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About The Artist

Ever since he was four years old, all he wanted to do was art. He drew comic strips all over the walls of the newly rented apartment he and his mother had just moved into. For him, art was a train that never stopped. Joe “M.A.S.A.R.O.” Gianoglio attended Langara College and earned a diploma for Fine Arts, then attended the University of British Columbia for one year as a transfer into the Fine Arts Program. Two years later, he enrolled in the Visual Arts program at Emily Carr University of Art & Design; graduating with a degree in Visual Arts in 2005. In the years following, Joe has participated in art shows, worked as a graphic designer and concentrated on building his portfolio in equal parts. Besides North American exposure, his art and designs have also been viewed in Japan and Hong Kong. A student of all things visual, his work reflects a fascination with musical subcultures illustrated through snapshot styled depictions, capturing the motion and dynamics of the subject via spontaneous brush strokes and vibrant colors. As he further develops, Joe now focuses on creating a narrative through his paintings, illustrations and designs. He firmly believes that regardless of what style of interpretation he chooses, it is very important to create a dialogue between his work and the viewer. Summed up in his own words, he says, "Being able to convey a captivating anecdote and command the attention of the public is a very satisfying thing”. FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO CONTACT JOE “M.A.S.A.R.O.” GIANOGLIO, PLEASE VISIT: http://rollersstudio.com http://twitter.com/rollers_studio http://facebook.com/masaro

About The Writer
In just a few years Jason James has expanded from his role as an unknown underground MC and grown into the title of thought provoking lyricist and writer. As a columnist for RefinedHype.com he has earned a reputation for covering controversial topics, complicated conspiracy theories and corruption within the global political, financial and corporate structures. His fearlessness when approaching these subjects has made his column a favorite amongst regular readers and has helped to make Refined Hype the premier destination for fans of Hip Hop music as well as interesting editorials. As an artist Jason has released one full-length album with his producer and fellow group member Rodney Hazard entitled, “Marvelous World Of Color”. Released in 2010, the album received critical acclaim and was considered a landmark achievement for the artists within Hip Hop’s smaller circles. With this in mind, both James and Hazard quietly returned to the studio shortly after and began crafting their 2012 release, “Pyramids In Stereo”. While being careful not to rush the process, the rapper/producer combo spent 2 years painstakingly building on top of their signature sound and re-creating the aesthetic they discovered with “Marvelous World Of Color”. Their latest effort was unveiled on November 28th, 2012 and has been referred to as a more focused and mature step forward for the collective known simply as Jason James & Rodney Hazard. FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO CONTACT JASON JAMES, PLEASE VISIT: http://mwoc.com http://twitter.com/jasonjames82 http://facebook.com/jasonjamesmjrlbl

Crazy Muslims Want to Kill You

Published: 10/14/2010

We’ve all seen it before. Crazy Middle Eastern guys are plotting to destroy the world. Their evil plot, devised out of pure contempt for the United States, is without rhyme or reason but comes from a deep seeded hatred for all things free and good. Then the good ol’ U S of A steps in, blows them to smithereens and delivers us once again from the clutches of the savage terrorist guys because we are the righteous continent and we ain’t having that shit. To create a comprehensive list of television programs and movies that have used this plot would take weeks. The nightly news wouldn’t be complete without at least one image of some Muslim extremists dancing around the streets screaming anti-American sentiments and shooting AK-47’s in the air. The scary part about this is that most of us believe it. We see the same plot play out in movies and television over and over again and we allow it to shape our opinion about a part of the world almost none of us have ever been to. I remember a conversation I had with a friend about places we would love to visit. When I said, “I would really like to see Northern Africa and the Middle East” he gave me the “you must be out your fuckin mind” look. At first I accepted his response as the way most North Americans would react. But then I thought about why he reacted that way. Having never been there himself, his reaction was based solely out of what he’s seen on television and in movies. Basically his opinion was based on examples that were completely fictional. I began to think about this more as time went on. I often brought up the topic of Islam with card carrying Christians just to see what they would say. The general perspective was that Muslims were all evil, primitive beings hell bent on eliminating the Christian religion. When I asked where they got this idea from, almost all of them changed the topic or simply said, “the news”. Since this whole evil Muslim guy image seems to have been created by the “Christian media”, allow me to refer to the foundation of Christianity and give a brief history lesson. "And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son; you shall call his name Ishmael; because the Lord has given heed to your affliction. He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” –Genesis 16:11-13 This passage can be interpreted in many different ways, but the significance of it is that God created Ishmael for a specific purpose. Now, shall we continue?

"But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the lad and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your descendants be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” (Referring to Ishmael) -Genesis 21:12-14 "And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” (Another reference to Ishmael) –Genesis 21:17-19 There’s a lot more to the story but these three passages are important when discussing Christianity’s relationship to Islam. Abraham, being God’s chosen one, had 2 sons. Isaac, who was the father of Israel, was the very beginning of Christianity and Ishmael, who was the beginning of the bloodline that created The Prophet Muhammad, and could be looked at as the beginning of Islam. In the Qur’an not much is said about Ishmael but he is included in the list of prophets. In the bible God blessed both brothers and proclaimed they would both be great nations. This is something that I find to be the nail in the coffin in the whole Muslims versus Christians argument. And I find it extremely odd that when the topic of Islam is brought up in conversation, none of the card carrying Christians I’ve discussed it with are willing to acknowledge these passages. The reason for that being is because either they haven’t actually read the bible or they choose to ignore it. That’s the part that really gets me. A lot of the people who consider themselves Christians have never read the bible. They follow the rules and regulations but they have no idea why. They consider themselves “Christians” but they don’t have the slightest clue what that entails. And please don’t think I’m writing this to bash Christians. I know a lot of so-called Muslims that are in the same boat. I would like both sides to know that not eating pork or singing songs about Jesus on December 25 does not make you an authority on God and your opinion bears absolutely no credibility whatsoever. Religion can be a dangerous thing. When put in the hands of people who aren’t intelligent enough to properly interpret the words that are in plain view right in front of them, it can be used to destroy rather than create. Sitting in a church or a mosque does not under any circumstance bring you any closer to God than say, eating a hamburger. If your heart isn’t open to the light, you’ll never find it. The truth is, both groups have been pitted against each other because it’s easy to dupe those who don’t know any better. And what’s the best way to get the job done? The media of course. September 11th, 2001. I sat in front of the TV watching in horror as the World Trade Center came crumbling down. I actually welled up with tears when I saw a man free fall to his death just before the towers collapsed. I didn’t know the facts or who was behind it, but I said to myself, “Iraq, here we come”. In that moment I didn’t know why I said that but for some reason I just automatically assumed the Middle East had something to do with it. Looking back I now realize that in the decade leading up to this event, I had been conditioned to believe that they were the epitome of evil. The Gulf War, movies, TV, all of them conditioned me to believe that the Middle East was full of people that wanted to kill me and would stop at nothing to do it. And now here it was, a Michael Bay movie coming to life. In the years after the 9/11 tragedy the propaganda machine went into overdrive. Crazy Muslim guys were everywhere with bombs in their shoes, on their chests, in their cars, no matter where you went Muslims were going to kill you. CNN and FOX had daily “terror alerts”. I always found it particularly suspicious how these news organizations knew where the crazy Muslim dudes were going to attack but there was never any military response in those areas. The reason for that being, these guys simply did not exist.

The entire purpose of this “War On Terror” was to make you afraid. They bamboozled you into it and they used the oldest rivalry on the planet to make it happen. Exactly why they wanted to start this war, that’s a whole other article and something I’ll go into in the future. But the fact remains that those who have a true connection to God are peaceful, intelligent and well thought out people. Whether you believe in Jesus, Allah, Buddha, The Universe, etc., the root of your existence is the pursuit of truth, justice, knowledge, wisdom and power. Included in that is the understanding that we do not have the right to assume that we were chosen by God to destroy another group of people because we don’t agree or believe the same thing. On the contrary, we need to embrace those we don’t understand and begin to heal. Do yourself a favor. The next time you see images of Middle Eastern people blown to pieces in magazines, on the internet or on the TV, ask yourself if you would feel as disaffected by it if it was a picture of somebody from your own city or country. Yeah, me too. Let’s put the propaganda machine to sleep once and for all.

Obama & the Political Race Card I keep writing, deleting and re-writing this piece all over again. There really is no way for me to find the right words to express my opinion on this matter without offending anybody. Fortunately for myself, I think this piece is only gonna piss off stupid people and I don’t give a fuck about stupid people so here it goes. First off, I am in no way, shape or form a racist or prejudice against anybody for any reason whatsoever. All but one of the women I’ve dated in my 27 years on earth have been either Black or Latina, all of my closest friends are from a myriad of ethnic backgrounds and I’ve based my career firmly in what began as, and arguably still is, pre-dominantly Black culture. On top of all that, I’m North American Indian. So if anybody is aware of the evils of racial division, it’s me. Now, let’s get this bad boy rolling.

Published: 11/11/2010

Lately I’ve been silently observing the current political climate. Personally, I think the whole political system is a crock of shit. Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t really matter. They all serve the same purpose and provide the smoke screen that conceals the things that are really happening in our world. They debate back and forth, creating dramatic political theater and giving the news outlets a much needed break from their nightly fear mongering. At the end of the day, none of them give a fuck about you. Politicians make their living on making you, the little guy, believe that they’re out there fighting for your rights but in actuality they’re only interested in which lobbyist is paying the highest amount to pass a law that will ultimately fuck you over in some way. Knowing all of this, I could care less about their policies. What I’ve been paying attention to is how race has been playing a major roll in politics now more than ever before. Exactly 2 years ago, we all were witness to one of the biggest events in modern world history. The confederate flag wavin’, apple pie eatin’, good ol’ boy United States of America elected its first Black President. The night Barack Obama was elected my best friend Ben and I got drunk until the early hours of the morning in celebration. Aside from having witnessed something that just a year prior was considered virtually impossible, we felt like we had won a major victory. Though neither one of us are Black (Ben is South American and I’m American Indian), we now had the belief that without question, if there’s a will there’s a way. Both of us at the time being extremely talented but severely underrated artists, there was a new electricity flowing through the world around us. If Barack could do it then we too could make it. Yes. We. Fuckin. Can. As the weeks rolled by and Obama-mania started to die down, I began to reflect on the months before the election and conversations I had with various people. Most of the Obama supporters I spoke to, which is pretty much everybody I know, had little to no knowledge of his policies or his stance on the issues. They were voting for him for one reason; because he’s Black.

At the time, I was in the same boat. I believed in “Hope” and that a “Change” was very much needed. I thought about all of the Black men and women I knew who were in their senior years and had lived through incredible social injustices. I thought about all the Black single mothers I knew with fatherless sons that now had an undeniable male figure to look up to. They now could realistically say, “When I grow up, I wanna be President of The United States” without the feeling of never really being able to actually achieve that dream. Regardless of what Barack Obama did when he became president, he was and still is a modern day hero. But now when I look back on that period of time, I also think of how misguided a lot of people were. To support anybody or anything, especially a presidential candidate, based solely on race is ridiculously dangerous. And then to make that person a celebrity and pressure other people into supporting them for the same reason is nothing short of insane. To this day, Hip Hop culture embraces Barack Obama as if he’s one of us. Could you imagine what would’ve happened if a popular Hip Hop artist came out as a McCain supporter? That artist might as well have come out as a pedophile. At least then they’d have a slight chance in hell of a comeback. If Barack Obama has some Jay-Z and Nas in his iPod, that’s great. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point in time Bill Clinton secretly had some Pac and Biggie stashed somewhere in the White House. So why is it that I keep reading quotes from President Obama about the type of music he listens to? Seriously, of all the things to ask him, we’re concerned with whether or not he listens to Hip Hop? Is it because he’s Black that the public thinks he’s “down”? Why did the press ask him his thoughts on the whole Kanye West/Taylor Swift incident? Is it because they were foaming at the mouth waiting for him to cut down another Black man? The answer is yes. You see, we like to pretend that racism is dead. White people can now say, “Hey, I’m not racist! I voted for Obama!” instead of the old, “I have a Black friend!” excuse. Black, Latin, Indian and every other shade of human can say, “You get a pass on that last slightly racist gesture because Obama is president”. But regardless of what we say or do, the underlying prejudices still exist for one simple reason; we refuse to move on. Recently I had a conversation with a Black acquaintance about President Obama. When I pointed out that the president, like all other presidential candidates, didn’t hold up to a lot of his promises and proved to be more in the favor of Wall Street than the regular average American, he immediately became defensive. I could tell that his reaction was racially charged and had nothing to do with his political beliefs. He was taking what I was saying as a slight against all Black people. The reason for that being is that this university educated, intelligent young man, like most people in the world, still have a hard time separating race from individual people; and rightfully so. To this day our society has a hard time with race. We’ve struggled with it forever and it seems like one of those situations where the more we try to clean it up, the messier it gets. So we avoid the conversation as much as possible. We know that the playing field is not and will never be even. One group is always fighting to out do the other. Due to White guilt, I find that a lot of the time White people have the “well they’ve had it tough” attitude when it comes to other races. But isn’t that just another form of prejudice? Isn’t it basically saying that you know you’re better but because another group of people haven’t had it as easy you’re gonna let them have their moment? Maybe I’m crazy, but shouldn’t we judge people based on their abilities and let the best man win? Here are 2 facts: Barack Obama is Black. Barack Obama is a politician.

Please believe me when I tell you, Barack Obama plays the same game that all politicians before him played. Black or White, it doesn’t matter. All politicians do the same exact things. It’s a cutthroat, snake infested, corrupt system and you have to be willing to lie, cheat and steal if you’re going to exist within it. The mistake that we all make is not being able to separate race from politics. We still have all the fears, frustrations and prejudices that we always did. What we need to focus on is asking ourselves why we’re afraid to approach these issues and finally put them to rest. Included in that, we need to ask ourselves the tough questions and find a common ground. The problem is no longer external, it’s an internal one and we have to individually look within ourselves and face those demons. I don’t believe in politics, I believe in people. We can’t expect any president, no matter what race he belongs to, to fix something that’s so deeply seeded in our consciousness. It’s up to us to come together and make this thing work.

In Pursuit of the Extraordinary

Published: 01/06/2011

“Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with eyes open, to make it possible.” – T.E. Lawrence I was having a hard time finding the right words to officially enter 2011 with so I figured I’d let T.E. Lawrence do it for me. The above quote is something that has stuck with me for over 15 years and words that I will repeat to myself again and again for the next 50 (God willing). During the past 2 weeks I took some time to really think about and analyze the world around me. In the final months of 2010, it was through writing this column and the beginning stages of mine and Rodney’s next album that I came to understand some things about myself and what it is that I am connected to. So rather than waste your time on reading yet another reflective “crazy shit that happened in 2010” article, I’m going to look forward into the future and do something that I try my best to never do. I’m going to write about myself. I don’t like the world that I live in. Our media soaked, celebrity obsessed, passionless, over-sexed and understimulated culture is a system that generates 100 robots to every 1 free thinker. As backwards as it is corrupt, the world as we know it is now just a celebration in mediocrity. A place where the pursuit of fame and temporary happiness takes priority over genuinely progressive ideas. The people that inhabit this reality would rather appreciate average moments than work to produce timeless legacies because they know that due to natural selection most of them will not be considered significant to the end result. I remember back when I was in the 3rd Grade. The school that I attended sent me to mandatory counselling after a kid in my class that called me “poor” and my mother a “crackhead” (who, by the way, doesn’t even drink alcohol) had his ass handed to him. At the time I thought I was being reprimanded for reacting violently to my classmate’s comments but I was confused as to why he wasn’t punished for making the comments in the first place. I now understand that the reason for that was because at the time we were being conditioned into society’s way of thinking. We were being taught that if our actions were devious but silent in nature then we would almost never suffer a consequence. But if the reaction disrupted the order of things, we were to face serious repercussions. In the months after when I asked my counselor why the child who caused me to act that way wasn’t punished she told me, “That’s just the way the world is. You can’t change it”. It was at this point that I began to disconnect. There is one dynamic that exists in our universe which everything is born from and ultimately returns to: light and darkness. Of the two, darkness seems to be greater in mass and depth but light has the power to confuse and destroy it at will. I believe that this dynamic also applies to human life. Our world is made up of mostly darkness but those who choose to be of and by the light are in possession of that power and are freedom’s true torchbearers. I myself refuse to accept anything less than freedom. I spend my life in pursuit of the extraordinary and anything that works against it is ultimately thrown to the wayside and forgotten. Although there is nothing about me that is special or significant, I live this way because I choose it. The freedom to envision and actualize your destiny is not a luxury but rather something we are born with. It’s only through years of brainwashing and social conditioning that we begin to believe that we are not in control of our own fate and we are more or less relegated to only experiencing life as we wish it to be when somebody else permits you to do so. Let me be the one to tell you that this is complete bullshit. I have never been able to hold a job for more than 6 months and my years in the not-so-legitimate side of things was at best a total calamity. The reason for that being is that I have never allowed myself to be controlled by excess. In every situation I took what was necessary to feed myself and the people I love and then put my focus back into the things that are important.

I don’t understand human greed and why we prioritize it over everything else. Time and time again I’ve watched people, even some that I love, compromise their dignity and integrity for financial gain. Our culture is one that idolizes wealth and puts on a pedestal people who were willing to make these compromises with little to no respect for their own God-given humanity. It’s this aspect of our existence that I despise and has caused me at times to become secluded from all aspects of the world, even the positive ones. As you may already know, my chosen career path is a direct contradiction to how I choose to live my life. The closer I get to success (or rather the mainstream idea of it), the more immersed I become in our out-rightly and unapologetically evil media system. I often struggle to find a balance between my art and the business and the only way that I’ve found to create that balance is to be as creatively free as possible, which includes giving the people my experience as an artist without asking for money in return. At the end of the day, who knows what’s going to happen in the future. Maybe someday Jimmy Iovine will make me an offer I can’t refuse and I will have to sell my art to please the powers that be. But I can assure you that I will never under any circumstance sell out. I will always be searching through the darkness to bring the people a piece of the light. That I can guarantee you. I will always work to create an alternate world where we can comfortably exist and truly be free. So here’s to the pursuit of the extraordinary.

Hey, Look At My Tits! I’m Famous

Published: 01/27/2011

Last week I received a message via facebook from some random girl that went something like this… Hey, it’s been a long time since we’ve talked! How are you doing? Anyways, I’m singing now and I have a producer. I know that you have been doing quite well with your music and I was wondering if you could hook me up with some of the people you know in the industry xoxox. First off, I have never spoken to you. I do recall making an attempt to say hello in passing but you gave me the cold shoulder and didn’t respond (for some reason my rugged good looks and witty charm had no effect on you). Secondly, I would like to reply to your message with 4 simple words: I. FUCKING. HATE. YOU. You are the reason why nobody takes music seriously anymore. You are the reason why one of the most promising singers that’s come around in years has decided to call it quits and why everybody has almost completely forgotten about one of the greatest artists of our time. You are the definition of everything I hate about North American culture. You’ve been undeservingly taken care of your entire life because men consider you a “dime” on the scale of physical beauty and in your early 20’s you realized that you could get them to do anything you want as long as you put all of your energy into your appearance (fake boobs, fake hair, fake eyelashes, etc). You’ve never laughed til you cried, read a book that changed your life or loved somebody, other than yourself, so deeply that they enveloped your entire universe. I am convinced that you aren’t even slightly capable of true human emotion. And now you’ve decided that because you’re what most people consider “beautiful” you’re going to try your hand at music (and modeling, of course) because well, it’s just the easiest thing for a pretty girl to do. Fuck. You. I know you probably think that because I attempted to speak to you at one point in time that all you had to do was send me a facebook message and I’d be all over it. But I gotta be honest with you, I am a man and like all other men I think with the wrong part of my body from time to time. When I tried to get your attention, the idea of us being friends or ever working together in a musical sense never crossed my mind. Please believe me when I tell you that you are not the type of person who comes across as somebody who is mentally stimulating in any way. In fact, you are the last person I would ever want to rely on for a hilarious anecdote or inspiring quote. As much as it pains me to admit it, when I said hello the only thing in my thoughts was the possibility of seeing you naked. I’m sure you’re aware of this already as I can’t imagine anybody ever really taking you seriously in a non-sexual way. And I know I sound like a big-time asshole saying these things but you did it to yourself. You, just like everybody else, had opportunities throughout your lifetime to expand as a person but you were more than satisfied just being a pretty face. As you got older, you actually lost touch with reality and believed that because of how you look, you’re better than most other people. I take pleasure in being the one to tell you that you are most definitely not and in all honesty, due to your vanity and lack of humility, most intelligent people consider you a waste of life. There are many women who are just as pretty, if not prettier, than you are. In this particular class of women, some have even taken the time to be equally beautiful inside as they are on the outside because they know that there’s more to a person than a face, butt and boobs. I have an uncontrollable sense of excitement whenever I meet these women because aside from my own personal interests, I know that they’ve beaten you at your own game. But enough about how shitty of a person you are, that’s not why I’m here. Let’s get back to your career in music. I have spent the past decade (just in case that word isn’t in your vocabulary, it means 10 years) in the studio carving away at what would ultimately be my sound. I have sacrificed most of my life and damaged countless relationships in hopes of someday turning my creativity into success. Some days I look back at past years of my life and come to

realize that I have missed out on a lot and all I have to show for it is a handful of songs. As much as some people may appreciate my music, I know that there’s a strong chance most of the world will never know who I was or what I did. So now you’ve decided that because the male population considers you sexually attractive, you can bypass all the hard work and effort that goes into a music career and easily conquer my world. But you and I both know what this is about; you just wanna be famous. In your tiny little one-dimensional perspective, you’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to truly be “somebody” you have to attain a certain level of fame. You watch Jersey Shore, Keeping Up With The Kardashians and a long list of other garbage television programs and you say to yourself, “I’m just as hot as they are. Why can’t I be famous?”. But unfortunately for you, there are only so many retards you can pack onto one television station and so now you have to think of how else you’re gonna go about being “important”. It’s at this moment that you’ve come to the decision that you’re gonna be a model/actress/singer. I mean, the TV says you don’t have to have any real talent to do it, so why not give it a shot? I want you to know that we can see you coming from a mile away and all the real artists are anticipating your arrival. The truth is, you might actually “make it” if you fuck the right people and you’ve already been doing that your whole life so it’s not much of a difference from the way things are now. And if you can open your legs and be rewarded with fame it makes it that much more worth it, right? But as I said in the beginning of this paragraph, we knew you were coming. In fact, we’ve seen people like you come and go for years. What you didn’t take into consideration when you first came up with your plan was that even if you manage to sidestep a few obstacles, once you understand what goes into being an artist you’ll never survive, especially if you don’t have any talent outside of owning a vagina. Sure there have been a few people that fucked their way to the top, but they were ultimately eaten alive by this business because they didn’t spend those character building years inside of the gauntlet commonly referred to as “the grind”. You see, as artists we all spend time in that place. Some are there longer than others but one way or the other; we’ve all been there. It’s all those years of being ignored and almost literally pissed on by industry executives that make us who we are. We stay in the race because we know that one day it’ll all pay off and when it does, we’re ready for it. Some of us will never be “famous” or even remembered but there’s a common respect between all of us because we know what we had to go through. In this world, you are an outcast. You are despised to the utmost degree and we can’t wait to tear you apart once you step foot in our arena. Some of us will pretend to be your friends because once again, some of us have dicks. But in the end, they will throw you aside when they are done with you because both the male and female members of this group agree that you only decrease our collective stock value. Eventually you will be famous but you’ll be tabloid fodder, just ask Paris Hilton. I guess it all depends on what you perceive as being “important”. If you admire the cast members of Celebrity Rehab or Jersey Shore, then yes you are very capable of being famous. And if “reality television” doesn’t work out, you can bounce your ass around in the background of various rap videos. That’s always good for a few minutes of fame. In closing, I just want you to stay the fuck away from me and all the other good people of the world. We know who you are, what you’re about and we’re not interested. Suck dick and die bitch.

The Egyptian Revolution Has Been (Poorly) Televised

Published: 02/03/2011

It all happened in 8 days. One of the most significant events to occur in recent world history took exactly one week and one day to unfold. What I’m referring to is the uprising of the people in North Africa, which will result in the eventual collapse of President Mubarak’s 30-year reign over Egypt. It started in Tunisia, spread to Algeria and Yemen and then exploded in Cairo. Thousands of people took to the streets to demand a change. These people, who have spent the past 30 years under a corrupt and even sometimes violent regime, came together and openly defied a dictator who until 8 days ago ruled his country through fear and intimidation. While at present time President Mubarak hasn’t stepped down from his post as Egypt’s leader, it’s very obvious that whether he continues on for the next 7 months as the head of the country or not, his reign is indefinitely over. I’ve never cared too much for politics and this article isn’t about the positive or negative aspects of Mubarak’s government. I’m sure people on both sides have valid points and I’m not the right person to create the argument. But the extreme poverty, corruption and ridiculously high level of unemployment in the Middle East speaks for itself. And sooner or later, if you push the people far enough, a revolution will occur. That’s what I want to talk about here today; the idea of a revolution. We’ve heard the word repeated many times in music, on t-shirts, in movies, by radical suburban college students and pretentious spoken word artists but I’ve always questioned these people’s knowledge of what a revolution actually is. In my personal opinion, it always felt like these people were unaware of what they were promoting and were more or less just frustrated kids who got beat up a lot in high school. No, being a revolutionary is not a fashion statement or a way to meet girls, it’s an unmovable devotion to complete and total change. It’s the desire to destroy the powers that be and start again from scratch. It’s a person’s willingness to lay their life down in the pursuit of freedom. What’s happening in Egypt is a true revolution. Of course, the Western media has been on 24 hour Egypt watch. While I can absolutely guarantee that the conservative Christian media outlets (Bill, Glenn and Sean I’m looking at you) will somehow figure out a way to spin this and make it a story about antiAmerican Muslim nutjobs taking over the Middle East and planning on storming America with suicide bombers, I’m more disappointed in the liberal media’s approach. Before I go into my usual “I hate the media” rant (trust me, I’m well aware of how often I do that) I’m going to first give credit where it’s due. CNN has been very fair in how they’ve portrayed the Egyptian people and have provided an intimate look into their perspective. Also, I have a new appreciation for Anderson Cooper as his “straight to the point”

journalistic style has complimented this event perfectly. But what has troubled me about their coverage of the developing situation is their choice of imagery and language in describing it. Until today the protests were generally peaceful and non-violent. But still, words like “chaos”, “anarchy” and “crisis” have been used repeatedly in relation to the protests, creating the idea that this is an unruly group demanding something unreasonable when this is a country of oppressed people who are merely looking for simple things that we take for granted like clean water, food and basic civil liberties. The word “revolution” has been used loosely but has been carefully placed next to the previous set of words to downplay the importance of what is actually happening. It’s almost a subliminal way of telling the Western public, “corruption good, revolution bad”. As I write this, pro-Mubarak supporters have stormed the protests and the streets of Cairo have now erupted in violence. Every 30 seconds the reporters on CNN are adamant in reminding the Western population of just how many people have been injured and how many are dead. They have made no effort to explain why this happening and they have barely provided any back-story to the situation. Instead, they just keep playing the same violent images over and over again. The message that’s being sent is loud and clear. Demand freedom and face the penalty of injury or even death. Don’t stand for anything because if you do you will fail. Continue along with the program and don’t ask questions, things are the way they are and we are powerless against it. I’m going to stop this article right here because I want you, the reader, to take the next 10 minutes and think about what you’re going to do when our time comes. Please believe me when I tell you, things like The Patriot Act are just the beginning of a plan to put us under the same oppressive circumstances that the people of Egypt are fighting against. And so when we get pushed into a corner, which side will you be on? We’ve all at one point in time or another pumped our fist and said, “power to the people”, but how far are you willing to go to truly put that power back into the people? Are you ready for a revolution or are you only willing to partake if it’s convenient? I urge you to take these things into consideration because in the coming years you will have to make that decision. Egypt is just the beginning of something a lot bigger.

Dismantling Raymond Davis & the Propaganda Machine

Published: 02/24/2011

About four weeks ago something happened that could permanently alter the course of human history and erupt in total global war. Most of us in the Western world were kept in the dark about it and still, four weeks later, are unaware of what has developed over the past month. On January 27th, 2011 an American by the name of Raymond Allen Davis was arrested in the city of Lahore, Pakistan after he shot and killed two ISI (Pakistani Intelligence Services) agents. After his arrest the Pakistani government came to realize that the man they had in custody wasn’t just an average American tourist, he was a member of a US military black operations unit called TF373 and also a CIA spy. Although the US government claims that Raymond Allen Davis is merely an American diplomat, documents in his possession at the time of his arrest prove otherwise. What makes the arrest of Raymond Allen Davis so significant are the events leading up to it. In the weeks prior to his capture, the ISI became aware that Davis had been making contact with members of al Qaeda via cell phone calls to the Waziristan tribal area, which is also where Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding (who, by the way, is also a CIA agent under the name of Tim Osman). Once the ISI confirmed that Davis was indeed in contact with al Qaeda they assigned two agents to follow and monitor him. Davis discovered he was being followed, killed the agents with 7 precise shots fired from his pistol and was apprehended soon after. Upon further investigation and according to documents found on Davis at the time of his arrest, Davis and the CIA were not only communicating with al Qaeda but were also providing them with materials to build nuclear and biological weapons. The US government denies that Davis has anything to do with any top-secret mission in Pakistan but is demanding his immediate release and extradition back to the United States. At present time the Pakistani government has ordered a minimum 14 day detention of Raymond Allen Davis and don’t look to have any intentions of releasing him in the near future. Also, to send the message that they are serious; they recently fired a nuclear cruise missile which has only increased tensions between the two countries. Ok, let’s rewind this a little bit and go back to, in my opinion, the most important part of this situation: the CIA was caught red-handed providing nuclear and biological weaponry to a group that is considered by the American people to be public enemy number one. The idea that the CIA and the US government have been working alongside what has for the past decade been considered as the most deadly terrorist group on the planet, is not only earth shattering but the first tear in the unraveling of a long history of corruption and deceit. Since the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, I think most of the intelligent public has come to understand that the horrific acts committed that day were much less a terrorist attack and more of an elaborate plan concocted not by a bunch of Muslim extremists hiding in caves, but by a highly organized group of people with a capitalist agenda. Most of us could see almost immediately what was at work but perhaps out of fear of the repercussions if we were to speak out, or unwillingness to accept that it was even possible for something that evil to exist, we went along with whatever explanation we were given. And of course, the media was more than happy to deliver the message. It’s obvious why the Western media didn’t report on the recent discovery that the CIA may possibly be involved with al Qaeda, or as George Bush referred to them, “the enemies of freedom”. For us to finally have proof

that we’ve been bamboozled into believing in an imaginary threat would also mean that everything before and after 9/11 would be subject to criticism. And not the type of “we don’t really know for sure but something ain’t right” sentiment we’ve been feeling for the past 10 years, but instead a “we know exactly what’s going on and we’re not having that shit” full-scale Egypt style revolution. If we were to know, unquestionably, that our loved ones were murdered in the most violent way the human mind could imagine to push a secret corporate agenda, people might just wake up and come to realize the world that they’re living in. And so the Western media saw the story of the CIA agent in Pakistan and said, “No fuckin way are we going near that”. Instead they decided to run with the story of the American female journalist who was apparently beaten and sexually assaulted while reporting on the protests in Cairo, Egypt. A story like the one mentioned above works for the Western media on so many levels. First, it works to reaffirm the belief in the North American public that the Middle East is filled with brutally violent animals who have little to no respect for human life whatsoever. It reminds the public that these are the type of people that can hi-jack four planes and drive 3 of them into buildings filled with innocent Americans. And because a lot of us are stupid and don’t know the difference between Iraq and Egypt, it makes us get back behind a war that all of us know should’ve never happened. Secondly, it works to discredit the revolution that the Egyptians spent weeks fighting for. It tells us that these people are not intelligent and are only interested in creating chaos. Once again, because we’re stupid, we take the actions of a few individuals and allow it to draw our perception of an entire country. The media, knowing this, are determined to shove the story so deep into our consciousness that we wave our flags and go back to hating Muslims like we’re supposed to. Not once have I heard any “credible” news source say, “Well, maybe we shouldn’t have been there”. Nobody in the Western media seems to take into consideration that when people are oppressed and fighting for their basic civil liberties they might not appreciate being broadcasted on televisions across the continents by the very people who represent a major cause of that oppression. Yes, the people of Egypt want a government that is independent of Western influence and rightfully so. If a few Western reporters get the life smacked out of them for being in the middle of something they have no business being in, then it’s nobody’s fault but their own. I by no means support rape or sexual abuse of any kind, but the Western media needs to understand that most of the world outside of North America and The UK are well aware of what they’re up to. Here’s the truth about what I refer to as the “Western Empire”. We are the very definition of totalitarian corporate rule and political corruption. We have spent the past 60 years playing countries like pawns in our own personal capitalist chess game and the media has been the smoke and mirrors in front of it. The Western public has been duped, time and time again, into believing that we are special. We have been told by the television that all is well, we are God’s chosen ones when in fact we bear no more significance to the universe than space dust floating around the Milky Way galaxy. The rest of the world knows this and most, if not all, despise us for what we’ve done to them. The sad part about this is what they don’t know; we, the North American public, are for the most part completely unaware of what our politics is guilty of. The major dividing line between the Western world and everybody else came about in the 1950’s when a man by the name of Milton Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, began to develop a new form of ultra-conservative economics. What Milton Friedman believed in was a completely free market, deregulation and the privatization and/or near elimination of state-run social programs. To put it in plain English, Friedman believed that corporations should be free to regulate themselves independent of government and that everything, from health care to education, should be run for profit by private conglomerates. As you can imagine, the wealthy conservative population loved this idea and would stop at nothing to bring it to life. Friedman’s economic theory was based strongly in what has been referred to as “disaster capitalism” or “shock therapy”. The way it works is that major radical changes are brought all at once during or right after natural or man-made disasters while the public is in a state of shock. It’s at this point, while the people are suffering, that

militaries and governments are trusted to provide solutions and are free to institute new policies under the guise of being the heroes or protectors. As always, the politicians, military and corporations are hand in hand working to exploit the population to its furthest extent. With a weakened public, shaken and afraid, Friedman believed that it was at this moment corporations could seize the opportunity and influence the people to support ideas that would normally be rejected. This ideology has been applied hundreds of times over the past 60 years. From Indonesia to Chile, Brazil to Iraq, Friedman’s free market has invaded and eventually destroyed what were once thriving independent countries. At the center of all of this are Western corporations. With no conscience and complete disregard for the inhabitants of these countries, the corporations suck them dry and push the population into poverty so intense that being able to afford clean water is considered a luxury. 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina were also disasters that gave way to the application of Friedman’s economics. While corporations were somewhat kept at bay after Hurricane Katrina, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were like national going out of business sales. Once the USA invaded both countries, it was a corporate field day. The war generated billions of dollars for everybody from defense contractors to construction companies to Pizza Hut. It became evident soon after we entered the Middle East that our governments were not liberating the people but instead were taking advantage of them and profiting from it. The people of the Middle East aren’t as dumb as most of the Western world think they are. They saw what we were doing and in a desperate attempt to preserve whatever remnants of their culture that they could, they decided to fight back. We had no business being there in the first place and as the years go on, contempt for us continues to grow. I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but any real look into the attacks on September 11th, 2001 reveals a lot of holes in the official story. Especially when you read about “Operation Northwoods” and realize that 40 years earlier, a plan was concocted by the US government that identically mirrors 9/11 and the eventual war in Iraq. I think most people would agree with me that we haven’t been told the truth and now with the situation in Pakistan we have to face it head on whether we like it or not. I am not anti-American. In fact, I am pro-American. In all of my travels, the most kind, friendly and open-minded people I’ve come across reside in the United States of America. But as I’ve said in the past, I’m pro-people and I believe that we all have to take responsibility for our actions and the actions of our leaders. We have to look at the world as a whole and throw out the evildoers, even if they’re one of our own. The people of Egypt and now Libya are doing it and whatever they choose for their futures should be entirely up to them and independent of North American influence. If the world chooses to trade and do business with us, it should be because we’re fair and honest. Not because we blew them to smithereens.

God Can’t Save Us, & Neither Can Obama
Dear People Of Planet Earth,

Published: 03/30/2011

It’s been a while since we’ve spoken. Yeah, I come around once a week and throw my ideas into the universe but I haven’t taken the opportunity to address you directly yet. I’ll admit it’s partially my fault that we’ve grown apart, but over the past few years I’ve watched the collective situation go from bad to worse and so I made a conscious decision to leave you all behind. It’s not that I think I’m better than you or anything; I just stopped being comfortable around you. I started to feel like I just didn’t belong so I went into my own dimension and began the process of disconnecting from this world altogether. But like Al Pacino in "Godfather III", just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. The past decade hasn’t been an easy one. Earthquakes, wars, tsunamis, hurricanes; it’s almost like the planet has had enough and doesn’t want us here anymore. On top of all the natural disasters, we’ve also had to face a global economic collapse and political corruption at levels we’ve never seen before. As the gap between rich and poor grew wider, most of us found ourselves on the bottom end, unemployed and praying for some sort of miraculous savior to pull us out of our misery. And so we prayed extra hard and waited for God but he didn’t show up. Nope, the big guy with the grey beard didn’t come down from the clouds and fix everything. Instead, we were the punchline of a 2000-year-old cruel joke and we slowly came to realize that he doesn’t exist. The God that I’m speaking of is the one that we made up a long time ago to keep the rest of the population under control. That God was a figment of our imagination. In the beginning we had a clear understanding of the one true God but as time went on we warped the idea of him to fit within whatever principles we felt we could live with, until we ended up with a magical Santa Claus that loved us regardless of how evil we became. As long as we went to church every now and then and pretended to feel bad about things we knew were wrong when we did them, we could count on going to magic Santa heaven and spending eternity being sprinkled with virgins and fairy dust. When Barack Obama first came around, we were sure that he was sent by magic Santa to bring us “Hope” and “Change” but we soon found out that we had been hoodwinked. Sure, he was better than the guy before him but none of us saw any change at all. In fact, for a lot of us things just got worse. Most of us are still reluctant to admit it, but magic Santa’s messenger crumbled under the pressure. While I do believe that his heart was in the right place, unfortunately he plays the same corporatist game that all the other politicians play. As a result, the wealthy minority continued, and even tightened, their stranglehold over the rest of us. I guess it’s our fault for getting swept up in the whole thing. I mean, we even photoshopped him into pictures with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. because that’s how damn sure we were that he was the heir to the civil rights throne. So we made him a celebrity and hung onto his every word. He was the undisputed people’s champ. But as I write this, the government is still overrun by corporate interest and unmerciful greed. Their globalist agenda is being pushed forward and we are on the verge of total enslavement. I know, “enslavement” is such a harsh word but it’s the most accurate way to explain the future that we’re headed into. It’s not Obama’s fault, he’s just another pawn on the multi-national chessboard. He did what he had to do to become president and now it’s his duty to fulfill his obligation to the bankers and corporate elite that made it all possible. So here we are. Tired, poor and defeated. The people in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Oman, Libya, India, North Korea and many other places have begun to wake up and forcefully take their lives back. A few weeks ago our military even dropped bombs on Libya to try and oust the current regime. They did it not to support their revolution but

because Libya holds the key to some very useful and profitable resources. You see, our people over here don’t believe in getting their hands dirty unless there’s something in it for them. Meanwhile, we’re still in the age-old tug-of-war between the Christian Santa and the Muslim Santa. Our media is still devoting it’s time to perpetuating the ridiculous notion that our Santa is better than theirs and we must be victorious in the magic Santa death match currently underway in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, the ruling elite knows that both magic Santas are an elaborate hoax but it works to keep people divided and they can use it to continue to take over the world one country at a time. Much like the rest of the world, we too are at a breaking point. But unlike them, our revolution is passing us by. While their war exists in the physical realm, ours is a psychological one. We’ve been brainwashed into a capitalist consumer culture and we’ve been blinded to the reality that is unfolding in front of us. We are ignorant, stupid and emotionally vacant. Our entire world is a fantastic ride through celebrity infatuation and self-satisfaction. We spend our time sitting in front of the television and on the internet tweeting about incredibly mediocre events that occur in our insignificant lives. We eat genetically altered, chemically treated foods until we’re so unhealthy that even thinking about exercise exhausts us. To put it simply, we forgot how to live. While our military drops bombs on “enemy regimes”, here at home pharmaceutical companies shove pills down our throats. Feeling a little sad? Here’s an Ativan. Can’t focus? Take a Ritalin. Can’t sleep? Pop a Vicodin. Stub your toe? A few Oxycontins will clear that right up. There is literally a chemical answer to every one of life’s problems. We no longer have to face any adversity because whatever obstacle is in our way, there’s a pill that will fix it for us. We have been numbed, dumbed and disoriented. Our revolution was miscarried before we even knew it was conceived. The message I would like to bring to all of you is that we have to wake up. The party is over. We must demand more from our artists, our leaders and ourselves. We have to lift the blinders and face reality head on. We live in a crucial time and the foreseeable future relies on what we do now. Let’s live again and snap out of the zombie world we’ve been wandering around in for the past 10 years. The truth is, God does exist. But God isn’t an old wizard in the sky who brings us bags of money because we’ve been “blessed”. God is an infinite mathematical structure that our human minds cannot even begin to comprehend. God is at the very center of every atom of matter and expands to the furthest reaches of the universe. The Bible, Qur’an, and other holy books are very accurate but both have been tampered with and re-written by men to coincide with the systems of control that were being built at the time. There is still much to learn from these books but the truth has been hidden in codes that only those who approach it with an open heart will understand and it’s only by releasing ourselves from corporate enslavement and superficial existence that we will truly know what it means to be free. It’s time to get back in touch with the ultimate power. Thanks For Your Time, Jason James

6 Steps to Change the World

Published: 04/06/2011

It’s been 6 months since my “This Is My Rifle” column first made it’s debut right here on RefinedHype and I can honestly say my life will never be the same. When Nathan S. first approached me about writing a column for the site, I was excited but at the same time I was nervous about sharing my personal opinions, since I am an artist and my not-so-popular theories could alienate potential fans of my music. Being an artist and also a person with a strong sense of values and principles can be a hard thing to balance at times because you always find yourself walking the fine-line between what’s best for you personally and what’s best for your career. You have to be careful of what you say and do publicly because if you push too much against public opinion you run the risk of doing irreversible damage to your career. So needless to say, this entire column was a gamble for me. Since I’m still in the “working my way up” phase of my career, most artists in my position would be as delicate as humanly possible. Minimal personality, maximum agreeability is what I call it. But I, on the other hand, decided to do the opposite; I threw caution to the wind and let the crazy come all the way out. To say that I’m ecstatic to have come across so many intelligent people who have embraced the column is an understatement. Whether you agree with me or not, I appreciate every single comment, email, tweet and facebook message I receive in regards to both my music and the articles. The truth is, I am angry and a lot of what I write comes out of that anger. There are days that I wish I could go back and unlearn a lot of what I know because the weight of what our world has become is too much to deal with. Even just having basic conversations with a lot of people has become a frustrating ordeal. Not because I think they’re stupid, but mostly because they can’t see the system that they’re lost in and it makes me angry to see so many good people blindly walking into the slaughter. So today I’m going to write a comprehensive list of things we can do to actively change the world around us. Ways in which we can make a lasting impact with little to no effort at all. While I’m sure there are much larger actions we can take, the list below is just a few things that we can do in our daily lives to effectively bring an end to the tyranny of corporate rule. 6) EAT ORGANIC FOODS - The first step in this process is cutting fast food (McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, etc) out of your diet completely. Since most of the food on their menus are made of chemicals, salt and sugar, aside from not feeding your money to the corporate machine, you’re also making a positive choice for your personal health. Next, make an effort to purchase only organic meats, fruits and vegetables. If you live in an area near local farms, drive out that way and ask where you will find the farmer’s market. Most small family owned farms will sell their products there and I can guarantee you this is really the only way to find truly organic food. If you live in the city and not near any rural areas, farmer’s markets and small butcher shops are still a safe bet, but be sure to read the labels on anything you’re purchasing. A lot of the big corporations own subsidiary “organic” companies that are literally selling the same product with a different sticker. Do some research and find companies that have a solid track record, preferably those that deal with smaller farms. Having spent many of my summers growing up on my Grandmother’s farm, I can tell you that eating organic foods will stimulate both your mental and physical health in ways you never knew possible. By supporting local farmers you’re also taking money away from the huge corporations, telling them that you’re not ok with eating chemically altered, genetically modified garbage and putting money back into the pockets of family owned businesses. Plus, because their products are locally produced, you’ll save money. Everybody wins.

5) TURN OFF THE TELEVISION - It’s a simple concept but also an extremely effective way to shut the corporations down. Massive conglomerates own all of the television networks and propaganda is their strongest weapon. Between the news programs, sitcoms, reality shows and commercials, TV is literally a 24-hour corporatist, brainwashing conveyor belt. Everything they want you to purchase, think and feel is fed to you at a pace so fast and overwhelming you don’t even notice it. If you have programs that you have to watch and can’t bear to miss (in my case, The Office, South Park and The Ultimate Fighter), there are various sites on the internet where you can stream new episodes almost as soon as they appear on television. Most of these sites have advertisers but their presence is minimal. If you like to keep up with world news and current events, sites like reuters.com and bbc.co.uk are always up to date and fairly accurate. If you’re like me and you’re extra suspicious of mainstream news sources, Alex Jones’ infowars.com is the place to be. There is also yet another alternative to television: books. Yeah, those things with words on pages that require only your eyes and imagination for entertainment. If you aren’t already making your way through one (and if you’re reading this article, you probably are), you should pick one up sometime. Who knows, you just might like it. 4) PURCHASE ONLY WHEN NECESSARY - Let’s be honest, nobody needs 50 different pairs of Jordans. Yeah, it’s nice to have a variety of expensive things but greed and excess are the benchmark traits that the corporate elite feed on. In their eyes you are nothing more than a slave, created to work for their companies and then put your hard earned money back into their pockets. To put it simply, you were born to buy. So make your impact by not spending everything you earn on things you don’t need. A few pairs of shoes for different occasions is more than enough. It’s entirely possible to be fashionable and aware at the same time. Minimize your purchases and invest your money in things that will help you progress as a person. Whatever it may be, it’ll be a lot more rewarding than a closet full of shit you never use. 3) BE CONSUMER CONSCIOUS - When you do purchase material goods, be conscious of where the product is coming from and whom it benefits. Do some research into the corporations that you’re supporting. Nine times out of ten I guarantee that you will not like what you find. Remember, most of the major brands are all owned by the same small handful of corporations. Make an effort to support companies that have good humanitarian and environmental track records. Stay away from Wal-Mart and make your purchases at small local businesses. If you have no choice but to shop at the large department stores, try and buy domestic goods. You will still be giving your money to the corporations but you will also be pumping money back into your country’s economy as well as helping to put an end to the brutal and inhumane foreign sweatshops. Overall, just be aware of what you’re contributing to at all times. 2) TAKE NATURAL MEDICINE - There is a silent evil that exists in North America and one that I will be exposing in this column in the near future. The evil that I’m referring to is the pharmaceutical companies. These corporations are at the very center of the corrupt corporatist system that we live in and they have every single human being in this continent (and most of the modern world) on a string. They have manipulated us so much that we now believe the only solution to all of our problems is in the form of a pill filled with chemicals and other agents that do nothing but harm rather than heal. The pharmaceutical industry is a multibillion dollar business fueled by a perpetually sick population. It’s their job to keep us unhealthy (curing disease = loss of profits)

and they cannot be trusted under any circumstance. You can fight back against this industry by taking natural medicines. Again, do some research and find natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals. Whatever your ailment may be, there is a natural remedy for literally every single disease on this planet. If the universe creates something that will hurt you, it also will create something to cure it. The basic law of the universe is balance and it always occurs, no matter what. 1) DON’T VOTE - This is the big one. Even though your vote doesn’t count (trust me, it doesn’t) you can send a huge message by not going to the polls. It’s through this way that we can openly show that we don’t approve of our system. If enough people fall silent and don’t support any of it, it forces the politicians and the corporations that feed them into submission. At the end of the day, we have the power and it’s through our deafening silence that we can send the biggest message. They need us to fall for their bullshit hook, line and sinker. When we ignore them it scares them because they know that we’re aware of what they’re up to and we’re gonna go our own way. Basically, the corporations and politicians are the equivalent of an insecure teenage girl. I know it’s almost impossible to actively apply all of the points outlined above to our daily lives. But if we even make a slight effort in one of those areas, we are taking steps towards creating a positive outcome. Changing the world will not happen overnight but it’s something that is within our power to achieve, one tiny decision at a time. It’s through our silence and our pocketbooks that our revolution will occur. Our refusal to comply and accept this system is the only way to dramatically alter it. If just 5% of the combined Canadian and American populations took action, the result would be astronomical. I personally believe it’s our duty to strive for truth and freedom. We were not born for mediocrity; it’s something that we all fell into at an early age. This is our opportunity to do something that none before us were able to accomplish. Let’s show the world what “Change” and “Hope” really means.

Peter Popoff & His Magic Beans

Published: 04/12/2011

Last night during one of my usual sleepless bursts of creative energy, I took a break from frantically jotting down song ideas and turned on the television. While flipping through what seemed like an endless stream of sports highlights, Cheers re-runs, early morning newscasts and the much beloved infomercials for useless shit nobody needs, I came across one infomercial in particular that caught my attention: Peter Popoff’s Miracle Spring Water. Peter Popoff first appeared on the Christian circuit in the 1970’s and was a traveling evangelist who claimed he had a “God given ability” to heal the sick and create miracles. As his popularity increased he began a radio show, which was broadcasted on over 100 radio stations and later developed into a massive international following. In the early and mid-1980’s Popoff’s church appearances and “faith healing” seminars earned him millions of dollars paid directly from the pockets of his devoted followers. Then in 1986 skeptic James Randi publicly exposed Popoff as a scam artist. In the previous years Popoff claimed that he was receiving messages from God that included the names, addresses and ailments of members of the audience who needed to be healed. But during months of research and attending Popoff’s shows, Randi used a computerized scanner to pick-up radio transmissions that were being sent from Popoff’s wife to an in-ear receiver he was wearing, providing him with the aforementioned information which she was reading from “prayer cards” that the audience filled out as they entered the building. Also, Popoff’s wife would pick people who had curable diseases and disabilities to be “healed” so he could later take credit for their recovery. To further prove that Popoff was deceiving his followers, Randi planted members of his own team in the crowd with fake diseases that Popoff claimed to have “cured”. Footage of both the radio transmissions and fake healings were aired on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and as a result Popoff’s popularity plummeted causing him to file for bankruptcy in 1987. You’d think that after being ousted as a complete fraud it’d be a wrap, right? Nope. 10 years later Popoff reappeared on BET and has been on a comeback ever since. In 2005 Popoff accrued 23.3 million dollars in donations from his followers in the United States alone, not included in that is the amount of money he’s taken from people in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and a long list of countries that air his TV ministry. Now in 2011 Popoff has unleashed his greatest scam of all: Miracle Spring Water. Popoff promises that by drinking just one small packet of his Miracle Spring Water God will heal everything from drug addiction to cancer. Don’t have a deadly disease? Ok, well then Miracle Spring Water will cause God to shower you with thousands of dollars and erase your credit card debt. Peter Popoff no longer has to do his magic Jesus dance and slap you in the forehead, he can send you a tube of water directly to your doorstep and it works just the same. But wait, it gets better. Miracle Spring Water is free! What? You mean Peter Popoff is handing out holy water and curing diseases, disabilities and debt free of charge? Well, kinda. After sending you the Miracle Spring Water you will be bombarded by mailings from his ministry asking for you to “prove God with a $20 offering” to his ministry “in Jesus’ name” and if you don’t make a donation the Miracle Spring Water might not work. So if you don’t wanna have cancer or a severe crack addiction anymore, you should make a generous donation to ensure that your request will actually reach God and thus your wish be granted (is it just me or does God sound like a genie? And if so, why isn’t he giving out 3 wishes per packet of Miracle Spring Water? Is there a miracle recession in heaven or something?). Peter Popoff and others like him (Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, etc.) are nothing more than predators feeding on desperate people who have no hope and are looking for a reason to keep on living. People who have hit rock bottom and are so disillusioned that they would put their money (sometimes all they have) in the hands of another human being that claims to be able to fix whatever the problem may be. In a lot of cases, these false prophets are their last resort.

While I don’t agree with what most of organized religion has done over the course of human history, I will say that it is not responsible for the evil that is televangelists like Peter Popoff. In fact, I would imagine that most ministers, reverends and other leaders of the Christian faith despise these individuals and their ministries for their blatant use of God for profit. Even though Western governments and corporations hide behind the Christian smokescreen and use it as a way to rape and destroy the rest of the planet, most non-radical, orthodox Christian sects believe in giving back as much as they receive. In fact, The Bible clearly states in many passages that the accumulation of extreme wealth and material possessions is not just frowned upon but is the polar opposite of what it teaches. For example, in Matthew 19:24 it says, “And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”. The Christian religion at its very core teaches love, wisdom, peace and sacrifice; Peter Popoff and other millionaire evangelists couldn’t be further from those fundamentals. While most of the people involved in the upper echelons of Christianity suffer from the same unmitigated greed, none prey on human suffering quite like Popoff and his contemporaries. And while most Christians at least somewhat believe that God is on their side, right or wrong, Popoff believes in nothing other than capitalism and the power of the almighty dollar. So in closing I would like to leave you with another passage from the very book that these wolves in sheep’s clothing claim to base their lives on: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." –Matthew 7:22-23

From Columbus to Katrina, We’ve Been Divided & Conquered

Published: 04/28/2011

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction in which we’re headed and the factors that keep us, the people, divided on either side of a rapidly growing gap. While the vast majority of us are finding ourselves falling into the bottom half of this division, with only a small number of the population making up the even smaller wealthy percentage, it seems that as we face similar struggles and a collective uncertain future, the overwhelming majority is still separated into smaller groups and sub-categories. There’s no doubt in my mind that race is the main factor in the great divide, but it’s only because we allow it to be. For hundreds of years various groups in the Western World were marked and systematically destroyed. From the North and South American Indians to the Black and Latin communities, they were all targeted and successfully eliminated from the big picture. And while we were made to believe that our continent’s long history of genocide was about racial dominance, it in fact was not and never has been. Race was merely the veil that laid over the real motivation: the acquisition of wealth and power. From the moment the Europeans arrived on the shores of The Americas, they knew that the only way to defeat the Indians was to divide, conquer and then indoctrinate. They played both the role of villain and hero; murdering entire tribes, sending the children to brutal residential schools where they were subject to horrifying acts of violence and sexual abuse, while at the same time exploiting the survivors, weakening them with alcohol and disease, allowing them to live only under the conditions that they comply with the Europeans and adhere to their every command. Slavery worked in a similar way, with the house slaves and the field slaves kept separate. Once the slaves were freed those who were loyal to their masters were rewarded by being somewhat accepted into White society while the rest were disposable human beings; raped, murdered and destroyed at will. This strategy was employed because they were aware of the power that these people possessed and having the ability to live alongside the Europeans on an equal level also meant that they would control a large piece of the wealth. Although race and religion were used as means of condoning their actions, neither skin color nor God had anything to do with it; it was all about control. By ripping apart the internal power structures of each one of these groups the Europeans knew that they would not pose a threat and would eventually self-destruct. The 20th century was the last and final stage in the imaginary battle for racial supremacy. While the Indian, Black and Latin communities had gained some leverage both economically and politically; it was only because the ruling elite allowed it to happen. As these groups took small steps towards equality, they also took 3 large steps back, with the leaders moving up to the small percentage of the wealthy population and leaving the community to revel in their false sense of accomplishment. The leaders who refused to leave their communities behind, however, were in one way or another assassinated, further removing the core strength of these groups. And as the 20th century came to a close, the original plan that was instituted all those years ago was complete. What we have now is the end result, with 1% of the population controlling 42% of the country’s wealth. While the majority of these wealthy people are indeed White, they could care less what race you belong to. What the other 99% of the people overlooked was that race was never the issue and in the end, we lost. While we fought with each other over petty differences and broke into tiny pieces of poor minorities, the rich became wealthy and seized power over the rest of us. To put it simply, the goal was class separation and perhaps the greatest example of this is the events that occurred before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. By now we’re all familiar with the blatant neglect the people of New Orleans were subjected to during those few weeks in August and September of 2005. But what most people don’t know is that this isn’t the first time New Orleans fell victim to a distinct form of class prejudice. In both 1927 and 1965 (during Hurricane Betsy) the levees that protected New Orleans, which sits 6 feet below sea level, from the surrounding bodies of water were wired with dynamite and blown to pieces in order to save

the rich sections from flooding and effectively pushing the water into the poor areas of the city. The flood of 1927 decimated St. Bernard Parish, which had a majority White population and only goes to show how little of a factor race actually was in 2005. Another lesser-known fact is that New Orleans was never hit by a category 5 hurricane, the worst of the storm missed them completely. The levees crumbled under the pressure of a category 1 hurricane and were not built to withstand anything stronger. The walls that kept the water out of the city were only 10 feet deep and were held together by plastic bands, hardly sufficient for an area that is highly susceptible to intense storm systems. FEMA even did a study of the levees 2 years prior to Katrina and knew of the impending danger but did nothing about it. Prior to the hurricane touching down on Southern Louisiana the citizens were warned and told to evacuate immediately. But with approximately 127,000 disabled and homeless, even more in severe poverty, and with no federal evacuation plan, unless you could afford to drive or fly to higher ground you were literally left to die. So when the levees broke on August 29th it was no secret who was going to be the victims of the massive flood that left 80% of the city under water, the worst of the flood drowning the Lower 9th Ward, East New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish. Those who managed to make it to the Superdome and Convention Center before the storm hit were in no better shape than the people stuck in the rising floodwaters. With over 50,000 citizens taking refuge, the water stopped running and toilets were overflowing within the first few days. Whether you were in the Superdome or Lower 9th Ward, the conditions were the same; sweltering heat, dead bodies laying all over the place with no clean drinking water or food in sight. Almost immediately the rescue effort went underway. But it was an effort put forth by regular people, local police and fire departments, the Coast Guard (acting completely independent of any federal plan) and outside sources (my own city’s branch of federal law enforcement, the Vancouver RCMP, were there by the 3rd day). The people who were rescued from the flooded areas were then taken to the interstate highway where they were told buses were on their way to take them to safety, but most of the people on or under the interstate waited 3-5 days without food or water before anybody showed up. Some of them attempted to walk over the bridge to Jefferson Parish and Gretna City but were met by armed police who told them to turn back due to media rumors about hostage situations, rape, jail breaks and armed looters looking to take the violence into other counties. For 4 straight days the city of New Orleans sat under water with no help from the federal government whatsoever. It wasn’t until Mayor Ray Nagin, who might I add consulted with the business community before the people of the city even knew the hurricane was coming, went on the radio and told the country exactly what was happening. Governor Kathleen Blanco had been pleading with the feds for days, begging for help, but nobody came. Then on September 2nd President Bush arrived in Louisiana and met with the Mayor, Governor and other officials to come up with a plan to save New Orleans, but in typical Bush fashion, the main concern was who’s responsibility it was. The federal government wanted the state to take care of it but the state needed federal funding in order to carry out a rescue mission of that magnitude. It wasn’t until 5 days into the disaster that the federal government finally provided some assistance and sent FEMA and the National Guard in with food, water and supplies. By that time most of New Orleans had been looted, stripped and was in a state of total chaos. The gross mismanagement of the city’s poor didn’t stop there. Even though they now had clean water and food, they were still homeless. And so the federal government decided the next move was to usher them onto buses and airplanes and randomly send them to nearby states. Since most of the residents of New Orleans had never been outside of Louisiana, the vast majority had no idea where they were and didn’t have anybody to turn to. To

make matters worse, entire families had been scattered throughout the United States with mothers ending up in Utah and children being sent to Alabama. For most of the families who had been displaced amongst the 49 states, it took months and sometimes even years for them to locate each other. Of those who either stayed or managed to make their way back to New Orleans, most, who had little to begin with, were left with nothing. Although FEMA had planned to send upwards of 40,000 temporary living trailers, very few of them actually made it to New Orleans and the residents who did receive trailers waited 6 months to a year to get one. The FEMA trailers themselves were poorly built and didn’t have electricity or proper plumbing. To add insult to injury, FEMA then decided to stop providing the survivors of Katrina with the funds to buy necessities like clothing and groceries just months after the storm. So whether you were in New York City trying to find your family members in Florida or living in a rundown trailer without electricity in New Orleans, you were shit outta luck. So, you may ask, where was the Bush Administration while all of this was happening? George Bush was on vacation (despite taking a quick break to meet with Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco on September 2nd); he didn’t even step foot into New Orleans until September 12th, 2 weeks after the levees broke. Dick Cheney was fly-fishing. Karl Rove somehow magically disappeared. Condoleezza Rice was shoe shopping and playing tennis with Monica Seles. Michael Chertoff, Head of Homeland Security and the one who neglected to declare Hurricane Katrina a state of national significance thus keeping the much needed federal aid locked down, was in Atlanta talking disease control with pharmaceutical big wigs. Michael Brown, Head of FEMA and also a puppet for oil lobbyists, was somewhere running around with his head stuck up his ass. Another interesting bit of information is that Louisiana is responsible for 30% of America’s oil and natural gas and because the oil companies drill 3 miles off of the coast the profit from these resources belongs to the federal government and not the state. It’s hard to imagine that for a community that provides so much to the country, so little was given back. When Kanye West said, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” he was half way there. The truth is, George Bush and the ruling elite don’t care about poor people and it just so happened that a lot of the poor people caught in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were Black. The unbelievable lack of caring for the citizens affected by the disaster was about cleaning out the city’s “undesirables”. In a city that boasted one of the highest murder rates in the country, where poverty was almost double that of every other major city and 70% of the population is Black with 60% of males dropping out of high school between the ages of 14-16, Hurricane Katrina was a literal wash out of the riff raff. Just as I’ve explained in previous articles, disasters provide opportunity for corporations to move in and build their idea of perfect civilizations. The slow response time of the federal government wasn’t the result of a bunch of bumbling idiots who didn’t know what to do; it was very calculated and deliberate. The longer they waited and the more people died, the more opportunity presented itself to buy up very valuable properties located in the Lower 9th Ward and other areas at ridiculously cheap prices. While I don’t believe that the powers that be were the ones who broke the levees, I do believe that they knew what was going to happen and did nothing to prevent it. It’s been almost 6 years since the greatest natural disaster in American history ripped through New Orleans and to this day much of the city is in shambles. A lot of the survivors are still displaced and of those who have returned home, most suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome and the suicide rate has increased dramatically. Insurance companies have refused payments to many of the residents trying to re-build and much of what was publicly owned has become privatized. This is what the great divide looks like. A small population of the wealthy elite exploiting the majority and playing with human lives to benefit their own agenda. While we sit at the bottom and argue over Black or White,

Liberal or Conservative, who owes what to who, they sit at the top and capitalize on it. They don’t give a fuck about you or what color you are, as long as you consume and pay them for your existence they’ll keep you around. And then when the day comes that they no longer need you, they’ll leave you to burn alive under the Sun or drown in your own sewage. It’s time to wake the fuck up, people. We’re always going to have our differences but the one thing we all have in common is that we’re members of a growing number of working poor. They want us to hate each other because the moment that we come together and see what’s really going on, we could bury them in the blink of an eye. It’s our responsibility to take our lives back.

Osama bin Laden’s Death is a Gov’t Lie

Published: 05/04/2011

Right now at this moment I’m overwhelmed by an intense feeling of disappointment. As I flip through the various channels of corporate news media I’m watching the propaganda machine go into overdrive. For the past 24 hours the Western World has been in a frenzy; people dancing in the streets, waving flags on the white house lawn, reporters and journalists repeating the same information on live television and all of them celebrating the death of their most formidable foe: Osama bin Laden. Yes, ladies and gentleman, the boogeyman is dead. On Sunday morning American soldiers, working alongside the CIA and the Pakistani government, stared right into the face of terror and put a bullet in that fucker’s head. We marched right through Pakistan, shoved the American flag up that terrorist’s ass and showed the radical Islamic fuckfaces that the good ol’ Christian red white and blue always gets their man. Barack Obama is fuckin Superman and we will fuckin destroy anybody that fucks with us, even Gene fuckin Hackman. Fuck. You. Osama. Yeeeeee fuckin haw! But wait, something about this just doesn’t feel right. I don’t mean to be a pessimist and take anything away from the celebration but the more I think about the circumstances before and after bin Laden’s death, the more I doubt the validity of the information we’ve been given. In fact, I think this whole thing is a flat out lie. Let’s go all the way back to September 11th, 2001. I’m not going to go through the events that occurred that day or the unbelievable amount of evidence proving that it was impossible for al-Qaeda to have acted alone because we’ve all seen it and we all know it well. I’m also not going to focus on Osama bin Laden’s relationship with the CIA and the American government, but I will sum it up by telling you that Osama bin Laden was a CIA agent (codename: Tim Osman) and worked with the American government in the 1980’s to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Nor will I mention the close business ties between the bin Laden and Bush families. No, we’re not going to go into that. What I’m going to direct your attention to is a little known fact; Osama bin Laden has been dead for more than 9 years. In the months following the WTC attacks on September 11th, the majority of the American public were made to believe that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda were “public enemy #1”. But what they didn’t know was that al-Qaeda’s fearless leader also suffered from Marfan Syndrome and his health was declining rapidly. Bin Laden was so ill that he needed dialysis at least every 3 days, which would be impossible if he was hiding out in caves and constantly moving around. Even if he did have 2 dialysis machines (which was common knowledge within the intelligence community), he still would have never survived. There were also reports that he had kidney treatment at an American hospital in Dubai 2 months before September 11th, where he was met by a fellow CIA agent, but of course the mainstream news media never said anything about it because it wouldn’t fit with the official story released after 9/11. In December 2001 FOX News even reported that bin Laden had died due to lung failure caused by complications from Marfan Syndrome. There are literally thousands of news sources that have documented 9 different instances in which Osama bin Laden was said to have died, but the most reliable story came from former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Council on Foreign Relations member, Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik. In an April 2002 interview with Alex Jones, Pieczenik said, “I worked with Osama bin Laden in ’78, ’81, and ‘79 when he was in Afghanistan…. And so we have a blowback with Osama. But what made it more difficult was, I found out through my sources that he had kidney disease. And as a physician, I knew that he had to have two dialysis machines and he was dying. And you could see in those films, those made-up photos that they were sending us out of nowhere. I mean, suddenly, we would see a video of bin Laden today and then out of nowhere, they said oh it was sent to us anonymously, meaning that someone in the government, our government, was trying to keep up the morale on our side and say oh we still have to chase this guy when, in fact, he’s been dead for months…. I mean the whole thing was a, I

mean it was such a hoax. I mean I said you would have to be, you know, blind and stupid to not realize that this is really being manipulating in trying to manipulate us…. And I think that Musharraf, the President of Pakistan, spilled the beans by accident three months ago when he said that bin Laden was dead because his kidney dialysis machines were destroyed in East Afghanistan”. Then just days after bin Laden’s supposed death (May 3rd, 2011), Pieczenik called in to Jones’ show again and re-iterated what he knew was absolute fact. He said, “The issue now is, we have brought to the forefront, at a time when America is in deep peril economically…. We are in deep peril because we are in 2 wars of which I have no idea why we’re there. And I had warned 9 years ago that we would go into Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11 and I predicted… That Osama bin Laden would be dead and had been dead for over 7 months. Not because Special Forces killed him, but because as a physician I had known that the CIA physicians had treated him and it was on the intelligence roster that he had Marfan Syndrome… And what happens with that disease is that you have a very short lifespan…. It was not an accident that his number 2 man al-Zawahiri was a physician…. Osama bin Laden died when we went into Afghanistan, General Tommy Franks had stated very clearly that he had died and he made a slip… Now we knew that he had already died by that time. By the time we had already gone into Afghanistan and in Pakistan we knew he was dead. So the notion, when I came on the radio show in 2002… And I said, ‘Listen, Osama bin Laden is dead. He’s dead. There’s no question about it, he had Marfan Syndrome and it had nothing to do with Special Forces’. He was used in the same way that 9/11 was used to mobilize emotions and feeling in the American people in order to go to a war that had to be justified through a narrative that Bush Jr. created and Cheney created about the world of terrorism. Now, I have been in that world for 30 years. During 30 years we had never been attacked in America. I repeat it again, the question is not that we are safer now; we are not safer. We had never been attacked until 9/11 because Bush Jr., Cheney, Rumsfeld and a group of other Generals who were involved… Decided that we had to mobilize the public in order to create a war on terrorism, which is an oxymoron. That war on terrorism no longer exists…. The key question America has to ask again is, this has much greater implications just in the distortions and lies that are created by the intelligence community, and believe me I work with the intelligence community. The question is, why does that have to be done repeatedly in different administrations to the American public particularly now with the President who has the lowest ratings, who’s historical back ground is in question. I’m not only talking about his birth certificate, forget that. His education, how he came to power, whom he represents and particularly in a time when Wall Street and the bankers have gotten away with the greatest crime in the history of America, nobody was indicted…. So the issue becomes a little bit greater than, the question of, did the CIA and intelligence community doctor up this situation? The answer is yes, categorically yes. Anybody who tells you it’s not is lying…. It’s a total make-up, make belief; we’re in the American theater of the absurd…. If this was an attack and they attacked a mortuary, God bless them. Because Osama bin Laden is totally dead. So there’s no way they could’ve attacked or killed or confronted Osama bin Laden unless you believe in the resurrection of Osama bin Laden and I don’t”. Pieczenik wasn’t the only person to bring the truth about bin Laden to light. There is a long list of government officials across the world who confirmed in 2002 that he was dead. In 2003 Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State under President Clinton, is on record as saying, “the Bush administration may already have captured Osama bin Laden and will release the news just before next year's presidential election”. Then in 2009 Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said, “counterparts in the American intelligence agencies hadn’t heard anything from Bin Laden in seven years… I don’t think he’s alive”. As for the many photos and videos of bin Laden, many that were aired on television were either dated pre-2001 and heavily edited or proven to be fakes. So with all of the evidence suggesting that Osama bin Laden died shortly after 9/11, the question still remains, why report his death now? The only probable answer to this question has to do with the upcoming election and Barack Obama’s serious need to boost his approval rating with the American public. And so it works to makes him look tough and definitively American (especially after the recent, and ridiculous, issue surrounding his birth certificate), just like the war on terror made George W. Bush a hero amongst the majority of the American population. With an economy

near flat-line, an ongoing war in the Middle East and an unsuccessful attempt at universal health care, Obama desperately needs a massive event to once again pull support from the American people and a dead Osama bin Laden is more than enough to make that happen. Also, it takes the public’s attention away from an impending economic collapse and once again pushes forward an agenda to expand on a war that costs the taxpayers and pays private contractors trillions of dollars. But conspiracies aside, even the most logical analysis of the events that lead to bin Laden’s demise on May 1st, 2011 still reveals some very suspicious activity. It was reported, and it’s the common understanding, that bin Laden was found living in a mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which has a heavy military presence (Pakistani and CIA) and is also a major tourist destination. So even if Pakistani Intelligence (ISI) and the CIA both turned a blind eye to the “world’s most dangerous man” living right next door in a million dollar home, how did nobody notice him walking around their neighborhood? And even if the local people were al-Qaeda sympathizers (which is not true), how was he not spotted by a tourist during the course of the many months he was suspected to be living there? I believe the main reason why Pakistan was chosen to be bin Laden’s host had a lot to with the story of Raymond Davis. Once Pakistani officials released information about CIA agents working alongside al-Qaeda to the world news media, all bets were off. It’s a well known fact that al-Qaeda is an extension of the CIA and the American government are now also using them to support rebel fighters in Libya to overthrow Qaddafi. Since the ISI began working with CIA drones in Pakistan, it became obvious that the CIA wasn’t following the set of rules and regulations set by the Pakistani government and they wanted them out. So this may have been a bit of a compromise on both the American and Pakistani government’s behalf; Pakistan takes the fall for harboring bin Laden and America gets the fuck out. Next I would like to address bin Laden’s abrupt “burial at sea”. This has to be the most damning piece of evidence in the American government’s claims to have killed him and be in possession of his body. The basic logistics of the whole thing doesn’t make any sense. I find it extremely hard to believe that Osama bin Laden was killed, flown all the way across the world, positively identified via DNA testing and then buried at sea in accordance with “Islamic tradition” all within a 24 hour period. And even if it was humanly possible to achieve this in such a short period of time, still the question remains, why were they so anxious to dump his body in the ocean? You’d think that after chasing the guy around the world for the past 10 years you might want to put him on display for the world to see. When Saddam and sons were apprehended and executed their images were plastered all over the front pages of magazines and newspapers everywhere for months. So why didn’t bin Laden receive the same treatment? The answer is because it wasn’t him. This whole event is an elaborate hoax concocted by the banking elite to push forward the next stage in their plan to control every aspect of human life. Already the mainstream media are reporting that a violent response from al-Qaeda is unavoidable. Some news outlets are going as far as to say that al-Qaeda has buried nuclear bombs around the United States and the words “nuclear hellstorm” have been a growing part of the media’s vocabulary. That’s right, the war on terror is over but the psychological war is stepping up to a whole new level. We are more at risk now that bin Laden has been killed and al-Qaeda are determined to even the score. Lock the doors, get into your fallout shelters and stay tuned to your local news for updates. There is no doubt in my mind that this is going to give way to the next World War. While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may have just been legitimized by the death of the America’s greatest imaginary enemy, the Military-Industrial Complex is now ready to make its move on Libya, Syria, Iran and Pakistan. The media is already hard at work demonizing Pakistan for it’s role in harboring Osama bin Laden and in the coming months they’ll start taking aim at other “Arabic nations” as well (side note: Pakistan is not an Arabic nation, they’re Asian. I had to put that in there because I’ve already heard 4 different news outlets refer to them as an “Arab country” today, and when I was doing some research on the region earlier, the number one question on Google was “is Pakistan an Arab country?”. It’s sad, really).

So this is where I leave the rest up to you. Please spread the news. I shared what I know and included a vast number of links in this article because I want you to do your own investigation and see for yourself how fraudulent our world has become. I know it’s hard to understand that this is what we’ve come to, but I want you to know that you don’t have to accept or tolerate it. As I’ve said many times in the past, we have the power. Don’t be afraid to exercise your intelligence and apply some critical thinking to your daily life. Be a leader, stand up for what’s right and refuse the misery that’s being brought upon you. To put it simply, DON’T BE A FUCKING SHEEP.

When the Lights Went Out on Gil Scott-Heron

Published: 06/01/2011

I don’t know how to write this. I’m unsure how to properly convey how I’m feeling right now and there really is no set of words that can describe the range of emotions that are passing through me. All I know is that I have to say something and so I’m just going to allow this to write itself. When I first heard the news that Gil Scott-Heron had passed it struck me in way that was different from any other death that I have experienced in my lifetime. I didn’t cry; I wasn’t sad or upset. On the flip side, I couldn’t smile or find enjoyment in my day. I was instead caught in a moment of suspended emotional disconnection. As the weight of the news finally began to take hold of me I wondered if the rest of the world knew what had just left us. I sat and asked myself if there was another light that came to life as his flickered and disappeared. I went back through my own body of work and reminded myself how far I still have to go before I can even slightly consider myself as much of a master of the English language as he was. Growing up I knew of his music and his contribution to humanity but at the time I had no idea the size of the impact he would later have on my life. I was always aware of Gil Scott-Heron and what he meant to Black America but I had no idea what he would eventually mean to me. I didn’t listen to every one of his songs and I only have a few of his albums ("Pieces Of A Man" & "Winter In America") currently in my music library. I can’t recite “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” word for word or tell you what his book “The Vulture” is even about because I’ve never read it. What made Gil Scott-Heron one of the most important figures in my life derived from one song: “Message To The Messengers”. It was a typical summer night in Toronto; a thick layer of dead heat frying the city and brutally reminding those of us who didn’t have air conditioning why we needed to find better jobs. I was about 7 months into my stay and I was having a hard time finding inspiration to push the buttons of creativity that bring new songs to life. So I bought a case of beer and burned a mix of music randomly selected from one of my friend’s iTunes playlists. It was this CD that would become the direct catalyst for the most major transition I have gone through in my life thus far. It was song number 8, Gil Scott-Heron’s “Message To The Messengers”, that would cause me to tear down everything I thought I knew about being a writer and re-build from the ground up. I sat on my balcony listening to his every word intensely. Everything he said challenged who I was, what I was about and what I had done up until this point in my life. It was hard to listen to, knowing that I was perpetuating the ignorance that he was speaking of. For the first time when I heard a Black artist refer to “brothers and sisters” I didn’t see it as a letter written by and for his own people. This time it hit me on a broad scale. He was speaking not only to his own community but also to the disenfranchised, disrespected and misrepresented people of the world. He was stressing the need for all of us to see the reality we were living in and the trap that we were falling into. He was telling the undisputable truth. I listened for hours. It was like the world was changing right before my eyes. Every time I skipped back to the start of the song chills ran through me constantly. I remember staring out over Queen Street and watching his poem come to life as the words ripped through the center of my brain. Never had I ever been witness to something so incredibly pure. I walked out onto my balcony as a part of the problem and went back inside that night determined to find the solution. The next day I awoke and felt a personal change beginning. Simple observations became tangled webs of ideas. What I had previously viewed as unfortunate circumstances for some was now a condition that I obsessively analyzed and dissected on a daily basis. “Message To The Messengers” was the spark that lit the fire inside of me. That one song pulled me out of the fog and brought me into clarity. Quite honestly, Gil Scott-Heron saved my life.

This is the first time I’ve ever shared that story with anybody. I don’t know why I kept it to myself for so long. I was never ashamed of it or consciously made an effort not to tell it. I guess until now I never thought of it as being significant. It wasn’t until I got the news last Friday that he had passed that I came to understand just how important his work was to me. And now that he’s gone I don’t think that we know how big of a void the lack of his presence has created here on Earth. I’m not angry that most of the Hip Hop community didn’t mourn for him. I don’t think he would’ve wanted it that way. I believe that he spent the last 30 years laughing at how unaware the North American public was about the role he played. I think he took enjoyment in knowing that without him, The Last Poets and a handful of others, this thing we call Hip Hop wouldn’t exist. Even though he publicly refused to take responsibility for being the forefather of this musical genre, I think he privately considered it a crowning achievement. It pains me to know that we disappointed him when he saw what we did with it, and in my opinion, his death symbolizes the extermination of that overseeing light that beamed down over the smaller ones. If rappers are individual stars then Gil Scott-Heron was the galaxy that made them possible. They might not have known he was there but without him they’d be drifting around infinity looking for purpose. So it’s in his death that I re-confirm the meaning of my own life. I will continue to dedicate my own time and energy to finding and reporting what I believe to be the truth. Although I’m sure I will never be nearly as universally accurate or influential as he was, I will continue on in my uphill battle with a reinvigorated sense of urgency. Thank you Gil Scott-Heron for your “Message To The Messengers”. You probably never imagined that you’d influence an Indian kid from Vancouver to positively change his life, but you did. The revolution never was, never has been and never will be televised.

Bitches Ain’t Shit But...
Hey Ladies,

Published: 06/29/2011

Before I get this started I just want to say that I’m not addressing all of you. I’m well aware that there are a large number of you out there who don’t fit the stereotypical image of women in the world today. I also know that it’s unfair to generalize when speaking about an entire gender but for the sake of the message I’m trying to get across, I’m going to do exactly that. I’m not a misogynist or sexist by any means, I just feel it’s necessary for me to share with you my thoughts and observations of your current state. I hope you appreciate my honesty. So what the fuck happened? I know that you’ve never had it easy but it seems like you’ve taken a turn for the worse during the past decade. It’s almost as if the year 2000 hit and you regressed back in time at hyper-speed. I was trying to think of a particular period that it would be comparable to but I couldn’t think of anything that even slightly resembles your present day status. Perhaps we, men, are the ones to blame for this. For thousands of years we’ve held you to unreasonably high standards and put you under an incredible amount of pressure to fit a completely unrealistic image drawn up by our own twisted imaginations. We’ve expected you to submit to our egos, accept your fate as designed by us and mold yourselves around our ridiculous ideas of what makes the “perfect woman”. Until recently, our attempts to completely dominate you was met with passive resistance because you knew that as long as you let us believe that we were in control, you could continue on as the true driving force behind human life. You knew that, despite what men thought, you were the superior sex. That’s right, you are the superior sex. Sure, men are the physically dominant gender, but women are far advanced both mentally and emotionally. Since the beginning of time we’ve struggled to understand you because we just aren’t on your level. We’ve discounted your opinions and called you crazy but in reality we can’t grasp the depth of your thoughts and feelings because we don’t have your capabilities. As men we have 3 very basic functions; plant our seed, protect and provide. That’s it. And all 3 of those basic functions are in direct relation to you. We only exist because the universe has put us here to assist in pro-creation, protect the women and children and provide them with food and shelter. Women, on the other hand, you are the creators of life. Your body is an intricate and magnificent piece of architecture designed to create and facilitate life. That one aspect alone is far beyond anything that men could ever dream of accomplishing. Maybe that’s why we’ve oppressed you for so long. Maybe we subconsciously know the power that you have and we want to spite you for it. But regardless of whatever subconscious sentiments may lie in the recesses of our minds, you are the reason for virtually everything that has come to be on this planet. Every invention, scientific advancement and work of art has been mostly the product of men but behind them was, in some aspect or another, a woman. You are the root of our thinking, the motivation and inspiration of it all but for some reason you let us win. I’m going to repeat that. WE WON. You have been definitively defeated. You fell for our bullshit and now you are more oppressed than you’ve ever been. We let you believe that you have equal rights but you don’t. We have brought down to our level and now your human worth is defined by your physical appearance and willingness to play by our rules. We’ll even let you be a potential vice president, but only if you’re hot. We could give a fuck less if you can barely put a sentence together, if we can fantasize about having sex with you, we’ll gladly trust you to co-run a country because we know that you still have a group of men to answer to. You gotta admit, the execution of our plan was nothing short of genius. We knew how to hit you where it hurts and use it against you. We took your genetic disposition to make yourself as physically attractive as possible, put there by your designer (God, the universe, whatever you wanna call it) because men are physical beings and in your search for a mate to create life with it was necessary for you to be appealing to the eye, and destroyed you

And so you panicked. You looked at these women; the very small minority that we consider to be “perfect”, and did everything you could to be them. You put silicone and saline in your bodies, you wore clothing that was uncomfortable but was revealing enough to keep us sexually attracted to you and you dulled your intelligence. And even after you did all of that, we told you that you weren’t good enough. We said that you were still too intelligent to be desirable and you responded by removing any individual opinion you ever had altogether. Once you were sufficiently dumbed down we then found women that were even more “perfect” than before and we again told you that you were not meeting our standards. As a result your self-image became so warped that any confidence you had left imploded and the traits that made you significant disappeared forever. Now we’ve got you right where we want you; as stupid and submissive as you’ve ever been. We’ve made abortion acceptable as a means of birth control not because we believe in your right to choose but because we fear the results of our own promiscuity. As appealing as you are to us sexually, we do not see you as being fit to mother our children. We’ve told you blatant lies like “all men cheat” because we want you to believe that we have an inherent need to conquer and spread our seed. But the truth is, we don’t have any non-sexual interest in you. The mental, emotional and spiritual connections that are essential in our relationships are long gone because we made you an empty shell of what you used to be. When you do have our children, we leave you to raise them on your own because we are lost in our own lie and we are convinced that there is somebody better out there. In turn, you’ve come to understand this as being normal. The ancient tradition of men and women coming together in love to further the human species is now but a distant memory. When I think of defining this tradition, I think of the story of my grandmother and grandfather. My grandfather, a golden gloves winning boxer and all around absurdly large man, and my grandmother, weighing no more than 100 lbs and a little under 4 feet 8 inches tall, first met when my grandmother was a waitress at a restaurant in Alberta, Canada. My grandfather ate at this restaurant every single day for 3 years, helplessly in love with my grandmother and trying to find the courage to speak to her. This man who would stand in the center of a ring and relentlessly trade punches with his opponents, fearless to the highest degree, spent 3 years searching for the confidence to approach my grandmother and ask her out. When they finally did begin dating, they married soon after and she was by his side until his dying day. One thing that I know for sure was that my grandfather understood the power that my grandmother had as a woman. He respected that relationship to the utmost and held it as his number one priority in life. He proudly fulfilled his duties as a man and provided my grandmother with a home to raise their children in. He appreciated what God had given him and I’m sure he looked back on the 3 years he spent waiting for the right words to explain to my grandmother just how much he admired her as some of the best of his life. Stories like that one just don’t happen anymore. We’ve lost touch with what it means to have a real, unbreakable bond between a man and a woman. As men, we’ve fucked you up so bad that you think your value is dependent on how comparable you are to some distorted idea of what you should be. I’d like to come forward and say, let’s get you back to who you really are. Who gives a shit what the propagandists on television, in music, movies and magazines tell you what you have to do to be complete. You are complete as is. It’s when you try to become somebody you aren’t that you lose those special pieces of yourself that a real man will appreciate. Remember, we will only respect you as much as you allow us to. Don’t listen to their lies anymore. The intelligent men of the world know who you are and are probably sitting at a table somewhere trying to build the courage to come over and speak to you. Just give him a minute. He’s scared to death right now.

Racism Is Alive & Well in America

Published: 07/06/2011

An interesting thing happened this past weekend. Last Friday (July 1st) was Canada day, Canada’s equivalent to Independence Day in the United States. A local bar in my neighborhood was having an outdoor patio party and so I set out that afternoon with the promise of drinking copious amounts of strong Canadian beer, taking in the sights of scantily clad young women and an all around great day in the sun. Upon my arrival, as I walked through the front door, I overheard an obnoxiously loud conversation between 2 drunken partiers who were exiting the building. From what I could understand, one friend was consoling the other about his recent break-up with his girlfriend who was in attendance at the event with her new boyfriend- who also happened to be Black. As they walked off into the distance I heard him say, “I can’t believe she’s with a stupid fucking nigger”. There is no other word in the English language that makes my blood boil like that one. Not because I feel any personal attachment to it, but because I know the pain that is associated with it. As I’ve gotten older and become more knowledgeable of the origins of North American culture, that one word has taken on a new meaning to me and stands out as the single most ugly piece of our history. There is no other word that completely encompasses the inhumane, violent and vicious hatred that our continent was built on. I don’t believe that there is any way to take the sting out of the word either. As genius as a move as it was for the Black community to re-claim the word, replacing the “er” with an “a”, there is no way to successfully remove the brutality that lives within those 6 letters. A simple subtraction of one letter and addition of the other 2 destroys any attempt to turn the word into a term of endearment and takes it back to what it’s always been, an atomic bomb of racial antipathy. I remember back when I was in first grade and one of my classmates called my friend Darren a nigger. Although neither of us understood the word, since we’d never heard it before, we both could feel the intense contempt that was being spewed in Darren’s direction. Later that day when I asked my mom what the word meant, she was absolutely appalled that a 5 year old child had even the slightest idea that word even existed. It was that day that I learned not only that I was an American Indian, but also that myself and Darren came from 2 groups of people who were disliked by a lot of the other groups and we should stick together. As I grew up I had a hard time understanding why things were this way. I had always viewed people as individuals and judged them on the merits of their character, even before I knew that was how I was perceiving them. The hardest part of my childhood was having to deal with some of the ridicule I faced due to the race that I was being identified with, and in my teenage years I lashed out violently when I was approached in that manner. I became insecure and sometimes even afraid to tell people I was Indian for fear of their perception of me changing once I shared that part of myself with them. I was lucky in that respect. Because I’m mixed, most people didn’t know what race I belonged to and so I rarely had to deal with immediate racism. The down side to this was that there were times where people would make a comment or a joke about Indians and I would silently sit by knowing that they were judging me as well. Looking back, one of my greatest regrets was not correcting them when I had an opportunity to do so. Despite my willingness to jump head first into conflict with anybody confident enough to push my buttons, it was this piece of myself that would cower because I didn’t know how to properly conquer their ignorance. With that said, and after everything I’ve been through, I have never had to deal with what most of the Black community in North America has lived with. Black Canadians have had it a little easier than their American brothers and sisters but the pain of the underlying racism that exists to this day is the same across borders. We all know about the evils of slavery and the struggles of the civil rights movement (if you don’t, you seriously need to read some history books) but as much as we like to believe that we’ve beat racism, we haven’t. In fact, it’s just as strong as it’s ever been.

Sure, we have a Black president and yes, everybody likes at least a few Rap songs but the prejudice that had young Black men lynched for even looking at a White woman all those years ago is still alive and well. White America created clever, “politically correct” ways to address the racial divide but no matter how much you polish a piece of shit, it’s still a piece of shit. They pretended to be enraged by the presence of the “N word” but I can guarantee a large majority of them are perfectly comfortable using it within the confines of their homes. We removed racism from the visible aspects of society and took it home with us, and in doing so, we made it worse. Instead of expressing it out in the open where it could be addressed and corrected, it now privately festers and grows inside the hearts of our children. In response to this, Black America has now taken back the power and is openly prejudice towards the White community, and out of “White guilt” they view this as being acceptable. It’s the White man’s way of saying, “I know. We fucked you over pretty bad. Go ahead and do what you gotta to get us back for it”. But fighting hate with hate does nothing to solve the problem, it only makes it worse. It creates resent which is then vented privately and results in 5-year-olds calling each other “cracker” and “nigger” on their school playgrounds. Love is the only solution. Before we can look at one another and see a fellow human being rather than a member of an opposing group, we have to fix the issues within ourselves. We have to take an honest approach to our own prejudices and work to appreciate the differences, not just tolerate them. Tolerance is a band-aid that does absolutely nothing to heal the wounds that racism has caused. We have to start with a clean slate, no matter how impossible it may seem. We have to forgive each other for our past mistakes and indiscretions, accept it and move on. This is the only way that we can achieve a truly equal and altruistic society. If not, we’ll always be destined to live out the titles that are forced upon us.

Jay-Z, Drake & the Art of Selling Out
“You should’ve been Drake”.

Published: 07/20/2011

Yes, over the past few years a handful of people have actually had the balls to walk over and say that to me. I know that in their mind they’re trying to convey their appreciation for my music while drawing the comparison to say, “what the fuck is wrong with the world?” but I can’t help but be offended every time it happens. I smile gracefully and carry on with my day, spending the majority of it trying to suppress the rage bubbling inside brought on by statements made by people who know nothing about me or why I’ve chosen the path that I’m on. And let me be the one to tell you, I will not, and never will be, anything like Drake or any other rapper currently dominating the mainstream. It’s not that I don’t like any of their music. Drake has some great songs and there are a few other popular artists that get steady burn in my iPod. There are some artists that are just undeniably talented and manage to cross both musical and cultural barriers. Jay-Z is an excellent example of that. His music (post-"Reasonable Doubt") has always had the uncanny ability to connect with people regardless of race, age or social status. His reign at the top has been like none other and I highly doubt we’ll ever see anything like it again. It’s nothing short of amazing that a man well into his 40’s can still make music appreciated by people half his age. Perhaps a lot of what’s kept Jay-Z on top for so long, aside from being one of the greatest lyricists Hip Hop has ever seen, has to do with his willingness to mesh himself into whatever trend is happening at the time. If you look back through his discography, you can pinpoint the era in which that album was made by the featured artists, producers and overall sound. He’s a master of matching his competition and then out-doing them in their own arena while at the same time carving his own niche and pushing himself into mainstream dominance. In my opinion, Jay’s career can be summed up by the second verse of his song, “Moment Of Clarity” from “The Black Album”: The music business hate me Cause the industry ain't make me Hustlers and boosters embrace me And the music I be makin I dumb down for my audience and double my dollars They criticize me for it yet they all yell "Holla" If skills sold, truth be told I'd probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli Truthfully, I wanna rhyme like Common Sense But I did five mil, I ain't been rhymin like Common since When your sense got that much in common And you been hustlin since your inception Fuck perception, go with what makes sense What Jay outlined was that crucial decision that all artists have to face sooner or later. It’s the moment that you have to choose between what’s more important, fame and financial status or total control over your creative direction and artistic integrity. Unfortunately, there are very few cases in which you can maintain both. Pusha T said it best; “We can’t all be Nas”. Myself, I sit at the opposing end of the spectrum described in the lyrics above. You can literally reverse those 12 bars, switching the words for their polar opposites, and you have me. What drives me as an artist is not money or fame but an obsessive compulsion to achieve perfection. My creativity is the core of everything I do. Without it, I would cease to exist. I need to exercise it constantly or else I feel like I’m not living. When put in situations where

I don’t know exactly when it all changed for me. In my early 20’s, as part of a group with fellow Refined Hype supported artists, e.d.g.e. and Shane Eli, our world revolved around someday eventually “making it”. A major part of what kept us together all those years was that we shared the same dream and we’d frequently talk about what life might be like when we finally signed that big record deal. The homes we’d buy, cars we’d drive and women we’d have sitting beside us in the passenger seat, we knew what we wanted and we were sure that some day we would attain it. I can’t speak for e.d.g.e. or Shane, but over the years that dream slowly started to fade. As I came in contact with people inside the music industry and established artists, I saw their world for what it really is: a diluted, twisted, paranoid lie. The industry people could care less about the music; they were in it to make money. Time and time again I hit brick walls. The people put in place to find the best and brightest the world had to offer were only looking for the closest comparable thing to whatever trend was happening at the moment. They weren’t interested in developing talent that had staying power; all they wanted was a quick buck. As for the artists, these were some of the most delusional people I’ve ever come across. They were so lost in their own fabricated image that the only identity they had was the one manufactured by their publicist and record label. They were socially repressed, unable to hold an intelligent conversation for fear that they may infringe on who they’re supposed to be rather than who they actually are. And so they would avoid eye contact and seclude themselves to escape from any human contact not associated with talking about themselves. They were fragments of their former personalities, confused, beaten and submissive; the love for their art a vaguely distant memory. Not everybody I encountered was this way. There were some who managed to successfully navigate the music industry without selling their souls, but I wasn’t willing to take the risk. I knew that virtually everything about myself and my music would have to change in order for me to appeal to a mainstream audience and so odds were that I wouldn’t make it out the same way I went in. And so I chose to continue on with a new dream. Rather than be a puppet caught in the elaborate entanglement of fame and distortion, I decided to be free. If it meant that I would spend my life working a regular job and making music in my spare time, then so be it. Money could never equal the high I feel when my voice falls perfectly into the drums and a song is complete. No matter where the world takes me, my home will always be somewhere between a snare and a kick drum. Yeah, I could’ve been Drake but I didn’t want to be. I’m sure he’s perfectly happy with his life as is and I’m very comfortable with mine. I like going places by myself and being left alone, and it’s nice to know that any woman that I spend time with is attracted to me because of who I am and not what I can do for them. It’s always a great feeling when people recognize me and come over to say they like the music and the articles, but I don’t know if I could handle it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I mean, if I was Drake and with all the outlandish shit I say in these articles, could you imagine what the media would do to me? Good God man. #WINNING

Build & Destroy

Published: 08/18/2011

At this very moment I'm currently sitting on the skytrain (Vancouver's semi-clever name for it’s subway system) and I've just been struck by a week's worth of inspiration all at once, so I'm writing my first ever "Rifle" entry from a subway car deep beneath the city. For some reason I've been more sensitive than usual to the things going on around me lately. Maybe the stars have been aligning in a particular way or perhaps it's because I've been in creative overdrive writing this next album, but regardless, my eyes and ears have been on a constant cycle of over-analysis. Sleep has been a hard thing to come by and as a result my thoughts feel like they're moving at rapid pace frantically smacking against the inside of my skull (it's actually a pretty cool feeling). And so as I walked onto the skytrain a few moments ago, I turned down my headphones and gave my mind a moment to rest and catch up with itself. Upon relieving my thoughts of the bombardment of kicks and snares provided by my partner in crime, Rodney Hazard, my brain perked up and started scanning the tiny metal tube I'm sitting in searching for the next bit of information to soak up. So I gently closed my eyes, took a deep breath and let the sounds come rushing in through my eardrums, carving their way into the center of my brain. The first conversation that I heard was from 2 young women in their early 20's sitting behind me (I'm tilting my iPhone forward right now while I write this because they're still there and I don't wanna look like a creep should they look forward and catch me scripting the first part of their conversation). The girl on the left, the typical "dimepiece" type, is currently facing a slight personal dilemma and is discussing it with her friend sitting on the right. The friend, who also appears to be her best friend, is what most people would consider to be marginally less attractive and suffers from a considerable lack of confidence (I can tell by the way that she sits with her arm across her stomach and her unwillingness to make eye contact with me as I walked onto the train). As previously mentioned, the girl on the left is facing a tough decision in her personal life. She's debating between 2 men that she's currently seeing and is having a hard time picking which one to continue dating. And so she's bouncing her thoughts off of the girl on the right, not for advice but more because she likes to hear herself speak and, I suspect, take any opportunity he can to be the envy of her friend and dominant partner in the relationship. The conversation went as follows: Girl on the left: I feel bad. John's really nice and super hot. And rich. Girl on the right: *Laughs* (almost in a mocking way as if she knows her friend is an idiot). Girl on the left: But Joe is a good dresser. And famous. Actually kind of a good dresser. Girl on the right: *Laughs again* (I'm now pretty sure that she's laughing because in a weird way she feels embarrassed that she secretly envies her friend). Girl on the left: I think I'll just Facebook John and see what he says. I don't care if he gets mad, Joe is famous, I'd be stupid to pick John. I'm now tuning out and smiling to myself. This girl is the complete definition of what our society has come to. Her entire basis on being with a man has to do with his level of celebrity (which can't be anything too great. I mean, it's Vancouver. Girls lose their shit out here over Canadian Football players). Not once did she mention any other positive aspects to sharing her time and energy with him (wait, he's also kind of a good dresser. I forgot about that) nor did she describe any attributes he might have that she finds herself attracted to. Nope, he's just famous.

He’s speaking with emphasis on every single word and there’s a calm excitement in his voice. He’s referring to the brutal murder of a local drug dealer over the weekend in which a hotel parking lot was sprayed with bullets, not only hitting the intended target but 5 other people as well. I can tell by the tone of the man standing over me, concrete and dust jumping from his clothing and filling the air with his every movement, that he likes to fantasize that he is a member of that elite criminal club. He talks about the deceased like he somehow knew him but his willingness to openly discuss his murder says otherwise. No, this young man is not a coldblooded drug kingpin; he is the outcome of a misguided dream. He stares down at me briefly and I look up at him. We hold eye contact for a few seconds then he looks away (I have a pretty solid “Fuck You” face). He likes to intimidate people when and where he can. Sometimes, when he has a few too many beers, he likes to walk around the bar looking for a weaker person to pick a fight with. It’s in those moments, while over-powering his victim, that he feels closest to who he’s always wanted to be but never had the balls to become. It’s only when inebriated that he finds the courage to follow through in his ambitions because when he’s sober, his heart quietly reminds him that he is a coward. And so he finds pleasure in telling the stories of fallen street legends. He likes to tell them as if he was right there with them because it makes him feel important. These are his heroes. He sat by patiently waiting for one of them to notice him and take him under their wing, but it never happened. They could see the coward in him and wanted nothing to do with it. He spent years walking with his head down, knowing that he’d never be one of them but always aspiring to come as close as possible and every time one of them dies he likes to share it as if it’s a small victory. He too likes to build and destroy his Gods. I guess we always somehow find a way.

Freedom At Half the Price

Published: 08/24/2011

Freedom. The very foundation that much of the Western World was built upon and the core principal in which we collectively believe. I've spent many years analyzing what it means to me and I've found that on the surface it's an easily understood concept, but once you push past the surface and look deeper into the defining characteristics, it becomes increasingly complicated. So what is freedom? Most people would say that we (North America) are a shining example of it. We have the ability to choose from a variety of lifestyles, from religion to sexual orientation, without fear of persecution. We have the right to openly question any idea and publicly debate it until we find a resolution, which then shapes the policies put in place and practiced for decades and sometimes even centuries in the future. Those same theories are then reviewed thousands of times over and when disproven, we the people come together and find a better way of life. If convicted of a crime, we are given due process and provided the opportunity to argue our case and prove our innocence in front of a jury of our peers. It is only when being proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are then punished for our wrong doings, and rightfully so. When read on paper our system sounds like an impeccable piece of grand architecture. This very column is a direct beneficiary of our belief in the freedom of speech. It's hard to imagine, but there are places in the world where I would be quietly kidnapped and executed for voicing my opinion on topics like religion and government. Fortunately I reside in a place where I have a legal right to individual thought and for that I am thankful. It's at this point that the concept of freedom becomes blurry. In contrast to countries like North Korea, where residents do not have access to the outside world and what information they do receive is heavily monitored by a dictatorial governing body, we are undoubtedly free. But is that how we gauge our current circumstances? By looking at countries ruled by oppressive regimes and then concluding that by comparison we are better off? Who sets the bar that determines the difference between freedom and imprisonment? Over the years, and as I entered the latter part of my 20's, I've found myself having the same conversation more frequently. It generally starts with me randomly encountering somebody I haven't seen for some time and occurs right after the other person says, "I heard you're doing well with the music" to which I reply, "Yeah, everything's great. What are you doing now?" From there the conversation moves into a depressing tone as the other person tells me how they had to compromise their goals and dreams in order to find stability. As they speak it's almost like staring into a graveyard of failed aspirations and it hurts to listen to it. Most people call it "growing up" but I see it as nothing more than walking into a prison cell, slamming the door and throwing away the key. If you were to ask the majority of the population if their lives turned out the way they had hoped, I guarantee that 99% of them would say, "No". Most would argue that they had no other choice but to settle for a lesser existence purely because of financial and personal obligations but I believe that these people are victims of defeat and conformity. At some point in time they became afraid of their own inevitable failures and opted for a life in the grey; never seeing the sun but in turn, never having to brave the darkness. And as those around them closed the curtains on their own vision of perfection, they did as well. Now they spend 5 days a week staring at a clock, counting down the hours until they are released from their self-imposed misery. They sit behind a desk and watch their lives roll away from them as they come one step closer to death with every second that passes. Think about that for a minute. There is nothing more petrifying to me than throwing the precious moments of life away in return for the basic human commodities. We trade our one opportunity to explore the possibilities of the world around us in order to be able to afford a heavily skewed existence. We never find that endless sea of potential within ourselves simply because we lose the will to search for it.

So what lies at the center of all of this? What is it that causes us to follow a beaten path rather than create one tailored to our individual interests? That's right, money. The monetary system is what keeps us all under control. It has limited the quality of human life and condensed it even further. It is the almighty dollar that influences our every action and has made us sacrifice permanent happiness for temporary exhilaration. In those few moments when we have an abundance of it, we become the masters of our universe, able to indulge in whatever absurd perversion our minds can conjure, and when we don’t have it we tirelessly conspire ways to get back to that euphoric state. Put simply, money buys freedom. When thinking about money and everything that it can provide, it becomes blatantly obvious that the word “freedom” is no longer necessary because there is no such thing. For those that have it, they can enjoy a life without boundaries because they have the means to do so. For those who are forced to live on a constricted amount of it, they will never share in the same reality strictly because they have nothing to trade for it. From birth the extent of their life experience will be greatly reduced due to a lack of resources. They will not grow up in affluent neighborhoods, most will not attend a prestigious college or university and as they become adults, they will become the lower and middle classes of society. There are a few that will push through the barriers and grab the proverbial “bull by the horns” but those are the ones that refuse to give up. They are the relentlessly ambitious members of the group that will not admit defeat. Freedom, to them, is not an option; it’s the only acceptable outcome. These people are not the most talented or intelligent, they’re just the 10% that stay in the race after everybody else has quit. Success should never be measured by wealth; rather, it should be measured by true, genuine happiness. For some people that means an infinite supply of resources, but in a lot of cases it’s the often overlooked aspects of life that provide us with memories of people and places we’ll never forget. What I’ve found in my own life is that once I managed to separate money from freedom, I learned that the two can’t co-exist peacefully. As long as they are tied together, one will conflict with the other and life will always be out of balance. I’m not saying to disregard money altogether, my point is that we should search for happiness despite our monetary needs, not because of them. We all have to do what we gotta do to provide for ourselves and our families, but it’s important that we continue to strive for better. Never stop looking over the horizon and pondering the possibility of tomorrow. Money will buy freedom but a free mind is priceless. Get back in touch with the one reason why the universe sent you here; find your purpose and re-define it every day. I have no idea how to end this so I’m just going to say; follow your hearts, love without fear and most important of all, LIVE PASSIONATELY.

So there you go; GFK is the champ. Boom. Done. Now while you go crazy in the comments section telling me that I'm a Nas stan or that I intentionally hate on Jay-Z all the time, I'm gonna move on to some things that actually fucking matter. *takes a deep breath, lights another cigarette* Life is good. For the past few months those 3 words have been pushing their way to the front of my brain constantly. Maybe it's because I spend a large amount of my time analyzing the evils of the world, but I've found that I haven't taken many moments to step back and just enjoy being here. As much as I talk about pursuing extraordinary things, I've been overlooking the most spectacular part of it all: my heartbeat. The fact that I open my eyes every morning and have the ability to explore the future that lies ahead of me is a blessing in itself. I can't think of any greater gift than the one that's beating inside of my chest and I want to write to you today in the hope that you too don't take it for granted. The changing of seasons always does something to me that causes me to spend a lot of time looking into the past, and the current transition from summer to fall has been no different. Throughout my 28 years on this planet I feel like I've done my fair share of living. I have some amazing stories to tell and some even more incredible memories that go far beyond explanation, but during this particular period of my life I've been thinking a lot about the people I'll never see again; the ones who've made that final journey back to the center of the universe. Until today I didn't put much thought into the idea of physical death. I lost a lot of people over this last decade, so many that at certain points I was almost walking out of one funeral and making my way to another. It was like a monthly routine and I became increasingly numb with every instance in which death returned to take another one of us away. From the 2am "I've got some bad news" phone call all the way up to the drunken reminiscing after the funeral, I felt detached from it all. I could stand in a graveyard and watch somebody I considered to be like a brother as he was lowered into the ground and not even flinch. I'm not proud to say it but I just didn't have anything left to give, not even for a brother. But then about 6 months ago I found out that I had created a life (and also that pulling out is indeed not a form of birth control). At first I was scared, not at the prospect of being a father but because I knew the child's mother just wasn't capable of living up to her end of the responsibility. Almost immediately her reaction was, "I need to get an abortion" and there was absolutely no discussion between us about it at all because in her opinion, I didn't have any say in the matter. Initially I was ok with it, in a way I felt like I was dodging a bullet, but as we got closer to the day of her appointment at the clinic the idea of being a father grew into me and I was no longer comfortable exterminating a life I helped to create. And so I pleaded with her to keep the baby. Not once did I think that her and I could possibly come together and build a family, but rather I felt an attachment to the tiny fetus growing inside of her womb. As a younger man I would've applauded her and maybe even cheered her on as the abortion was taking place but now, as an adult, it saddened me deeply to know that my child would never live to meet me, even for one day. After the abortion it took me a while to feel like myself again. For a few months it felt like there was a massive hole widening in my heart. The relationship (if you can call it that) with the girl was unquestionably over, and I couldn't have been happier in that regard, but I had this strange recurring rise and fall of emotion like I was mourning somebody I never knew. It was odd to me because I had buried so many people that I loved unconditionally and the one that finally broke my heart was the one that I never had the pleasure of being acquainted with. It was this experience that taught me how to appreciate life and cherish every second I spend within it. There's no doubt I'm my mind that someday I'll have to face the child I cast away, and I'm fully prepared for whatever consequences I may suffer because of it, but still I'm thankful.

It's because of the son or daughter I never knew that I came to understand what a magnificent spectacle this existence really is. God has brought me love, with a woman that I know will one day be the mother of my children, and has showed me just how precious and truly significant we all are. I feel like I've been given the chance to start over and I've promised myself that I will live every single day to my fullest potential. I can only pray that you, the reader, do as well. Now once again, say it with me- Life. Is. Good.

My (Other) Favorite 4 Letter Word - Love

Published: 10/19/2011

Every lifetime is made up of moments. Periods in which hours, days and sometimes even weeks seem to stand still and wrap themselves around a long funnel of energy stretching out into the furthest reaches of the universe. The impact of these experiences are everlasting, they create memories that push so deeply into our minds that they ultimately influence us in every decision we make from that day forward. They mold us into who we are, for better or worse, and have the power to alter our very existence in the blink of an eye. In life you will only ever be one of two people, one that lives in the moment and allows it to guide them to their next destination or one that falls between them, stuck in the grey forever searching for purpose amongst the shadows of greatness. Personally, I always considered myself to be a member of the latter group. For all of my 28 years on Earth my life was defined by brief breaks of intensity that fueled my creativity and poured out of me as songs, drawings and other forms of artistic expression. I felt content with the moments I had been given and I pulled myself as far into them as time and space would allow, grasping onto them and waiting for the next great moment to come along and embrace me. I thought that as long as I lived within the boundaries of complete euphoria, overwhelming depression and all points between, I could explore every hue within the human spectrum to it's fullest extent, and eventually die knowing what it meant to truly be alive. It wasn't until recently that I came to realize I was missing the most integral piece of my super deluxe life machine: love. The first time it hits you it feels like you're drowning. Your heart pounds at hyper speed and you struggle to pull air into your lungs. Your thoughts are like bright lights flashing inside your head while fireworks explode in your chest. It seems like you're levitating and then violently slammed back into the ground, only to be subsequently picked back up and thrown across the room again. You frantically search for the catalyst to your current state of confusion and as the room slowly stops spinning around you, the culprit pushes through the lights and explosions to the forefront of your mind. It’s then that this person takes their place as your new favorite memory and becomes permanently embedded into your heart. This is it. You have fallen in love. For a long time I didn’t think it was possible for me to actually fall into love with anybody. It wasn’t that I didn’t entertain the idea of it; it was just that the principles that I value as a human being seemed to be fading out of modern society. In virtually every relationship that I came across, one person was betraying the other in some form or another. The basic foundation of a strong connection between a man and a woman- honesty, loyalty and respect- were totally absent. In most cases I found that people were sharing their lives with one another based out of the fear of being alone and were settling for partners that could provide them with a sufficient distraction from their own insecurities and failed attempts at achieving true happiness. What most of the world considered to be a healthy relationship was merely a co-pilot to assist in navigating through the aforementioned grey areas of life. I never quite understood why anybody would want to commit themselves to something so empty. If anything, it was more work lying to and deceiving the person you supposedly “love” than leaving the relationship and going about things on your own. I always thought that if both parties were to sit down and be completely honest about everything, they would find comfort in knowing that both of them had betrayed their commitment to each other and could even possibly rest knowing that the burden

of guilt had been lifted from their shoulders. But instead, these people would rather carry on; hiding their true selves from one another until finally one day they wake up and are too exhausted to continue. And so with seeing all of this, I opted to not partake in any of it. I jumped from one sexual relationship to another, fulfilling my physical needs but never once truly connecting with any of the women I spent my time with. I chose to not communicate with any of them on an honest level because I knew that their principles didn’t align with my own. For a number of years I was comfortable with doing this, as I’m sure any man would be, but as I looked further into the circumstances surrounding my attitude towards monogamy, I found that I was engaging in the same shallow behavior as the ones stuck in the meaningless relationships that I tried so hard to stray away from in the first place. Then one day she came into my world. I can’t explain it, but I knew immediately that she had all of the missing components I so desperately needed in order to actively participate in the greatest moments life has to offer. All of the moments that had previously defined me as a person disappeared into the past and I could see a new horizon ahead of me, brighter and bolder than anything I had ever seen before. The word fantastic can’t even begin to describe the future that is taking shape around me. A million colors couldn’t paint a picture of it. She is my partner, my best friend, my wife and my soulmate. She is my entire universe. I have found meaning. I have found purpose. And most importantly, I have found love. I don’t exactly know why I’m sharing this with you today since I highly doubt any of you care about what I wrote in this article. Maybe I felt like bringing you in to a very personal part of my life since “This Is My Rifle” has become a regular meeting ground for many of us, and it’s ok to open all the way up every now and then. Or maybe I just feel vindicated after all those years of being alone. Whatever the reason, it’s amazing how much positivity one person can bring into your life with little to know effort at all, and now that she’s here, I have no idea how I made it all those years without her. Maybe I just had to let it out before that overwhelming feeling of drowning became too much and the moment finally collapsed on itself with me still in it. Nah, in all honesty, it just feels good to say it.

Where Is Chuck D?
Write about Rap. Rap about writing. The writer thinks it's a wrap. Is it a wrap for the writer? Fuck. *Batman music plays while the screen spins* Ok. Here we go. Time to get back on track. As per the request of Refined Hype's mysterious overlord, Nathan S., I have to find a balance and get back to Hip Hop. No, I'm not being forced into writing about any particular subject- in fact; I'm fortunate to be writing for Refined Hype. In the year since my column first debuted on this site not once has Nathan stepped in and made any edits or refused to post any of my

Published: 11/09/2011

articles no matter how unpopular or completely insane my opinions were. Actually there were a few instances in which I hit the send button on my email and expected a reply to the tune of, "Dude you're out of your fuckin mind. I'm not posting this. And fuck you for even trying it", but no, it never happened. If anything Nathan has always encouraged me to go as far off the deep end as I felt necessary and at times where I asked his opinion he'd respond with, "Say what you wanna say man. I'm not editing shit". Let me be the one to tell you, that type of creative freedom is hard to come by, especially when you're writing for a site as straight to the point and respected as Refined Hype. But, as any good quarterback would do when he sees a promising rookie receiver beginning to fall off, Nathan pulled me to the side and gave me a much needed pep talk. There were no threats or ultimatums, just a simple nudge to say, "You do know that you're writing for a music site, right?" and I agreed, it's time I move back towards what brought us all together in the first place: Hip Hop. Here's the problem; I don't have anything to say. Well, it's more like I don't have anything positive to say. And whenever I write about the current state of Hip Hop music I feel like the old man sitting on his porch complaining about teenagers. The fact is, the culture has changed since I first fell in love with it and it's almost unrecognizable to me now. I search for that old feeling again, the rush I used to get when I would say a line that made everybody else in the cipher scream "oh shit!" or the excitement of listening to a classic album for the first time, but it just isn't there anymore. I know that as an artist I'm supposed to be all unimpressed and "pffff" about every other rapper I come across, but I'll always be a fan first and foremost and I have no problem giving credit were it's due. J.Cole? Dope. Big K.R.I.T.? Dope. Voli? The best kept secret. Drake? Very fuckin necessary and deserves all the success in the world. I might not relate to his music but that dude knows how to write hits. I still sing "Best I Ever Had" to my girlfriend when I'm drunk. But aside from those 4 artists, I just don't connect with any of the new(er) artists out there. Last week, after Nathan's friendly reminder that I'm not Che Guevara, I downloaded approximately 25 mixtapes from relatively new rappers and went on the hunt for inspiration. I filled my iPod with a wide variety of artists covering the entire spectrum of possible subject matter. From politically conscious to painfully ignorant, mainstream to so far underground they barely have a pulse, I made sure I had enough to find something out there that gives me .

I couldn't even get 2 songs into any of the mixtapes without wincing in agony. A few of them even made me physically angry. The conscious rappers were so preachy that they made my column look like an advertisement for Goldman Sachs and the "bitches, money and weed" rappers (which accounted for 3/4 of the mixtapes I downloaded) were so awful that I actually found myself getting slightly offended that they were taking up .0000001% of the space on my iPhone. The only thing that got me through the first song was the hope that someday I might have the pleasure of meeting them in a dark alley and choking the shit out of them. Then I thought about what Nathan said; there needs to be a balance. For every Master P there has to be a Mos Def (or should I say, Yasiin). That's what has made Hip Hop the force that it is; there are no rules or boundaries- just words spoken in rhythm. There is no formula to follow, whatever's in your heart to say, just say it. The drums are there to provide a pace and a pocket to fall into; everything else is up to you. And that's what this new generation of Hip Hop is missing; heart. Everybody's rapping about something but nobody's doing it with conviction. Listening to these new guys you get the sense that they wanna say something but they're afraid to so they rely on image and bullshit gimmicks to draw the listeners in rather than focusing on the music itself. There is no discernible message; just a bunch of words strung together to sell a pre-conceived, highly contrived persona to the kids. I remember the one and only time I saw Public Enemy in concert. Growing up I was a fan but it wasn't until I got older that I fully understood what they represented, and to this day "It Takes A Nation Of Millions...." still gets steady burn in my iPod. Having never seen them live before I wasn't sure what to expect. On record Chuck D and Flavor Flav are an odd combination so I was curious as to how it would translate live, and as the curtains rose it was apparent that we were in for 2 hours worth of Hip Hop at it's most captivating. There were no strobe lights, no smoke machines, no guzzling bottles of liquor or lit blunts on stage. Flavor Flav played the role of entertainer, jumping around with his trademark clock medallion swinging around his neck and Viking helmet constantly falling down over his eyes, while Chuck D stood dead center in a baseball cap, sleeveless t-shirt and New York Knicks basketball shorts. For the entire set Chuck D, well into his 40's, stood in one spot holding the crowd's attention with every syllable that boomed through the speakers, only occasionally pacing back and forth to make sure everybody in the building was getting the fuckin message. He didn't preach or try to shove his beliefs down anybody's throat, he just held the mic and spoke with authority. When Bushwick Bill from the Geto Boys randomly jumped on stage and wanted to do a song, Chuck didn't get all pussified and complain to the promoter. Nope, he stood back while Flav jumped on the drums and Bill did his verse from "Mind Playin’ Tricks On Me" (yes, that really happened). Once Bill felt satisfied that he had properly brought the house down, Chuck got back to business and changed some lives. I walked out of the building that night with a higher expectation for this Hip Hop thing; not just from other artists but myself as well. While Flavor Flav has arguably become (or some would say always had been) a gimmick unto himself, Chuck D is the beating heart that made Public Enemy the voice of a movement in the 90's. Flav could do a cooking show with Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber and we'd all watch just to see Flav teach Kim and The Bieb how to cook some fucked up barbeque. None of us would think anything of it because the real Hip Hop heads know that Chuck D holds him down and he is the very definition of real, genuine artistry. At any moment Chuck could pull Flav back but he doesn't because he knows the power in both the king and the court jester. Now that's what the fuck I call balance.

Jay-Z’s Money Occupies All Streets

Published: 11/16/2011

When news first broke last week that Rocawear was releasing their "Occupy All Streets" line of t-shirts I was skeptical to say the least. As most of us know, Rocawear was at one time Jay-Z's insanely popular clothing lineso popular that for a few years Jay found more success with fashion than he did with music. It was impossible to go anywhere without seeing the company's trademark flame emblazoned across the front of t-shirts, sweaters and bomber jackets worn by everybody from toddlers to grandmothers. But times change and as Hip Hop's collective taste shifted, Rocawear was no longer perceived as being a leader in fashion and was quietly sent away to die in the dark corners of TJ Maxx discount clothing stores. Jay, being the smart businessman that he is, saw Rocawear's run coming to an end and sold the company, keeping a sizable share for himself and staying on as the face of the failing label, which was more than likely the only way he could offload the clothing line since any prospective buyers would need his image in order to drive sales. So when I first saw Rocawear's "Occupy" t-shirts I was confused as to what the motivation was behind it. Were they throwing themselves behind the "Occupy Wall Street" movement? And if so, why? Surely Jay could see the danger in aligning himself with a loosely knit organization hell bent on ending the very system he now represents. One false move and the backlash would be monumental. Was Jay even aware that Rocawear was taking such a bold step in insinuating that they might support the "99%"? My first thought was, "fuck no". Here's how I imagined it all went down: *Jay lying on the couch watching SportsCenter, the phone rings* Jay: Hello? Rocawear Rep: Hey Jay, it's Daniel here at Rocawear. Jay: Who? Rocawear Rep: Daniel at Rocawear? The clothing company you started and still own a piece of? *Jay takes bite of his grilled cheese sandwich* Jay: Right, right. Listen Daniel I'm really busy right now. Can we touch base at a later date? Rocawear Rep: Sure. But before you hang up I was wondering if you saw the email I sent regarding the "Occupy" tees. *unopened email from Rocawear sits in Jay's spam folder* Jay: Yeah it looks great. Run with it. Rocawear Rep: Excellent. Thanks for your time Jay. *Jay hangs up phone, it oddly sounds like a money machine* And thus the "Occupy All Streets" shirt was born. Rocawear would resurrect their relevance and ride this new global movement all the way back to mainstream dominance. Once again, the world would piss their money away on $50 t-shirts that cost less than $2 to manufacture and we could all rest knowing that yet another corporation would live on to charge an outrageous amount of money for low quality clothing imported from China. Thanks to some quick thinking, young marketing execs, Rocawear now had a wide-open lane and were about to make their triumphant return to the cutting edge. Who knows, they might even meet Jay-Z someday.

But then the plan backfired almost immediately. Rocawear said they had absolutely no intention of donating any of the proceeds from the sales of the "Occupy" t-shirts to the movement itself. Nope, they just made up some bullshit story about how they "strongly encourage all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social" and thought that the public would buy it. The problem was; we didn't. I myself laughed when I heard the above quote. Really guys? Are you that fucking desperate? Your best move would have been to not say anything at all and just have your spokesperson stand there while shrugging and winking at the cameras. Maybe then a few of the naive morons you believe us all to be would have bought into your ridiculous attempt to cash in on the "Occupy" phenomenon and pay their $22 entrance fee to the most ironic business strategy ever conceived. Instead you did the dumbest thing you could've possibly done; you distanced the company from the group you were so blatantly ripping off in a feeble attempt to broaden the appeal of your gimmick, which in turn alienated the only people who may have been slightly interested in purchasing your product. In laymen’s terms; you got greedy. I knew right away heads were gonna roll at Rocawear's head office. Jay was gonna burst through the doors and show those out of touch corporate dickheads why "old ladies are still saying what he coulda been". Half that building would be fired and the other half would spend the next week in overdrive doing damage control. There is no way that Jay would've knowingly ever approved such a risky sales tactic which could possibly blow up in his face and have a lasting affect on his public persona. I mean, this is the guy that sits next to Warren Buffet on magazine covers then hops in his Maybach and drives over the Brooklyn Bridge to get a quarter water and say “what up” to his people. This guy is so fucking on the ball that the ball feels like it's on him. There's no possibility of Jay ever making such a massive error in judgment. Well, actually he did. Just a few days after the "Occupy" t-shirt made it's debut Jay was photographed with Russell Simmons while wearing it; which means not only did he give it the green light, he was in full support of it. The issue that I've taken with the situation has very little to do with the "Occupy All Streets" t-shirt. Was it a horrendously awful idea? Yes. But what I see here is the end of my admiration for him as an artist. What originally made me a fan of his were the commonalities that we shared in our stories. I looked at Jay as a superhero, somebody who beat incredible odds and achieved the impossible. When I listened to his music I could hear pieces of my own legacy pouring out through the speakers and drawing a path towards a brighter future. He was the true architect; his songs mapped out a blueprint to success and were a testament to the belief in oneself. I guess that's why I, and a lot of other people, are extremely critical of him. To us he's an icon. He defines what it means to be "self made". And so we criticize because it hurts to lose our most respected spokesperson. The Jay-Z I idolized as a younger man disappeared after "The Blueprint". Sure, he pops up every now and then ("The Black Album", "American Gangster") but more often than not it seems like he's too busy pandering to corporate America to remember what got him there in the first place. I only listened to "Watch The Throne" once all the way through, and quite honestly, that's one more time than was necessary. Perhaps it's just that I'm a grown man now, but I don't wanna hear about how much better Jay and Kanye have it, nor do I care. I don't blame Jay for being disconnected; the guy's almost a billionaire for fuck sakes. If he were to go back to the old subject matter it wouldn't be believable. I don't knock him for talking about what's real to him; I'm just frustrated because I can't relate to it. Maybe the "Occupy All Streets" t-shirt was Jay's way of saying "I see you". Maybe he wanted to reach out but felt the same frustration due to his inability to share a genuine camaraderie with the other “99%” of the population. Whatever the case may be, Jay would've done a lot more for himself and others by heading down to Zuccotti Park and holding a press conference to show everybody struggling to pay the bills that he hasn't

forgotten. He didn't have to get political or even stand in solidarity with the movement, he could've just read that boring Rocawear press release and not try to sell that stupid t-shirt. Or maybe he could’ve just hung out like Kanye did. But only not with a million fucking chains on (we saw you Yeezy).

Rediscovering My Love for Hip-Hop

Published: 01/04/2012

I had it all planned out- during my 2 week hiatus from Refined Hype I was gonna search through the cobwebs and re-discover my love for Hip Hop. As much fun as I have shitting on everything that comes my way, I secretly find myself longing for the days when I lived solely for this culture and nothing else. Some of my fondest memories are of the years when I spent cruising around the streets of Vancouver with a backpack full of spray cans (Krylon of course. We didn't have Montana back then) looking for those hard to reach spots that I could paint my name across and lay claim to until either the city removed it or another writer covered it with his own name. For a number of years Hip Hop was my entire life and graffiti was my driving force. I would take incredibly stupid risks in the name of "getting up" and when I inevitably got caught, I saw it as nothing more than a necessary obstacle in my quest for artistic supremacy. I loved it with every inch of my heart. Bombing was not just my hobby; it was all I ever thought about. I dreamed of giant vacant lots with huge empty panels that overlooked the city. Blank walls that I could throw my imagination towards and turn into colossal reflections of myself. There was nothing in my life that was more important to me than creative expression and still to this day there is nothing that trumps it. But naturally I found that there were too many restrictions with graffiti; most notably the fact that it's illegal. Getting arrested never bothered me; it was what I was being arrested for that I couldn’t understand. I always believed that I was adding to the landscape, not taking away from it. However, the law and the government didn't feel the same way and I got tired of spending my time in police cars and holding cells. At the time I was too young for them to do anything about it (roughly 15 years old) and so more often than not they let me go with a slap on the wrist. I guess they figured that dealing my mom was worse than any punishment they could inflict on me and, truth is, they were right. I just could never comprehend why they wanted their world to be so empty and colorless. In my opinion, a world without street artists would be too painfully grey to manage. I miss it like crazy though. It was through graffiti that I came to love Hip Hop so dearly, and as my artistic direction shifted from paint to words, I fell deeper in love with it. I discovered that while my hands (and natural skill) were limited, words could create pictures brighter and more vivid than anything I could do visually. The art of MCing was infinitely powerful and I was good at it. Whether it was battling, freestyling or writing songs, I always stood out amongst my peers. Unlike graffiti, I wasn't just another name on a wall or some strung together letters to be admired in passing, with my words I could grab the people's attention and hold it. It was the first time in my life that I felt truly significant. I loved MCing so passionately, and just like my previous affair with graffiti, I would do anything for it. If ever I came into a situation where I couldn't wear my headphones, I would find the most immediate way out possible. The kick and the snare drum were my pulse and to deny them to me was like disconnecting my lifeline. Eventually the drum beat became so embedded in me that I could hear it without my headphones and it was without question the only reason I was able to make it through school (if I went at all). I spent countless nights standing out in the rain trying to sneak into the local open mic until finally a local DJ, and NYC transplant, Seanski saw something in me and invited me in. From the moment my hand gripped the microphone I knew that I would never let it go. It was Seanski who gave me my first opportunity to rock a crowd and to this day I owe him a debt of gratitude. If it weren’t for him I'd probably still be standing on that corner waiting for my moment. Back then Hip Hop was more than just a culture to me; it defined who I was as a person. I was so immersed in it that it was impossible for me to identify with anything else and now as an adult I'm confused as to why I'm losing that part of myself. I'll always be an MC but I've become disconnected from the culture as a whole. I guess I just feel like Hip Hop has come to a point where it's stagnant and almost regressing. Nowadays it seems like it’s just a title and anybody can buy into it. With the right amount of money you can purchase the uniform and proclaim yourself a member without ever having put any real effort into learning about the history of where this all came from. Growing up, the style was fresh because we made it that way. There were a few urban brands like Karl Kani, PNB and FUBU, but most of us stuck to being creative with our fashion because being fly was about

The Death of Free Speech - Pt. 1 SOPA

Published: 01/25/2012

By now most of you have heard of SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and it’s counterpart in the Senate- PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). While both SOPA and PIPA have been temporarily “shelved”, they have not disappeared but are merely under review and now a new bill has joined them, ironically titled, OPEN (Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act). Having actually read all 71 pages of the SOPA bill, let me be the one to tell you that what’s at stake here is far greater than the ability to download music or stream movies online. What we’re facing is the end of free speech as we know it. In brief summarization, SOPA targets the online distribution of copyrighted material. Under this bill, SOPA would allow the United States government to effectively shut down and prosecute any and all domestic websites found to be posting or linking to material in which they do not own the copyright. This means music, movies, articles and virtually anything not owned outright by the website itself. If you understand how the Internet works then you know that this would be the end of sharing information within the digital medium. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia and literally every music blog and website would be rendered useless or cease to exist at all. Foreign websites found to be distributing copyrighted material would be blocked by service providers and removed from domestic search engines. Any American companies advertising on these websites would be forcibly cut off and any domestic funds paid to the foreign website would be met with intervention from the American government. Perhaps the most troubling part of SOPA is in regards to what is referred in Section 202 as “the disclosure of classified information, impairment of combat operations, or other significant harm to a member of the Armed Forces, or national security”. The problem with the language in this section (and the rest of the bill for that matter) is that it’s extremely vague. At no point is there any detail provided as to what would be classified as “harm to national security”, and coupled with the Patriot Act and National Defense Authorization Act (more on that next week), virtually any site that the government determines to be a threat could be labeled an “enemy combatant” and shut down. Also, under SOPA, the people behind the targeted websites could be fined $500,000-$30,000,000 and could face anywhere from 1-30 years in prison. Once you read the bill it becomes clear that SOPA isn’t a bill to protect the music, movie and pharmaceutical industries (yup, they’re in there too. I didn’t know that counterfeit pharmaceuticals were such a problem) but it’s a bill to regulate what is being said and shared on the Internet. If SOPA/PIPA/OPEN is passed into law it gives the American government the power to determine what sites are considered “safe” and disassemble sites they perceive as being a threat. In co-sponsor Senator Joe Lieberman’s own words, he said, “Cyber war is going on right now. Our civilian infrastructure, the Internet that runs the electric grid, the telecommunications grid, transportation, all the rest is constantly being probed by nation states, some terrorist groups and by organized criminal gangs. And we need this capacity in a time of war. We need the capacity for the President to say, ‘Internet service provider, we’ve got to disconnect the American Internet from all traffic coming in from another foreign country. Or we’ve got to put a patch on this part of it’”… “This is a matter of national security. A cyber attack on America can do as much or more damage today by incapacitating our banks, our communications, our finance, our transportation as a conventional war attack”… “Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of it’s Internet in a case of war and we need to have that here too”. That’s right. No mention of the music or movie industries whatsoever. Just the same old “terrorists are coming to kill us, run for the hills!” jargon we’ve become all too familiar with from the American government. And now, not only do they want to bomb your family, they also want to steal your Facebook and Twitter information as well! Imagine the horror when you sign into Facebook one morning and your status has been set to “I’m a fag” courtesy of some Muslim guy in a cave somewhere. How will your public image ever recover? The depression inflicted by the lack of “likes” and “retweets” might just cause you to lose faith in your country altogether. What if an Iranian hacker gets into Twitter and shuts the whole thing down for a day? Where will you go to share your infinite wisdom in 140 characters? What will the world be without gems like, “Just ate a cheeseburger. Now on my way to work” or “OMG this guy at the gym keeps checking me out. #Creeper”.

I know, it could be a lot worse than that. But if American banks and military institutions haven’t taken the proper measures to safeguard themselves from an external threat via the Internet then they’re too stupid to be on the Internet in the first place. Maybe they should take the trillions of dollars handed to them by the government and put a few million into securing their databases. But wait, China has the answer. They’ve taken the necessary steps to actively patrol their Internet and they don’t have a problem with copyright infringement. I mean, it’s not like they pump out bootleg albums, movies, designer garments and basically anything that can be counterfeited and flood the world markets with them, right? I’ve never walked into a Chinese store and bought pirated Xbox games, movies that aren’t even out yet with Chechnyan subtitles, a fake Louis Vuitton wallet and matching scarf. That’s crazy talk! The Chinese government doesn’t sit around all day searching the Internet for people downloading music illegally, they use their power to source out dissent and put an end to it. One thing Senator Lieberman forgot to mention was that China is a communist country. So maybe comparing the United States of America to China sheds some light into the true intentions behind SOPA and reveals what they’re really trying to do. And the fact that the major record labels and movie studios have gotten behind this bill just goes to show how far behind they truly are. Maybe instead of trying to keep people from finding and downloading music and movies for free, they should be more creative in the presentation of their product. If they didn’t spend so much time focusing on how to squeeze the buying public out of a few extra dollars, perhaps they wouldn’t be losing so much business to the independent labels and smaller studios. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion losing our right to free speech so some asshole at Universal can sign another Justin Bieber and buy a solid gold Rolls Royce just doesn’t seem like much of a fair trade.

The Death of Free Speech - Pt. 1.5 Reactionism

Published: 02/01/2012

Since I've taken on the massive task of reading the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, and because it's an overwhelming mindfuck of a read, I wasn't planning on writing anything this week. But then as I cruised through the site I call home this afternoon, I came across an article written by a reader named Eddieftw in response to my "Death Of Free Speech Pt.1" entry from last week. First of all, I highly recommend you go and give it a read; he breaks down a very important subject that I think we all should pay more attention to. Secondly, I'd like to tip my hat to him since he made some excellent points. Such great points that the gears began to grind in my head and well, here I am, back behind my laptop and chain smoking my way through an unplanned writing session. Call it a response to a response or a sudden stroke of inspiration; whatever it is, I’m glad it happened. Sidenote: This article is an expansion of a comment I made on Eddie's article. So click the link in the paragraph above if you'd prefer to read the Cole's Notes version. While I agree with virtually everything Eddieftw had to say in his article, it was this statement that really jumped out at me: "Activism has ZERO effect if anti-intellectualism, greed, incompetence, apathy and naivety is already killing the country". I couldn't have said it better. The problem with what we perceive as being "activism" is that it really isn't that at all. Instead what we have is reaction-ism completely dependent on the approval of the majority; meaning that people wait until something they don't like impedes on their chosen lifestyle and they react to it in accordance with the sentiments of their peers. If the general consensus is "this is bad and we don't like it" amongst a large percentage of the group then they will gladly join the fight, but only if they are surrounded by enough people to ensure their safety should there be any repercussions for their actions. Today's activist is no longer the mysterious figure in a black sweater and a balaclava; he's the cashier at Starbucks, the frat boy from the upper class family, the 75 year old retired war veteran or the pissed off rapper that writes for a Hip Hop blog (*raises hand*). And as we saw from the recent SOPA debacle, now people from a variety of cultural, political, financial and ethnic backgrounds are repeatedly finding themselves banding together to fight a common enemy, which leads me to ask the question, do we all share a similar set of principles or are we all just here because it's the popular thing to do? To put it into perspective, Time Magazine named the protester their "Person Of The Year" for 2011. While most people would take that as a sure sign that the establishment is recognizing the power of our presence, I can't help but wonder if it was their way of slighting the activists as if to say “Congratulations, you’re the new trend” and to encourage mainstream America to get involved in social and political activism so it can later be discredited. Perhaps this was their clever move to commercialize dissent so that it will be looked at as disingenuous and insignificant. The upside to this is that it inadvertently works to strengthen the message by adding physical numbers to the respective movement. Rather than 100 people standing outside of the Parliament Building, you have 100,000 descending on the National Mall, which draws attention to the issues at hand. And while a lot of the people involved may not have a clue as to why they’re there in the first place, their attendance alone will spark debate amongst outsiders and possibly cause a few more people to join in. The great thing about truth is that it’s addictive and once the public gets a taste of it they will demand more. “Occupy” is a great example of this. Even though a lot of the people taking part in it are there for different reasons, they inspired millions of people to look further into their own circumstances and question their government. Regardless of their lack of organization, the message became clear: the people want change. Unfortunately there is a downside to it all as well; a lot of the information being passed around is incorrect. We live in a society based on hearsay, where large groups of people share assumptions masked as information. In

our time, truth is not defined by proven fact but on the opinion of the majority. The media pushes an idea, which is then regurgitated on the Internet (websites, blogs, etc.), people then take these opinions, reinterpret them and personalize them via Facebook and Twitter and then the rest of the population nods in agreement. Sadly, very few of these people ever take the time to trace a story back to its origin and find the motivation behind it. More often than not they just accept it and base their own knowledge of a subject on something that is a complete fabrication. This is how the media maintains control over the average person. They know that most of the public won’t take the time to check the information and so they twist and manipulate events in order to push their own agenda. This is where “activism” becomes dangerous because it’s a path that leads to nowhere. Without ever stepping back and investigating their own motives, these people play right into the hands of the ones they’re fighting against. Instead of understanding the system and possessing the necessary awareness to effectively engage their enemy, they wait until their rights are infringed upon and spring into action after the fact. The problem with our fight is that it’s less pro-active and more reactive. In closing, I’d just like to encourage you all to define your own individual freedom and pursue it if you aren’t already doing so. Educate yourselves on the issues that impact your life directly and work to remove whatever obstacles that are blocking your way. There are hundreds of bills being passed into law every year which have a much more negative consequence than anything written in SOPA/PIPA/OPEN/ACTA. Now with that said, I’m gonna get back to reading this novel known as the National Defense Authorization Act. See you next week.

The Death of Free Speech Pt. 2 - The NDAA (For FY 2012)

Published: 02/15/2012

When I first started reading the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 four weeks ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. For the most part the NDAA is the same bill that the President signs every year in regards to the budget and expenditures of the United States Department of Defense. A few billion here, a few billion there and the people of the United States of America can take a deep breath and feel confident that crazy Muslim Jihadists will once again be held at bay for another year. But once you get past the stupefyingly boring first few thousand pages of the bill, you come across some provisions that were conveniently tucked away underneath it all and suspiciously placed in an area where the dramatically shortened attention span of the average American will not reach. A set of laws and amendments locked away in an otherwise painfully predictable blur of bureaucratic nonsense that I'm sure not even George Washington himself could fully comprehend. Upon reading the provisions it becomes apparent that they were included in the NDAA for a reason; because nobody outside of the political process was supposed to know they were there. While much has been said about President Obama’s threat to veto and subsequent signing of the bill (with a loose promise to not invoke his newfound ability to legally detain American citizens without any criminal charges), the primary concern has little to do with the President’s political posturing (or lack there of ) and everything to do with the future of freedom within the USA. Certainly in the years since 9/11 the world has had to re-adjust it’s idea of what freedom is, who is defending it and how much of it we are willing to trade for our health and safety, but never before has a single piece of legislation challenged us to truly define it’s meaning. The pages of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 are the walls that are closing in on what at one time was considered the greatest Democratic Republic on Earth and opening the door to a new authoritarian era in the country’s history. Most of the debate surrounding the bill is in regards to Sections 1021 and 1022 under Title X, Subtitle D, which states the following: “SEC. 1021. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE (a) In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war. (b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows: (1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks. (2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces. (c) Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following: (1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

(e) Authorities- Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States. SEC. 1022. MILITARY CUSTODY FOR FOREIGN AL-QAEDA TERRORISTS. (a) Custody Pending Disposition Under Law of War(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (4), the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition under the law of war. (2) COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1021 who is determined-(A) to be a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and (B) to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners. (3) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR- For purposes of this subsection, the disposition of a person under the law of war has the meaning given in section 1021(c), except that no transfer otherwise described in paragraph (4) of that section shall be made unless consistent with the requirements of section 1028. (4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The President may waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the President submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States. (b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States. (2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.” The problem with both of these sections is that they’re even debatable in the first place. At a glance these provisions look like a re-affirmation of the AUMF and Military Commissions Act but upon further inspection you find that, once again, the language is so vague it could really apply to anybody. And because the terms “terrorist” and “terrorism” are so loosely defined by the American government, federal law and the Laws of War aren’t necessarily applicable since terrorism itself is a strategy and not a particular nation or group. While the section does specifically name al Qaeda and the Taliban as its targets, it also goes on to include “any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces” and as George W. Bush said in a White House memo issued on February 7th, 2002, “Geneva (Convention) does not apply to our conflict with al Qaeda, al Qaeda detainees also do not qualify as prisoners of war”. What this means for American citizens is that although both sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA state that these provisions do not extend to them or lawful resident aliens, once determined to be “hostile” or “belligerent” they can be detained indefinitely and without trial until the end of such hostilities. Once you clarify the word “hostilities” and come to understand that this is in reference to the war on terror, it’s evident

that there is no end in sight and anybody found to be guilty of being either “hostile” or “belligerent” towards the American government could spend the rest of their natural life in prison. Also, keep in mind that these sections exempt American citizens from military custody but say nothing about being held in a federal correctional facility. And just in case sections 1021 and 1022 fail to incarcerate future “belligerents”, Senator Joe Lieberman and friends are also pushing the Enemy Expatriation Act through Congress, which would amend Section 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and give the US government the ability to forcibly strip American citizens of their nationality at will. So even if sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA for FY 2012 are amended to definitively exclude American citizens, the EEA would provide the US government the ability to revoke your citizenship, at which point you would once again be subject to indefinite detention in a military prison should they perceive your actions as being “hostile”. The next section in the bill that we should pay attention to is Section 1245 under Title XII, Subtitle C, which states: (Because of the overwhelming length of this section, I have shortened it to include mainly the talking points) “SEC. 1245. IMPOSITION OF SANCTIONS WITH RESPECT TO THE FINANCIAL SECTOR OF IRAN (c) FREEZING OF ASSETS OF IRANIAN FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS- The President shall, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), block and prohibit all transactions in all property and interests in property of an Iranian financial institution if such property and interests in property are in the United States, come within the United States, or are or come within the possession or control of a United States person. (d) IMPOSITION OF SANCTIONS WITH RESPECT TO THE CENTRAL BANK OF IRAN AND OTHER IRANIAN FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS (1) IN GENERAL- Except as specifically provided in this subsection, beginning on the date that is 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President (A) shall prohibit the opening, and prohibit or impose strict conditions on the maintaining, in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that the President deter- mines has knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant financial transaction with the Central Bank of Iran or another Iranian financial institution designated by the Secretary of the Treasury for the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.); and (B) may impose sanctions pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) with respect to the Central Bank of Iran. (3) APPLICABILITY OF SANCTIONS WITH RESPECT TO FOREIGN CENTRAL BANKS Except as provided in paragraph (4), sanctions imposed under paragraph (1)(A) shall apply with respect to a foreign financial institution owned or controlled by the government of a foreign country, including a central bank of a foreign country, only insofar as it engages in a financial transaction for the sale or purchase of petroleum or petroleum products to or from Iran conducted or facilitated on or after that date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act. (4) APPLICABILITY OF SANCTIONS WITH RESPECT TO PETROLEUM TRANSACTIONS.

(B) DETERMINATION REQUIRED- Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 180 days thereafter, the President shall make a determination, based on the reports required by subparagraph (A), of whether the price and supply of petroleum and petroleum products produced in countries other than Iran is sufficient to permit purchasers of petroleum and petroleum products from Iran to reduce significantly in volume their purchases from Iran. (C) APPLICATION OF SANCTIONS- Except as provided in subparagraph (D), sanctions imposed under paragraph (1)(A) shall apply with respect to a financial transaction conducted or facilitated by a foreign financial institution on or after the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act for the purchase of petroleum or petroleum products from Iran if the President determines pursuant to subparagraph (B) that there is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions. (D) EXCEPTION- Sanctions imposed pursuant to paragraph (1) shall not apply with respect to a foreign financial institution if the President determines and reports to Congress, not later than 90 days after the date on which the President makes the determination required by subparagraph (B), and every 180 days thereafter, that the country with primary jurisdiction over the foreign financial institution has significantly reduced its volume of crude oil purchases from Iran during the period beginning on the date on which the President submitted the last report with respect to the country under this subparagraph. (5) WAIVER- The President may waive the imposition of sanctions under paragraph (1) for a period of not more than 120 days, and may renew that waiver for additional periods of not more than 120 days, if the President— (A) determines that such a waiver is in the national security interest of the United States; and (B) submits to Congress a report (i) providing a justification for the waiver; and (ii) that includes any concrete cooperation the President has received or expects to receive as a result of the waiver.” This section provides a clear outline of the United States’ intent to enter into conflict with Iran. By placing sanctions against Iran the US government is figuratively, and literally, banging the war drum. In case you’re unfamiliar with what sanctions are and how they work, I will explain it for you. The United States now reserves the right to block all financial transactions between the Central Bank of Iran or privately owned Iranian financial institutions and properties located within United States jurisdiction or owned by a US citizen. Additionally, the American government will sanction other foreign countries that purchase oil from Iran without a waiver provided by OFAC. In doing this, the US government could completely shatter Iran’s economy since it’s heavily reliant on oil exports and sanctioning this industry would at the very least cripple the country in every aspect imaginable. It’s also important to note that this provision only exists because Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to the US’ threat to expand on sanctions already imposed against them in the first place. The next provision in the bill has a bit of a confusing history. When the House version of the NDAA was released for public viewing, the outcry of American people disgusted by the attempt to include this amendment was so overwhelming that it was removed. While sections 913-920 are mysteriously missing from the

version posted on govtrack.us, many writers and journalists with sources in both the military and government maintain that this provision was added back to the bill that passed through Senate and was ultimately signed by President Obama. This provision states: “Sec. 920c. Art. 120c. Other sexual misconduct (d) Repeal of Sodomy Article- Section 925 of such title (article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice) is repealed.” UCMJ Article 125 states: ? “(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense. (b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.” To put it simply, SODOMY + ANIMALS = MORE TORTURE. As much as it angers me to watch the United States of America take it's first giant leap toward totalitarian rule, I'm also saddened by it. As I read through the provisions within the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 it became strikingly clear that the years following September 11th, 2001 were a carefully managed series of steps designed to slowly revoke the rights of the American people, culminating in the signing of a bill that will destroy the very fabric of freedom as we know it. From the Patriot Act to the NDAA, it's shocking to see just how quickly this new age of American policy has developed. In hindsight, the war in Iraq appears to have been not only a scam concocted by the Bush Administration worth trillions of dollars, but also a testing ground for the future possibilities of authoritarianism in America. In the years leading up to the signing of the NDAA, the American government engaged in the practice of indefinite detention and torture of Islamic citizens from every corner of the world, and now that they've given us a glimpse into what the future may hold, the past takes on a much more personal sentiment. As a Canadian citizen I have always admired the United States. In the years that I lived in the country, I came to love the American people for their passion, loyalty and unwillingness to compromise (for better or worse). When my own country ignored me and turned a blind eye to me, it was the American people (and Europeans) who embraced my music and gave me a platform to stand on. No matter how big or small, I will always be thankful that I had the American people to read my words or listen to my music and provide me with that all too familiar, brutally honest, American brand of feedback. So I'm writing this last paragraph to you. I want you to go out and do your own research. Not because I told you to, but because your life may depend on it. These are not conspiracies, these are actual facts. Right now it's easy to ignore the warning signs of impending danger but look back at the past 10 years and observe how your life has incrementally changed during this period of time. Now look forward, past the fog of media, religion and politics and you can see in plain view what's in store. Whether passively or aggressively you have to fight it. There is really no other option.

The Harsh Reality Behind Kony 2012

Published: 03/21/2012

From the moment I heard the tag line to the finely tuned propaganda piece, "KONY 2012", I knew something seriously awful was amiss. Like millions of other people around the world I was horrified by what I saw upon clicking the "play" button on my computer screen, but it wasn't the heart wrenching story of a former child soldier, forced to commit atrocious acts as a member of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army that had me in a state of shock, it was because I was bearing witness to a 30 minute commercial in which the British and United States governments covertly built their case for the expansion of AFRICOM and increased military presence in Central Africa. The continent itself is a hard topic to discuss and even more confusing to explain. When you consider that this body of land is home to the largest abundance of minerals and natural resources on the planet, it's exhausting trying to come up with a legitimate explanation as to why Africa also suffers from poverty so extreme that many if it's citizens die from ailments that are not just curable but completely non-existent in the first world. I myself have spent most of my adult life steering clear of the subject mainly because I find it impossible to wrap my mind around it all. In every attempt I've made to educate myself on the issues they face I've found myself at a total loss when trying to disentangle the giant ball of death and corruption that has wrapped itself around the birthplace of human life for hundreds and even thousands of years. But after watching "KONY 2012" I knew right away what I had to do. Even if it killed me, I was determined to tackle the massive cloud of chaos and provide some insight into what exactly was happening in Northern Uganda and the rest of Central Africa. I spent 2 weeks digging through articles, videos, books and encyclopedias searching for the big missing piece of information that would become the foundation on which I would build from, but all I found was that one answer led to more questions and it just continued on like that for eternity. To try and simplify things, I began with the obvious point- Joseph Kony himself. In 1986-87 the LRA was formed as an Acholi rebellion against Idi Amin's successor, and newly elected Ugandan President, Yoweri Musevini. In the years before his coming to power, the Acholi people were victims of a brutal genocide under the Amin regime, and when Amin was removed and replaced by Tito Okello, a member of the Acholi group, he was overthrown by Musevini and the National Resistance Army (NRA) during the Ugandan Bush War. With Musevini as President it became obvious that things were not going to get any better for the Acholi people, if anything they would get worse. So Joseph Kony formed the Lord's Resistance Army to protect the Acholi's and like all warlords he quickly grew to be more of a threat to his own people than the Ugandan military. Kony, convinced that he was the Holy Ghost and possessed magical powers, sought to purify the Acholi's and kidnapped thousands of children, forcing them into his Army with the boys made to be soldiers and the girls used as sex slaves. Over the course of 20 years (not all at once like “KONY 2012” suggests) it's been estimated that as few as 20,000 and as many as 66,000 children have been kidnapped in Northern Uganda. How many of these abductions the LRA is responsible for is unknown. As a result of the kidnappings, and under the guise of protecting the Acholi people from Kony and the LRA, Musevini relocated the Acholi's to internment camps where conditions are so poor that most of the people held there will die of disease and starvation (if not at the hands of the Ugandan military). And while the Acholi people are left to literally rot in North Ugandan concentration camps, Musevini is experiencing a boom in wealth from the selling of Acholi land. So why the sudden interest in Central Africa from Western nations? In 2010 President Obama began to set his focus on Africa for reasons unbeknownst to most of us here in the West. What the majority of the population didn’t know was that for the past decade China had been successfully developing many of the African countries through aggressive investment and billions of dollars in aid. While the

Then in 2011 approximately 6 billion barrels of oil were discovered in Lake Albert in Uganda and almost instantaneously President Obama deployed 100 Special Forces military personnel into Central Africa to put an end to the LRA once and for all. Soon after, and coincidentally enough, “KONY 2012” debuted on YouTube and now a resolution is being passed through Congress, which will expand the American military power in Central Africa indefinitely. Let’s make no mistake what this is all about; control over vital and highly profitable resources in Africa. Joseph Kony and the LRA were pushed out of Uganda 6 years ago and haven’t been spotted since. Some insiders have gone as far as to say that Kony is dead, while others maintain that the LRA has no more than 400 members spread out across South Sudan, the DRC and CAR. The LRA are by no means a large enough threat to warrant US military intervention and is a problem that could be handled quickly and quietly should the United States government deem it beneficial to do so. What we’re seeing here is another elusive boogey man being created to perpetuate wars that serve no purpose other than feeding the Military-Industrial Complex and fattening the pockets of the mega wealthy multinational corporations. The conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Iran and Central Africa have all been manufactured to make us believe that there is some sort of external danger threatening to end the world as we know it unless we go in there and exterminate it. The inescapable truth behind it all is that, as hard as it is for us to believe, we are closer to the mentality of the villain than the hero. We take what we want, whatever the cost and with reckless abandon. In the quest for world domination the West will undoubtedly destroy it. The silver lining, if there is one, is that the people are waking up. Ever since 9/11 I’ve watched as North America and Great Britain have slowly come out their slumber and now the people are demanding some answers. As suspicious as the “KONY 2012” documentary was, just as equally questionable was the number of views it had on YouTube within hours of its release and the rapid pace in which it was distributed across the Internet. To be blunt, we in the West have never given a flying fuck about child soldiers in Africa before, so why was the entire world suddenly and simultaneously captivated by the story of Joseph Kony? The truth is, we weren’t. It was an unseen, anonymous force pumping up hype that made us want to participate. Then Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Bono and a handful of others nodded in approval and the rest of the sheep joined in. But this time it didn’t work. This time there was enough of us awake that we effectively disassembled the machine before it could do any permanent damage (hopefully). If we’ve learned anything from “KONY 2012” it’s that we (as in Canada, the United States and Britain) need to get past our arrogant attitude and ignorance in believing that we know what’s best for the rest of the world. I’ve spent 2 weeks researching the LRA and Central Africa and I can honestly say that I am no more knowledgeable on the subject as I was a month ago. The African continent has been ruined by British, American and French colonialism and I haven’t the slightest clue how they will ever recover.

Could they use our help? Sure. But instead of giving your money to idiots like Bono (who only donates a little over 1% of the total money he raises for African charities) or Invisible Children (a CORPORATION that refuses an external audit and whose background is highly suspicious to say the least), do your own research and find a way to get your money and goods directly to the people that need it. Joseph Kony is just a tiny part of a very large problem, and I believe that both him and Yoweri Musevini will get what they deserve some day. Whether here or in another life, both men will have to pay for the thousands that Kony has murdered and the millions that Musevini has slaughtered in Uganda and the DRC (the worst genocide since World War II). The universe always gives back what’s put in. Just ask Jason Russell from Invisible Children. He found out the hard way just a few days ago.

The Tragic Death of Trayvon Martin

Published: 03/28/2012

For the past week I've been debating back and forth with myself as to whether I should write about this subject or not. When I first read about the story of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old boy fatally shot in the chest in an affluent, majority white Orlando suburb, I thought I was reading just another news story about a young man who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. As unfortunate as it was to read about the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, I was sure that the blatant mishandling of his murder by the local police force would be immediately corrected and the shooter, 28 year old George Zimmerman, would be arrested and tried accordingly. But as the weeks went by it became obvious that not only would the Martin family be denied the justice they so rightfully deserved, they would also have to endure the pain of knowing that the person who took Trayvon's life would walk away a free man. Zimmerman, a White/Hispanic licensed gun owner, claimed that he acted in selfdefense and under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which permits citizens to react with deadly force to situations in which there is reasonable belief of a threat, he was released without charges. Further investigation of the events leading up to the shooting have provided solid evidence that Zimmerman was not in physical danger and therefore cannot be protected by the "Stand Your Ground" law, however, he has not been detained by Sanford police and is currently in hiding. Once news of Trayvon's death hit the mainstream media the story ripped through America with the speed and intensity of a brush fire. Communities from all across the country cried foul and demanded restitution. The NAACP, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton raced to Florida and brought national media attention to the tragedy while people of all races from every major city in the United States rallied in support of Trayvon and the Martin family. A group calling themselves the "New Black Panther Party" even put a $10,000 bounty on George Zimmerman's head and some have gone as far as to compare Trayvon Martin to Emmett Till. In a matter of weeks, what began as an incident that the Sanford police attempted to quietly sweep under the rug has now developed into an ongoing debate over gun laws and racial equality in America. While I agree that drawing the comparison between Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till is justifiable, there is one glaring difference; Emmett Till was murdered because he was Black and Trayvon Martin died as a result of racial profiling. When George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin, he did it because he thought he looked suspicious and not because he directly intended to kill him. There’s no doubt that Zimmerman’s actions were racially motivated (in the 911 tapes leaked to the press he mutters “fucking coons” under his breath) but from what the tapes reveal, Zimmerman seems more like an overzealous, neighborhood watch, rent-a-cop flunky than a cold blooded killer. In the prior month Zimmerman had called the police 46 times to report numerous “disturbances” which goes to show that he shared a mentality closer to a mall security guard than a heartless murderer. What most likely happened was a confrontation in which Martin refused to back down then a physical altercation ensued and a frightened Zimmerman shot the boy because he was scared. We will never be sure, but judging by eyewitness accounts and the 911 dispatch recordings it sounds like both Zimmerman and Martin were acting out of fear of one another. Sadly, this was a case of a mentally underdeveloped man, in the possession of a firearm, and under the influence of racial stereotypes encountering his worst fear; a young Black male. There are many troubling aspects surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin but the misuse of the “Stand Your Ground” law to exonerate George Zimmerman from any wrongdoing is perhaps the most unsettling. I am a firm believer in the “Castle Doctrine” (the right to protect your home and lethally attack an external threat or intruder) and I strongly support the right to bear arms. But the “Stand Your Ground” law takes the “Castle Doctrine” a step too far and allows for non-violent disagreements to escalate into a hostile conflict under the presumption that one or both parties involved pose a threat to the other’s livelihood. The problem with this law

is that it’s subject to perception and is not a “one size fits all” statute; therefore the law can really apply to any confrontation. The idea that a simple argument can turn into murder is scary to say the least and gives way to further complications in the future. But in contrast, it’s important that we continue to preserve our rights, including the right to protect ourselves and our property. When we begin to scale back and put limitations on our freedom we open the door to other prospective infringements. A great example of this is the Patriot Act and NDAA for FY 2012. When we gave up our privacy in the name of security, it was a slippery slope that brought the United States to an age where you can now be arrested anytime, anywhere for anything. As a Canadian citizen, I can honestly say that part of the reason why the Canadian government hasn’t spiraled as out of control as our American counterparts is because most of the country lives in rural areas and a vast majority of those people own guns. Around the world we have a reputation for being fairly passive but Canadians will only put up with so much and our government knows this. Sure, there’s rampant corruption spread throughout the governing body but they’re extremely careful of how it impacts the public. When the Canadian government tried to institute a long gun registry, the general opinion from the farming community was “let them come and try to take them” and it was because of this attitude that the registry ultimately failed. There is an underlying tension in Canada between the population and our government and it’s very necessary to keep our freedom intact. It’s this tension that keeps authoritarianism at bay. I highly suggest American citizens apply the same mindset. It has been an enlightening experience seeing so many people come together to embrace truth, liberty and justice in the name of Trayvon Martin but I just pray that the growing racial distress in America subsides and those fanning the flames see through the differences in opinion to find a common interest. The truth is, the Black, Latin and American Indian residents of the United States have never been treated fairly and probably never will. The only way we can conquer this is to demand equality on all sides for all races, religions and classes. If any one group is alienated from this process it just won’t happen. Instead of turning Trayvon Martin’s murder into a reason to bring all of our hatred and resentment for one another to the surface, let’s take this opportunity to analyze our issues and do away with them once and for all. Trayvon Martin died unnecessarily on February 26th, 2012. He was 17 years old and had his entire life ahead of him. He will never get married, have children or enjoy that simple satisfying feeling of cracking a cold beer after a hard day at the office. The least we can do is turn his untimely death into something positive.

Fueling the Flames of Racial Warfare

Published: 04/18/2012

During the past few years I've become increasingly angry with the state of the world and the overall ignorance of western civilization in general. It almost seems like we've slid backwards down the evolutionary chart with every technological leap forward we've taken. I find it ironic how we consider ourselves to be the most intellectually advanced generation of human life ever to have walked the face of the earth, yet most of us can barely concentrate long enough to make it through an entire newspaper article or even a 2 minute video on YouTube. We've built machines that can mimic our own thoughts and actions and created a digital network that can connect people from opposite ends of the globe in seconds, but at the same time we fall into a perpetually widening set of social and political traps perfectly visible to the naked eye. It's hard to sit back and watch the world annihilate itself, although, at times I find a sort of subtle pleasure in it. In those rare moments when the universe finds balance and the mentally and spiritually cancerous members of our species are severely punished, I find peace in knowing that there is a force greater than us watching and analyzing every detail. But more often than not it's those in the middle, morally moderate, perpetually teetering back and forth between right and wrong, who ultimately fall into the abyss and suffer the consequences of conformity. It's these people who blindly follow ideas and theories based on external influence rather than the voice of reason, and it's also these people who pay the karmic toll for the so-called leaders and elite members of society. I can't say that I'm not surprised at how fast the racial anxiety has spread across America following the murder of Trayvon Martin, the entire situation itself is a recipe for disaster, but I will say that I'm astonished at how easily the public was manipulated by both sides of a war brewing between idiots and arbitrated by the corporate whore mainstream media. Whether it’s Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton doing everything within their power to stay in the media spotlight or Sean Hannity opening his fat mouth to once again misinform his naive majority White audience, the stage has been set and battle lines have been drawn between opposing circles. The murder of Trayvon Martin is now a secondary issue, the primary focus being the underlying resentment between races in America, and in typical fashion, the media is right at the center, strategically pushing propaganda to both the Black and White ends of the spectrum. The unfortunate circumstances surrounding Trayvon Martin’s death are no longer the concern but rather the catalyst for a quickly developing race war, manufactured and propagated by the media. As a result, we now have the New Black Panther Party ready to engage their self-proclaimed enemy (the all too familiar "White Devil") in what will undoubtedly give way to a deadly conflict with the Neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement threatening retaliation for any violent crimes committed against White Americans by Black citizens. While "news" outlets schizophrenically shift between portrayals of Trayvon Martin as a regular kid on his way to college and a troubled teen destined for prison, nobody seems to be asking a vital question; why is this happening? In searching for an answer you come to realize that there are multiple layers to the problem, each more complicated than the last. The first and most obvious answer is because those claiming to be in support of justice for the Martin family have managed to spin this tragedy into an opportunity that serves their own personal interests. Between Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (who have both become parodies of their former selves) and the New Black Panthers it's blindingly apparent that they are all desperate to establish relevance in a world where they are no longer necessary and have used this young man's death to maintain a public presence. If they were so concerned about the vitality of young Black men in America then why don't they set their focus on Chicago, New Orleans or any one of the hundreds of cities in the United States where Black youth kill each other at such a

Next is the money; Trayvon Martin attracts people and people attract advertisers, therefore, the television networks will run with the story as long as it brings in the ratings they desire. The magazines and newspapers need sales, and what better way to do it than by presenting "shocking new evidence in the Trayvon Martin case" right there on the front page? Even if the information is false and fans the flames of racial dissent, who fucking cares! The dollars are rolling in so why stop now? This week it's the story of a promising young man with a bright future, next week it'll be a cautionary tale of a juvenile delinquent suspended from school for smoking marijuana and possessing tools commonly used to perform burglaries (for the record, I can break into your house using a credit card or a hair pin. I guess Black teenagers should be careful of getting caught with those as well). The media will twist and distort this story any way possible to squeeze every dollar out of it and exploit Trayvon until a newer, better story comes around, at which point they'll drop him in a heartbeat, latch on to the next controversy and start the process over again. Last, and most importantly, the circus that has erupted around the Martin/Zimmerman story provides the perfect distraction and has effectively diverted the public's attention away from recent events that would otherwise be cause for debate. While most of the western population is embroiled in heated discussion about racial prejudice and class division in America, the global elite continues to press forward with their agenda, maneuvering quietly below the radar and away from the nearsighted public. When they attempted to shut down our right to free speech with SOPA, we fought back and pushed until the bill was abandoned by Congress. But while we've been busy quarrelling over racial and cultural entitlements, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act- which coupled with the NDAA for FY 2012 is a far worse bill than SOPA- has been making it's way through Congress and if signed into law will end online privacy as we know it. And while we've been busy speculating whether or not George Zimmerman will spend the rest of his natural life in prison, Jon Corzine, the man behind the 8th largest bankruptcy in US history, stole 1.2 billion dollars from every day average Americans and will probably never see a day behind bars. Case in point, there's a lot more happening in the world right now that we should know about.

By no means am I trying to deemphasize the racially biased and downright deplorable state of the justice system in America; I am merely trying to bring order out of chaos. The goal behind this all is to divide us and keep us separate. The murder of Trayvon Martin has been used to manipulate us into believing that, once again, we are incapable of living amongst each other in peace. Instead of viewing ourselves as members of the collective human race, we have been compartmentalized and broken down into classes and groups in order to contain a power that, if organized and directed correctly, is far greater than any bank, government or secret group on the planet.

Even though George Zimmerman has now been charged with second-degree murder the melee is far from over. There's no doubt that his trial will be highly publicized and stretched to its furthest extent in order to advance the interests of the media and elitists as outlined above. As time goes on it seems as if the pool of people looking to benefit from the controversial nature of this case is deepening by the minute, with everybody from President Obama (drawing a comparison between himself and Trayvon with his bid for re-election conveniently just a few months away) and Trayvon's own mother (who trademarked the phrases "Justice For Trayvon" and "I Am Trayvon") looking to capitalize. While I do understand both the President's statement and Ms. Martin's move to patent these phrases (a pre-emptive strike against those who would use Trayvon's name and image for profit perhaps?) what confuses me is the lack of effort on all sides to calm the hostilities. The truth is, we're supposed hate each other and this particular event was a great way to raise some old demons. The world is far from a perfect place and inside all of us lies some form of prejudice. The only question I ask is, will we manage to pull ourselves away from it before it destroys us?

The Story of a Middle Class Rebel

Published: 05/09/2012

Recently somebody asked me why I'm so concerned with American politics and the negative impact of western financial interest and corporate influence on the rest of the world. Since nobody had ever asked me that that question before I was caught off guard by it. I had always thought that it would be an easy question to answer, one that I could respond to with a simple yet airtight explanation. But when I searched my mind for the right words to justify my personal investment in the dark side of human existence I was dumbfounded. Truth be told, I live a good life. I have a job that pays a well above average salary and I work with a great group of people. Every week, Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm, I am a national purchaser for a major cellular retailer. I have 6 vendors under my control (soon to be 7) and I spend my time within the corporate structure. There are many perks to my job but I most enjoy my free cellular plan (I definitely do not miss my phone bill) and access to any handset I want (I’m currently running on a Samsung Galaxy Note with no plan to switch anytime soon). It's because of my job that I've found a higher sense of freedom when making music and for the first time in my life I no longer worry about what will become of my artistic ambitions. No, I haven't begun the creative death march towards being comfortably content (I'm still as obsessive compulsive as I ever was), rather, I've reached that long sought after creative space where commercial appeal just doesn't matter to me anymore and as this next album is taking shape I can honestly say that I'm making music for myself. If nobody ever buys one of my albums that's fine, I'm perfectly happy with giving the world a piece of my legacy every few years for free as long as inspiration will allow it to happen. I'm on my way to a beautiful future with an incredible woman, the bills are paid and I've found my artistic stride. What more could I ask for? All things considered, I don't have much room to complain. My life at this moment in time is the very definition of the middle class utopia, so why bother gazing into the abyss below me? I should be looking ahead into the horizon; kids, minivans, camping trips, baseball games and all of the other tiny pieces that fall together to make life the wonderful experience that it is. What's the point in setting my focus on the aspects that I have no control over?

I'll never forget the morning of September 11th, 2001. Prior to this day I was an 18-year-old kid with little to no concentration spent on anything other than girls, parties and music. But as I sat alone in my living room in utter disbelief as a pair of massive commercial jets slammed into the World Trade Center I was confused as to what exactly it was that I was bearing witness to. Having been a child during the first Gulf War, and growing up knowing Sadam Hussein as public enemy number one, my only thought was that somehow, some way Iraq had to be involved in this. And as I watched a man leap from one of the top floors of tower 2 in a last ditch effort to escape the intense heat of burning jet fuel, I felt a combination of anger and sadness fill my heart, a flood of emotion so powerful that it stayed with me for weeks.

Still to this day the image is seared into my mind. A man that I never knew, or could even recognize if I were to see his face, in his final moments atop the World Trade Center, trapped between the sky and a building engulfed in flames and on the brink of collapse, having to make the decision whether to wait until the floor crumbles beneath him or take fate into his own hands and free fall to certain death. Just the idea of the immense hopelessness and despair that must have overcame him as he realized that he was never going home is inconceivable to me and something that causes an overwhelming sadness to well up inside me. After witnessing this man's closing act of desperation my life had changed forever. In the months that followed, the story that was being told by the media just wasn't making sense to me. I tried to accept that it was a simple case of a malignant foreign entity that struck a devastating blow to the United States that day but something inside of me wouldn't believe it. There had to be more to it than that. There's no way that a rag tag group of jihadists could just walk onto four planes armed with nothing but box cutters and forcefully take control of 100+ Americans. The probability of that actually happening, in my mind, was beyond a 0% chance. So I began to search for answers and during my search the world as I knew it completely unraveled around me. One book would lead to another, then to another and so on and so forth. As the years progressed the old reality melted away and a new one (the real one) started to take shape. I now understood who and what made the wheels of the western world turn and that same intuitive spark that wouldn't let me abide by the official story of 9/11 was evolving into a raging fire. The more I learned, the more I became disconnected from the program that we're all plugged into. I know that most of you reading this see words like "New World Order" and "Illuminati" and scoff at them due to the ridiculous notion that there's some hidden "legion of doom" group of individuals sitting around a table in a dark room somewhere, secretly plotting against us. Believe me, I know how stupid it sounds. Whenever somebody pulls me aside and says, "What do you know about the Illuminati?" I brace myself for a longwinded rant from some fruitcake who spends way too much time on YouTube and lives in his Mom's basement. But what Spaceman Spiff, sitting next to me raving in my ear about reptoid aliens and magic computer chips, doesn't know is that he's closer to the truth than most of the population. Call them what you want; The Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, The Ford Foundation, Bohemian Club, Freemasons or even (and I hate this word) the Illuminati. What I can tell you I know to be absolute fact is that these people do exist. These men, this elite class of wealthy bankers, control every aspect of society; media, religion, health care, law, politics, and most importantly, finance, and they manipulate them at will to pull the strings of the unaware masses, herding them like sheep to the slaughter. They are the small group of billionaires that sit in the shadows, far removed from public view, and write our history while the rest of us are but minor players in a script perpetually unfolding on the world stage. So I guess I fight it because I know how this story ends and I refuse to curl up and die. While I do want the kids and the minivan, I will not allow for my future children to be slaves to a secret group of psychopathic perverts. I cannot turn and look the other way while the aforementioned abyss grows deeper and threatens to swallow everything in life that is important to me. Yes, I have achieved things that I never thought would be possible, but I can’t bear to fathom what will become of it all when the well of happiness inevitably dries up. I share this information with you not because of some ego driven mission to prove to the world that I’m intelligent and/or significant, but because I truly hope that all of you reading this will see what I see and get out before it’s too late. We are on a

path to destruction and we desperately need to come together and alter the space that we’re in. This is a crucial time and we are reaching the breaking point. We need to wake up NOW. I just hope it doesn’t take another 9/11 to make that happen.

Obamney for President in 2012!

Published: 05/23/2012

Alright, folks. So once again we’re entering that magical period that occurs once every 4 years where two corporate shills lock horns in a battle to the death for the highest office in the land; President of the United States of America. This year we’ll see Mitt Romney (Republican) take on the current POTUS, and former golden child, Barack Obama (Democrat). Romney, a veteran conservative, Mormon and all around banker bitch, is looking to upset Obama’s bid for re-election and usher in a new era of…. Well, pretty much the exact same thing Barack Obama’s planning on doing. And since both of these candidates (like nearly every other presidential candidate before them) have a hard time telling the truth, I’ve decided to sit down and write a speech that they can use at virtually every stop on the campaign trail. But rather than the usual empty promises and political pandering that both of these candidates will undoubtedly engage in, I am here to provide an alternative. Today, I am writing the first ever honest campaign speech. And because both Romney and Obama work for the same interests, and minus a few minor differences are generally the same person, this speech will work for either candidate. If, by chance, the Romney or Obama camps would like to adopt this speech and add it to their campaigns then please, by all means use it. I’m not looking for any compensation whatsoever. You don’t even have to give me any writing credit. Just load it up on the teleprompter, read it word for word and watch as your campaign rolls right over any and all competitors. Sound good? Great. Now let’s get started….

--------------------------------Hello (insert town/city/county name here)! It’s great to be here with you all today. I don’t usually spend much time amongst the lower 99% of this country so this is definitely an out of the ordinary experience for me. I spend most of my time prostituting myself out to the wealthiest members of society and I lack the ability to truly relate to any of you, but I do know what your concerns are and I am here today to address them. First off, I know a lot of you are bothered by the current state of our economy. As the years have gone by since the dawn of this century, things have only gotten perpetually worse for yourselves and your families. And while we have had a few small surges in the market, whatever positive effects we saw as a result of these brief spikes in prosperity were immediately overshadowed by severe corruption and looting in our financial sector. Well, let me tell you, it’s not going to get any better. Since the Federal Reserve Act was passed in 1913, the banks have been in total control of this country and we are now in a nation by and for the money powers. What does this mean for you? As of right now, the banks are adamant about manufacturing a complete collapse of the United States and so a lot of you will lose your jobs when the companies you work for move overseas. You will probably also lose your homes and some of you may even starve to death. Trust me, I work for these guys and they are serious about this. They want to end our sovereignty and centralize everything through a global government, which they will also control. Now, they know that a lot of you won’t approve of this so those of you who oppose this plan will need to be eliminated or weakened to such a degree that you will do almost anything to end the agony of extreme poverty. For those of you that do go along with the plan, you won’t have it much easier. We will be surveilling you on the Internet and watching you through video cameras in streetlights on every corner in every city in America. We will be able to listen to you and also shout commands at you through loud speakers on these streetlights as well. For areas where there are no streetlights, we will be launching drones that will patrol the city and act as a secondary unit to military, federal and local police forces. These drones come in a multitude of sizes, from giant jetliners down to tiny robotic “bees” slightly smaller than a penny. The larger drones will be equipped with “non-lethal” weapons, and the smaller surveillance “bees” will be able to slip into your home through an open window or even through the crack under your front door and will be able to watch you with you having no knowledge of them ever being there. Obviously some of you will have a change of heart and try to fight back against this. The bankers know this and so for the past few decades your government has been building FEMA re-education camps and they have been training our military to arrest and detain “problem” citizens. We, in the Senate and Congress, have passed a myriad of bills to ensure that this will all be permissible under American law. I myself, I don’t really have any power to enforce or change this agenda. Like you, I am at the whim of the bankers. The only difference is that I had the privilege of being recruited by them and I made the choice to be a part of this system. I was hand picked by them to be an insider and I am merely a face for a shadow government. The oil companies, Military Industrial-Complex and every major multi-national corporation adhere to these men and we have pledged to represent their interests. If I were to defect and reveal their scheme for global enslavement, both myself and my family would be targeted for assassination. Just look at what happened to JFK and Princess Diana. They attempted to reverse the potential damage caused by this secret group and they both died because of it. So even if I wanted to actually implement the policies I pretend to be passionate about, I would never live to see it through.

I know a lot of you out there want to see an end to all of these wars we’re involved in, but it’s not gonna happen. In fact, we will start more wars in the coming years and we’re even going to try and push China into a “hot” war with us. The reason for this being is because war not only creates exponential wealth for the small group of people behind it all, it’s also a magnificent tool to reduce the global population. There are only so many re-education camps and prisons we can build so we need a lot of you to die. I know this seems counterproductive but let’s face it- 3 some odd billion people can be tough to control. We would like to get that number down to just a few million and so we’ll need more terrorist attacks, more religious fervor and even more media manipulation. We are aware that a large portion of our military won’t go for it, but that’s why we have the drones. Once we whittle the population down to a manageable community of slaves, we’ll strip you of whatever valuable goods you have left through ridiculous scams like income and carbon taxes. So when you go cast your votes this November, just remember that it doesn’t matter which one of us you vote for. You do not live in a democracy; you are a serf in a fascist state. This whole political process is merely theater; a dog and pony show to make you believe that you are the collective voice of this country. But all of this has been pre-determined and both me and my opponent are just decoys put here to distract your attention away from the real powers that be. Thank you (insert town/city/county name here) and God Bless the United Nations! OBAMNEY 2012!

Terrorism - Made in America

Published: 05/30/2012

Yesterday a reader sent me an email asking my opinion of the United States' slow decline into totalitarianism under the guise of protecting itself from an external terrorist threat. Although I attempted to respond with a briefly summarized explanation of it all, a few quick paragraphs isn't nearly enough to comprehensively break down how the "war on terror" as we know it came to be. The idea of terrorism itself is a far more complicated subject than most of us can understand and the media would like us to believe that there are people out there who hate us purely because they hate freedom. But the notion that any human being would hate freedom and would want to destroy entire groups of people (or in America's case, whole countries) based on that reason alone is absurd. Actually, to be honest, it's fucking retarded. No person on the face of the Earth doesn't want to be free. If the supposed terrorists lurking behind every dark corner of the world just waiting to suicide bomb a strip mall truly hated freedom, they would all be lined up at the United States' borders right now, eager to become a citizen and enjoy the Gestapo-esque state slowly coming to fruition within the country. No, the terrorists don't hate freedom. They just hate the United States. And here's why: After World War II the USA had established itself as the first true military world power. It was at this time that they began the process of empire building and faced little to no resistance from any of the other countries they sought to control. During this period the United States was perceived as being the hero of the world, having put an end to Nazi Germany and restoring liberty to millions of Jews facing persecution, they were now in a position to build relationships with any country they pleased and their governments were more than happy to oblige the Americans with whatever they needed. Then approximately 10 years later the United States entered the Vietnam War and they set the stage for a foreign policy that would be in place right up until this very day. During the Vietnam War, the United States, most notably Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, came to realize just how powerful they really were and how useful their military could be when trying to sway the opinions of governments who may not be willing to open their doors completely to American ideals. From this point forward the United States became less of a trade partner and more of a bully in the global arena. As the Military-Industrial Complex grew, the corporations and the banks that owned them did as well. Now, attaining the precious resources they desired in order to become a more dominating force was no longer a case of bartering with the smaller and less powerful countries that possessed them, it was a matter of "work with us or suffer the consequences".

What developed from this attitude towards the rest of the world was a systematic pattern of military intervention and outright abuse of the citizens of the countries unfortunate enough to have something the United States (Britain and Canada) wanted. Once the western empire had targeted a country for exploitation, they would first send in what are commonly referred to as "economic hitmen". These men were CIA trained agents who worked for firms that functioned as independent companies contracted by the American government to "advise" the governing body of the targeted country, but took their orders directly from members of the US government. Once they were given the specifics of their mission they would then fly into the country in question and attempt to persuade it's leaders into deals that would almost always benefit the Americans and a few of that country's ruling elite. This series of discussions generally ended in one of two ways; they refused the deal and sent the hitmen home empty handed or they accepted and allowed their country to be stripped bare. In the event that they refused, the American government would then send in what were referred to as "jackals" and would have the leader removed (see: assassinated) or they would attempt a coup d'etat. Upon the removal of the reluctant foreign leader they would then replace him with an American friendly entity, sometimes even CIA agents that they had on their payroll for many years prior like Manuel Noriega. For those who cooperated, and since many of the countries targeted were impoverished, the hitmen would convince the leaders to accept massive loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank that the country would never be able to pay back. Next, the countries would be forced to hire American corporations to build roads, power plants, dams, etc., and over 90% of the money loaned by the IMF and the World Bank would be funnelled back into the American economy with a very tiny portion ending up in the pockets of the ruling class. In every single circumstance where the hitmen were involved, none of the money reached anybody who needed it and the structures built by American corporations were so poorly designed that they were falling apart or didn't work at all. In some cases, development never even began. Finally, once the flow of money had dried up, the IMF and World Bank would call in their debt and demand to be paid immediately. Because most of the money had been sucked up by American corporations and the ruling class, the country would have to default on their debt and agree to terms set out by the banks. What this resulted in was the privatization of their central banks and public services like water and electricity, the selling off of the country’s natural resources for dirt cheap prices and hyperinflation so outrageous that a large percentage of the population would be pushed into extreme poverty.

Under the direction of the IMF and World Bank, and their American counterparts, these countries would literally collapse under their debt and spend decades being raped by corporations while only paying back a minute fraction of a gigantic debt. This is where terrorism comes from. It’s only a matter of time before those crushed by western greed eventually pull themselves from the rubble and fight back. We, manipulated by the constant assault of propaganda perpetuated by the mainstream media, are made to believe that we are the protagonists when in actuality we are the villains. We laugh about our cheap goods produced in sweatshops and slave camps in the countries we oppress, violated by our multi-national corporations through this system, and then expect the world to sympathize when they lash out in anger. This is what we’ve done to Chile, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Russia and Poland (just to name a few), continue to do to Iraq, Afghanistan and India, and what we will be doing in Iran and Central Africa in the near future. We wanted the world so we took it. Now we just have to be prepared to deal with the blowback.

Illuminati Zombie Killers!

Published: 06/20/2012

Since I began writing for Refined Hype a few years ago I've received a vast number of emails, tweets and Facebook messages from readers asking me to elaborate on one topic in particular: the Illuminati. Despite feeling like I've covered the subject of secret societies enough in my "This Is My Rifle" column, I don't think I've done much to share a lot of the information that I've come across over the years and know to be absolute fact. Truth be told, there's a very thin line between fantasy and reality when discussing the existence of clandestine groups who meet in secrecy and control every facet of human life as we know it. For hundreds of years they have been mentioned both publicly and privately, at length and in passing, mysticized and described as the evil Satanic boogie men who sold their souls to the devil in return for all the wealth of the world. For as long as human beings have walked the face of the Earth they have been been spoken of in ancient texts that pre-date the birth of Jesus Christ by thousands of years. They are the students of the mystery schools; members of an elite fraternity which holds the answers to all of the great questions in the universe. To be one of them is to be like a god amongst men, to oppose them or share their secrets would mean certain death. When considering the possibility of a group such as the Illuminati it's important to not trivialize the issue but rather to understand its components. We tend to think about secret societies as being some dark, otherworldly force that somehow magically dominates the planet through a complicated system of control that we cannot begin to comprehend but, in actuality, it's the opposite. The history of this network of people, as it applies to us today, is quite easy to trace and simply a matter of reading a handful of materials that are available at your local bookstore.

Although "mystery schools" have been around for a very long time, they weren't really a cause for concern until they moved into, and subsequently dominated, world economics. Prior to this they were poets and philosophers, sought out by the kings and pharaohs of the day for advice and insight into any and everything that may have been troubling them at the time. It wasn't until Ancient Rome that they grew into a position of heavy influence, not just over the Caesars, but all of society in general. In fact, when Julius Caesar saw how much power they truly had, he attempted to remove them and was assassinated as a result. In the Bible the only time Jesus became violent was when he whipped the moneychangers and drove them from the temple. These men, the moneychangers, are what we commonly refer to as the banking elite, otherwise known as the Illuminati. I'm unsure of how relevant the name "Illuminati" is in this day and age. When the mystery schools were purged out of Europe in the late 1700's, by Kings and Queens who feared they would be dethroned and exiled by them, the sects went underground and came together to form the Illuminati in 1776. From that point forward they spread throughout Europe, and the rest of the world, and soon after held more power than they had prior to the purging. The secret societies were a driving force behind the colonization of the Americas and from its very inception were highly influential in establishing the democratic republic. The European bankers saw a new opportunity to advance their interests and put forth a massive effort in order to develop a living, breathing laboratory where they could experiment with a system (somewhat) free from monarchical rule. They were to be the lord and masters of the new world, reigning over their serfs from afar through their Bank of North America and system of fractional reserve banking. In the beginning there were a few congressmen, senators and presidents that tried to stop them- most notably Andrew Jackson, who effectively disbanded the Bank of North America and narrowly escaped assassination. When they returned with the First Bank of The United States, Abraham Lincoln and James Garfield both tried to eliminate them again and both were assassinated. Every single war of that era, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War (contrary to popular belief Abraham Lincoln was not wholly interested in ending slavery) was a result of the struggle between the American colonies and European bankers. Having learned their lesson, the bankers entered into the 20th century with a bought and paid for American government and democracy, for as short of a time as it lasted, was officially dead. In 1913 the Federal Reserve was established and virtually every president there after has been a puppet for the banking elite- with the exception of John F. Kennedy who, like his predecessors, was assassinated for his opposition to the private banks. Every war from World War I to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been orchestrated by them and every major industry in North America (media, oil, weapons, steel, transportation, etc.) is owned and operated by them. They might not be the CEO’s of the corporations but they are the money trust who provided the funding and they without question make the ultimate decisions. They’re not just the money behind the machine; they’re the ones who create the money to build the machines. For them, money is not the issue; it’s power. In closing, the idea of an “Illuminati” just isn’t realistic anymore. I can tell you most definitely that behind closed doors these men and their secret fraternities are into some pretty weird stuff but a lot of what people read or watch on YouTube is misleading or flat out false and doesn’t even begin to explain what the “Illuminati” really is. In short, the modern day Illuminati is a network of families involved in the most evil, twisted and corrupt aspects of humanity who have used it to gain a level of power that most of us could never dream of. They have many names but ultimately in the end, unless we understand who they are and why they’re here, we’ll fail to have the slightest inclination as to what we should do about them. Below is a list of families for you to research and discover what I’ve found over the years. If you really want to know what’s happening in the world around you, then take these names and look into it. Just make sure you

prepare yourself for what you may find: Mellon, Carnegie, Rothschild, Rockefeller, Duke, Astor, Dorrance, Reynolds, Baker, Goldsmith, Pyne, Cuilman, Watson, Tuke, Dupont, Kleinwort, Warburg, Phipps, Grace, Guggenheim, Milner, Drexel, Winthrop, Vanderbilt, Whitney, Harkness. Good luck!

A Day for the Mighty Mighty Warriors

Published: 07/04/2012

There are very few things that are guaranteed in life. As most of us know, we can all be assured that we have been born; we will pay taxes while we're here and eventually we will die. For a vast majority of the people reading this, we will die non-violent deaths. Some of us will succumb to disease, others will simply wither away and pass on once our physical bodies can no longer function, and a very small number of us will perish due to an error in judgement or freak accident. What 99% of us can count on though, is that we will not die by the hands of another human being. But during this very brief period of existence here in the 3rd dimension, and while we're busy paying taxes to our federal governments for that right, we will all at some point be witness to a war. Be it a World War that brings bloodshed right to our very doorsteps or a small occupation that occurs on the other side of the planet, much like birth, taxes and death, war is something that has defined the human species for thousands of years and guided our ethical code for better or worse. I've always found irony in the term "a just war". There aren't many conflicts that I can think of where the actions of either side have been justifiable. In almost every case, battles fought by the West have been the result of some sort of manipulation by those who stood to profit from it. From the European bankers' starvation of the Southern American Colonies that ultimately led to the American Civil War, to 9/11 and the fabled "weapons of mass destruction" that pushed our continent into a war with Iraq and an ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, our governments have cherry picked their fights according to private special interests. Of course, our involvement in World War II was absolutely necessary but it's also important to note that the wealthy bankers who funded the Allies' war efforts were also funding Nazi Germany as well. In circumstances like the one presented in World War II, armed conflict is unavoidable. When millions of innocent lives are at stake, the rest of the world should pull together to fight for the greater good and ideally this would happen every time. But as we've seen throughout history, this is not the case. Another important fact to consider when discussing the rise of the Nazis is that (as documented by many historians like Jewish scholar, Lenni Brenner) Hitler had offered safe passage of all Jews out of Germany in exchange for a ransom of a few million dollars but his proposal was turned down. So why did the other European nations and the West not accept his deal? Why didn't they save millions of Jews from certain death? Because war works on many different levels for many different reasons. From a financial perspective, war drives the countries involved into suffocating debt and opens them up to further enslavement by private banks. The winners are left drowning in massive amounts of debt and the losers are raped and pillaged for their natural resources (Iraqi oil, Afghani opium, African minerals, etc.). In terms of population control, war is a wonderful tool used to taper off a large chunk of people all at once. It works as a virtual "re-start" button for countries that suffer from poverty and may be considered "overcrowded". There are many other layers to war but these 2 are the most desirable effects, not to mention that it also increases the wealth of those funding both sides exponentially.

Even with having knowledge of this, I am not anti-war nor am I anti-military (I am, however, anti-MilitaryIndustrial Complex. There is a difference). Aside from the negative impact that war inevitably has on society, I am grateful that there are millions of men and women who have fought and died to uphold the values and principles that our countries were built upon. As tyrannical as our empire has become, we have also managed to exterminate some of the evil aspects of the world as it has grown and we have our military forces to thank for that. Idi Amin, Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein- these are just a few of the vicious dictators that we have militarily removed from power and done away with. Yes, the events/politics leading up to and taking place after their elimination are suspicious to say the least, but at one moment in time the people of a foreign nation needed our help and our soldiers rose to the occasion, As we've entered into this pivotal period in world history, I have found a new sense of pride in my nationality as I've watched many men and women of the armed forces come forward and denounce the wars our governments are currently engaged in. During the first few years of the Iraq war alone more servicemen registered as “conscientious objectors” (meaning they disagreed with the war and could not rightfully partake in it) than ever before and withdrew from active duty even if it meant facing a court martial. Unfortunately, for many of the surviving men and women that did serve in Iraq and are currently serving in Afghanistanamong other places- they return home to no job, no applicable skills and no hope for the future. A large percentage of them develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and fall into drug and alcohol addiction; an even more staggering amount of them ultimately commit suicide. There are no award shows, lavish parties or magazine covers celebrating their act of selflessness. Instead they’re kicked to the side, pissed on and forgotten by the people and governments they’ve sworn to protect. So this Independence Day, July 4th 2012, between barbequing and getting drunk out of your mind, take a trip downtown and help a veteran in need. Not because you have to, but because it’s that guy who will get between you and a legitimate threat just so you can eat cheeseburgers and debate over who’s the best shitty rapper on twitter all day.

The Night I Saw a UFO
On Monday, July 9th 2012 I saw something that has changed my life forever.

Published: 07/11/2012

At approximately 1:20am, as I sat on my balcony during a hot summer night, I looked to the sky and watched as the clouds slowly lit up like giant spotlights were being turned on and directed down towards the Earth from space. At first I thought that maybe it was a weird effect caused by a reflection off of the moon but the illumination continued to intensify until I could see every detail and outline of the clouds. Then suddenly 5 glowing fluorescent orange balls emerged from the overcast and hung in the air, completely still as if they were caught in suspended animation.

As I analyzed the scene that was taking place before me, I was convinced that what I was witnessing was some type of electro-magnetic occurrence, an aurora of some sort caused by a mixture of chemicals and temperatures colliding within the clouds. But moments later the balls of light began to move, dancing above the horizon and circling each other in strange patterns. As a man who has been no stranger to psychedelic drugs during the earlier years of my life, I thought that perhaps I was experiencing a flashback; a tiny pocket of LSD stored somewhere in my brain and activating all these years later. As the lights began to flicker and pulsate, dimming and then building back up until they were brighter than the sun, I strained my eyes and struggled to focus on reality. Anxiety swept over me and I stood up in an effort to gather my wits. It was then that I realized that I was definitely still attached to the real world and something extraordinary was happening. I then ran inside and woke up my girlfriend. If this was not a hallucination or the beginning of a total mental breakdown I would need somebody to verify that we were beholden to something strange. I also grabbed my cel phone in hopes of recording this event as proof that I was indeed not losing my mind completely. When we walked back out onto my balcony only 3 lights remained. They were now aligned in the form of a triangle and they looked like giant burning spheres. As they maneuvered around the black backdrop they appeared to be flaring up in turn, first one, then another, and they were brighter than anything I'd ever seen before. The smell of electricity filled the air as bursts of what looked like molten lead shot across the night sky. Dumbfounded and shaking, I pointed my phone towards the phenomena and hit the record button.

Because of the lack of adequate lighting and the distance of the objects the camera on my phone could only pick up the brightest of the 3 and it looked faint at best. By this point my mind was scrambling to rationalize the sequence of events that were unfolding in front of me. Surely, if these were not UFO's then something really bad was about to happen. For the first time in my adult life I felt the chills of fear run down my spine. In my attempt to logically dismiss the possibility that I was witness to a visit by an alien life form, I could only conclude that one of two things was transpiring: 1) Somebody was dropping bombs on us, or 2) Asteroids were headed directly for the planet and were making their way through Earth's atmosphere Immediately my fascination turned into panic. While my girlfriend was still standing on the balcony in awe, I paced my living room thinking to myself, "Is this really the end? Is tonight the night we go extinct?". As much as I no longer wanted to see the fantastic display of luminescence falling down from the heavens towards my very existence, I couldn't help it. I would pace and then look out the window- they're getting closer. Pace some more and then look again- even closer. Pace frantically and look outside- they're gone. For the next 4 hours the wind blew viciously and the sky raged with blinding flashes of color. Orange, blue and red bolts raced across the darkness in all directions. I sat in my living room, still in shock and unable to sleep, trying to process everything that had taken place during those early morning hours. I fought back anxiety attacks and forced myself to accept that some things in life just cannot be explained. Whatever it was, I'm sure I will never have that experience ever again. This was a once in a lifetime occurrence. I've never been one to try and discredit things that I don't know to be absolute fact. Is it possible that there are extraterrestrial civilizations on other planets floating around in the infinite reaches of space? Of course. I've always thought it was a ludicrous idea that we could be the only life forms to exist among billions of other galaxies and solar systems. Until yesterday, I was 90% sure that alien beings had visited our planet on many occasions. Evidence strongly suggests that we have interacted with them for tens of thousands of years and there are structures across the globe that could not have been built without a vastly superior technology. The theory that we are connected to a much larger universal family is far more plausible than the notion that we are the only beings significant enough to have developed a conscious mind. The latter is an extremely self-centered idea- not to mention a fucking lonely one at that. And now, as of today, I am 100% positive that we are not alone. I know what I saw that night and it was not natural. The fiery objects that appeared in the southeastern sky over Vancouver, British Columbia were guided by some kind of intelligence. They were flying in formation and were precise in doing so. I know all of you reading this must think that I’ve flipped my lid but that is not the case. I am just one of thousands, maybe even millions, of people who have experienced the same thing and I will never forget it. I don’t know how long they’ve been

visiting us or why they’re here but I’m eager to find out. Something big is developing and it seems like we have a starring role in it. I just hope we get to finally figure out the purpose of it all before modern day humanity inevitably scares them off.

I

Introducing “Pyramids In Stereo”

Published: 07/25/2012

"That's it! It's a wrap!"- And with that said I hung up the headphones, walked out of the recording booth and closed another chapter of my life. It took 2 years for this album to become what Rodney Hazard and I originally envisioned. Unlike our prior effort, "Marvelous World Of Color", I wrote this project from start to finish before I even stepped foot into a studio and had a blueprint of how I wanted this story to be told mapped out in mind prior to laying any of my vocals. It took approximately one year for me to build the 20-25 songs that would be the foundation for "Pyramids In Stereo", and another 10 months of recording and re-writing, then re-recording and re-writing again, to find the 13 songs that we felt would best represent us at this particular period in time. The completion of an album is always a bittersweet victory. On one hand, it feels great to have a finished body of work that you can hold up proudly and present to any and everybody who may be interested. But on the other hand it's a somber feeling knowing that it's over. It's a hard sentiment to explain. I guess it could be comparable to a parent dropping their child off at his or her first day of school; you know that they're still your baby and always will be, but in that moment you also know that the nature of your relationship has changed. Your child will now experience the world without you present and you are no longer able to remove the negative aspects of life and re-arrange them into something that is better suited for their lack of understanding and underdeveloped character. You have done everything you can to prepare them for this day and now all you can do is have faith that the world will receive them with open arms. They will be subject to harsh criticism and ridicule, but hopefully they will suffer less than other children that weren't fortunate enough to be raised with the same care that yours was. It sounds ridiculous to try and draw a comparison between a parent's love for their child and an artist's passion for his or her work, but the level of intimacy involved is almost identical. We know every imperfection; every scratch, nick, scrape and bruise that our creation has endured and when we observe it we can pick out areas where we could've been better. We can see past the polished exterior and we cringe when we have to face the misplaced notes or words that stand out like a bright lights in a dark tunnel. On good days we convince ourselves that this is part of what makes our art important and that nobody will notice the blemishes, and on bad days it’s all we can hear- like nails on a chalk board it tortures us and makes us feel like we failed. We remember the studio sessions where everything came together perfectly. When we nailed the song in one or two takes and we did it so effortlessly we almost believed that we were indeed THAT good. The next week would be one of our best- a creative utopia where we were not afraid to explore our creativity and bend a little further. We would encourage ourselves to strive for artistic feats that we once thought were impossible. For this short window of time we were invincible. But then we also remember the studio sessions that were a total disaster. Standing in a hot recording booth, dripping sweat and pacing back and forth, drowning in the depths of despair frantically trying to save a sinking ship. With every take, the song that we so desperately wished would work out, coming further unraveled as the words smash against the instruments chaotically trying to force themselves into pockets that once seemed wide open but are now smaller than a pin prick. Pushing and re-working the song until you finally accept that it's lost forever. The experience is devastating and for the following week you find yourself questioning everything from your talent (or lack there of ) to your very existence. Now I've reached the end. As much as I dread the overwhelming depression I inflict upon myself during the process of recording an album, I live for those days when I believe that I am what my ego is intent on telling me I am at least 50 times a minute in my head- a great MC. When I think about what it is that motivates me to fight through the war that is the making of an album, I have a hard time putting it into words. I don't particularly like any of it. Writing songs, especially when they don't take shape as I envisioned them, consumes so much of my energy that if I could help it I'd not do it. And recording them is always an emotional gamble- if it works, I'm

So as we finish mixing and mastering "Pyramids In Stereo", I can feel that nervous energy building inside of me again. After everything I've gone through, every internal struggle I've faced these past 2 years, I just hope I'm giving you all something that will have some significance to you. Even if it’s just one verse from one song that you connect with, that's good enough for me. I don't care about fame or money or “hits”- when it all comes down to it I just wanna make something that everybody out there can relate to. I am also proud to announce that “This Is My Rifle” has been turned into a book that will be included with the album for free download. The book will be a collection of articles I’ve written over the past 2 years, handwritten lyrics for all of the songs from “Pyramids In Stereo” and will feature artwork from my long-time friend, Joe “Masaro” Gianoglio. Since this column has become as much a part of me as the music I figured it was only right to put them both together and let the world get a glimpse of my perspective from all sides. Ok. I don’t really know how to end this so I’ll just say; Jason James & Rodney Hazard- “Pyramids In Stereo” and “This Is My Rifle”- words by: Jason James and artwork by Joe “Masaro” Gianoglio coming very, very soon. See you then!

Acknowledgements
First and foremost I would like to thank Nathan S. at RefinedHype.com for providing me the platform and making my "This Is My Rifle" column possible. No matter how many times I submitted articles that would make other managing editors change their phone numbers and email addresses, you published my crazy theories without editing or attempting to dilute them in the slightest. I am forever grateful for your support, both as an artist and as a writer. Without your reaching out to me and asking me to contribute my ideas to Refined Hype, I would've never realized my potential and my passion for the written word wouldn't have developed past my self-involved, painfully obnoxious blog entries. Without being too much of a cornball, I would just like to say; I tip my hat to you sir. Next I would like to thank you, the reader. Whether you are a regular visitor to my column or you skimmed through one of the articles in this book then skipped to the back page, it's you that made "This Is My Rifle" a success and motivated me to continue to explore this alternate side of my talent. Although I have never made enough money to earn a living or consider myself a "professional", it's the friendships and connections that I've made with people all over the world that are invaluable to me. I write because I love it, and part of what makes it so exciting is the response I get from you in comments, emails or conversations had when our paths eventually cross elsewhere. I truly do mean it when I say that without you I don't exist. As an artist and a writer I am totally dependent on you to continue listening and/or reading. I have been humbled by your loyalty and I will keep writing as long as your eyes and ears are open. Since “This Is My Rifle” continues to grow as the weeks, months and years roll by, there really is no way to conclude this small collection of thoughts. Instead, I will leave you with my personal credo- one that has picked me up and encouraged me to keep dreaming even when the lights had disappeared from the horizon: Chicks dig scars, broken bones grow back stronger and bloody noses build character. If you're still on your feet you have no reason not to continue fighting.