Photo by Sam Grant. Graphic design by Carlos Santiago

This is a bad idea. I haven’t listened to this in years and I want to be liberated from it. When I first tried listening to the intro I turned it off after hearing my voice. It’s embarrassing, but it’s not like it can’t be found. humancloud abandonment EP is linked in the Uncommon Nasa interview and it’s on iTunes. I was once proud of what I made with producers Zesto! and Nonregla. They were and still are exceptionally talented individuals. humancloud was the first time I ever recorded anything. I had no rhythm, no sense of timing, and I didn’t know how to rap. I had no idea what I was doing. There’s a difference between cyphering with your homies in the cafeteria at lunchtime and performing your verses for a record, crafting entire songs, writing and performing hooks; and creating a body of work. Whatever I picked up music wise was from Zesto!, and rapper Bedtime9. We met in college. They were intelligent and mature beyond their years. They inspired me. Eventually we formed a crew, Stolen Music Imprint, consisting of me, Zesto!, Bedtime9, Masai Bey, BMS, and E.Coli. Tensho was added later. Despot was considered an unofficial member.

L-R, Masai Bey, E.Coli and his baby daughter, me and Zesto!

L-R, Masai Bey, E.Coli and his baby daughter, me and Zesto! Masai Bey posted this on Facebook. Not sure where or when this was taken.

Over the course of recording humancloud, a lot was going on that influenced my writing and subject matter. I was competing on Fridays at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I had just graduated from college. New York City was still turned upside down a year after 9/11. I picked up cigarettes, devastated over a girl who smoked. It was like “Hip Hop (produced by DJ Khaled, ft. Scarface, Nas and DJ Premier)” when Scarface said, “I’m killing me trying to kill you.” I got drunk for the first time on the day I graduated. I was living in Brooklyn working for MTV, interning at Mugshot Magazine, and writing my second book of poetry- still breathing…. I had a false sense of confidence that lead me aimlessly. We were all broke and loving it, treating the city like a giant playground. Time still stood. My dreads were half way down my back. Nobody would give me a job. I wasn’t about to cut my belief system [laughing while typing]. “I stopped combing my hair so my thoughts would lock-” Saul Williams.

I was what would’ve been considered a slam poet mimicking a rapper. A lot of slam poets were selling spoken word albums, but they weren’t interesting to me. It sounded like they recorded their vocals and just added instrumentals to them. In high school I discovered Saul Williams in the documentary Slam Nation at the 1998 Orlando Film Festival. He was my idol. As a black kid that grew up in the suburbs of Orlando, Florida, I had never heard or seen anything like it. The next night I saw Beau Sia perform at a downtown bar where Patrick Scott Barnes, a well-known local poet used to sneak me in. Seeing Beau was like getting baptized. For me, the words were far more important than rhyming “in the pocket.” I wanted to prove to myself, and to my piers, that I could rock to the beat. When me and Nonregla started working on Sugar Brown Steven and The Super New Kids, I got better. You’ll hear that later, starting at the beginning moving forward. humancloud is still difficult to listen to. All I hear is this young smart-ass naive kid wallowing in romanticism. I cringe. Skip the intro.

the players: tracy jones, vocals; zestrock on production and engineering; nonregla on production for “bucktooth alchemy”; ari greenfield on cuts for “one legged pedestal.”


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