I’ve been in the concrete jungle for a few weeks now with an entire month to go. The weather has been a fart sound. The people are on permanent red alert, darting up and down the street going nowhere fast. The trains are packed like sardines. What is it about this place that’s awesome again? I kid, I love visiting NYC, key word visiting. It’s one of a kind, vibrant with endless possibilities. It’s home but the truth is this city has changed so much it’s only a shell of its former self. The days of Andy Warhol, Basquiat, Downtown 81, Zoo York and the energy that made Hip Hop are long gone. NYC is due for a new renaissance and when that happens, truss me daddi I’ll be the first one here.
In the meantime, I’m reposting one my favorite EMPT Exclusives by former EMPT writer Barry Poppins as an ode to the beautiful city that once was.
I’m not guilty
You’re the one who’s guilty
The lawmakers and politicians
The Colombian druglords
All you who lobby against making drugs legal
Just like you did with alcohol during the prohibition
You’re the one who’s guilty -Nino Brown, New Jack City (1991)
There are several things that I realize and think about every day. They’re all mostly spurred by the fact that I reside in and remain prideful of New York City, but they have to do with all facets of life. Today, I thought for a long time about the history of Ancient Egyptians. Many find the idea of Ancient Egypt extremely fascinating. It’s not even just Ancient Egyptians that have a rich history, but any culture that dates back to ancient times. When we really think about it, any culture that exists successfully today, is because of a struggle in the past. And while that is true for many, only some rise above to further expand on that name that their ancestors fought for.
When I think of societies that have conquered all to rise above, I can’t help but think of New York City. I could say that I’m biased, but even if I didn’t live here and even if I wasn’t such a proud born and practically raised New Yorker, I would still look at this city in awe as so many people do from other parts of the country and world. The city itself is built on precarious grounds, both physically and metaphorically. Everything about its history is evident in the way it carries itself every single day. No matter how many skyscrapers go up, no matter how many condos replace artist lofts, and no matter how many expensive urban organic markets try to weasel their way into my food loving heart, there’s always that organic flavor that seeps up through the cracks of the slightly slanted sidewalks, that remind us that we are walking on greatness. Every single day that I walk out of my apartment and onto my charming little block in Brooklyn, into the subway and onto the island of Manhattan, I remember that this city is also inevitably going to sink. And that makes me feel very real. Because that sinking, the fact that the end is always in sight even if it’s not exactly clear when, is a constant reality check. Maybe that’s just one reason for why we are such a rare and strange breed of human, here in New York.
This exclusive mix from our friends over at Weedmaps, speaks to all of these special little quirks that I’ve highlighted. It’s a beautifully real combination of human beings doing incredible things, and a classic style that is what so many have come to think of when they think of New York’s scene. It’s a unique and emotional roller coaster of the struggles, the joys, the beauty, and the ugliness, all at once. And those qualities, too, are what make this city so difficult and yet, so right, for so many people. Nearly every single one of us who lives here can emotionally relate to the fact that there ain’t no love in the heart of the city, and that it ain’t all good, and that’s the truth.
You can stream below if you’re at work, or save it for later if you want to dance and love on this for the rest of your days.
1. Woody Allen – Manhattan
2. Gil Scott Heron – New York City
3. Roy Ayres – We Live In Brooklyn Baby
4. Walt Clyde Frazier – Acrobatic
5. Odyssey – Hang Together
6. Rayko – Broadway
7. Nino Brown – Aint No Uzis Made in Harlem
8. Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street
9. Digable Planets – Graffiti
10. NAS – NY State of Mind
11. De La Soul – All Good
12. Bobby ‘Blue’Band – Ain’t No Love (RollerRadio Edit)
13. Susanne Vega – Tom’s Diner
14. Boney M – New York City
15. Bill Withers – Harlem
16. Lou Reed – Take a Walk on the Wild Side
17. Stevie Wonder – Living for the City
18. Kiss – Back in the New York Groove