Stuby Kas

Rapper, game designer, and someone that wants to raise the vibrations of society.

Happy To Be Nappy

My hair is nappy, yeah, my hair is free/
I’m super proud of how it grows up out of me/
A lot of people, yeah, they wanna hate/
‘Cause they don’t know that nappy is what makes me great/

You see to tame out my crown, would be like taking it down/
So while I’m making these rounds, no need for sating these clowns/

I can construct it, yeah, in many shapes/
Although sometimes I got them beadies in my nape/
They’re my antennas, yeah, they’re my transistors/
Just like my brother’s and my sister’s and resistors/

People forget that DNA is curled up just like these coils/
The N-A-P’s of the OG’s are much more precious than oils/

They mine for mine, yeah, that melanation/
A pharmaceutical could never be replacement/
That’s why I’m happy, yep, just to be me/
My hair is nappy, yeah, my hair is free

Every hair that grows out of my head seemingly has a freestyle story of its own to tell. Some don’t live to tell their stories because of inevitable uprootings while detangling, some because of breakage. Some are WAY straighter than you would expect based on their direct neighbors. One day, some traitors will decide to change colors on me in my sleep (let’s hope that day is far away, although I know there’s one or two alien gentrifiers — greys — gathering intel up there right now).

The point is that the anti-gravitational, non-deterministic behavior of my hair (individually and collectively) exudes freestyle. Yours too, even if it’s not tightly coiled like mine. Looking at hair, and how it flows or bounces, sways or droops, rustles or silently wisps through the air, one can see evidence of life. The actual cross-section of a hair is fascinating if you’ve never seen one. It looks like a kaleidoscope image, and somewhat unlike most cells in the body. To imagine that each hair is just a physical kaleidoscope image projected into 3-dimensional space is a fun mental exercise.

The foundational structure from which freestyle expresses is always perceivable, even if it must be microscopic (or macroscopic). We just have to be able to understand that the output has just as much tacit structure built into it to make it all make sense. Coils exist in nature; it’s not as though my hair makes a bunch of right-angle turns, although I’d like to imagine there’s some dimension of reality where that is a thing and those folks have awesome styles.

So the output is understandable in naturalistic terms. Maybe it doesn’t always make *sense* but there’s rhyme and reason hidden in the unknown when you really bring out the magnifying glass and the sleuth getup. Locs? Sure. Or just a poof of magic; that works too! However you slice it, just don’t slice it off.

Tearing the colonialism out of my psyche to love the way my hair naturally grows, and seeing what kind of experiments I can do with it when I have space to freestyle it, is such a liberating experience that many people will never get to have. This is why I’m happy about it: because Joy can be gleaned from unlikely sources. And some of us have a duffel bag full of joy to discover once we decolonize our minds and set ourselves free.

Space Is A Freestyle

NEOWISE comet from the International Space Station

Swirling gas, hurling fast/
The mudball goes past, we just hope it lasts/
Once in a life time and, out of the blue/
The WISE ONE from an era that nohow can be new–ooh!/
The beauty in the midst of the madness/
While truly in the grip of this sadness 2020 would have us in/
One could laugh realizing the happening–/
Is not in our control or any measure of plans of men/
If that ain’t a sign, then think about the cypher/
The planetary gathering with comets getting hyper/
Yeah…telling tails that extend long as quarantine/
Kicking up dust, sicker than sipping chloroquine/
The more it seems like everything is an enormous being–/
The Blackest Matter out in space is Live-r than a Soros team/

We have received a message from the universe. Everything’s a message, right? Our brains would say so. Information. What information comes from a comet? Infrared data from the NEOWISE space telescope suggests this comet that’s lighting up the Northwestern evening sky is as old as the solar system in which we live. It’s probably safe to say that most comets in our system are that old, but still…even in seeing the tail light up for us, we’re seeing the history and heritage of that chunk of gunk burn off forever. It’s being disrobed by the sun the entire while that we’re able to observe it. We are witnessing space freestyle. Who knows if a big rock within the coma breaks off and gives us a jet of gas that makes it even brighter?

Space is full of amazing things like this, the large majority we’ll never witness. In the same way, if there are people or other observers outside of this planet, they don’t get the show we get right now. We are fortunate to get it so perfectly placed (at least in the Northern hemisphere) that it can be viewed during dusk/dawn.

If there’s one element of Freestyle that makes it intriguing above all else, it’s the unexpected nature of it. And there are few ways that space can give us an unexpected show of freestyle (that doesn’t kill us), so the height of 2020 is the perfect time for us to be reminded of the great unknown out there. We have been concerned with the opposite of ‘outside’ with all of these dangerous elements outside trying to kill us; it’s honestly refreshing (life-giving, even) to have a light show of sorts to take our minds off of the circular debates and played-out speeches from out-of-touch leadership across the board.

In ancient times around the world, comets were signs from the heavens that something great–or terrifying–is coming. I’d like to imagine, for this one, that it’s great. Unfortunately, we don’t have many astronomical masters in high positions of leadership, so this may not go down in history the way a pharaoh or emperor or sage would mark it down. But luckily, we have each other. Let’s please, PLEASE use this celestial event as reason enough to see a brighter future for us all.

And yes…to wrap it all together…I’d argue that SPACE IS LIFE. Hence, SPACE IS A FREESTYLE works for us.

A Life of Freedom

bluethegreat panting a mural for Juneteenth 2020

We live in very interesting times to be a person whose people did not always have freedom and agency. Celebrating Juneteenth in 2020 is bittersweet, considering it’s still not an official national holiday in the United States. We celebrate Juneteenth annually on June 19th to commemorate the official Declaration of Independence to enslaved people of African descent (reluctantly, by their captors and slavers, and most notably, the very government originally claiming ‘freedom’ in 1776). But many descendants of those freed people still suffer, and by now it’s well-documented.

That said, let’s discuss freedom of lifestyle. Perhaps ‘FREE’ IS A LIFESTYLE. Living with freedom means not being afraid to be one’s self. Constraints have been regular for black people all across the world for hundreds of years. When we as poets and rappers have constraints on our work (which, in many cases, is our very livelihoods), we have to be creative about fitting our styles into those constraints. Generally, in living through the freestyle of life, there are definitely creative parallels with the everyday process of an artist of social justice, but the circumstances of those life constraints are generally more dire and subjugating than simplistic artistic ones.

When a person has to second-guess most of their public actions and interactions, there’s no opportunity to explore the fringes of one’s expression. This is an inhumane situation that no one should have to live through. Creative expression of life has given the world a more complete view of what life is, and what it means to be human. We all benefit from extending the limits and methodologies of our expression.

Expression that differs from the norms and mores of society can be openly and lovingly debated, with learning being an outcome on both sides of the debate. Incidentally, this idea begs a few questions for me: do those who oppress even know that they’re limiting the extent of human expression with their imposed societal constraints? Do they care? Is it out of fear of what might happen if everybody had an equal standing in society? For many people celebrating freedom on Juneteenth, LIFE IS A PRISON STYLE. Or at least it has been for insanely too long.

Today, with all of the aforementioned turmoil boiling over into the streets (literally, even), black people are doing what we’ve always done: taking scraps (an unofficial holiday) and magically converting them into something that can serve us. Today, black lives begin the tradition of having our oft-mentioned ‘cookouts,’ to which our non-black brethren may or may not be invited, depending on terms and conditions defined internally. Ironically, the organization of such things is where you’ll find some of the greatest expression. Spiritual, creative, social, personal, entrepreneurial, and otherwise cultural lifestyles are the order of the day, because 2020 has been a perfect storm of conditions to break the social chains of living in a world built against you. Pressure busts pipes and makes diamonds.

Shout out to Afropunk, Essence Fest, Black Expos, and other mass gatherings of black expression around the United States for providing countless examples throughout the decades. But the time has come for us to get a national holiday so that we can reserve a nationwide consciousness for the importance of free living. If you would like to contribute to the petition for a national holiday for Juneteenth, the celebration of black people getting their [kinda] freedom 155 years ago, click this link to go to Change.org and have your vote counted. Also shout out to artist @bluethegreat for his amazing mural in the lead image of this post.

Until then, I guess we should do our best to stay healthy, in whichever ways work for our bodies. So, while mass gatherings might not be the wave right now, perhaps digital spaces for these types of important large-scale celebrations need to start popping up. Owned by black people, of course.

A Modern Global Pandemic: The Turning Point?

sun peeking from behind cloud

It’s possible that this is a once in a lifetime scenario we’re in today, with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the planet. Perhaps what it’s ‘sweeping’ is our complacency with the way the world we’ve built together (but mostly at the whims of dictators and capitalists) operates. Clearly this is not advanced civilization if a disease such as this can do so much damage in so many disparate places, but it’s got it’s shining moments. Underneath it all is a self-correcting mechanism that has begun–likely sometime around 2012, and well before this new coronavirus.

We were apparently warned by the ancient Mayans that the world was going to end around what we called ‘2012,’ but of course that number was agreed upon for nefarious reasons I won’t waste your time with here. But even since 2000 with the Y2K crisis, we’ve seen swells of political unrest, dramatic climate change, social adaptation to digital methodologies, and many other phenomena that we could list under the category of ‘the end of the world as we know it.’ Some people may think that the ‘end of the world’ means that the planet would be hit by some kind of space object or that somehow things would just blow up. Still, more see biblical apocalyptic scenarios with winged, horned, red demons with pitchforks swarming the countryside, slinging fire and brimstone. However, while we’re still here, and it’s not quite Armageddon (the movie or the prophecy) outside, we have a unique opportunity to shift the arrow (or, since I’m a rapper, Turn the Point) of human progress away from the fear, despair, and doubt about our future.

A magnifying glass has been placed over so many aspects of society in the last decade–but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown–that some long-awaited, severely painful healing processes are beginning to happen now on a personal level, a social level, and even all the way up to a civilization level. Our collective existence is a little too easily threatened for MY personal liking, but regardless, human beings have shown that we’re capable of unifying against a common threat. We may not know exactly how we’re going to get through the next 10-50 years together knowing that we were almost wiped out by a lack of pandemic preparedness, but I’m confident that there are enough people formulating and activating better systems, infrastructure, and plans for the future despite the shade of this dark cloud of negligence currently hovering over our livelihood as a species.

As it’s been alluded to before, one of the missions that the team here at LIFE IS A FREESTYLE wants to strive to achieve is the mental flexibility to problem solve in situations when it seems like all is lost. And if there’s anytime to test out your mental flexibility, it’s at a time like this when social distancing, raging debates over the validity of pandemic vaccination, and political absurdity is the new norm. Constraints are only filters of expression. Now is the time to peek behind the veil of constraint and see what one’s true makeup consists of. Many people are hitting the reset button on the lives they once led, whether it be because they’ve lost their previous jobs, or because technology is allowing them to learn a new skill while at home, or because they are beginning to reassess what their choices really are in the grand scheme of things.

As long as our freestyles are coming from a place of love, we just might be okay after all.