Thursday, September 30, 2010

ArtistFirst Radio Network

Had a blast last night running my mouth for an hour talking about my career and latest work A COMPANY OF MOORS. Thanks to ArtistFirst and Tony K. for a wonderful interview, and allowing me to have a self-indulgent, highly selfish moment to promote ME! (This is all tongue and cheek, people. Relax.)

If you missed the interview, it's already archived at ArtistFirst. Click here to listen, and remember, A COMPANY OF MOORS is NOW AVAILABLE. In the coming weeks, keep close to my blog and website for new, amazing, black, literary information.

b write black.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Stress of Code and Company

The concepts for Code-47 and A Company of Moors came as I was writing 12 Stories High, specifically the story I Wish Servitude. Though the story of I Wish Servitude is based in fantasy, it is set in the pirate-states of North Africa, mid-1500s. While researching that time period to get the politics correct, I stumbled upon a wealth of information about the 'companies' that ran the piratical North African cities and states. I immediately knew what would be one of my next two projects. I starting buying books, downloading articles, going back to old material (books, and concepts), and I started taking notes. It was either late 2005 or early 2006.

One bit of inspiration was the Prince of Persia series. I had been playing them for the Playstation. Great series. Loved the originals. But, in ancient Persia, there was no one that looked like Tom Cruise (or Jake Gyllenhall for that matter). I came up with my own story. I called it The Tale of the Five Black Bastards. I thought it would be cool if the story was that a young, Black Prince from Africa came back to reclaim an African Kingdom in Persia. He wears a seal on his arm that can prove his inheritance to the throne, also imposing the African origins of many civilizations outside of Africa itself. The 'tawny' King would then challenge the young prince for the throne: if he can survive a series of traps in the dungeon, and slay guards, and find his way above ground and back to the throne, he would receive his rightful throne. This story was ultimately incorporated into A Company of Moors. 

Also being scripted at the time was Code-47. Like I said in an earlier post in this blog, it was based on a conversation with a friend. And at the time, Code-47: Memoirs of a Hip Hop Heist's story was also being scripted and made notes for. I had to decide which story I would actually start first. I decided to go with Code-47, while on the side I would be doing extensive research for A Company of Moors. 

It was 2006. 

What did this all add up to? An immense amount of stress. And this wasn't stress that was complete about the scale of Code-47's concept and A Company of Moors' epic research, writing, and editing. 

No. The stress came because I felt, and continue to feel, as if I'm the only black author out there fighting a war against the consistent barrage of sub-par writing in what can be described as the 'Black Literature' Community. It's not so much the content of these embarrassingly bad 'urban' or 'black erotic' pieces that make anyone with sense cringe. It's the narratives that are terrible. The so-called writers of these pieces clearly do not have a grasp on the English language. Nor do they bother hiring an editor. I've read sample chapters from these works and they are absolutely atrocious. 

And then you have the titles. Most of these books' titles are filled with outdated, hip-hop slang. Or worse yet, they are even titled with titles already in use. Songs (okay, that I can kinda forgive), or Movies. And the Bland Plays On. I was always frustrated that, when I could finally speak about this, that I could not name a title as an example, because I really don't want to give any of these people publicity. But, as luck would have it, a new cop drama has appeared on the scene, and I can use that as an example. This show is called Detroit 1-8-7. Let me first express that I do like the show. I like the cast. Michael Imperioli, James McDaniel. But my beef is with its title. First off, we have the cop code for murder. 1-8-7. Made popular by numerous West Coast Hip Hop the early to mid-90s! Outdated. And even worse, 1-8-7 is the cop code for murder in CALIFORNIA not Detroit. 

And this is how these terribly written, Scarface wannabe knock-offs, urban novels are title, with no rhyme or reason, but with a catchy, outdated hip-hop phrase. Beware of books with the word 'game' or 'player' in their tile. Or even Hip Hop and Heist for that matter. And then there's the Terry McMillan knock offs. Erotic trash that usually has some cliche 'urban' sex slang, with the same women on the cover. Beverly Jenkins these women are not. These so-called authors are usually sexually frustrated women, spending three hundred pages about a fantasy when they need therapy or just need to keep a journal. Black literature has become, for black women, what Hip Hop has become for black men. It is an arena of self-expression of anger, resentment, fear, loathing, and most of all release. However, without a proper understanding of the origin of that anger, a good, culture, therapy session, only confusion and (good God) poor writing skills remain.

I wouldn't be so upset if the writing was good, but it's not. And unfortunately these people have no help in writing. No editors. Not even friends to say, "This really isn't that good. Anyone can be a writer, but it takes a special person to be an author. And that just ain't you." And the font is usually big so it can be considered a good amount of pages to be a book, making the product look like an embarrassingly elementary reading book.

Is this the best black people can do? Are all the new black writers this talentless and cliche? I've found a growing success with being creative, so this rant ain't about jealousy over a dollar. Which, I decided to write this article and blog entry afterward, so I can't be labeled as a 'hater'. And if so. Fine. I would rather be a hater with the intelligence and literacy to know the difference between good and bad literature, and also what needs to change drastically. Be happy with being an illiterate conformist. By-the-way, Jesus, Neo, and the entire Star Wars Rebel Alliance, can be seen as haters too. Not to mention Marcus Garvey, Nat Turner, Malcolm X, Nobel Drew Ali, Drusilla Dunjee Houston, and Martin Luther King, Jr (among many more).

What's worse is the fact that this flood of sub-par African-American 'literature' is purposeful. Even the semi-well written, down-trodden African-American 'experience' -fiction or biography- is starting to wear thin as well. These two-sides of no story type of writing in the black community flourish and are backed by big business dollars to keep stagnant black creativity, and to keep black people on a simple-minded (dare I say) 'ghetto' path and mentality. For the most part, the 'urban' fiction and Scarface (scared-face?), Godfather wannabe stories mostly glorify the streets, these stories do not have a moral tale of any type of significance to curb or solve the problems in the streets. Even Scarface and Godfather showcased that one must be careful to not be consumed by their own power. Even The Sopranos was a morality tale that tried to give humanity to a piece of shit like Tony Soprano. But, in the end, whether he lived or died in that last episode, his future is bleak, he's a terrible father, and a terrible boss that made tremendously terrible decisions for both his families. What black authors often miss is the humanity. But an angry people without a true outlet of expression about what angers and oppresses us creates terrible narratives, and unfortunately glorification of violence drawn inward and toward one another.

The creative medium from music to literature shows no difference in the violent urban arena. 

The stress of battling against this mundane 'literature' was overwhelming in the 4 years it took to write and release Code-47, and research, write, and release A Company of Moors. My emotions were all over the place, and I couldn't stop to rest when I finally released Hip-Hop Heist, or properly respond to the some of the flack I got for that book, and the people that defended the book. With those people in my corner, I didn't feel the need to respond, I had to keep moving to put out A Company of Moors. And that was 3 years and 571 pages (written and edited) fun, yet gut-wrenching work. It had to be right. And A Company of Moors was a progressive step forward for Black Historical Academia as well. There was no more of an argument were the Moors black. They are. Were. Will be. North Africa has been colonized by foreigners. A Company of Moors exposes the story on how the true Moors were usurped and all of Africa was set for a series of invasions that would lead to its state today.

Yeah, nothing emotional or violent in that story.

b write black (with prt 2 of this discussion)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

And On The Move

A Company of Moors is going strong. People are ordering through online sites and at the bookstores, and a couple hits through Kindle. I have been busy doing continuous promotion, and a lot of 'otha people's newz' being attended to. And the responses have been overwhelming and good. As someone has said to me, though, the haters will come soon.

I am scheduled on several shows, the first being ArtistsFirst Radio Network, scheduled for Sept. 29th. As the other shows find a specific date, I will be announcing them as well.

12 Stories High will be getting its final overhaul. Because of constant promotion and otha people's newz, I have not been able to apply the final edits of the revision. I have 6 stories left, a couple of them really short, and a couple of them really long. Those edits will be applied, and the revision should be circulating by end of October. There is already a commercial for it, which will hit my YouTube channel. There is also a teaser ready for the second epic poem: 2 Enlighten The G.O.D.Z. The teaser will be released by year's end, and Ray Cosico is already on the move with the book's cover, which should not have any delays, considering that the cover doesn't have to be finished a year from now. That should give Mr. Cosico a good amount of time.

I also like the fact that 2 Enlighten The G.O.D.Z. is finished!!!!! I will give it several look throughs, but for the most part, it's complete, in a final stage. This gives me a good amount of time to work on my next project without any pressure, and have I been under a great deal of pressure ever since Code-47. That's a post for another time.

For now, I'm enjoying a relaxing time getting the next project straight, plot, characters. My biggest debate right now is if I should tie this 'mystical' story into a larger world that I know I will be spending three books on. But, this project will be spoken about more and more as the time comes.

The minute I released a blast about A Company of Moors there was an out-of-control response, positive. I received a lot of responses to the release commercials, and of course, to the book itself. But among the all the noise created, I sat down quietly and started etching out the next project as if A Company of Moors was old news. I am very relaxed going into this next project.

Music will play.

b write black.