“(Move on to the stars) There ain’t a space program for niggas. Yeah, you stuck here, nigga.”
A similar thought had been ringing in my head since November 9. The funniest thing about this quote is my mind had already been thinking this and A Tribe Called Quest’s final album hadn’t even dropped yet. I don’t think I slept well that week, actually, I’m willing to bet many of us haven’t really had a good night’s sleep in 3 months. As always the project couldn’t have been more timely, the project dropped the night of Dave Chappelle’s triumphant return to pop culture via Saturday Night Live. As in childhood, several of Dave Chappelle’s sketches helped me find the humor in the scary things. The Black Negan sketch, The Tyrone Biggums sketch, and the Election Night sketch helped somewhat ease my spirits, although, I like my fellow citizens were still in no ways prepared to get dropped in the midst of this fuckshit here.
Earlier in the week, my mind jumped between emigration to any nation with low cost of living, my stomach had been in knots all week, panic attacks at least 3 times a day. That night, I sat on the couch and laughed to forget my state of mind temporarily. By the third(?) performance of ATCQ, I was already feeling the new material, but their performance of The Space Program is what really stuck with me. A Tribe Called Quest, and their collectives Native Tongues and the Zulu Nation, have long been veterans of the black American tradition of kicking real shit over a beat that makes you “shimmy and shimmy-ya first, process and ponder later.”
That Saturday as they performed TSP, my mama was downstairs preparing a midnight snack and the Hammond B3’d jazzy beat got to her. When I come down I see mama cuttin’ a mean two step, something reminiscent of the Golden Era of Soul Train. Nothing else in the world happening, just a cool black mama and the beat. She spins and sees my face, which at this point looked like it was tethered to a 20 pound weight, I tried to smile like a usually do when I see her dancing in her joyful moments, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Not missing a step, she motions to come here. I join her in the living room and try join her pace, but it’s proving difficult. Yet, as she smiles at me, the shoulder bounce becomes a bit lighter, the knees picked up quicker and the living room became the hippest trip in America.
Last week, I found myself in a slump of sorts, worn down from all the excitement of the last two months so I took a break from the bullshit and fear. No news, no commentary, no twitter. Just a week of me some good books, good food, and good music. I listened to everything that helped lift me gospel, RnB, k-pop, and 90s party rap. However, my spotify put TSP in the shuffle and I actually took time to listen to what Q-Tip, Phife and Ali were putting down and it’s a sentiment that I have really been wrestling with since election day, “YEAH, YOU STUCK HERE, NIGGA.” As I said earlier, I’ve thought of flying the coop one way or another but in the last two weeks it’s really dawned on me that this is my home and, for the time being, is where my work is most needed right now.
“Ya on point, Phife, yo once again, Tip.”