The 2 Pictures above were drawn by a brotha named Gilbert Igabe from Kenya and Uganda
Posts Tagged With: Black Love
I never planned on releasing this project or even telling this story. It was an intimate gift forged in the hopes of rekindling the flames of a past love. I am opening up, becoming vulnerable and sharing my experience.
Thank you for your time,
written by mc enigma of Negros Americanos
We’d initially met in Newark Penn Station through a mutual friend, playing matchmaker. Up to that point, I’d only known she was Ethiopian and a fan of the Pharcyde. When we first met on the PATH platform, I was instantly enamored. Eyes so pure and beautiful that they could pacify the fiery heart of any warlord and a smile that was a blessing to behold, all packed into her petite frame no taller than a broomstick.
She extended her hand politely and I smacked it out of the way and hugged her. We laughed.
The night consisted of walking the New York streets, stopping by Fat Beats (R.I.P.), S.O.B.S. and a long talk at Washington Square Park that sealed the deal. On the way home, “I Ain’t No Joke” by Rakim was the first sound that came out of her radio. When she showed me her CD collection, I fell even deeper. She was smart, kind, beautiful, and a fan of hip-hop! I was sold!
Here’s the catch, she lived in Montreal and was just home visiting family for the summer. I didn’t care how far she lived; I knew I wanted her to be my woman. We’d spent a lot of time together, getting to know one another. Before she headed north, I applied for my passport.
Days before my first trip to Canada, I’d been listening to her copy of Revolutionary Vol 2. by Immortal Technique. After hearing the song “You Never Know,” I immediately bought a phone card and told her I loved her.
“Time waits for no man.” – Jean Grae
We’d spent the next three years while in college visiting each other at least once a month, taking buses, trains and sometimes planes, crossing international boundaries to sustain our love for one another. Each summer we managed to find housing together or near one another in NJ. We had the type of relationship that made onlookers marvel at our chemistry and genuine love for one another. I’d gained a great girlfriend, lover, and best friend.
After college we’d lived in New Haven, CT for a year while I was working at Yale. That’s where everything started to change. There weren’t any violent arguments or tales of scandalous mistresses; we simply began to grow apart.
Before we broke up, I asked her if I were to quit my job and pursue my dreams of hip-hop among other things would she support me? I’d argued that it was a young man’s game and that I’m fully capable of getting my Master’s and Doctorate later in life, but to influence the youth with messages of positivity, as a young emcee, would be more effective with the gifts that were bestowed upon me. She honestly said “no.”
Neither of us wanted to initiate the break up. We were prolonging the inevitable. Towards the end of the relationship, I was Donnell Jonesing, thinking that the grass was greener on the other side. We broke up over the phone through international lines.
“Her last words were ‘please don’t leave me and I hurt her.’” – mc enigma
While in Panama I’d gotten word that she was coming back to NJ from Mali. Disillusioned with the single life and nostalgic of my first love, I planned to make the S.A.R.A.H. project. I would put all my heart and soul into it and give her a gift based on our experience that no one else in the world can! I hoped it would reconnect us. I’d been listening to Elzhi’s Out of Focus ep and he had a song called S.A.R.A.H. which meant (Someone As Real As Her). It was the perfect title for the project. It fit. (That’s what she said!)
Within two weeks I’d written, recorded, mixed, and designed S.A.R.A.H. I worked tirelessly, perfecting the project as best as I could, adding subtle touches and seemingly random inside jokes to make it unique. It was finished days before my plane ticket back to NJ. I’d decided to share it in secrecy with a couple of my and her female friends, curious of their opinion and seeking advice because winning her over meant so much to me. I sent it to 10 friends, yet I noticed it was downloaded 50 times. I was furious! I trusted that they wouldn’t share it and I was 48 hours away from delivering the project to her in-hand. Bishop the Eastside Nappyhead told me that it spread so fast because I’d asked that it was kept secret. He urged me to continue to share it among our female networks “in confidence,” knowing that it would spread like wildfire because people couldn’t keep a secret, especially those that were familiar with our relationship.
I boarded my plane from Tocumen Airport in Panama headed to Newark, NJ to meet her and deliver the project. I remember scrambling, renting a car and running to a friend’s house to press up the cd. I wanted to give it to her before midnight. Everything was on schedule and optimistically I hit the Garden State Parkway headed for her house.
When I arrived we embraced, but it wasn’t like before. The hug was hesitant on her end. I disregarded it and we talked for a while. Anxious and apprehensive, I asked her to come to the car and I said I had something to show her. I gave her the cd and asked her to put it in. We sat there and listened to all 28 minutes of Someone As Real As Her. She smiled from ear to ear at first, but then she kept shaking her head at parts that I thought she’d be ecstatic to hear. She said she enjoyed it, but then said that I didn’t have to do it. Hmmm…
We saw each other for a couple of days, but the hugs were distant and so was she. There was a huge invisible wall between us. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I thought my plan was fool-proof. In a Cinderella-esque way I thought I held the glass slipper in my hands with this project, but little did I know, she’d already moved on.
I was and still am well versed in rejection, but this was my first love. She’d moved on completely and I was stuck, holding onto something that no longer was. I was devastated.
On the flight back to Panama, I felt like an inadequate failure, and in an effort to combat my desperate stupor, I began to write while on the plane. The song “The Flight Back” from L.y.l.e. Rainy Season, written over the Atlantic Ocean, was about that trip, flying back to Panama defeated, alone, and heart broken. By this time, I returned to Ciudad Radial on Calle 16 in Juan Diaz, Panama City, Panama. I recalibrated my focus from pursuing love lost to making music and building our base as Negros Americanos in Panama. That year I’d written 5 solo albums, 3 joint projects, and had an excess of 150 songs between Bishop and me that could end up anywhere.
I chose to release S.A.R.A.H. because it symbolized closure for me and I believe to date, it is my most popular project. The love that went into it was real. The love I had for her was real and I’ve got her to thank for many lessons and for introducing me to this energy known as true love.
Although things didn’t turn out as planned, my efforts weren’t in vain. I acted out of love and if you are fortunate enough to find true love, hold onto it. Travel for it. Pursue it to no end. Love is the ultimate and it is worth all of our time and attention. Tell them you love and appreciate them every chance you can and help them realize their own worth and beauty. Let love live and grow.
I am hopeful that this project, which is birthed in love, inspires more love.
So, I’ve showed you just a few pictures of my year living in the slums of Panama City. I’ve even showed you an enticing video of mc enigma and I interviewing women on race and the ‘mejorar la raza’ theory that many black Panameñas have adopted (while you got to sit back to a nice mellow Negros Americanos track of course). But I know you want to know about some of my experiences. What was my love life like out there? OK OK, just hold up a second I’ll get to all that. Now lets just go back to the topic of ‘mejorar la raza’. Its as if the Spanish slave master did such a bang up job with the mentalities of his African slaves. I mean in a sense Latin Blacks are more closely linked to Africa, if you take into account the music, food, dance and religions. However when it comes to racial self awareness, well thats where we have a problem. ‘Mejorar La Raza” literally translates to ‘Better the Race’. I was foolish to think that because I was coming from the states, I would have pick of the litter where the black women were concerned. Nothing could be more further from the truth. Countless Black Panameñas would opt for a lighter skinned, preferably white with ‘nice’ straight hair, so that their offspring would be closer to perfection. (Ouch)! I mean if lighter skin and straighter hair is a black woman’s view of perfection for her baby, how does she view herself? In this vast sea filled with the most beautiful women I have ever seen, I noticed that finding a woman that had a positive self image as a “Negra” was going to be very hard. Being that I love a natural haired Queen without a King, It was going to be like looking for a needle in a hay stack.
So I was told that the best way to learn a language was to get with a person that only speaks that language. In my case it was to find a woman that spoke spanish. And , well I did that, i talked to several Latinas in Panama at first and they were cool and all but I wanted my Black Queen. I went everywhere and no luck, I couldn’t find her. Until one day I was walking with mc enigma in an area that I was told not to go by my “Panamanian Aunt”. Don’t go to San Miguel, its crazy over there they kill people all the time. I tried to listen and not go, but thats what makes me me, I had to go. Besides it was filled with black people and though the area looked like a war zone, people had genuine smiles on their faces and there was so much street commerce happening in Avenida Central, Calidonia. So enigma and I went and tried to find out what we could get into, and as we were having convos complaining about ‘mejorar la Raza’ and how hard it is to find women with natural hair, when I spotted it her.
It was like she glowed from head to toe, there was almost an opera orchestra playing, as we locked eyes. She had and Afro straight out of the 70’s, stood tall and walked with a model’s confidence, I looked at her like prey. I knew she had to be in her early 40’s. I had never dealt with anyone near that age before, but I knew that I had to try with this one, I had to make her mine. I approached her with my extremely limited spanish at the time. “Hola me llamo Jordan y como se llama”? “Cielo,y de donde son ustedes que tiene el acento muy raro”?(where are you from, because you have strange accents). “Soy de los Estados Unidos.” Usually I say Jamaica, its just safer, but there was something about her eyes and overpowering energy that told me that I wouldn’t get away with that with her. The first thing she told me that she was a Santera, and she practices Santeria, it took me off my game for a second, but didn’t sway me too much. I was interested in the fact that in her stand she sold medicinal plants that could be used to cure many ailments naturally, i wanted to learn more.
I took a bus to that neighborhood to see her everyday during my lunch break at work, I stayed with her for an hour or so practicing words, learning more about her religion and the plants. I had known her for about a month and some change, it was around that time that I began to noticed that my apartment was infested with mice. I tried to get rid of them, and honestly I could have done a better job of it, but I was smitten, I just went ahead and sold my apartment and moved in with this woman, who I only knew for a month and some change. But the best part was that but she lived in the projects with a gang of murderous thugs, interesting right, I know.
The thing is that she’s had that business selling medicinal plants for so long in that same spot that many of the gangsters in the building were kids that she watched grow up. When they had no family to feed them, she would have them sweep the floor and give them some money to buy food. Because of that they were fiercely loyal to her, and if she said that I was untouchable, I was untouchable as long as I didn’t break the rules that they laid out for me in the beginning which I won’t go into. i saw some of the strangest things in my life as the people in that building formed a complete counter culture to the normal Panamanian culture. I loved living there with her, now I had everything I needed, I mean the building was way closer to my job than my old apartment. I had constant sex, someone to talk to and practice spanish, someone to cook great tasting food, to talk sweet nothings in the bed and get my hands caught in her naps juuuuuuussst like I like. Of course there were drawbacks, she was very argumentative and aggressive at times, I didn’t think her 14 year old son enjoyed me invading his space too much, until I bought him grand theft auto San Andreas which is suuuuper popular in Panama even in 2012, we became friends at that moment. She had a 22 year old daughter (not much younger than me at all) that called me Papa. This is where I would stay for the next 10 months until I left Panama to come back and import Negros Americanos to the US…………So, I suppose you want to know what became of us. Yes, yes but you have to wait till a later post, I assure you it won’t be that long.