We owe our freedom to Haiti – Happy Haitian Independence Day

As fireworks and gunshots fill the air to bring in 2018 I need for the world specifically Black people to understand the significance of this day with regards to our freedom.

On January 1st 1804 Haiti became the first and only Independent Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere. The Spanish and French armies were defeated handily as slaves armed themselves ready to die in order to realize freedom. Great Haitian leaders like Toussaint Loveture and Jean Jacques Dessalines are celebrated but not as they should be.

Since reclaiming their freedom Haiti has descended into third world status. They have been paying a debt to France because of it. In the 1824 Franco-Haitian Agreement, France agreed to recognize Haitian independence if Haiti paid a large indemnity. This kept Haiti in a constant state of debt and placed France in a position of power over Haiti’s trade and finances. Almost every nation has set up some type of post there. Since America’s occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934 the country has remained destabilized. America has always had an interest in Haiti even before the occupation. The earthquake in 2010 and the essential robbery by the Clinton’s and Red Cross has added even more despair. All of this has happened under the nose of the diaspora. Let’s be clear, there is no diaspora without a free Haiti.

Haiti, often described as the poorest country on this side of the earth is also one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The resilience of the Haitian people serves as an example that even when the world continues to turn a blind eye to your suffering our dignity will not be erased.

Black people all over the planet should take notice, and honor the contribution Haiti has made to their lives and then do something about changing the circumstance of the country that opened up the door to the idea and reality of being free.

White supremacy can and will be defeated. Haiti has already proven this by defeating two world powers in order to reclaim their freedom. Check the records.

“La Union Fait La Force”

Together we are strong.

Happy Haitian Independence Day.

-Precise

Buy/Listen to “Speak Life” by Precise

My Top 5 Rap Albums of 2017

This year was great for the culture of hip-hop via rap music. We witnessed the emergence of women who rap, an increase in social commentary and an all-out assault on depression with an emphasis on living your best life. The five projects that made the top 5 best rap album list for 2017 encompass all of that and more. Check out the list. Let me know what you think.

1. Jay-Z – 4:44

Jay-Z continues to hold the torch and consistently moves into space where it can be argued that he is the best to ever do this rap thing. 4:44 is viewed by many as Jay’s response to his wife Beyoncé’s telling release Lemonade. Jay mentioned in an interview with Elliot Wilson on Tidal that they were working on both projects at the same time and Beyoncé’s took precedent. Regardless of how it happened, 4:44, in this writer’s humble opinion, is Jay-Z’s best work. He speaks clearly to his peers. He challenges his own sensibilities and is as vulnerable as a bragging rapper can be. The production provided by Chicago native NO ID provides a bed of lush samples and rhythms that pull the listener into the insightful bars. The most ingenious aspect of the project was the rollout. Every week a new visual was attached to one of the songs on the album tackling racism “The Story of Oj” and Black men’s mental health witnessed in the title track “4:44.”

2. Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom

Rapsody is nobody’s female rapper. She an emcee’s emcee and her project Laila’s Wisdom forces you to take notice. The 9th Wonder produced project is a Golden Age nod with a millennial vision. Her project has been nominated for “Best Rap Album Of The Year” at the 2018 Grammys and she has a legitimate chance at winning. Rapsody does everything right. She can be miss rappity rap, give you a love song and a complete story filled with irony and metaphors. Her song “Ridin” featuring GQ feels like a ride through your nearest hood on a beautiful day. As the song rides along, Busta Rhymes comes out of nowhere to continue with the feel-good vibe. The Jamla artist has been prevalent in recent years on many of her peers’ releases and she always represents solidly. Her wordplay and the way she can stretch out a metaphor is uncanny.

3. Tyler The Creator – Flower Boy

Odd Future impresario Tyler the Creator delivered a project in Flower Boy that is sonically above his peers and musically continues to stretch the boundaries. This is not new to Tyler; however, this project feels like a culmination into what could possibly be his magnum opus. The gritty song “Pothole” featuring Jaden Smith on the chorus harkens back to the original odd futuresque style that is irreverent and bold. The song “Boredom” that was featured on Issa Rae’s hit show Insecure opened a door into Tyler’s production skill. The track takes its time and allows Tyler’s gravely deep voice to live between the sounds. The song itself is inspirational in that it compels the listener to get off their ass and get busy doing something. Live your life.

4. Kendrick Lamar – Damn 

Kendrick followed up his undeniable revolutionary classic with an introspective, honest and highly personal release in Damn. He has firmly held his ground as the thought leader of his generation. He boldly tells his peers to be humble and gives insight into his deepest thoughts when it comes to religion and love. “Element” stands out as a song where he just let’s loose and makes it clear who he is and where he comes from. “DUCKWORTH” is the most telling song on the project, as it basically tells the story of Kendrick’s life before his conception. It speaks to how life can conspire in your favor when you pay attention.

5. Big Sean – I Decided

Big Sean has been able to deliver witty bars since his emergence in rap. His project I Decided is a spiritual experience. The album starts off with an elderly man lamenting on his life and feeling like he should have taken another direction in his life. Big Sean open on “The Light” saying, “I spent my whole life trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel / I should have realized that it was inside.” Chicago crooner Jeremih fills up the space of the sparse track with a falsetto soul reminding all that no one can stop your shine. Out of all the projects that made this list, this is probably the one (with the exception of 4:44) that spoke to me the most. The Metro Boomin produced “Bounce Back” is a reminder to keep pushing even after taking a loss. Big Sean is about shining that light and spreading that positivity, and that’s what’s up.

That’s my list. It’s dope, right? What are your top 5 for 2017? Share in the comments

Buy/Listen to “Speak Life” by Precise

Live your purpose – 25 years later #TBT

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This is me, Precise rocking the mic at an Olive Harvey talent show 25 years ago. This show is the day I decided I could do this rap thing and consequently was the same day I met one of my best friends and producer Chris Rice, May he Rest In Peace. As I watched the video I felt myself being reenergized as if I was being reminded that it is time to claim my spot and do what I was sent here to do, Live in My Purpose.

What does it mean for one to “Live in their purpose?” How does that benefit the individual and the universe as a whole? All of us have been given tools and talents that are provided to us to open up doors and add value to this world. When we neglect these talents our growth is stagnated and we never fully realize why we are here and what we are here for.

We waste time in fear and doubt. It is a disservice to the creator when we don’t honor our gifts.

We find ourselves at the time of the year when we take an assessment of our lives and look to catapult ourselves into a better circumstance. We must understand that the better circumstance is waiting for us.

I recently received word from two people very close to me that they have accepted their purpose and hearing that from them paired with the surfacing of this video is a message that I hear loud and clear. GO FOR IT! God got you and you will not be forsaken.

Let this message serve as a reminder not to bury your talents. Allow these talents to grow to make a way for you and live in the fullness of your purpose.

God is Awesome and so are YOU!

Now what you gonna do?

-Precise

Listen/Buy “Speak Life” ft Precise produced by B Carter

 (NEW VIDEO) – ‘That Ol Boom Bap’ ft Precise produced by Dj Tekwun

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“That Ol’ Boom Bap” is track number 13 on Dj Tekwun’s release The Boom Bap Project Vol 1.

Precise provides an even handed reflection on where Hip Hop is and why the roots of this culture should be respected. “I ain’t tripping on the golden age music changes all the time in a growing stage, and I ain’t hating on the drill and trap but it wouldn’t be here without that Ol boom bap.”  -Precise

Precise provides a clear and concise viewpoint that does not isolate perspectives.

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Buy/Listen to “That Ol’Boom Bap’ ft Precise produced by Dj Tekwun

A Tribe Called Quest delivers classic material for last album

 

A Tribe Called Quest album cover for “We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” – Photo Source: Instagram @qtiptheabstract

“Got to get it together forever got to get it together for brothers, got to get it together for sisters, for mothers and fathers and dead niggas, for non conformers one hitter quitters for Tyson types and Che figures. Let’s make something happen.”

The world has shifted and we got exactly what we needed to lift us. A Tribe Called Quest dropped a new album after 18 years. The quote mentioned above is from the first song off the release We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service called “Space Program”. The words are a call to action to a segment of the community who felt crippled and damaged after the current election cycle. It’s a shot in the arm a reminder that the mission for improvement and freedom is not over with.

To say that this album was highly anticipated is an understatement. This release continues a trend of amazing music that has dropped in 2016. In March of this year one of the members of the group Malik Issac Taylor aka Phife passed away from complications with diabetes at the age of 45. It was a blow to the hip hop community. Hearing his voice on the project is somber, fulfilling and amazing. When Q-Tip mentioned that the album was coming he made it a point to mention that these were not not old Phife bars “No this isn’t filled with old Phife bars…this is that pure, unstepped on pure.”said Q-Tip

That is the best description of this project. It is pure in a way that the production and the verses are nurturing to the soul. Jarobi White who has been called the glue of the crew and plays the background laces a few tracks with rhymes no one was expecting and son got skills yo! Andre 3000 , Kendrick Lamar, Busta Rhymes Consequence, Talib Kweli, Jack White, Anderson Paak, Elton John and Kanye West add their voices to the project. As diverse as this guest list is you never get the sense that this is not a Tribe album. The track Mobius featuring Consequence and Busta Rhymes has no original Tribe members on it but it still feels like Tribe.

It’s refreshing to hear real voices with annunciation, definition and substance. All the tracks are produced by Tribe as a unit. This is fitting being that this is their sixth and final studio album that includes all of their original members. “Lost Somebody” is an ode to Phife and celebrates his life as Q-Tip and Jarobi lament over their relationship with their brother. Q-Tip and Phife issues were very public and on some level caused for the the group to break up. Q-Tip admits to being overbearing and appreciates the fact that they were always honest with each other and never pretended.

We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service triggers an emotion that seems to have been untapped in rap music as of late. Knowing that Phife is no longer with us and status that Tribe holds in the world of hip hop makes this album more meaningful. Hip hop heads are rejoicing all around the world right now because Tribe delivered a classic right on time.

Buy/Listen to ‘Speak Life’ by Precise

108 years later The Chicago Cubs are the 2016 World Series Champions

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Chicago Cubs celebrating the final out in 2016 World Series – Photo Source: Instagram @Cubs

The Chicago Cubs have broken every curse that has been placed upon them over the last 108 years. They can now call themselves World Series Champions. After 10 long fought innings against the Cleveland Indians right after a rain delay a simple grounder thrown to first base for an out shook the world. After being down 3 games to 1 they made it happen.

As a Chicagoan, a South Sider and a loyal Sox fan this win is one that can be shared with the entire city. The biggest day in Chicago baseball history has culminated into the Cubs finally becoming World Champions.

Social media is on fire, friends are texting me and the excitement is genuine and infectious. “To love the Cubs is a true love because they will kill your soul, crush your spirit and never say sorry…but the love is unconditional…because, to be a Cubs fan takes love to last…and finally….I feel like I been loved all along…it feels amazing!” said Victor R. Moore II.

Next year has finally arrived. It arrived at 11:47 local time at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The Cubs won 8-7.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement, saying:

“From Opening Day in April to a historic November night, the Cubs championship season united the city of Chicago and fans around the world behind this incredible team. The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series is about more than a game, more than a team, and more than a sport. It is about the families who have passed down a love for the Cubs from mothers and fathers to their sons and daughters, and from grandparents to grandchildren. It is about generations who have come together around radios, televisions, and within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field to root for the home team and share triumphs and defeats. Cubs fans have never given up hope that this day was possible, and this young team made it happen. Congratulations to the Ricketts family, Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein, and the players, staff, and fans who together broke the longest drought in professional sports and made history this year. Go Cubs go!”

Buy/Listen to “It’s On Me” by Precise

Chicago vs. Chiraq it’s not Spike Lee’s fault

The name Chiraq just kind of popped out of thin air. No one staked claim to it. Based on statistics as it relates to the deaths of soldiers in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it made sense. Chicago, which is compared to Iraq in the popular moniker, has always been riddled with violence. “Chiraq” is not some new phase that is happening because of the youth. It is in the nature of the city; it is in the nature of many cities across America.

When I first heard the term Chiraq, I didn’t like it. I knew what it meant to the city as a whole and what it means to the inner-city more specifically. The term promotes visuals of war, flying bullets, fire, fear and destruction. I was one of the individuals speaking against this moniker because I didn’t want people thinking those types of thoughts about my beloved city. Fast-forward and Chief Keef becomes the newest rap music sensation promoting a new genre of rap music called Drill. Drill comes off as a dark and eerie form of production with tales of murder, drug use and oddly enough celebration (“turnin’ up”). So, the marriage between the terms Chiraq and Drill seems natural, especially with rates of murders and shootings escalating everyday in Chicago. It truly is a war zone, not in the sense that you would say people are fighting for some political end, more in the sense that disenfranchised people and misguided and impoverished youth are at war with who they are with regards to their identity. They don’t know who they are at the core, so the thought of taking the life of someone else seems trivial and almost acceptable until it hits home.

Recently, Chicago’s violence has been especially polarizing. Tyshawn Lee, 9, was lured into an alley on his way to his grandmother’s house and killed. He was shot multiple times in the back and the head. Rumors are circulating that this is the result of something his father did. Tyshawn suffered the consequences. The same day, Kaylyn Pryor an aspiring model was shot and killed near the same neighborhood where Tyshawn was killed. The very next day, Spike Lee dropped the trailer of his newest film, Chi-raq. The internet caught fire. Many thought Spike was making light of the situation in Chicago. Spike has since made a public statement saying that this film is not making light of the current situation in Chicago. He also released an alternative, more serious trailer.

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Chi-Raq movie poster – Photo credit: Lionsgate

I had to ask myself a few questions after witnessing all of the uproar directed toward Spike and the lack of action with regards to Tyshawn and Kaylyn. When is it time for us to take responsibility? When is it time for us to remove any thoughts of fear and reclaim our neighborhoods? When do we start exercising economic empowerment? These are real questions and really it’s up to us to make a move. The Black community can no longer point the finger at scapegoats and wait for saviors. It is up to us.

They call the neighborhood I grew up in “The Wild Hundreds.” There is another neighborhood called “Terror Town” and another called “Murder Town.” The list can go on. The point I’m making here is that no “name” is going to make us who we are. We make this choice as to who we are and how we are viewed.

I live in Chicago, affectionately known as Chi-town. Some people know it as Chiraq, because between the years of 2003-2012, 4,265 citizens were killed in Chicago, almost identical to the number of American soldiers who were lost at war during that time. We are at war in Chicago right now. It is a war of social standing, economics and equality. Spike Lee created a movie to shine a light on this battle zone. This battle zone exists, he did not create it, but we can fix it.

Eddy “Precise” Lamarre

That time Precise was on “Empire”

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Gail Rastorfer – Terrence Howard and Eddy “Precise” Lamarre – Photo by Chuck Hodes

Now here is the story. I just landed in Chicago after an epic trip to NY. I went to see Brandy in the Broadway production of Chicago and she was awesome. Anyway, I just landed in Chicago and I was invited to an event featuring a new artist by the name of Matt Legrande. He was doing a single release of song that featured Twista at the Vertigo lounge. I go and do my thing like taking pictures, posting to social media and networking. A few days later I get a call from a casting agency (I assume I handed my card to a casting agent) inviting me in to read for a role on Empire. For those of you who don’t know Empire is currently the hottest show on television now so imagine how excited I was. I immediately called my sister for some pointers for the audition; I was up for the role of Moses. Moses is locked up with Lucious and wants Lucious to give him a record deal. I went to the audition did the best I knew how to do and waited for a call back. I never got a call back.

Precise at Simon Casting

Precise at Simon Casting

A few days later a friend of mine posts that Empire is looking for extras. Considering I didn’t get a call back I figure it couldn’t hurt to apply. I followed the instructions, shot an email to the casting agency and the next day they sent me an email saying I was accepted. POW!

So the day comes when I go do my extra work. I pack my black suit, white shirt shoes and tie in my K&G garment bag and head to set. Once I get there I immediately get nervous. This was my first time doing anything like this and I didn’t know what to expect. They round up all the extras put us through wardrobe where I get a tie then take us to where everything is being filmed.

My role as an extra was a Federal Marshall. We get propped up and taken over to the court room we walk to the back and Terrence Howard (Lucious) is there in an orange prison jumpsuit. It all gets so real in that moment. There are three Federal Marshalls. We are instructed to walk Lucious into the court room and stand him in front of the judge. His lawyers are there waiting on him. We walk him out and do as we instructed. The entire cast is there and Taraji is there looking just like Cookie…lol. Lee Daniels the creator of the show is there directing this specific episode. He looks at the scene then moves one of the Marshalls who is standing next to Luscious to the side and put me in his place with one of his lawyers on the other side of him. BOOM!!

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Precise – Terrence Howard on Set

When we headed back to the extra gathering area, everyone was reminding me how I really lucked out to get that look. I knew I did, but I know how television goes and I had no expectation of even making the cut. We filmed the scene like 30 times. I was happy to have had the experience and ready to go home after a long day of filming.
Fast forward a month or so and I am a seasoned extra at this point. I’ve been called back twice and I’m looking forward to see if I have made the cut. I get an update to my Facebook page from one of my friends that says “Did I miss something?” So I go see what she is talking about and it’s a picture of me, Terrence Howard and Gail Rastorfer in a promotional picture for the upcoming season of Empire. I YELLED AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS!! WOOOOOOOO!!!!!! It was so surreal. A few days later I find out the same picture is in Entertainment Weekly (who got my name wrong by the way) and again in Rolling Stone and again in the New York Post and again in the NY Times and again on Spotify!!

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Precise On Set of Empire

I want to taper my excitement and play it down a little because I didn’t have a speaking role and who knows how long I will even flash up on the screen, but I can’t. I feel so very fortunate and it feels like a sign for me to keep pushing forward and following my dreams. This is exactly what I intend to do. I want to thank God for this opportunity, I am so grateful. I would also like to thank the Academy in advance for my Oscar **wink**.
Hope you guys watch the season premier of Empire tonight and if you see me hit me up on twitter and instagram @Precise_chi or my Facebook fan page Precise.
Stay Focused Positive and Productive
-Precise

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