Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"What Just Happened?" (Pt. 3 on Insecurity)

Unless you're an artist or a fascist dictator (or both), your deepest insecurities probably don't show their face anywhere besides your relationship, where you should probably feel the most secure. I appreciate a great irony.

I've been dating women for 13 years now, foolishly for most of them, seriously only in the past few, and I make my next statement with utter certainty...

Every problem I've EVER had in a relationship has dealt directly either with MY insecurity or HERS. Period.

I'm either mad about SHE feels about herself, or mad about how I feel about myself.

If I've ever even looked at another woman, it's because looking at HER has become exhausting. I mean, SHE won't even look at herself! Why should I?

If HE cheats, perhaps his ego has told him he can have whatever he wants, and he better do it now before he can NEVER DO IT AGAIN. Insecure about one's future maybe?

If SHE has become quiet and defensive, perhaps she is uncomfortable sharing what exists so deeply and truly inside of her? The ego is so monstrous that it believes the only thing that can help it is ITSELF.

Why are we defensive? Because we are insecure. In the past two posts I have told stories. I like my life, so I'll hold the PERFECT illustration here. Maybe you can share one. How about something all men deal with?

"She got mad because I told her she was getting big. But she told me don't lie to her. But when I told her the truth, she got mad. (insert expletive here)"

For good reason. Insecurity. We don't want the truth. We want to be loved in the midst of a truth we already know. Not, "yeah, you're fat" but "Yeah, you can see yourself you've put on a few, but it's nothing you can't take care of. Want me to help?"

Advice: Saying "You can see for yourself" helps people tell their own truth. Never co-sign ("yeah, you're family is JACKED UP" or "Dag"). DAG NEVER WORKS for ANYTHING. I've had some unfortunate exchanges that started with "Dag."

Here's how all arguments END, and I tell you this so you can avoid the argument altogether and just have good communication:

1. Content of Argument: "Blah.Blah.Blah"
2. Response from participatory party: "I'm Sick of this"
3. Some amount of SPACE, proverbial or literal, occurs here for minutes, days, weeks, or months. It's up to how antsy you are. If you rush back in before step 4, return to step 1.
4. REFLECTION (by at least one party).
5. Reconciliation: "You know, I was wrong" (never, EVER, try to reconcile by saying "You know, YOU WERE WRONG but..." (also, experience)

The Reconciliation ALWAYS has two facets: an admission of guilt ("sorry I bust the windows out your car") and a reason ("I thought your therapist was your mistress"). Put those sorrys in a sack and listen closely to the reason. There's always a "I thought that..." or "I was worried that..." or "I figured that..." in there. Insecurity.

I once got mad at a woman because I wrote letters by hand and she never responded with letters by hand (or at all sometimes). Did we argue? Higgity yes. But not because I wasn't getting an eye for an eye. After I reflected, it was because "I was worried that..." (see what just happened there?) our communication over time would be unequal and we would grow apart from one another. From there, we discussed ways in which we can better communicate, personal preferences, all that crap, and the argument was complete.

Do your partner a favor: when something bothers you, skip steps 1-3 and try to find out what about this situation makes you insecure. Reconcile before the fight.

If in your honesty and vulnerability (it is a relationship right?) they act carelessly or insensitively, MOVE BACKWARDS to step 3 (Create Space), and if they don't respond...by all means give them TWO PIECES OF YOUR MIND and their walking papers. This ain't tough (even an All-Star has been cut before).

It's about the interplay between two broken people. Ever left an argument saying, "What just happened?" Hurt people hurt people. But if we love we forgive, we are patient, and we hope the best for this person (even if the best requires your absence).

Tick. Tick...

"Something Didn't Happen" (Pt. 2 on Insecurity)

The first fodder was about insecurities we all have that arise from situations and people that HAPPEN in our lives. The curious exchange of brokenness to brokenness often results in...well...more brokenness.

I promised a second story. A second angle. A second truth.

"I've always done well in school. But I've never known I was smart. I would bring home straight A's and the 'rents would say, 'Congratulations! See what hard work gets you?' That was how I thought of it. Whether I was smart or not didn't matter if I worked hard enough. I've always wanted the best. So I just worked for straight A's. Through high school. Through Morehouse. Through every honor society that exists. I struggled early at University of Chicago. Hard work wasn't equating to retention of knowledge. I was getting juicy A's but couldn't remember anything I had studied. Others in my cohort seemed more adept and agile with their reasoning and critical thought. They had read and remembered more. Had something happened, or was I NOT SMART ENOUGH? This is what I thought. I reflected through my education, everything, and it became clear: I've never thought of myself as smart anyway! In my mind I've never been the brightest bulb, just the hardest worker. So now that it had come time to display confidence in one's own thought (which a master's requires) I realized that I had NONE. What happened?

Nothing happened. No one told me to have such confidence. No one told me I was smart, not in any way I can remember. No one reinforced anything in me. They simply pushed me to work harder. It was no fault of their own (who knows to do this?), but I had lived my whole life with little confidence and great INSECURITY about my ability to think."

What happened? Nothing. And I have no one to blame. It simply came about that when it came time to tap into my confidence, I had no reservoir. It may do our society a bit of good to encourage and uplift one another every once in a while. Not to congratulate for something that has been done, but to acknowledge something that simply EXISTS.

How often do we thank God for something done? All the time.

How often do we come into prayer simply and ONLY to acknowledge God as being...GOD? Rarely. Regardless of our faith, we usually approach God only to thank it for the past, present, and ask for a better future. But I digress, for God is not insecure. This would make God ungodly.

Security is about BEING, not Circumstance. Security is not about what you have done but who you have become. WHAT YOU ARE deserves mentioning. I have been fretting about my thesis lately, because frankly, I don't think I'm smart enough to pull this off. Seriously. Blessed with great self-awareness does not always mean you'll be right about what you come up with. My advisor told me this plainly a few weeks ago: "For some reason you've decided you're not smart. That's not true. You're very bright and you're going to easily pull this off, if you can GET OVER YOURSELF first."

Get over yourself. My favorite phrase in life, and this woman conjured it up without knowing, so that I could get over myself.

It wasn't about something that happen, but something that didn't happen. A neglect, not to recognize what has happened, but to recognize what exists ontologically (as a matter of fact), though it has not happened yet.

Many of us are insecure not because something has happened, but because nothing happened. We need to take time in the busy HAPPENINGS of life to acknowledge what God has made plainly in us. We are fearful and wonderful. Unique and beautiful. Great without great things. Excellent without any proof. You are the proof of God's excellence. You are excellent because you ARE.

Many of us need to get over what hasn't happened, and find beauty in ourselves, even though no one told us. Find confidence in ourselves without lying to ourselves about who we are (ahem, plastic surgery, cheating on tests, shopping waaaay too much). Make peace with what we have no control over. You're smart. You're handsome. *In Pharrell's voice* "You're Bad Girl." Some things about you aren't perfect. Nothing is. Embrace it. Fix what you can. Love what God has made, lest you insult God's supreme intelligence.

Many of us need to start encouraging our friends more. We are all struggling, and in uncovering our own selves from this great HAPPENING called Life, we need to remind our closest loved ones that there are beautiful things inside of them too. I have great artists around me who need to know they are geniuses, not because of any of their work. Some woman around you needs to know she is beautiful, not because she is wearing something that inspires the comment. Moreover, some man needs to know that, sure, you've put on a few lbs, or let go of yourself in some other way, but you're STRONG enough to conquer it and YOU are here to see them through it.

If they want to go on with being insecure after that, that's THEIR problem. Some people just like to feel sorry for themselves, (and you should feel sorry for them). At least now they can't say NOTHING happened.

"Something Hapened" (on Insecurity)

There's an interesting conversation happening right now on Twitter between three friends of mine. It's about insecurity. Where does it come from? Who's fault is it? How do two partners negotiate that? How can it destroy a relationship?

Because it does. Often more than the ill-communication and suspicious movings - or blatant acts of betrayal - come the deep insecurities that are uncovered by those we love most. I'll tell you two stories. Two angles. Two truths.

"I was 13 and my mother and I had just moved into our new apartment. Never had we spent so much time together. Never had she had the opportunity to pour into her son whatever God had given her as a mother. For a curious and energetic young mind like mine, she quickly became a safe and authentic confidant. One day - or over the course of many days, as teeth were falling and moving and shifting (per adolescence) - I was brushing my teeth in the mirror. And I'll never forget this. Just as I was smiling to ensure last night's meal was all gone, my mother came into the bathroom. She had been watching me from the hallway. I said to her, 'It'll be time to get braces soon.' And she said, lovingly but most unfortunately, 'Yeah, you're starting to look like a little monster,' and raised her hands above me like a hovering Frankenstein. She was joking, obviously, but I ran into my room and shut the door, crying and crying. That messed me up for years."

I eventually got braces, and surgery, and whitenings, and the greatest compliment anyone can ever give me is on my smile, but for years I was destroyed. There was not one day in high school I felt good about how I looked. Not one. I changed my look as often as possible, even dyed my hair platinum blonde, just to find something that I would like when I looked in the mirror. But the devastating moment had come and laid its sickle.

Some argue that insecurity has its source in situations and other people. The story above seems to fit. But I tell you: long before my mother came into the bathroom I had know my teeth were a mess. They weren't right. I just didn't feel bad about it until she said something. There are things about us that we KNOW aren't right. Face it, you KNOW you are overweight and you need to quit blaming and complaining and putting off and EXERCISE. But there's something about when someone you love points it out. "A couple of extra pounds there, huh?" That NEVER helps.

My fiance did this to me a couple of times while we were still dating, as I was battling a heart condition and had more than enough stress to legitimize my frequent weight fluctuation. But every time she said it a part of me went back to that moment in the bathroom.

What are they supposed to do, LIE TO US?

If something's wrong, I expect my closest people to tell me. The embarrassment of bad breath is cured by a close patron's easy sliding of Dentyne Winter Ice. I appreciate most a sermon critique from my father. And those stretch marks and extra moles on my back I would never know about had it not been for my loving partner.

A part of our ego dies when the people we love most tell us the truth. Maybe that's what Insecurity is: On the deathbed of the ego, its last dying wish is to exist naively.

The problem is when folks tell you something about yourself, NOT to assuage a more holistic lifestyle for you, but to burst your bubble. And that's a problem. Ultimately, my mother wanted her son to be as beautiful on the outside as in spirit. But she too has her brokenness, and broken people don't always say what we feel the right way. Lord knows I have erred often in love.

But our insecurity is not all their fault. We the insecure (YOU) fish for compliments when we have not earned them.

We blame our self-hate on words that someone else has spoken, though we felt them ourselves long ago.

We, the miserable and imperfect, love company, and point out imperfections (perhaps our own) in others. Some call it being a hater. I call it lacking the courage to love.

THE POINT: Some of us need to stop blaming others, check ourselves, and do some work. If you don't like it, FIX IT, but if someone is not loving you along this process, check them.

Something happened. Something is happening. Often a full-security in one's self is merely a well-dressed naivete or a deceptive arrogance. We are all works in progress. Be patient with those who reveal what you have already known.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Verbal Kwest - "Christmas Time"

Just in time for your "Sleigh Ride" playlist. We did a Christmas song. It's not corny. Quality Control actually likes it. So enjoy. And it's free. So GIVE IT TO EVERYONE.


Christmas Spirit

Does this song really need a 12" dance version? Maybe not, but you're ready for Christmas now aren't you? This is EASILY my favorite Christmas song. Just wanted to share.

I know it's been tough for me to get into the spirit, and this weekend while chilling with @thewholehood we all started singing this song. Now I'm ready. I pray you are getting the rest you need, body and spirit, and getting ready for 2010. It's been a REAL 2009 for all of us. Just enjoy these next few days. ENJOY!

Jin-gle Bells...Jin-gle Bells...Santa's Coming!!! (white dude in the back "Santa Clause")

On another note: this song is proof that if you got a groove (and naturally, if it's undisturbed) that you can say ANYTHING. All future J.Kwest records will have 12" dance versions (even the sad ones)


Monday, December 21, 2009

P90X Wrap-Up (Video)

As promised...let me know how I can help you get started.

Top Albums of the DECADE: acc. to J.Kwest

Let me be clear...if I could put the advance copy of Lupe Fiasco's "Food & Liquor" on here, it would be near the top. That was a near flawless piece of work, but alas...my list (with explanations when needed)

N.E.R.D. - Seeing Sounds
Erykah Badu - Mama's Gun
Outkast - The Love Below AND Speakerboxxx (one of the best mixed albums EVER)
Amy Winehouse - Frank (for "Take the Box" if nothing else)
Kanye West - Late Registration
White Stripes - Elephant
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade
Common - Like Water for Chocolate
J.Kwest - 20/20: The InVision (why not? It's my list lol)

And the list (in no particular order). Really, they're all #1:

1. Slum Village - Fantastic Vol. 2. (2000)

First off, this album was the epitome of cohesion. Top to bottom it sounds like Dilla and SV were sleeping in the same bed together (foot to head naturally). This is the type of producer/rapper chemistry that most artists dream of. It was in the lane of hip-hop and yet totally new and vibrant. The reason Common's "Like Water for Chocolate" is in Honorable Mention is because of THIS ALBUM.

2. Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)

What does an old man sound like at the end of his life? What if he was an unreconciled rebel who was deeply spiritual? What if, in speaking your last piece you didn't want drums and fanfare, but a simple guitar to write simple songs with words that rhyme (remember that?). Well, that's THIS ALBUM. Very folksy. While writing "No Country For Old Men" I bet the Coen Bros. were listening to THIS ALBUM. Tied together by scriptures from Revelations, this album is simply devastating at certain points. You are familiar with "Hurt" already. His cover of "Desperado" (a famous Eagles record) makes it sound like they stole it from him. Ever listened to an album where every song sounds like the last song? Here. Listen to "We'll Meet Again" and you'll want this playing at your funeral. I know I do.

3. Justin Timberlake - Justified

Genre Changing. Stop playing around. I am very tempted to call this the most influential and BEST album of the decade. Pharrell. Timbaland. Every record was a record. Moving on.

4. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere

You know, I hated this album when it dropped. I thought "Crazy" was overhyped (and it was). I thought it was gimmicky stoner-loner music (and it was). One day I gave it a full listen and thought, "well now..." and well...now it's on my list.

5. John Mayer - Continuum (2006)

Though I like "Battle Studies" better (for the same reason I have a J. Cash album on my list), I know good music when I hear it. Gravity. Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. Is John Mayer the best songwriter in all of music right now? I HAVE to say yes. And this was his album. I'm sure @2woLangley can expound further on why, but Continuum HAS to be on your list.

6. Jay-Z - Blueprint (2001)

There has to be a Jay-Z album on here, and I was deciding between this and "Black Album." Though his best SONG this decade is "Allure," his best album of the 21st is Blueprint. Takeover. You Don't Know. Heart of the City. Game-changing records. You can't put "College Dropout" on this list because THIS album is the one that put Kanye on his rapping horse. This is the last time he ever gave his best beats to someone else. Song Cry? Renegade? Fam...RENEGADE? The first over-hyped Eminem verse ever. Speaking of that guy...

7. Eminem - Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

Nothing needs to be said. Near-demonic introspection. Dr. Dre. Concepts in songs (now, REMEMBER THAT?). Cohesion through interludes. He didn't eat one rapper either. He just rapped, and they ate themselves.

8. Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)

You know, since this album, a lot of good alternative/funky European/anti-hip-and-yet-very-hipster artists have come along and had a lot of success. Most of them write the soundtrack to Grey's Anatomy, and I wish them quite ill. The Big Man on Campus has always been Chris Martin, and this album seems the most authentic to pop music (what irony). If you have a Decade's Best list and there's no Coldplay or U2 on there (or some band who only does festivals)...As opposed to U2 I decided to pick something that was actually music.

9. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

And now, for my favorite album of the decade. Everything In Its Right Place. No rock album is better, and I promise you Radiohead should be getting royalties from every artist that has ever done BDS or get spins through MTV2 (see Honorable Mention list). Kid A was just authentic "this is awesome. what is it again?" music. Have a listen sometime soon. You too can wake up sucking on a lemon.

10. D'Angelo - VooDoo

Had to, right? When Neo-Soul was a floundering genre (and I mean dying: Jon B was the spokesperson), D'Angelo and ?uestlove and Pino and James and Dilla came in and make a doggone MONSTER of an album. I confess I do not love this album like some do, and I probably enjoy Badu's "Mama's Gun" a bit more, but when you resurrect Funk from its Sly and the Family Stone grave, and you give birth to a million other artists I can't listen to, I have to respect you. And while you didn't make "Orange Moon," you made "Untitled" (the slowest groove of the century). Thank You.

WELL FOLKS, That's my list. feel free to argue. More lists are coming. I'm looking for a reason to change my mind, but I feel pretty solid about this.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Folks, been a while and I'm wrapping up a couple of things before I can bombard you with more posts, but check out the flyer above and bring your youth if you can to this AWESOME event coming this Saturday. J.Kwest, S.O.M. (Chicago), DJ NICKTUNEZ (Gary, In), and the youth of TRINITY UCC present:

Sat, December 12, 2009
South Shore Cultural Center
Chicago, IL

FREE FREE FREE FREE (so bring ya babies out)

Giveaways, Music, and yes, J.Kwest will bring the word!

Special appearance by Power-92's own Keno "K-Gee," host of the hottest gospel show on the planet, "Street Sermonz"

Come through and support our youth!