I've been spending time each week with my sister, my niece and nephew, and my nephew's father, Troy. They live only a mile away, so I walk or bike, I take my niece to the park, and sometimes I stay up late with my sister and Troy. I enjoy their company immensely, which is something I'm not accustomed to saying about family. They are doing very well, the four of them: My niece is happy, she is one of the brightest students in her class; My nephew is a strong child, only three months old, but clear eyed and growing fast, just about ready to get going somewhere; My sister has a new job managing two nights at a dance club downtown, Insomnia (a fitting name, as my nephew rarely sleeps more than two hours at a time), a gift that arose shortly after my nephew was born, from an old client who remembered my sister from her time as a bartender at a different location.
My brother-in-law is Imenz, otherwise known as The Black Rock Star. He is a Gemini, more than any Gemini I have ever known. He has music in his blood; his grandfather was the blues man Tommie Lee McClellan. When the old man met my sister, he said to her, "Girl, I been waitin' for you," by which he meant, you are the woman to look after my grandson. He died not long after. Troy has the same birthday as my mother.
His music is primarily club porn. I have watched him make his music, downloading a beat from the Internet, finding a picture, rapping and singing impromptu, and uploading it to YouTube, in as little as fifteen minutes. He will make as many as ten songs a night, and he is making it a point to upload one song to Facebook every day this year.
As for the music, I will say that he does a good job selecting beats, and his verbal skills are surprising. He exudes a passion and energy that is unusual in the world, where many a brother is trying to be cooler and tougher than every other brother, until many end up looking and sounding more-or-less like every other bad ass. He has also shown a certain genius for promoting himself. I fully expect a song to go viral. There is one, which he calls Ass Clap, which is showing potential for the viral bell curve. I am mentoring him, to prepare him for that day, should it come.
I try not to give him much advice about his music. It is without question some of the dirtiest music ever made, that you can actually listen to. Dave Ryan of the KDWB morning show spent an entire four minutes critiquing The Black Rock Star one morning last year, clearly intrigued despite himself; but then divulging information unnecessarily, costing Troy his job with one of our more famous local Fortune 500's.
As far as the music is concerned, I tell Troy only, leave the violence. He was raised in the city, and he has a tendency to project violence in his music as a defense. I keep telling him he doesn't need it, his music is strong enough without it. He's only 25, and violence has worn deep channels in the psyche of our species.
When I first heard the music of The Black Rock Star, I was repulsed. Troy has improved considerably since, in a short period of time, and while I still don't like much of his music, some of his songs make me laugh, and some of those without violence I find myself dancing to. I am certain at least, the men and women of the free-market like to make a great deal of risk, and Troy is risking more than any man I know. He is tapping into some very powerful mercurial energies, and I'm training him how to think about that, to best channel it, and not fall prey to it, destroying his life and the life of those around him. In a way he is like a satirist; he is taking America's weird, twisted sexual shadows and propping them up for us to look at. It is sure to make people uncomfortable. And look.
We talk about energy. I've been telling him the universe has a sense of humor, that we don't realize it because we're all too busy taking ourselves so damn seriously. As evidence, I pointed to the fact that he and I are now related. Me, Sir Vis, Devotee of the Goddess, of the "We are all unique, astonishing and utterly beautiful manifestations of the Spirit, Divine Beings, Children of the Earth, Children of the Sun. Homo sapien sapien. Sacred." And Troy, Imenz, The Black Rock Star, club-porn hip-hop-star(?). He may be about to go viral, while I am preparing to publish two books - which now seem somehow mercurially connected to the rise of The Black Rock Star.
The Black Rock Star will be accused of all manner of misogynistic ugliness. I looked inside. I find that sex is one of the many issues in America that has become twisted and rigid and backwards, used as a primary marketing tool to the same degree the topic is taboo, one of the many beautiful things we as a culture are most dishonest about. Everyone is a judge for everyone else, few training that eye on themselves, and fewer still in a healing way.
Which is the mercurial, geminiacal genius about Troy, as he is otherwise a genuinely good, soft-spoken, gracious, caring person. Imenz, The Black Rock Star, is but a small part of the greater Troy. He is a true partner to my sister, and a devoted, nurturing and grounding presence for my niece and nephew. Whatever issue people have with The Black Rock Star, it will have more to do with themselves than it does with Troy, or the rainbow tribe he and I are a part of. In fact, though I am a dozen years older, he is a model in many ways for me, of the focus and determination of the artist. And a reminder that this universe is a mysterious, magical place, and I have yet to fully embrace my presence in it.
***If you want to hear his music, or the portion of the KDWB Morning Show during which he is critiqued, go to YouTube and type Imenz***.