12 March 2010

Above the Clouds

Listening to: Gang Starr, "You Know My Steez." This one is for Guru, who recently had a heart attack and was briefly in a coma. Reports are that he's on the way to a full recovery but seeing as Gang Starr is my favorite rap group of all time, I had put it out there for everyone to be aware of his improving situation and to support him.

I picked up Gang Starr's 1998 album, "Moment of Truth," at a record store on campus and proceeded to play it non-stop for weeks. I can tell a Premier track from miles away and he's rightfully said to be one of the greatest hip hop producers ever (check out his work with Nas, Rakim, Biggie, Mos Def). Guru's husky monotone spoke to me and while I can't say he's the absolute greatest MC, he's definitely one of the best as measured by content, lyricism, and longevity. He's real easy to listen to, and perhaps just as importantly, his words are easy to pick out, which makes the message hit home that much harder.

One of Guru's side projects, his collection of Jazzmatazz albums, are "an experimental fusion of hip hop and jazz" and all classic (except possibly the fourth one). Some sample tracks include, "Slicker Than Most" and "All I Said" featuring Macy Gray. Guru has always been a socially conscious visionary and a supporter of underground hip hop and oh he's just fantastic. Plus I'm a sucker for anything with a Wizard of Oz reference, aren't you?

"Who's the suspicious character strapped with the sounds profound
Similar to rounds spit by Derringers
You're in the Terrordome like my man Chuck D said
It's time to dethrone you clones, and all you knuckleheads
Cause MC's have used up extended warranties
While real MC's and DJ's are a minority
But right about now, I use my authority
Cause I'm like the Wizard and you look lost like Dorothy"
-You Know My Steez-
So school's over. Ten weeks can go by awfully fast. At Michigan we had a semester system and classes were paced much slower but also dragged on a lot more. UCSD is on the quarter system and by the time we got settled in the term was practically over. For getting in and out of school, I'd say the quarter system is better but it must be annoying to only have ten weeks to cover something, especially with a mid-term five weeks in and then preparing for a final soon after. While I felt like I learned quite a bit in all my classes, I wish we had the time to get into stuff more or perhaps explore other related topics. The quarter system is a dead on sprint without a lot of time for reassessment. Then again, I was starting to lose patience with the rhythm of school life and was ready for the quarter to end.

One thing about school is that it sure makes time go by. Where did January and February go? That I don't miss. The regular ebb and flow of having homework due tomorrow, in three days, next week. There's always something due and although I didn't have that much work per week, it triggered memories of constantly having that pressure to finish something before you could have fun. Like trying to have a spare weekend involved finishing all your homework on Thursday or something. Real life is much gentler that way. For the most part you are done with your job Friday afternoon and off you go, carefree and into the wild. Of course, I'd counsel everyone to stay in school as long as possible -- early graduates confound me, unless it's financially motivated -- because school is just so damn carefree. The working world has its perks but you can explore those for the next few decades. Undergrad is only for a few years. Or in my case, um, a decade.

The good news is that I think I'm done. Like I'm done taking classes because I should have more than enough to transfer everything across and get it all written up and sometime in the future I'll be a like a real live college graduate. Cross your fingers for me. And yes, you're all invited to my graduation party. It'll be held sometime in the next five years and there will be free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Wifi. Possibly some board games. Actually, definitely board games. Maybe something with all the law, business, and medical school people on one side versus all the other riff raff.

At some later point I want to share some (more) thoughts I had about the experience of going back to school, interacting with the young'uns, and engaging in writing classes and workshops -- something I'd never really done before. You can't wait, I can tell. Anyway, after I turn in some final projects I'm off to the Bay for snowboarding and then some couch surfing. As comfortable as San Diego has been, I need to get a move on. 2010 is tick ticking away isn't it?