Naptown Skies Turn Grey

Skies Are Grey

“You gotta make a decision on how you want to be remembered”
~Patrick ‘COMDOT’ Stuckey’

A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to not only perform at, but to bear witness to Patrick “COMDOT” Stuckey making his own history at his album release party for the three year in the making long-awaited CD entitled The Grey Maxell LP . But before there was a release party, there was an interview that took place on the grounds of the Indianapolis Art Museum between Comdot and myself, of which I was able to learn a lot about the man, the artist and the album.


Patrick has been working on this album for quite a while now or as he puts it “all my life”. He comes from a family of singers and also shares the talent himself, but he believes his true gift is hip hop. Someone once told him that he would NEVER be able to rhyme or make it as a rapper. He took those words as inspiration to make it happen.  In 1999, he started off as a battle rapper with a lot of anger and frustration. He released an EP entitled “Pushing Dope”, of which he produced the whole album. In the time that has elapsed since then, Stuckey has endured several life changes and losses, growth and growing children that now look up to him. As with any great work of art-in-the-making, Stuckey has suffered more than his fair share of setbacks: corrupted files, trouble with other artists, studio issues and then the biggest issue that many of other artists can relate to: “I wasn’t ready.” 

In August 2014, a bad car accident threatened to take him from hip hop for good. Friendships and the power of his own resilience were tested but that’s the thing about art. If it’s embedded in your soul, no matter what the mind tells us in the moment, stopping is hardly ever an option. Patrick used the accident to step his focus up.

“This album is the first time I’ve done music where I’ve meshed both worlds together – the persona and the man”.

I’m of the belief that an artist can feel it in their soul in a distinct manner when it’s ‘time’ to birth their next (or first) project. For Stuckey, the time is now but before this could come into fruition he had to make a huge life decision: he packed up and left Indy for Charlotte, NC. He promised his son he would be back before his fourth birthday. He left with only $100 in his pocket and ran out of gas right at the Welcome to North Carolina sign.

The plan: take a sabbatical from music and “touch home”, “kick back” and “reintroduce” himself to the his former community and ultimately reconnect with self. In effort to help keep focus off of music and free his mind, Stuckey, who is also a producer, went so far as to sale ALL of his music equipment in effort to break from the torment of all. He immersed himself heavily into the apostolic church, attending services three days a week and “searching for enlightenment.”

“You have to isolate yourself”, he says.

After receiving the centering that he needed, Patrick kept the promise he made to his son by returning prior his fourth birthday. The biggest lesson he got from his time in North Carolina: “It’s ok if you tell the truth. As long as you’re telling the truth and you’re helping someone by telling your truth. [It’s] your story, good or bad, just tell the truth.”
“It was a reset,” he says.

 With that reset, he promised himself he would get back into music...seriously this time.

“…and we let the tape play”

COMDOT strives to be better than his predecessors. He considers himself a “student of the game” and has studied everyone from Nas, Big Daddy Kane and KRS-1 to Tupac and Biggie and of course many more.
“People who push boundaries inspire me,” he says. “I study them to find out what makes them great and what makes me great. It’s about being timeless. Every Mother’s Day I expect to hear Dear Mama. Every Halloween I expect to hear Thriller. You got records that stick with people. You got so many geniuses who aren’t here in the physical but their art is still revered. Their value has increased with time. You’re supposed to want to do something with your art.”

He also says that people need to put a higher demand on quality music and hold artists to a higher standard. “Stop chasing what everyone else is chasing. You as an artist have to purge yourself of any other influences,” he says. “There aren’t enough hip hop records for women (i.e. Keep Your Head Up by Pac and I Know I Can by Nas). I think you can give women empowerment. You got sisters, moms, you might have a daughter. Even if you don’t do it for the whole album, give them something.”

I couldn’t agree more.
We are living in an era of music where everything is microwaved and shipped to our ears as quickly as it was recorded. Beats are recycled, as are lyrics and flows and hip hop shows have become more of a mic mosh pit and less about quality lyrics and powerful energy. The Grey Maxell LP release party was devoid of those painful woes. The darkly lit room, which was rather cool due to the night’s air and small but open space, quickly filled with men and women both artists and fans. Kenny Kix, DJ Metronome, Old Soul, Pope Adrian Bless, who also performed, were some of the faces I spotted. I stayed in the cut. I’m always in the cut. People tend to not know I’m in the room until I’ve appeared on the stage. I’m a ghost writer. * wink*

“I don’t believe in limitations.”

When asked what keeps him going, COMDOT says his children and the fact that he knows there are people who don’t want to see him succeed. He’s unwavering about his boys.  “I’ve shown them too much about this not to follow through and deliver. They’ve seen the product, the shirts - I have to show them that if you can think it, you can do it.” He brought his kids into the studio with him during some of the recording for the album. “As a man, I can’t teach my kids that they can accomplish anything they want to if I don’t do things for myself and leave it on the table. The album is a blueprint for them. As they grow and go through things, they got to understand you have to come out of it.

COMDOT is adamant about raising future young men who know how to reach beyond the limits society will try to place upon them. He is also a stickler for the truth. Both of these passions, his children and his truth, are delivered on the Grey Maxell album, which is available now for downloading on Bandcamp (see flyer). “If you can look at yourself in the mirror and you lying and you can live with that, then there’s something wrong with that, says COMDOT.

“When I say ‘COM’, yaw say ‘DOT’:
COM (DOT!!!)
COM (DOT!!!)”
~12.16.15, The Grey Maxell Album Release Party

There weren’t many special guests (only a handful) and those who dared to step foot on the stage and warm it up for the main star did so gracefully. The lyrical content was stellar and full of substance, love and life. The presence of each performing artist, all MCs except myself, birthed the type of energy that creates fans and supporters. Once Comdot took the stage after a series of chants of his name, he jumped right into paying tribute to his fallen brother, Skylar Jones and gave us a short background on the premise behind the album title.

“I alone am not the com dot; I’m just the spokesman for the network.”

The Grey Maxell LP is an experience. It is a venture into the mind of a man, an artist, a father, a brother and overall, a force of energy having a human experience. The difference between Patrick the man and Comdot the persona are joined in unison on this album and this was intentional. “The album itself is literally a tale of going from a boy to a man. I hope people that walk away with the album get a better picture of the man.” When listening to the album, you definitely get a picture of one man’s journey. From heartfelt tracks such as ‘Dear I’anah’ to inspirational songs (Our Song ft Renee King who’s vocals are an incredible addition) and the smooth sounds of ‘The Connect (remix)’, which has a beautiful Rakim-vibe to it, The Grey Maxell LP is definitely in a league of its own plays. It’s not something you want to skip. In fact, you WANT to listen to every song.

Remember when tapes were a thing? Remember the times we would listen to tapes until we broke them, only to perform cassette-surgery to get them in working condition again?  During that era, the pursuit and passion of recording was full of urgency. Says Stuckey, “Back in the day of cassettes your album had to be dope because no one wants to fast forward through a whole project.” The album’s title was inspired by a series of things: the mixtapes both Patrick and his father used to make (on grey Maxell tapes), a joint project that was supposed to happen years ago with producer D.R. Mayfield (who used to make beats on grey Maxell tapes) and finally the concept of creating a work of art that people don’t desire to get away from. He wanted to create a classic, timeless album with a lot of sweat, heart and soul.

Patrick ‘Comdot’ Stuckey wanted to make the Grey Maxell LP a work of success. “Good health, good wealth, spiritual health, mental stability, genuine love [and] family; that’s success”, says Stuckey. He adds, “I just want people to have a closer relationship with the music again. I hope the Grey Maxell will fill the void because there is nothing out there that sounds like this album.”
And when you take a listen to the album that is exactly what you will receive from it: a feeling of success and an infectious relationship with the music and lyrics.
 Ladies and Gentlemen: The Grey Maxell LP….it is available NOW!!!!!!!  

Gets yours now at: http://gmxlp.bandcamp.com/

***This article is in dedication to Skylar Jones, brother & executive producer on the album. #RestPeacefully



120 Market Street: After the Good Fight Starts

At first there were four.

Allen Imagery, Tony Styxx, Mike Perez and nSAYchablePoet made up the individual poets and MCs of the label, Fighting Words Poetry which began in late 2007/early 2008.  

We met every Tuesday night at our downtown studio headquarters, located at 120 Market Street. There are (or at least were) a few other studios in the building, as well as other black start up businesses who were renting smaller office spaces. It had a 'We Can Succeed' feeling because there were plenty of other African Americans there. The elevators remind me of Gotham City (NY) and the office spaces were simple but the shared meeting rooms were futuristic and fancy. We would meet to discuss shows, strategies, individual careers and other business....and of course the proverbial tom foolery and spontaneous jam sessions.

Together we toured around the Indianapolis area and nearby cities doing shows at colleges, poetry venues and for charity functions. While we were not a group, we were without doubt a family who shared the same type of love for the arts and similar artistic goals. We released two compilation CDs; “FW Presents: Lights Out” and “FW Presents The Good Fight”, as well as a few individual EPs and singles. We also headlined a huge show for The Sanctuary, which was hosting their open mic at the convention center during the Indiana Black Expo (IBE). We tirelessly on that show as it was one of our biggest to date. It included a live band, a dancer, backup singers and of course, poetry. This would be one of our last shows with the four original labelmates.

Fighting Words went through quite a few internal changes and continued to achieve greatness with each step, however, by 2014 everyone had gone their separate ways, and the label was defunct.

But in an effortlessly, magical way, something else happened over the course; A lifelong camaraderie and familial bond was formed that would not only stand the test of time and trials; it also allowed the door to open for us to work together again in different capacities.

As a part of my End-Of-The-Year Wrap Up Series, of which each of my blogs will receive their own EoTY post, I decided to make this one about life after Fighting Words. This is NOT a full detailed account of each other’s years; rather this is a quick summary of friendship and successes that started in the foundation of a label created for poets, as well as a few highlights of 2014.

This is for the times I have trolled old pictures, smiling and laughing and remembering-the-times with a sudden urge to talk about them to someone. This is for the energy created between us that will outlast our lifetimes and continue to exceed our expectations. This is for the nonstop work that has been put in  relentlessly despite the times we thought we were either failing or needed to quit….and we kept going.  And look where it got us!!!!!!!! This is for those Tuesday nights, at 120 E. Market Street, when four people got together and dreamed bigger, in fancier shapes than a circle.

Mr. Precendent – Allen Imagery – Joseph Allen Woods -  aLLEN was the brain of FWP; it was his spark that pulled all of us together. Organization. Branding. Staying ahead of your next goal. The importance of being humble. Vulnerability. Knowing how to poke fun at yourself. Allowing yourself time to laugh. Allowing yourself time to get a little crazy.
All of these incomplete sentences are descriptive phrases of attributes that aLLEN possessed. When we learned from him, as well as each other, it was very natural; never forced. aLLEN was our conduit to our futures. He showed us possibilities and ways to not just dream, but achieve. He made us responsible for our art AND for who we were. He taught us to be conscious of our actions, reactions and the name we made for ourselves….in every way we were making that name. He owned a strong business mind and combined his growing expertise with art and poetry and created ‘Our BRAND’. #BrandingGladiator  After FW, aLLEN (which he still prefers to be called), grew his name from aLLEN iMAGERY, to Joseph Allen Woods, got married and moved to Cincinnati, OH.  Poetically speaking, aLLEN no longer performs poetry on a regular basis, but he does still remain in the public eye. In addition to continuing to run the AI Design Group, speaking at engagements and co-founding the NOW Business Boot Camp (an entrepreneur workshop), he recently joined forces with two partners [William & Derrick] and together they have launched “MORTAR” in the Cincinnati area.  MORTAR plans to educate “low income urban entrepreneurs” on building their business and neighborhood through a ten week workshop course. There is also an opportunity for entrepreneurs to do a test run, Pop-Up Shop, in the quickly developing Over-The-Rhine neighborhood.

aLLEN was also the lead director on ‘The Healing Project’ for Sidney Lois Eskenazi Hospital, in which local poets wrote and created videos regarding Healing, to be available in all patient rooms at Eskenazi. These are only a few of the highlights of 2014/life after Fighting Words, but it is always a heartwarming feeling to see someone you care about soar in all that they are. Granted, we all have times where things get tough and we doubt ourselves, but who we are will always prevail and what is FOR us cannot be challenged…unless we really want it to be. aLLEN may not be found on an open mic spitting poems about Blue Violents and Yet Holding On, but Sir is holding tight to who he is and what he wants for his and his family’s life. The very techniques for artistic survival of the fittest that he instilled in his Fighting Words counterparts, are the exact weapons he is using to destroy the stereotypes of black men, black business’ and neighborhood accountability.

The Rookie – Muppet Face  - Styxx – King Styxxers
Dude was on his way to the air force when we first met. He did a poem called Naptown Nights, almost shy like in presentation, with his hoodie covering his head; quite the ironic stealth mode considering we were surrounded by large glass windows, Broadripple lights, traffic and people. In FW, Tony was known for having a sometimes less than stellar attitude, but an impressive hunger for knowledge, music and poetry. He could switch from gritty and grey poems to love notes with a hip hop swing in a swift round of an applause. He definitely brought the ‘little brother’ vibe to FW and I doubt that I would be overstepping my guesses by assuming we all were a bit protective of Styxx. We all wanted to give him the world in all of it’s truth and still stop it from hurting him at the same time. The impossible. He grew in front of us. He could be hard headed with some….make that LOTS of resistance (in certain areas). But his art never suffered. No matter how long he would go without writing, when he put pen to pad again, it was as if he never missed a letter. And when he put foot to stage, therein lies #TheBeast

King Styxxers….the human beat box. The hip hop head. The dude that knows every JayZ lyric. The realest. The poet. The thinker. The achiever. Fighting Words was Tony’s #Bootcamp into the artist life where he was able to explore both his hip hop and poetic personalities. He has spent time as a full time artist with continued travel in and out of Indiana, as well as headlining many workshops in partnership with local schools and community centers. Styxx is the host of host his own open mic (with partner Amber Michelle) V.O.W. (Vibe on Wed.), which is currently running every other Wednesday at Latitude 39. He has become a favorite among Ball State Students, opened for Jasmine Guy, released CDs, coached for the Cincinnati Louder Than A Bomb poetry slam team and performed for renowned poet Mari Evans.  He also was a participant in The Healing Project for Eskenazi Hospital.

This year alone has saw Tony achieve television status via WFYI/PBS, featured on the side of an Indygo bus as apart of the #IAmAnArtist series and performed with the Symphony Orchestra. Since this my blog and not his resume, I won’t continue, but as one can see, Tony has taken what he learned from being a part of Fighting Words and used it make it to each new level of his life a TKO.

Mike PHarez – Pharez- Damascus -The Peace Maker – Mikey Perez is what I called him and he was never a dreamer; Mike was always on a #Mission. He focused on the now and the future and he knew just what his future would entail. I remember being blown away by Mike’s poetry at the same place I would go on to meet Tony Styxx (The Cypher, Starbucks). His Puerto Rican accent mixes with a crisp awareness that pleases the ear and draws you in. His poem was emotionally political without being abrasive. His aura was love. He eventually became my brother and roster-member in Fighting Words. I don’t know what his poetic plan was or if there even was one. I think Mike was with us because it was destiny; not because he intended on releasing a CD and slamming and touring open mics. He always knew he wouldn’t be in the States long. He was vessel to be used by God to bring change and sunshine in the very underprivileged and sometimes dangerous places outside of the US that he spoke of in his poetry. I loved him for it. You hear people SAY ‘yeah, I’m gonna do missionary work’ and die without having volunteered at the local shelter. But Mike is made with something else. When he spoke it out loud, it sounded grounded in destiny.

He knows he’s good at writing and speaking, but rather than using it as HIS game, he uses it as A PART of his global change. Thailand. Burma. Honduras. And that’s not all. It’s been at least three years (if not four) since Mike left the US. He has only returned a few times and just over a year ago I, along with Tony, was able to spend a bit of time with him and hear about his mission work.
 #MissionHeir Michael Pow Kwar PHarez. 
He is really out there, walking barefoot in scary places most of us would never think to go. His pictures tell a thousand stories and even a stranger might feel proud to know Mike. And yes, he is still sharing his poetry, bringing a glimpse of God’s Light wherever he touches down. I don’t think he’ll ever stop. And he shouldn’t.

And that is the difference between dreamers and Missionaries: Dreamers can always wake up and go back to normal. Missionaries can’t stop until their heart does.

nSAYchable Poet- januarie York -The Dreamer - …….and then there is januarie. Me. The split personality having, dreamy-artsy chick with a hint of Audrey and a message from Carrie Bradshaw.  I came into Fighting Words still getting my feet wet on the microphone and figuring out who I was and what I even wanted to do with my poetry. I had NO ideas, plans, thoughts. I just knew I couldn't stop. I can hear the difference in recordings from when I made my first EP to the last track I recorded for La Douleur Exquise. I can hear the ‘baby’ in me, or the ‘wet behind my ears’. Lol. I could say so much but I have said LOTS already and I don’t want to go on about me. Basically, I learned how to dream beyond my wildest expectations. I don’t know if I would have ever thought to do some of the things I have done had I not been around these guys. I feel like I really grew up with them. Like we went back to childhood and that’s not true. Only during our time in FW did we form these unbreakable bonds that we each share collectively and as individuals. These are my brothers. I learned from them. I think about our growing season and our unfolding futures and wonder do they know how much of an impact that time we spent had?

I learned how to be bold and loud and yet passive and quiet when necessary. I stretched my wings and allowed people into my personality and my poems. I credit a great deal of that to Fighting Words. This year opened with me being a featured poet for Meet the Artists, the annual African American Arts Festival held at the Central Library. I too was apart of The Healing Project for Eskenazi, which was not just a blessing, but an honor to work with my brothers again. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held in the summer. I also moved around with my poetry by acting a little bit. I've been in two plays, one of which I was the lead character (Wizer of Oz) and the other being a theatrical adaptation of the movie ‘For Colored Girls’. I played Rose (Macy Gray in the movie) and also wrote two additional poems that were featured in the play and due to popular demand, we will be returning in February (perfect timing) for an encore show. I currently run two semi-frequent blogs, one being for the Indianapolis Recorder. The highlight of my year came when I hosted the ‘The Queen B. Legendary Ladies Ball’, modeled after Oprah’s Legends Ball. A good foundation and a floor to through will raise a healthy artist that dreams and achieves with each success AND failure. Thank you FW : )

This is a long blog.  So I’m gonna wrap it up. In conclusion I say this: I remember one Tuesday night, at the studio at 120 Market Street, aLLEN played a track and told us all to write to it. Whatever we thought of, whatever we said, just write. The key word was OPPORTUNITY.
He put the track on loop.
Mike went inside the booth and shut the door. I honestly don’t remember where the other three of us spaced out at. I was possibly at the desk, Tony on the floor and aLLEN near the keyboard. Or I could have just made that up.
After a little bit of time, we were all done. No one spoke a word during the writing session. Instead, we each breathed that very essence that drew us together in the first place and let it just ‘happen.’ The finished product was featured on the Lights Out cd.

It basically summarizes what brought us together. It may seem like poetry, it may even seem like arts. But in actuality, it was God. It was divine order. A calling that each of us had no choice but to answer, for we would be each other’s family for life. The way this poem came out, without any exchange or any premeditation is something that could only happen if the love being produced is thicker than water…….and blood.

Cheers to my brothers. We ARE an opportunity ever evolving. And what God has joined together.....................

You make me proud and I lo0oooOOOooove you EVERmore.




Well the day I have secretly been hoping would come, actually came : )

I perform at Eskenazi Hospital, as a part of the artists who were commissioned for work there, on July 29th. I don't know what time as of yet, but this is great news.

Better this great,

This is awesome....this is the completion of THEE biggest contract via poetry of my life...so far ;)


Good day Silencers

Its been a minute.....

I have a lot of blogs now...

and a lot of places to spazz out and vent....i am currently OFF the Facebook circuit indefinitely.....i can't handle that abundance of opinions anymore....its like if you disagree with folks on fb, you are the anti-Christ....i watched so many ppl become annoyingly upset about the breast feeding debate....folks who were opposed were angry at folks doing it....mothers who were for it were angry at ppl who were against it.....

and then there was ole middle ground ass JY.....i don't oppose or support.....i mean, i guess i support it...i know i don't oppose it....i'm just ....there. I don't have kids.....and i could go into the 'if i did have kids' tyrant, but the fact is that i don't and if i know one thing for sure, that is we can say what we WOULD do IF so and so happened, but that does not make it LAW.......so, i will bypass that and simply say, in a forum where my opinion IS what counts the most (and there are no readers since i don't post the links to this and Queen, my avid no link necessary reader is gone), i can say this:

As a woman without children, it makes me lose some of my comfort when breastfeeding occurs in front of me.....i ain't gonna say anything....i'm not gonna request it end or anything, but to auto assume that I am or SHOULD be comfortable when breastfeeding happens is unjust...i'm not a parent, so i don't share that same mentality and if i were, it might would change (or it might not), but for what its worth, i RESPECT what is happening and adjust my lack of comfort to the situation......it doesnt put me in such a space that i can't operate functionally any longer until its over....its just makes me 'lose some of my comfort"......its called a COMFORT ZONE  for a reason:  "because it is what we are used to".....

I don't even have children/babies in my regular life, so its not something that i am accustomed to being around or being privy to, therefore, when it happens, if it happens while i am around, why should it be EXPECTED that i am ok???? Not that ME is the most important factor in that moment......and that is what began my descent from the facebook world.....

It seemed as though sharing my opinion on that would have gotten me banned from the cool girls circle, which i never asked to be apart of in the first place and cannot confirm that i AM apart of today....however, the idea of profiled people coming at me with cyber pitchforks because i have differing opinion made me sick to my stomach......as someone who has become increasingly OPEN about my opinion, it made me shut the fuck up and while i wasn't cowered over in the corner, i wanted to speak up for those who might feel like me, without getting 100 moms all over my comment section, all capping me about what the problem was....so i said nothing. And that pissed me off....because i felt like i SHOULDNT say anything......

Which is the problem....i SHOULD...i should be able to have an opinion that isn't the same as yours and we should both be able to be PASSIONATE about it.....without arguing.....i'm an accomodater tho....so i understand that my breakdown often occurs at me trying to make sure comfort is experienced around me as much as possible.....hmmm...i should blog about it on the Recorder site and show how bold i really am....but i don't want to deal with that....idk, perhaps i will...also, ACCOMODATER is NOT a word. BTW.....

Anyway....from there went the jailed mugshot dude, of which i felt like the pitchfork team was gearing up to come after me about him because i disagreed with new found celebrity......but i digress....its not that disagreeing that pushed me....its the PRIVILEGE that too many ppl are finding along the mean streets of facebook and that is that THEIR opinion takes precedence over ALL things......and that simply is not the truth.....none of our opinions are better than the other.....the only better thing is the TRUTH and in some alleyways, there is NO truth to be had; there is simply opinions......

So i bailed...because i am over my neck in people's opinions and their defense and subsequent cyber crucifixion of other opinions...yeah, that IS going to be a blog.  Seriously......

i came to say something completely different than what i am saying...i can't quite remember what that was because i apparently just went on a long tangent, so i digress,

step back
and i feel like writing....so i shall. :)  I MISS YOU QUEEN. <3 nbsp="" p="">


* shrugs *

.........................Oh life, how i love thee ....


I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings................

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind   
and floats downstream   
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and   
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

#RIH <3 nbsp="">