MY TIME IN EUROPE part2: THE CITY OF WINTERTHUR

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October 25th, our train arrives at Winterthur. The weather is beautiful. Figub (our deejay for the tour) was met by his parents. They had made plans to meet prior to our arrival. They seemed pretty cool. The dad was laid back while the mom was bit more energetic. They were both pleasant folks and Figub has a cool vibe as well so I can see where he gets it from.

Tek, Buckshot and myself jumped in a cab with the promoter whos name is Sam. Sam resembled the Spanish actor from CSI (laughs). He was cool but he appeared a bit reserved. Figub and his parents walked to the hotel because it was only 100 meters from the train station. We stayed at The Park Hotel. The rooms were very comfortable and the ambiance was tranquil down the music playing mildly thru the hotel speakers. There was a park located right next to the hotel and in the middle of the park was a building that resembled a Greek Revival style home with 3 figures resembling lions with wings on top each corner of its roof supported by four columns finished by a fountain in front, perfect for a photo op.   

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We only had about an hour before sound check so I began to unpack my bag and get my gear ready for the show. Normally we don’t get a lot of time to prepare so we have to think on the move and anything can happen so its best to be safe than sorry. We all met in the lobby. Tek was down first then myself followed by Buckshot. We proceeded to walk to the venue which was only a few meters from where we were staying. It was a lovely day and the walk was refreshing. We arrived at the venue located in what appeared to be some type of square in the center of the town. There is something that draws me to the old fashioned architecture of the homes and the design of each individual city. It allows the mind to travel and imagine what it was like or what it would be like to live in some of these places.

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The name of the club we were to perform at was Albani. It was a small space that holds about 250 to 300 people. The sound check went well the guys had some coffee and Buck and I had some cough cough (laughs). Sam then took us for food. We were all indecisive but we agreed on pasta. Sam made the reservations at this Italian restaurant but when we arrived they mysteriously hadn’t receive our reservation. We had to come up with a plan b quick because it was Sunday and the shops closed early plus we had an early show that night and we couldn’t afford to waste any time. 

There was a hamburger spot close by but we decided to dine at this Thai spot which was suggested by Buckshot. I’m not a big fan of Thai food but it turned out really good even better than the initial choice of Italian food or burgers. I kept it simple and ordered the chicken fried rice and a seafood salad with squid. Everything was great. I tackled what I could and wrapped the rest up in a doggie bag for later. 

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We went back to the hotel to get ready as time was of the essence. Luckily I already chose my outfit for tonight. I just had to change clothes and go. The venue was jammed packed and there were people still outside. we had a few minutes to prep before we got on stage. We made a toast with Hennessy, Buck rolled a spliff and after that it was showtime. 

It was a small stage so we were up close and personal with the audience. Sometimes those venues are better because they're more intimate than the bigger stages. The show was a success everyone went above and beyond. This was only show three but we were all convinced this may have been the best show thus far. We still have nine shows left so its still too soon to make a fair assessment .

We fly out to Budapest in the afternoon leaving us a few hours to kill after check out. Once we checked out we went to find some food. We decided on the burger joint we skipped the previous night. It was empty but the doors were wide open. This could never happen in New York, I thought. Eventually a young lady emerged from the back. She took our order and began to make the food right there behind the bar. She was a one woman army. 

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The food was okay, it was burgers and fries so there was nothing special although I've had some special burger and fry combinations in my travels. We ate then we proceeded back to the hotel where we met up with Sam for the last time. He put us in a cab and bid us farewell. He seems to be a cool guy. He was thorough with the business and took care of us well so there are no complaints on my end. I look forward to doing business with Sam again. We need more good promoters that aren’t afraid to work hard. 

 

We arrived at the airport on time. When we checked in they informed us that we had to pay for our check in luggage. They were also giving us a hassle about the weight of our carry ons.  It was a bit of confusion but we ultimately paid the fee and proceeded to our gate. When we got to the gate a flight attendant announced that the flight was overbooked or overweight and offered 270 francs to whoever would give up their seat for a later flight.

 

I thought about it but the team wouldn’t go for that. That’s one rule that we have practiced for years. Maybe Figub would make the sacrifice. We decided its best to stay together. The flight is short as opposed to the time it would have taken if we had driven. Everything worked out, give thanx and praise to God. We have the next two day off in Budapest. I’m looking forward to the rest and hopefully we get to see some cool sights.

 

Flight check prepare cabin for take off. Budapest here we come. Stay tuned for more.

 

General Steele

10/30/15

 

MY TIME IN EUROPE part1: THE CITY OF MONTREUX

Today is Sunday October 25th. On Thursday the 22nd we flew out to Zurich Switzerland from John F Kennedy Airport for a 2 and half week tour. Tek and I just returned from Europe a few weeks ago but this time we go out with Buckshot. We were on a 2 week run where we visited Barcelona, Madrid and Vitoria which is in Spain. We then moved on to Poland for a week and we finished in London. That run was a little challenging for us as we had to switch up our normal regiment, needless to say we accomplished the mission but not without a few glitches.

I've been looking forward to this trip since the last one partly because the obstacles that we overcame on that particular trip gave me the confidence to take on whatever the next mission would be. To be honest, I was thinking nothing could be worst than what we just went thru but in all fairness, it wasn’t all bad there just were a few turbulent moments.

I made sure to pack all the necessities in advance. I always manage to leave something behind no matter how much I plan ahead. This time was gonna be different so I thought. For the most part I had all angles covered. I was looking forward to performing with Buckshot and Tek and I was anxious to leave New York . I was getting a bit overwhelmed by some of the nonsense that goes on in my day to day and I was in dire need of a break from it all. 

The flight on Delta was great. I pretty much slept thru the majority of it. I missed dinner but I woke up in time for breakfast. The flight time was 7 1/2 hours. I think I slept for about 5 hours. We also had tvs in the headrest so we were able to watch our own personal programming. This was useless to me but I was able to catch a good 40 minutes of AntMan and it was actually pretty good. I have to be honest I don’t think I would’ve seen it otherwise. Im not a real big Antman fan but I love most things Marvel. Its one of the movies you have to watch on a plane. 

The flight was smooth. We arrived and went thru customs without a problem. Our ride was a Suburban which looked like it may have been from 2005 or so . it was a special edition. I have to point this out because the last trip Tek and i was on was a rough one as i mentioned before.

We had a packed flight with no tv and no catering services for 7 1/2 hours, it was atrocious. Guess we can be a bit spoiled but we couldn't predict the lack of hospitality and professionalism not to mention space. We were jammed seat to seat, knee to knee, elbow to elbow. Our current flight on Delta was much better and more accommodating. It wasn’t a full flight so we were able to stretch out even more.

We arrived on time and our ride was on time and they both spoke some english which was fantastic. On the last trip we had a few issues with the language barrier particularly when we arrived in Madrid. Our driver and his partner spoke absolutely no English and we pretty much were dropped at the hotel with little to no information until it was time to go to the venue. 

On our current excursion we were instantly treated with respect and greeted with hospitality in the form of mary jane. What better way to end a long flight (laughs). We had approximately a 2 hour drive to the city of Montreux. We've never been to this city before.  We were staying in the Old City of Montreux. It looks like something out of a fable. The architecture was stunning. I can hear Cynicals voice in my head, urging me to absorb as much as possible and take advantage of my experiences. I began to film whatever I could. On the last trip I managed to leave my converter for my camera so I was unable to transfer footage and I had to minimize what I was able to capture. Needless to say I missed a lot of amazing sights.

I was determined to document this trip. I thought it would be cool to keep a journal of our experience as things happened in real time. Right now we are on a train headed to Winterthur. We have an early performance tonight. This is day three and the third show and all is going well. I must admit its awkward performing without our usual deejay Logic, I miss his element. We have this guy from Berlin filling in who's pretty good. His name is Figub or Mario. It took me two days to learn how to say his name. He is cool though. He hung out with Tek and I after the show last night.

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After our concert we got the word that Young Guru was spinning in the same town. We thought is was only right to stop by and kick it with him and just vibe out to some New York tunes. He got busy on the turntables as usual. Tek and I went with the Figub and a few guys we met at our show while Buck stayed back at the hotel. 

I have to point out that we had been drinking Hennessy at our event and when we arrived at the following event we were downing Vodka and Red Bull mixtures. Figub had a tough time getting up the next morning but at least we didn’t miss our train. The show in Montreux went well and the venue in Meyrin was pretty dope as well. The club was pretty sexy, it was designed sort of like a pit and there was a huge screen on the side wall. There where three guys operating cameras streaming to the screen. Normally this is only done at large festivals so it was a nice addition. 

The promoters for both shows were very cool. They took care of the business and kept us updated on all current movements. We had very little to be concerned about and we were able to concentrate on the task at hand. 

Even the food was pleasant. At least Tek and I enjoyed our first dinner in Montreux. Buck on the other hand had to adjust his order. He initially ordered the crab and the seafood pasta. The crab was this monstrousscavenger which I immediately knew was going to be a problem. Buck is a particular eater some may even say picky. At the time he was outside taking in the sights. I said to Tek,” wait till Buck sees this crab.” I had to get his reaction on camera.

When Buck entered the restaurant his eyes focused on this creature which was to be his food and he made the exact response I had predicted. He took one look at this odd looking delicacy and uttered confusingly, “what the …..” Tek and I immediately started to laugh. We have had many experiences with Buck and his choice of food so we were prepared to be entertained.

Tek and I both ordered the seafood salad which was awesome . It came with small clams, mussels, shrimp and squid. I also had a tomato cream soup which was amazing. Buck was having minor issues. He totally was not going to eat the crab and his seafood pasta had the same seafood we had in our salad. Buck was not a fan of the assorted seafood so he chose to take out everything except the shrimp. The waitress was trying to persuade him to try the crab but was unsuccessful. Tek and I actually tried it and it was pretty good and very fresh maybe a little too fresh for Bucks’ taste (laughs)

After dinner we went to see some of the sights. The Old City of Montreux is beautiful. It is a mix of old chateau homes blended with some modern architecture. Our escort stated that we were in a very culturally rich part of the city. We actually went to visit an old castle at a place called Chateau De Chillon. I took a few pics then we went back to the hotel. Normally we don’t get to see the sights when we travel due mostly to time restraints but this trip would be different. I planned on taking advantage of whatever free time was available and I was determined tho document this trip.

The hotel in Montreux was the Tralala. It was a famous hotel frequented by many musicians. Montreux hosts an annual jazz festival in the summer. The hotels decor reflected the soul of the establishment. There werepictures of famous musicians on every wall. There was a huge photo of the late great BB King right behind reception. When we arrived they made us complimentary tea making us feel at home immediately. The rooms were more modern. It was designed like these new micro rooms. Everything was small and quaint which was cool because we all had our own space. 

It worked for what we needed and the vibe was cool. I had this enormous picture of this singer performing live at a concert staring at me from the wall adjacent to my bed. It was a little weird but it was cool it didn't trip me out too much. The entire design was small and then you have this oversized photo of this guy singing to you right in front of your bed, freaky (laughs).

Needless to say I enjoyed my stay there. In the city of Meyrin it was slightly different. We stayed by the airport so we were a bit secluded. The hotel was the Nash Airport Hotel. The design was also small but it was comfortable. I slept like a baby. The food was on point too. In the early part of the day I had grilled salmon and in the evening after the show, we all had baked chicken and rice.

On the drive from Montreux to Meyrin we took a slight detour to enjoy some of the magnificent scenery. Our escort took us to this cliff overlooking a huge vineyard and a few cottages. It also overlooked a body of water that stretched to an island of mountains. The view was breathtaking. We began to joke about how miniature we are in the global spectrum. We also wondered what kind of species could be living atop those mountains. Would we finally get to see the Yeti (laughs)

We had a blast. So here we are now at day three riding the train for 3 1/2 hours. The scenery is tranquil. It provides a perfect reading or writing atmosphere plus we didn’t have to go thru security or board a plane with all this heavy luggage. It's a change in the norm but I welcome this break in monotony. Planes, trains and automobiles.

We have approximately an hour left so I am going to film some the sights and then maybe read some pages of the 48 Laws of Power. Stay tuned for more to come. 

 

General Steele

N.Y.C NOISY YORK CITY

  I LOVE NEW YORK, THE BIG APPLE or THE ROTTEN APPLE as some have affectionately coined it. I love the food, the busyness of the people, the diversity, the adversity and most of the things that go on in a city like New York. I even like to see the yellow cabs racing to pick up fares throughout the city although its still challenging for black males like myself to catch one. 

After several failed attempts I finally got lucky. I told the cab driver, “thank you for picking me up sir.” He replied back, “of course I'll pick you up, I am a cab, I am supposed to do that.” I then reminded him of the inbred and the systematic racism and prejudice that is endured by many minorities and people of color. He begin to explain why cabs are afraid to pick up young black men and in his words, most are simply afraid of being robbed, hurt or even killed. Thats understandable but I still found this prejudging a bit misplaced considering the fact I was with my girlfriend and my teenage son. 

Living in New York one can become accustomed to the most biased practices. He was attempting to make sense of the senseless. I am not saying it is senseless to be afraid to work as a public servant. People put their lives on the lines in all sorts of professions. NYPD works very hard at what they do. There are some bad apples for sure but I don't condemn the entire institution based on a few incidents that showcase disdain and brutality toward minorities and African Americans especially.

Don’t forget the FDNY. These people are superheroes. They literally run into danger to save lives as do our EMS and ambulance workers. Even jobs like cashier or store clerk can be very dangerous but it doesn’t make sense to judge or be afraid of every individual that comes into your establishment or to think every young black male is going rob or assault you. If fear compromises your duties then maybe you need to consider another occupation.

Anywhere there is a disproportionate amount of impoverished people there will be heightened levels of drugs and crime. There are some very scary places in New York as there are some frightening people as well but I try not to allow my wisdom and personal experience to dictate my actions toward people. We all have a little bit of prejudice and bias within us. I once heard a young African American girl say “black people cannot be racist.” Although I understand this concept, I don’t totally agree, but thats a matter of opinion in dialogue and could result in a long lasting debate. 

We don’t always have to be right at the sake of someone else being wrong all the time. There is a balance or imbalance within us all. I try to focus on the balance more but they often come as a package deal. At times I catch myself complaining about everything from the rude people, crowded subways, slow drivers, fast drivers, bikers, people who play their phone like we all want to hear what they are listening to, slow service, you name it. 

For the past month or so I have been waking up to demolition. There are 3 construction sites directly across the street from me and dozens of cranes elevated throughout the neighborhood. They call it gentrification. What disturbs me the most is the noise. I’m getting old, lol. I enjoy peace and quiet although my profession is far from that concept. I work around loud music, loud people you name it, lights, cameras and constant action so sometimesI like to meditate and decompress. No phone, no computers, email, social media, etc. just nature. Turn off, turn down, reboot and get my mind ready for the next mission. While constantly being reminded of the phrase, “turn down for what?”

I woke up yesterday very angry and didn’t know why. After analyzing my situation I had to assess that it was due to lack of sleep or lack of peaceful rest. I couldn’t concentrate due to the noise not to mention the construction was literally shaking the foundation of my building. I couldn’t stand being in my own house with all the noise. I got into a few arguments with friends, I lost me appetitethen I started to drink alcohol, my entire mood was disorientated. I decided to go to the park which I enjoyed until I got tired of undercover cops driving by looking at me as if I was peddling drugs or something. It was uncomfortable so I decided to go back home and deal with it.

When I woke up this morning it sounded like the world was ending. Of course I don’t know what that sounds like but if I had to imagine, it would sound exactly like what I had to endure. The banging, the drilling, jackhammers, saws,  traffic on the block due to congestion, car horns blaring, a drunk and a crackhead trading obscenities, fire trucks, cop cars and ambulances whizzing by sirens screaming. I can’t forget to mention the neighbor who likes to play music which seems like all day long or the one who likes to blast tunes from his horribly disturbing sound system. 

Once in awhile they would play a good tune but when you add that on top of everything else, it’s just noise. Not to mention some of that stuff is just sounds like crap. I felt like I was going crazy this morning. My focus was off. My meditation was disrupted. Lets just say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed for the last 30 days or so. 

What is it about us New Yorkers that we are able to coexist in organized chaos?  What is it about the drama that magnetizes, mobilizes and oddly at times stabilizes us? What is that resilience? That drive…NY

Although there are several places to go in New York where you can relax and chill, it still has this hint of anxious energy. New York keeps New Yorkers on the move at times oblivious or unsympathetic to anything else around them in a state of tunnel vision or maybe they're just texting while walking. Especially when you walk thru Midtown and witness the hustle and bustle on Wall St. If you don’tknow how to walk you may very well get trampled. 

New Yorkers and tourist alike enjoy the noisy, busyness of this great city. It seems what makes this city bad, are many of the same things that give the city its color and character. The song says “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”  Thank the Chairman, Old Blue Eyes for that. I like the Jay Z version Too lol. He couldn’t have been more accurate. This is a tough place to live but its a beautiful place to live as well. Although I get overwhelmed at times by the chaos it also makes me who I am. Strong, proud, confident, resilient, crazy, loud and boisterous New York. I am a part of this city and it is a part of me. So in the name of the legendary Chuck D, "BRING THE NOISE." 

by General Steele


In Memory of Sean P!

By D. Yates aka General Steele

8/16/15    

On Saturday the 8th of August 2015 I got news that a good friend of mine had died. The devastating news came directly from his wife. I had just woke up not to long before that but we immediately got dressed and went to his home. 

We were in disbelief, shock, fear and a host of other emotions. When we arrived the police were sitting outside his door and a few very close family members and friends were gathered inside. The grief started to suffocate me as I walked into his apartment straight to his wife who was obviously distraught. All I could do was hug her as tight as I could and tell her I love her.

Normally people say things like “are you alright” or “its gonna be alright” or “be strong”. How can one know its gonna be alright? How could you not know how it feels to lose someone that is extremely close to you be it friend, family or soulmate. How can one be strong in this grievous time?

I was at a loss for words as more people who received the news began to file into the apartment. Not one person could hold back their tears, sobs even screams. No one wanted this to be true. Unfortunately we all had to face this gruesome fact that our beloved friend and brother (Sean Price) was dead.

Its hard for me to even write his name in that context. 

I can’t believe Im not going to see my friend anymore. We are not going to be joking on each other or offering each other life advice or debating different opinions. We will not be able to go on tours across the globe to perform together at sold out shows. I won’t get to hear him rock the crowd or chant his famous chant, “When I say Sean, y’all say P….SEAN P! SEAN P!” as the crowd files in line to participate in full cadence. I won’t get to see his wild antics or get to hear him make up those wild anecdotes and crazy phrases. DAMN! I can’t believe it.

It hasn’t fully sunk in. The first few days were crazy. The family and friends immediately went to work to take care of any arrangements that had to be made. Seans’ wife was exceptionally strong under the circumstances. People had to comfort each other because everyone was distraught. This would be no easy task. 

There were many people who loved Sean and this scenario was devastatingto imagine let alone witness in real time. I have to give credit to a list of people who went into action immediately. I won’t name any names but there were a quite a few. This unity made it a little easier to bear the weight of responsibility of what lies ahead. 

The love that people have for our brother Sean Price emits a powerful energy that holds us all together. I felt God had made a choice and no matter how unfair it seemed to us all, this was the only way to make sense of what didn’t make sense at all. 

Sean had converted to Islam so he had to be washed properly by his brothers. I had the honor to participate in this sacred body washing ceremony or Ghusl along with Buckshot, Tek, Hemdi, Unicron and the Imam.

He was then taken to the Masjid where they prayed over his body.

PREPARATION OF THE DECEASED AND JANAZAH PRAYERS

We later took Sean to the funeral home where he could be viewed by extensive family and friends. There was not a dry face in the area but there was loved ones everywhere. People who I haven’t seen in 5, 10 even 20 years. Many rap artist and producers came out to show respect many whom have worked with Sean directly. 

There was a sea of purple everywhere as this is the color that the Decepticons adorn. To see the Decept family, brought a familiar strength through the bond that we shared. You also had a sea of Ralph Lauren gear as this is the Flag that the LoLifes adorn. Many of these brothers are from Brownsville Brooklyn where Sean was raised, so their camaraderie goes way back. In the 80’s Decepts and LoLifes were rivalries so this union showed how powerful an impact Sean Price made on us all. 

There were also several members of Seans’ family who drove up from down south. Although it was the ultimate sad occasion It had to be proud for them to witness how many people Sean affected and not just through his incredible rap skills but through people who grew up with him in many different stages of his short life.

After the service many of us went to Kingston Ave where the graffiti artist MeresOne (5Pointz) was doing a mural in memory of Sean. It is was very sad and exhilaratingat the same time. I cried as MeresOnes’  painting solidified that my brother was really gone in the physical form but I was comforted by the reality that he lives on through his family his friendshis accomplishments and the many unfamiliar faces who came out to stand in the hot sun until the mural was complete. 

The following day was the funeral. This was it. This is final. Im not ready for this but I have no choice. We attended a small service at the funeral home then we proceeded to the cemetery. This was extremely tough for people as everyone was asked to take a shovel and put dirt into the grave 3 times. Many people were not familiar with thisprocess and were noticeably disturbed as they committed to the reality that was now severely obvious. Others couldn’t bring themselves to do it because they viewed it as “throwing dirt on thy brother”.

The burial ceremony was also highlighted by the Islamic prayer that was given by Buckshot which he did completely in Arabic. It was mind blowing for many to witness because they didn’t know Buck could speak fluent Arabic. Even friends and family alike that knew this fact was in awe. Buckshot and Tek were in full Islamic garb (Jalabiya)  in honor of the faith and our brother Sean. In the Islamic faith it is important to give all muslims the proper burial ceremony and these brothers did a great job.

The entire ceremony had to be done immediately according to the Islamic faith. 

It's now nine days later and I am still in a bit of denial. I had to unplug from social media. My twitter was crazy and people were posting thousands of images on Instagram and Facebook. Artist were painting murals in honor of Sean Price all across the globe in places like Italy, Germany and Australia just to name a few. I was in denial and I didn’t want to reply to texts, tweets or even phone calls. I wasn’t prepared to do any interviews, go on live radio or answer any questions regarding this issue. I didn’t want to hear any rap music talk about anything rap related and I definitely wasn’t ready to perform at any shows. It was too much for me so I decided to write this hoping to possibly bring closure to a major chapter in this Book of Life.

As the saga continues I strive everyday to keep going. The death of Sean has brought many of us closer and it also made many of us evaluate our health and our lifestyles. One friend came to me after the viewing with tears in his eyes he wanted to ask me a favor. He said “Steele no disrespect but I need you to stop drinking”. “I love you and I can’t do another one of these …”

Tears rolled down my face I hugged my friend and I said “No disrespect at all, I appreciate you for that. I love you brother. Thank You”.

As artist we live crazy lifestyles day to day. I pray Allah (Swt) gives me the strength to change the things I can and to accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference. 

I plan on making some changes in my life Inshallah starting NOW one day at a time.

Maybe this energy will affect us all in a way where we start to value every second of our God given life.

God Bless you. God Bless us ALL.

Yo SEAN P I LOVE YOU SLUM! THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!