Category Archives: Hip-Hop

I’m the Balanced-Scale

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Safi Scarves 2

The perfect combination of a Scholar & Street-Nigga…
…I bury my foes 6-feet under, without pulling a Trigger…

…Academics on Fleek…
…my ears to da Street…

…I could hit U like target-practice wit my 6-Shooter…
…but you’re not even worth my time I got 6-Shooters…

…Always in the Mosque…
…so my Soul is never lost…

…I’m just a simple Poet, and no I don’t do rap…
…got my corporate office, but I stay in da Trap…

…There’s Haters everywhere…
…using the Evil-Eye to stare…

…I hope Guidance keeps me controlled & centered…
…Knuckle-Game on-point, in case I ever gets tested…

…I’m never abandoned, because Allah’s always there…
…He keeps me safe from enemies and erasing my fear…

…I always strive for excellence and improvement…
…never a Follower I’m leading my own movement.

Gareth Bryant/2016

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The Streets don’t really love You!!!

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I wanna take ya on a tour to Gangland…Nah, son, this ain’t Graceland…
…People die of everyday violence…killers & hustlers move in silence…

…All y’all little Niggas think ya real hard…
…until you’re found buried in a junkyard…

…You think you got what it takes to stay turned-up…
…but, you’re no match for the Big-Dogs: still a pup…

…These dudes are serious…they not playin’ no games…
…they on they grind: twenty-four hours & seven days…

…Don’t think cause they play cool, they won’t shoot…
…they’ll run in your crib, gripped-up & ready to loot…

…They play for keeps…this ain’t the game for lil’ boys…
…they got guns that shake the block wit a lot of noise…

…38’s, 45’s, Mac-11’s…
…AR-15’s…AK-47’s…

…Drivin’ down streets wit the windows down…
…they pickin’-off pretenders & all the clowns…

…The fake ones are always caught off-guard…
…all ya left wit are tragic deaths & deep scars…

…Countless funerals and burials your family’s going to…
…because you rep’d a “Thuglife” you thought was true…

…You thought you were invisible, no one could touch ya…
…until the Angel of Death came to ya and said “I gotcha”…

…But, too late, now: your life ended way too fast…
…the last sound you ever heard was a gun’s blast…

…The Streets didn’t protect you or keep you safe from harm…
…they let ya get stung by the venomous Ghetto-Bees’ swarm…

…What the Streets did for you is get ya caught-up…
…that’s the price you paid to for tryin’ to be tough…

…So, this was our tour through Gangland…like I said, it ain’t Graceland…
…live your life with a different plan…stop being a Thug, start being a Man.

Gareth Bryant/2014

Von Middleton: a Man who has found his place in the Puzzle

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Von Middleton

Author’s-Note:
I had the unique opportunity to be present at a single-release party, for an artist, by the name of Von Middleton. I was initially introduced to Von via his manager, Ted Gustus, commonly known as “Coach-Ted”, a very popular High-School & Collegiate Basketball-Coach, with nearly 4-decades worth of coaching experience to boot. I was originally informed about Von being a vocal talent, as Ted told me that he took Von under his wing, as a personal mentor, then, as a manager, taking Von with him, to perform at various venues all across the United States, particularly singing the “American National-Anthem”, at sporting events, etc.

As Von’s voice became more popular, he naturally began to be noticed by others, for having a good voice, a good skill for singing. Eventually, both Von & Ted were called upon to appear at many more events, so that Von could display his vocal skills. This spiraled, actually, into Von attempting to break the “Guinness Book of World Records” record of the most sung American National-Anthems, by one single individual. By the time I had first crossed paths with Von, he was already well upon his way to achieving his very ambitious goal, which would obviously help to propel him to vocal stardom.

Honestly, prior to actually hearing him sing at this event that I was invited to, I had never heard him sing before. However, after hearing him sing for the very 1st time, both his first single “Puzzle” & the National-Anthem, I must say that I was fairly impressed by his skill as a singer. The song “Puzzle” is about people, just like you & I out there, who just can’t seem to find where we all fit, in this world, in our respective families, communities, societies, etc. I was even more impressed by his general positivity, goodwill, focus, drive. After getting to know him prior to hearing him sing, it actually makes sense why I was so impressed with hearing him sing for the first time around. Hearing him sing for that first time not only gave me confidence that he could pull his record-breaking attempt, but, it also gave me confidence that he could really take his singing career fairly far.

I have with me, at this time, both Von Middleton & Ted Gustus. We will be interviewing them both, to truly get a more authentic glimpse, from looking into their lenses, from their vantage-points, of what they hope to both professionally, as well as personally accomplish together, as  a team.

Ted Gustus

G.B.: Coach-Ted, how did you & Von Middleton meet and how long have you two known one another?

T.G.: I first saw Von and his group Sidetrack Boys, singing at the annual Brownsville Oldtimers Day, 2 years ago. I later met him at the Atlantic Terminal Street Festival, where we actually talked with each other. The group said they could sing the National Anthem, I invited them to sing it Madison Square Garden. Once that happen the relationship blossomed.
G.B.: Von, what was your 1st-impression of Coach-Ted, and has that perception increased in a more positive way?

V.M.: My first impression of Coach Gustus was very different. He was always open to give his assistance and counsel to me with his intentions of improving my abilities. Since that first impression, I have been enlightened that he has been like this for all people, most importantly the young men in our communities. He has a passion for the youth being successful.
G.B.: Coach-Ted, when did you begin to notice that Von’s voice as something worthwhile to invest in & take seriously?

T.G.: When I heard him sing at the Brownsville Oldtimers. I had an voice and entertainment expert friend check him out one on one, and he gave me. The thumbs up!

 

G.B.: Von, how did it make you initially feel, when Coach-Ted extended his hand, to assist you in getting your singing-career off the ground?

V.M.: I honestly couldn’t believe it because I was always guarded by people that appeared to want to assist in developing my career. After learning that he is a respected legendary Coach and basketball player I knew that my career would change forever.

 

G.B.: Coach-Ted, at what point did you guys incept the idea to attempt to break the National-Anthem singing-record, and which one of you came up with this idea first?

T.G.: Actually that idea was introduced to me by another artist out in Atlanta Georgia. I thought is was a great idea and so did Von. I thought it would be great way to get Von in front of many people to hear him sing this far it has been working very well.

 

G.B.: Von, what do you want most from this entire venture, that you’ve invested so much of yourself into?

V.M.: I want to inspire all people that anything s possible with the right work ethic, the right support groups and the right heart. I want to reach many people through my art and what I create. I also feel that I’m getting what I want,  which is to not only go through this process but to “grow through” this process. I wanted to enjoy the adventure of things while getting a chance to grow. In the past I’ve always anticipated the the outcome of things so much that the process would be a big blur to me. With Coach Gustus’ coaching and mentoring, I am developing many skills to assist me my evolution.

 

G.B.: Coach, where do you see Von Middleton, 5 to 10 years from now, as an artist?

T.G.: Von possesses diverse and versatile talents. I see him fully developing his talents and eventually being known world wide as an entertainer, business man and humanitarian. His zeal and desire to use his gifts to improve the quality of life for others will ultimately be his legacy.

 

G.B.: Von, where does Von Middleton see Von Middleton, 5 to 10 years from now, even beyond, as an artist?

V.M.: I see myself having joy and peace in my heart. I see myself with Grammys, touring the world and reaching many people that I look to inspire and change. I see myself being an innovative,  revolutionary artist that gives back to the human race especially to my community. I see myself being able to connect to all people mature and younger than me in helping to change their lives.

 

For more info. about Von Middleton:

 

http://www.facebook.com/vonsvibe

 

http://www.twitter.com/VonMiddleton

 

https://www.instagram.com/vonsvibe

 

A Commentary on the “Muslim Women are Cool Too” Video:

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Author’s-Note:
Allah states, within His Noble-Book: “Oh, Prophet!!! Tell your Wives, along with your Daughters & the Believing-Women, to cover themselves. That is to ensure that they are recognized publicly & not harassed. And, Allah is All-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.”.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.33, 59)

Since this “Somewhere in America Muslim Women Are Cool Too” video has went viral, basically, there has been a lot of buzz about it: good, bad, ugly & all sorts of in between. There are some whom have taken the video out of proportion from both the Conservative & Liberal camps within the Muslim-Community, anywhere/everywhere that this video has been viewed. So, what I’ve decided to do is simply ask someone,  whom is pretty much on the level socially, yet sincerely attempting to be an adherent Muslim, what are their potential concerns that this video may be projecting. I’ve decided to interview my brother Navroz Shariff, who I take to be a very balanced, well-rounded Muslims, to chime-in to personally examine this video & what image this video could possibly be sending to the public about Muslims generally, and also Muslim-Women. And, I know that a lot of People, Women (both Muslim & Non-Muslim alike) will take issue with Men speaking about the issue of “Hijab”, based upon a very ignorant misconception that (from both Men & Women: Muslim & Non-Muslim alike) that Islamic-Issues are monopolized by Genders, and/or that Hijab is only a Women’s-Issue…both are completely false (learn more about the reality of Hijab: http://www.garethbryant.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/theoriginofthehijabofthemanwomaninislam/).

Navroz Shariff pic

G.B.: So, what do you think about this phenomenon, known as Hijabi-Culture?

N.S.: The purpose of Hijab is to be inconspicuous, not to stand out, glowing with make up and various kinds of fashion-accessories. I am afraid that this video will make guys much more curious about our sisters in Islam who wear modest-clothing and it may even get to a point where they will be disrespected in the streets, because, guys will have the mentality that they can just approach them similar to any non practicing girl or any Non-Muslim for that matter. We know those who do not cover their `Awrat/Private-Parts, wear tight-clothing, and show their shape, love the attention they receive from guys. Unfortunately, this video is tarnishing the respect that girls who wear Hijab properly deserve, because, guys will start to get the impression that girls who wear Hijab are the same as girls who don’t and are just as approachable. Have you ever seen how non-Muslim men act towards our sisters who properly cover their `Awrat? They show so much respect to them. Ask any of the Hijab-wearing sisters how a woman is in front of them wearing a skimpy-outfit gets whistled at and harassed while when the modest sister passes the guys the all just quiet down. Ironically, the non-Muslim men here in America give our sisters more respect, compared to fellow Muslims in some/many Muslim-Countries. Our sisters in those countries get groped, harassed and even raped, even when they sincerely attempt to dress modestly.

G.B.: Well, honestly, many Muslim-Women who may choose to not dress properly, Islamically, or not cover their bodies to any extent, may say, “Even without ‘Hijab’, I’m still ‘Modest'”.  So, let me ask you: what is the (Islamic) definition of Modesty?

G.B.: You can’t have modesty without HIjab & vice versa: they define one another simultaneously Both Hijab & Modesty are (jointly) signs of purity and dignity; they highlight the Muslim-Woman as a pure, chaste, integral, woman and sets her apart from the immoral-behavior associated with women who dress/behave immodestly. It is an external-protection, for chaste Muslim-Women, against the evil that exists within the world. When a woman wears a Hijab she is less likely to be harassed by men, with lusty-motives, especially here in America. For our sisters who cover and wish to be inconspicuous, in my humble opinion, this video has just put them on the radar and Non-Muslim men will begin to think they are no different than women who don tight-jeans, mini-skirts, etc., who show their `Awrat. It is bad enough for some that men in some/many Muslim-Countries showing disrespect to our sisters, now the non-Muslim men will also do the same. May Allah protect our sisters, and in particular I am thinking of my lovely wife here, and guide us all. And, for the sisters that see this as a Hijab instructional-video (believe me some do), the perpetrators in the video will all be responsible for all the sisters they mislead when standing alone in front of Allah.

G.B.: Do you think that Muslims are trying too hard for socio-cultural/socio-political acceptance in Non-Muslim-Countries/Non-Islamic societies, at the expense of their religious-integrity?

N.S.: It seems that Muslims are desperately trying to be accepted even if it means that they have to sculpt their religion to gain acceptance. They heed more the creation than the Creator. What does this say about their emaan? It may very well be a test for them from Allah which they are failing miserably. Mu`awiyah wrote to `A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with them both), asking her to write him a letter giving him advice but not to make it lengthy. She wrote: ‘Peace be upon you! To proceed: I heard Allah’s Messenger (saws) say, “If anyone seeks Allah’s good pleasure at the cost of people’s displeasure Allah will keep from him the trouble caused by people; but if anyone seeks people’s good pleasure at the cost of Allah’s displeasure Allah will leave him in people’s hands.”

G.B.: Are you at all biased to their views on what direction Muslims should turn towards?

N.S.: If we were to stick to the Qur’an and Sunnah, then we would not be having this discussion. Is that what you mean by that question?

G.B.: Have you previously revealed your general-views regarding this new-wave of “Islamic-Identity?

N.S.: Yes, my views I tend to write in public; but, to verify that I am not biased, I ask others that they think about my opinion, discuss with them, look at it at other angles.

G.B.: How much opposition do you/have you received as a result of your views against your stances against this brand of “Islamic-Expression/Islamic-Identity”?

So far, none. But, there are many people who condone what the video shows, and the way it depicts Muslim-Women.

G.B.: If you could have a serious-conversation with either the producers of, and/or those depicted within this video, what would you say to them, and how would you say it; meaning how would you even approach the conversation?

N.S.: Honestly, it really depends: if the producers are not Muslim, then I would question the sisters…if they both are Muslims, I would question both of them and their agenda, especially with regards to the explicit lyrics and dress-style which are contrary to Islamic practice anyway…if they are just young, then I would question the elders in the video what were they thinking and that they should know better to guide their sisters.

G.B.: Are you fearful of fellow Muslims viewing you of being “backwards”, “too conservative”, “unrefined”, “too traditional”, etc.?

N.S.: I am only fearful of Allah. Islam is not about picking and choosing what you of Islam and compromise it.

Islam is not about picking and choosing what you like of the Deen and compromising.

People never want You for You:

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Author’s-Note:
I just felt like writing down some thoughts, about how people would rather see others in a false-light, then through an authentic-lens, how they would rather others be fake then to be real. Don’t worry, this poem is not about any particular individual/individuals. So, I don’t want anyone contacting me, questioning, challenging me, as to whether or not I’m takin’ shots at them indirectly. This poem is as Universal as it gets and applies to anyone/everyone, myself, firstly.

Fallacies are more desirable than Realities:

People always chase that false-image, of who & what they want to see…
…But, then, when proven wrong, wonder, “How can this possibly be?!!!”.

You, as the individual, are always depicted by other peoples’ illusions & perceptions…
…However, once you keep yourself true, they don’t want that; they are ever suspicious.

You can never be the true you, without others assuming, dubbing you dishonest…
…They accuse you of the most outlandish things, their attacks can be the coldest.

But, they do not care; for most, it’s exclusively how they want and expect you, to them, to be…
…They don’t want the real you; their constructed illusions, only, are what they want to see see.

They will call you a Liar, only because you don’t fit the criterion of a person that they desire…
…Whenever you don’t follow the script of their liking, they’re ready to cast you into blazing fire.

Whatever skills Allah has given you, use them with much haste…
…The truth of one’s self is precious, don’t ever let it go to waste.

There are many dark forces out here, in this Mundane, who want to drag you down, to shame…
…And, when you’re dead & gone, they’ll pretend to miss you, and they’ll even speak your name.

But, they don’t care: to them, once they’re done with you, you’re just as useless as an Autumn-Leaf flying in the air…
..It’s completely up to you, to stay true to what’s inside you; never let your faith in Allah falter; never sink into despair.

Whenever you feel like the World is on your shoulders, and you have no friends, just remember that I’ve been there…
…But, I found Allah with me, every step of the way, protecting me from the harms of those who only pretended to care.

When the People desert you, always know that Allah won’t…
…When people violate on their promises, now that He don’t.

When friends becomes enemies, and confidants become betrayers…
…Remember that Allah is by your side, just maintain 5-daily Prayers.

Always keep His remembrance in your heart & mind…
…None is worship-worthy, but He, only He is Divine.

His Book is pure and its message is true…
…He sent His guidance just for me & you.

Maintain this premise until you die…
…In the Paradise, I hope you reside.

Gareth Bryant/2013

Poetic-Challenge: Gareth Bryant vs. Neghena Hamidi

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Author’s Note:
Every month I’ll be conducting a Poetic-Challenge, challenging various poets, whom I personally know/interact with, just for the sake of sharpening/improving my own poetry, general-goodwill, respect for my fellow “Brethren of the Paper & Pen”, and to just see who from among us has the best “Poetry-Skillz”…Every month, I’ll be picking a brand-new Poetic-Challenger, via Facebook/Twitter, to compete with. This month, it’s Neghena Hamidi. Next month, it could very well be anyone of you. So, just be prepared, with some fresh-rhymes.

Topic: Temptation

Gareth Bryant

Gareth Bryant

“Beware what You allow Yourself to succumb to”

I pretend that Temptation doesn’t affect me here…
…Reality always sets-in whenever she comes near.

…Then, I’m a mess: I’m like a pool of putty when I realize I’m not in control…
…How can she have me round her finger, while she’s so young & I’m so old?

I never expected that I’d be entranced, by something so obvious…
…Yet, that’s the nature of Man: we’re victims to clear distractions.

All that I wanted was to have her in my arms,my hands in her hair…
…She smelled of fragrances of flowers, blowing in the Summer air.

I totally yearned for her young, delicate, tender, fresh, flesh…
…She was more enjoyable than mid-day High School recess.

Little did I even realize that I had fooled myself, into thinking that I was strong enough…
…I was just bent on having her in my arms, I had no care of consequence, gettin’ caught.

But, then, she got pregnant: she told me at 4-months that she’s gonna keep it…
…There was nothing for me to say, except the pathetic cry of, “God, damn it!!!”

I didn’t want a bastard-child, but, I never wanted to marry her…
…My world was turned upside-down, as if life were an utter blur.

Verily, the fool was I, to even have the nerve to assume that Allah wouldn’t hold me to task…
…When Temptation grabs you, you’ve got to break loose & get away, or else no turning back.

This isn’t anyone’s fault: I had purposely made myself too blind to see…
…I, alone, am to blame, for not being the best Muslim, I know I can be.

This why we ought to listen to Allah, at once, the very 1st-time…
…Just as that ol’-sayin’ goes, “A hard Head makes a soft Behind.”.

We never think of the price we must pay, for our sinful enjoyment and play…
…We always make ourselves ignore that Accountability will have its own day.

We must safeguard all things that we hold dear…
…Integrity, shame, conscience, a heart that’s clear.

So, the lesson here is to learn from my most obvious error…

…Stop indulging in things which only promote sinful-pleasure.

Only then, can you ever hope to survive in this savage desire-riddled existence…
…We have to constantly depend upon Allah & thereafter, make true Repentance.

Then, we must always try to stay away, from the blissful trinkets of the Mundane, which makes us go stray…
…Because, before we know it, we’ll all be forced to stand before our Lord, to show cause, on Judgement-Day.

Gareth Bryant/2013

Neghena Hamidi

Neghena Hamidi

“Self-Enticement=Self-Indictment”

He loved his desires just like a fat boy loves cake
The only difference is cake doesn’t leave him baked
In a corner
At his friends house waiting to I escape
From his so called problems in the world with one blunt to eradicate
what he deemed as complicated
One puff cleaned that slate
but he goes home and begins to contemplate
The life style he adopted
due to the battle with his Nafs
Nafs
Jihad al Akbar but truly he has loss
Time to retain himself
From the things he should have refrained
After all he’s a hafez. And he never thinks in vain
Smoking occasionally. Flirting frequently. What’s the problem though this doesn’t make him insane
But “verily the Nafs incites evil”(12:53)
Just like how Zulaykha caused a chaotic upheaval
With Yusuf in prison
because winning the battle with his Nafs was considered treason
We all become good again
Because in the end, the heavens are where we want to descend
he looks at his mistakes thinking about how we will answer for in the end
Blunts. Drinks and girls.
Ain’t worth his time when it comes to making amends
With his Nafs. His conscious. His soul.
he can’t risk having his temptations act like burning coal
Placed on his heart
Creating this empty space reserved for evil. A huge hole.
Tempted. He let that Marlboro sit on his desk unlit
Realizing, spiritually that temptation leads to a life unfit
For him to lead given his time and space
After all people look up to him, he doesn’t  want to lose face.
Wait lose face? In front of people? Because he’s the hafez of Quran. Man. Check your intentions because with that mentality you got it all wrong,
Lit those cigarettes if that is your main concern.
let those blunts burn and burn.
but worry about the opinion of your creator. That’s one thing you must learn.
tempted to break your habits for society? If that’s what you yearn
By all means stop the bad things in your life due to that main concern.
But adapting to good because of people will surely lit a fire in track of evil.
Because you can adapt to bad so easily
The pattern is infinite. It Will go on endlessly.
People change. So will you.
In the end you are left to choose
The path of good? Or the path that’s disapproved?
So tempted to follow their league
Even though it’s against your core beliefs
Fluctuating in what’s pure and what’s obscene
Believe me it’s common
all you need is some guidance
but one request before you take  actions even further
Recheck your intentions and make sure it’s for the Preserver

Neghena Hamidi/2013

Theological-Graffiti:

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Let’s have a conversation, about flaggin’ & taggin’.

Let’s talk about reppin’ sects, religious G-Mackin’.

We all wanna belong & be strong, wit a whole team behind us.

We choose between being Muslims, Jews and even Buddhists.

We also pick to conform as Christians, Mormons, Zoroastrians, Hindhus, and the like.

We all want someone to have our backs, to hold us down, to make sure we’re alright.

We use the minds & hearts of people, to write our ideas on.

We do it just make our marks on the World, right or wrong.

But, for every Theological-Tag is a consequence.

We may be guilty, in front of Allah, for nonsense.

We can’t always foresee the damage our taggin’ can actually cause.

If what we tag can’t be removed, it may well cause many to be lost.

So, the next time that you see a wall that you wanna tag, don’t rush to ruin.

There may not be any kind of paint that will erase what you’ve been doin’.

Gareth Bryant/2013