What are your top four favorite music albums of all-time that best represent your personality? Which songs would you pick from your favorite albums to create your perfect album? What would be the title of your album?
My top four favorite albums of all-time are in the genres of Hip-Hop and Reggae music. The number four means foundation, so my foundation best represents who I was in the past, who I am in present, and who I aspire to be in the future. My favorite music artists are Nas, The Pharcyde, Blu & Exile, and Chronixx, and they represent different time capsules in my life and through their music and lyrics, they captured what I was going through during those specific time periods in my life.
Chatper I: Nas and The Pharcyde (Stillmatic and Labcabincalifornia)
During the time when Nas’ now classic “Stillmatic” was released in 2001, I was battling knee cancer while in high school. I was 14-years-old when I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma during the 1999-2000 school year during my freshman year. Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer that occurs in teenagers and young adults who are very active. In middle school, I played basketball, football, baseball, and ran track and field. So, during this time, I was going through a growth spurt, which was perfect timing for the cancer to grow in my right knee.
I found out I had knee cancer when I noticed the cramp in my knee was not going away, and for some reason my knee was always hot, even with an ice pack. There was swelling, I had joint pain, and the cancer was eating the bone of my right knee from the inside-out, which could have led to a clean break, but thank God the cancer was caught early enough before any breaks occurred.
When I was 14-years-old, I was diagnosed with Stage I cancer.
Before listening to Nas’ Stillmatic, I didn’t have any favorite music artists because I liked whatever was on the radio or music videos that was on television. This was the “Bling Bling” era of Hip-Hop where a lot of the music was about being flashy, women, money, cars, etc. When I was diagnosed with cancer, my music taste changed almost immediately because it did not make sense for me to listen to materialistic music anymore because I was dealing with a real-life situation that could have resulted in death.
Before Nas released Stillmatic, his previous albums, “I Am… the Autobiography” and “Nastradamus” sold decently but were not up to par with his other two previous albums, like his classics “Illmatic” and “It Was Witten.”
When I became a fan of Nas, I wasn’t familiar with Illmatic or It Was Written, but I knew of I Am… and Nastradamus because the songs from these albums were on the radio and music videos were in heavy rotation. Also, before Stillmatic, Nas’ well publicized feud with fellow Hip-Hop artist Jay-Z had boiled to the surface and judging from Nas’ previous music efforts, fans and critics alike were not sure if Nas could come back with a solid album and respond to Jay-Z’s “Takeover” diss track, which was aimed at Nas and his Queensbridge running mates Mobb Deep. Also, during this time, Nas’ mother was battling breast cancer, which I did not find out until his next album after Stillmatic, “God’s Son.” On God’s Son, he speaks about being by his mother’s bedside while she was in the hospital doing chemotherapy treatments. Without knowing, I was in the hospital doing chemotherapy treatment around the same time Nas’ mother was battling cancer.
When Stillmatic was finally released, it was a monster comeback album. Even Comedian Chris Rock had said Stillmatic was the new “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J. Nas responded to Jay-Z and his record label Rock-a-Fella Records with “Ether.” Ether is a highly flammable liquid, and Nas lyrically burned and flamed anybody in his way on this track. Besides the diss track towards Jay-Z, I was surprised to hear social and political commentary on the album. Stillmatic was my first experience listening to this kind of Hip-Hop music, because before Stillmatic I didn’t know Hip-Hop with socially conscious lyrics existed because all knew at the time was what was pushed in the mainstream, which was party Hip-Hop.
Probably my favorite song in the world is the intro track on Stillmatic, entitled “Stillmatic (The Intro).” To this day, I still haven’t heard a better introduction track that is better than Stillmatic (The Intro). Plus, it samples one of my favorite soul songs, “Let Me Be Your Angel” by Stacy Lattisaw.
Some highlights about Stillmatic (The Intro) includes when Nas recognizes Stillmatic is his rebirth and starts talking about digging himself out of his own grave, and whipping the dirt from his shirt. He also acknowledged that he has classic albums he created in the past, but he stats he is focused on always moving forward. Nas also sprinkles some African history and spirituality throughout the song like:
“The narration describes the lives of lost tribes in the ghetto trying to survive.”
Most African Americans are from the lost tribes and nations of ancient and medieval Africa, and the ghetto is America itself. The ancestors of the present-day African Americans were stolen from many different nations in West and Central Africa belonging to many different ethnic groups or tribes. When the ancestors of the African Americans became enslaved in America, their African identity was lost forever. They lost their language, culture, governments, laws, customs, spirituality, etc.
Like what Poet Maya Angelou said, the memory of the Africans' (African Americans) illustrious ancestors were forcibly wretched from the minds of their descendants.
Enter the Songhai Empire…
“Songhay’s (Songhai’s) greatness was due to something more than the remarkable expansion of its empire over a territory larger than the continent of Europe. That was great, but greater by far was the grand scale on which the revival of learning spread among the Blacks in West Africa─The Western Sudan, or ‘Land of the Blacks.’ Three of the principal centers of learning were Jenne, Gao, and Timbuktu.” – Dr. Chancellor Williams, Destruction of Black Civilization, p. 219
The Songhai Empire stretched and covered a vast territory from the Atlantic Ocean to almost reaching the Indian Ocean. The Songhai Empire included parts of the present-day countries of Niger, Northern Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal, and the Gambia.
Felix Dubois, the great French authority on Africa, in his “Timbuctoo the Mysterious” said:
“This accomplishment brings the greatest honor to the black race, and merits from this point of view all our attention. In the 16th century, the Songhay (Songhai) land awoke. A marvelous growth of civilization mounted there in the heart of the Black continent. And this civilization was not imposed by circumstances, nor by an invader as is often the case even in our day. It was desired, called forth, introduced and propagated by a man of the black race.” (1897)
Askia (i.e., Emperor) Mohammed aka “Askia the Great” was Songhai’s greatest king. During his reign, the kingdom of Timbuktu had 100,000 people filled with plenty of gold, and beautiful African women who dressed luxuriously with gold incorporated into their creative hairstyles. According to Songhai writers, Timbuktu was present-day Paris, Chicago and New York blended into an African setting. Songhai historians said most of the people amused themselves with music, and love and pleasures of drinking. Orchestras were performed by both males and female singers. There were also dramatic displays of dancing, fencing, gymnastics, and poetry recitations. Timbuktu was one of the most fabled and exotic kingdoms of the medieval world. This Sudanese metropolis of the Western Sudan was celebrated for its luxury, and free and easy was the life for the people of Timbuktu under Songhai rule before the Transatlantic slave trade.
About 93% of the ancestors who were brought the United States like cattle are the present-day African Americans, and they came from the Western Sudan (Songhai Empire and some outside territories). There were many different societies within the Songhai Empire that spoke different languages. When these Africans arrived in the U.S., the extreme harshness of their captivity forced them to stick together to survive. African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, and Afro-Latinos, in a direct sense are tied together by blood, physical suffering and humiliation.
Malcolm X, the brilliant self-taught prince of Songhai ancestry said:
“My black brothers and sisters – of all religious beliefs, or of no religious beliefs – we all have in common the greatest binding tie we could have. We are all black people!”
Nas acknowledged Stillmatic as his new beginning and rebirth, along with comparing himself to Moses when he says:
“This is the rebirth, I know the streets thirst water like Moses, walkin’ through the hot desert searchin’ to be free.”
At the end of the song, Nas says:
“Let my words guide you, get inside you, from Crips to Pirus, this is survival. Blood of a Slave, Heart of a King. Blood of a Slave, Heart of a King.”
The creativity of Stillmatic is also unmatched, like the creative “Rewind” where Nas tells a story starting from the ending and finishes at the beginning.
On “You’re Da Man” Nas states:
“Wish I could flap wings and fly away, to where Black kings in Ghana stay, so I could get old, my flesh rot away.”
“When everything around me got cloudy, the chair became a king’s throne, my destiny found me. It was clear why the struggle was so painful. Metamorphosis, this is what I changed to, and God I’m so thankful.”
One Mic, probably one of Nas’ greatest songs because of the creativity and the conscious and social-political lyrical content. One Mic is one of the songs that helped me while I was in and out of the hospital doing chemotherapy treatment. The up and down tempo of One Mic captured exactly how I was feeling during the time I was battling cancer, because some days I felt like I could defeat this disease, while other days I felt like I didn’t want to move forward with life anymore.
“2nd Childhood” is about people who are afraid to move on and grow up. “Rule” is Nas’ version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” Even though “Rule” was released in 2001, Nas’ lyrical content is still relevant in 2021, especially when he says:
“There shouldn't be nobody homeless. How can the president fix other problems when he ain’t fixed home yet.”
“What Goes Around” is a great social-political song that doesn’t hold back, with lyrics like:
“It’s all poison. Ecstasy, coke, you say it’s love, it is poison. Schools where I learned, they should be burned, it is poison. Physicians’ prescription’ us medicine which is poison. Doctors injectin’ our infants with the poison.”
Hip Hop Hopscotch Review
“The production is better than on the last two albums, overall it’s solid and there’s some real standout beats, like on ‘You’re da Man’ which has this funky drum pattern over these choir like violins as Nas provides great imagery, metaphors and thought provoking bars as he talks on going from rags to riches and now being a legend in the rap game.” – Hip Hop Hopscotch
It was Nas’ Stillmatic that made me look for similar conscious, social-political, and gangsta rap Hip-Hop albums from the 1990s. My favorites are Ice Cube’s Death Certificate, A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, Xzibit’s At the Speed of Life, and Digable Planets’ Blowout Comb to name a few.
Other noticeable songs from Stillmatic: Smokin’, The Flyest feat. AZ, My Country feat. AZ, and Every Ghetto.
When I was first diagnosed with knee cancer at 14-years-old, had to get a knee replacement. I was able to return to high school in the 10th grade, but during the 11th grade I felt a tingling in my right knee I was all too familiar with. The cancer, Osteosarcoma had come back in my right knee at 17-years-old. I was devastated when I found out the cancer came back. Although I knew what to expect, I thought it wasn’t going to be as difficult. New challenges were ahead of me because the cancer had travelled to my right lung. I only found out I had lung cancer when I did a routine MRI one day, and doctors noticed something unusual on my right lung.
I had to undergo an emergency needle biopsy, and luckily the cancer was taken off my right lung. After the success of the needle biopsy, I did more chemotherapy treatment and doctors suggested to have my right leg amputated since I also had lung cancer. The cancer jumped from Stage I to Stage IV. To be safe, doctors also suggested a hip amputation, which means my whole right leg was to be gone forever.
According to Douglas G. Smith, MD of Amputee-Coalition:
“Trying to overcome the loss of three weight-bearing joints, rather than one or two, is extremely complicated. Living with a transfemoral amputation is about 10 times as tough as living with a transtibial amputation and living with a hip- or pelvic-level amputation is perhaps 100 times harder. Walking, standing, and even sitting balance – something that most of us take for granted – are greatly affected by amputations at the hip or pelvis.”
As soon as my right leg was amputated, I experienced phantom pain. Even when the limb was removed, I could feel as if my leg was still there, and I felt like I could still control of my toes. From my experience with phantom pain, in the beginning, it felt like I was continuously being stabbed with knives, and my body would violently shake all night and I was unable to sleep. The phantom pain has lessened for me over the years, especially now that I’ve been a hip amputee for 18-years (2003-2021). The phantom pain has never completely gone away, and I noticed I feel more pain during the winter and fall seasons. Walking with a prosthetic leg is also difficult, but I’m used to it now. From my experience, walking with a prosthetic leg as a hip amputee is equivalent to a person with two legs doing a light jog.
I was able to graduate from high school on time in 2003 while still doing chemotherapy treatment, and I graduated from junior college in 2008. 2008 was the year I entered “The Pharcyde.” I heard about this west coast Hip-Hop group from the 90s, but I never really listened to their music. I remembered their music videos like “Passing Me By,” “Runnin’,” “Drop,” and “Trust.” I learned more about The Pharcyde during an interview with Lupe Fiasco, who released his debut, “Food & Liquor” in 2008.
During the interview, I remember the interviewer saying that Lupe was bringing the conscious- backpack Hip-Hop vibe back to the forefront. The interviewer started naming Hip-Hop groups like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, etc. When the interviewer said “The Pharcyde,” it was like a light bulb went off in my head and when I heard ‘Runnin’” and fully took in the essence of that song. I knew I finally found my favorite Hip-Hop group. I remember listening to their sophomore album, “Labcabincalifornia” multiple times because I could tell all four members: Imani, Bootie Brown, FatLip, and Slimkid Tre had all came into their own and I could sense a friendly competition among the rappers.
What I admired about The Pharcyde was that they were from Los Angeles, CA, but they didn’t rap or sound like they were from LA, but their lyrics were definitely west coast. During the 2008-2009 school year, I transferred to California State Long Beach (CSULB) and the Labcabincalifornia album was in constant rotation for me during my university years. Although Labcabincalifornia came out in 1995, the beats by the late-great Jay Dee aka J Dilla, Diamond D, M-Walk, and The Pharcyde themselves accompanied with The Pharcyde’s down to earth and relatable lyrics didn’t sound dated to me in 2008. The whole vibe of the album fit perfect with what I was going through during my college years dealing with relationships of all kinds, pressure to be successful, and of course, not to run away from problems that arise in my life.
“So, I stood up and let my free form, form free. Said I’m gonna get some before they knockin’ out me, I don’t sweat it, I let the bullsh*t blow in the breeze. In other words, just debris.” - Slimkid Tre from The Pharcyde, Runnin’, Labcabincalifornia
“Now don’t be wishin’ of switchin’ any positions with me. Cause when you in my position, it ain’t never easy. To do any type of maintainin’ cause all this gamin’ and famin’ from entertainin’ is hella strainin’ (to the brain and). But I can’t keep runnin’ I just gotta keep keen and cunnin’.” – Imani from The Pharcyde, Runnin’, Labcabincalifornia
Fellow west coast Rapper Snoop Dogg interviewed The Pharcyde members Imani and Bootie Brown on his GGN show and gave the group their flowers by saying:
“The music that ya’ll made was some of the greatest music in west coast Hip-Hop history because it was a time piece, you feel what I’m saying,” Snoop Dogg said. “It was a time when Hip-Hop was young, fly, and stylish, and different and only the strong survived.”
Snoop Dogg also said during the interview that himself and his fellow label-mates on Death Row Records used to listen to The Pharcyde for style reasons, and he commended the group for how they used their voices, and their ability to put melodies together.
“Praise for the record long after its release has been much warmer than when it was released. Lackluster reviews aside, Labcabincalifornia showcased an artistic breakthrough, and because of the deep shift in hip-hop production in the last two decades, the timelessness of the album is more apparent than ever.” - Giovanni Martinez
Other noticeable songs from Labcabincalifornia (Deluxe Edition): Bullsh*t, Drop, Y? (J Dilla Remix), and Emerald Butterfly.
Chapter II: Blu & Exile and Chronixx (Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them and Chronology)
When my university career ended in 2012, Blu & Exile released their sophomore album “Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them (GMMFWICSST).” Like The Pharcyde, I became acquainted with this group from their sophomore effort, which Exile has stated is the duo’s most artistic album, and he loved Blu’s lyricism and word play on this album. Also, like The Pharcyde, Blu & Exile hail from Los Angeles, CA, and they are known as a MC (Blu, rapper) and DJ (Exile, producer) duo. Although they both rap and produce music respectively.
In my opinion, they are one of the best duos in Hip-Hop music. If you enjoy other Hip-Hop MC and DJ/Producer duos like Gang Starr, Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth, and groups like The Pharcyde and A Tribe Called Quest. You should give Blu & Exile a listen. My favorite album from them is GMMFWICSST, but also in my opinion, they have not made a bad album, even their “Before the Heavens” album which is an album of leftovers from their classic debut “Below the Heavens” is an enjoyable listen. I’m probably in the minority by saying GMMFWICSST is their best album because from my observation online, their debut album, Below the Heavens is comparable to Nas’ Illmatic and other classic Hip-Hop albums for some people.
According to Tommy “T-Rod” Rodriguez, Below the Heavens, Blu & Exile’s 2007 masterpiece, is considered by many to be one of the best West Coast albums made in the 2000s.
“Dealing with censorship, sponsorship, friendships, relationships, slave ship minimum wages. Racist sh*t, we gotta find ways to change this sh*t. Elevation, higher foundations.” - Blu & Exile, More Out of Life feat. Jasmine Mitchell, Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them
Enter Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them…
I went into Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them without knowing much about Blu & Exile, and I’m glad because I didn’t have any expectations. Blu’s sharp but laid-back lyricism over Exile's colorful and soulful beats is what heaven must sound like.
Blu’s lyricism on O Heaven, which is his dedication to music:
“Love, love, my love. Heaven, heaven above. All that it once was. Stars lost and found us. Time, time goes by. Smiles, smiles that cry. Love, love my love. Heaven, heaven above. All that it once was. Smiles kisses and hugs. Child misses that drug. Love, love, my love.” – Blu & Exile, O Heaven, Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them
For a long time, I had been looking for a Hip-Hop artist like Nas, and in my opinion, Blu comes close out of all the rappers from his generation and beyond for me. To me, Blu is a mixture of Nas and Common, with the soul of the late great J Dilla. When Blu met Exile, their chemistry became unfadeable. You could tell they push each other, but not forcefully because their finished products always display their magnificent talent as a duo. Blu & Exile set a high standard when it comes to storytelling, and lyricism over boom-bap soulful beats which they call a “West Coast Soul Vibe.”
“I wonder. Who do you believe in? I know it ain’t me. I hope it ain’t a priest or who you see on TV. I hope it ain’t your poppa partner, he only raised you. And I know it ain’t your mom, even though that’s who you came through. I’m asking who you pray to, some believe in angels, some believe in one God, some believe in Jesus. Some believe in all of it, and I don’t mean a part of it ain’t true. I know that someone started it, and I know it ain’t you.” - Blu & Exile, A Man, Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them
Pop Matters Review
“He (Blu) constantly questions his religious beliefs, his drug addictions, and his past loves on the album atop some of Exile’s most gorgeous, infectious production yet. Working with Exile seems to ground Blu, forcing him to examine his self-image and the way the world perceives him. Blu may have spent most of his post Below the Heaven career burning one bridge after another, but Give Me My Flowers is not only a better album, it’s an atonement for all the swerves he’s thrown audiences’ way since breaking out.” – David Amidon
Other noticeable songs from Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them: Maybe One Day feat. Black Spade, The Only One feat. Jimetta Rose, Seasons, and Cent From Heaven.
“A West Coast underground legend, Blu has made a name for himself as one of hip-hop’s underrated giants. With his frequent collaborator/producer Exile, Blu has given the world some of the most down-to-earth rap albums the genre has ever seen…all without breaking into the mainstream,” Tommy “T-Rod” Rodriguez said. “For years he has maintained his status as a quiet artist, dropping projects every now and then that reflect on his life and upbringing in soulful, often emotional narratives. He can rap and write with the best, but his true skill lies in being as relatable and lovable as a best friend across the street.”
After finding buried treasure in Blu & Exile in 2012. I went many years thinking that I found all my special music artists. I know when a music artist is special to me because it’s a feeling that comes over me, and I only felt it while listening to Nas’ Stillmatic, The Pharcyde’s Labcabincalifornia, and Blu & Exile’s Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them. Well, this special feeling came over me unexpectedly again when I first heard Reggae artist Chronixx.
Chronixx literally popped up out of nowhere for me because I didn’t listen to Reggae music, but there was something special about Chronixx’s style of Reggae-soul that captivated me. I remember listening to Chronology multiple times, back-to-back when I became a fan of Chronixx in 2019. I think it was Chronixx’s style that helped introduced me into the genre of Reggae music and Jamaican culture. Chronixx sings and raps, and when he raps, I believe he could hold his own against some of the best rappers in the music industry.
Chronixx shows off his skills as a singer, rapper, and writer on “Big Bad Sound,” a song he did with his father, Chronicle:
“The general come round. Come round, come round, come round. Nuh make me wait when mi come fi mi crown. The city hot like a Kingston town. Zion ah burn like a sun come down. Trumpet loud like ah Stone Love sound. Tongue confess, every knee bow down. Tell every king weh as claim dem as king fi leave di compound when dem buck up on me. Haffi make way fi Selassie pickney. Zion and the terrible they coming with me. Everything we do ah fi di king glory. So, everywhere mi go Jah Jah deh pon di journey. When ah war time yuh know we sling ever ready. You know so by time you look we done everything already. We slew the giant them mi daddy.” – Chronnix, Big Bad Sound feat. Chronicle, Chronology
Throughout the Chronology album, many musical genres are combined with of course Reggae, Dancehall, and some Hip-Hop influences. Chronixx’s creativity reminds me of The Pharcyde when all four members are clicking on all cylinders. Also, like The Pharcyde, Chronixx is a master of how to use his voice creatively and create memorable melodies. I came across Chronixx when I began my journey writing books. I had already self-published my autobiography “CalmandStrong: Some People Walk in My Shoes, I Carry Mine” on Amazon and other bookstores. Towards the end of writing my second book, a historical-fiction novel entitled, “Black Magic: Justice, Rebirth & Love.” Chronixx’s music came to me at the perfect time, especially his song, “Black is Beautiful.”
The historical part of my novel is about West and Central Africa, specifically the Songhai Empire and how life was like for West Africans before the Transatlantic slave trade. The fictional part of my novel is about an immortal African who gets reincarnated during medieval times as apart of the Songhai people with the task from Egyptian (Kemite) God Ausar, whose name means “Justice and Rebirth,” and is known as “The Lord of the Perfect Black,” and Egyptian (Kemite) Goddess Auset, whose name means “Love and Magic,” and is known as the “Divine Feminine” to destroy the Transatlantic slave trade.
Chronixx’s song, “Black is Beautiful” could be the theme song for my novel because it captures what I’m trying to get across to the reader.
“Hol on, I see nuff faces long. But this is not a racist song. This is a song for the children who was never told about where their race is from.”
“Start read ‘bout things like Dogons, Black Kemet and Kush. Black kings, black senates, and books. Weh teach ‘bout pyramids and put real significance to we physical looks. So, every word weh mi say black. In my world everything black. Black, white, white, black right back. So don’t be surprised when mi say mi king black.”
“They never told us that black is beautiful. They never told us, black is beauty. They never told us that black is beautiful. They never told us, they never told us black is beautiful.”
The Guardian Review
“Already a US smash, his (Chronixx) long-awaited debut fuses old-school roots and lover’s rock with contemporary dancehall, rap, R&B and EDM, but this is essentially a celebratory pop album. The likes of Big Bad Sound and Smile Jamaica mix dub basslines with sunny anthemic tunes.” – Dave Simpson
Other noticeable songs from Chronology: Spanish Town Rockin’, Skakin’ Sweet, Majesty, and Tell Me Now.
Other noticeable albums from Nas, The Pharcyde, Blu & Exile, and Chronixx.
- Nas: God’s Son, The Lost Tapes
- The Pharcyde: Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde, Plain Rap
- Blu & Exile: Below the Heavens, Miles: From an Interlude Called Life
- Chronixx: Dread & Terrible
Chapter III: CalmandStrong: Ife-Daro… Meaning of my Album Title and Tracklist
“It is impossible to describe here all the riches of the civilization of Ife.” – Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop
“Ife” in the Yoruba (West Africa) language means love, and the Ife civilization was one of the most prosperous during medieval times in Africa. The Ife people are ancient, originally spiritual, highly advanced artistically and creatively, and agriculturalist. The history of Ife is from the ninth century to the 18th century, but from 1000 to 1500 AD was a period of growing economic and political prosperity and power in the history of Ife.
The Ife Kingdom is known as the “source of the spreading,” because the Yoruba people (ethnic group or tribe) believe they were the first humans on earth and all human life originated from Yorubaland (consisting of present-day countries of Southwest Nigeria, a small part of Benin, and a smaller part of Togo). It is generally believed that the Ife Kingdom was so close to heaven that one could meet their departed ancestors in its streets. There is also a hidden shrine in the Ife Kingdom that leads to the gates of heaven.
The kingdoms of Yorubaland had populations of 150,000 people or more.
In 1886, British agents visiting the Yoruba interior were told by the Alaafin (i.e., King) of the Yoruba Oyo Kingdom that “the Ifes… were the fathers of all and all people came from Ife.” The Ife people are known as also “the fathers of all tribes.”
An important development in Yoruba religion and cosmology was the belief in the afterlife. The Yoruba believed when the ancestors transitioned to heaven, they went to live in another place of existence of some part of the heavenly realm from where they could see, interact with, and help humans in the world. For this reason, articles of clothing and of personal adornment, and food was buried with the dead, which helped the ancestors who passed away settle in their new other-world homes. The newly dead was believed to be welcomed “home” by family members who had died earlier.
Also, the brass and terracotta sculptures of Ife represent the best of naturalistic art in the history of tropical Africa.
Until the end of the 14th century, the Ife Kingdom became an empire that wasn’t held together by war or subjugation, but by power of commerce, the belief in a common ancestry, and the manifest oneness of cultural heritage.
“There are two great Ethiopian (African) nations, one in Sind (India) and the other in Egypt (Kemet).” – Greek Historian Herodotus
The Indus Valley Civilization was in Pakistan and Western India, and the Harappan people ruled a large territory, larger than the combined area of Egypt (Kemet) and Mesopotamia (most of the present-day countries of Iraq and Kuwait, and parts of Iran, Syria, and Turkey). The earliest villages in the Indus Valley emerged between 6000 and 7000 BC. According to Historian Wayne Chandler, some of the villages evolved into the planned cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. Mohenjo-Daro is reputed to signify “the mound of the dead,” and the population for Mohenjo-Daro was between 35,000 to more than 100,000 people, which was an extraordinarily high number for a city of the ancient world.
The Indus Valley engaged in trade over vast distances, with high quality artifacts made of wood, bone, clay, flint, and shell sent from the Indus Valley to as far as Mesopotamia and Africa. During the ancient world, the Mohenjo-Daro city had shops and restaurants, and the important buildings like the Granary, the Citadel, and the Great Bath were the main attractions. The Harappans also had a written script and created sculptures.
Urban life was extremely sophisticated in the Indus Valley, with evidence of indoor plumbing, systems of human waste removal, and bathing facilities. Public baths and private toilets were present long before they appeared in Rome (present-day Italy). For the Harappans, purity and cleanliness of the body was a spiritual practice, along with ritual bathing. Mohenjo-Daro also had an ingenious drainage system, which was one of the earliest means by which sewage was drained out of the city. No other urban site of similar size had a hydraulic network as complex and effective as in Mohenjo-Daro, and it would only be surpassed thousands of years later by Rome during the third century CE (common or current era).
Although Mohenjo-Daro is reputed to signify “the mound of the dead.” It is unknown if differences existed in human burial practices amongst the elite and non-elite of Mohenjo-Daro because no cemetery has been discovered at the city, nor have individual graves of tombs showing flamboyant displays of luxury material wealth. In fact, less than 40 skeletons that can be dated to the time of the Indus Valley Civilization have been discovered in Mohenjo-Daro. Many were disarticulated and incomplete human remains that were buried in twisted and bent positions.
“I only made passing reference in the work to Blacks scattered outside of Africa over the world, not from the slave trade, but from dispersions that began in prehistory. This fact alone indicates the great tasks of future scholarship on the real history of the race. We are actually just on the threshold, gathering up some important missing fragments. The biggest jobs are still ahead.” – Dr. Chancellor Williams, Destruction of Black Civilization, p. 44
Ife and Mohenjo-Daro Warfare...
Both Ife of Yorubaland and Mohenjo-Daro of the Indus Valley Civilization didn’t have a significant military establishment during medieval and ancient times. These two Black civilizations went to war with other peoples once they felt their civilizations were being threatened and they had to defend their lands from invaders. For example, Queen Moremi of the Ife Kingdom allowed herself to be captured by a rival ethnic group or tribe who called themselves the “Igbo-Igbo.” The Igbo-Igbo people were stealing the Ife people for slavery (indentured servitude) and Queen Moremi wanted the raids to stop.
When Queen Moremi allowed herself to be captured, she learned about the secrets of the Igbo-Igbo. After she learned the secrets, Queen Moremi escaped home to the Ife Kingdom, and she told the Ife government about her findings. With Queen Moremi’s intel, the Ife government was able to stop the raids that were stealing the Ife people.
Before Queen Moremi was captured by the Igbo-Igbo, she went to a local stream and pledged she would sacrifice her only son if she found out the secrets of the Igbo-Igbo. When Queen Moremi returned home to Ife, she indeed took the dreadful and painful step of sacrificing her son. The story of Queen Moremi was to illustrate that the Ife people were so in love with their kingdom that they wouldn’t hesitate to make terrible decisions for the well-being of the people and welfare of the kingdom.
In 1800 BC, the Aryan invaders entered the Indus Valley, and the Harappan people turned their mansions into tenement buildings where large rooms were divided into smaller rooms in Mohenjo-Daro. They did their best to defend Mohenjo-Daro by blocking one of the four gateways to the city. The Harappans were able to amass armies, some numbering up to 10,000 people to battle the Aryans. Their resistance resulted in a thousand-year struggle for supremacy of their homeland in the Pakistan and Western India region. Fleeing from Aryan oppression, many Harappan’s fled to Central and South India, which is where they are concentrated today. When the Harappan’s fled, they rebuilt their arts and sciences.
During the height of the Ife and Mohenjo-Daro civilizations, the Ife and Harappan people took a lot of pride in their culture, spirituality, and they were intellectually inclined artistically and creatively. I connected with the Ife Kingdom of Yorubaland and the Mohenjo-Daro city of the Indus Valley Civilization from medieval and ancient times because of how the people approached life, which were through spiritual lenses. When I read about these medieval and ancient Black civilizations. I’m home.
The medieval civilization of Yorubaland is one of my favorite Black civilizations in Africa, and the Indus Valley Civilization is my favorite Black civilization outside of Africa.
Chapter IV: CalmandStrong: Ife-Daro Tracklist
It took me a while, but I was able to make an album that fits my personality by combining my favorite songs from my four favorite albums. These are the songs I chose:
- Nas: Stillmatic (The Intro)
- Chronixx: Big Bad Sound feat. Chronicle
- Blu & Exile: Maybe One Day feat. Black Spade
- The Pharcyde: Runinn’
- The Pharcyde: She Said (J Dilla Remix)
- Blu & Exile: O Heaven
- Nas: You’re Da Man
- Chronixx: Selassie Children
- The Pharcyde: Drop
- Blu & Exile: The Only One feat. Jimetta Rose
- Chronixx: Majesty
- Nas: One Mic
- Blu & Exile: More Out of Life feat. Jasmine Mitchell
- Chronixx: Black is Beautiful
- The Pharcyde: Y? (Be Like That) (J Dilla Remix)
- Nas: Rule feat. Amerie
- Blu & Exile: A Man
- Chronixx: I Know Love
“And I know love. Lifted me. And I know Jah Jah, yeah. Set me free. Love break the chains, yes. Set the captives free. Love break the chains. Set the captives free.” - Chronixx, I Know Love, Chronology
So, to not have my album be overwhelmingly long. I followed some rules to help make my album cohesive. For instance, the songs used must be from the albums picked, and bonus songs or remixes can be added to the album. The tracklist must be the same as one of the favorite music albums picked. Also, one bonus track can be added to the album once the tracklist is finished. I chose 17 tracks for my album because The Pharcyde’s Labcabincalifornia and Blu & Exile’s Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them albums have 17 tracks. I also added one bonus song, so altogether I have 18 songs for my “CalmandStrong: Ife-Daro” album.
If you have a music streaming service, you could create my album, or you could create your own album from your top four favorite music artists and albums. Which four albums are your favorite? It’s never too late to create your perfect album from your music foundation.
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Exile. Happy belated birthday to this album. 9 years old. Some people like this one better than BTH. Below the heavens vs GMMFWICSST? Who you got? think this is one of our most artistic efforts. The Seasons is my personal favorite. I love how Blu flipped words on this album. @bluherfavcolor @thedirtyscience. exileradio. Instagram. Sept. 6, 2021. Nov. 13, 2021. https://www.instagram.com/p/CTfWo3OpO0f/?utm_medium=share_sheet
Genius. Blu & Exile. A Man. Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them. Sept. 4, 2012. Nov. 13, 2021. https://genius.com/Blu-and-exile-a-man-lyrics
Genius. Blu & Exile. More Out of Life. Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them. Sept. 4, 2012. Nov. 14, 2021. https://genius.com/Blu-and-exile-more-out-of-life-lyrics
Genius. Blu & Exile. O Heaven. Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them. Sept. 4, 2012. Nov. 13, 2021. https://genius.com/Blu-and-exile-o-heaven-lyrics
Genius. Chronixx. Big Bad Sound. Chronology. July 7, 2017. Nov. 13, 2021. https://genius.com/Chronixx-big-bad-sound-lyrics
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Genius. Chronixx. I Know Love. Chronology. July 7, 2017. Nov. 14, 2021. https://genius.com/Chronixx-i-know-love-lyrics
Genius. Nas. Rule. Stillmatic. Dec. 18, 2001. Nov. 14, 2021. https://genius.com/Nas-rule-lyrics
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