As editor and CEO of 4resh, it’s a little strange to write up reviews of my own music, so I decided to quote a brand new fan, using the direct language from his “share” on Facebook. Hip Hop enthusiast Tim Morris writes…
“Richard Donald explodes with the truth but the infrastructure has yet to feel the impact. With lyrics that go beyond the spectrum of the ego, his lines report the collective sigh of stark realization among the aware who have noticed themselves broken from the hypnotic mass culture commodification of a super industrialized market scheme that is the conglomerate mainstream. Being only the one hundred and first view of this video it is clear the force of this hit has yet to reverberate its farthest blast radius. Step before this.” -Tim Morris, Facebook, March 19, 2013
As a songwriter and record producer, I’m always combing the net for inspiration. I like to keep my ear to the ground, that way I can quickly get a feel for what people are listening to. Last week or so, urban mega-star Drake released a new song through his blog titled “5am in Toronto,” a 3+ minute freestyle with no hooks. I loved it! The beat was a dark “boom-bap” style of rugged NYC hip hop, reminiscent of the golden-era of years passed, and his lyrics scream with a braggadocio bravado from an icon who’s lonely at the top. Drake has been quite the incredible trend-setter since he dawned on the rap scene about 4-5 years ago.
But it wasn’t so much what Drake was saying that got me inspired. I think it was a combination of the beat and the song title that got me going. I immediately thought of doing my own local version of the song, rightfully retitled “5 am in Hollywood” to represent where I’m living. If you have never been to Hollywood, CA at 5am, well….it’s nothing like the star-studded, red-carpet showcase you may see on television. In fact, it couldn’t be much more of a stark opposite. The city’s warm weather and wealthy tourists allow the perfect recipe for destruction; prostitution, drug trafficking, illicit and public drug use, public intoxication, vandalism and theft, police brutality and arrests. The irony of the whole situation is alarming, because the same streets that host family-centered enclaves like shopping malls and Disney-themed restaurants, those same streets illuminate in neon after dark to host the counter-forces aimed to destroy the family and community. And no one seems to notice except the locals; it is never broadcasted or televised, and the tourists are quickly appalled and dismayed.
You see, LA and Hollywood are no different than other industrial city, like Detroit or Pittsburgh, for example. Most of the people who live here or poor and working-class, and a significant amount are Spanish-speaking, with culture and customs that lead an outsider to assume that they must be 1st or 2nd generation Americans. But this city’s industry is not steel or auto factories, it’s over-indulgent music videos, sexualized photoshoots, trifling and gossipy reality programs and contests, and large budget action films with weak plots and literary foundations. Whereas other cities are known for their contribution to society and culture, one is left wondering if Hollywood (as a generalized whole) is really contributing socially and artistically to culture. The profits in dollars would seem to argue so, but if success is measured in dollars, how will we measure the destruction and counter-productivity these art forms encourage?