Posts Tagged ‘Hip-Hop’

Doing Your Thing With Disability: Question Living Blind & Famous

Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

Question, a light skin black man with long locs, wearing a red shirt with white sunglasses and holding a white cane while leaning against a red brick wall.
We reached the final episode of the season where we salute and recognize individuals who are pursuing their interests and goals not in spite of their disability but rather with it. The difference may seem minor to some, but if you’re someone who wants to see disability normalized in society then you probably recognize this vast gap.

On a black background clouded in white smoke is the heading titled “Doing your thing with Disability”. Underneath are multiple images positioned in a circular clock face. the words Blind & Famous in Graffiti lettering in the center.  On top at 11, 12 and 1 o’clock are A traffic light with musical note draping the lights representing Migo Traffic,  followed by a picture of Question and Damasta respectively. At the 9 and 3 o’clock positions are Label and Matt Mac At the bottom positioned at 7, 6 and 5 o’clock are; J Mouse, GoldFingas and PDex in the lab respectively.
Question, a young Producer & Rapper from Atlanta, Blind from birth is one such example. He’s been into music ever since he can remember. Like the early Hip Hop producers he admires, Question started making music with the tools he had available to him.

A student of Hip Hop, he recognized the power of a squad, a team and along with his friends and fellow artists Damasta and Migo Traffic began curating the collective of fellow Blind rappers and producers known as Blind & Famous!

What a perfect way to conclude this inaugural season of 2022; Doing Your Thing With Disability.

Plus, the winner of the Reid My Mind Radio Twitter Giveaway… @SandraManwiller… Congratulations!!!

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Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
–at low volume
It’s time to get hype
–Clip from Yao from Mulan: I’m gonna hit you so hard, it’ll make your ancestors dizzy.
–Rhythmic electronic music fades in and becomes louder.

We’re back on the scene, crispy and clean and if you’re Hip Hop and from my generation especially, then you know what I mean!

My name is Thomas Reid and I’m the host and producer of this here podcast.

–“Reid My Mind Radio” echoes

I’m feeling good. Feeling accomplished as we wrap up this season: Doing Your Thing With Disability.

If you’ve been rockin’ with Reid My Mind Radio, you’re very familiar with our commitment to those adjusting to blindness.

We often talk about the power of people in that adjustment.
The value of their stories and experiences which include the direct lessons as well as how it expands our own beliefs of what is possible.

Today, I hope you all will recognize the additional value and power in individuals who have a shared identity, experience, goals, working together in support of one another.
Not letting you rest on your strengths alone, but encouraging you to go beyond with all that you have.

Today, I’m in my Hip Hop mode so we’re gonna call it what it is, your crew, your squad!

Family, let’s get ’em!

Audio: Reid My Mind Theme Music

Question:
Yo, this is Question man! Artist and producer coming out of East Point, primarily a hip hop, r&b EDM.

I am a biracial kid with dreadlocks wearing a long sleeve blue shirt and some sweatpants right now. Chillin in my home studio just vibing out.

Question:
I’ve been blind all my life. I was born with optic nerve hypoplasia. I don’t have any vision in my right eye. And I have like, a little bit of vision in my left eye so I read Braille. And I use a lot of accessible and adaptive technology.

TR in Conversation with Question:
Did you go to mainstream school?

Question:
I did both. I went to mainstream school really up until eighth grade. And then I went to Georgia Academy for the Blind until I graduated.
I feel like if you go to a blind school, your whole life or a school for the blind, you’re gonna be a little bit sheltered to certain cultural aspects.

TR:
The concern that I’m sure many people have in enrolling a Blind child in a mainstream school is what Question found helpful.

Question:
It’s a little bit easier to kind of duck off, find your own crowd. It’d be a whole lot going on, you know, games and homecoming, and like different organizations, different things where you’d be staying after school clubs and all type of that. They had that on a minimal scale at a Blind school because they want everybody to be included.
But it’s just different so you know you do be a little bit sheltered if you don’t make a point to step outside of that school for the blind.

TR:
Inclusion is great, but we also need a chance to find out who we are as an individual. Becoming our true selves. Music was a part of that discovery for Question. In fact, it’s his interest in different genres that inspired his name.

–Sample: So you’re a philosopher?

TR in conversation with Question:
Question. What’s the name about?

Question:
I study a lot of different things. I just really look at myself as a student and as a fan of a lot of different genres.
Hip Hop people like Logic, people like The Roots, De La, Tribe, even Kanye, to a degree have just like a certain aura to the music and to what’s going on. So that’s definitely one of the aesthetics that I have as a part of my material.

TR in Conversation with Question:
I think I read you kind of referred to yourself as a hippie.

Question:
Yeah, for sure

TR:
Less 1960 or early 70’s hippie, and more like a Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul style!

TR in Conversation with Question:
Tell me a little bit about your introduction to music and then specifically rap. I don’t know if rap was first.

Question:
Yeah, I think rap was first. So to break it all the way down, my mom is white, my dad is black. I was with my mom a lot of the time. You know, she a single parent. I know my dad, everything cool.
My mom is a crazy Hip Hop head. She really the one that put me on a lot of the first music I was listening to.
So she raised me up going to concerts. She went to see Goodie Ma, when she was pregnant.
She was listening to like The Roots and Biggie, and just people in that era. Jay Z, Bahamadia, Helter Skelter.
She was just like, around a lot of artists that was in ciphers. She was just like, connected to that culture. She wasn’t in music herself but she just always knew that was a vibe. So it low key like curated that energy in me, like right from jump.

TR in Conversation with Question:
Helter Skelter? Okay. That’s a name I don’t hear being dropped that often.

Question:
She definitely deep into it. She my manager.
Because of that she’s now grown in her understanding of the industry. Five years ago, it was nothing but just like being a fan, being just appreciative of everything. But now, because of just the way things move, it’s become like a professional thing.
TR:
It began however with a natural interest and love for the music.
At three years old he was copying melodies and beats heard on the radio using toy keyboards. Always asking those he was with to turn on the radio, play a CD, he wanted music.
He learned drums and percussions, taught himself keyboard.
After hearing a song by Ludacris and Trina that featured a violin, he wanted to join the orchestra but was dissuaded from pursuing the instrument.

Question:
“Nah you can’t do it because the string part is too hard for people to read. And if you try to read the Braille, like, you can’t read it and play it at the same time.”

And then they was like, “you could do the drums.”

And it was like, I already do the drums. Like, I had been playing drums from young to I have like, Jim Bayes and congas. I got a drum set in my house.
I was kind of like, nah, I wanted to do strings. I wanted to do violin. So they didn’t let me do it. It’s kind of weird.

TR:
Fortunately, that didn’t stop Question from pursuing music. He continued to be inspired from those things within his reach.

Question:
I used to remember, like, listening to CDs in a stereo of Rick Ross, Wayne, Jay Z, whatever. And then I could like, burn my beats to a CD and just go play it in that same stereo. And it’s like, I’m on a CD. It didn’t really matter how good it was because it was me. And I had done this and I had brought something that was in my head into a form that everybody else could interact with, whether they liked it or they don’t. It’s like, now it’s here. And it wasn’t before. And that’s like a crazy thing. To me to this day.

TR:

Whether you’re a kid or not, sometimes, the things we think about or aspire to seem mysterious or out of reach. Remove the veil, and we begin to realize that it is attainable.
That can definitely provide the fuel needed to work on the craft.

–Soft Rock&Roll starts to play

TR in Conversation with Question:
Talk to me about some of that work. You’re spending a lot of time in your room, you got some equipment you’re producing, talk to me about some of your early stuff, and how you’ve seen that change over the years.

Question:
I was in about middle school when I started really producing and getting into recording myself and exploring effects and making beats and all that type of thing.
That’s when I really got my first computer and really just got competent using a screen reader just navigating the internet and doing things independently.

TR:
You see how this young brother just dropped that on y’all?

That’s the work I refer to. I don’t care what work, art or hobby you’re trying to do, if you’re someone who is Blind or Low Vision and you haven’t adapted to your technology, you’re limiting yourself.

Question:
I made my first beats on a sound recorder program. In Windows, I just took my iPod and hooked it up to my computer and then I play songs that had some drums at the beginning and I take like the hi hat from one of them to clap from another one, take the kick, and then like make a pattern.
I take Beethoven sample out in a folder on our own XP computer and just make a beat, paste the sample in a different way. Take little parts of it, chop it over the drums, and then I record over it. But I was just making little freestyles and the quality was crazy bad because it was just sound recorder.

TR:
Hearing that difference didn’t discourage him. Rather, it drove him to improve his sound.

Question:
I started hearing a difference between what I was making and what my inspirations was making. Like, at that time I was a kid. Soulja boy was out going crazy. So I had like his albums. His was one of the ones that I was like taking the drums from. So I would listen to what I made and be like “why it dont sound like the same thing? I just got the drums from right here so what’s going on?”
You know what I’m saying? So like I started figuring out like, Okay, if I get a better program, if I learn what different things mean, I started learning about like compression, and just like being around people.
I would get around my friends. And they might say something, say a term like, oh, did you use a compressor on this? And I might be like “yeah,” knowing damn well I don’t know nothing about no compressor.
Then I go look, and I see what the compressor is, in the program I’m using and I started messing with it, figuring out the difference. What does it do? What does it change? Then I figure out how to incorporate it.

TR in Conversation with Question:
What were you using in the beginning? I know that’s not in sound recorder.

–both laugh

Question:
I went from Sound Recorder up to Sony Sound Forge eight.

TR:
Ok, not everyone geeks out on audio production, like me!
What you need to know is that there were, let’s say better tools for the job. But, those tools weren’t accessible to Question.
It’s as though he was making a smoothie by hand while others had their sophisticated electric blender.

Question:
If you want to do something bad enough, you’re gonna find a way to do it. It’s not the clippers, It’s the barber.
You can always find a way to make it happen.

TR:
When you’re passionate about something, you don’t think about time.

Question:
I got lost in it.
I started making music, whole music out of one sound. Like take a sine wave, which is just like a tone. It’s like the tone that they use to bleep somebody out on TV. I take like a long version of that, and figure out how to make drums out of it and make a base out of it and make melodies out of it and chords and everything just in Sound Forge. Not even like a keyboard.
Learning how to basically match my peers and people who are making beats with just Sound Forge. And eventually, what I figured out is that process that I was using in Sound Forge just took too long to beat build. So I switched to Reaper.

TR:
Upping his game to Reaper, a multi track digital audio workstation, improves the time it takes to produce, increases his access to plugins and effects, but his studio is far from optimal.

Question:
I’m gonna be so real bro. We’re not selling beats like that yet. All of that is coming, you know what I’m saying. I’m gonna get to that. But right now, we just doing what we got to do.

TR in Conversation with Question:
Yo, I love that you said that. Because, you know there’s a lot of people who are like, “when I get”, fill in the blank, “when I get my technology,” “when I get that piece of software,” you know, some people would have been like, “oh, I can’t mess with this whole Sound Recorder” but nah you starting and you work on what you have. What’s that all about?

Question:
I do believe in saying when, but only in certain circumstances, like I believe in when over if, you know what I’m saying. It definitely is when instead of if. You’re going to get there, but you have to work to make yourself get there.

I believe in a lot of manifestation and I believe a lot in practicing what you need to do to get to where you’re trying to go. So you have to kind of learn what you want, you have to figure out where it is that you want to end up what you’re trying to head for. And then just make sure that you take the steps that you can take and reason every day to put your life on that path and move in that direction.

When I was young, I didn’t even really know that. But I just wanted it so bad. Like I just knew, because it was something that I was good at. It was something that I naturally was winning in. And so I just knew I wanted to push further. Because like, why would I give up on that? It made me feel good.

TR:
Question’s art includes beat making, production, and rapping. He began freestyling at 5 years old.
For the uninformed, freestyling is the rapper form of improvisation. Making up rhymes off the top of your dome. (Your head).

–Question’s rhymes play on the background

Question:
I see a whole lot of divisiveness amongst us, but I have to address obvious problems and address inequality.

I identify as a black man. There’s still a lot of work that we have to do on a lot of fronts. But right now, there‘s a lot of people paying attention. So I do appreciate that.

TR in Conversation with Question:
Do you talk about anything like that in your music?

Question:
Yeah, I’m honestly getting into that more.
I’m a young kid still. You could be 25. And you can be like, stressed, and then there tired of the world. And, like, know so much from your life experience, that you feel like you’re 40. Or you can be 25 and you can just be like, having the best time like, party and every day, just like enjoying them having fun feeling like you 18. I feel like I’m both depending on the day. I’m trying to put more of that in my music. And as I evolve, you know, the music evolves too.
I’m a very energy based person. So I like to be in the energy of whatever I’m making. And so for me, like stepping away from something is like tough.
If it’s good enough I feel like that energy will be there waiting for you.

— Question’s music fades back in then fades back to the background

TR in Conversation with Question:
Performances? Do you perform on stage?

Question:
I love performing. I recently just got to perform with a live band up in New York. The homies June and the Pushas. We did like and hour set freestyling and with some original jams in mind, and it was just sick to see a band like reinterpret my jams and like real professional musicians, drummer going dumb, you know the guitar, it’s like shredding.
Crazy on the joint. It’s like an out of body experience. I’m just able to go nuts.

TR:
That opportunity to make music and then share that creation with an appreciative audience, giving you immediate feedback, must be exhilarating. But like anything in life, there’s real pros and cons.

Question:
Honestly, a lot of times, there are many cons to get to many more pros.
There’s a lot of rejection, there’s a lot of people who tell you yes, and they play the waiting game with you.
It’s a lot of like, going through situations, and waiting on certain outcomes and having to just like, adapt and adjust on the fly.
There is a lot of like paperwork.

As a producer, you do a lot of cataloging, you get things in order. If you have your beats organized in a certain folder by like what tempo they at, you know, how fast they are, what key they are, what VOD they are, what artists they’re for, you can literally like, send your catalogue to certain labels and to certain artists while you sleep and make money residually.

TR:
Of course , there’s all sorts of pros and cons no matter the career. Question offers some words that apply to us all.

Question:
You have to be very grounded in a sense that you got to take time for yourself, and remember who you are, you got to remember what you love, who has helped you.
For me, it’s a lot about just spending time in nostalgia. If you know your history, then you remember like, why you’re doing it.

TR:
Question understands the value of having a team. That includes his mom, also known as manager during business hours.

Question:
The artist’s job is to focus a lot on creation and creativity, and figuring out the next moves and how to steer the ship.
But at the same time, I think it is important for artists and all creatives to know the business and to be involved in the business and to be fluent in what’s happening because that is a major part of what you’re doing. And that controls a lot of what you’re able to do or not able to do.
That can get real deep and that can play a big role in anxiety.
If you’re trying to create, if you are trying to focus on sending a message and an album, celebration or you know, whatever it is that you’re focused on, but you have like, the possibility of not being able to release this music looming over your head, and you’re dealing with, like, numbers and figures and different things, it can make you question what you’re doing.
Stress too much. But it’s a necessary part of what you go through.
So you got to find a way to compartmentalize it or balance it. If you go through that, that’s forward motion. Nobody who is nobody has these problems.

TR:
The concept of having a team goes beyond managing his own career. For Question, it’s about…

TR in conversation with Question:
Blind and Famous! What’s that all about?

Question:
Yo gang gang! Man, that’s the movement. That’s the mob, that’s the team. That’s my family.

Honestly, I always knew that that was something I had to do something I wanted to do something that for me, was important to what was going on. The greats that I study, everybody, they reach back, and they help out and they show love.
BIG, he got Junior mafia, if you look at Pac, he got the outlaws. TI, he got Grand Hustle. If you look at Ye, he got Good Music.

All of these people, they start with family, people that they came up with recording with and then obviously it branches out and are able to find talent from around the world and to curate people that they haven’t known, which is the same way that it started with Blind and Famous.

–rhythmic pop music begins

TR:
Are you socially ReidSponsible

–sample: “I don’t even know what that means.” “No one knows what it means!”

It’s true, no one knows what it means. Not even me. I just think it sounds cool.

That’s right, it’s time to announce the winner of the March Twitter Giveaway.

–mouths drumroll

@SandraManwille, you, are socially ReidSponsible and will be receiving your very own Reid My Mind Radio coffee/tea, man or any beverage you want to put in it, mug!

Thanks to all those who participated. And a big shoutout and thanks to Annie who by the way is ok!

Now back to the episode…

–Music ends with a bouncing base…

TR:
There’s a point in any conversation when you realize what is really meaningful to a person. You can hear the excitement in their voice, you can feel their energy shift. Raising the topic of Blind and Famous with Question, it was definitely time for him to turn up!

Question:
Me and my boy, DaMasta and my boy Migo Traffic.

We all went to school down here at GaB in Georgia. And we used to just freestyle.
We will be just like in a dorms, recording on laptops. Literally on laptop mic. You can hear a fan in the background. But all the kids, they’ll be playing the music around school and we’ll perform and people knew us and we knew we was going up from that minute.

It wasn’t even Blind and Famous back then.

TR:
They each continued working on their art. Even after graduation they remained close.

One day, Question and DaMasta were serving as engineers on a song for Migo Traffic, who used the phrase Blind and famous.

Question:
And I said, bro, we need to take that, like that’s the title. That’s it. And we just turned it into a movement, started putting out mixtapes. We had a lot of blind supporters and fans and they started letting people know what it was and it was like, Yo, what’s this movement? What’s going on?

–sample of a song: “What goes on? Well…”
TR:
Allow me to present Blind & Famous.
Of course, you already met my man, Question…

Question:
Coming out of Atlanta, the hippie, kid, man, artist and producer, curator of Blind and Famous, but one equal participant of this collective. I’m gonna pass it to my brother, my slime, DaMasta.

–rap song from B&F plays in the background

Da Masta:
I’m originally from Washington County, a little country town in Georgia. I’m the second curator of B&F.

Question:
And he is an artist. He’s hella melodic. He really on his own wave. He’s unique, I always credit him with saying that he has his own sound that’s not like anybody else I really know.

Da Masta:
I’m also an upcoming producer as well.

TR:
Next up!

–rap song begins and fades to the background

MattMac:
Yo, what’s happening? My name is Matt Mac.
I am a music producer and recording artist based out of Garden Hill First Nation up in Canada.
I’m First Nation born. I make music full time for sure.

Question:
You can go stream all his projects right now on Spotify. He’s going nuts.

— “Play the Hero Remix” MattMac Featuring Question & Label “Blind & Famous Volume 5

Label:
Label, born and raised in Jersey, I am a radio show host, podcaster. I also sing, rap. And I’m getting back into the producing side of things.

Question:
J Mouse, out of Arizona but he travels internationally. With a couple bands actually.

J Mouse:
Been a part of this collective for like two years. I do a lot of stuff in the music industry.

Question
He is a producer, primarily R&B, drill, hip hop, trap. He’s a musician.

J Mouse:
I play guitar, piano, bass, I’m a drummer, harmonica. I used to play saxophone too. I’m an engineer so I master, I do a lot of mixing. Pretty much everything, mostly within the music industry.

Question:
J mouse is like a genius, he crazy.

TR:
Let’s jump across the pond to the latest member of the crew.

P Dex:
I’m P Dex in the lab, aka the laziest producer in the world, all the way in the UK from Liverpool. Learning to do engineering and all that stuff. Mainly just doing a lot of producing.

Question:
The drill genre has been taken a lot of places by storm over the past few years. UK drill, New York drill, Australian drill. And the UK, really is who kind of innovated and advanced it.
And Dex brings us a lot of knowledge and know how, and just like, really being in that scene and connect. Shows us what’s really going on.

— Gold Fingers Sample

GoldFingas:
What’s going on? This is GF, GoldFingas.
I’m a producer. I’m also a musician. I play keys, drums. I’m a mix engineer as well. I do mixing and mastering and all that stuff. So between all of us we got everything pretty much we need in house.
I’m down here in Virginia. I’m on that Missy, Timberland type vibe. You know that boom bap stuff.
I’m the oldest member of the group. I’m in my 40s.
I’ve known question, man, since he was like 14?

Question:
No cap.

GoldFingas:
Something like that.
Me and him used to mess around in Sound Board and he showed me a few things. Ever since then I knew that this kid was gonna do something.

TR in Conversation with BNF:
And this is the whole squad, right? Is anybody missing?

Question:
Yeah, Migo traffic is missing.

TR:
I love that name! I assume he has a friendly flow or perhaps his style makes other rappers slow down or stay in their lane.
Unfortunately, the brother who first dropped Blind and Famous in a verse couldn’t join the cipher.
Alright, it wasn’t really a cipher, there was no exchange of bars or raps, but honestly, if this were in person, it would have been on. And I’m telling you right now I keep a hot 16 ready to go, just in case!
Exchanging beats, rhymes, hooks, song concepts, that’s what they do! Together, making music, remotely.

Question:
We use something like this, like a conferencing app, but the one we use is called TeamTalk. It’s real common in the blind community. We basically just go in there, and we’ll send the audio from our computer through so that if we make a beat, if we playing beats, everybody that’s using that program can hear what we’re doing.
So we’ll just bounce ideas back and forth.
We got a group text too! It’s real family oriented.
We talk a lot, through the day, people just put beats in there, put songs in there.
And then it’s like, okay, I want to get a feature on this, I want to collab on this.
TR:
The magic of collaborating is that each person brings their own creativity and idea to the track.
Label explains more about the process.

Label:
If a beat is sent, it’s open to anybody. Kind of a first come first serve type of deal. And then we all kind of come together and say “alright I think these people will sound good on it.”
It’s a thing of pushing each other. And then we use an online platform like Dropbox, and we just drop sessions back and forth to each other.
The use of technology has been absolutely beautiful to be able to get a lot of these things done.

GoldFingas:
Because we know each other so well, we know what type of tracks each other likes. As far as like if he you know, if I wanted Question to feature on something, I know, what type of stuff you know that he’s into.
And then we also kind of branch out like, we’ll try something, he’ll try something different. The creative process is organized, but it’s all over the place at the same time. So many moving parts going at once, but it’s organized chaos. I love it, though.

–laughs

Question:
We all have like hella projects going at one time. We’ll have like a few different ideas. We start making songs. And then like, we might have, Matt got a project that’s ‘bout to come out under his management. So it’s like, alright, everybody, let’s sit down, let’s write for Matt. Let’s produce for Matt, let’s make sure Matt got everything that he need. Let’s make sure that he feels good about where he’s at.
Because the thing that we always want to do is make sure that each person is getting their fair shake and getting, you know, the love from everybody as far as like, collaboration, promotion, appreciation, it’s that real reciprocal type of thing.

TR in Conversation with BNF:
That’s fire, man.

— Continues talking underneath Voice Over…

TR:
I had to ask the squad to take me through an example of the process using an actual production.

Question:
Matt, what about Run It?

–drill/rap song begins

MattMac:
That beat was produced by P Dex and the J Mouse over here.

P Dex:
Originally, me and Johnny were having a session. We were just chillin. And then I had an idea, which is the main melody that runs through the whole track. And then I said, “this is a real nice drill beat.” So I started it off and then I sent it to Johnny.

J Mouse:
When I heard PDex’s idea, I sat down, started coming up with some ideas and just kind of happened. This particular beat I do like so much and it just came out so smoothly.

P Dex:
And then he did his magic on it and as we were doing it, Matt Mac came and he heard it. And we were like “you should do something with it.” But he was, you know, hesitant because he’s never done anything in that genre.

Question:
He passed it to me.

P Dex:
Yup

Matt Mac:
Question.

Question:
Matt and I work closely on a lot of verses and on a lot of songs. So me having done a lot of drill jams in the past, he just got with me in a session and kind of let me know how he wanted to attack and where he was coming from.
I think he had the idea for the hook already. And then we just filled it in, you know, with some words and he kind of let me know what he wanted to say, where he wanted to come from.
Every time I work with any artists on the song, as a songwriter or a producer, I always want to embody their energy and their complete message. So you always getting a lot of MattMac.

Label:
Now the song is playing on Canada radio. I mean it just blows my mind how one simple thing where an artist in this collective was hesitant to do it, ends up being a song on terrestrial radio.

Matt Mac:
It’s also been played on Sirius XM too, which is fire.

P Dex:
It’s funny because it originally started all the way over here in Liverpool. Then went to Johnny in Phoenix, and then went to Question in Atlanta, and then went to Matt Mac in Canada.

Matt Mac
I reached out to my management and I was like, “we have this fire song, bro, and it only has one verse.”
And “Okay, this is pretty fire. I think I might have someone in mind.”
He got me connected to K Jones. He’s not a part of the collective. He’s actually someone who’s doing his thing here in his city, specifically, Winnipeg. It’s where most of my music videos are shot right now. Big shout out to Winnipeg. He got on the second verse and he’s been doing some fire numbers.

Label:
40 thousand views on YouTube.

Question:
You can go listen to it on Spotify too. It’s doing the same type of crazy joint on Spotify too!

Matt Mac:
That particular song was a whole team effort. This is so fire, being able to work with these guys.

TR in Conversation with Question:
When it comes to the collective thing, B&F…

Question:
Gang.

TR in Conversation with Question:
Talk to me about some of the pros and cons of working with a collective.

Question:
Yeah, man. Working with a collective helps in a lot of ways,
I believe that when you have a project, it’s always a good idea to get more than a couple perspectives on it, because the more people that you allow in that have a bit of an accomplished ear, they can let you know things that a listener is going to let you know.
If you can work on a project with a team, it allows you to really focus on your strengths, and people can highlight things that you might not know. You can point out things, and you get a lot of versatility because people bring ideas from all sides of the world.

TR:
There’s the added bonus of learning from one another. That could be new genres, styles, process and more. DaMasta mentioned he decided to begin doing more production.

DaMasta:
Man it is phenomenal. I feel like I’ve been listening to these guys a lot. It helps like with different sound selection and stuff. I get influenced in the producing side and also the audio engineering.

Question:
He picks it up quick. People go through this trash phase, like I talked about a lot, when you first start out making beats or doing anything, you’re trash. But he kind of was able to get the ear for the sound selection a lot faster than a lot of people.

GoldFingas:
It set him up for success.

Question:
Personally knowing Q the longest, I’ve always wanted to see him make beats because he always had dope suggestions. When I was making beats, he’d be like ay put this in there, add this. And it’s like, bro, like.

GoldFingas:
He be doing the most. He over here back seat driving.

TR in Conversation with BNF:
Take the wheel, take the wheel.

DaMasta:
It’s truly a blessing, man. I really enjoy it. It helps with a lot like stress or anything. Like I could just make a beat or make a song, and I just feel better.

TR:
Team, family with any sort of group, you’re going to have disagreements.
While, there’s no hierarchical structure to B & F, I asked GoldFingas as the the person with the most life experience in the squad, if he had a specific approach to problem solving.

GoldFingas:
You really got to exercise a lot of diplomacy. Instead of putting somebody down for what they can’t do, take what they can do and try to strengthen that.

TR:
Bars!

Question:
The cons, really like, it can be hard to organize sometimes. Being virtual, we don’t really have the time to get in the studio and just like chill or have a meal or just chop it up the way that I like to build with a lot of artists.

TR:
Spending time with one another in person helps build the relationships. This increases trust which can help that creativity flow.
Question is hoping there will be opportunities for the squad to build and create under one roof. He’s made music in person with DaMasta and Migo Traffic of course. Prior to Matt Mac traveling out to Atlanta, the two used the NFB national conference as a way of connecting to make music.
The technology for making music now so portable, a hotel room can be a decent substitute for the studio.
GF, AKA GoldFingas, not only uses his knowledge and experience as a producer and musician to create, he’s teaching as well.

GoldFingas:
I actually am an instructor for a company called IC music, based out of Chicago.
Shout out to Byron Harden and the crew over at IC music making things happen.
We educate blind individuals. And I think we’re actually about to start taking everybody sighted, blind, it doesn’t matter. We train them on music technology.
We teach you everything from how to use your Mac computer, all the way up to mixing and mastering, we teach you about the business.

TR:
Today there are so many more options for working with audio. both on the Mac and PC side. In fact, you even have some pretty good options on your iPhone or Ipad.
My personal choice continues to be Reaper on the PC.

Label:
It’s Label. I also want to give credit to a lot of people in the blind community from all over the world, who take time out to create accessible scripts, and add ons for screen readers that do specific things, and read screens that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to read.
To be able to make these little scripts and add ons for us to use stuff like Reaper and get the full functionality. As if we were in a real studio working off of desks with Pro Tools, I mean, it’s just beautiful and amazing.

GoldFingas:
ProTools is also accessible.

TR:

And yes of course, today Pro Tools is accessible on the Mac, so that’s an option for many.

Even just within the past five years or so, more companies specializing in music hardware and software like virtual instruments and plugins are getting on board with accessibility. Here’s GF.

GoldFingas:
So we have people like
Native Instruments, Arturia, Ableton, these companies are approaching us and actually listening to us, listening to our needs.
And working through it and making these things accessible.
You’re absolutely right, five years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to even touch Machine and make beats and stuff.
Nowadays I could, that’s primarily what I use to make beats is Machine from Native Instruments.

Question:
Very slowly, the standard is becoming accessibility out of the box. Seamless accessibility. VoiceOver on the iPhone is a great example.
I think in another decade, people are going to be taking disability culture that much more seriously.

TR:
Often the conversation of access is about our consumption. But we’re makers too!
Access to the tools gives more of us the chance to creatively tell our stories, share our experiences and contribute to culture.
Culture can resonate through society. Influencing things like policy which can enable even more inclusion and affect more change.
Question joined up with another Reid My Mind Radio Alumni, Lachi, to even further expand his influence and that of all musicians with disabilities. The organization is called RAMPD, that’s R A M P D or
Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities

–TR voice fades into Question saying the organization’s name.

Question:
Recording artists and music professionals with disabilities.
I’m one of the founding members.
We basically trying to make sure that everybody is paying attention and taking heed to what people with disabilities need.
And we’re also trying to be a resource for people with disabilities so that they have somewhere that they can feel appreciated, accepted and find ways to tap in with the industry and get professional opportunities and places to work.

It’s a lot of professionals down with us. People that are already down with the Grammys and with the Recording Academy.
Accomplished musicians they got music out. It’s nothing to sneeze at. Make sure y’all pay attention to RAMPD and follow us @RAMPDUP_
Show love. We showing love back.

TR:
That love extends out in the form of advice to even younger artists developing their craft right now, in middle and high school.

Question:
The best thing I can say is like, have fun and try to really go to your limits. Push your limits a little bit.
Influence each other, big each other up, support each other.
Make sure everybody eating. Make sure everybody got a way to express what it is they’re doing. Because even if somebody is not an artist, they might know how to promote, they might know how to be a camera man.
Some people have low vision. Like Migo Traffic he’s one of the best that we know at promoting and just on social media because he’s real good with the graphics. He’s real good at knowing what people want to see , knowing how things are gonna come across. So there can be a different spot for all the homies.
If somebody’s gonna be there doing something, make sure they’re doing some don’t let people be around just like not contributing to nothing.
We are all influenced by the people we keep around us.

TR in Conversation with Question:
That’s dope..
You might have some aspiring rappers/musicians who are blind listening, like, damn, yo, I want to be down! How do you curate people into B & F?

Question:
We look for people that’s real hungry.
It’s just a matter of like, having some music that we can hear or having a way for us to hear your talent.
If we feel like you got a dope energy and something that’s really, really raw, you know what I’m saying, really ill, then we definitely gonna rock with you. Even if it’s not a thing where we can rock with you all the time in the collective, we collaborate with a lot of different people.
Everybody doesn’t fit the aesthetic of the collective. Or they might not want to be down with the collective, they may have their own movement. I ain’t trying to force nobody in or nothing.
Right now, people don’t have no paper sign, we might do a deal at some point for an album just to make sure everybody get the right type of income. I never wanted to feel like nobody can’t go off and get their own money. I always respect people’s own hustle.

TR:

The squad has been putting out EP’s every December and is currently up to BNF 5.

Question:
On our YouTube channel, Blind and Famous.

You can check the whole playlist, listen to the jams.

TR:
In addition to working on more music collectively as well as on their own, they’re hopeful for the day they can get out on the road for live performances.

Question:
We are a collective, We aren’t really a music group or a band.
We got a lot of jams together. But like, there’s room for everybody to shine individually. But that collective and that that full body is still very important. I would love to do you know, a whole showcase or a tour or something, you know, where everybody has a set and where we can feature each other and kind of everybody gets to direct what’s going on within their own space.

TR:
For those in my generation, the collective concept probably brings to mind Native Tongue. You know, Tribe Called Quest, De La, the JB’s. For younger listeners perhaps Internet Money.

MattMac:

They have like, a whole bunch of like producers on their team and they have like whole bunch of like artists on their team. And that’s like what we are. And I could definitely, like see a lot of similarities to us because Internet Money, like works with each other a lot. And they go back and forth with like loops, and beat collabs. And like with us, they’re an internet collective meaning. They were doing all that online.

TR:
Look I can’t lie y’all, I really enjoyed the energy of talking to the B&F squad.
This was one of those times where, I’m telling you, I wish the interviews were taking place in person.
I’m thinking it would have been a full blown cipher. Just freestylin over some beats… hmm!
— Beat starts…

TR in rap mode:
Yeah, gotta do it.

If you’ve been here before maybe it’s your first time
A little something special from Reid My Mind
Contact information, mic 1 2 check
Shout out Blind and Famous, ‘nuff Respect!
if the people want to find you, where do they go
Tell ‘em DaMasta

DaMasta:
I got you bro.

Y’all can find me on YouTube @Damasta1901 That’s D A M A S T A 1901
Twitter is @Q_DaMasta1000 And Instagram is @QDaMasta all together.

TR in rap mode:
First Nation born, my man is reppin that
Up next?

MattMac:
My name is MattMac

You can find me on youtube Matt Mac M A T T M A C. You can follow me on Instagram at MattMac online

TR in rap mode:

Producer and a rapper with much more to share
Ayo Label where you at?

Label:
@RomeroOnAir

TR in Conversation with BNF: 58:05
Where are you on the air bro?

Label:

I do two morning shows. I do a morning show for a online classic hit station. It’s actually a big powerhouse for the live 365 platform. It’s called eagle online radio and then I also do a top 40 Morning Show for a station out in Gainesville Florida. 105.7 Play FM.

So follow me @RomeroOnAir on all social media platforms Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram @RomeroOnAIr. r o m e r o on air.

TR in rap mode:

GF from V A, with the gangsta lean
— Sample: “Gold Finger”
Nahmean!

GoldFingas:
I’m working on opening up a commercial studio here in the area.
It’s a studio and a rehearsal space. As well as a multipurpose venue.
When everybody gets big BNF has a place to record so we good.

TR in rap mode:
Here’s how you spell it, no need to guess.

GoldFingas:
G O L D…

TR in rap mode:

F I N G A S

GoldFingas:

On Instagram it’s the same thing @GoldFIngas1976

TR in Rap Mode:
Now, one had to leave , before we were done
J Mouse, my man’s always on the run
he’s a touring musician travels near and far
On twitter, @JCSteelGuitar
Across the pond, where the connection failed
He’s in Liverpool so he got to prevail
They call elevators, lifts. The vacs a jab
What’s your name, bruv?

P Dex:
Im PDex in the Lab

TR in rap mode:
The vibe is chill, no fret no fuss
Find them on Twitter @BlindFamous
The squad’s real, never artificial
–Young Hippie…
Sample from Scarface: “Who put this thing together?”

Question:
On YouTube @QuestionOfficial.
I got three EPS coming.
The first one on a hip hop vibe. The second one on the Drill vibe. The third one on like that melodic rage vibe. So y’all stay tuned, tap in with the kid.

I’m on Twitter, Instagram @QuestionATL

TR:
Question, Damasta, Migo Traffic, Matt Mac, Label, GoldFingas, J Mouse, and PDex in the Lab AKA
Blind and Famous.
You are all official, members of the Reid My Mind Radio family!
— Airhorn
What a perfect way to close out this season, Doing Your Thing With Disability!
Like adjusting to blindness, disability in general, it’s not something we actually do on our own.
When you have a squad, a team a family that you can call on to lift you up when necessary.
Doesn’t that sound like a better experience?
I’m inspired by these young cats doing their thing. It doesn’t appear to be dictated by anyone but them, together. I can’t wait to hear more from all of them as they continue on their journey.
So look, this is family now y’all, join me in sending positive energy their way.
As mentioned, this is the last episode of the Doing Your Thing with Disability season.
We will be back in June with the next season.
In the meantime, if you’re not subscribed, you should really ask yourself what you’re doing with your life.
All you have to do is hit the button that says subscribe or follow in your favorite podcast app.
Tell a friend and tell them to tell another friend to do the same!
We have transcripts and more on ReidMyMind.com.

Alright, now if you’re family, I need you to stop what you’re doing right now. I’m dead serious.
If you family, I need you to stop what you’re doing right now and say it with me…
That’s R to the E I D…
— Sample: (“D!” And that’s me in the place to be!)
Like my last name.
— Reid My Mind Outro
Peace!

Question:
Gang, Gang!

Hide the transcript

Young Gifted Black & Disabled – Right On Time with Toni Hickman

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

Toni Hickman is standing with an Emmy in her hand. She is a tall, slim black woman with a peach dress on and long black locs

I first learned of Artist, Rapper, EMMY Award Winning Toni Hickman a few years ago when I did an episode on Krip Hop. I wanted to reach out and invite her onto the podcast back then, but things sometimes slip off my radar. When I learned she was a part of the song Rising Phoenix for the documentary of the same name I knew I wanted to speak with her. While in conversation with Reid My Mind Radio Alumni & Family member Cheryl Green, I wasn’t surprised to learn that the two of them were connected. Cheryl put us in touch and then, well, a lot of stuff in between, but we finally ended up in conversation

In this episode we talk about;
Toni’s history in the rap game. from her days at Suave House as Slim Goodie, her encounter with Suge Knight to her current collaboration with longtime friend Big Yo in their new group Thakur (pronounced The Cure).

We discuss her experience with disability as a Black woman, the impact on her career, winning an EMMY and so much more. Of course, we pay special attention to the valuable lessons that are applicable to anyone adjusting to disability.

This conversation took a while to actually make happen, but it’s right on time!

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Transcript

Show the transcript

— Music begins, a piano chord with a vibes roll leads into a upbeat groove.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Hey, Toni, can you hear me?

Toni:

Yes!

TR in Conversation with Toni:

How you doing?

Toni:

I’m good how are you?

TR in Conversation with Toni:

I’m good

Toni:

we finally got to do the interview.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

yeah yeah I’m scared to say that, I’m gonna wait till it’s done (Laughs)

Toni:

I was just I had something else that came…

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Uh oh!I’m losing your connection I don’t know if you can hear me but I can’t hear you Can hear me but I can’t hear you.
Okay it says you’re unmuted, it says your video is on, try turning off your video and let’s see if that saves some bandwidth

Toni:
Thomas

TR in Conversation with Toni:

There you go.

TR:

Things happen when there supposed to

For example, maybe this is your first time listening to the podcast.
I don’t know what brought you here, but I’m glad you made it.

My name is Thomas Reid and I’m the host and producer of this podcast.

We’re in the midst of the Young Gifted Black & Disabled series.
This was inspired by an episode of the same name I produced last year with my brother AJ Murray.
I really encourage y’all to check that out.

While that episode along with close to 150 others are in the past, they’re not old or stale.
We add a bit of seasoning for flavor, but there’s no preservatives.
The dishes we serve up here are always fresh and good for your mind and body.

So you see, you’re right on time!

Audio: Reid My Mind Theme Music

Let’s get it!

Toni:

My name is Tony Hickman. I am a tall slim, melanin dominant black girl with long dreadlocks and yeah I am excited about this interview.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

So now I usually don’t start with this question, but where were you born Tony?

Toni:

I was born in New York City.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Can you be specific?

Toni:

I was born in the Bronx,

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Yeh! say that one more time for me…

Toni:

I was born in the Boogie Down Bronx. Morisanna Hospital. I was raised in New Orleans Louisiana.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

No doubt you can’t hide that.

TR:

Over the year’s, Toni’s been known under some other names.

Toni:

when I was on Suave House, which is a record label where I have done gold and platinum musical performances, my rap name used to be Slim Goodie.

Everybody in the industry that knows me they still call me Slim like everybody call me Slim so it’s crazy if I would have got fat right they’ll still call me Slim.

TR:

That really does sort of make you think about the importance of a name. It can be really about who you are at one particular moment in time.
Yet, it can also be about who you are meant to be.

Toni:

A lot of people like in the conscious community call me Alika. Some people in the conscious community come up with other names for themselves and I think that’s okay too because sometimes we have to define who we want to be in this world and When we’re given our government names it’s not always where we are you know, so I get it but yeah, Alika is actually my real middle name.

My dad gave me Tony and my mom gave me Alika.

Alika means beautiful warrior.

TR:

On social she’s known as the Real Ms. Toni Hickman. Perhaps there is an impostor out there, but I’m thinking it’s more like representing her ability to share her truth. Keeping it real! Namean!

An early sign of that is in her poetry which she began at 9 years old.

Toni:

I had went through a lot of things with my mom and my father’s splitting up and so I would write this poetry to help me. It was philosophy, even at a young age.

It was like, I wish I was a bird so that I could fly away, but I am just a child, so therefore, I have to stay.

TR:

When her school put on a talent show, Toni teamed up with some friends and started rapping.

Toni:

We was the Bally Trooper Adidas group, and we had a beatboxer and my home girl and me. And we won the talent show. And from there, I was just like, Oh, yeah, this is what I’m supposed to be doing right here.

TR:

That first performance was not really indicative of how Toni wanted to rap.

Her partner wrote the rhyme. Which was about Now & Laters.

Toni:

I was just like, Okay, I need to be doing this all the time. But I can write my own raps. And from there, I always wrote my own lyrics.

MC Lyte, Salt N Peppa. That was like my big influences at that time as far as female hip hop. But honestly, my reality was a little bit different.

I grew up kind of, like, always looking out for myself. I’ve been on my own since I was 15. I’ve been doing music professionally since 16.

TR:

Writers of any sort are encouraged to write about what they know. Toni wrote about her environment.

Toni:
My environment was watching people die, like right in front of my face, people getting shot and killed.

And so I started rapping on the negative side of that, like, I was T Capone, I was Al Capone’s daughter.
I was the gangsta hip hop. And I gradually started going into stories of like, why this wasn’t a good choice, or why even being in that environment can get you stuck.

TR:

With a rap name like T Capone, well you’d assume not all of the stories were positive.

Toni:

It wasn’t just about killing. I can only remember one song I did that and they went platinum, but it was about killing. And that didn’t sit well with me. Like, during the process, it was dope, the song was called armed robbery. But then afterwards, when I listened to it, like my soul was just like, no, Toni , this is not your path, you have to correct and that’s something that happens in life, like, you know, we don’t come in this world knowing exactly what we need to do or what direction we need to go. And it’s only from these harsh lessons, that we get to learn our true purpose.

TR:

Telling stories with messages, was her thing.

Toni:

Like Scarface or Tupac. They used to actually call me a female Tupac because that’s really kind of how I related to the world.

And then even after that, I started going into Slim Goody.

Slim Goodie had messages in her music and that was very important for me Even then, even though I didn’t even know my whole way. I just knew that it had to have something that somebody could learn from.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Being compared to like a Tupac and Scarface, where do you think you got that? Were you reading as well as writing at a young age?

Toni:

My mother raised me as a reader. She was putting books in my face, like, As a Man Thinketh”, “Back to Eden”.

My mother was like this person who everybody would come to if they were sick or had an issue, and my mother would be the one to give them a solution. Like, she was known as the medicine woman in the church.

Now I do that as well.

TR:

During the time she was rapping under the name Slim Goodie,
Suave House moved Toni from New Orleans to Atlanta.
The record label however was experiencing their own change as their premiere artists 8 Ball and MJG were leaving the label.

Toni:

When you put your project in somebody else’s hands, and it’s no fault of anyone, but if you put your project in somebody else’s hands, you have to wait on their hand and move right. So if something happens with their hand, their hand get cut off or something like that thing, you’re stuck because you’ve put your dreams in somebody else’s hands. That situation happened to me. And so I eventually got out of the label legally, and started doing my own thing and started working with big artists like Jagged Edge, Petey Pablo

TR:

That got the attention of the infamous Suge Knight.

— Audio from the 1995 Source Awards…
“Any artist out there want to be an artist, want to stay a star, don’t want to have to worry about the Executive Producer trying to be all in the videos, all on a record, dancing, come to Death Row.” Suge Knight

TR:

Yes, that Suge Knight, from Death Row Records.
He liked what he heard and reached out to Toni.
Of course she was aware of his reputation which includes
allegedly hanging rapper Vanilla Ice off a balcony during let’s say contract negotiations.

Toni:

He called my phone personally right That was still huge for me that I was on the phone with him.
He was like yeah, I want to fly you out to Cali and you know we’re gonna do this because I love this song. This is a dope song.

Then three days later, I had my first brain aneurysm.

When I look back at it now its like, you definitely was not supposed to go out there.

TR:

Toni recovered from that aneurysm and moved on with her career.
About a year later, while celebrating the release of a new project back home in New Orleans, she felt ill.
It was another aneurysm.

Toni:

But this one actually burst in my head. Most people die when that happens. But they rushed me to the hospital. I had to wait for my mother to come from Atlanta and give them permission to operate on me. They told her I had a 5050 chance of living or dying.

When she gave them permission, they went in my head and started operating. But while they were in my head, I had a stroke on the table because my body went into shock, and it pushed my pressure up.

When I came to, which was a minute, I think I was out for a couple of days. But when I came to I couldn’t speak. And I couldn’t spell water. I couldn’t say water. But I noticed what I wanted.

TR:

She wanted to live! Even if she didn’t realize it at that time.

Eventually she was moved to a rehab facility in Louisiana.

Toni:

I had this song playing in my head, (Toni sings …)feels like I’m hopeless.

And every time I was thinking in my head, I just burst out crying because that’s what I felt. I just felt hopeless. Like, I had no hope. And I have been doing music all my life. And so I was like, What am I doing now?
Okay, now, the industry definitely is not focused on people with disabilities. And so, like, What am I supposed to do?

— Music begins, an eerie menacing slow Hip Hopbeat

One of my nurses came in and she said, Well, what you need to ask is, how did you have two brain aneurysms and a stroke and you’re still alive?
So that’s the real question you need to ask yourself. That stuck with me for the rest of my life.

TR:

Toni describes herself as very stubborn during this period.

Toni:

I had this energy on me that was like, I’ll be damned, that’s the only way I can describe it.
I just never gave up on myself. I had to either be hopeless, or I’ll be damned. And I chose the I’ll be damned.

I just had this energy where I was like, this cannot be my reality, I have so much more in me, this can’t be it.

I have so much more in me, like, just can’t be it.

TR:

She made her own rules.
Like refusing to remain in bed even when she couldn’t walk.
Eventually she began walking with a cane and was transferred to the Shepperd Center in Atlanta.
A rehabilitation facility that helps young people with brain injury.

Toni:

There were people in there and they were just like giver uppers, and I hate that that can happen. But some people when they fall or something has happened seemed to defeat them, they travel in that energy, they choose to stay in that energy of just being defeated, instead of fighting. And for me, I just didn’t see the being defeated, being my option, I wanted to fight for my life.

TR:

The physical, that was just part of her fight.

Toni:

I had to deal with the outside world and walking differently and not being able to wear heels or being self conscious about what I look like, and being judged by what I look like.

Before I was this six foot model type looking girl.

— Music Begins, a bouncy up-tempo, high energy Hip Hop beat!

“I got a little a, a little something I want to lay on y’all.” !”

TR:

Hey did you know; Reid My Mind Radio, is on Facebook and Insta Gram. We’re going to do some things on these platforms so stay tuned. You can find us on both FB and IG @ReidMyMindRadio.

On Twitter I’m at tsreid

Don’t forget you can also ask your smart device to play Reid My MindRadio by T.Reid on your preferred podcast provider.

Make sure you say that full statement including, T.Reid.

— A hint of “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway

The holidays are among us. If you’re looking for a way to give yourself a present while supporting what I’m hoping is your favorite podcast… one of your favorites? A podcast you’re kinda diggin’?

Anyway, go on over to ReidMyMind.com and hit that link that says Shop.

Purchase a shirt, hoodie or any item to show your rockin’ with Reid My Mind Radio! Or maybe you want to show your support for Flipping the Script on Audio Description. or of course, Young Gifted Black & Disabled.

All support is truly appreciated.

You can find Reid My Mind Radio wherever you get your podcasts. That’s the perfect place to follow or subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Tell a friend to do the same. Let them also know that we have transcripts and more at ReidMyMind.com. Just make sure you tell them; That’s R to the E I D

“D” and that’s me in the place to be. Slick Rick) Like my last name.

Now back to the episode. ———-

— DJ Scratch leads into
— Crippled Pretty, by Toni Hickman

Lyrics:

I was kind of wishing I was dead
They shaved off all my hair to do surgery on my head
And then my eyes turned dark and my world got black
I never thought my life would take a turn like that

My world is Cripple Pretty

I’ve seen the sun and…
I’ve seen the rain and…
Life is beautiful
I can’t complain, man
… song continues under the conversation.

TR:

Toni didn’t want to be seen in public

Toni:

A friend of mine, he was just like you done lost your confidence What happened? And then I was like, I didn’t lose anything. I’m telling him that but he was right. I hated that he was able to identify that with me that pissed me off. I’m supposed to hide it.

— Music begins, a melancholy ambient piano melody

I had to get all my hair shaved off during this process.

I went and got braids in my hair so I can just feel beautiful.

One day I was in the mirror and I was taking the braids out. And I had this energy that came over me, and it was just like, I love you. And so I’m looking in the mirror, and I’m crying to myself. And I’m just I love you, I love you just how you are like, I love you. And even to think about it. Now it’s bringing tears to my eyes, because that was the moment when I decided that I had to love myself internally. Before I can really reflect that in the world. You know?

TR:

Yeh, I do.

In fact, I think a lot of us do.
What I think could be helpful is figuring out how to access that energy.

Toni:

I think it’s in all of us, but we have to tap into it.

When I was in the mirror, and I was crying to myself, and I had to tell myself, I love myself. That was definitely God energy. And that was definitely learning what self love really means. Because everybody talks about you got to do the self care and the self love, but self love really comes in when you are down at your bottom. And you can’t even figure your way out and you have to find your way of understanding what self love means. That was my turning point.

TR:

She took the braids out.

Toni:

I put my two palm palms in my head naturally. And I was like, Look, this is me, you gonna have to accept me as is. I started going to the gym, the local YMCA in Atlanta. And I was working on myself so hard that they put me on the wall is like just being so determined to grow and succeed.

I don’t care what your issue is. You feeling like you need to go Get your nails and your toes done, whatever makes you feel beautiful. It’s okay to, to go in that energy because that inspires the same energy that makes you feel that self care and this self love.

I do it because it makes me feel better not for anybody else. I do it for me.

TR:

While she says her gate is off, Toni became strong enough where she no longer needed a cane and was able to return to the studio.

Unrelated to disability, today she chooses to record from home.

Yet we know, disability can introduce some change into our lives.

Toni:

Oh everything changes. As a melanin dominant person, or black person in our world, there have been so many ways to see how, as black people, we have been discriminated against, but disability takes it to a whole other level.

I’m not saying that it takes away from discrimination as black because if you’re black and disabled, like that’s a double whammy.

What I realized is this community of people with disabilities First off, is so strong, like there’s so many strong spirits , disabled activists.

I was kind of just trying to figure out my way, and Krip Hop came to me.

TR:

The Krip Hop Nation was started by Leroy Moore and Keith Jones in 2007.
It’s a worldwide association of artists with disabilities campaigning for equality through concerts, tours, workshops and much more.
Leroy reached out to Toni on the early social media app, My Space.

Toni:

When Leroy came to me, I was just like, yes. I have spoken at different events with Leroy. We’ve just done a lot of great things.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

There are many people within the world of hip hop who have a disability, but they don’t all identify it as such. So I’m sure Leroy has approached some people. And their reaction was probably not like yours, right? Like, no, I’m not disabled, you know what I’m saying? So what is it? How did you come to identify as disabled?

Toni:

I’m not gonna hide it. That was one of the things of like, self love. I can’t hide what has happened. I didn’t feel like I needed to, like, I felt like I needed to speak for this community versus hide.

I know rappers in the industry right now. They’ve never shine light on it, because they know how the industry looks at that. And it’s unfortunate, because this is something that needs the light. The disability community needs inclusion.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Do you think that can change within hip hop, specifically?

Toni:’

I’m not sure.

At first, my goal was to be a part of the industry without being like, an activist.

I just wanted to be that slim girl that was rapping. But now my goal is not to be a part of them, my goal is to be a part of change. And even if my voice can redirect, to change them in some kind of way, then I’ve still fulfilled my purpose. Because at the end of the day, all Hip Hop artists have some form of duty.

I told you, I started with the poetry. And it’s always been philosophical. So we’re channeled,

Nipsey Hussle talks about this too. We get this energy that comes through us, we don’t know where these lyrics come from. They come through us and that is how we express. Those that channeling for negative, that is not helping our environment, but if we choose to channel and help our environment, then we are really being what we’re supposed to be on this earth.

TR:

There’s real purpose in sharing stories about disability and our experiences through
lyrics, musicianship, dance, art!
So it’s really great to se Toni and fellow Krip Hop artists
George Tragic and co-founder Keith Jones, receive recognition for their work
in the Netflix documentary Rising Phoenix.

Toni:

The documentary is about the Paralympics, and all of these amazing people who have stories.

it is a story of just pure, I’ll be damned. I’m gonna do this.
TR:

Daniel Pemberton, the music director for the film wanted to make sure the project included disabled musicians.
That first just meant hiring disabled orchestral instrumentalist.

Toni:

Then he decided that he wants to have like, a hip hop song attached. And so they got in touch with Leroy, who is the founder of crip, hop, and Leroy got in touch with us. And they kind of wanted me to add the energy of the singing into it, because they had listened to our projects.

I speak from the heart always, and I work on people always being able to feel that emotion that I have and so they wanted me to add the energy of the song.

I had more than what was there. And then the director came back, he’s like, Well, you know, maybe we take this off and just use this. And that’s how we ended up with the hook.

I’m a Rising Phoenix, I’ll rise above you.

— Song mixes in with the lyrics…

Toni:

And that is pretty much the story of what you have to do when you have a disability, you have to gain this, I’ll be damned attitude, and fight for your equality.

TR:

Not only is Toni singing the hook, but she drops a verse as well.

Toni:

I was just happy to be a part of the movie because just that alone was so powerful.

We had no idea that it was gonna win an EMMY.

I was just floored.

— News footage…
“A lot of people online are criticizing the award show with the hash tag #EMMYsSoWhite, trending on Twitter. No Black actors won big awards despite a record number being nominated. 49 by the way.”

Toni:

This goes back to that inclusion thing. This song was so amazing that it won an EMMY.
That’s the statement that I want to make because, I’m Black.

TR in conversation with Toni:

Mm! Yeh!

Toni:

We won because of this song so don’t say that we were not include it you need to think about us you need to understand that we are included

TR in conversation with Toni:

Yeh, that’s that “well they’re not Black they’re disabled.”

Toni:

That’s what i’m talking about!

TR:

Sometimes y’all, when you’re Black and disabled, It feels like well, am I not Black enough for ya!

— Sample from Billy Paul “Am I Black Enough”

TR:

Despite all that, Toni has an EMMY. And naturally, it’s in her studio.

Toni:

it’s beautiful. It’s absolutely beautiful.

TR:

Toni’s working on a new project right now!

Thakur>

Toni:
Thakur is definitely a project that I must confess is confrontational. But it is focused on I guess, bringing in the deep thinkers and, and also helping people understand that, like, in the process of us looking outside of ourselves, for someone to save us, we also have to look internally and tap into our God’s self and work on saving ourselves.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

What’s the controversy though?

Toni:

Well, the controversy, I mean, even in Christianity, we’ve been taught to pray to a white God, and look for white gods to save us.

And so in that process, we have given away all of our power. For us to access who we truly need to be, we have to redirect how we look at God.
God is everywhere. God is in the trees, the grass. God is energy. But we also manifest that energy. And so we have to also just see how looking at a white God, who has also been the same image as our slave master has damaged our psyche.

TR:

The Cure , spelled T H A K U R is Toni’s new group.

Toni:

It’s just me and my homeboy.

I was doing a lot of big things before I went in the hospital. And he was one of the people that just kind of came in and was there before and after. He’s a really dope artist, he’s a dope producer. But also a person that has just been influencing me to just keep going regardless of the standards that the music industry tries to put on artists, like age, disability or whatever. He was one of those people that just was always in my corner and encouraging me to you know, live my greatest life.

He’s Big Yo!

TR in Conversation with Toni:

When we’re talking about disability. I love to hear about the friends in the family who really were holding people down, before and after. I always feel like they deserve a real special shout out. So shout out Big Yo, for real!

Toni:

Yes, shout out to Big Yo!

TR:

You can check out Thakur’s first release titled Telepathy right now on YouTube.
By the time this episode is released, their second single Daylight should be available and an album soon to follow.

Toni:

it’s just really to enlighten and that’s what my whole journey has been about. Understanding my own truth while I can relay My message to others.

TR:

Krip Hop and rap in general is just one vehicle Toni uses to improve her environment through positive change.

Toni:

I started speaking for the American Heart Association, and this other organization called young stroke. And young stroke focuses on people with brain injury, aneurisms, that happen at a young age.

TR:

She writes books.

Toni:

The doctors told me to keep chemicals out of my hair for at least two years. And so when I researched why I found that you know, a lot of these chemicals can lead to cancer, aneurysms, all kinds of things and we don’t even think about it because as melanin dominant people, for so long we have just tried to fit into the status quo of what America or the world in society portrays as beauty and so we’ve been putting these perms and stuff on our hair and that understanding that our roots are definitely supposed to be out and that’s what we’re supposed to wear. I wrote a book called Chemical Suicide.

TR:

She has another titled ” A Man’s Cry for Health”.
It’s a response to a lack of information and attention placed on men’s health.

Toni:

It’s hard for them to focus or even bring attention to their health issues because society makes it look like they are less than a man if you have issues or you’re weaker or something and that shouldn’t be the case we need to pay attention to our men as well.

It doesn’t just help men because it talks about all ailments that us humans have but we’ve even raised our boys to think like you never cry you’re never supposed to cry you’re never supposed to shed tears and the reality is yeah you know one of my spiritual teachers he’s like you know if we weren’t supposed to cry we wouldn’t have tear ducts.

You don’t dwell in that energy but it’s okay for men to cry. It’s okay for you to let out that emotion.

TR:

She’s even working on the story of her journey. Toni:

I started on it. And then I stopped and I started again.
It’s my book. Just everything that I have been through and going through the changes of loving myself

My goal is to eventually get it turned into a movie or a series.

TR:

I’ll spare you all my audio description lecture and my selfless pitch to narrate.

Music, poetry, writing, Toni’s about creating.

Toni:

I paint, I’m constantly working on stuff just trying to see where I’m supposed to be. You know my purpose.

TR:

It’s why she shares the lessons she continues to learn throughout her journey. What she calls Alika Lessons.

Toni:

The Alika lessons can vary.

I don’t really think about direction. I just get on there with lessons that I constantly learn to help me grow. And I understand that whatever can help me grow is probably going to help somebody else.

TR:

The content she shares on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube isn’t tailored to any specific identity.
However, I think it does center the experiences of women.
And fellas, you may want to listen to learn a thing or two.

Toni:

The importance of loving yourself, but also the importance of understanding that it is okay for you to be properly pleasured.

This is not a disabled thing. Women have a tendency to kind of Like fake an orgasm because they are not truly being pleased because their spiritual connection is not there with their partner.

They’ve just bypassed that to please their partner instead of focusing on pleasing themselves.

TR:

Pleas ing oneself begins with seeing that inner beauty.
Being comfortable and loving that person in the mirror.

That first poem she wrote as a child;
choosing to be true to herself and write meaningful honest lyrics;
healing on her terms;
embracing her disability;

All of these things, on her time.

You should take some of your time to check out Toni’s music, purchase her books and art; Visit
ToniHickman.com

Toni:

that’s T O N I H I C K M A N.com

My social media is the real Tony Hickman except for Twitter on Twitter, I’m just Tony Hickman

TR:

Oh, no, she’s never [emphasis on just ]just Toni Hickman!

She is the real Toni Hickman, which happens to be the name of her YouTube channel.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

So since I got the real Tony Hickman online not that fake imposter running around out there you know say we got no time for that fake one so since I got the real one on that I just want to let you know that because you were so open and you shared everything and when folks do that right here with the family, with the Reid My Mind Radio family we let you know that you miss real Tony Hickman are now an official member of the Reid My MindRadio family

— Airhorn!

Toni:

Happy to be a member

TR in Conversation with Toni:

I really do appreciate you and you know I’ve been looking forward to this for a while and I’m glad we finally did it Tony we got this done Congratulations, to us!

TR:

Yes, congratulations to us as we celebrate… Young Gifted Black & Disabled

Audio: Reid My Mind Outro

Peace

Hide the transcript

Flipping the Script on Audio Description – A Hip Hop Approach

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Nathan Geering, a mixed race man of afro carribean and British descent is wearing an orange sweat shirt with a patchwork pocket on his chest and elbow pads that are patchwork also. He has navy blue jeans and grey shoes with red shoelaces. He is balancing upside down on his right hand with both of his knees tucked into his chest as he executes a handstand freeze on one hand.

Take the elements of Hip Hop culture; Rap, DJ’ing, Break Dancing, Graffiti and Knowledge of Self and apply that not only to Audio Description but disability in general, and you have the Rationale method.

Finding a way or a reason to bridge the disabled and non-disabled world of theater goers has been one of Nathan Geering’s goals. He’s the founder of the Rationale Method, a non-objective means of providing description that incorporates immersive artistic expressions including poetry, beat boxing and sound design to create accessible and inclusive performances for all.

His award winning short film “Still a Slave” will be a part of the 2021 Superfest Film Festival. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to experience this innovative approach to Audio Description.

Combining Hip Hop with blindness has always been a theme on this podcast whether you recognize it or not. It goes beyond the music, it’s in the small references, the samples … it’s in the DNA. Therefore, it’s fitting that I open this final episode of the 2021 Flipping the Script series with a hot 16 and my beatbox debut. So has we use to do it… “From the south to the west, to the east to the north, T.Reid go off, go off!”

This episode is dedicated to all the Hip Hop pioneers.

Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamp. – Chuck D, Public Enemy

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Transcript

Show the transcript


TR:

Greetings y’all!

Before we get into this last episode of the Flipping the Script series,
I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be off in October.
The podcast will return in November for our
final season of 2021, Young Gifted Black & Disabled.

the best way to be sure you don’t miss anything is to simply subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast app.
The next season starts in November, but you never know, I may have something to say in October.

Let’s kick it!

— Sample: “Ok, party people in the house. You’re about to witness something you’ve never witnessed before!” Slick Rick & Doug E Fresh
— Sample “Listen carefully” Daffy Duck
— Sounds of city streets and kids playing & hanging out

TR:
Once upon a time, in the 1980’s
Kids like me, well our parents said we were crazy
Hanging in the park, or in front of the building
Doing nothing wrong, we were just children
Sometimes we had music and it would be rocking
If not, someone was beat boxing
— Beat Box begins with TR now rapping…
All of a sudden, someone would start rapping
breakout the carboard time for break dancing
These were the early days of Hip Hop
Back then Most adults said it would stop
Today, please, it’s an unstoppable force
Fashion, Movies, and entertainment of course
Ladies & Gentlemen may I have your attention
This episode has a whole new dimension
Pump up the volume I need you to listen
Flipping the script on Audio Description

– Reid My Mind Theme Music

Nathan:

I’m a firm believer that wherever possible, we should be having audio description as part of the main soundscape for any kind of artistic endeavor, not just for television or film.

TR:

That’s Nathan Geering, Accessibility Innovator and my guest today. He’s the director of the Rationale Method and the registered charity Rationale Arts.

Nathan:

I’m six foot one, I have an afro Caribbean heritage so from Antigua and Jamaica, and also British and Romany Gypsy heritage on my other side of the family. I have a short afro hair slightly longer on top of this tight Afro curls, I have a beard so I guess a sound that would go along with the texture, my beard is kind of like a kind of like a rough course kind of texture. I’m wearing a grade sports t shirt, which has “Move More” on one side, which is in white and yellow lettering.
The texture of the T shirt is very smooth. (Makes a smooth sounding sound)
I go by the pronouns of he or him.

TR:

Nathan didn’t mention that he’s also a Break Dancer , and that’s where this story begins. In fact, he shares some things in common with the early pioneers of the art.

Nathan:

I grew up watching old school kung fu movies with my grandmother and the rest of my family. And when I would be falling asleep, I could still picture the movements of the kung fu fight based on the sound effects from the kung fu movies. So you can tell it’s like a punch or a kick, or if it landed.

— Music begins, a dramatic intro leads into a pulsating groove.

TR:

Before we get to the sound effects, let’s hear more about the dancing.

Nathan:

I studied kung fu as a kid. And then I was a B-boy. From my early 20s, I did a couple of breaking moves as a kid, but I never really had anybody to teach me breaking. Then I went to university. And then there was like a breaking society there.

Within a couple months, because of my approach with Kung Fu, I ended up teaching the classes.

I picked up a lot of movements like really quickly.

And then from there, I ended up being an internationally touring performer. I work with a guy in the UK called Jonzi D. who runs a big hip hop Theater Festival called breaking convention. And he kind of like gave me my break into theater. And it just snowballed on from there.

TR:

He soon started his own Hip Hop Theater company called Rationale.
The company’s approach to developing their performances is interactive. It starts with what Nathan calls a scratch performance.

Nathan:
We show the audience certain scenes, and then they’ll give feedback based on those scenes. And then, based on that feedback will further develop our show.

This one particular time, we just didn’t have enough material.

TR:

So they borrowed an idea from another company called New Art Club.
It sort of creates a stop animation performance or creating what appears to be movement from still images.

Nathan:

We decided to remix that into a hip hop version. So when the audience would open their eyes we’d be stood up right and then when they close their eyes and open their eyes again, we’d be upside down spinning on our head or jumping up and down on one hand or doing freezes and poses, and the audience went crazy for it.

We couldn’t believe that we got such a profound response from just kind of taking the audience’s site away and bringing it back. So we decided that we were going to really focus on the theme of visual impairment, but sort of real superficial level.

TR:

That superficial turned to a real genuine interest after one of the members of the company explained how any of them could really be impacted by blindness.

Nathan:

And then that’s when it really hit home to me. My daughter at the time, she was about two years old. And I thought what if I was to wake up tomorrow, and I couldn’t see my daughter. And I wasn’t emotionally prepared for that, if I’m honest, I was a mess, I broke down in tears.

I was really afraid. And so with me, if I’m afraid of something, I develop a curiosity about it. And so I decided to find out as much as I could about visual impairment in depth.

TR:

We often talk about the correlation between the limited opportunities for people who are Blind or have Low Vision and the fear associated with blindness.

So I can’t help but wonder, what if the default response to that fear was more like Nathan’s.

Nathan:

I want to be able to get to know myself as a human being as best I possibly can.

I became quite aware, like in my, in my 20s, that
if I’m afraid of something, that fear can stop me living a happy and fulfilling life. And just because I’m afraid of something, it may be, because actually, I don’t know enough about it. And obviously, you can find great beauty on the other side of fear, but sometimes you just have to go through fear. Or sometimes it’s good to tolerate uncertainty.

I would say to anybody out there, if there’s something that you’re afraid of, develop a curiosity about it, because you may find some incredible things not only about yourself, but also about the thing that you’re actually afraid of, and it’ll help you grow as a human being.

we just had so many incredible discoveries that it became my life’s work.

— Music ends

The more I found out, the more I was just inspired.

TR:

In case this sounds like using disability as a gimmick.

— Sample “I don’t think so!” LL Cool J, “Going Back to Cali”

Nathan:

We worked with blind and partially sighted communities every step of the way.

It was really great that they were willing to come on this journey with us, because it meant that we were getting the information straight from the people that needed these provisions, they were helping to shape it and develop it. And we were always in consultation with them.

TR:

Nathan worked with various blindness organizations where he
met all sorts of people with varying degrees of blindness and low vision.

He asked why more blind people weren’t attending performances and what he could do about that.

Nathan:

they said, they need the dynamics of the movement to change quite abruptly from like, wide to narrow or high to low.

It’s not the case with every type of visual impairment but some kinds of vision impairment, the audience see better when you look down towards the floor, because the floor gives such a blank canvas for contrast. I was like, Okay, well, where does most breaking happen, kind of like on the floor.

We worked with a visually impaired playwright called Kate O’Reilly. She sees the world in 2d, so the world’s like a flat picture to her. And she said that when she watched my company break in person, she said, she got an experience of what it was like to see in 3d. Something gave her like a sense of depth and perception that she didn’t see in any other art form. And she thinks it’s something to do with the access, which we were spinning out with our power moves, or the kind of like, non typical positions, we put our bodies in, when we do freezes, or poses, she thinks there’s something that our brain is trying to make sense of that.

TR:

Blind people in the audience, that’s one thing. With help from Kate, Nathan sought out Blind breakers but couldn’t find any.

He wanted to do more than include Blind performers in his show. He wanted to provide value.

Nathan:

I realized that braking actually is increased my spatial awareness. And because with braking we have go down. So we go from standing to the floor very quickly, but we do that in very stylish ways, but also in very safe ways.

We teach people how to sustain the momentum and keep moving and keep rolling. And a lot of injuries happen when somebody falls and all the shock gets absorbed into one part of their body.

We teach how to sustain the momentum, therefore the force gets dissipated for a larger surface area of the body. So it means that it greatly reduces the chance of injuries and things.

TR:

In addition to schools and organizations for the Blind, He taught these lessons at the Royal Opera House.
During the pandemic, he began teaching one on one classes online via Zoom.

Nathan:

I have a blind student that can’t speak, that I teach in Italy, but we communicate through, obviously, my verbal directions and his hand signals. We’re still able to have that dialogue and to be able to teach him the techniques effectively.

TR in Conversation with Nathan:
You work with adults, and children?

Nathan:
Oh, yeah. So I think the youngest kid we work with is like six. And the oldest person we’ve worked with is about 7374.

We have them do like CCS and Zulu spins and handstands. So it’s a real life intergenerational style.

TR:

As far as attending these performances, Nathan began to learn that the Audio Description provided just wasn’t doing it for these consumers.

Nathan:

in the UK, it was common practice for the audio description to be really kind of like objective.
And the way it was delivered was almost like a science experiment, there was like, a monotone voice, it was like the dancer lifts her up, moves her head to the side. And the thing is, our art is subjective. If you have that objective voice coming in over it, it can be quite disturbing and take you out of the immersive artistic experience.

— Music begins, a slow Hip Hop groove.
— Sample, Acapella “it’s Bigger Than Hip Hop” Dead Prez

TR:

So what does Nathan do?

Nathan:

I again turned to hip hop.

What are the more vocal elements of hip hop, obviously, we have emceeing, rapping and we have beatboxing and vocal percussion.
I started to pair beatboxing sound effects with certain movements.

We got people with visual impairment to basically like physicalize each sound effects a beatboxer makes. So for example, if a majority of people were saying that (makes a sound) represents a jump, we’d always use that for a jump or (makes a sound) represents like a low spin to the floor, we’d always use that is to represent the low spin. We created our own language, which is known as RM notation. Rationale Method – a way of giving people a richer soundscape really. Within the sound effects, you can get an idea of like the speed of a movement, or if a movement is traveling from high to low, all those kinds of directional input that it would take a very long time to describe through words.

TR in Conversation with Nathan::

Explained to me the name rationale method.

Nathan:

Rationale means a reason or a way. And we were like, We always will, or we will always find a way and a reason for doing good in the world. And so, that kind of stuck. We really try and find a way to bridge the gap between disabled and non disabled artists and audiences across the world.

TR:

The Rationale Method also includes poetic elements.

The goal is to provide a choice of aesthetics for implementing immersive, non objective Audio Description.

Nathan:

So there’s tons of audio description companies that deliver objective audio description

, We’re not saying that what we’re doing is a substitute for that we’re just trying to offer choice. Everybody has different tastes, some people will prefer objective audio description, some people prefer subjective, some people prefer, like beatboxing. Some people prefer poetics some people for emotive text. And so we just tried to open up the choice of what is available to blind and partially sighted audiences within what we’re doing.

TR:

The applications go beyond dance and artistic performances.

Nathan:

It can be used to describe like sport.

If you were to have a basketball game, or a football game, or a soccer game, for example, you, you can have an excited commentator delivering the commentary. But you don’t know, for example, if a ball is being passed from one person to another How long it takes for that pass, to travel from one person to another, if it’s a high pass, or low pass, but with the sound effects that we have, you can give a person an idea of how long it takes the ball to travel from one person to another based on the sound effects used.

TR:

Nathan couldn’t speak about the details for such an application, but he’s working on something that in his words, if it comes to fruition;

Nathan:

It’s gonna be big. It’s gonna be big.

TR in Conversation with Nathan:

I know, you can’t talk about it too much. But is that something that would be over TV? Or is that live in the venue or something?

Nathan:

So we’re looking at both. Obviously, with a live element, there may be like a slight split second of delay in terms of reaction times, right? It wouldn’t be enough to disrupt the experience. But again, when we go to the post production in the Edit, we can then tighten those elements up.

— Music ends.

TR:

I don’t really watch sports, but this does sound intriguing.

— Audio from Still a Slave

TR:

Another example of the Rationale Method at work is in a short film titled Still A Slave. It pairs emotive poetry and sound effects as subjective Audio Description.

The film itself runs about five minutes and is directed, written and stars Nathan.
It comes out of the same energy as the Black Lives Matter movement and all of the trauma that was resurfaced following the murders of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor.

Nathan:

There was a lot of, I guess, throwaway comments on social media from people saying, all lives matter, slavery doesn’t exist anymore.

These were really kind of like gaslighting comments and painful comments to us and myself.

It was getting to the point where I was like this is going to consume me if I don’t transform this energy.
I decided to take all that energy and transform it into a source of power, rather than keep it as a source of pain.

TR:

Nathan incorporates break dancing, fire and rope to convey his message.
In line with his martial arts background, he redirects that negative energy from the social media comments to reveal them for what they are.

Another key element of the film is the setting.

Nathan:

I shot it in Morecambe, which is one of Britain’s oldest slave ports, and the body of the first black slave is actually buried in marking, it’s called, like Sambo’s grave.

I was harnessing the energy from that space.

TR:

Combining the art with the activism, Nathan included a live performance of Still a Slave during a peaceful protest he organized outside a venue in his home city of Sheffield. He describes this venue as institutionally racist.

Nathan:

I made sure that I audio described all of the images leading up to the protest. I wanted to ensure that the protest was accessible. There’s so many people that organize protests that don’t think about the accessibility elements of a protest. For example, if you have physical content, is that physical content audio described?
Do you have a sign language interpreter there? If there’s people with neurological differences, Is there a space that they can go to where it’s not so noisy or not so hectic? If you’re doing a march? Is it an accessible route on the march that a wheelchair user can take. within the protest.

TR:
The response from the Blind Community?

Nathan:

Thank you, we felt because of this, we were able to take part in activism in a way that we typically don’t get to take part in activism, due to the inaccessibility that some protests have.

So for me, it was really important when I did Still a Slave to ensure that it was made accessible to as many people as possible when I made the film.

I’m a firm believer that wherever possible, we should be having audio description as part of the main soundscape for any kind of artistic endeavor, not just for television or film.
It was sort of right from the inception of the production I always knew it would have audio description within that.

TR:

That’s the goal we always strive for; being considered at the point of creation or design.

In this case, the choice of aesthetic from the Rationale Method toolbox was poetry along with enhanced sound design.

Nathan:

I beefed up some of this sound effects from the fire. Just so again, you’ve got a bi t of an idea of the speed at which the fire was spinning and traveling from one point to another

we work with an incredible audio describer, Tashinga Matewe, who provided the beautiful poetry. I coached her in terms of what elements we needed to focus on to make it more accessible and the dynamics she needed to add to her voice at certain parts.

I made sure that the person I worked with to do the audio description came from African descent. I also made sure that the person that did the music, track the sound score that he came from African descent as well, just to make sure that there was authenticity running right through the entire short film in production.

— Sound of a record spinning backwards, into a scratch
— Music begins, a bouncy Hip Hop beat

TR:
What’s up family, I need to interrupt the episode for a brief moment.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoy bringing them to you.
I really want to make this podcast a sustainable venture.
Will you help me?

All I need is a bit of your time.
Please, go on over to ReidMyMind.com and check out the post for this episode and hit the link that says survey. It takes about 5 minutes to fill that out.
— DJ Scratch leads into “Check it out y’all!”

TR:
Reid My Mind Radio now has merch!
T-shirts and more on sale now!
Show your support for the Flipping the Script series directly or show some love for the podcast with an Official Reid My Mind Radio t-shirt, hoodie, cap or more. Just go on over to Reid My Mind.com and hit the link that says Shop!

I appreciate you family!

And now,
— Sample: “What we’re gonna do right here is go back, …”

TR:
Back to the episode!

— Music ends

TR:

Both The Blind and the non Blind communities responded favorably never seeing this kind of approach before. The non Blind community acknowledging that it also adds an extra layer for them to understand what’s happening.

And, that venue in Sheffield, they decided to begin adding more programming from people of color on their main stage. And that includes locally within the city of Sheffield. This includes a performance from Nathan’s Rationale company.

Nathan:

We did a hip hop fair production called trusting care. And that production was made with young people and carers are artistic consultants on the production.
We would work with them on some artistic residencies, and then we create scenes with them, and then they’d watch the scenes back, like, Nah, that doesn’t represent me, or they’ve like, yeah, that’s, that’s exactly how I feel. So based on that, that’s how we create the production.

The audio description, again, was for everybody to hear.

TR:

No headphone and receiver? Open Audio Description?

Nathan:
We set the parameters at the beginning of the production.

TR:

That’s right, they did a pre-show for all attendees.
The cast was invited out along with the Audio Describer and British Sign Language interpreter.

Nathan:

We were like, okay, so right now, you know, you’re going to have this unique technique, this unique method, rationale method of audio description and accessibility can be fully embedded, and you may hear certain elements that you feel is like why are you stating the obvious, but we have to remember that there’s blind and partially sighted audience members here. So these elements are key in order to ensure that everybody has the same level of access. But not only that, you know, some of you sighted people may actually get a deeper understanding to some of the subtext or elements within the production as well. So it may just heighten accessibility for you as well.

We explained that the BSL interpretation was fully integrated within the performance and the production as well. So we have the sign interpreter dancing throughout the whole production,

We sold out the venue, we got a standing ovation.

It was just a massive hit.

TR:

That open Audio Description, even helped a Blind cast member who became disoriented while on stage.
— Music begins, a slow dramatic Hip Hop beat

Nathan:

The audio describer would literally be guiding her back to her space and where she needs to be to help her get a sense of direction or a sense of bearings within the audio description. It enabled the blind performer to be able to safely navigate the space without taking away from the aesthetic. So people got to see that firsthand in terms of audio description being used as a form of accessibility for performers as well as for audience members. It was incredible.

TR:

When something is new and starts to receive a level of attention and success, two things are likely to happen. First, people want to learn how they can implement it.

Nathan:

I’ve just been teaching the accessibility techniques, to some organizations out in Peru, in terms of how they can enhance accessibility not only through the rationale method, but also through creative techniques within audio description.

There’s loads of ways that people can get creative with audio description. We’re just scratching the surface.

I’m trying to give people the tools to unlock their own creativity and to try and tap into their authentic self,

Hopefully they’ll be able to unlock their own techniques.

the rationale method is just another alternative is it’s not a one size fits all. And I think there’s enough room for everybody in the more choice that we can provide for people the better.

TR in Conversation with Nathan:

Are you getting love from the other audio description companies or are they hatin’??

(Tr & Nathan share in a hearty laugh!)

Nathan:
Well, it’s really funny. It’s a mixed bag.

So we got the audio description company in Canada, the main audio description organization, they’ve given us nothing but love.

Even though the Rational Method has its roots deeply embedded in hip hop, it doesn’t mean that the aesthetic that you will get will be a hip hop aesthetic.
We’ve audio described award winning contemporary dance and like ballet and even children’s, even children’s short films.

Just because it has its roots in hip hop doesn’t mean that the aesthetic is gonna always be hip hop. Sometimes it will be if that’s what it calls for.

We have one of the main audio description companies here in the UK. I approached them when I first started out kind of like can we partner on this? And they were just like, yeah. And then nothing. I tried to reach out since and nothing good. So I’m just like, Okay, well, we can just offer choice, you know, and that’s it. For me, I’m not competing with anybody. I’m just here just trying to do my part to provide accessibility.

So, because the way I, the way I see it, you know, everybody is different. And so, like I said, before, you know, our rational method, maybe ideal for some people, not ideal for others and other organizations aesthetic may be ideal for some people and not ideal for others. So that’s, that’s where it’s at. But yeah, but yeah,

We got hate because they know what we do is dope, that’s fine. You know,

TR in conversation with Nathan:
That’s when you know you’re doing something good.

— Sample: “Play on Playa”
TR:

Haters are always gonna hate.

— Sample: “No diggity, no doubt!”

Nathan really does have greater aspirations which include visions of the future of Audio Description.

Nathan:
For example, people could turn on the TV They have a button for audio description. And they have about 10 different aesthetics that they can choose from that suits their particular personality or taste or style. For me, that would be dope because for so long, it’s always been one size fits all for audio description for when there’s a production or performance.

TR:

Talking technology!

Nathan:
There’s like an event I run called demystifying tech, where we get people to play with both cutting edge technologies and basic technologies.

There’s so many artists still scared of technology and working with it. So we just try and demystify some of these preconceptions and talk about how we can utilize them to enhance accessibility in a variety of ways.

— Music ends
— Sample: “This is a journey into sound”

TR:

Nathan’s working on incorporating the sounds into a pad that can be triggered.

Essentially, taking the language of the Rationale Method which pairs sounds to movements, and making it easily available to anyone, Blind or not, at any time.

Nathan:

Then a sighted or blind dancer can then interpret those sounds.
And then all of a sudden, you’re opening up career pathways for blind and partially sighted choreographers and movement directors. Because there’s not that many of them out there. I don’t think it’s because they don’t want to I think it’s more so because they haven’t had an accessible pathway created for them to be able to do that.

We just finished in the second stage of prototyping. And we’ve had incredible responses. We’ve had people saying that Yo, if I had this in college I would have passed my drama and dance exams.

TR:

Sounds as language, a means of communicating. Enabling a Blind choreographer to easily relay their idea or
conversely a Blind dancer to perform a desired move.

Nathan:

for example, if you were to do a Zulu spin. Zulu spin is if somebody is crouched low to the floor, and they’re spinning on the floor with both their hands and their feet in contact with the floor, but they’re keeping a tight ball. You get an idea of how fast the spin would happen.

TR:

Again, the applications go beyond dancing; maybe a Blind martial artist, actor or athlete.

Nathan:

Also, like fashion shows, if people can get a feel of the, energy of the person walking down the catwalk, and if they’re spinning around, the flow of dress on or a different style dress, the sound effect can also reflect the, you know, the movement quality of the dress as well. So, you know, there’s lots of applications that this sound pad can be used for.

I’m just in the second lot of prototyping, then hopefully, after that, we’re going to do a bit more triangulation in terms of research. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get it to production and get it out to people in the world. And yeah, hopefully, we’ll be able to have some more blind and partially sighted directors and choreographers.

TR:

Assuring value for those who are Blind and disabled was always part of Nathan’s objective.
Nathan:

Me not being disabled myself, I had a lot of skepticism from the disabled community and quite rightly so. But I think once they talk to me and understand, actually this guy’s coming from a genuine place. It’s just been nothing but love from the disabled community which I’m eternally grateful for.

– Sample: “Nothing But Love For You Baby” Heavy D

TR:

That relationship and understanding the importance of centering the community is probably one reason Nathan was selected to coordinate the opening ceremony of the 2017 Special Olympics
— Audio from Special Olympics in 20xx.

Nathan:

I was adamant that the non disabled art companies and artists, they weren’t about to impose their choreography on the disabled artist. It had to be disability led The opening ceremony.
The people with disabilities, they would take the lead on what movements that they wanted and what themes they wanted to explore.

The non disabled artists they would fit in their choreography around and it just be a real mix. But it was disability led.

There have been other breakers that had performed the opening ceremonies, like the New York City break is done in the 80s, but I think I made history is the first ever B boy to be in charge of an entire Olympic opening ceremony.

So that was kind of like a big achievement for hip hop within that kind of context.

— Sample Hip Hop Hooray

TR in Conversation with Nathan:
So it sounds like you have a lot of the elements of hip hop kind of incorporated into what you’re doing is that something that you specifically looked at?

Nathan:
Yeah! My route was hip hop. I know how hip hop can save lives.

I’d always look to hip hop first, within everything that we do and see how that can work.

We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on what hip hop can really do.

So for me, it was really important to connect with those ways that how hip hop saved my life, and influenced me as a human being.

TR:

Through his charity Rationale Arts, Nathan’s incorporating the elements of Hip Hop
or
Rapping or Emceeing, Break Dancing, Graffiti or Street Art, DJaying and the final Knowledge of Self ) to help hospitalized children.

Nathan:

We teach them bedside beatboxing. Hip Hop hand play, hand dance movements, we teach them smashing street art, graffiti writing, and how to write their own name. And then we also have a thing called Doctor Decks where somebody dressed up in Doctor scrubs and pushes like a trolley around the ward and has like DJ Decks on them and teaches the kids how to mix and scratch

There’s so many great like accessibility elements with that.

A beatboxes best friend can be a loop station.

TR:

Okay, for those who may not be familiar, a loop station is a recording device that repeats or loops a sound at a given tempo recorded.
For example:
— beat box…

The applications can go beyond beats.

Nathan:
With people that have trouble forming speech, we can sample their voice into that. And then that can be then part of their main soundscape that we create within that loop station, then if they want to, they can trigger their voice whenever they want it to come on and off.

TR:

Working directly with the children in real situations helped Nathan really understand the value of this work.

Nathan:
We’re actually teaching these kids like distress tolerance and emotional regulation,
Beatboxing is just meditation because meditation is controlled breathing.

— Music begins, a bouncy, upbeat Hip Hop beat

We’re teaching these kids life skills through these elements of hip hop in ways that people wouldn’t normally think that hip hop can help people’s lives.

Even down to the graffiti writing. We even teach them how powerful and important it is to put in your intention, even down to how you hold your pen. We teach them that if you want to write your name, and you’re holding your pen sloppy, then your name is going to come out sloppy. Where if you put your emotional intention everything your heart and soul into it, even just that how you hold your pen, you’re going to give not only yourself, but the world, the best representation of yourself.

I’m just trying to spread as much knowledge as possible in terms of ways in how we can utilize hip hop to enhance people’s quality of life.

TR:

This truly does go back to the essence of Hip Hop culture.

Nathan:

Within Hip Hop, originality is so important. Everybody thought about original style, original flow, and all that kind of thing. But the originality of thought, is something that we’re really trying to push with this.

This is a hip hop approach to accessibility and inclusion.

TR:

Yes, and ya don’t stop!
That’s right, Hip Hop don’t stop. And Nathan Geering, you brother…

Tr in conversation with Nathan:

you are now official.!

TR:

Member of the Reid My Mind Radio Family!

— Air Horn

Nathan:

Dope, dope!

TR in Conversation with Nathan:
Give me some contact information, brother, where can people, check you out,

Nathan:

yeah. Yeah, yeah. So if you want to check out the work that my charity does all the community based work and theatrical work that I mentioned, it’s www dot RationaleArts.com

If you’re interested in the audio description, service and provision, that’s www dot RationaleMethod.com.

On Instagram it’s RationaleArts, RationaleMethod or NathaGeering.

On Twitter RationaleArts again or MethodRationale.
if y’all want to hit me up via email, hit me up at Nathan at rationale method.calm

TR:

You can check out Still A Slave during the 2021 Superfest Film Festival. You know, the premier disability film festival that you can attend online.

— We should do something on CH in conjunction with SF —

All you have to do is point that handy dandy browser of yours at SuperfestFilm.com. There are multiple options for tickets that fit in all budgets.

Just like Reid My Mind Radio! Which by the way is available for only free 99 wherever you like to consume podcasts.

Plus, we have transcripts and more over at ReidMyMind.com.

So there’s no confusion, like a true Emcee, I spell it out, that’s R to the E I D…
(“D)” And that’s me in the place to be!

Like my last name.

— Sample from Kung Fu movie “Were you just using the Wu Tang School method against me?”
Nathan:
Wicked!
— Reid My Mind Radio Outro

Peace!

Hide the transcript

The 2019 Rap Up… Yes, Rap Up!

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

A brief update about what’s been going on with the podcast as well as some thoughts on the future. I’d really appreciate feedback!

I was inspired to take a look back at this year’s episodes and create an “original” production I’m calling the RMM Radio 2019 Rap Up. It features my daughter Raven Reid along with yours truly spittin’ that fire!

Shout out to DJ Pain 1 for this free beat on YouTube that just inspired the hook!

“It’s 2019|And it’s the end of the year| Here’s some episodes, that you should really hear| 2020’s on the way| We don’t have long to go| Do the right thing, subscribe| Reid My Mind Radio”

Happy Holidays!

Listen

The 2019 Rap Up Video

Ok, maybe I was just having way too much fun… I decided to make a video of the Rap Up song.

The video simply contains mainly still images of those episodes featured in the song. Since it features my baby girl Raven, I decided to take some footage from a video of her when she was much younger, maybe 3 or 4 years old!

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
Happy Holidays Family!

Ok, so this is the actual last episode of the year. Although I consider these sort of extra. To me the real nourishment, the value are the people you meet every two weeks. Those are the people you should know. Me, I’m just the guy who enjoys bringing them to you.

Oh, if you’re new here, please be sure to check out the meat and potatoes, those other episodes I referred to. And allow me to introduce myself to you I’m Thomas Reid host producer and the extra garnishment on the plate and I guess I’m the Chef who serves it all up! I’m also the pro at running the heck out of a metaphor.

Audio: Reid My Mind Theme Music

TR:

In 2018, I started thinking about taking this podcast to what I considered a next step. That’s moving from a passion project, aka a total personal expense to a sustainable venture; at the very least having the expenses covered.

At the most, I’d expand the podcast in scope and frequency. That would include multiple producers and other talent. Specifically, blind or low vision producers and those with disabilities.

That shot was with the Google PRX Podcast Creators Program.

When Google announced they were getting into the podcast business, they also decided to team up with PRX, the Public Radio Exchange to help find and train podcasters that were creating for diverse or marginalized communities.

I figured, I meet these qualifications! I applied.

I made it to the semifinals but ended up not making it all the way. I was encouraged to try again during the second round of the program this year. I did.

Out of something like 10,000 entries, I’m happy to report that Reid My Mind Radio made it to the finals. We didn’t win, but we sure enough didn’t lose!

The PRX team invited two other runner up teams and myself to join the 6 winning teams in Boston for a podcast training boot camp. It was very cool. I met some great podcasters from around the world including Brazil, Columbia, India, Lebanon and Spain. And then some much closer including the only winning team from the US in New York/New Jersey and the other two runner ups from Boston and Oakland.

A big shout out to all of the teams including the PRX training team. It was cool to be among other podcast creators.

Audio: “What’s Your Name?”

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about is the name of this podcast. I know it doesn’t exactly communicate the goal of the show. Obviously, there are better names that I could come up with that would make for better Search Engine Optimization especially for those searching Apple Podcast based on a topic like; adjusting to Blindness or disability.

On the last day of the Google PRX Podcast Creators Program Training Boot Camp, each team had to present their show to a panel of podcast industry experts.

Audio: Mark Intro…RMMRadio

That was my intro, you know I got hype right?

Anyway, some of the feedback I expected was around the name. A lot of people actually were interested in hearing more about the personal experiences. That’s something I’ve been told on several occasions, but have resisted for various reasons.

If I do eventually decide to re-brand what we do here, I will definitely keep Reid My Mind Radio and maybe start to share more of my personal experiences and maybe comment more about blindness and disability related events and issues.

What do you think about me changing the name of the show going forward? Maybe re-branding and repurposing Reid My Mind Radio?

let me know if you would be interested in listening to this type of thing. ReidMyMindRadio@gmail.com or 570.798.7343.

All in all, it was a good year for the podcast.

This is where I should insert flashbacks from this year’s episodes. You know a wrap up.

Then, as I was sleeping I had a thought or maybe it was a dream. Maybe

Audio: Dream harp

Audio: Reid My Mind Radio 2019 Rap Up

Music begins…

TR Talking:

So I figured this year 2019 we should do like a wrap up. It’s Christmas time right? Well not a wrap. Really it’s an rap.

“Coo Caw” Bird wings flapping…

I did bring somebody to help me out. Close out the year, you know, in a special way

Music Crescendo….

My baby girl, Raven Reid, get ’em, hah!

Chorus Raven Reid sings…
It’s Twenty Nineteen
And it’s the end of the year
Here’s some episodes
that you should really hear
2020’s on the way
We don’t have long to go
Do the right thing, Subscribe
Reid My Mind Radio

Verse – TR:
First ep in 2019, I was talking opportunity
Just feeling positive for you and me
Next was the first of more to come
The topic, Audio Description ,
“Read by Roy Samuelson” (Audio from Audio Description)

Episode 3 was right on time
Yes, celebrating 15 years of being blind

Black Disabled History was episode 4
Straight from Krip Hop called my man Leroy Moore
(Audio: Leroy Moore says “Krip Hop!)

Now William Greer, he was referred to me
He’s from the film fest, cinema touching disability

Access is Art, you should know what I mean
If not check Episode 6 with my friend Cheryl Green
(Audio: Cheryl says, “It’s about equity!”)

Shout out Alice Wong amplifying
(Audio: Alice says “Disabled voices of color”)
That’s why Disability Visibility.com is like no other

We say Representation matters, they say what’s the fuss
I’ll remember in the dark, hashtag LetUsPlayUs?

Chorus Raven Reid sings…
It’s Twenty Nineteen
And it’s the end of the year
Here’s some episodes
that you should really hear
2020’s on the way
We don’t have long to go
Do the right thing, Subscribe
Reid My Mind Radio

Verse 2 – TR:
Day Al Mohammed produced and directed the Invalid Corps
She does policy, writes books and a whole lot more
(Audio: Day says: “Invalid Corps”)
Elizabeth Sammons is an author touring the country in an RV
At least that’s where she was when she spoke with me!

I Always rep the BX, New York City
Shout out to Prince Bri, Power Not Pity
(Audio: Power not Pity opening music…)
Is there room for the blind on the AD scene
Ask blind consultant, her name’s Colleen

Audio Description there’s more to the game
like describing Sports, Conferences, right Kat Germaine
(Audio: Kat Germain says “Yes”)
Next 3 eps feature the spark event
Sue talked about it and she’ll be back again!
(Audio: Sue says” We’ll sit down for another one”)
Mom and author Kristin Smedley was there live
She says It’s not just her kids but we can all thrive.

She started Captivating, Bold Blind Beauty Oh Boy!
Third time on the podcast, what’s up Steph McCoy
(Audio: Steph laughs…)
Chorus:

TR: “Take it to the bridge”

Bridge Raven Reid Spoken Word…

Since 2014 when this podcast was kicked off
It was geared to anyone feeling vision loss

See, those newly adjusting, it’s their own abilities they question
Reid My Mind Radio is changing perceptions

If you haven’t done so yet, hurry, act fast
Subscribe at ReidMyMind.com or wherever you get podcasts!

Make sure you spell Reid, R E I D
The podcast making blindness funky!

Verse 3:

Question, are Leaders made or are they born
The answer comes from AFB’s Megan Aragon

Landing your dream job is more strategy than luck
Coach Nancy gives some game plus she gives a duck
(Audio: “Quack, Quack”)

Audio description & physically integrated dance
Alice Sheppard, Laurel Lawson, Audimance

Man, this year flew by, like 1 2 3
Closing it out, my Bro Joe Strechay,
(Audio: Apple TV Plus)
See!

TR: “Daddy Daughter let’s go!”

Chorus – Raven Reid & T.Reid: (Repeats)
It’s Twenty Nineteen
And it’s the end of the year
Here’s some episodes
that you should really hear
2020’s on the way
We don’t have long to go
Do the right thing, Subscribe
Reid My Mind Radio

TR:
That was fun!

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza Happy Three Kings Day whatever you celebrate or don’t.

All the best to you, Reid My Mind Radio Family from the entire Reid family.

And of course, so there’s no confusion, that’s R to the E I D, like my last name!

Audio: Reid My Mind Radio outro

Peace

Hide the transcript


The 2019 Rap Up… Yes, Rap Up!

We’ve Been Here: Black Disability History

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

black background, red square with a yellow shadowing underneath and a green shadowing that one. Black fist coming up from the bottom, the words Black History Month over the squares with the word “disability” written through black and history in orange.

Courtesy of: Raven Reid


Happy Black History Month!

We begin this episode by honoring two historic Black Women of history. That’s followed by Leroy Moore Jr. of The Krip-Hop Nation. We talk a bit about the importance of including Black Disabled men and women in not only conversations about history but all aspects of society and culture.

We hear how he himself is contributing to that effort with his latest publication; The Krip Hop Nation Graphic Novel Volume 1.

Cover art for the Krip Hop Nation Graphic Novel

Courtesy of Krip-Hop Nation

Special Shout Outs:

Listen

Resources

Transcript

Show the transcript


TR:

What’s up Reid My Mind Radio Family!
Welcome back to another episode.

If you’re new here, welcome! You’re among friends. My name is T.Reid host and producer of this here podcast.

Every two weeks I’m either bringing you stories about or profile of people impacted by blindness, low vision and disability. Occasionally, I bring you stories from my own experience as a man who became blind as an adult.

You can check out the last episode if you want to know more on that.

today we’re recognizing and saluting Black History Month.

That’s next up on Reid My Mind Radio !

Audio: Reid My Mind Radio Theme Music…

Audio: “Like It Is” with Gil Noble featuring John Henrik Clarke

# Black Disability History
Gil Noble:
Black History Month as it’s called. From whence does it come? How old is it?

John Henrik Clark:
What we now call Black History Month formerly Negros History Month and I call Africana History month started around 1927 by Carter G. Woodson who had found the Association for the Study of Negro Life now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, had found this organization in Chicago in 1915. He began the week in order to call special attention to the contributions that people of African descent made not only to America but the world.

TR:

That was renowned historian, the late great Dr. John Henrik Clark appearing on “Like It Is” with host Gil Noble. This was a
public affairs television program in New York City that focused on issues relevant to the African-American community.

I grew up watching this show with one of my personal all-time great Black mentors Mr. Reid, my Daddy.

Black History Month celebration unfortunately usually consists of the same references;
Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa parks and the usual version of the Civil Rights era.

One thing however that rarely gets attention; Black disability.

Today, we’re going to change that a bit.

I thought it was time we had our own celebration of Disabled Black History.

Let’s begin by , paying honor to two historic Black Americans that you should have heard of, but may not be aware of their disability.

Audio: African flute music…

Please welcome, Raven Reid!

Raven:
Harriet Tubman (1822–1913).

Ms. Tubman is best known as an abolitionist.

Risking her own life to help lead enslaved African people to freedom.

Since age 12, Ms. Tubman was disabled after a severe beating by her slave master.

As a result she experienced seizures from epilepsy as well as vision loss.

Yet, she tirelessly traveled back and forth through slave country multiple times via what became known as the underground railroad.

Audio: Flute fades out into a more modern sounding flute with accompanying instrumentation.

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977)

Ms. Hamer was a civil rights activist who helped African-Americans register to vote.

She co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and was involved in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Like many poor blacks at that time, she was sterilized without her knowledge or consent.

Ms. Hamer had polio as a child.

She protested in the face of heavy opposition and was beaten in a Mississippi jailhouse, which caused kidney damage and a limp.

She is known for saying, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!”

Ms. Harriet Tubman, Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer we honor you!

TR:

Once again, that was my baby girl, Raven Reid.

Thank you to Vilissa Thompson over at Ramp Your Voice.com. You should go on over there and check out the great articles on Black Disability History and more.

# Leroy: Black History Month

Audio: “Audio Call” Voice Over speech from iPhone

[TR in conversation with LM:]
Happy Black History Month brother.

LM:

Thank you. You too.

TR:

If you’ve been riding with RMM Radio for a while, you may remember Leroy Moore Jr. A disability activist, writer, author, artist and one of the founders of the Krip-Hop Nation.

The Krip-Hop Nation’s all about educating the media industry and the public about the talents, history, rights and marketability of Hip-Hop
artists and other musicians with disabilities.

It wouldn’t be right to have an episode on Black history from the disability perspective without Leroy.

Leroy schooled me on some noteworthy disabled Black people in history.

In addition to the many early Blues artist, he dropped a bit of science on Reverend Cecil Ivory.

LM:

I love his story!

He was a brother back in the 50’s and 60’s.

He organized his whole town to do this counter sit in. He was also an NAACP Chairman at the time.

TR:

Falling out a tree as a child, resulting in a broken back Ivory became a wheel chair user following an additional fall later in his life.

In 1960, Ivory organized a sit-in at a South Carolina lunch counter

LM:

And so he was sitting there and the cop told him he had to move. He said well I’m not taking up a seat because I have my own seat.

They took him to jail but couldn’t book him because the booking place was downstairs.

TR:

One of the few times that inaccessibility works in our favor.

LM:

The National Black Disability Coalition is putting together this whole exhibit around Black Disabled people in history. We’ve been working on it for the last two years.

TR:

The exhibit will include people like the Blind Jazz singer Al Hiddler who sang with Duke Ellington’s orchestra and later marched with Dr. King.

Soul singer Robert Winters and

Audio: “Check this out!” DMC from “Here we Go live at the Funhouse” Run-DMC

even one third of the legendary rap group Run-DMC

Audio: Run….(from King of Rock)
LM:
DMC

Audio: DMC… of the party. The D is for doing it all the time, the M is for the rhymes that are all mine. The C is for cool, cool as can be …
Run – and why you wear those glasses…

DMC – so I can see!

— The above is playing while TR talks over…

TR:
DMC wrote all about his experience with Depression and mental health disabilities.

Stories highlighting the contributions of people like Reverend Ivory and others when Leroy was attending grade school in the 1970’s were limited. In fact, that’s probably generous.

LM:

We just didn’t see nothing.

We just got so pissed! Me and two other Black Disabled men, boys at the time, wrote letters saying that there’s no Black Disabled nothing on TV, radio…

TR:

Those letters? Well, they aimed high!

LM:

Jesse Jackson, The Urban League, The NAACP

I knew back then that I had to do it outside of school because the school wasn’t offering anything. It started my quest to really learn about my history as a Black Disabled man.

[TR in conversation with LM:]
Did you ever hear back from any of those organizations that you wrote to?

LM:

Form letters saying dear such and such sorry there’s nothing out there.

We can’t do nothing for ya!

LM & TR laugh!

Audio: Flavor Flav “I can’t do nothing for yo man”

TR:

So Hip-Hop!

LM:

Now at 51 years old still doing this.

# Leroy Graphic Novel

He’s doing it alright. He’s the author of Black Disabled Art History 101,
Black Kripple Delivers Poetry & Lyrics

Now, hot off the press is
The Krip Hop Graphic Novel Volume 1 published by Poor Press.

LM:

Yeh, I’m so excited to have this come out.

TR:

Familiar enough with comic books and graphic novels Leroy recognized the lack of representation of Black Disabled Women characters.

LM:
You have Misty Knight that came out in 1975.

Came back to life in Luke Cage. For me, when comics “include” disabled characters they just include them. It’s a diversity kind of thing. I wanted to flip that and say no Krip Hop graphic novel tells you that disability has always been there in Hip-Hop. It’s not inclusion, we’ve been there.

TR:

The novel’s protagonist is a young Black Disabled girl who uses a wheelchair.

LM

This young lady from New York her mother tells her the stories about the old time in Hip-Hop in New York.

She gets more and more confident when she finds Krip-Hop on the internet.
TR:

Traveling through the city, the reader joins the young girl as she participates in various events.

LM:

Black Lives Matter protest, Open Mics…

TR:

As she continues to learn more about Krip-Hop her power increases.
That super power?

LM:

Her wheelchair turns into Hip-Hop.

[TR in conversation with LM:]

Now when you say her chair becomes Hip-Hop , so I’m like oh man, she got two turntables … laughs!

LM:
Yeh, definitely.

[TR in conversation with LM:]

That’s what it is? Laughs.

LM:

Yeh, laughs… She got two turntables , she’s scratching’ yep! She also has a spray can you know graffiti. She dances in the wheelchair, yeh!

[TR in conversation with LM:]
So you got all the elements?

TR:
For those outside of the culture, you may think rap music and Hip-Hop are synonymous. But they’re not.
Hip-Hop is made up of five elements;
1. DJaying – This is the genesis. There’s no rap, there’s no Hip-Hop without the DJ.
2. Emceeing – the rappers who controlled the microphone and the crowd.
3. Break Dancers – the original B boys & B girls… acrobatic floor moves, electric boogie or what some call popping’ and locking’… where folks were doing the moonwalk way before Michael Jackson.
4. Graffiti – Probably more difficult to explain if you never seen the amazing moving art murals on the 2 or 5 train for example, running from the Bronx to Brooklyn and other boroughs.

“I’m feeling very nostalgic right now!” BX stand up!

The story also includes other disabled characters like a sort of guardian angel for the protagonist, and some real Hip-Hop pioneers with disabilities.

There’s even a bit of time travel. And we meet Leroy himself.

LM:

As a little kid outside of the cipher..

TR:

Taking a page right out of Leroy’s personal history during the early days of the New York Hip Hop scene.

Traveling on a Greyhound bus from Connecticut to the Bronx to check out and maybe join the rap ciphers. Picture a circle of young rappers honing their rhyme skills. Each of them ready to take their turn to impress the other rappers with their latest lyrics or flow – that’s their cadence or rhyme pattern.

Now here comes a young Leroy

LM:
Kids used to see me coming with my walker. The kids would say ok, you can’t go into the cipher because you’re too cripple. So you’ll be our watch man for the police. Anytime I saw the police I used to shout “Po Po”. They used to scatter. Police used to see me and just like kick my walker because they were so pissed off.

TR:

No longer looking out for the police, but Leroy is still the Watch Man.

Now making sure those with disabilities aren’t relegated to the sideline.

When you think about that early experience, it gives you a sense of the depth of his love for the culture.

That appreciation of history explains why he chose to name the protagonist Roxanne, as in Roxanne Shante – probably the first female MC to gain real notoriety.

recalling Leroy’s grade school experience where the lack of Black Disabled representation sparked what became a lifelong mission to find Black Disabled ancestors, leads us to that very important, but often forgotten fifth element of Hip-Hop.

[TR in conversation with LM:]
It sounds like there may be knowledge of self built right in.

LM:
Yes, exactly! That’s the whole concept of the book because once she gets the confidence about herself then her powers get stronger.

# Leroy Krip Hop Update

Audio: Hip Hop don’t stop…

TR:

Like Hip-Hop Krip-Hop don’t stop.

Maybe this is Leroy’s super power. He continues working on letting the world know that people with disabilities have and will continue to represent the culture in every aspect.

Krip Hop Nation has two events coming up in 2019.

LM:

We’re having an all-women’s event here in Berkley at the Premium Cultural Center.

That’s going to happen on march 30th. We’re highlighting ADA 420. She’s a rapper from Detroit but she’s from the Bay area.

TR:

the event will include about 7 other artists representing a variety of art forms.

LM:
Dancers, singers, spiritual workers. So it’s going to be dope!

TR:
In addition to the event, The Krip Hop Nation is putting out a CD featuring women artists with disabilities.

[TR in conversation with LM:]

So Krip-Hop Nation is pretty active on the African continent, correct?

LM:

Yeh, thank you for bringing that up.

We’ve been really connecting to our African brothers and sisters for the last 10 years.

Krip-Hop went to South Africa in 2016 and we did a tour. We hit up like 8 cities in 4 weeks.

TR:

When it comes to all aspects of disability, we often assume that living in a developed nation brings the most opportunities and equality.

LM:

I’ve only been to South Africa. I’ve interviewed artists from all over Africa and it seems to me that America needs to catch up to African countries when it comes to supporting Black Disabled musicians. Especially physically disabled musicians.

[TR in conversation with LM:]
It seems as though America is comfortable at this time accepting musicians who are blind

We know Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Jose Feliciano and there’s the others.

LM:

You got the Blues with all the Blind artists.

[TR in conversation with LM:]
But even going back, it’s like when it comes to physical disabilities you don’t see you don’t see that. I’m trying to think who, did I ever see any artists with physical disabilities… at all!

LM:

Especially on the mainstream stage.

You got Bushwick Bill, the rapper who’s down with the Ghetto Boys

TR:

Of course it’s not until we’re off our call that I remember two well-known soul singers, Curtis Mayfield and Teddy Pendergrass who both acquired a disability after their initial success.

Audio: “Only You” Teddy Pendergrass & “Pusher Man” Curtis Mayfield

TR:

The Krip-Hop Nation continues to push forward and create platforms for artists with disabilities throughout the diaspora.

Like a festival scheduled for July 2019 featuring several disabled artists.

LM:

Artists from Uganda, Tanzania, the Congo. All coming here from Africa.

It’s happening in July. We’re doing a tour in the Bay area. We’re going to get a chance to talk about what’s going on in Africa around people with disabilities. Really collaborate.

One artist that’s coming from South Africa , he’s bringing a mayor of a town in South Africa. They want to see what Krip-Hop is doing They’re thing about doing an international arts festival in South Africa next year.

TR:

The Krip-Hop Nation Graphic Novel is currently available in print form. I’m hoping we’ll see a digital version in the future.

You should check out the first episode featuring Leroy talking about Krip-Hop Nation & a documentary about Joe Capers – another notable historic Black man. Capers owned and operated an early accessible analog recording studio where some of Oakland’s Hip-Hop and R&B artists recorded. People like The Digital Underground, Tony, ToniTone , EnVogue and MC Hammer.

Audio: “It’s Bigger than Hip Hop”, Dead Prez

TR:

As this episode comes to an end, so does Black History Month.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to highlight not only the accomplishments but also the issues currently and disproportionately impacting the Black Disabled community like;
access to healthcare
police brutality and the school to prison pipeline.

Once again a big shout out to Leroy Moore and the rest of the Krip Hop Nation. Thanks to;
Ramp Your Voice.com
Raven Reid
This episode included some beats from Chuki Music the link will be on the episode page.

There’s lots of clips and old episodes of Like It Is on Youtube including interviews with Malcolm X, Bob Marley and so many more.

Do you have a favorite historic black disabled person you think we should know about?

Want to recommend a topic or person for the show?

Hollaback…

We have the comments section on the blog, ReidMyMind.com.
The email; ReidMyMindRadio@gmail.com
The Reid My Mind Radio Feedback Line where you can leave a voice mail: 1 570-798-7343

I would really love voice messages that I can share on the podcast. If you don’t want to call, you can grab your smart phone and record a voice memo and email the finished recording to ReidMyMindRadio@gmail.com.

I’d love to hear and share the voices of those who are listening. If you want to send a message but don’t want it shared just say so and it’s all good.

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So there’s no confusion, that’s R to the E I D like my last name!

Peace!

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