The Holiday Spirit in Hip-Hop

Rarely do hip-hop artists take out time to create a CD full of holiday joy, but the holiday spirit can commonly be found year-round.  The most amazing power of music stretches beyond the sound itself.  Hip-hop’s Holiday spirit is characterized in its most dynamic essence– the unprecedented culture of sampling.

Blues, Jazz and Soul music was the heart of the African-American community from the 1920s throughout time of civil unrest of the 1960s and beyond.  Although many of Soul’s greats are today acknowledged as legends, very few were actually paid their just due.  Through hip-hop, they are resuscitated, revived, and reborn into a new level of appreciation.

Yesterday, via Twitter, multi-platinum selling producer Just Blaze [Jay-Z, Big Pun, Busta Rhymes, Usher, etc.] took to his account and recalled a few stories that are nothing short of what I would classically consider “The Holiday Spirit”!

“Wow!  Just got off the phone with Johnny Pate [Music Arranger/Producer of “Shaft in Africa,” sampled for Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got”].  If you guys could have heard this [conversation]– tearjerker.  He just turned 88, living on fixed income.  FedEx showed up at his house with a check that paid off his house and car, and his family is now ok.  He thanked me over and over, sounded like he was about to break down, and couldn’t understand what would make me sample his music.  [I] explained to him that “Shaft In Africa” is a b-boy anthem to this day.  He was so appreciative and floored, and kept thanking me for helping his life and his family.  [I] didn’t even know what to say.”

After briefly sharing that he received a similar story from Bobby Byrd for “U Don’t Know”, he went on to tell an unbelievable twist of fate with one of Hip Hop’s most beloved songs of all time, “Song Cry” by Jay-Z.

“I had a driver in LA one day who kept saying “Justin Smith.. Just Blaze.. Justin Smith.. Just… wait…” then he almost ran off the road.  He turns to me and says, “Are you the Justin Smith that works with Jay-Z?”  I say “Yeah.”  He pulls over, gets out, and hugs me. I’m like– ‘who the mutha what?!?’ He gathers himself and explains that he wrote “Sounds like a Love Song” by Bobby Glenn I used for “Song Cry.”  He had a community music center for children that he worked with that was about to close; City took away their funding.  He gets a call from a lawyer one day, saying he had a check for him.  He had no idea I’d sampled his song.  That money he got kept the Community Center open and [he] got some instruments for the kids.  Needless to say, my ride was free that day =)”

The lives of the artists Just Blaze sampled were changed in one day, due to one decision, by a man they had never met.  What you are doing today predetermines your tomorrow, whether or not you will see it next week, next year, or in your afterlife.  Strive to do what you love until you can’t do it anymore.  The right opportunity may just be saving itself for when you need it most!

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Join (RED) for World AIDS Day

By Posted on 0 1 m read

Today is World AIDS Day, a day that is officially observed each year on December 1st. Many use this day to raise awareness and increase knowledge of the AIDS pandemic that is spread through HIV. Over 60 million people have been stricken with HIV/AIDS. Wether you are directly or indirectly affected by this serious matter, there are multiple ways that you can help not only yourself, but others as well.

Join (RED) is a movement that works with various mainstream companies to help create products that give profits to fight AIDS. From Nike to Apple, Gap, and Beats by Dre, each of these companies have created a product that will assist in finding a cure. As of recent, they have started (2015)Quilt which is apart of the Getting to Zero initiative and ending aids by 2015. I encourage all of my civil readers to join this cause and help as much as you can to put an end to this growing disease. Joining the quilt only takes 3-5 minutes and is an easy and fun way to show your support, because every bit counts. You can join the quilt by clicking the link below.

I leave you all with this note: Always be safe. Always be civil. Wether it’s practicing safe sex or getting tested more regularly than the suggested 3 months, do all that you can to stay negative.

Join the (2015)Quilt

Timberland Helps Plant the Seed

By Posted on 1 2 m read

Timberland will plant 250 trees in my name/honor in my homeland, Haiti.

In 1923, over 60% of Haiti’s lands were forested. Today, less than 1% of the countries forests remain; the lowest percentage of tree cover of any country in the Western Hemisphere. Recent natural disasters in the country have exacerbated the problem and Haiti’s farmers are left with unfertile soil, constant flooding and depleted ground water. Over 70% of Haiti’s food is imported because the once fertile mountains of Haiti are unable to support the needs of the population.

Timberland seeks to change that. In 2010, Timberland partnered with Wyclef Jean’s Yéle Haiti Foundation and Trees for the Future to create Yéle Vert – a community based reforestation project in Gonaives, Haiti. Yéle Vert works with local farmers to increase their crop capacity, educate them on progressive farming techniques and provides them with crop and tree seeds; producing more than 1 million trees annually. Timberland’s commitment to sustainable development has led them to support the planting of over one million trees globally in the past decade.

Making the outdoors more sustainable also extends to Timberland’s product lines. Since 2007, Timberland’s Earthkeepers™ shoes and accessories have been using sustainable materials such as Green Rubber™ soles, recycled PET materials and organic cotton. The women’s line, featuring Belle Island Boat Ballerina shoes and Earthkeepers™ sunglasses, use renewable resources like bio-plastic and bamboo as well as 100% recycled PET lining and leather.

In order to create a more civil future, it’s important to support causes and products that are committed to the stewardship of our planet and that encourage sustained economic development. You can support Yéle Vert by participating in the Timberland’s Earthkeepers Virtual Forest application. The more trees growing in the virtual forests of the Facebook community, the more real trees Timberland will plant in Haiti. It’s an easy way to support the global community, conserve the planet and of course, LIVE CIVIL.


Thank you to Timberland for sending me products from their EarthKeepers collection, made from all recycled materials.


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