I give your life light and now all I find is darkness inside," I gave you my eyes, looked at you, made you feel so alive, then you provided the pain for the tears, I cry, I gave you passion, pleasure, romance ... heaven. I gave you everything a woman wants and more ... and still that wasn't enough for you ... I gave youuuuuuuuuuu ...
Oh damn you scared me! (Embarrassed smile). You snuck right up on me, my virtual celly, straight stealth mode, and just how long have you been standing in front of my cell listening to me?
Never mind, come on inside, just don't judge my vocals on this one excerpt of a song alone, because it's one of my new creative babies that's still learning to walk.
Just because I'm in prison doesn't mean I have to live like I'm in prison, right? But no matter where I'm housed in prison, I'm still doing time, and because my character is superior to the circumstance I face, I will do my best to focus on the advantages of my current condition and make the most of them.
Now celly (turning my fan towards you), before my pen takes off like a ramblin' rocket with no clear discussion destination in mind, let me grab us something to drink and steer this conversation to the landing pad of my songwriting and how important it is to my sanity, existence, purpose and future goals ... reaching into my locker, you look like someone who would drink a mango can juice drink, here you go, and I'll have one too - splish, splish (popping tops). Sorry it's lukewarm but Texas is about 20 years off from installing mini-fridges inside of our cells. Just kidding, but I have to give it to them, Texas prisons are gradually improving and catching up to other states by offering more amenities and communication options, but their motive is to create more streams of revenue, not because they have begun to like us. So my virtual celly, it's official, I received a one year set off and I'm scheduled to be reviewed again for parole next June 2016, but I know something you don't know, shhhhh, its a secret, so I'm not going to tell you. My prison journey continues, but you know something? - yes I'll tell you this (smile) I'm more focused, determined and stronger than ever before because I know my time in prison is short, and I also know there is an incredible life and future waiting for me to live to the fullest once my feet touch free ground.
I read a quote recently that summarizes perfectly how I approach my time in prison. "It's not what we have or how much we have, it's how we use what we have that counts and it can be the difference between success and failure in life." And for good measure, here's another quote: "Nothing is ordinary if you know how to use it." I'm in prison and yet I have the same amount of minutes in a day that you do. Time doesn't differentiate between civilian and convict. I live in the confined space of a cell. You live and work in a different space - of your job and then later in your bedroom, where you sleep nearly a third of your day so you can recover to do more work for a third of the next day. But I'm stuck inside my cell. And you can go where you want to, when you want to when you're not imprisoned at work and in your bedroom, true enough, and I would choose your life over mine any day of the week, but in relation to the quote I just gave you, I'm putting my prison life into perspective, its how we use what we have that counts.
You have to get in your car, dodge crazy drivers and spend money for gas, consuming more disposable precious minutes in your day to get where you are going so that you do what you want to do. (Just putting my prison life into perspective, trust me I would much rather be in gridlock traffic heading to the confined space of my job).
So, for now, I cant go anywhere because there is a physical barrier of traditional prison bars blocking my mobility, however; everyday I transform my tiny cell into a classroom, office, library, laboratory, gymnasium and a studio. I told you we were going somewhere, now fasten your seat belts because you're about to land (wink).
A recording studio has been the dominant mode at my cell lately. My lengthy incarceration journey has consisted of different phases - doing regular regimental time, trade, education, college, craft shop, custom leather goods, fighting my wrongful conviction and for the past three years I have been on a vigorous dedicated songwriting crusade. I've been rapping/singing on and off, since I was about eight years old. I have a unique signature sounds that is a blend of different genres/styles all rolled up into one song. While in prison I have dabbled with writing, a few songs over the years but nowhere near the frequency or musical magnitude of the songs I'm currently writing. At first I was just playing with it, like a creative hobby, using my songs as an outlet to express my pain as so many oppressed people have over the centuries. In Napoleon Hill's book, Think and Grow Rich, music is #4 on the list of "stimuli to which the mind responds most freely "and if you're wondering, sex is #1 (naughty grin). So my music both helps me to express what I'm feeling. It's not always pain, and at what is the lowest point of my life, it makes me feel good/stimulated inside.
Forty-five meaningful songs, countless hours cultivating my craft, rehearsing everywhere I go and overwhelming positive fun feedback from inmates and guards later, I think I've discovered something special and life-changing inside me that on some days has me feeling like I hit the lottery in prison - but I have to wait and collect the big check on my talent when I get out. the best part is I'm only getting better with my song ideas, lyrical content, delivery and the unique melodies each song possesses. I don't know where they keep coming from, but these meaningful dynamic songs of different genres keep coming to me. Sometimes I think there are angels inside of my cell nudging my imagination with inspiring song ideas because the creative process of bringing some of my songs to life is so surreal it feels like someone is helping me.
Not only do I transform my cell into a studio but most of the places I go in this prison, I take my current song notebook with me, and if for some reason I can't or don't, there's always one of my songs playing on the turntable of my heart that seems to eventually emanate in high volumes from my mouth. I am a walking MP3 player, and its funny because some people who aren't familiar with my routine think I've lost my mind. Always rapping, singing, tapping and beating on any available surface, walls, tables, my own body, swaying side to side, snapping my fingers, in my own world. What's he on, I want some of that, I can hear them muttering. The thing is, I'm passionate about my music and I've learned that if I'm going to do something anyway, why not go all out and give my best effort.
A few days ago I was in the middle of giving my best effort while singing my new song, I Gave You, when the building major (he has the highest rank under the Warden) heard me and looked at me sideways. Did that stop me from singing? Hell no! I can't read minds, so I just kept on belting out my lyrics. I think he didn't like that, so he barked at me "shut the hell up!" Did that stop me from singing? Hell no again! To clarify, my mouth stopped singing, but inside my heart was singing louder than ever. I told myself a long time ago that though this system succeeded in locking up my body, I would never let TDCJ lock up my heart spirit and mind. The Major added, "Why are you singing anyway?" Well because I write music, it's how I pass my time, and it makes me feel good. He still didn't understand, because he had a lost look on his face. The average person preoccupied and pressured with the various demands of life, leaves their imagination and creativity behind in their childhood. In other words, they stopped dreaming a long time ago, but not me, I am a man possessed when it comes to my dreams and goals, especially my music.
My music and songs are a harmonized merger of my story, journey, pain, experiences, creativity, knowledge and gifts. When I met with one of the parole commissioners on June 9th, I told him that we all have different chapters of our life, but they are inseparable and inevitable as we live out our life stories. I went on to tell the commissioner, and as crazy as it may sound to you, innocent or guilty, I would not change my journey if I could, because had it not been for my wrongful imprisonment, I would not be the same man I am today, with what I've accomplished and what I know and the hidden treasures and talents I've discovered inside of me.
It took coming to prison for something I didn't do for me to become the man God destined me to be. My wrongful conviction journey is wrong and unjust, but all Ive been through isn't for nothing, it's for a positive purpose and for a greater reason in my future. If one of the ways I leave my eternal legacy behind is through my original, immortal songs and music, then I'm the priceless pearl that had to endure an unjust time period in the clam of a tiny cell before I could adorn humanity with the songs in my heart.