• Moving Up (an example of how the "albook" works and what it really is all about)

    Some of you who don't have my book or album, may not quite understand what the "albook" is or how it works. So here is Chapter VI and song 6 (Moving Up) together for your listening and reading pleasure. This allows you to see how I provide the bigger story of how I came to meet my wife (through music and education) which of course led to the creation of our Henry! 

    First thing to do is to play the song (and oh yeah Love Jones is my wife and sings on the track)

     

    PUT EM ALL TO SHAME

    Chapter VI- Moving Up

    Crack of dawn-you’ll find me up in the back of the lawn/It’s calisthenics every morning stretching out on the yard/Practicing hard, don’t even need a show to perform/Just put me on any stage-and I’ll be working on form/Running the drills, how I stay sharp with the skills/In the coast of Cambridge Mass, but I come from the Mills/So run for the hills, still, no I’m not run of the—mill/But Lyrical might make a run for your Governor/Political still, we making the mills off of prisoners/I ain’t for the penalty, to many little Hilters/And I ain’t hailing nothing but a cab in the rain/No Chief, plus these Cabinets are hard to arrange/And hard to explain, most are just slogans for change/I be my own role model, in the Rover I Range/Drove through the plains, Logan—even flown on the planes/Or Fung Wah, find me flowing over the tracks on the train—with Shame

     

    I live to record, that’s why they call me Lyrical Lord/Literature that I’ve written, keep em open for sure/Cause over the shores, at first I hadn’t flown before/Scared to fly, now find me on a word wide tour/Shame on the cut, in fact even Shame on the track/ Half the reason of half of Mass got their name on the map/Engraved in wax, Invasion and X-Cal go back/We owe are legacy to Shame, since he came to UMass/Inspired my rhymes, ta write like my life’s on the line/There’s no squares in my circle, keep my cipher divine/My geometry, diameter, circumference divides/That’s why Shame’s on the slice like he serving up Pi/Another tangent, my plan's never to be cosined/Just do the math and draw parallels like equal signs/Speak your mind, please before I throw down/Cause I ain’t trying mess around with you Bozo Clowns/Won’t slow down, ain’t about dumbing it down/I’m Novocain for the brain how I’m numbing the crowd/They loving the sound, cause they ain’t seen nothing around/A little substance could bring the club tumbling down/A little substance in their system and they stumble around/Once I hit em with the wisdom that be so profound/So for now, ain’t tryna place blame on you/Just sing the chorus before I have to sick Shame on you!

     

    This is that highly ceremonial, flow so matrimonial/Imagery, that’s so vivid, the lyrics more like pictorials/Much fame from the rhyming, with substance—no ice shining/Success is…“my wife crying, when I upgraded her diamond”/Never been one trying to ball out to the maximum/Upgraded the iNFiNiTi, dropped the new Maxima/“Sky’s the limit”, Wanted to “push the 45 infinit”/Till I seen the Benz kitted, and pictured it all tinted/Always been the exception, bent rules to adjust them/Addictive personality, verses sent to perfect them/Classics I resurrect em and futuristically twist em/If I Ruled the World, then Nas and Lauren had children/Skilled and Vintage, from the Mill City bodegas/Typically any given, now find me sittin’ at Strega/Tippin’ the waiter major, for making it vegetarian/And pullin’ out the chair for the woman I wound up marrying

    I LIVE TO RECORD

    When I picked up the beautiful, electric-acoustic, Guild guitar my Aunt Terry gave me, I knew there was something magical about the power of music. I practiced the guitar and learned the basics, but I was never that good. I think in fourth and fifth grade I was even in the “guitar club.” The problem was our instructor was somewhat stuck on songs from the sixties, which none of us kids really knew or had much of an interest in learning.

    My father saw my excitement for music and next bought me a very small keyboard at Sears; it came with preprogrammed disco, rock, funk, and swing drum patterns. The next year I got a better one. My father also found an old microphone he had tucked away in a drawer that I would hook up through the Sanyo stereo my parents gave me for Christmas when I was about ten years old. I really couldn’t sing that well, but I tried.

    Later, some neighborhood kids and I decided to form a group called “Chemical Reaction.” Suffice to say, we had no real talent at that point. The group’s days were numbered. Hip-hop was getting more popular and I started imitating songs on the radio, while also creating original reggae songs with my friend Warren. We would listen to reggae and hip-hop on WERS 88.9FM, or occasionally some “classic rock” on cassette (like Chuck Berry) when not shooting baskets. The older I got, and the more basketball I continued to play, the more I seemed to come across others who rapped or lived Hiphop culture.

    I seriously first built with Fee on a bus to an NCAA basketball game I think. He was tapping his seat like a drummer. He did, in fact, play drums, and I told him I messed around with a guitar, keyboard,   and microphone, and that I occasionally sang, or even rapped. He told me his brother, Mike, was also a drummer and his other brother, Mark, played keys. We decided we should meet up after school one day and practice together. My mother drove me to his house on the Lowell/North Chelmsford border. Once I saw where he lived, and who some of his friends were, I figured out how I recognized his face. He was the same guy from down the street, who hung around with the same kids I did when I lived in Lowell on the other side of the North Chelmsford border!

    We started recording some rough “music” at his crib. Fee played drums and I would rap and bring my guitar and amplifier. I wasn’t good enough to play the guitar and sing (or rap) at the same time, so I put down the guitar and rapped over his and his brother’s drum playing. Mark was much older than Fee and actually wasn’t living at the Feehan family home by this time, so we would have our other mutual friend in high school, Gary “Go Go G” Mulkigian, come by and rock out on his keyboard.

    Gary really wasn’t that much of a keyboard player or a musician of any kind, but he liked hip-hop and had a car with a dope system and the best CD collection around. The same was true for our first DJ, George “Kamikaze G” Ali (minus the dope system). George was older than us, had a car, liked hip-hop, and even had a turntable he would occasionally scratch on to make cassette mixes. We would head to the beach in his convertible red Chrysler; even when it was freezing on the highway we would still be pimpin’ with the top down and the heat on high. That was enough for George to qualify to be our first official DJ.

    We soon added more friends to the group. Mark “The Heat” Altenweg was a high energy type of guy who also wrote some dope rhymes now and then—so he was in. Our other friend, Joey B., had a cool voice and was bigger-than-life and everybody loved his personality. We now were a four man rap group and even had the services of a DJ (even though George never spun live for us at a show). We all played basketball together, but at this point, rapping was just something we did to amuse ourselves while hanging out. Still, we all knew that we were just a bit better than we probably should have been, and I truly believed I was creatively blessed and destined to be out on wax in no time.

    These were the beginnings of our first rap crew, which we dubbed “Cruz Control.” This made a lot of sense since Fee called himself “Cruz Master Fee.” We later changed our name to X-Caliber after we heard a group with the same name (spelled Cruise Control) had come out with a song about AIDS awareness. At this point, we started getting a bit more serious about our music. We never really “officially” added Go Go G to X-Caliber because we had so many rappers and he really couldn’t play keys live. He was like our honorary 6th member though, and we would usually rock out at house-parties, especially the ones in his large yard in Chelmsford. Go Go would later make records of his own with help from Joey B while they both were in college.

    We all still play basketball, and a of couple years ago we played on a team together in the Lion’s Men’s League in Chelmsford and took home the title. [i] Most of the teams were far younger and not far removed from high school, or maybe a few years out of college at the most. Knowing each other for so long did not hurt, plus all rappers think they can ball—and vice-versa!

    Back when we were in high school, as a result of hitting up more parties, we met Matt Greene at his own house-party. He had a dope home studio (Project 7) and could play multiple instruments and program drum patterns. We recorded with him for only ten dollars an hour and found ourselves there whenever we had free time and enough money. People started hearing our demos, and soon there were rumblings that we were now an “official” rap group. George was barely in school at this point so we would mostly use tapes of him scratching and add them to the backgrounds of some of our songs to make it like he was more involved than he really was.

    ON THE SLICE LIKE HE SERVING UP PI

    I started getting better at rapping and practiced more and more, plus I also started cutting and scratching on a cheap turntable and mixer I bought from the “Want Ads.” I would buy all kinds of records (normally at flea markets) to spin and sample and scratch. I soon had a decent collection. It was really my homey Def Rock who inspired me to actually scratch better. He was a rapper I looked up to, and as I mentioned before, he could also scratch better than most any DJ. He is also a talented producer and entrepreneur in his own right.

    George fell off from the whole scratching thing soon after this. He moved away into a shadowy world of selling balloons at mall kiosks and reading fortunes. That by itself wasn’t all that shadowy, but his family who indoctrinated him into “the business” was not-quite on the up-and-up with some of their business ventures. He never quite fit in, and disappeared from school altogether—even though Fee and I had tried to track him down several times.

    We added an additional part-time DJ, “Styles” from New York. Joey B had met Styles early on in college while I was still in high school. Styles only really cut it up for us at one show (the high school talent show my senior year), but it was an important show for us and we were glad he came. Style’s qualification to be our DJ was roughly equivalent to George’s. He had two turntables. Plus, he was from New York—which we all were sure meant he had to be good. We somehow thought Styles was our connection to the big city as well. Later, I remember finding out he was from Albany, but may have lived in (or near) New York City as a kid or something—that was close enough.

    My grandparents had taken me to NYC by this time to see all kinds of stuff, including musicals, concerts, and sporting events. I saw people break-dancing and rapping in the streets. I always thought it was the coolest thing to be under the big lights performing creatively and having people pay you to do it. My grandma loved music and had a pretty hefty interest in what I was doing and encouraged me to keep it up. She would watch me write rhymes at her kitchen table and knew I had been infected with the performing bug by that point. I always would tell her when I became famous I would take her for a limo ride. She would also tell me, no matter what I did for work, to keep in mind this gem: “You might be doing it for the rest of your life, so don’t rush, find what you love to do and do it.” I have attempted to do just that. 

    Meanwhile, Fee and I were watching our bedrooms transform into cheap studios and rehearsal space. After making a record in high school and performing it as X-Caliber at the talent show (and at other parties and small events), we started getting popular as a serious group. Fee and I went to UMass-Lowell and started doing shows at the college. I even did a college radio show based on my small record collection and modest turntable skills. Luckily, Fee met DJ Zulu (Bekizulu Mhlanga) while they were both working part-time at the same Dominos Pizza. We quickly invited him to be our full-time DJ. We now had a talented audio guy who actually spun regularly at local events, many of which were large African house parties. Zulu was from South Africa and lived with several room-mates from Zimbabwe in Lowell. Plus, two of them were brothers who could also play basketball. Zulu didn’t play hoop, but lots of times we found ourselves at their house just to play ball at the same nearby park that used to be right next to my old school where I had my “Hulk” escapades. They all were our extended family and rolled with us to many shows and parties.

    It was around this time when I first saw DJ Shame perform at UMass-Lowell in a rap battle. Friends of ours from Lowell were in the battle with us, including our ally Def Rock. Both Shame and Def Rock were very talented, and of course both went on to eventually produce some of my best records. The second song I started on with Shame (“Do You Remember”) features Nicole (AKA Love Jones) singing on the hook. We first performed a rough draft of it at a festival in Worcester. Shame came out to that show and was able to see and hear the draft of what would become the final song on the album.

    The festival crowd actually rushed the stage as we were finishing our set. Jimmy Kang of Str8up Entertainment and Wu-Tang Management was also in the crowd. A few years earlier, he had seen me win consecutive weeks of “Onslaught Battles” at Clark University in Worcester before I got tired of heading out there for only a couple hundred dollars and the same microphone medallion for my chain which I had already won.

    Jimmy was there with his artist, L Da Head Toucha, who was performing a guest set. Shame had years earlier produced L. In my opinion, L is one of the best rappers in Mass history—he is still slept on. This was one of the last artists Shame would produce before getting upset with the direction rappers and the rap industry was going. In fact, I believe one of the beats I picked to work on for this album was originally a beat Shame was producing for L which was never completed.

    Shame felt by doing our project he would breathe life into beats he left unfinished back in the middle-to-late 1990s. He explained how I was one of the first emcees he worked with, since L, who really made him want to produce again. Jimmy and I remain allies in the business, supporting one another’s ventures. We discussed this album before it came out—he loved it. If it weren’t for the timing, (and if Shame had not moved) we likely would have had Jimmy put out Put Em All To Shame on his label and made it a “Worcester thang.”

    HOW I STAY SHARP WITH THE SKILLS

    I later entered many battles when nobody knew I was coming. But to get to the point where I seriously started entering and winning battles like the Worcester ones on the sneak, I had to go through a long process of preparation. It started back when I was in high school sitting in my room with all my equipment and my little DJ set-up, thinking how I could make a name for myself. This led to my acceptance in some local battles and competitions, but later I eventually got so much better at rapping that I decided to enter a monumental battle (The New Music Seminar’s “Battle for World Supremacy”—see Chapter II) which every year took only the best 16 submissions from all over the world.

    I recorded the accapella demo submission in my bedroom and it was accepted; however, the battle didn’t pay for transportation or hotel stay. Fortunately, since I was also the Urban Music Director, the college radio station paid for me to stay in New York the night before the battle. All the Directors at the station were able to go stay in New York City and were put up in a hotel for free (our station went only for two days, but I went out earlier). I went to NYC and didn’t win the battle, but I met many people as a result. I distinctly remember seeing DJ Shame at the New Music Seminar, and this was where I learned he was actually in the battle just a couple of years before. I was impressed, but honestly I figured as much after what I saw him do in Massachusetts.

    I made such an “impact” I was hard to forget and easy to spot at many post-battle after-parties. One person I met was a dope freestyle emcee Derek “Dred” Goodman. He was there supporting his DJ, Ninja, who was chosen to be one of the sixteen DJs in the battle. Dred and Ninja had a nice little local buzz in Boston, but due to Dred’s Gemini personality he had a tough time sticking to any one of the many directions he was pulled in at the time. As a result, he flew a bit under the radar. He heard me say I was from Boston. He then came up to me when I was rapping outside of a club where WU-Tang Clan was going to be performing. Dred and I were both the dominant rappers in the cipher. We exchanged numbers, and eventually I would go see him and get my haircut from him in Cambridge; he became my permanent barber and soon after, one of my best friends. 

    Meanwhile, Fee and I moved in as roommates. After attending college at UMass-Lowell, we wanted a spot where we could record and practice our music as well. By this time, Fee was now doing another radio show at the college. We also had a roommate I spoke of earlier, Dale “Syntax” Chase, whom I mentioned I convinced to move out of his UMass-Lowell dorm. Soon after we made several well-received records—produced in the way Ski had taught us. These records started getting play on many stations (college and commercial) in the Boston area, as well as the rest of the country. 

    We would go see Jimizz at WMBR anytime we came into the city on a Saturday night. He would always give us the honest feedback we needed to assess where we were in comparison to other established acts. This was important because the temptation was always to compare one’s self to local or regional talent. Now, (especially after meeting Ski) we were more concerned with how we sounded compared to the best artists in the business.

    EXODUS TO CAMBRIDGE

    After the buzz from our records died down, Fee and Syntax moved out, and I stayed in Lowell for a short time and started teaching at Lowell High School. I eventually moved out of Lowell and headed to Cambridge after a relationship of mine came to an end. Dred and I were hanging out more and more, and I eventually moved into his family’s multi-unit home. He had introduced me to his niece, Shelley, who was back in her native Cambridge (also living in one of the other units in the house). She had recently become single after splitting up with her husband who was living in North Carolina. She lived in her own apartment in the house as well. We hit it off immediately after we both went on a group trip to an amusement park which Derek had organized.

    Shelley was only two years younger than me with young children of her own (I hadn’t met them all yet, since all but one of them (Deavoni) stayed for the summer with their father). Chance and Demetri are twin boys and were not quite six when I met their mother, while Amari was not quite five. Shelley and I started dating, and eventually I moved in with her, and we lived together for many years. I helped raise her amazing children, who I grew extremely close with. This really helped to change me into a mature adult and I became a much better person (and now a father) as a result of having them all in my life. As they started to grow-up, eventually so did I.[ii] Moving to Cambridge was one of the best decisions I had made up to this point in my life. As emotionally connected as I became with the kids, I knew that if I had children of my own someday that I would be a good dad.

    When I first started working with Dred we formed a company “Invasion Entertainment.” He had always wanted to promote me as a solo act and help to put out some of my records. Most of the shows we would attend in Cambridge were within a mile of the multi-family house where we all lived. These nightclub venues included The Western Front and The Middle East in Cambridge’s Central Square, and later on The Red Line in Harvard Square. I functioned as a promoter of random profitable shows at these spots, and would add “Lyrical” to the bill of many of the shows. 

    Dred and I recorded songs together. We eventually formed “Invasion” with his cousin Jason “J. Scott (AKA Presence)” Scott. Our records “Salt” and “Why,” did very well locally and on the national college radio charts. As a result, we performed at many shows in the Greater Boston area. DJ Jimizz regularly played several of my records and spun for me at shows, but he wondered why I wasn’t also pursuing a solo career like I’d come to Cambridge to do. He was particularly instrumental in pushing me to make my own album. I included him on my debut album iNFiNiTi, and of course he spun at the release parties.

    Fee, meanwhile, had formed a duo with Ruby called “One Love.” We would often do shows together and promote each other (as we still do). Fee had told me about a man named Frank Ingari who had an all-star type of group called “The Tempting Fate Revue.” Frank was looking to have him (or maybe even us) write and perform some songs (with rap in them) for the group to perform at live gigs. I was a bit too busy making my album to be able to help at that point. I had promised many people, like DJ Jimizz, I would soon be finishing my album, but I was behind schedule. Fee and Ruby started to practice with Frank. I would eventually go check out their performances; that decision would prove to be a great one.

    I was now extremely busy working to promote my album. Additionally, I was beginning to do more promotions of my own and with the Mass Industry Committee (The M.I.C). The M.I.C., as I touched on before, is essentially a united coalition of Hiphop artists and entrepreneurs from Massachusetts. We decided to throw an awards show the following year, and this left us doing loads of planning (more than we fully realized we would be doing). 

    My relationship with Derek’s niece was starting to strain. Her ex-husband had moved back into the area looking to be more involved in his kid’s lives. It was nearly impossible to balance my school and music stuff—let alone my family and relationship. On top of all of this, I was still driving to Lowell to teach at the high school. It seemed inevitable something would have to give.

    THE EMERGENCE OF LOVE JONES

    When I was planning release parties, I figured it would be perfect to include Tempting Fate in some shows. I looked on the website of Tempting Fate and noticed a lady with a wonderful smile named Nicole Jones. I read her impressive biography and figured she must be excellent, since it mentioned she went to Berklee as a vocalist, and even performed internationally. I went to see the band play at a show soon after. I quickly would say “hello” to Nicole, or see her in passing—but I always wondered why she was not more heavily featured in the group than she was.

    Tempting Fate was looking to do more and more shows. At the time, I was also promoting a large number of shows and was getting ready to start promoting my new album as well.  I did a release party at Bill’s Bar and then a release party at The Milky Way since I was promoting both clubs. Fee had worked with Tempting Fate to have them learn a few songs, including the title track on my album iNFiNiTi that he was featured on. Tempting Fate played many of my songs live at the Milky Way release party show. I also hired DJ Jimizz that night as well.

    Nicole had to learn many of my songs, including “i” which had a double meaning and some very graphic lyrics I wrote to role play a situation of what happens when artists get too caught up in their own hype. Nicole heard the lyrics quickly and figured I was just another typical rapper. She paid little attention to me, but after our Milky Way performance I invited her to come with DJ Jimizz and me to IHOP for our late night after-show ritual.

    Nicole came and learned about the friendship Jimizz and I had, and she also learned that Jimizz was about to be married! We all learned each other’s philosophy on life, family, kids, relationships, and all sorts of things since Jimmiz’s marriage was the main topic of discussion. I tucked all of that away in the back of my mind. I booked Tempting Fate a few more times at other shows I was promoting, including a couple at the nearby Western Front. Nicole and I always stayed in touch by text or saw each other at show.

    Nicole would always tell Jimizz and me we should eat some real breakfast someday, and that she would make it for us so we didn’t have to go eat at IHOP—which she despised. She was getting ready to move to a new condo and told us she would love to have us over for breakfast some Saturday after his show—once she got settled. As good as that sounded, I was never able to say yes, since my own relationship was deteriorating. By the time

    Nicole finally moved into her new spot I was already out of my previous relationship and had just started a new one that would last a couple of years. A few months after that relationship ended, Nicole had contacted me to invite me to her Birthday party and told me that she would be performing. I always told Nicole I would love to come to one of her shows to hear her sing solo.

    I ran into Nicole at a department store while exchanging gifts I had bought my father for Christmas. This was about a month or so before her Somerville nightclub birthday party event. The store was right near her condo, but before she left to drive home Nicole casually mentioned that we should go check out a movie some time. Soon after, I figured I should just invite her out. We started dating for a short time before her party; it had to be moved (due to her work schedule) to the weekend of Valentine’s Day, even though her birth date is December 22nd.

    I went to the party and met her family and many of her friends for the first time. I also got to really hear Nicole’s beautiful voice in-full for the first time that evening. Of course, I also got to see Nicole looking gorgeous in her vibrant red dress all night too!  Her family’s love for her was on display all through the room on handmade posters with pictures of her and her family. They were covered with notes to her, stating how wonderful and loving a person she was. I saw for the first time that I was not alone in sharing this same feeling.

    We continued dating for a few months. Work was beginning to get stressful for Nicole. I always remembered how crazy it was that she had to delay her own birthday by over a month. Her birthday was just days before Christmas, and her job was super busy that time of year. I didn’t think this was very fair.

    I decided I wanted to let her know how special I thought she was by planning a “half birthday” party for her—exactly a half year after the date of her birthday. She was blown away with surprise, and was actually in tears by the time her half birthday cake was brought out at THE ART BAR in Cambridge. Always playing with words, I chose this swanky restaurant as the letters in the words “t-h-e-a-r-t-b-a-r” contain half of the letters in the phrase “Happy Birthday.” Rather than state it, I tend to go through great elaborate planning or actions to show my love (including the half dozen of roses I got her as well). It was at this moment Nicole knew how much I loved her. It was the first time I told her as well.

    Nicole called her mom that night and told her she had perhaps found her future husband. She would be correct—four months later I officially proposed to her in Miami while attending her co-worker Ellen’s wedding. She was totally surprised because I snuck the ring through airport security.

    I proceeded to get the ring to hotel management and had it presented under a room service tray in the Jacuzzi. It needed to be in the specific room I had reserved so that room-service would know where to go. But our air-conditioner was leaking, and Nicole immediately caught this and wanted to switch rooms. I played it down. She asked me to call and have it checked on. I told her I would walk down to the front desk to get some personal assistance. This was of course to let everyone know plans might change if the unit couldn’t be fixed. I also had to run up to the kitchen to re-coordinate the ring and room service situation. The guy fixing the air condition beat me back to the room, and Nicole was of course wondering where I was. I returned a few minutes later and all was finally back-on-track.

    Nicole was now so tired that she wasn’t hungry and didn’t really want to go in the Jacuzzi on the balcony. I had been talking about it the whole trip to make sure she knew the Jacuzzi was essential. Always a good sport, she got in. But soon after, she wanted to get out. I had moved the rest of the room service food platter (which we had barely eaten) near the Jacuzzi and told her one of the desserts was a special surprise I got just for her. She still had no idea the ring was coming that night, and she was just holding on before wanting to fall out after a long trip. However, she did have an idea the official question would be coming eventually, but not till around Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

    She thought the surprise on this particular night was going to be Florida’s native Key Lime Pie—of course it wasn’t. Instead, it was a beautiful antique-style platinum and diamond ring I bought for her. She loved it so much that she immediately broke out in nervous uncontrollable itching. She leapt up, scratching all over, and then scurried off to the bathroom to go rinse off in the shower! Nicole calmed down a bit in a few minutes and then called all of her family and friends.

    Nicole’s own passion for music led her years earlier to Boston. As an undergrad, she had attended the University of Virginia where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music. She became a refined classically-trained vocalist who would go on to perform in many shows. While in college, a teacher inspired her to sing jazz. She graduated from UVA and decided to come to Berklee College of Music to study jazz vocal performance. Luckily, her childhood friend, Chris Crocco, was a guitar virtuoso who first gave her the 4-1-1 on Berklee.  He decided to go there to study guitar. I got to meet him at one of his shows in NYC when Nicole and I were in town. I thanked him for being an amazing guitarist and for getting into Berklee. My thinking was: if he wouldn't have been such a great guitarist, he may never have mentioned Berklee in the first place, and Nicole and I may never have met.

    Something made Nicole stay in Boston, and coincidentally something made me come down to Boston where I would soon feel drawn to Berklee to speak, perform, and attend shows. Later on, I was invited to interview at Berklee regarding teaching a Hiphop culture and rap songwriting class they knew I had developed.

    I think the feeling I have always had inside me to want to teach others what I know is a blessing. It has given me far more than I think I have ever been able to give to others. I knew as soon as I started teaching I was inspiring people—and I liked that feeling. I always have had no filter in the classroom and will discuss any subject if it gets back to my main points. I wasn’t just teaching my students about math or music—I was teaching them about life.

    Something about moving to a location between Harvard and MIT helped me realize I was on the right path by continuing to keep pursuing my own education while performing and recording regularly. I think when Nicole met me and found out I was a rapper and a college professor it was intriguing to her. Maybe she was familiar with having teachers who also did music and was comfortable with that kind of person and respected my same ambitions. I earned my master’s in math a week before I proposed to Nicole. Music and education helped bring us together.

    Nicole and I got married on September 5, 2010. I rapped and Nicole (Love Jones) sang right after DJ Jimizz introduced us as a couple as we walked out onto the dance floor. Frank came to the wedding too. He was like a proud papa helping to have brought us together (we also attended his fabulous wedding on June 8, 2013). Our wedding was the Sunday before Labor Day. I began my first fall semester teaching at Northeastern a few days later. We honeymooned in the Dominican Republic during Christmas and brought in New Year’s there as well. 

    Along with Fee and Dred, Jimizz was also one of my three best men—all of them have been instrumental in my life and career as an emcee—and to some extent as an educator. Today, I am the proud godfather of Jimizz’s handsome boy, Corey Junior (CJ). Nicole and I are now of course the proud parents of our own son, Henry, whom we adore beyond words.

    This story highlights what led me to the culmination of both of my careers—and to Nicole (and the creation of Henry J.J.). The magic I always felt from music was the same feeling I felt for her—so I knew it was meant to be. Together, we look forward to continue raising our own family, and we thank the fates for how it all occurred. I am sure by always following this same instinct I will continue to get exactly where I need to go—even if at first I don’t see it. This will work for you too; try it.

     

    [i] My 3-ball to send it to overtime (in the championship game we eventually won) with seconds on the clock was eerily similar to Ray’s three in “Game 6” to send the series to a seventh game, which of course Miami won. Alright, it wasn’t really similar at all; I just like my name in sentences with Ray and felt like telling you I knocked it down when it mattered—Bam!

    [ii] The kids have all now done very well and made it to college (most of them with very strong math skills).