Tag Archives: randy mason

Reflections & Projections (Happy New Year! Now Let’s Paint.)

365 Days Closer  (Reflection)

Isol goes viral / Russell Wilson throws The game winning spiral (sorry dad) / Bam shakes hands with US rival / Kendrick & Lecrae bring God to the grammy’s / gay men get married / cops go phsyco / eyes on Ifle / Baltimore pyro-protest / no less rights to rifle / Steph breaks vinyl / then takes title / and states bible / memes are vital / primal man as female idol / gendergyro / pro-choice exposed and chose denial / 70 degrees on Christmas eve / and we’re officially 365 days closer to the final…

365 Days To Go (Projection)

I recently asked my 11 year old son a question, and as he pondered it, I added “don’t guess!” His response was “I’ll give an educated guess, it’s not guessing, it’s different.”

When I think of what the new year will bring I have to consider all the evidence and make an educated guess. Everyone love’s a fresh start, and, the new year at least seems to provide that to some degree. Each new day, hour, and minute provides a fresh start. If only we were intentional enough to seize the moments and opportunities perpetually presented. On the flip side of the new beginnings coin, is the natural sequence of reaping sown seed. 2016 will not be determined by our hopes, wishes, resolutions, or even actions on New Year’s Eve or on the morning of Jan. 1, 2016. Instead it will be the fruition of all we planted, cultivated and invested in- in the prior days, months, and years leading up to this time. The “365 Days Closer” poem is a summary snap shot of the trajectory we’re on. So… Based on that, here is my projection for the year 2016.

  • America as a society will collectively, and openly wrestle with the subject of God, and the christian faith prompted by people of influence in sports, media, and enterainment. The existence and authority of God will be heavily debated, challenged, and considered as a response to great human pain and suffering, as well as signs and wonders (miracles.) More so, in 2016 than ever before. Perhaps Dr. Ben Carson will be elected president. It’s likely the South Bronx will undergo gentrification. In regards to morals, rights, wrongs, good, and evil, the grey area may broaden even more. My hope is that the arts flourish, and social entrepenuers such as myself will prosper. I’d like to see more folks abandon the asssembly line and begin tampering with trajectories. Putting purpose and passion before profit, opting to start small bussiness opposed to working for big cooperations. The new year is a blank canvas just waiting for paint; and my educated guess is that in big fat bold letters “GOD” will be plastered across the center of it.

Merry Mass Consumption & Happy New Debts? (Mr. Hip Pop on The Holiday Hustle)

$pending The Holidays With Santa Cost.  

Go ahead and call me scrooge, but I’m becoming more and more bewildered by the emphasis put on spending a ton of money on consuming things during the Christmas season; Things, or should I say stuff that we likely will forget about by the spring time. Although the misunderstanding of the holiday is wack all together, it’s especially wack to see our middle to lower class people struggling to pay bills yet annually increasing their debt, while paying Santa’s mortgage because the culture says so. 

Mom & Pops Boost The Economy

Spending isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the key is moderation, and appropriation. Instead of pouring millions of dollars into billion dollar cooperations, we can invest in local business, non profits, the arts, mom and pop shops, etc. This will benefit the economy, but more importantly our community.

Lebron is cool, so is the brother KD, but their kicks are in no way shape or form reasonably affordable for the demographic they market to.

Instead of coppin’ ridiculously overpriced sneakers because everyone else around the way is doing the same, we decided to hire a friend, and local artist to custom design kicks for our kids. Moving money around can be a good thing, a great thing, but we have to be wise in how we do so. I guess it’s convenient this revelation of Christmas economics occurred to me long after my childhood years when I benefitted most from the conspiracy of mass consumption. Thanks Dad, Sorry kids. 

Presents VS Presence

Are we placing more value in things than in people? Do you remember what you got for Christmas last year? I don’t, but I do remember who I spent Christmas day with. Recently a friend of mine expressed the stress of not being able to afford more gifts for his kids this year. What made me sad isn’t the fact that he can’t afford more gifts, but the fact that he’s placing his value as a man, and a father in material, and temporary things.

I told him, “Your presence is far more valuable than any present.” 

The Gift Wrapped In Swaddling Clothes (A Christmas Story)

The bible is like humanity’s gigantic Christmas wish list, including all of our deepest needs, and desires, combined with the story of the only sufficient gift wrapped in swaddling clothes that hung on a tree for you and me. Christians celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas, everything else is secondary. 

Luke 2:12  And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

The New N Word

Bad, dope, sick, ill, and even crack are all adjetives I’ve used to describe something good, exceptional rather. I mean really good, not just anything, It has to be really cool to warrant such potent vanacular. You know, I’m talking something thats off the chain! This kind of vocab makes sense to most of my generation, kids born somewhere between Malcom X, and DMX, but not quite generation X. I googled generation names and it turns out being born in 85 makes me a part of generation (wh)Y, a millinial, an 80’s baby; but being born in Harlem in the 80’s to parents of Jaimacan, African American, & Puerto Rican decent , the label I identify with most is the Hip Hop generation. I grew up in the Boogie down, and it wasn’t long before I was exposed to the culture and language of Hip Hop, and by a preteen I was fluent and lyrically killin it! We didn’t invent the slang we used, most of it had been passed down from generation to generation, particularely in the urban context, but we sure did remix them joints. After all, what is Hip Hop if it isn’t taking something that already exists, and giving it a totally new purpose and meaning? Hip Hop is infamous for redefining things, from style, to language. Perhaps the conditions that birthed Hip Hop contibute to the way we view and use words. See, in the 60’s the Bronx was on fire, literally, and out of the ashes came Hip Hop; something beautiful out of something broken. Today we say “thats fire!” when complimenting someone or something. The N word we redefined and used as a term of endearment, synonymous with friend, or brother, but also generally synonymous with people. Instead of saying ‘people’, we pluralized the N word. I was 9 years old when rapper Biggie Smalls said “I love the life I live, cause I went from negative to positive, and it’s all good”.

The I(N) Word (Crash Course in Culture, Context, Contradiction, and Conflict for Children)

So as a kid the N word was more like the in word. It seemed all the kids used it regularly, it was just the norm. I can’t remember when it infiltrated my vocabulary, but I can remember it rolling off my tongue with ease for over a decade. A few key experiences shaped my relationship to the word, and taught me in live action the diversity of the word’s history, meaning, and cultural application. So rap music is undoubtedly the most influential source of urban slang, and absolutely the culprit that popularized the N word around the world. Within the Hip Hop communities of East Harlem, & the South Bronx the word was sung, flung, but never stung. When my family moved to Throgs Neck the word took on a whole new meaning, which ironically was it’s original meaning. Throgs Neck at the time was still somehwat segregated, and prone to racial issues. Prior to moving there, I rarely thought twice about race. One day while sitting in a park with my best friend at the time, who happened to be white, another older kid came by and sat to talk with us. We looked up to the older kid, because… well because he was older. He spoke about high school, and things that intruiged us. Then he said something I’ll never forget. He said the same word I had been completely comfortable hearing, and saying myself, but with a different tone, and it stung like a killer bee. I stood quiet, embarrassed and ashamed as he made racist remarks unaware that I represented the people he was reffering to in such a hateful way.  Another time in math class my teacher who was African heard me use the word and flipped out! Sent me to the office and accused me of being racist. I argued how can I be racist against black people when I’m black!? You see, my pops complexion is light and most people think he is spanish, my mom is light skin, and low and behold I’m light skin as well. A few similar experiences caused me to learn and understand the N word has a different meaning, and effect on different people, in different places, at different times. I remember the day vividly that my brother and I explored alternative words to refer to our friends as we walked through the same park where the N word had left an inward bruise on me.

Remixing The N word

What is Hip Hop if it isn’t taking something that already exists, and giving it new life and meaning? We remix everything, It’s what we do. -Randy Mason 

“What’s poppin’ my neighbor?” – Damion B Sanders

A few years ago a friend of mine gave me a gospel Hip Hop CD that his co-worker Dame made, and that joint was fire! One line in particular blew my mind when I heard it. On a Kanye West remix the rapper flipped Kanye’s line which originaly used the N word, and replaced it with the word neighbor. “What’s poppin’ my neighbor?”  That line was, and is still one of the dopest lines I’ve ever heard, it’s profound! I loved the CD so much, eventually Dame and I connected and formed a rap duo called Jesus Peace. Fast forward to a few days ago, (that’s an interesting sentence combining future & past tense) Dame and I are at our Church (Elements Church) youth concert where we were performing a few new songs. Prior to us going up, a brother went up to share his testimony. While passionately explaining the life God delivered him from he slipped up and said the N word.  Oops! Everyone kind of shockingly laughed it off as he apologized. As an urban church we knew exactly where he came from, what he meant, and how any of us could potentially slip up like that; especially when talking about our past life. So when Dame and I went up to do our song, I referenced our brothers raw testimony, gave God thanks for transforming his life, and lastly told the congregation that Neighbor, is now the new N word.

Biblebonics (Everything New)

Jesus flipped a lot of generational traditions, and cultural idealogy’s on their head. Because of the “new” perspective he brought someone once asked Jesus “what is the greatest commandment?” If that isn’t a loaded question I don’t know what is. In Jesus’s response we discover the two things that God esteems as paramount for humanity.

Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So here we are in the year 2015, a lot has changed, and a lot is still the same. In regards to race in America things are once again beginning to intensify. In regards to Hip Hop culture and music, “consciousness” seems to be making a return as rappers address racial/political/social/economical issues in their music and interviews. Hip Hop & Christianity have a lot in common. From the underdog achieveing the impossible, to the remixing of culture, traditions, and perspectives; Most importantly the transformative aspect that they both employ; producing beauty from brokenness. So yo, consider this a Jesus Peace public service announcement: Neighbor is officially the new N word. Effective immediately. Tell a friend, tell all your neighbors.  We have an opportunity to make history! Lets make it so that when people look back at this time, and at our generation, they will see  a cultural shift in language and slang, when the N word was officially abolished and a new term flourished.

Raking Leaves & Building Tables (Learning On The Job)

Learning new things can be fun, but also frustrating and frightening; especially when there seems to be very little room for error. From raking leaves, and building tables, to working with elementary school children, LGBT teens, and homeless adults, learning on the job is my job. So how do we replace pressure with productivity? How do we get from being wet behind the ears to being wise beyond our… (Y)ears? Well… I don’t know just yet, but I’m willing to learn on the blog.

 Go & Grow (Sink Or Swim)

I remember visiting a public swimming pool with friends as a teenager, and being the only one there that didn’t know how to swim. Standing there in my swimming shorts at the edge of the pool watching all my friends have so much fun was difficult, and embarrassing. I was faced with the daunting task of learning something new on the spot; how to swim. Eventually the pressure peaked, and the next thing I knew, I was in the deep end dramatically trying to copy the arm and leg motion I associated with swimming. I held on to the wall for most of the time, but ultimately I had a blast; and more importantly I began learning how to swim; or at least how to survive.

In life I’ve adopted a similar attitude. Jumping in, and learning on the go is something that is necessary for growth. If we go for it, we will grow because of it. If I stand and stare at a mountain for long enough I’m sure I’ll convince myself to turn around. Instead I can begin to climb, even without necessarily knowing how I’ll make it to the top, and that will bring me much closer to my goal; obtaining more experience each step of the way.  Leaving me far more experienced than I’d ever be standing at ground level. Speaking of mountains, attached to the end of this blog is a video of Michael H. Samuelson Author, Adventurer, Lecturer speaking at the annual Bussiness Innovation Factory in Rhode Island. Michael shares a few of meaningful life lessons, and transferable skills learned while climbing actual mountains. Very inspirational. I had the pleasure of attending this conference through a scholarship as a result of my willingness to jump in, and go!

Fostering Feedback & Even Failure

So one of the biggest inhibitors to attemting anything new, is the fear of failing. It’s paralyzing! Ironiclly failing is often a really positive and progressive experience if we view it from the right perspective. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s kind of like the process of elimination; the wrong answer will at least point you in the right direction. This is also known as Trial and Error. If we can humble ourselves, and be willing to learn from error, we will benefit greatly and likely succeed more frequently. The problem is often pride. Pride is what causes us to dismiss failure, instead of dissecting, and redirecting it. Some of us even remain stuck in a rut of what does not work, because we are too prideful to admit we got it wrong. The classic failure before success story is that of Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player to ever live being cut from his highschool basketball team. Another is the story of a young female artist on the come up getting boo’d at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem during her performance… Her name is Lauryn Hill. In both of these cases, I think it’s safe to assume that MJ and Ms.Hill viewed “failure” objectively, processed it, learned from it, and applied what they learned.  Feedback, particularly negative, or constructive critisism is challenging, very! It is also of enormous value. Learn how to foster feedback, and failure in order to fuel the fire.

The New Guy Mentality

The new guy is always extra excited, and eager to learn. The new guy is often humble and willing to go the extra mile. Sadly, the new guy mentality usually wears off over time, and when it does, continuous meaningful progress can become difficult to achieve. A good way to renew the New The Guy mentality is to take what you have become used to, and apply it to an unusual context. For example: I’ve been writing songs, and rapping for over 15 years, and have become quite comfortable as a lyricist, but in recent years I’ve stepped off the stage, and stepped into homeless shelters, NYC subway trains, and schools to rap. The thing that I do hasn’t changed but the setting has, the context has, the application has. I need to learn how to write, deliver, and even teach in a way that is relevent to each unique context, which causes me to grow, and ultimately become better at what I do. This not only benefits my craft, but my life overall, learning always does. So many life experiences offer transferable skills, and wisdom.  What is it that you do? How can you apply that thing in a new context, in order to expand, learn, and grow? The new guy as I mentioned earlier is usually, or at least hopefully, pretty humble. This is essential! Too often we become over confident, and this stunts our growth tremendously. Rekindle the new guy mentality by studying the masters. There’s always someone somewhere doing what we do on a higher level to some degree in one way or another. Although this can be intimidating, the trick is not to compare ourselves to others necessarily, but rather to humbly observe, analyze, glean, and learn from others. The new guy isn’t afraid to ask questions, to seek counsel, to study. “I thought I knew it all, untill I had to renew it all.”

Preparation, Prayer, Patience & Persistence

Preparation, prayer, patience & persistence are pivotal parts of proficiency, and productivity. In less poetic words, you need a plan to get it poppin’! When trying something new, frustration is inevitable, but this plan will keep us from giving up.

  • Preparation: As much as I am an advocate of going for it, I also need to stress that preparation is important. I recently decided to build three tables for my studio/office. Without preparing or seeking any counsel I bought some wood and got busy. In the end, I was confused, discouraged and angry because my excitement for the idea didn’t translate to stable tables. What I built wouldn’t stand at all, let alone the test of time. Thankfully, I decided to try again, but this time I planned to prepare by evaluating my errors, and finding a master builder to learn from. (Note how failing pointed me in the right direction.) The next day, I prepared by stocking up on all the supplies needed, and spending time sharing my idea with a master builder, asking questions and taking notes. Finally, the tables are up, they arent the greatest things ever built, but they’re serving their purpose well.
  • Prayer: Without prayer I would never be able to persevere in all of the things that I do. Prayer empowers me, and also provides peace admist the struggle of… Raking leaves & building tables. Prayer is paramount. Seeking counsel from the master of everything is always priority. The bible says that God has given us everything pertaining to life, and Godliness, and that all things are possible with God. Be encouraged!
  • Patience: Learning something new can take a long time, depending on your learning curve and what it is that you’re learning. I struggle with this more than anything else. Patience allows us to put things on pause and know that tomorrow we can try again. Patience softens the sting of todays failure, and points toward tomorrow’s success. Although I survived my swimming pool adventure that day as a crazy teenager; I actually didnt learn how to swim. I began to learn, I got aqauinted with the enviroment and elements of swimming, and I became encouraged to try again, and again until finally… I got it. We are always learning, everyday. Have patience, and know that progress is being made.
  • Persistence: If I resolve to shoot the basketball frequently throughout a game, the probability that I will score is high. (Assuming you’re not severely athletically challenged, in which case insert another anaology that applies.) If I miss a shot, and let that stop me from taking another, I certainly won’t ever score. Keep at it, keep going, persistently, consistently and intentionally. Go for it, and then go for it again! You got this.

Oh and by the way! The idea to write this blog came to me while raking leaves the other night for the very first time in my life. At the end of my “raking” (I don’t even know if that is the correct terminology) I stood proudly looking over the clear sidewalk, only to find a sea of leaves covering it the following morning.





FundTheMentals Bible Study @ Elements Church

I am leading the fundamentals bible study at Elements church every 2nd & 3rd Wednesday of the month from 7:30pm-8:30pm. A leadership development bible study will be taking place same time, date & frequency in another room at Elements church lead by Pastor E.

All our welcome. Come through, bring a friend, and lets build. Looking forward to growing with you.

“The Late Night Sessions” Mixtape (Randy Mason & Peace 586) Free download.

A few months back I got sick, and lost my voice. Around the same time I downloaded a few really awesome beats by the super talented Peace 586. One evening my wife and I were up talking, and she could see the wheels turning in my head. She said “you should probably get some rest.” I agreed, but instead decided to stay up all night writing, and recording. This mixtape features the songs/freestyles from two consecutive late night sessions at my kitchen table doing what I love to do.

“Late Night Sessions” link to free download


All These Things

 How enormous a challenge it is to remain at peace in this fast paced life, where ironically the pressure to produce can often be paralyzing.  Even as I write this, the whirlwind of worry within my mind swirls violently, threatening to rob me of the peace that is.

Mr. Fillmore & The Great Abyss (Never Enough)

My appetite to achieve has become an abyss, chasing dreams through revolving doors.

Life can sometimes feel like a long list of things to do, a mere checklist of mundane matters. Too often, regardless of how much we do, we are left feeling like it just isn’t enough, and truth is… It isn’t. From our daily tasks, to our life long dreams, all these things although potentially necessary and good, will never satisfy our hunger for completion, and perfect peace. So how do we conquer the conundrum of the never-ending to do list? If instead of dwelling on all these things we need, and want to do, we focus more on the one calling, and empowering us to do them; we will then discover the peace, and fulfillment we desire. Thus filling a God sized void with only that which can fill it; God.

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you. 

 A Busy Life Isn’t Necessarily an Effective Life (Avoiding Powerlessness)

Press pause, unplug, pray, repeat.

So much to do, so much to do. How much of what we do has any power? Impact? Lasting impression? How much of what we do is fruitful, and effective? How much of what we do is in vain, and with selfish ambition? Ouch. Yeah, these are challenging questions, but in order for us to live to our fullest potential we have to examine our lives and determine the areas that need improvement. How much of what we do is simply excess that can be eliminated? A busy life isn’t necessarily an effective life, but a prayerful life is. The power, and productivity is in prayer. We need to unplug from everything going on around us, quiet our mind, and just be still. When we spend quiet time in prayer, and in the scriptures we are refreshed, and better prepared for the busyness of life.

Mark 6:31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 9:28-29 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, why could we not cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. 

 Joy on The Job

 Determining what’s most important, is most important.

I used to feel so uninterested, and unenthused at my previous day job. It was such a chore, and really burdensome. Until I asked myself, why am I here? Why am I doing all these things? Initially the answer was, to get paid, but that answer didn’t cut it. When I pondered the question further, but this time from a biblical perspective I realized that I was there for something far more important than a pay check. I was there to shine a light, and share the love of God with the people I interacted with on a daily basis. Remembering my purpose got me through some really challenging times on that job. Take a look at your to do list, and try to view it from a biblical perspective. Why are we doing all these things? Things related to our family, our home, our marriage, our friends, our jobs, our church, ministry, our business, our art. Grumbling, and complaining is an indicator that I have forgotten my purpose, and need to pause, unplug, pray, and repeat. We can have joy on any job, any task at hand, whether it’s doing the laundry or writing a song, inputting data at work, or sweeping the church floor. There is great purpose in all these things. Getting up early to take the kids to school can be a drag, or it can be an opportunity to pour into the kids words of wisdom and encouragement that will help them throughout the day. Remember joy and happiness are not the same. I am not suggesting that we bounce around smiling and whistling all day every day, but what I am suggesting is that we can have peace, and joy amidst all these things that we want, and need to do, when we remember to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. After all, what is always most important is that God’s will be fulfilled in and through us.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well

Here’s a link to the slides from the sermon I gave on this same subject. “All These Things” (Work Hard Pray Harder)


Here is a fun song that gives us a fresh perspective on all these things we do.