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Shango & Cole MacGrath: Electric-Superhero Unity

Posted on October 18, 2018 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Two electric-based superheroes centuries apart (Shango:1800s, and Cole MacGrath: 2000s) were focused on saving a generation of people.



I became interested in comic books and superheroes when Sucker Punch Productions released the inFAMOUS videogame franchise in 2009 for the PlayStation 3 starring electric-superhero main protagonist (main character) Cole MacGrath.


The foundation of “CalmandStrong” is based on comparing my experiences and realities with cancer and becoming a hip amputee as a teenager to the digital world of inFAMOUS and Cole.



inFAMOUS’ Cole MacGrath: Superhero or Supervillain?



While Cole was delivering a package, it exploded leveling six square blocks of Empire City. Leaving Cole at the center, alive, but changed and able to control electricity. Cole looked at his new-found powers as a burden, and he knew he had a responsibility to save what was left of the city or destroy it. 


This is where the karma system comes in because depending on Cole’s actions in the game. The civilians will react to him as being a “Superhero” or “Supervillain.” 


For example, when Cole is a hero, the civilians will say, “You give us something to believe in,” and they’ll pull out their cell phones and say, “Hey look its Cole!” and take pictures of him while he is saving the city. The women in the game will ask if he dates normal girls or if he has a girlfriend.


When Cole is a supervillain, the civilians will protest him by chatting, “Cole is Crap!”, “Kill MacGrath!” and say, “You’re the reason why we have a death penalty!” They also form mobs around him and throw rocks chatting, “Let’s kill him before he kills us!”


There are “karma” moments in the game where Cole must think on his feet and do what he feels is right to him. For instance, civilians will approach Cole and ask him to heal somebody who is seriously injured. Cole has the choice to heal the person, or not care and go on about his business.


Depending on Cole’s actions, his appearance changes. For example, Hero Cole is clean and pristine. His electricity is blue, and his powers are defensive. He can also heal civilians and arc-restrain his enemies, which are electrical handcuffs. 


Supervillain Cole appears dirty, with veins visibly showing throughout his body and he has red bloodshot eyes. His electricity is red, and his powers are about creating collateral damage killing anybody who gets in his way. He also drains the electrical charges from people killing them instantly, but re-healing himself in the process. 


One of my favorite missions is from the original inFAMOUS called “The Price.” The mission starts with the antagonist Kessler telling Cole that he abducted his girlfriend Trish. Kessler had Trish hanging from one building and the other building had six doctors hanging. 


Cole had enough time to go to one building before the bomb exploded. Which building would Cole choose? Kessler told Cole he could save Trish, the love of his life, or the six doctors. 


This is the kind of phycological torture that Cole had to endure when he was forced to become a superhero. 


Cole will always be special to me because I understood what he must have been feeling during his superhero journey, because I also experienced phycological torture, along with mental, spiritual, and physical torture while on my journey of defeating cancer twice as a teenager.



Shango: West African King and God of Thunder and Lightning 



I recently found out about Shango, the God of Thunder and Lightning from West Africa. Shango was the fourth king from the ancient Oyo Empire during the 1800s (located in Nigeria), which was the center of culture and politics for the Yoruba people.


Shango is often depicted with a double-headed axe, and the symbol of a thunderbolt. 


Although Shango was a powerful king, the people of the Oyo Empire felt he was unfair. When Shango’s throne was challenged, he fled for the forest and committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree. Shango became the God of Thunder because when he went up to the heavens, he sent fire down to the earth and destroyed the houses of his enemies.


Another account asserts that Shango was fascinated with his powers, and he started a thunderstorm and lightning struck his palace and unfortunately, his many wives and children were killed. He fled his kingdom after the tragedy and hung himself. Shango’s followers believed the storms were from his wrath, avenging his enemies. 


Besides seeking revenge on his enemies, Shango represented the theme of being creative, authoritative, destructive, magical, medicinal, and moral.


Shango’s thunderous energy was used as a form of resistance during the transatlantic slave trade in the Americas for the Yoruba people during the 19th century. Shango is still worshipped in the Americas, especially in the Caribbean.



Electric Superheroes Live On...


After the release of inFAMOUS in 2009, I became interested in electric-superheroes from different cultures and mythologies. For instance, Thor is from Norse mythology and is probably the most popular having movies, tv shows, etc. Zeus is from Greek mythology, and DC Comics created Static Shock and Black Lightning. These electric- superheroes were released before inFAMOUS, but they were an influence on Cole MacGrath being a modern-day electric-superhero.


Shango, who was often forgotten in history can now be added to the great list of electric-based superheroes.


I always get excited when I find out something new and interesting that existed hundreds of years before I was born. Knowing Shango was an electric-based superhero, a king, and an inspiration for his people who were forcibly in bondage in the Americas was fascinating to find out. 


My favorite superhero and video game character is Cole MacGrath, but it was great for me to find out an electric-based superhero named Shango came from the origin of my existence: Africa.

 



Disclaimer:


I don’t own any content or images displayed from African King and God Shango and Cole MacGrath from the inFAMOUS videogame franchise.


No Copyright Intended. All image content is copyright to their respective owners. Cole MacGrath image is property of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), developed by Sucker Punch Productions, SIE Santa Monica Studio, Bluepoint Games and SuperBot Entertainment.


Cole MacGrath. Heroes Wiki. October 18, 2018. http://hero.wikia.com/wiki/Cole_MacGrath 


PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. All-Stars Roster Evil Cole MacGrath. Sony Interactive Entertainment. Web. 18 Oct. 2018. https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A4%D0%B0%D0%B9%D0%BB:Evil_Cole_MacGrath.png 


Shango, an African based religion. African American Registry. October 18, 2018. https://aaregistry.org/story/shango-an-african-based-religion/


Shango, god of thunder image. DeviantArt. September 11, 2018. https://www.deviantart.com/jjwinters/art/Shango-god-of-thunder-412461685


Shango, Yoruba God of Thunder and Lightning. Shango, Yoruba God of Thunder and Lightning - Windows to the Universe. October 18, 2018. https://www.windows2universe.org/mythology/shango_storm.html


Blu & Exile: The Reflection of Music, like the Sky, is the Reflection of the Ocean

Posted on October 4, 2018 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

If you love Hip-Hop artists Nas, Common, J Dilla, and The Pharcyde. Chances are you will love Hip-Hop duo Blu & Exile.



Blu & Exile are a Hip-Hop duo from Los Angeles, CA consisting of Blu (rapper) and Exile (producer). Both artists met in the mid-2000s, decided to form a group, and released their celebrated debut album, “Below the Heavens” in 2007.


I became a fan of the duo when they released their second album “Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them” in 2012. Their second album will always have a special place in my heart because it was released during the time when I was a struggling senior at California State University, Long Beach.


This album was released at the perfect time because I was in a transitional period of graduating from college and looking for a good job. My self-esteem was low at the time because I never had a job before due to me having cancer twice as a teenager and getting my right leg amputated at 17-years-old.


The foundation of ‘Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them’ gave me the same spiritual experience I had after listening to Nas’ Stillmatic and The Pharcyde’s Labcabincalifornia.


I connected with the overall theme of the album, which showcases Blu’s reflective poetic lyricism about his life, and Exile’s beautiful and soulful beat selection created an atmosphere for Blu to speak about his personal experiences.


Their album was therapeutic for me because of the content and substance within the songs. For instance, my favorite song from the album is “More Out of Life,” which helped me realize if I want my situation to be better, I need to do something about it if I want more out of life.



“On the brink of trying to make my mind, save my soul, at the same time trying to make this rhyme. Wonder, will I be saved in time? Make Salah, say grace case God change his mind. How insane am I? Just the same as you, came here what you came to do, I’m just saying the truth.”


- Blu & Exile, More Out of Life, Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them



Other noticeable songs from the album are Ease Your Mind, Maybe One Day, O Heaven, The Only One, A Man, and Cent from Heaven to name a few.


In 2017, Blu & Exile released “In the Beginning: Before the Heavens,” which is a prequal to their debut album because the songs were from the sessions from Below the Heavens that didn’t make the album.



The Legacy of Blu & Exile 


Blu & Exile as a duo is often overlooked and underrated, not just in Hip-Hop but in music in general. In my opinion, the duo has never made a bad song or bad album because they always stayed close to the musical foundation they created.


The duo was formed in the mid-2000s, but they presented themselves like their 90s duo counterparts like Gang Starr, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, etc. When listening to their music, the listener could hear that they were influenced by the 90s Hip-Hop era.


Both Blu & Exile are solo artists and have created music outside of the duo. In my opinion, they make the best music when they are together because there is a certain level of understanding and respect they have for each other to create the best album possible.


When I listen to a Blu & Exile album, I expect nothing but the best because Blu is a master lyricist, and Exile is a master producer.


Even though they have only released three albums as a duo, they are some of the best albums I’ve ever heard because of their talent to be consistent with the foundation they created starting with Below the Heavens. Their songs have creative lyrics with soulful production and memorable melodies.



My Personal Wish List That Will Never Happen: Nas & Blu EP and A New Pharcyde Album Produced by Exile


I have two personal wish lists that include Blu & Exile, but I would like to see them collaborate with my other favorite Hip-Hop artists: Nas and The Pharcyde. I’ve had this idea for a long time, and I’ll go in-depth about who I want to be involved in the creation of these two albums.


For example, Nas and Blu are my two favorite solo rappers, and it would be great to see them collaborate on a six song EP entitled, “My Life in Color.” Both Nas and Blu are both great storytellers and master lyricists, and when I hear them rap, I envision vivid pictures from their colorful lyrics.


The content within the album will be about their experiences growing up in their respective states (Nas: New York, and Blu: California), their thoughts about the social-political climate in the United States with suggestions of how to combat racism, and the plight of African descendant people from around the world.


I’d like J Dilla to produce the album, co-produced by Exile, and executive produced by A Tribe Called Quest and DJ Premier from Gang Starr. Unfortunately, both J Dilla and Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest have passed away, and therefore this album could never happen.


Blu & Exile share some similarities with The Pharcyde because both group’s lyrics reflect their life experiences in Los Angeles, and they both prefer to rhyme over soulful-jazzy production.


When I became a fan of The Pharcyde in 2008, they reunited for the Rock the Bells festival. While touring as four, in an interview with ughhdotcom, the interviewer asked if they were going to release a new album since they were back together after being broken up for many years.


Pharcyde member Imani said the group needed to vibe with each other again first before making an album because The Pharcyde’s previous albums were built on the vibe they created in the 90s. He also said they need a producer who has creative ideas and is connected to the youth.


After listening to Blu & Exile’s ‘Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them.’ I thought about this particular Pharcyde interview and realized Exile would be the perfect producer to help The Pharcyde create a new album.


For instance, both Exile and The Pharcyde are from LA, and Exile’s production style is reminiscent to the late-great J Dilla, who produced most of The Pharcyde’s second album, Labcabincalifornia.


Unfortunately, this won’t happen either because The Pharcyde broke up again shortly after their reunion tour for Rock the Bells. As an optimist, I’m hoping they could get back together again and bless the world with more timeless music.



Blu & Exile Influences and Identity


Blu & Exile are talented musicians, and I believe Blu’s conscious and street-style of rapping is a mixture of Nas and Common, with the soul of J Dilla. Exile’s boom-bap soulful and jazz-style production is like J Dilla, DJ Premier, and A Tribe Called Quest.


If you are a fan of Nas, Common, J Dilla, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, and The Pharcyde. You will love Blu & Exile because they incorporate elements from these artists, but they still have their own identity, and should be regarded as one of the best duo’s in Hip-Hop music.



Blu & Exile: My World Is…: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewpVbFT1mpk


Blu & Exile: More Out of Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHJL0IbVLYY


Blu & Exile: Stress Off My Chest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGXo_RHwF_o




Disclaimer:


I don’t own any content from the images and songs from Blu & Exile. No Copyright Intended. All content is copyright to their respective owners. All Rights go to Blu & Exile. Sound in Color, Dirty Science, Fat Beats Records. 


Amazon. Blu & Exile. Below the Heavens image. October 03, 2018. https://www.amazon.com/Below-Heavens-Blu-Exile/dp/B000QFAEHI


Amazon. Blu & Exile. Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them image. October 03, 2018. https://amzn.to/2NnsEHY


Amazon. Blu & Exile. In The Beginning: Before the Heavens image. October 03, 2018. https://amzn.to/2ybPIEh


Genius. Blu & Exile (Ft. Jasmine Mitchell) – More Out Of Life. October 03, 2018. https://genius.com/Blu-and-exile-more-out-of-life-lyrics


LiquidSwordsHIPHOP. Blu & Exile. More Out of Life. YouTube, YouTube, 2 Sept. 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHJL0IbVLYY


ProvocativeEducative !. Blu & Exile. Stress Off My Chest. YouTube, YouTube, 19 Oct. 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGXo_RHwF_o


TheRickynow. Blu & Exile. My World Is. YouTube, YouTube, 25 Aug. 2007. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewpVbFT1mpk


ughhdotcom. Pharcyde - Interview Pt. 2 (Live At Rock The Bells - Mansfield, MA - 7/26/08). YouTube, YouTube. 12 Apr. 2009. www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUG4c2z6G70


Origins of African Democracy and Spirituality

Posted on September 20, 2018 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Africans created a unique democratic and spiritual system that was before the conquest and colonization of Africa. 



I recently finished reading “The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4300 B.C. to 2000 A.D.” by Chancellor Williams.


This book opened my eyes to the rich history of African people, and why certain situations kept Africa from reaching its full potential. For instance, negative influences from foreign religions and invasions were forced upon the continent, the lack of unity and stability among the Africans, internal disputes within different African tribes, the Arab slave trade of Africans within the continent, and the European transatlantic slave trade where Africans were forced to leave Africa for the Caribbean Islands, South America, and North America.


All these factors contributed to Africa’s downfall, and the transatlantic slave trade was the beginning of the dark age era for Africans.



Chapter VI: The African Constitution: Birth of Democracy


Chapter six was one of my favorite chapters because Williams gave great insight of how Africans saw themselves, and how their complex democratic and spiritual system functioned. In early Africa, lineage was the most effective force for unity and stability. Everybody was a lawyer because everybody knew the customary laws.


Age Grade: The specific organizational structure of how the society functioned.

 

  • Age Grade I: Children up to age 12
  • Age Grade II: Teenagers from 13 to 18
  • Age Grade III: Adults 19 to 28
  • Age Grade IV: Adults 29 to 40
  • Age Grade V: 40 and above


Each grade had its own social, economic, and political role within society. Seniority was given to each grade by age, intelligence, and wisdom. Wisdom was supposed to match one’s age because those who experienced more life than others should know more about the world. This was how chiefs and kings were selected within different tribes, kingdoms, and empires.


These practices took place throughout all of Africa, and the chief or king became the mouthpiece for the society. His job was to carry out the will of the people. There were no rulers in Africa, unlike the kings from Asian and European countries who saw themselves as rulers. African kings understood they didn’t own the land, because it was God’s gift to mankind. The African king was simply an overseer of the land, and he made sure the land was fairly distributed amongst all the families.



Fundamental Rights of African People


It was interesting to find out Individual rights never came before the community. There were many laws that the Africans lived by, but the few that caught my attention could be used in the United States today.


For example, every member of the community had the right of appeal from a lower to higher court. Fines for offenses against an individual went to the victim, not the court. Also, part of the money from the loser was returned to him as a desire to renew friendship.


All money, including gifts, taxes, and other donations to the king belonged to the people. During times of relief and aid, the king would help individuals in times of need. “Royalty” in African terms means “Royal Worth,” which means highest in character, wisdom, sense of justice, and courage.


In warfare, the objective was not to kill the enemy, but to overcome them with fear through loud cries, and their marked faces. Although killing was unavoidable, it was kept to a minimum. While in enemy territory, Africans had the right to protection and treatment as a guest within the village, town, or city.


The human rights within a community included rights to have a home, and the right to earn money for themselves or for their family. The land was free of charge because Africans believed everybody deserved the opportunity to make a living, which is the right to live.


All Africans had the right to family or community care in cases of sickness or accidents, and the right to special aid from the Chief if a family couldn’t fix the problem themselves.


The right of a man, even a slave can rise to the highest position within the community if he has the ability and presents high moral characteristics.


Lastly, African religion, which is African spirituality came from the actual way of living and thinking by the Africans. The Chief or High Priest presented prayers to all the community’s ancestors in heaven.


Africans have always been spiritual people, but in early Africa, they infused their spiritual system within their democratic system. 



“When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.” 


- Bishop Desmond Tutu



During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Africans captured for the transatlantic slave trade were prisoners of war because they never saw themselves as slaves in the New World. They believed their spiritual system would protected them while revolting against their oppressors. The colonists later enforced laws that prevented the African’s right to practice their spirituality.



My African Ancestors Have Always Been with Me


As I’ve gotten older over the years, I’ve noticed that I’ve become more spiritual than religious. Once I read chapter six, everything came full circle for me. I believe I’ve always been a spiritual person, but I didn’t know how to activate or receive it from my ancestors because there has been a spiritual disconnection from African-Americans and Africa.


I believe God and my ancestors from Africa and North America were helping me defeat cancer twice as a teenager and helped me adjust to a new way of living when I became a hip amputee at 17-years-old.



While creating “CalmandStrong,” I remember being depressed because I resigned from my first job due to my physical disability. One day, I was in my dark apartment, and I created the foundation that eventually became CalmandStrong.


My goal is to inspire teenagers and young adults with my story of being a two-time cancer survivor and hip amputee. I compare my experiences and realities with cancer and becoming a hip amputee to the digital world of the inFAMOUS videogame franchise and superhero Cole MacGrath.


I believe my spiritualty was at its highest when I created CalmandStrong, because everything came together organically.



Preserving African History 


It’s unfortunate that I can’t trace my family lineage back to which African ethnic group, tribe, or community I originally came from in Africa before European conquest and colonization. I appreciate scholars and authors like Chancellor Williams who were willing preserve the historical memory of Africans.


I realize the deep and complex system of spirituality rooted in democracy has always been inside me. I regularly seek my ancestor’s guidance to help me navigate through this physical realm, because I’ll be thanking them for their wisdom when we finally meet in the spiritual realm. 


“I dreamed that we could visit old Kemet (Egypt), your history is too complex and rigid for some Western critics. They want the whole subject diminished, but Africa’s the origin of all the world’s religions.”

 

- Nas and Damian Marley, Africa Must Wake Up, Distant Relatives



To check out Nas and Damian Marley featuring K’Nann “Africa Must Wake Up,” click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGTWK7rbmks





To check out “The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4300 B.C. to 2000 A.D.” by Chancellor Williams on Amazon, click here: https://amzn.to/2D79NRG





Disclaimer:


I don’t own any content from “The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4300 B.C. to 2000 A.D.” by Chancellor Williams. No Copyright Intended. All Rights go to Chancellor Williams. 


I don’t own any content from the inFAMOUS images. All image content is copyright to their respective owners. No Copyright Intended.


I do not own any content displayed from inFAMOUS (2009). The image displayed were captured and lifted from my personal playthrough of the original inFAMOUS video game.


All Rights go to Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), developed by Sucker Punch Productions. 


I don’t own any image content from depositphotos.com. No Copyright Intended. All Rights go to depositphotos.com.


I don’t own any content from Goldie20, retrieved from Nairaland.com. No Copyright Intended. All Rights go to Goldie20, Nairaland.com.


I don’t own any content from Nas and Damian Marley’s song “Africa Must Wake Up.” No Copyright Intended. All Rights go to Nas and Damian Marley. Africa Must Wake Up courtesy of Kanan Ghost from YouTube.com.


Africa image. Depositphotos. vektör Afrika harita. September 18, 2018. https://tr.depositphotos.com/116333886/stock-illustration-vector-africa-map.html


Goldie20. Nigerian Forum. Nairaland Forum. September 18, 2018. https://www.nairaland.com/1323700/african-history-spirituality


Jones, N, Marley, D. Warsame, K. Africa Must Wake Up. Distant Relatives. Kanan Ghost, YouTube, 27 Apr. 2010, 20 Sept. 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGTWK7rbmks


Williams, C. The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4300 B.C. to 2000 A.D. Amazon. September 18, 2018. https://amzn.to/2D79NRG



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