Here at KULTJAH, we have a number of phrases that help keep us focused on the path of authentic “Brand” building. Sayings such as “Mind Power”, “Today’s Mathematics”, “Grow Knowledge…Teach the Seeds”, “Guerrilla Intelligence” and various mantras synthesize our overall goals and perspectives. However, one particular phrase has become more prevalent in recent days…that is the saying “Heal Yourself…Heal Your Hood”.
As a vegetarian for over 17 years, I can’t front…I’ve slipped a few times (no pork tho..). I’m currently not “totally” vegan, however I’ve found a comfortable balance with room for improvement. Like so many “Ghetto Youth”, growing up in the projects wasn’t exactly an introduction to healthy living. Moms tried her best to make us eat our veggies, but the billion dollar marketing budgets of fast food chains and our friendly neighborhood (junk food dealing) bodegas…made sure we satisfied our daily cravings for a dose of dietary destruction. Yet somehow, in my late teens, I found myself striving for a healthier lifestyle. Books like “How to Eat to Live” by Elijah Muhammad, “African Holistic Health” by Dr. Llaila Africa and songs like KRS ONE’S “BEEF” guided my cerebral transformation, while access to wholesome, tasty alternatives made switch more appetizing.
The first few years were trial and error…cut back then cut out. Lots of research on how to combine foods for maximum nutritional value. (Sidebar…it’s always amusing to hear people become back seat nutritionist…making statements like “You can’t get enough protein as a vegetarian” or “You need to eat some meat to be healthy”, when the majority of research proves just the opposite). Of course there was the initial criticism, or rather disbelief from doubtful carnivores. Having to defend ones own palate at “Holiday” festivities and family gatherings became a norm. However, time and social acceptance soon turned criticism into inquiry and admiration.
Ultimately it’s all about you. After the latest trends, fads, cool gym outfits, advice from Oprah, reality TV show mysticism, etc…you are your most valuable asset. Investments in your health build the greatest equity in life. What you eat, think, do or don’t do…has a direct effect on your life force. You (nor I) wouldn’t dare pour gallons of junk into a prized automobile and expect it to run at peak performance, but we do it to our bodies and expect healthy results. I know some will say “my grandfather smoked cigarettes til’ he was 90” or “I eat and drink whatever I want and I’m as healthy as can be”, but the odds of living a vibrant life with that mentality benefit very few…much sooner than later, it will catch up to yah.
The reality is…we are at a pivotal time in history. I’m not implying that a veggie-burger is the solution to the worlds problems, but I do think it all starts with how we treat our minds, bodies and souls. Perhaps, (zen moment) the process, or at least the attempt to heal ourselves would create healthier communities and thus…global environment. If we are what we eat…you can’t blame “Them” for treating “Us ” like pigs, cattle and sheep. Free your mind and your ass will follow…”Heal Yourself…Heal Your Hood!”
….In my never ending quest to inject (my) Art into the hearts and minds of “Common Folk” (Elitist Art is a Lie, and the Old Masters are Dead!!)….I’m constantly thinking of ways to diversify my work, as well as price ranges of work I produce. Lets face it…”Ain’t nothin’ new under the Sun”…and the days of being some super deeeeep, Master Painter…Artist dude (in my personal opinion) is WACK!…I’d much rather mastermind the next Mickey (Mouse) than Mona Lisa.
Just think of the millions, or perhaps billions of lives Mickey has brought the joy of laughter and wonder…..while Mona sits there with that smirk on her face waiting for some Art Historian to trick you into thinking she’s the most beautifulest girl in the world…wit no eyebrows. Not to mention the marketing powerhouse Mickey and his Clan have built (shout out to Pluto and Daffy)…though I’m sure you may find Mona’s grill on a mug in the gift shop at the MET…or on some ultra-cool refrigerator magnets…but c’mon…Mickey made the Magic Kingdom…lunch boxes, countless toys, books, the Disney Channel, Mouscateers and the list goes on……and on..
What I’m saying (to my fellow Artists) is TIMES dun changed…and if your ultimate goal is to sit on the throne of galvanized greats, then you will always be a slave to the “Masters” and the pollitricks of the ART world…..besides, why would you wait for fame in death, when you can have (Artistic) freedom in life? ART is for people, whoever and as many as you can reach…by whatever means…the concept of selling out is only a cop-out for those who ain’t sellin’ anyway….(*remember…never sell your soul though!)…If Target calls..I’ll answer….tell Ronald (McDonald) to holla at me….Walmart want what???…..take it to the streets…get your work together, travel, do shows in other zones…states…countries…from my own personal experience….the return is much greater than the effort….just be sure to focus on the infinite possibilities of the stars, and not the white gloved mouse hand pointing at them…..
…oh, and BLING.
From the times of Pharaohs, and perhaps hundreds of years before, humans have adorned themselves with (what Cash Money and Hip Hop Culture have galvanized as…) BLING.
The phrase itself is rather played out amongst “those that know”, but it still makes the average person, and the “yea I’m down” sector feel cool saying it…so let it ride. However, the acquisition, and “rocking” of BLING is a primordial passion that entices every race, gender, nationality, lifestyle etc. The jewelry you wear, or don’t wear, is usually a symbol of who you are….what you wish to reflect…and eventually leave in the material realm.
…So when it came time to create the “material presence” of our logo, the “SUNPALM” (*see LEGEND of the SUNPALM ), I felt it was important to find a true Craftsman for the task. I’m not throwing salt on the Canal St. or Fordham Road clans, but….yooouuu know what I’m sayin!!?? (i.e. Canal St. and Fordham Rd. Notorious for “sub par” Jewelry). While chillin‘ wit a good friend of mine, Shane aka “The Bike Jack” one day, I peeped a DOPE Heru (Son of Osiris & Isis) ring on his hand…and BAM! He hit me wit the connect and it was on….
I was blessed to be pointed in the direction of Ba Ba Heru at Studio of Ptah. Not only is Ba Ba Heru a Master Craftsman, whose created jewelry for Erika Badu, Wesley Snipes, Ben Verine, KULTJAH and so many more…he’s also a Khamitik Spiritual Enlightener ….and all around cool black man. He not only created the original KULTJAH medallions, but we’ve also copped an extensive collection of rings, bracelets, chains, pendants and such from SoPtah…with each piece crafted to Khamitik perfection.The second series of SUNPALM medallions was a lot less spiritual, and more spontaneous. I bumped in to Gabriel Urist at a trade show, when he was just gettin on with the mini “Dunk” pendants. We both thought it would be a good idea to do a collabo project…and the results speak for themselves.We made a bunch of these for immediate fam and comrades…though a few have been traded for currency from dedicated KULTJAH collectors. So in all…you can’t take it with you when you go, but while you got it…rock it wit respect.