Rick Chyme Journal Entry #2
Rick Chyme is back with his second journal entry. Go inside the mind of an awesome artist as he writes about a variety of topics.
Hello Again Humans,
I originally typed the initial version of this journal entry about two weeks ago. Minutes after completing the draft, my hard drive permanently passed away. My plan was to proofread it one last time before sending it to 730, so I hadn’t backed it up or e-mailed it to myself and I lost what you could confidently assume was a masterpiece.
My next stop was to install a new hard drive in my laptop, which to my surprise, was actually not difficult at all. I thought it’d be easy to rewrite the journal because it was still fresh in my brain. Riiiight…The problem is I have a hard time forcing myself to write these days. My inspiration was gone because I felt like I was just regurgitating something old and even though it was close to capturing the same energy of the original draft, every time I looked at it I got a little bit more sick to my stomach. It’s pretty much the same feeling I’ve had when trying to re-record a song in the studio… it’s just not fun to force inspiration. So here I am at 5:00am on February 13th trying to finish a journal that was supposed to be turned in on the fifth. Here we go.
I want to tell you a little bit about what’s been going on with my work in the schools. This year I’ve started working with a group called ‘be nice.’ that is a non-profit based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We visit schools from kindergarten to high school and give students the tools needed to combat the “bullying”(someone please come up with another term for this) behavior that occurs so often, eventually leading to suicide prevention. N.I.C.E. stands for notice, invite, challenge, empower. We have brought the program to about 25 schools this year. Thee part that I enjoy most and am most proud of is that we don’t just show up, conduct assemblies and then disappear. We first meet with a leadership group of students chosen by the faculty to teach them the principles of the program and encourage them to inject their own personality into it’s execution. This helps students to take ownership of the program and in turn, their peers often identify with the message easier.
This week we went to a middle school in Muskegon, Michigan where several students gave touching testimonies drawn directly from stories in their own lives. One student whom I’ll call “Bryce” stepped up in front of his entire school and detailed some trying situations that he is facing in his home life. His father had a stroke and has now been diagnosed with throat cancer that doctors fear may spread into his brain. Bruce is a middle-school student facing new responsibilities that he’s never imagined before. As he took the microphone and began speaking his truth to his classmates, I got the chills. You could see him forcing through his nervousness, making sure he was able to get his story across, in hopes that some of them may gain from the hardships he is living with and understand that we are all fighting our own battles.
During each assembly I share a bit of my own story detailing and perform a song or two. Hip Hop is such a strong vehicle to connect with the kids, I love every minute of it. I don’t want to harp on this too much but as adults we need to know how much some of our youth are hurting, this starts with educating ourselves on warning signs of poor mental health. It would blow your mind to see how quickly some students change their behavior once they’re given information on how to treat each other and why it’s important. Every time we go to a school I have to pinch myself. It feels like I’ve tricked the system. I’m able to affect the students’ lives using Hip Hop and the things I learned through basketball and the education courses I took during college.
This year isn’t the first time I’ve worked in schools, but it is the first time I’ve done it with such regularity. We’ve visited schools several times over the course of the last 8 years, but this year things have picked greatly. In addition to working with ‘be nice’, I’ve also done more individual speaking engagements and performances than ever before. One of these instances took place at Crossroads Alternative High School in Kentwood, Michigan. A teacher at this school invited me to speak to the student body a few months ago. He had seen several of our live shows, became aware of my desire to use my story to motivate kids and he asked if I would come give my testimony and perform for his students. All of the kids at Crossroads have been removed from Kentwood High School for one reason or another. After my first visit to the school a few weeks ago, I was asked to help coach the basketball team. This week was the first time I joined the team for practice and it’s already been a valuable experience for both parties. One thing that stood out to me was how a lot of the things I learned as a player jumped right back to the forefront of my mind as soon as I saw coachable moments occurring during practices.
The human brain is impressive. Drills and techniques I’d been taught during my playing days came back to me when I needed them. The kids on this team have found themselves outside of the traditional high school experience, but they are willing to be coached and are ready to learn. We have another practice today and two games the following day. I definitely wish there was more time to prepare, but it feels good to be around a team of young men excited about working towards a common goal.
One challenge for the alternative teams in Michigan is that many high schools have been forced to cancel programs due to lack of funding, making it difficult to find teams to play in your area. On Friday our team will play against a squad from Flint (shout out to Jon Connor) with a rich tradition. They play 20 game seasons compared to our eight to ten. The game will be a good test of character for our guys, as we’ve only practiced twice together as a unit.
Hip Hop has fully infiltrated the building. Following practice the other day, I sat and had lunch with some students, they all had headphones around their necks. I usually ask what they’re listening to, the first young man I posed the question to had been listening to Ready To Die. We had a discussion about how important skits are to crafting a classic album and how he felt it was an important element often missing from today’s music. He commented on how complete albums have largely gone by the wayside, although we did discuss some artists who are keeping that tradition alive i.e. Kendrick Lamar.
In addition to the working in schools, we are also working on some pretty solid collaboration opportunities. Tomorrow, I’ll go to the studio with Nixon to record a track for the College Invitation Tournament, which is an invitation tournament for college basketball teams similar to the NCAA and NIT Tourneys that will take place in March. The song we create will be used as the intro for the semifinals & finals and will be aired on the CBS Sports Network.
Both our work in schools and this opportunity with the CIT tournament are examples of getting what you give. People saw that I was working in schools voluntarily, this drew attention from a non-profit and in turn the perfect fit for an employment opportunity. I promise you it does not feel like work at all when we are interacting with these kids. It was hard for me to even report my hours at first because I felt some type of unjustified guilt, being paid for something that seems so little light “work”. The work with the CIT tournament stems from them hearing a song we created in collaboration with the Western Michigan University Men’s Basketball Program, where I played during my college years. This weekend we’ll head down to Kalamazoo to watch WMU fight for yet another conference championship. Many WMU Basketball Alumni will be in the building. It should be a solid opportunity to celebrate our past and brainstorm some ideas for how we can help each other and the program in the future.
Other than crafting a song for the CIT tournament, I haven’t been writing too much. My focus musically has mostly been more on organizing a series of EP’s we’ve already created and locking down unique ways to ensure that each body of work will reach the appropriate audience. One that we are working diligently to find a proper home for is called, The Composition Book: Jennifer’s Story. This project is a commissioned concept-album based on a series of journals given to me by a brave woman named Jennifer. The journals detail instances from a violent relationship she was a part of; we translated them into musical form, with each song telling a different portion of her story. I take on the role of Jennifer, as well as my version of the man in the relationship, which I based on the information I was provided. The result is a pretty powerful piece of work.
Jennifer’s Story was produced entirely by Ryan K. Wilson. We are now looking for the right non-profit to partner with for the release. A group of students from Grand Valley State University have created a short documentary peace about the album’s creation process, that should connect listeners even more to the story. If you’re reading this and have any insight on potential collaborators for the release of this project please leave a comment below. We want to make sure it gets to those it can help and educates those who may not be familiar with the regularity and dangers of physical and emotional domestic violence. 5iveit.
We haven’t been performing too many live shows outside of the school environment lately, but have had memorable gigs in Traverse City, MI at Union Street Station, a grand opening for the consignment store “Conscious Collective” and a great night at the legendary Founders Brewery in Grand Rapids in the past month. The variety in venues and demographics our music is reaching keeps things fresh. Each time on stage brings with it a new set of challenges and surprises, which is what I love most about live performance.
The Founders show was such a fantastic exchange of energy. Our friends Molly Bouwsma Schultz & Scott Schultz opened the show by performing some stripped down versions of new songs they are preparing to eventually perform with their new, as yet unnamed band and our brother Sir Manley from Muskegon performed a solid set of his own. Founders Brewery is on fire right now. The taproom was packed for sound check during a snowstorm! I’ve included some photos from the night, shot by Anthony Norkus, that really capture the energy exchanged on stage as well as the live art crafted by Andy Holmes.
Another random thing I did recently was attending an RV Expo (Thanks to Derek for hooking me up with tickets). I’m currently on the hunt for a TouRV, where I will eventually live, tour and create. All of the rigs available at the show were brand new and the beast that I’ll end up with will likely be used, but the show did give me an idea of what models I can comfortably fit inside. Being nearly 6’6” is a major obstacle when searching for a mobile living situation, but I’m going to make it happen, with your help. We are actually trading for a TouRV, you can check in on the progress of that project here.
WE GET WHAT WE GIVE. I’m working to exude as much positivity as possible. One of my goals is to inspire people to do the same. Remember that the little things add up. I’m telling you, simply deciding to smile and greet strangers can make a huge difference in your life and theirs. We don’t have to move mountains across the world in a single moment, but together we can achieve nearly anything we set out to do, step by step.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the fact that Michigan is currently waist deep in Winter Madness. Grand Rapids is the number one city in Michigan for snowfall and among the top 10 in the country. Seems like it just won’t stop coming down. It’s no surprise to see multiple cars flipped over and/or in ditches on any given morning as people attempt to get to work. On our way back from Muskegon earlier this week, we had to call 911 for some stranded folks and saw several flipped vehicles.
I have a theory about these trucks and SUVs that seem to be consistently in accidents or stuck on the highway. My theory is that not it’s fully the fault of the drivers. I have a hunch that they believe every car commercial to be a hundred percent factual. Think about it…makes perfect sense. You see a vehicle identical to your own climbing up rugged mountain terrain and traversing rivers with no trouble at all, so why would you think you should slow down on icy roads? You wouldn’t, if your car can drive up a mountain why would it not be able to conquer some snow or ice? The people we need to be upset with can be found in advertising departments hired by big automotive. Angry about fools crashing their trucks? Holler at the Mad Men!
I want to make sure to say thank you to everyone who read the first entry and has been spreading music. It means a ton to our progress. Last month we shared a video for “1,000 Miles From Nowhere” and the song “Starving Artists”. This month we are back with more art to pass along in the form of a fresh video for the song “New Holland Goggles”. This song almost didn’t exist. It’s the only track on the album in which the verses were written to different instrumentation from where they eventually landed.
I wrote the words to a beat we decided not to use and then pretty much forgot about them. It wasn’t until one of Nixon’s notorious cookouts that the idea came to match the original verses with the current beat as it randomly played during an iTunes playlist. I took the beat, which I had heard several times before and recorded the song in my Aunts’ living room.
This visual was created with internationally acclaimed, independent Film Director, Joel Potrykus, who has recently received tons of attention for writing and directing, Ape and Buzzard. Joel prides himself on using minimal equipment and embracing his environment. This method yields personalized, raw art and the visual for “New Holland Goggles” is no different. We shot the clip in one take in GR with special assistsnce from John Boros.
Potrykus’ newest film “Buzzard” will make its debut at SXSW in March and is already being talked about as a favorite piece by some of the festivals’ organizers. It feels good to see people who tirelessly work hard at the craft receiving much deserved recognition and validation from their peers. The film features a slew of West Michigan talent including lead actor, Joshua Burge. To check out more of what is going on with Joel and his company go to sobnoisse.com
As I write this, my dog willow is burrowing underneath a blanket and cuddling me like a human.
Okay I think that’s all that I’ve got for the entry. I’ll do my best to write another entry sooner than later. Please remember that we get what we give. If you put positive energy out into the universe, it will come back around like a properly thrown boomerang.
I’ve never learned how to properly throw an actual boomerang.
You should check out my guy Willie The Kid’s new project, The Living Daylights, produced by Bronze Nazareth. They are both from Grand Rapids and the music deserves your attention. It’s currently available for purchase on iTunes. You can also stream it many places on the net.
One more thing, if you’ve never heard the album Soul Food by Goodie Mob, buy it. I recently found an old copy in a random box and it’s been in rotation since. The album is still so solid with content that’s very relevant today.
Some of you asked me some questions via Facebook, I answered them in my initial journal draft that’s now gone and am unable to locate the status on my FB page. If I end up locating them, they’ll be included in my next entry.
Thanks again for supporting. Peace.
5iveit- Push It Past Potential Each Day Manifest Your Dreams.
*all grammatical errors are completely intended.