I wrote “Letter to Izriah” during the summer of 2005. I was going through a lot, personally, trying to make sense of the circumstances I was given.
I was writing to reclaim my life. My sun was at the heart of the equation. I was contemplating death on a very serious level. Was it death, physically? What is death, spiritually? If I wasn’t around someday, how would that affect my sun?
“October Myst” by Adrian H. Molina w/ Mannequin Rituals, Up Before the Sunrise (2008)
This week marks the 9-year anniversary of the War in Afghanistan – the longest war in American history. There is no end to this war nor the war in Iraq. These are resource wars, wars of power and geopolitical/economic control.
Many people have asked me what “October Myst” is about. To this point, I have given very few people a straight answer. The Mannequin Rituals, tracks 7-10 of “Up Before the Sunrise” particular, were partially about their mystery. The poetics. Theatrics. The art of storytelling. The art of unraveling truth. Who dares to put forth the time or effort to know?
“A Reflection of Hip-Hop” appeared on Representin’ 4 Life EP by Adrian H. Molina aka Mo Brown (2007), CHiTT Productions
I’ve been using this acapella piece as a crowd pleaser since 2005. I spit the rhyme for the first time at an open mic night at Coal Creek Coffee House in Laramie, WY. I recorded this track in 2006 with Will Ross of CHiTT Productions. We recorded in my bedroom, turned the room upside down and inside out: makeshift studio, mattresses pushed up against the windows and the walls. Borrowed mic, laptop setup, homemade pop filter.
We were very meticulous about the details. Everything had to be right. Unplugged the refrigerator and the other appliances in the kitchen even though they were all the way down the hall. We didn’t want the reverberation of the machines’ lull fuckin’ with our energy or our soundwaves. We paused when trucks drove by and scrapped the takes when we felt that minor noises outside might cloud the sound quality of the recording.
“Skydreamer” by Adrian H. Molina w/ Mannequin Rituals featuring Helen Chanthongthip, Up Before the Sunrise, released by CHiTT Productions (2008)
Skydreamer is the opening track off Up Before the Sunrise, my first full-length album. It was a dream. I had been writing rhymes for 10 years, constantly envisioning what my first album might look like. What would it sound like? What would I say if I had one chance, one album, to say something to the world?
I started writing material for Up Before the Sunrise during the summer of 2006. I had been through a lot during the years prior. In 2005 I left the life I was living. It was a life that wasn’t mine. It was beating me down, slowly murdering me, and it probably would have killed me, mentally and spiritually, if not physically. I faced my demons, handled my business, then tested out my wings.
Representin’ (4 Life) by Adrian H. Molina w/ Mannequin Rituals first appeared on Representin’ 4 Life EPin March 2007. It was re-released on my first full-length album, Up Before the Sunrise, August 2008.
My main goal with my first EP was to clearly define my work as an artist, to define what I represented.
I wrote the first version of La Historia del Mexicano back in 2002 during my days as an undergraduate student activist. I began performing it as a spoken word piece, then a lyrical acapella piece, then rapping it over other artists’ beats. Mannequin Rituals put a sound to it in 2008.
Hunger Pains first appeared on Representin’ 4 Life EP back in 2007. Representin’ 4 Life was all about flippin’ the script on empty mainstream rhetoric like “keep it real”, “represent”, “stay true”, etc.
I was hungry to put my stamp on the definition of “true Hip-Hop”, something I now feel is unnecessary. There isn’t one "true” form of anything.
In any case that was my mentality at the time and I took an aggressive approach to reclaiming these phrases and making them meaningful.
There were seven tracks on my first EP: three songs and four acapella pieces. Each track was about defining what I stand for and represent as a poet and emcee.
The three songs on the EP were “Representin’ 4 Life”, “Hunger Pains” and “Young Brown Poet”. All three were re-released on Up Before the Sunrise in 2008.
Mass deception, coups d’etats left and right, shared confusion, no way to tell what’s real and what’s fake—a collective inability to ascertain truth from lies because the spin doctors are that good.
Polar ice caps melting, mass global poverty ignored, apocalyptic natural disasters, conspiracies linking what was once natural to what is now claimed to be man-made. Seemingly no empirical way to make sense of it all, so the masses don’t even try. They just wait for 2012.
As MLK Day 2010 comes to a close, I am reminded of my responsibility as an emcee. I walk in many shoes and wear many hats. I use my music to entertain, to educate, to inspire, to provoke thought, to create controversy. These lines often intersect and sometimes they become blurry. I don’t expect everyone to support everything I do. At the end of the day, I am accountable first and foremost to myself.