Hello and welcome back. It’s been a while and all that.
About the time this pandemic hit the fan, I had a chat with the legendary British rapper Klashnekoff.The hook was his newly released album, Iona, titled after his late mother, which bridged a near-decade gap since he last committed to the pen game.
Our conversation was raw, open and honest. The guy was incredibly chilled and intent on telling his story. He reflected on his mom’s death, the enduring grief, turning dark moments into strengths and his revived energy to create new music.
The story was published in th 9th issue of the phenomenal BRICK. The mag hit the stands a while ago, but it’s not too late to grab a copy from its webhome. You can choose from four different covers – or just cop them all – which is pretty cool. What’s more, 100% of the profits of this issue will be donated to Black Lives Matter initiatives. Damn, I’m proud to be part of such a special editorial crew!
I’ve been sitting still for a little while Sitting on my hands I haven’t felt good for a little while All I can do Is go forth Take steps I’ma move forward All I do is take less stress out my time I’ma sit back Getting reclined Smoke a J I’ma roll up It’s mine
Uau, the bridge between the last post and these lines is looong. I could go on and dig one or two amusing reasons for such hiatus, but I doubt these would amount to some sort of novelty to anyone. I mean, just take a look around: a pandemic halted our daily motions; people’s lives were thrown off rails; anxiety; fear; ignorance; everything on the loose and zero clues about what comes next. The world’s on fire and everything’s confusing and maddening!
From my ends, among other things, motivation’s been on a low for typing characters that make up words that make up whole ideas that, really, have been scarce. (Petty shit compared to the social tragedy unfolding before us.) Embracing and experimenting life outdoors is vital to draw mental images and stimulating thoughts, which in turn makes up the zest for drafting something the least bit interesting. But while navigating the same postcode since March, and following a grounded flight to visit home, I haven’t found any worthy activity in my creasy brain to share these days.
Anyway, it calls for some effort to produce… anything. Besides, I missed the written word. So I jotted down a couple of topics to drop here in the coming days with hopes of reviving this place – and my own dormant self.
For now, the final day of the most thrilling bodyboarding comp ever.
I just think that the past is such an unforgiving thing – sorry I’m laughing while I say this because it’s so ridiculous to say out loud – I try to believe that the past isn’t real and we have to make up the past to feel stable in our existence. So nostalgia to me is really dangerous because what ends up happening is that you’re fabricating or altering events to your own subjective experience, so that’s why I’m kind of hesitant to call it a nostalgic record.
It’s that time of the year when Brick magazine comes through with another 250-pages bundle dripping finesse from its glowing pages. For those of you who are (still) unacquainted with it, Brick is an independent publication peaking into the hearts and minds of trailblazing hip-hop and black music artists through interviews, essays and masterful portraits. Conceived and printed out in the UK, the mag is now clocking eight issues and with it comes a mouth-watering range of covers featuring Kano, Freddie Gibbs, Dominic Fike and Teyana Taylor.
Having been active with Brick since its third effort, I’m stoked to have yet another byline in the mag by way of a chat with Michalis ‘MsM’ Michael. Somewhere in September, I had the opportunity to sit down with the engineer at his studio in North London and have a chat about the early days experimenting in his bedroom, laying down grime’s sonic foundations and splitting the studio with Skepta or Wiley.
Besides ‘MsM’ (and the ones on the cover), there are also stories with Kojey Radical, Sampa The Great, Levelz and so many more. So grab a copy at Brick’s home on the web and follow the team on Instagram.
On my last surfing sesh before returning to my regular adulting life in London, a close friend of mine called our recent rendez-vous in our homeland, Portugal, the “best surf trip ever”. In the surfing lore, a claim like that usually comes cheap. Embellished descriptions of epic sessions and memorable travels are weaved into this culture’s secular narrative; its legacy built on a strong tradition of oral history classes that take place on any given lineup or lifeless parking lot overlooking a surf break. Put differently, a lot of the staggering stories detailed by regular ocean gliders – including your host here, obviously – emerge as figments of personal perceptions, then pieced together by every crease of our brains…
Shit. I digress. To dig further on the matter of folksy lineup tales, let me point you to an interesting piece written by Tetsuhiko Endo a good while ago. That said, from here onwards, you’ll just have to take my word for it – or of my man’s to begin with. And fact of the matter, as I revisit memories of our past explorations – in locations such as Azores Islands, Ireland or Northern Scotland -, I come to the realisation that he was onto something; his view on our trip wasn’t far off from reality.
The story has it that by the tail end of 2018 and dawn of 2019, the wild shores of Western Portugal were graced with a perfect combination of solid swell and chilly offshore winds. It had been years since the community braced for a similar period of consistent waves in a Portuguese Winter and judging from the torrent of Insta-stories filed by ecstatic wave riders, the whole coast had been pumping, with riders from up and down the country basking in on some nuggets.
With the promising forecasts, there were plenty of options at hand. It was just a matter of adjusting our timings with the Full Moon tides and work up the best alternatives to escape the pressing crowds that would be bobbing pretty much on every spot. So we ended surfing in different places, although for most days we parked ourselves at a particularly isolated break where we slurped some perfectly shaped emerald lefts for three or four hours straight without a living soul in sight.
On my last day of the trip, the waves and wind aligned altogether in the most spectacular of ways around that spot. The waves rolled through with mathematical precision one after the other, dumping their energy on the reef in slow motion while carving smooth, yet powerful barrels. The lineup held up to these features the whole freakin’ day – and with only a couple of ocean dwellers regaling on such feast.
Funnily – or tragically – enough, one of those riders wasn’t me. You see, for a couple of weeks, our routine consisted of rising at 6am, zooming through ghosty roads for an hour, trail coastal towns for waves and then surf until every muscle screamed with ached. The latter eventually caught me up, leaving my energy levels absolutely drained. It also added up to a series of bloody, crater-like blisters on my feet, which made it hard to kick the fins or simply walk. So for as much as the waves appealed to one’s spirit, I ended up leaving the gear in the car, then trudging (painfully!) through the reef at low tide and shooting some landscapes, fully taking in on the surrounding wilderness. In the end, I didn’t grieve the least bit about it.
You’d be excused to think I was mad for letting that session slide. Yet, I guess that, over the years, my experience in searching for waves changed. I went from being a horny surfer mindlessly chasing the next ride as if it was the last one to becoming a more grounded rider, absorbing and appreciating the experience of waves, elements and landscapes as all being part of the same equation. Come to think of it, I dig that personal growth.
Looking through the rearview mirror, my man was right. Our perceptions met halfway through: reasons were abound for what made this trip back home the most memorable one to date. More so, it gave us a much needed peace of mind to face the bleak, not-as-thrilling Winter in London. Believe that.