through some grass with over 100 wildebeest in rock throwing distance and...nothing happened. I mean, she got kinda close, but I learned them junks can’t run fast for too long b/c they get tired, so they really just wait for their prey’s short term memory to slip up and they wander to close. Now, I aint saying lions aren’t to be respected or powerful, but it’s like if I found out the WCW I was sneak stalking on IG really just sat around all day eating pork rinds and releasing various gases. Plus, when we started talking civil rights, she was like, “Huey who?”. I mean, I might still slip in the DMs after too much red on a Thursday, but would really just be praying she has an educated cousin.
(Lame, but I stuck w/ it. #confidence)
When I saw this majestic animal eating from the top of a tree and then raise its head w/ the sun in the distance, all I heard was “Welcome to Jurassic Park!” w/ the theme music in my head. I’m not saying this makes good sense, nor is important. However, you just read it, so there’s that.
Dung Beetles vs. Emmanuel
This half a baseball sized, choppa sounding creature flew into our moving jeep, shook it, fell behind a little, flew to catch up, dog whistled to his cousin, who then dung beetle dive bombed into the passenger side of the vehicle. This is real life, bruh. However, Emmanuel, our cool like charismatic driver, was realer. With one hand still on the wheel, he reached his left hand over, picked it up as I was pointing and (manly) shrieking, “What is that?!?”, looked at it, chuckled and said, “Oh, a dung beetle”, threw it out the car and mashed the gas never speaking on it again. Although Emmanuel was too friendly to say this, I could feel him thinking "These B.A. Americans". Honestly, I’m not sure I disagree w/ him.
Anyway, got the second half of the trip for ya’ll tomorrow. Also, if want to peep some more vid and pics check out my IG stories and snaps at @bigpiph
The old Emiretus palace, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, & other Abu Dhabi views
Window Shopping, Two Burjes, & A Milli for a Round
When you were younger, did you ever play the game “what would I buy w/ a million dollars”? Well, Dubai is that answer to that if you added 5 zeroes and really liked open toed shoes of both the designer and “nativity scene” variety.
Yesterday I strolled through the Dubai Mall, but wait...when I say “mall" think more GDP than trickin Christmas monies as this is the largest mall in the world. Anyway, due to a laughing emoji that occasionally replaces my checking account balance, I didn’t spend too much time in this aquarium having establishment, but had to walk through it get to the Burj Khalifa entrance (aka “the tallest building in the world” because you know, Dubai). So, I shot up to the top w/ my fam in the world's fastest elevator (Dubai again) and then looked out at the now dwarfed city. They then tried to sell us a photoshopped pic of my superimposed fam looking excited at the Burj building, but since we all have Snapchat filters, we chuckled and then opted to head back down to them streets instead.
Next, we decided to hit up Burj #2: Burj Al Arab. This is known as the hella nice, 7-star hotel and the structure everyone takes a pic by when they hit up Dubai. Anyway, this huge dope, big sail looking building had automated fountains, aquariums by the escalators, and an exclusive sky bar that we shot up to for some curry cashews and cheeseburger quarters that cost the price of a small child. (NOTE: Not a child you really like, but rather a kinda a frail, sticky, annoying kid.) Whatever though, because the view was dope, their noteworthy drinks were ordered and it was a good time. However, it is here I must note that they had 3 cocktails that were each over $1k. Ok. I’m not sure if you read that right, so I repeat: They had 3 possibly 4.3 oz drinks that each cost over $1,000.00 that would neither increase my virility nor my IQ. (In fact the latter may have decreased upon purchase.) So you know what I did, right? I ordered 1, jump-slapped the glass off of homeboy’s tray when he was bringing it to the table, screamed “RN Over Everythang” while doing a gang-gang sign, and ball jumped through the glass out the window while humming the entirety of No Limit’s discography on the way down. We ouchea mane...
Sooo...after you discount that delusion, I pretty much took the elevator back down, took a cab, promptly fell asleep (b/c jetlag’s a beast), and then bought a steak sandwich while chopping it up w/ my mom dukes. (Just know that in my head still, I slapped that drink though. #RNOE)
Sandstorms, Michelle Obama, & “Get Off My Lawn"
I pride myself on having been in hella different weather conditions and natural disasters, but I never guessed I’d wake up to a weather report saying “sand”. I looked out the window and lightweight thought they misspelled “fog” until I stepped outside w/ the fam and 5 dirt particles immediately had no chill w/ my left eye causing me to unmanly whimper. (Who knew Dubai was built on a desert? Go figure.) Anyway, I chewed on some dirt as I learned my mouth doesn’t fully close, and then hopped on one of those “tour the city” busses that #SquadAARP usually hordes in. (Random side note: Why do they always have a digital camera, not realizing that their phone has an app for that?) We saw monstrous buildings with bold architecture behind veils of dirt as we braved the open air on the top deck of the bus to which Asha Morrow said the sandstorm provided a full exfoliation. As we proceed...
Got off in the Gold Souk district which basically has window displays of full torso gold pieces that would make Slick Rick blush. Junk was dumb (see pic). As most folks wandered through shopping in relative peace, every store owner ran up on us w/ a lil card asking us to buy goods. At first, I thought it was b/c I “look like money”, but changed my stance when a) they kept saying the word “fake” before Gucci and Vuitton b) rolled up on my sister, Asha T.V. Morrow, who’s on her natural hair journey, but is currently rocking the Seabiscuit, asking her if she wanted that Brazilian and c) saying every lady I was with looked like Michelle Obama (despite age, size, and you know, looks). It was then I realized we were the only black folks in the market and this pitch must have been taught in the Dubai Open Air Marketing classes they attended. Nah bruh bruh, now back up before I really fit your stereotype and snatch yo’ 23 karats and kick over your saffron rack. (No worries. This isn’t a prejudiced remark. There really were hella racks holding saffron.)
I later caught up w/ the long time, ultra dope choreographer and friend, Yeya Ekstrom who moved up this way a second or 3 ago. She scooped me and drove off in the cut about 20 minutes to a small patch of grass. Why? B/c she had 2 puppies and the little grass there is in the main city of Dubai, you can’t touch. Yup...you heard that right, if there’s a park w/ grass, stay on the concrete b/c beings utilizing photosynthesis are a high commodity and only meant for viewing. (Did I mention that Dubai was built in the desert?) Anyway, later on, caught back up w/ fam, got some grub and ate some dope chicken tandoori and naan. Then, caught a cab, finally regained vision in my left eye, went to the top floor bar of the telli (which I believe is the tallest in the world), and laid it down for the night. A cool-like full day one complete.
Anyway, I’m unsure if I’m recap all (or any more) days, but for now, for more pics and vid, I’m rocking on @bigpiph on Instagram (stories) and Snapchat.
Sometimes dope nights make it all make sense. Great performances last night with an even better crowd and energy. Plus, more importantly, we raised enough to almost send another student to the 2018 summer program. (We'll make that happen though. Stay tuned...)
Anyway, thanks everybody who was a part of making the event a success and from the performers John Willis, Dazz & Brie, Arkansas Bo, The Realest YK, Asylum, Osyrus Bolly, Philli Moo, Tawanna Campbell, and SeanFresh. Also, to Bijoux and Dee Dee Jones with the Tomorrow Maybe musicians Corey Harris, Paul Campbell, Dre Franklin, and Lucas "Cool Hand" Murray. Plus , host Keith Glason and DJ Code Red.
Last but not least salute to Tonya "Fly Yo" Higgins, Miracle, Deja, Cici, and esp Kalan Horton for the help making the night flow.the host. thanks to The Rev Room and clapped hands to our sponsors Onebanc and ACANSA.
No matter the attire, keep a cool-like squad...
Song from 2016's The Legacy Project. The song is on all major streaming services or listen HERE.
Product of SDS Films /// Story by Epiphany Morrow & Kenneth Bell
Good times at the State Fair, The Delta Made Festival, and the Lost 40 Festival. Plus, I had my folks Tomorrow Maybe, Papa Leo, and DJ Greyhound join me for a few. #FAM
I'm far from perfect and far from where I want and plan to be, but I respect my journey. Even more so, I try to learn from past successes and failures not to just improve my future steps, but to aid others in their walk as well. Given such, it was a pleasure to speak to these young men in Pine Bluff.
Transitions are hard, man.
You can breakup with your lady because she got too cozy with one of the homies*, but sadness is gonna come when you realize you miss her Netflix account and conversations. Or you can autograph the paperwork and inspire “white flight" for your new crib in the burbs, you when realize you’ve been a hoarder for a decade+, packing becomes the bain of your existence. In the end, change comes with a one-time toll and progress comes with a daily tax. It’s why we get stuck in holding patterns because when analyzing the costs we decide chillin is more so in our budget.
I’m no different...
For the past decade plus, I’ve been known mostly as an “emcee”. I proudly graduated from the “so are you picking up this tab or is we running” camp to proudly reppin the term as both an artist and a career. Emcee’n has been a conduit to creative design, entrepreneurship, marketing, teaching, speaking, and diplomacy. Also, far beyond jobs, it also lead a brotha to activism, community development, and philanthropy. I may have never stood on a table in a Miami club with shades on pouring out premium liquors I endorse w/ a model-turned physicist under my arm and coconut oil on my chest pieces; but I swear I have had one of the craziest, weirdest, dopest, adventurous careers. Still...my days of being known as an “emcee” first are coming to a close.
Enter the transition...
Let me clear this up first: I’m not “quitting” music. (We all know rappers never retire.) However, a “career in music” is no longer the objective. The goal is to more seamlessly integrate hip-hop content, culture, and events with cause based work and community building. Think music, visuals, writing, and other creative content that directly aids causes and initiatives in the community. Now think if there were ways to get other creatives involved bringing in their A-Game. Now scrap the corny, heavy handed, or unsustainable ways you’ve seen it done before and we’re close to envisioning the same thing.
So, what’s the plan, Piph? Glad you asked. I have a pretty cool-like idea of where we're going and how past successes play into it, but I’m not ready to share all of that yet. I’m unsure of how long the transition will be, so this post may gone tomorrow, 2 months from now, or like 2 years. Just know that despite the missed stadium tour goals I had as emcee, the current vision somehow only got bigger. I have a say-so on the world, more than the other way around. I hope some can relate. Regardless, preciate ya’ll being down for the ride...
*NOTE: This is not what the Dogg Pound meant by "aint no fun". And truthfully, even what they meant isn’t dope. Only thing I like that’s community is uprisings, meetings, and Ethiopian food.
I had my song, "Zone Out" in "Tyler Perry's: Boo2". (An oldie, but goodie.) Haven't heard it yet? Take a listen HERE or check out the video below.
Performers say whether "1 or 1 million you put on regardless", but some shows are just more epic than others. Preciate Hendrix for the invite, Lizzo for letting us open, and Rachel for the shots.
Huge preciation to A3C for asking me to be a panelist at their A3C conference in Atlanta, GA for the topic of "Business Beyond Music". Salute to Dame Ritter (Still Movin/MEC) for making it happen and the other panelists "President" Gomez and ScottyATL. Plus, I got to see Nas perform for my 1st time. Not mad at all...
Ask some of your folks to come through and kick it for a video? Sign me up bruh.
To check out the album in full, why HERE you go....
Shot & Directed by Kenneth Bell
Special thanks to Matt White for usage of White Water Tavern
A brotha (that’s me) has his song, “Too Late”, placed in the “Teach Us All” documentary on Netflix. It's about "the social justice movement aimed at providing equal access to quality education for all students in America". S/o to Sonia Lowman for making it and choosing my tune and Ava DuVernay for supporting it under Array. (Salute to Woo and Bradley too.)
Haven't heard it? Check it out HERE.
Had to stop through DC in July to for orientation and to meet my Next Level Team. What is this Next Level you ask? And why did they mess up and choose a brotha? Well let me copy/paste their words real quick:
This collaborative international exchange program engages underserved communities in six countries around the world and uses artistic collaboration and social engagement to enhance people-to-people diplomacy, especially among young audiences.
So, w/ that said, I'll be off to Myanmar in 2018...
Back for the final Legendary Flow Friday for awhile. It's #6 as I roll on Pete Rock and CL Smooth's "TROY".
A cultural community event with free breakfast, books, reading time for the little ones, and workshops & sessions for the older youth. A partnership between jUSt and the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library & Learning Center that is focused on the lil folks, but open to the big lil folks too. (Key Word: COMMUNITY)
It's time for Legendary Flow Friday #3 as I take a stroll on Dr. Dre's "Forgot About Dre" instrumental...
I linked up w/ "Big Piph & Tomorrow Maybe" to premier a new song from my upcoming "CELEBRATE" album. I would like to say it was part of some grand promotional scheme, but really we entered NPR's Tiny Desk Contest, which we definitely lost. (However, it was to Tank & The Bangas and they're pretty dope, so que sera (sp?)....)
I'm tired of the fight...
“One of Arkansas’ best bands” and “great hip-hop ensemble” are phrases often used to describe the collective known as Big Piph & Tomorrow Maybe. However, although they are deserving of both titles, these descriptions have proven to be far too confining. The creativity, discipline, and showmanship that BPTM put into their jazz, soul, funk, and rock infused hip-hop experiences will soon have them recognized as one of the best bands… period.
*Yeah, I wrote this myself. Sounds dope doesn't it...
For the second week of the program, the student traveled abroad to Costa Rica to immerse themselves in the culture, meet peers, and take on social service projects.
Eight stellar high school students from underserved communities were chosen to take part of Global Kids-Arkansas. For the first week, they were given special instruction, interactive challenges, and field trips to open their eyes on what an active global citizen means.