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…tor’cha, the book…INTERNATIONAL!!!

What it is good people – I’ll make sure that I get a few things up by the end of the week…but with the way the gears are shifting, I had to check in real fast. Check this out:

On “tor’cha” – the title joint to the novel soundtrack (G3, Havoc, Big Twins, Big Noyd – produced by Bear-One), Noyd says the line “see how it sounds/ a little irrational/ no, it’s tor’cha/ the book goin’ national!” So I figured I’d share that with all y’all as I let you know we had to make a power move and set the international purchase link on the tor’cha myspace page. So to all my international peoples that were tuned into Spitkicker Radio and Squeeze Radio, I got you – just click the international purchase link and you’ll be right where you need to!!!

So shouts to my man Dom in New Zealand (I got you!), Spitkicker, Squeeze Radio
And infinite thanks to my dude with the Mr. Fantastic-reach…Mr.LeN – what it is homie?!?!?!?

P.S – The podcasts for tor’cha on Spitkicker and Squeeze are coming in a second…

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academy of american poets prize – happy birthday uncle dea!!!

Wow, today is indeed a crazy day for me, and I really felt the need to share with y’all what the word really is for me. One of today’s morals is indeed “Things move full circle in various ways”…let me show you how that’s worked for me.

Right now, I’m writing this as I listen to the song “Veterans Memorial Pt. 2” from Prodigy’s “HNIC pt 2” album. Now why people are sleeping on my man Pee’s project is absurd, and I really can’t call it…but that’s a different blog for a different time. What strikes me most about this song is that a few years back, G3 (aka G.O.D. Pt 3 of Infamous Mobb) wrote a song called “Light a Candle for Your Death and Birthday” – the song spoke about people he lost and what he’d do in their memory. On the hook and second verse of “Veterans Memorial pt. 2”, Pee says:

I miss the dead, I wish the dead/
would please come back, I need your help/
And er’ybody that’s got somebody deceased/
I know you feel the same/
Spirit gon’ live thru me

Listen/
I light a candle on your death and birthday/
Lord have mercy/ it seems You cursed me/
With a life of pain/ all I do is strain/
Every day’s a struggle, everyday it rains/
Even when the sun shining/ they say that’s when God crying/
Dark clouds hangin’ over my head/ may lightning/
Strike me down if I’m lying

So rewind the tape from now to later this morning, when I went to my mailbox and found a nice-sized manila envelope from the Academy of American Poets. I opened it up to read the official word: “Dear Todd Craig – St. John’s University has notified us that you have won the 2008 Academy of American Poets Prize…” I kinda had the drop on the situation (shout out to Poet Extraordinaire Lee Ann Brown for makin’ sure I submitted my work), but I’m the type that won’t spread the word til the word is officially set in stone aka dried ink on letter-headed stationary.

Now rewind to the crazy part of it all: when I woke up this morning to get ready to start another one of those super-hectic busy days, I picked up the Blackberry to see an event that had gone off on my calendar – “Uncle Dea Bday.” It immediately sent me somewhere else…four days from today will be the one-year anniversary of his death. Now, understand a few things about my Uncle Dea

First of all, my uncle passed away in a fire. His apartment building caught on fire, and he ran out the building – essentially, he was safe and secure. But when he heard the little kid screaming from inside, he ran in to save him. And after he got that kid out the building, he went back in; his thinking was, if there was a little boy in the building, who knows how many other people were in there. So before the Fire Department got to the scene, he ran back into the inferno, knocking on doors, pulling people out of the blazing building, then going back in to help as many people as he could. On the third or fourth trip, my uncle was severely burned. He had just turned 53 and was finally winning his battle with emphysema. After an ill fight in the intensive care burn unit, he passed away and went home…four days after his birthday. So first and foremost, if you can even say you know a better way to learn how to be selfless, post a comment and let me know – far as I’m concerned, Uncle Dea wins the prize, hands down!!!

But he was so much more than that to my family. Uncle Dea was my favorite uncle. He was the uncle that was crazy and just didn’t care. Even in my youth, he treated me like the young man I was – and he treated all of us coming up in the younger generation of the family that way. He was also responsible for me touching my first pair of turntables. He put me onto all his record stores (even the secret spots) and helped me to understand the way music works. He showed me the legacy of soul music and how that was the foundation to this new thing I was listening to called hip-hop. Uncle Dea put me onto how music’s supposed to sound when it’s right – and how to take other peoples’ music and make our own music out of it. My first childhood memories are of my Uncle Dea and Uncle Todd making mixtapes while me and my cousins were running around in between their legs; we were playing like all little kids do…they were blending records on reel-to-reel machines, using turntables with no pitch control. I remember how shiny the lights were on all the machines. The house might have been dark, but all that equipment lit up the night iller than the New York skyline from Queensbridge rooftops before they knocked down the towers…I can still see the lights in the caverns of my mental memories.

Uncle Dea was also the ill comedian. On any day, best believe you would pick up your phone and be talking to Silky the Pimp, the Black Lucky Charms Leprechaun, and various other characters he’d make up – just to put a smile on people’s faces. He entertained us so much with his music but also his humor, and his genuine love for life. Even when things weren’t going the way he had planned, he could still find the sunshine through the clouds of life. And on the real, I swear it feels like he’s been gone forever – but time and the calendar don’t lie. So to think it’s only been a year in four more days. Add that science to the fact that Dea’s birthday is August 13th – the same unlucky number 13 days that passed in between my birthday and the day my cousin Killer Black went home 10 and a half years ago…time moves in ways I’ll never understand, but I don’t even think I’m supposed to know that right now.

But the saying is really true: as someone leaves this world in death, someone enters it in life. So even as I take this day to remember Uncle Dea’s life and it’s influence on me, I need to acknowledge as someone leaves, another comes into existence – my man just called me yesterday to let me know he’s gonna be a father, “so Uncle Todd, you got more responsibilities now.” At the time, I was kinda speechless when he told me…now I understand why. But the illest part about it is that I get to serve for the youth my friends and family are bringing into the world in the same way Uncle Dea did it for me. Reflecting on that lets you know sometimes how much responsibility we actually hold in the world – and our uncanny ability to adjust the future for our youth one day at a time. Now, as my uncle looks down on me, hopefully he can see that I’m taking that responsibility willingly…after all, that’s what he did for me!

But no achievement comes without struggle, perseverance, and loss. So this award from the Academy of American Poets really becomes one of the illest birthday presents I could ever share with my uncle. I never got a chance to bring him his book…and what hurts the most is I never got a chance to just sit down with him and let him hear the whole soundtrack…let him hear the music project that was really built on the strength of my ear for music – the same ear he trained and cultivated. Instead, I had to shout him out on the soundtrack in my interlude “Right Here With You” that I dedicated to those who were close to me that passed on to go home, to go to that next stratosphere of understanding. Dea woulda bugged out over me being on XM Radio, and 89.9 would made him wild out even crazier than I did when I got the call. And of course, I know that he’s looking down on the whole situation beaming with that infectious glow his smile had – seeing and hearing him laugh FORCED you to put a smile on your face. And I’m sure he’s wild proud of me – I know he’s somewhere deejaying a party and stopped the music to shout out his nephew for doing big things…that’s just the type of thing he’d do, for real…

So now, I’ma just take a second to chill out and bang to Pee’s song on repeat in the CD player. I’ll sit in front of the candle on the living room table right next to the picture of me and my uncle and try to remember all the good times we had together. I’ll tell him to say what up to Killer for me…and I’ll take the day to really reflect on how much of my life was changed by my uncle…if not for him, I wouldn’t know music and I wouldn’t know turntables, the art of DJing, and most importantly, the art of selflessness. And really, what better to think about than that…after all, I can’t cry all day – and believe me when I tell you, the morning has been full of tears. But now, I choose to wipe the tears and celebrate his legacy – is there really any other way to do it?

“And er’ybody that’s got somebody deceased/ I know you feel the same/ Spirit gon’ live through me”

You absolutely right Pee – I feel the EXACT same way…

Rest in Power Uncle Dea.

In loving memory of James A. Miller, Jr.
August 13, 1954 – August 17, 2007

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…tor’cha on 89.9fm…what?!?!

Good people, what’s good?
Okay, so I really wasn’t playing around when I designated August as “tor’cha – the movement” month. And this was one I didn’t want to let out of the bag until it was official…
For all y’all official hip-hop heads, you can catch me on Squeeze Radio this Thursday night (August 14th) from 1-5am on 89 tech 9!!! Tune in as Mr.LeN goes in on the ones and twos while Special Guest Todd Craig talks about tor’cha!!!

For all who know and love underground hip-hop, you understand the seriousness of this guest appearance. But for all who don’t, let me break it down for you. WKCR’s 1-5am Thursday night slot is legendary, and has served as the New York epicenter of underground hip-hop music and culture. It all started with “The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show” – in the early 1990s the show was voted “the best hip-hop show of all time” by Source Magazine and “the best hip-hop show in New York” by the Village Voice. My college years were consumed with NYC day trips – running from Massachusetts down to New York to pick up the tapes of the radio show, only to then turn around and go right back to school!!! (Shouts to Scrappy on the late-night taping sessions) “89 tech 9” was the pulse of underground hip-hop music and culture, with Stretch and Bob not only breaking records, but also breaking unsigned artists we’ve come to know and love throughout the years, including Nas, Big L, Mobb Deep, Big Pun, Jay-Z and Wu-Tang Clan. From the early days of DJ Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito the Barber to Lord Sear, Rich Medina and Sucio Smash, the legacy continues to live on. So to go from listening to the show, to Bobbito’s blurb for tor’cha, then to being a guest on the show…wow!!! It’s truly the definition of things coming full circle.

So “tor’cha – the movement” month moves on crazily. Make sure you tune into Squeeze Radio this Thursday night from 1-5am to hear Mr.LeN with special guest Todd Craig. Now if you’re not in the NYC area – I got you!!! You can listen online by simply clicking HERE – that link will get you to the show. And believe me when I tell you, you’re in for a treat with Mr.LeN’s crates – the XM radio sets were super-ill! And for all you skeptics, I’ll even give you the link to Mr.LeN’s bio so you can see for yourself just how real it is. Shouts to Stretch Armstrong, Kool Bob Love, Lord Sear and Sucio Smash for keeping the legacy alive and well! And of course, three cheers to Mr.LeN for really lookin’ out on this one.

We’re moving in August – make sure you hop on the bandwagon now before we’re outta here!!!

Peace and Love

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…the blogroll’s rollin’…

Okay good people!!! I told you I’d be up with you in a second…

As I’m sure you see, I had to make the additions to the blogroll. Along the way, I’ve met some serious people while runnin’  around with tor’cha from the beginning to end. Make sure you check in with all of them – between the DJs, Producers, Authors, Move-Makers and Shakers, I’m sure you’ll love to be connected in the same way that I have! So shouts to all my newly-updated blogroll crew and shouts to wifey for makin’ a lot of those connects happen properly!!!

From NYC to VA, stand up people!!!

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spitkicker radio interview

Aight y’all, as promised, I’m letting y’all know the Spitkicker Radio interview on XM was crazy!?!?! First and foremost, infinite thanks to the Spitkicker fam for bringing me through. Mr.LeN was playin’ bangers and kept the jokes coming…

And of course, the old saying is quite true: “you learn something new everyday.” I thought that everyone knew what the Ten Commandments were all about, or at least knew of them…and then I got to meet Mr.LeN’s co-host!!! So you know me and Mr.LeN had to put her onto the tablets and let her know how the Ten Commandment and Supreme Mathematics work in tor’cha. Of course, the extra highlight of the night was when capital H.A.V.O.C called in! That’s right y’all, Havoc from Mobb Deep stepped out from the power meetings, stepped away from the MP, and called up to holla at us…definitely a landmark moment.

You definitely don’t want to miss out on the show. Make sure you check out XM Radio – 65 The Rhyme to hear the show on Spitkicker Radio when it airs on Saturday, August 16th and Tuesday, August 19th…as my peoples always say – “you don’t wanna miss this thun!!!” And be on the lookout…you never know when the podcast is coming to the website…

Aight, time to hit to sack to get some rest to make the donuts tomorrow…Pomonok Library event is almost 48 hours away, so the brain is working in overdrive…

I’ll be back at y’all in a second

One

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…tor’cha – the movement…

Good people – what’s the word? Okay, so I had to take a second to put all of this in place…as you can see, it’s a pretty serious roster. So right around that time when we all start to say to ourselves “damn, summer’s almost over,” you know I had to come through and bring the August heat for tor’cha. On this run, I’ll be keeping y’all up to date on how each event and situation goes down – gotta make sure tor’cha gets that nice run before the doctoral program starts back up. So August has been deemed the official “tor’cha – the movement” month!!!And stay up with me, because believe me when I tell you, the list keeps growing…already waiting on the word for a few surprises…

In a second…one

——————–

Just when you thought the summer was coming to an end, tor’cha heats up heavy in August!!!
If you’re looking at your calendar to plan out the rest of the summer, make sure you check out
these events and plug Todd Craig and tor’cha into your calendar:

Saturday, August 9th, 2008 – Queens Public Library: Pomonok Branch, 1:30pm.
158-21 Jewel Avenue, Flushing, NY 11365, (718) 591-4343, FREE ADMISSION
tor’cha – reading and book signing

Todd Craig, who grew up in the Queensbridge and the Ravenswood Houses, will discuss his debut novel, “tor’cha,” the story
of three African-American brothers growing up in the inner city.

For more information, check out:
http://www.queenslibrary.org/index.aspx?page_id=126&section_id=12&sub_section_id=44&branch_id=Pm

Saturday, August 16th, 2008 – Street Vendor signing, 1-5pm.
East 106th Street and 3rd Avenue, Manhattan, NY (in front of Duane Reade)
tor’cha – book signing

Come check out Todd Craig as he hits the streets with tor’cha for a street vendor book signing.

For more information, check out:
www.myspace.com/dejavubooks

Saturday, August 16th, 2008 – SpitKicker Radio, The Rhyme 65, XM Radio, 6-8pm.
Todd Craig Interview

Tune in as Mr.LeN and Courtney Brown bring special guest Todd Craig to discuss his debut novel and soundtrack, tor’cha.
All you have to do is tune in to XM Radio…and if you don’t have it in your car, go download that free trial membership by
Saturday before 6pm on listen to the show online!!! And just in case you miss Saturday, you can catch it again on
Tuesday, August 19th from 6-8pm
.

For more information, check out:
http://www.xmradio.com/onxm/index.xmc

Saturday, August 30th, 2008 – Queens Book Fair, 12pm-7pm.
The Jamaica Market’s HARVEST ROOM, 90-40 160th Street, Jamaica NY, 11432, (718) 591-4525, FREE ADMISSION
Panel Discussion and tor’cha book signing

Come check out Todd Craig engage in a panel discussion, then come to the tor’cha table, where he will sign copies of tor’cha.

For more information, check out:
www.queensbookfair.com

For more detailed information about these and upcoming events, contact:
info@blackerinkwells.com

Spread the word, tell your peoples – come out and support good literature. And make sure you
stay tuned as tor’cha – the movement comes to a spot near you…

Peace and Love

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