My First Studio Album: "St. John's Wort"

OUT NOW

Hypericum perforatum, known as St John's-wort. Some studies have supported the efficacy of St John's wort as a treatment for depression in humans, but have not concluded it as a replacement for more studied treatments, and proper medical consultation.
Mixed & Mastered by: Mike Moore @mikemooretheproducer
Recorded at: Lil' Drummaboy Recordings - 818 South St. Philadelphia, PA 19147
Cover Art Photography by: Alexander Rafi
Sage-Snakeskin Bracelet in album artwork: Dani Miller
Lyrics written & performed by: Talon Bazille Ducheneaux
Beats by: Talon Bazille Ducheneaux (Iyokisice Beats on Soundcloud)

Get the album on:

GooglePlay:
https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Bazille_St_John_s_Wort?id=Beyfoehouofi4koe3kp6vag2z44

Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/album/03AD955AEagKg25FTIR9pW

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/st-johns-wort/id1260416731?uo=4&app=itunes

Bandcamp:

https://bazilledx.bandcamp.com/album/st-johns-wort

Anxiety

The internet is an amazing place, really. I get so much comfort from reading other people's posts and stories about anxiety symptoms, especially when they are lingering and long-term - that makes me feel the most normal and okay.

It's about to get a little real in here.

So, for those of you who have followed my music (thank you for that, btw), it's no secret that there are probably no secrets in my music life. I expose a lot about myself, be them good or bad, and while I'd like to say it's easy to do that's not always the case. Nevertheless, the outcome of my expression is more important to me, so I just kind of keep going. Lately, though, I've been experiencing some things (some which I am experiencing as I write this - I hate these chest pains/triggers for attacks) that have challenged me like nothing else before.

I first started experiencing anxiety/panic attacks back when I got sick around December 2016. I had just given up soda, started eating healthier, and was generally feeling okay about things. Then, after either a stomach bug or food poisoning (never did figure that out), I found myself in the hospital 100% convinced that I was going to die.

I had essentially had a panic attack. The feeling of running away despite fatigue from sickness ran throughout my body as my arms, tongue, and jaw went numb. I felt my chest squeeze up a bit, couldn't really catch a normal breath, and dizziness/fuzziness rushed through my head. I know what some of you are thinking, as we all might be quick to just stamp a "heart attack" on those symptoms. Again, I thought I was going to die.

Long story short, it was determined in the ER that I was indeed okay (I mean, they thought I had a blood clot in my lungs for a second, but a test luckily ruled that out).

After that long dreadful night, I hung in there until New Years, when I had yet another one. The doctor at the ER quickly ruled it out and told me "Just see someone. Don't do this to yourself. And get a primary care physician, so that way you have a better grasp on your health and don't have to keep doing this either." As I write that, I feel a bit better. I get health coverage starting April 1st, and that'll be really nice for peace of mind.

Since then, I have signed up for a therapist, which has been going well! Even as someone who considered himself hard to counsel, given experience in psychology, a lot of things that I didn't expect have been happening in the sessions. This has been very difficult, but also very nice. I sort-of feel like I've been working out at the gym for my heart and mind.

But, things still get hard. My sadness tends to creep up on me. Fears of death, being alone forever, being too broken, major health disease, and so much more tend to haunt my mind until I find a way to deal (crying, taking showers, and sleeping have all probably been the best ways to mitigate). A friend once gave me an honest hug the other day too (I don't get hugs a lot), and that felt so relieving. It almost made me feel like maybe my symptoms are related to that of the poor baby monkeys in the Harlow experiment - it's like lack of physical affection and solitude (often self-made solitude, but I'm working on it) are slowly killing me in a way.

With anxiety and depression, I tend to both fear all of the little things whilst giving up on them too. A large part of my being fears not being liked, but another part of me wants to cry in a corner - alone until someone magically finds my soul and kisses it to sleep. Not in a parental sense, just in a loving and accepting sense (if that makes sense?).

Sometimes I start writing songs, now, or making beats and suddenly it comes up again and I feel like I have to stop and shut everything off. This is especially distressing because music and writing have always been my medicine. I can write the world away, and sample it away too.

In all, I've been through quite a lot. I know it may not seem that way sometimes. And unfortunately, I cannot expose EVERYTHING in my music. Not for myself, but because I refuse to harm anyone else with any kind of material that may come off as slandering or airing our dirty laundry without consent. This life has taken it's toll on me, but I am working through that. I have so much farther to go and I refuse to give up now. I have come too far to stop dreaming or living or loving, even if people always hurt me or forget about me or discourage me.

And so, I'm writing this not just for myself, but for those of you out there who may have some sort of investment in me. Thank you. I know I haven't been as up there in quantity lately, but trust me when I say I am working on projects that I have so much effort and heart within them. This is also to those of you who may be like me, and get benefit from hearing other people talk about this often scary and lonely battle.

You are not alone. I am not alone. I thought I was, and had almost killed myself back in January 2016. I have always had depression and anxiety. I have only recently come into contact with the serious triggering physical symptoms of those two things though. I know what it is like to think you are dying due to frequent and lingering chest pain, fuzziness, breath control, twitching in sleep, waking up deathly afraid, etc. I know how hard this is and how exhausting and tearful this can be. I'm telling you and I am telling myself that it is okay, and all will be okay. Hopefully one day I will even meet you, or myself, in a place of happiness and worry-free environments. Sometimes I think of the beautiful prairie, or the eye-catching Paha Sapa, or the gorgeous terrain of Montana. Perhaps one day we will all be in our dream homes of happiness.

Until that day, know that you are loved (don't fight that thought), and that you are never alone - even when you are alone. Remember that.

If you read this all the way to the bottom, thank you. Here's a video that may help you. It helped me a bit and my central chest pain and worry shifted to my right chest where now my mind has calmed down a bit and knows that it's not the end of the world. Maybe it'll come back, but that's okay - nothing gold stays, but so too must evil rot away.

https://youtu.be/NuBfQ02Yq0M

Take care.

My Suicidal Ideation 1 Year Ago

This kind of a thing is never that easy to talk about, which is why I've been pushing myself to talk about it for years and years, through both music, writing, and anything else I do. Why? Because I have a real passion towards not making thoughts and mental health the repressed/shame-based issue that it has been over so many years.
When I was growing up, I remember there being a real bad time around the rez where teens were dying nearly weekly in such a small area from suicide. As I got older, I began to experience seeing peers and friends close to me die too, from suicide or something that was ultimately induced by having nobody around (or feeling like it, due to that whole repression and shame issue). I remember an elder one day talking about it before a prayer at the school. He said, "It's no wonder. We as adults need to understand that we have to show our children unconditional love, and to stop treating them like criminals. It seems that the only time you hear about the good of our youth, is during their eulogy. Everyone gathers at their wake and says all of the good things that they weren't able to when they were here. Let's start showing each other love now, and not when they have passed into the spirit world."
Hearing that back then made me think real hard about myself. You see, I was going through that depression, too. Due to the nature of my struggles, and how extended family will have this *hold* on privacy, I knew that I couldn't speak too specifically about my personal issues and what I was facing. So, to the rest of the class (and to me, the world), I felt that nobody ever took my sadness seriously. I was an emo kid in the shell of a wanna-be rapper (quite the makeup, right?).
As I got into college and pushed really hard for myself, I managed to explore my soul through music. Some people in the rap game will tell you, "A rapper must first know themselves, before they can make points in the world." I didn't see it like that, and I still kinda don't. To me, the beauty of music and the way I made it was that I could grow and change thoughts/advance my stances, but that I could still ultimately stay myself. My identity is established, but my self grows, if that makes sense. And through this self-searching through music, I've managed to confront my personal issues more and more over the years.
It hasn't all been grand and lavish, though. I mean, y'all know me financially lol (I'm in fear of that inevitable overdraft once again lol jk). But I mean in terms of reception and self-acceptance. I've lashed out at myself over the years, and I've been lashed at for expressing my true thoughts and expression, but I'm okay with that. What I am not okay with is seeing youth in the same places where I was limited due to "levels of appropriateness" and "severity of language". It really pisses me off that an adult will have all the focus honed in on control and obeying "social norm" as they simultaneously sideswipe the real issues and stories that youth are trying to convey. Some may combat this with "but it's not even that deep." and that's part of the problem - you aren't giving them chances to learn how to make it deep and grow. How can we teach "growth from failure" with such a demonizing attitude? Look at the art and musics of history, for example, even the most "mundane" and "ignorantly explicit" material has a core spirit, some sort of originating thought or meaning placed behind it. I'm a firm believer that nothing in this world is meaningless (for better or for worse).
So, today, I choose not to hold back in my art at all. I may still present it in somewhat of a self-deprecatingly shy way, but ultimately when I write and make beats it is with the intent to express whatever I am feeling and have fun - even if the topics aren't as fun.
With all of that, I thought it'd be a good time to just reflect on this song "Talk To Me" and the below skit "Depression" - both which released on separate albums around one year ago. The verses in "Talk To Me" are all true occurrences. I was on my way alone to a gig one day, and considered speeding up to about 95 to jump out of the vehicle and crash (more than once). Another time, I kept looking at/playing with my pocket knife, thinking about self-harm. And a few other experiences of ideation all occurred around that time of the year. I was going through a lot of thoughts and changes, and I just didn't know how to handle it. However, it was the self-help and talk that kept me sane in those times. To talk with others about it and just be straight up, like, "Hey, I think I need an ear." - even if it was just through text or something (I won't out anyone who I rattled off to out of respect for them lol).
The "Depression" skit was what I truly felt about depression. It seemed like this controlling and abusive partner in my life that just wouldn't leave. An agent, set to keep track of me and instill anxiety and fear in my heart. It felt like even in times where I stood tall for myself and spoke loudly, it just wouldn't go away. And the truth is that I still do deal with depression sometimes (it creeps up for no reason once in a while), I am not perfect - there is no "there once was, but now it is greener!" fairytale - and that's positive in my eyes. Because no matter what I am not ashamed of that struggle anymore, and I feel like I've been doing my very best to combat it since last year in more healthier and optimistic ways. I'm kinda proud of my recovery.
In any case, with everything happening around me lately, I figured it'd be good to return to this blog really quick and type this all out in true-bazille "stream of consciousness" style. One year ago things were so different. Three years ago things were SO different. However, I have fond memories too, and I'm thankful for my journey. Ultimately I'm happy for the progress of today, and am looking forward to keeping on to tomorrow.
I hate ever being preachy, so sorry if this came out that way a little - but just a thought: it'd be great to see people okay with what they are feeling. Where things weren't so controlling on each side, and not so demonizing on either side either. I feel like we can all work towards being better listeners AND better talkers too. The cool thing about life is, is that we are all common and we are all simultaneously growing in our own ways. I like that.

Finding "Lotus"

    When I first started digging for samples, I had absolutely no idea what sounds I wanted to use. Rather, I kept thinking of different visuals in my head, and somehow there were these expectations of what those visuals would sound like. Dimly lit neon throughout a vast and distant universe. Moonlit prairies accompanied by one or two miniscule white cloud formations. Gray fog over a calm and peaceful river.

    At this point in time, I knew almost nothing about jazz styles, about orchestral ensembles or mood music. Though, after a few trips to local record shops and their basements of cheap finds, I found myself noticing the various aspects of different vinyl and music that I would find most enjoyable to sample. Soon, I became a full fledged student and sufficient addict in collecting relics of beautiful music that was seemingly masked and hidden from a new era of digital currency.

    One day I felt like I’d found heroin. My first exposure to the bliss that was 50’s and 60’s mood music was Herbert Rehbein’s “Music to Soothe that Tiger”. It was going for 25 cents at a thrift store. As soon as I played the record, I nearly cried. In moments I could see the fog dancing over gray rivers, and I could hear it too.

    Since that moment in the summer of 2013 I had been, in a sense, chasing after that same “magic dragon” in attempt to make something else come to life sonically. I found some, but in the best way possible it was always sparse and rare to find something that put my soul at true rest again.

    After finishing my time at UPenn, I went home to South Dakota sorta feeling like I did something great, but when I came back to Philadelphia in the early months of 2016 (half a year later), I truly felt defeated. The world and its motivational speakers in Indian Country had encouraged me to go off to school and come back to the rez to change the world and then some. I laughed at those who told me just to “escape” without holding the door open behind me.

On top of truly wanting to help, though, I admittedly egotistically thought and fantasized of local newspaper articles and communal graduation congratulations from my communities. Selfishly I forgot that everyone has their own paths that get difficult, and I needed to take those difficulties into consideration all over again.

    It wasn’t that I had forgotten about the troubles I grew from, rather it was that I hadn’t faced them so upfront in so long that my sensitivity to the pain grew tremendously. On top of this rekindled hurt that hit both close to home and within the home, I found myself being completely disregarded by any job source in the community that I was raised. In panic to help my younger brother as much as possible, I resorted to somehow being able to book my own little make-shift tour (if you will) since no steady job would hire me at the time. Even then, with things being “hip hop”, great negative backlash and hesitation came from those who hired me. Despite my educational background, just looking the way I looked and doing what I did made many assume that public speaking and on-the-spot presenting would be too difficult for me.

    I knew I couldn’t do that forever and that soon whatever interest people had in me at the time would tap out, so with the help of my Philly mentors I came back to Philadelphia in search of something more stable to be a better resource for my family. As a deep depression in me grew larger while being back home, I realized that maybe I just wasn’t ready mentally to come back and do what I wanted to do just yet. That nearly killed me, or rather it nearly led me to killing myself.

    Whatever way I rationalized it, I felt awful. I felt defeated. I was ashamed of myself and found it harder to look in the mirror. I felt like I hadn’t done anything, and that maybe I just never would. I did my best to keep these thoughts at bay while job hunting.

    “Amethyst Flower” came about in the midst of these events, and after Frank had offered to record the album, I placed much more importance into the project than I had initially intended. After weeks of preparing for our 3-day studio session, I felt really good about the album, it seemed legit. And then in one week a deep wave of depression hit me hard.

    Even after getting the new job, I felt something cave into my soul that made me think I wasn’t doing anything. It extended to convince me that the song selection I had for the album was not good enough, and that I was missing something. Throughout that week I continued to think about that old Herbert Rehbein sample and how I may never come across something that beautiful again.

    The night it hit the hardest, my mentor came in the door. We spoke for a minute, and I laid down to sleep off the feeling. As I closed my eyes to sleep, I thought, “Maybe it just won’t be good.” And I started to accept defeat.

    I woke up that morning earlier than anticipated, and thus had more time after showering and getting ready for work to do what I call “YouTube digging”. It’s when you trust in the internet to maybe have a sample here or there that not many have used before. I expected to find nothing.

    In those next moments I found myself coming upon this album by Piero Piccioni. The first song that played was “Aspetto Ancora Un Giorno”. I nodded my head. It sounded like something Madlib would take on, and I dug that. Still, I stayed patient and skipped ahead for the other songs.

    In a wave of emotion I started hearing for the first time, Piero Piccioni’s “Sognando La Tua Voce”. The voice, the accompanied strings, it was what I missed. The way both sources glided together in this beautiful swaying of melismas, I lost it. I started to cry.

    Somehow, some way, the song itself extended its arm out and comforted me with a few pats on the back. Spiritually it felt like someone had told me truthfully and knowingly, “It will be okay…. It will all be okay, I promise.” In the 15 minutes I had before commuting to work I made the beat and that was that.

    There’s an odd feeling of freedom that washes over you when you turn a sample from such a faraway time into something that speaks your own dialect more fluently. It’s like feeling the crisp of the freshly pressed cuffs on your shirt dance with your wrists while you conduct an orchestra for a ballroom of just yourself and the digital instruments in front of you.

    In my own solitude, I dream of things. Duke Ellington said himself that he does not compose, rather he “dreams”. Sometimes it’s hard to create a medium of both actualities, but when it happens, you suddenly don’t feel so awful anymore. You close your misty eyes, and begin humming what will soon be the hook to another song you hold dearly close.

Tales in Hip Hop Nerdism Ep. 1

When I first started wanting to really push towards recording and releasing music, I was probably in 7th or 8th grade. I had been writing from around 4th-5th grade up to that point also, but my mind never really grasped or reached towards the concept of actually making it happen until then. It always seemed so intangible.
As I began a quick 3-4 month trip to Rapid City, SD during my 8th grade year, I was deep within one of my darker moments of depression at the time. Nothing felt right, and with the parental situations placed in front of me, I'd go to school in what would be a cycle of negativity. I never had much money, and never knew how to properly spend it when I had it, so I'd go to school looking kinda rough. Thus, I was often really the odd kid out (even though I went to the school that had the reputation of having more "native" kids who understood that struggle - yeah, stereotypes and my previous abilities to believe them).
I even remember one day I tried on these cheap jeans I just got from an older cousin without checking to see if they were ripped anywhere, and sure enough they were ripped right at the crack! I never knew this until I walked off the bus at the end of the day and everyone I passed by immediately started laughing out loud. Fun times.
It was also around this time that I really began getting interested into all facets of music, especially independent, underground music. I'd go to the library every chance I got just to read some manga/manwha/graphicnovels and sign into that quickly passed 1 hour limit on the internet. I'd go to myspace music pages for people like NightShield, Maniac, Tactile, and so many others. I'd go to soundclick pages and look at everything there too. People like TCE, Smart Alick, and so on. One of the artists who was ALWAYS on my playlists, though, was The Derelict a.k.a. Asharri: The Vagabond of Underground Elements, Hatchet Men, Project Zero, and so on.
THEEEEEE song that pumped me up and said "I so want to do this," was his track "Attack" under the alias The Derelict. I got chills when I first heard it, literal chills. It features an intro from the film "Juice" where Tupac Shakur's character gives one of the great speeches still remembered today. "You gotta be ready to throw down, stand up, and die for that shit." It also features a really dope dope dope sample that I'm actually blanking on at the moment. I knew that not only did I want to rap anymore, but I also wanted to make my own beats and just own my own shit. I also remember thinking to myself, "He's definitely one of the artists who I'd kill to collaborate with." Thoughts like that always entered my mind, but never were truly believed. I always figured my lyrics/performance/etc. would always be basic and nowhere near another artist's level.
*****Listen to "Attack!" by The Derelict straight from the Soundclick page!*****
During my freshmen year in high school, I started making/releasing mixtapes like crazy. I called them that simply for the fact that not one single beat was from myself. I was just writing and writing and fitting things into things. Not expecting even a reply, I emailed Derelict about possibly collaborating. To my surprise, he responded and we got on a track called "Coast to Coast" which he produced. I was and am always so honored by his willingness to put me on that young and unexperienced, and frankly, I was just really wack back then lol.
Fast-forward, we did more collaborations since then, but it wasn't until this track here that I felt really polished and ready to contribute a worthy verse in terms of my skill-level and ability to record a semi-good quality audio file. I submitted a verse intended for a different beat he had me spit to for a title called "Heartbeat" (coincidental enough, the track title for one of the first legit music videos I've done in the past) - and on a whim he said that it just fit better for the beat you hear on this song currently. This beat uses that same sample from "Attack" - and I lost my mind.
I overthink and reflect too much because I'm grateful often. This track to me is kind of a dream come true to a kid who just wanted to be a part of the art and represent. I definitely give my props to Derelict often, and continue to do so in times like these where the inner hip hop geeky kid in me screams joyfully.
I also hope someone else who is thinking distantly about recording and collaborating with people they respect doesn't lose hope or sight of that thought. If a wack rapper like myself can make that happen, there's no reason why you can't too. Keep the art and culture alive, no matter who listens or who doesn't.

"Bazille Sampler Vol. Wanji" OUT SOON!

Hey everyone, it is with really great pleasure that I am now finally able to announce the release of a special project I have been working very hard on: the "Bazille Sampler" vol. Wanji. This project is dear to me because apart from music I really love to just write. Whether it's poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays, etc. I've always wanted to release my own books and get something going in that area. While I have done two books before, this one is extra special to me because I've been able to really tie it into my music.
Basically, it works like so: the project includes two pieces - 1. A CD with 22 tracks dating from 2012-2016 and 2. A corresponding book with 22 poems that explore the song concepts and stories brought about in each track.
At this moment, I am still waiting to receive the first shipment of books. As soon as I get this first shipment, I have to pay homage to some people, and then I can move forward and really start selling this thing online and elsewhere. As soon as I'm able to sell, please believe there will be links everywhere I can put them for you all to purchase if you're inclined to.
At this point I also just wanted to apologize if me actually selling this is a problem for anyone. I usually release all of my music for free (each song on the CD can be found online) but since this is a book and physical order I need to be able to sustain it and such.
Overall, just want to say I love you all and thank you to anyone supporting what I am doing. Your positive energy is most definitely appreciated and I can't thank you all enough - whether you buy, download, listen, share, etc.

In Solitude with Bazille Episode 1: "Eyeless" by Slipknot

In Solitude with Bazille Episode 1: “Eyeless” by Slipknot

I remember being in 4th grade, not exactly the coolest kid in the classroom, but I had one specific moment that lit up my entire year and made me feel like a real badass. Somehow, we brought up the band Slipknot, and it came about that I knew all of the lyrics to the song “Wait and Bleed” by heart. Usually my weirdness out-casted me, but this time as I recited the lyrics word for word, a few of the popular kids gave me a lot of props.

Slipknot has always been one of my favorite metal bands. Corey Taylor is an amazingly talented singer, and I feel like each band member has something about them that is just so interesting. I get chills when I watch their live videos. When it comes to performing, they inspired the hell out of me as a young kid. I make hip hop music, but there’s a deep part in me that wants to throw on my own custom mask and scream into the mic as loud as I possibly can.

On this episode of “In Solitude with Bazille”, I chose to look back on these opening lyrics from Slipknot’s track “Eyeless”:

Insane.
Am I the only motherfucker with a brain?
I'm hearing voices but all they do is complain
How many times have you wanted to kill
Everything and everyone
Say you'll do it but never will

You can't see California without Marlon Brando's eyes (x3)

There’s something oddly cool about the clashing concepts of sanity and insanity, as well as the point of view that the song presents it here. The line: “Am I the only motherfucker with a brain?” gives off this vibe of “everyone else is crazy, except me”. Immediately after, we get strokes of audible hallucination (implied) with “I’m hearing voices but all they do is complain”. That contradiction just blends so well with itself and truly gets at the heart of this song, I feel. Knowing good and well what you are going through, but feeling as though you are the only sane one in the room.

Then there’s the next lines, “How many times have you wanted to kill everything and everyone. Say you’ll do it, but never will”. Crazy, right (or rather, insane)? It takes me back to thinking about mental issues that some people have, some of them being intrusive thoughts like these that you do control, but just can’t help feeling. I think there’s also this stigma apparent, where expressing those troubles and feelings are wrong and dangerous, when honestly a lot of issues can really be traced back to the limiting and prohibition of expression.

Lastly, and honestly this feels like the icing on the cake for me, “You can’t see California without Marlon Brando’s eyes”. As Marlon Brando had a history of standing up for Indigenous peoples sometimes in ways that he could, and as he’s the fucking Godfather in the first place, I could appreciate this line. In another aspect, it’s just a line that I enjoy interpreting in different ways. Societal expectation and not being able to see the world in the way that society often tries to force is one that comes to mind. Think of having those glasses or contacts that the rebellion had in the John Carpenter film “They Live”, but as your actual normal sight, in a world that’s constantly focused on distorted values of compliance to facades of American-normalcy.

Overall, the intro to this song is one that I love jamming out to and seeing the band perform. It has this aggression that pushes forward and gets me pumped every time. There are plenty Slipknot songs that I love, and I’ll always be a super-fan, but this one sticks out to me all the time.

"Second And First Thoughts"

As of recent, I have contributed to a project headed by one of my favorite people on Earth and great mentor, Charles (Chaz) Howard - the Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania. The project is called "Gun Free World" and aims to challenge the views and attitudes towards the use of guns, rather than trying to change policy.
When Chaz asked me to do a piece for this project, I had to sit myself down seriously and really think about how I honestly feel on this topic. It's different for me, because I understand the history my ancestors have had with protecting themselves and hunting. Long ago, our hunting rights were taken away from us, and now as a result of our resistances and fights for justice, we are once again able to hunt on our lands. In a sense, I look to that right and that history, and while I agree that we must not let that go to waste, the fact that we've faced a colonization and development in society that says we need guns to protect ourselves and to hunt kinda bothers me. I feel like the worries of today aren't what they used to be.
With all that, my second thought is the following. I believe in Creator and his plan for me, whatever that may be. While whatever struggles I have get hard, I respect and honor them with great pride as I know they were put there for a reason. I thank Creator for his tests each day, and at the same time, I feel this understanding that if it comes down to it - whatever happens, happens. Call me crazy, stupid, whatever, but I don't want to allow myself to be controlled by outer forces and threats to a point where I carry anything other than my heart, spirit, and voice with me. Ending with one blow just doesn't sound like my style, and if that's something that gets quickly ended or cast to the side due to its perceived ignorance in a changed society, hechetu - so be it.

More info on the project "Gun Free World" can be found be searching for it on FB and Twitter - also the website: www.GunFreeWorld.com

Here are the lyrics:

they told me

get a new glock

whether illegal or not

you'll be protected with shots

but the problem at home was the shots

throw back 20 and my pops all funny

now we drink pop

we used to hunt for our food - and we got

that government stealin our crop

 

now we livin like off

gotta have somethin that's got

bullets to pop

the bows that shoot that arrows in stock

so strong they that might as well just be more glocks

 

they took it away

our rights to hunt in those darker days

gave us the thangs that blew us away

now today we starvin and harmin each other for our sibling's box

 

never used to have to lock a tipi

never had to see it on tv

never used to act so greedy

tell me when you take those shots

 

are you killing me or you killin you?

i know your scared because im scared too

but what i know i aint a damn fool

they'd shoot us then, they'd shoot us now too

what difference does a gun make?

 

i know if i go

creator will take me to whole

other travels solo

a gun only makes me feel low

today if i go

at least i will know

i tried not to kill with one blow

if they the ones cold

then let them be cold

show em your soul

if they blast it away because you werent armed with a tray - then that's how my story's goes

 

they told me

get a new glock

whether illegal or not

protect yourself from the cops

but im red savage and talk

my spirit is different and not what they want

so you can take every shot

im barely tipsy - the evil is on it's new watch

i barely afforded this brand new watch

 

call the cops i belong here

whether they kill me or not

my trust is in and has always been within tunkash-ila (creator/god/grandfather in Lakota/Dakota)

unentered poem

Your hair flows free
Like the thoughts inside
You stand in strength
Casting hate aside

I can see your eyes know pain
As do mine
Yet beauty remains
In their resilient shine

Your smile, a gift
I wish to cause and earn
Your voice’s every inflection
I wish to hear and learn

This world can be cruel
But you see as I do
Still opening yourself
To the world, and to you

They harass, I know
From the planes to septa trains
So, please understand
If I slightly refrain

In a world full of hate
I want only to show love to you
And that is why I deeply fear
Making you feel uncomfortable

No, this poem is not a catcall
But it’d feel all the same
If our friendship were to end
With my feelings in the blame

Your conversations pick me up
And I know that worst of all
Would be the end of us
Preceding my deep fall

My heart longs for your presence
Filling in my void
My mind says my presence
Couldn’t bring an equal joy

You see, my complication
Heart and mind not as one
Though my soul feels as though
You and I are one

Self-deprecation, my enemy
Lack of ego, my foe
Too afraid to roll the dice
Which may let our friendship go

My heart longs you’ll read this
And put together all the pieces
But my mind fears just that, and
Contemplates if I should delete this

Because I may never perform it

Meth stained walls surround me
Old dreams fade,
still reaching for peace.

This piece is dedicated to every kid
raised on the rez
Waiting to feel love's sunrays on the rez
Low res.
Waiting for the pez
pop off the top.
Pops and moms brought the cops

60 minutes 'til show
violence filling the spot.
Red dots on red faces.
Red skin with said graces
never meeting what we were chasin'.

...and we're Native.
Bring on tough skin and deep patience,
because the struggles you hold
misunderstood in a country that may not grow.

Know your soul.

Teachers will attempt to teach otherwise
According to some
the sum is zero,
but we know
Indigenous presence lives on in our people.

From Na Da La kotas to Mohawk
Ojibwe to Dine
Cree to Lenape
Cheyenne to Arapaho
So tell those sentinels
that Seminoles cannot die
and genocide on any tribe
can never be justified.

"Just get by."
Morals I can't abide
Why treat lifestyle of origin like it's mostly lived on the side?
Hold the fries we ate
cause our lives were born into America
but my spirit longed
to sing songs in mother tongue foreign in my own knowledge.
Plus mother's lungs
suffocated from her own bleeding black blood.
Yes, we may be blood
but MLK still waitin' for the dream's bells to be rung.

Too many
NDN children unrecognized
as recognized tribal citizens.
Fighting for presence and history
Presence in history
Descent in this story
While hoping home won't drink again.

Today,
it all looks similar.
Old from it all.
They wonder if I was truly strong,
or simply about to fall.

BUT

I was that rez kid
Distant and present
Still taking zoloft and propanalol
Trying hopelessly to move away
from those old meth stained walls.

Complexity is Beautiful

I think the best thing that my identity and path has taught me (and is still teaching me) is how to (in my own way/view) sift through the bullshit in search of the positive. As an Indigenous person in America, there’s no such thing as successfully avoiding oppression and the offensive, there’s only the development of thick skin and learning how to take whatever you got with a smile. Look at our people. We faced and face so much, and yet if you go to a reservation community right now I guarantee you’ll see people laughing in sometimes some of the most shocking circumstances. Teasing and being teased is in our blood, resiliency is our image.

With this, there’s few things out there that truly ruin my day or experience. It was always hard for me to understand how people could live with having to dig their heads under sand whenever something negative came about. The most beautiful thing to me came to be the understanding of the complexities of character, the appearance of gray matter, and the openness to unknown anything. There are many instances where, had I walked out because of something that bothered me, I wouldn't have received an opportunity to do something better in an opposing but respectful retaliatory and non-retaliatory response.

That’s why during Thanksgiving I still enjoy gathering when possible and eating good food, hearing good words. Fuck the history, I’m enjoying my present. I’m not Christian or Catholic, but I’ll still respect and capitalize their titles if desired. I’ll still enjoy gift-giving/receiving on Christmas when the resources and people are there. Fuck the colonization and horror that followers brought to my ancestors years ago, and fuck the people who try to “save” me and judge me on the street today, I enjoy the similarities of message they share with my view as a Dakota and Lakota. The SuperBowl is enjoyed when it brings me more reasons to gather with friends and family, rooting for whomever, eating well, and laughing together. Fuck the mass ignorance and “get-by” mentality that the media tries to instill in us, I like entertainment.

I love being the being I am, because that entity involves something complicated – and in that the world seems to be simply beautiful.

Modern Native Voices Essay

This was supposed to be for a separate publication, but they didn't want it. So here's to not letting it go to waste!

            On March 21st, 2015, the Penn Museum bore witness to “Modern Native Voices: The Medium of Hip Hop”. Being the first event of its kind at this museum, the University of Pennsylvania had the honor of hosting four talented hip hop artists, each coming from some Indigenous backgrounds – Frank Waln (South Dakota), Def-I (New Mexico), Tall Paul (Minnesota), and Wake Self (New Mexico). During this day of events, attendees got the opportunity to witness spoken word – also featuring Cinnamon Spear (Montana), a two-hour panel – facilitated by myself, and a live concert in the evening – featuring some of the hip hop talent within the UPenn undergraduate community.

            What makes this event so special is something that can be reflected off of my own childhood dreams and experiences. Growing up on and around the various reservations that I resided in on South Dakota, I experienced the very same struggle that this country neglects, rejects, and simultaneously feeds off of. At an early age I began to know poverty and neglect, both at home and in the classroom. While there were many people in my life within both environments who showed me more of a positive and enriching support, it would be wrong to take blind-eye to the negativity that I had experienced. Our histories as Indigenous peoples across the planet is one that has mostly been overlooked, exploited, appropriated, and in many cases simply told falsely. Thus, growing up, there seemed to be this attitude around me that our ways weren’t necessarily wrong or illegal as it once was, but that it was now dying and kind of ridiculous to consider following. Suicides ran rampant, and with people who were supposed to be mentors discouraging kids like me from even applying to a place like Penn, it seemed like there was nothing good to strive for in the world, that none of it was obtainable anyway. This paragraph may seem a little scattered, but given enough research and experience on the reservation, the connections are clearer than you could imagine.

            Persisting through many of these problematic obstacles in my life, I found myself growing attached to music, particularly hip hop. While many depictions of the reservation showed our homes as hopelessly negative, hip hop showed me how to be proud of where I came from both as an individual and as a community member. I learned to translate messages from legends like Tupac Shakur and fit them into the contextual languages of where I resided. I learned to pay attention to every source of information, understanding that I could grab this knowledge and utilize it to articulate my own story, and to relay it to the world via lyrics, poetry, and music. As both a nerd and a hip hop head throughout schooling, the depths of my depressive solitude now found a medicating home within having a way to be heard and having something to listen to simultaneously.

            The beautiful thing about hip hop is that while it is considered a specific genre and a culture, it knows no boundaries as to where it can be utilized as a medium, and this event showed that. Watching the panel and performances, viewers can see and hear desires of equality, respect, love, compassion, expression, and honesty from these artists who come from different parts of the country. They courageously expose their own issues, inner-demons, and problems (both past and present) while pushing for a brighter day for themselves and those around them. They relate to each other and the crowd (including myself) not as a colonial-based categorical box of “Native Hip Hop” artists, but as common people, coming together and addressing the issues at hand whilst aiming to smile and have fun too.

            There are many expectations and stereotypes that come with hip hop, and granted some of these are fulfilled (especially in mainstream media), but looking at this event one can understand the unfortunate fact that this is an all too common feature in many depictions and commercialization of cultures, including those of Indigenous peoples. This event articulated the fact that not all hip hop is the same just as not all Indigenous peoples are the same. That hip hop is neither perfect nor savage just as Indigenous culture is neither perfect nor savage. Through music of today, expression of today, and articulation of today, these artists remove themselves from the sepia-toned portraits. They break down the museum glass and show you who they are as living people of the today, not as stereotypic, dehumanized, intangible objects of the yesterday.

            You see, as a Lakota/Dakota rez kid growing up in South Dakota, I always had trouble having pride in myself, having knowledge of myself. I never knew what it “should” mean to be who I was, nor if I could ever fulfill that aesthetic and perceived being. However, it is this medium, and artists like these, that showed me that it didn’t matter. That I could be proud no matter what. That I should be confident despite societal norms/expectations. This event was the childhood dream I always had, because it is what got me to Penn to study psychology in the first place. It kept a young Talon Ducheneaux sane, encouraging me to sideswipe all the negativity around me concerning this troubling history and the domino effect it had to my close relatives. “Modern Native Voices: The Medium of Hip Hop” showed itself as a day of events celebrating the diversity and persistence of people fusioning cultures and respecting themselves and others for who we all are as individuals and relatives.

The Year 2015

So, fair warning, this blog entry is one I admittedly am making in order to boost confidence or reassure my low self-esteemed self. This year has been hard and trying, but it has also been really bright and dream-fulfilling in many ways. With the year-end just around the corner, and me wondering whether or not I'll find time or motivation to write this before 2016 comes strolling in ("Realize in hindsight, inspiration is finite" - Topr) I figured I'd just post it now. So here it is, 2015... let's see - what happened?
I graduated! University of Pennsylvania class of 2015 Department of Psychology. A long time ago, fueled by love and a really good friend, I applied to UPenn, not expecting at all to actually get accepted. As a freshmen, I once walked down Locust feeling like the next 4 years would be long, hard, and a little excruciating - and then a senior said to me "It goes by fast!" I rolled my eyes to words that couldn't be at all truer. I have so many to thank when it comes to the initial idea, forward implementation, and eventual finish - super grateful for the memories made, growth encumbered, and friends received/lost/continued. To top it, I received the Association of Native Alumni Leadership Award with the James Brister Society - wasn't expecting that. Crap, I better not waste more space in this blog! Next thing.
I released some albums! "Sake" (51 tracks, March), "Shirobon EP" (16 tracks, May), "Tanka" (18 tracks, July), "Contradiction" (18 tracks, November), "Rabbit & Coyote" (14 tracks, December). I also did some beat-work for my brother Rafi on his project "IntraStellar" which can be found at https://305rafi.bandcamp.com/album/intrastellar and was also honored to have a track featured on the "Last Stand Mixtape" which can be found at https://laststandmixtape.bandcamp.com/releases
Some new ventures/projects came around that I got to have fun with! With my brothers Jesus and Rafi, we made a few episodes towards this series called "BehindTheScreen" just being us (stupid) and playing cheap/free emulators on my laptop. Aside from that, one of the things that had to unfortunately be paused for time's sake was my radio show back in the Fall semester of senior year. Me and Rafi had some serious fun doing it, but we each just had obligations and academia to tend to. Luckily, during the summer of this year I was able to put in a few episodes for an easier-to-do podcast called "The SlapCast" - just doing what I always loved and getting to again interview very talented artists!
I got to perform in so many different places that I've always dreamed of performing! A Philly Jazz club for a verse or two (always wanted to say that), one more Open Mic with the GIC at Penn, various high schools that I grew up around and for my family in places like Crow Creek (seriously, a dream come true), colleges like Minn. Institute of Art and Northern State University. I even got to do a TEDxTalk in Boston!
Another opportunity that meant so much was in being the keynote speaker for UPenn's annual Martin Luther King Day of Service Breakfast. I even got to get my name mispronounced by the president of the university! :)
Had some more videos come out for songs like "Splash Water Bomb" and "Tell America I'm Sorry" - another one coming soon too!
I got love on some articles and radio shows. Shows like Native Trailblazers and A Tribe Called Geek seriously made me feel so cool and happy - I even got voted JuneJamz' "#1 Fan Favorite" for Native Trailblazers! I got to be featured in sources like The Pennsylvania Gazette, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Indian Country Today - all sources I never thought I'd ever be on in my life for anything, let alone my music!
I got to bring out people I consider serious influences in this music game to perform at Penn and the Penn Museum - Frank Waln, Def-I, Tall Paul, Wake Self - the sis Cinnamon Spear even came out to gift us amazing beadwork and performed a poem! I got to do this in 2013, and was so happy to do it again, even if it meant not studying for an exam directly after with little to no sleep lol. It was definitely worth the CPN sender email.
I got to go to MAGFest!!! Music and Gaming festival - filled with everything I've ever stood for in my life - video games and their musics. It was all the atmosphere I could've wanted - cool people, great experiences, and front row experiences of performances from Grimecraft and so many other musicians I REALLY look up to - artists who have made music that have gotten me through so much these past years.
I got another tattoo! An audio cord that both comes out of my skin and plugs into it. I make sound and it also soothes me like an ivy needle.
I made this website! It was an inner battle to do so - I've never wanted to come off as super egotistical or anything like that.
I moved home - in what has been both the most challenging and also fulfilling decisions. I realized my next steps that I want to make - and I got to be a presence for my little brother - the only other person who finds his way into my decisions. I care a lot about him and want to do what I can to help him succeed and live a life that he's happy in. Also - to perform back here and get such reception from youth and others seriously makes me so happy. I've had students come up to me and either share so much in either words or simple gestures - and I'm so grateful for it and touched by it each time. My biggest fear is being that corny "Motivational Hip Hop" guy that's out of touch and isn't speaking with his/her heart.
Overall, I'm really happy to just be alive I guess. I'll be honest in saying that this all hasn't been easy - mentally, psychologically, and emotionally it's been a big battle. Mainly with myself - I'm complicated, and sometimes maybe my biggest enemy is my own thought and inner-arguments. I'm just glad that I've been blessed with so many people here to help me and hear me out when I need to be. Nothing is ever done alone, and I'm grateful for those that have had my back for so long and in so many major ways.
I hope I can continue to do whatever it is that I do next year. I hope that I better myself, in more ways than one, and start loving myself a bit more. With so much done this year, I should be more happy with myself, but nobody is perfect and I'm honestly trying trying trying. Writing this helps - and continuing to make/perform music helps a lot too.
Anyways, all love people! Thank you for reading this, commenting, messaging privately, etc. It means more than I can say. :) And as always thank you for any support on anything I have done before.
Happy super-early-omg-this-is-way-early-isnt-it New Year!
Talon Bazille Ducheneaux

September Years

Growing up, I always had this odd thought in my head that a person like me (or just me) is not supposed to get certain things in life. I honestly don't know why, growing up with so much self-deprecating humor or what, but it's been a major thing that I deal with. With that, in a positive-sense, I've matured to find gratitude in all things. "Holy crap, I'm really alive this year, this month, this week, this morning!"
Using this as perspective, this month alone has been crazy. I came home to South Dakota, and was greeted to so much love and positivity from my friends and relatives. Indian Country Today had an article on me about my music videos, reaching something over 1,000 likes, shares, comments on facebook alone. I got to go to Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, SD to perform for and speak with students about life, bullying, suicide, hardship, and perseverance. I was blessed with being in first place for Native Trailblazer Radio's "Fan Favorite" on their annual #JuneJamz. There are a few other things in the works that I'm still waiting on talking about, but just wow already. I'm so happy and grateful for everything.
At the same time, though, I must be real in saying it's been a mental/emotional struggle too. Creating art like this and releasing it is a process of heavy-confronting therapy with mass amounts of flooding exercises. You see, flooding is usually done on those with phobias. In order to help get over a deep fear of, say going on an elevator, flooding would involve repeatedly going on that elevator (maybe first with the therapist or with assistance, and then by oneself) over and over and over again until that feeling of fear begins to leave enough to wear the person can function and live a happier life without this obstacle in the way. I say that this creating and releasing and speaking is like therapy with a weird addition of flooding because it's constantly being as real as possible and bringing these memories and thoughts up to the forefront again. To directly confront my biggest demons and present it for whoever to see. I do this because I do not want to act as though I am a "Superman" having defeated all my demons and everything is all gravy today, because that's not the truth. I am a martyr for truth, and in that, I feel it necessary to tell my entire story when speaking on resilience and pushing beyond. It gets tough, especially now that I'm home, because that flooding that was once done so far away from its source is now in the belly of the beast that once was.
The good part is that I'm in a different place today. I'm not a helpless kid anymore, I can make my way and change things for the better. I've been trying hard not to make mistakes thus far, but of course, nobody is perfect, and that sounds just perfect to me. Messing up or making the wrong decisions at times has kept me unjaded and has reminded me of who I want to be and that I'm nowhere near done yet, I can't "leave" yet so to speak. I just want to see my people and relatives happy while trying to be a little selfish in helping myself too, even if it's incredibly tough. I'm lucky to have brothers and sisters and friends out there to talk with about these things, which I advise anyone to create for themselves. None of us are invulnerable, we all need someone to listen once in a while. Extremes of one side or the other are never healthy. I'm trying my best not to feel bad about saying things, which is why I may be getting to a therapist soon so I don't have to trouble the ones I love anymore like that or worry them; whether or not that's actually the truth I just feel that way sometimes.
Anyways, I feel myself pushing on beyond those September Years I felt back in '12 or '13. I'm growing and trying my hardest to take the hits better. With doing my best to spread love I see it coming back, which is crazy. I never do anything with thoughts of it coming back to me, ever. So this is seriously nuts. Thank you to everyone who stands by me and supports. I still don't know how to take it all in yet, haha. Wopila Tanka, and be happy and safe out there. As someone who has always been challenged with anxiety and depression, I can confidently say that there can not exist bad without the good, just as we cannot expect to have good without the bad. The world doesn't get crazier, we just see more of it, but in seeing more if its craziness, we see more of its beauty.
"Keep ya head up." - Tupac Shakur

Justice for the 57

Firstly, this song is not to exploit or capitalize a situation that has occurred. This song is merely the only way I know how to react and process issues that go on as emotionally aching as this. This piece was done in love and with good intentions.
As soon as I seen this: nativenewsonline.net/currents/man-a…nd-not-guilty/
I immediately began writing and found the right beat I had in store.
Justice for the 57. I pray those youth and other youth alike do not grow wary of traveling outside of where we come from. This world is all of ours to travel and explore. The fact that people can get away with this kind of hate is one that saddens me but also prepares me for the continued fight for love and peace.

Lyrics:

 

"Not guilty" they all silly and race-hatin'
We guilty when glance drivin' and place-stayin'
We die when value keepin' and place savin'
They live when eco-killin' and place takin'
Our love's ancient, but hardened amongst the rough patches
Tears dried into cracked faces that hug madness
Features aged in half the time that the others take
But i'd rather die fightin' than live in a still pace
Life's great, but obstacles make the happy earned
Had to learn young that the latter is what the glad is worth
Pass the urn as i keep on pouring my all in songs
Hoping that these poems help instead of keeping on the wrong
We each provide a song in expression
Some are lessons
Others lessen the tension that mix the messages
Some are medicine
Working as sacred sedatives
Making you think twice of the self-killin' we test against
My only wish is for smiles and happy relatives
Those I never met, and those that I'm set up against
Just keeping it on until the struggle ends
Standing up with stubbornness
Resilience in a subtle grip
Muzzled kids - beer bathed - and exit hurting
Returned clean - but justice systems will play dirty
I got love for those never met - hope they stay searching
For that education after flag songs at 8:30
And to the man who walks home free
I hope that when you dream you get those things
That teach you what you've done and you hear that we've won
Because the righteous always prevail under Creator's sun
In this life or the next
I wish you well, although my anger's fresh
Don't wish you hell, and this goes to my youngin's
React but don't act like attackers to your cousins
And maybe, we'll find a life without the resentment
Just wishing for the best
Justice for 57
Justice for all the people fightin' against the evil
just living daily lives trying to just be people
Trying to just be equal
I'm not a lawyer or a God
Just an artist trying hard to elaborate in a song
Every voice is sacred. I'm trying to use my gift
Even if it's mixed in contradiction and this
Frustration towards American systems
Wish we could all work together and listen
Without a double standard, without discrimination
So I keep on lovin' until my final statement

Justice for the 57
No resentment
Justice for the 57
No resentment
We pray for justice
Pray for equality
Pray for peace for all of our children to see
Judge Eric Strawn
Don't teach your children wrong
Show 'em that the justice is just - just for all

Banner Meaning

In everything I do I try to involve some sort of meaning. Not much is just there simply for aesthetic, and if it is, it’s because that aesthetic has some sort of other distant meaning and purpose. It sounds weird when I actually type it out like this, but trust me, it just is what it is.

When I was growing up, I didn’t have much connection to traditional culture. Yeah, I grew up on the rez, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to be an expert on my people at all. In fact, I recall being too busy just trying to hold on to whatever stability I could. Though as I got older, through the influence of some of my peers and through one of my best friends, I realized the importance of self-knowledge and how grateful I should be in being a member of the Oceti Sakowin. What blood I had in me that should be cherished and continued with pride. I joined the school drum group when I was in 7th grade for a while, and while I was no great singer what-so-ever (many back then would say laughable) I tried to just belong somewhere and learn more about myself.

After quitting the drum group out of somewhat of a cowardice, I met someone who changed my life and showed me other things that I could be involved in. The history, the politics, the combination of the two, the values, the mind-set, the way of life, the style. I started to find other things that were more up my ally, so to speak. I had already been a believer in Creator and a holder of a spiritual outlook, but soon I would grow a bit more and gather more altogether.

I started beading. I wasn’t all that good at it, but again, I tried. My initial stab at it came with loom beading. I had all these ideas for designs and things I thought would represent me. Soon I had graph paper full of different pieces I would one day work on and try to aimlessly stitch onto scrap leather I could find.

Truth is, I’m not all that entirely familiar with much of the designs of my people, but as a great warrior Mary once said, “You have to make your own legends now.” So I kind of find a little comfort in not letting some of my ignorance subdue me so much. Don’t worry, I’m not turning my back. I’ll ask and learn soon, but for now I work with what I have.

This design means a lot of different things. The lettering color is a purple hue to signify a different stance on what ignorant people try to separate in claims of “boy colors” and “girl colors”. Purple for me, symbolizes a strength in identity and confidence in statement. The three tipis represent my travels, making multiple places my home throughout my life. The skies above them differ from blue, to grey, to black – to express that no matter what the weather, physically or mentally a situation will never change me away from who I am or the way I think. Yes, I grow and I mature, but I promise I am me everywhere.

Overall, the banner, I think, describes me. Winging it while staying calculated and thoughtful, sensitive and mindful but never weak. As honest as I can be, while understanding that none of us can be perfect, which sounds just perfect to me.

Creating the website

After getting some bookings and inquiries here and there, I had a conversation with a big sister/mentor of mine who basically said that I absolutely should be having a website to hub everything I've done and am doing. I was really hesitant at first, I don't want to be egotistical or anything, but now that it's in the stages of development I'm getting a little excited! I've always enjoyed designing things on my laptop for whatever reason, so this has been a cool project to be working on. Also, squarespace is really easy for me to use and comes a little more naturally, so there's that too.
Overall, I just hope people like what they see and that I don't end up stumbling upon too much negative comments or misinterpretations. Either way, I guess we'll just see what happens, won't we?
I'll post on here somewhat frequently just to think out loud about what I'm doing and all of that. Expect horrid grammar and punctuation lol. I refuse to proof-read my thoughts in this blog hahaha (undergrad trauma)