May 4, 2009

...rest in power, al...


al robles


on the morning of may 2nd, i spent my first waking hours doing the usual morning routine -- brushing my teeth, preparing my clothes for the day and reciting the lyrics that i would later perform at hip hop in the park (berkeley) and a show later on that evening for BRWN BFLO's album release in oakland. i got to a line in one of my newer verses that i was hoping to try out during one of my sets: "...al robles to the i-hotel, i don't budge..." that line was on repeat for no reason that entire morning. nothing prompted the 'rain-man' like repeating of that particular line, i just really liked it.

the day was wonderful. hip hop in the park produced a great turnout, despite mother nature deciding to take a shower, manny performed so well that we were left with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the evening before our last show of the day and that show was a perfect cap to it all...

then, i woke up to my internet... i found out on may 3rd that al robles passed away the day before. this struck me in a very different way... a way that can only be described with a deep sigh. i met manong al at the beginning of my career as an artist, and my first conversation with him really changed the music i would make from that day on. i went to a workshop during a filipino-american national historical society (fahns) conference on the kearny street poets of san francisco. now, this came at the height of my journey exploring my heritage and trying to find my place as an artist -- this was the nitro-button that moved me into fast forward. al robles and his kearny street comrades spoke of their work in a community that had just begun to blossom right at the foot of the international hotel. after the workshop, i waited around to catch a moment with al and really just shake his hand and say, "thank you." instead, i got to sit down with al robles and just listen to his funny, sincere and sometimes sad stories about working as a cultural artist during such an explosive time in our history as asian americans. i would continue to see him when i traveled out to the bay area more and more, and everytime he'd see me, he'd make it a point to stop and chat -- and though we haven't seen each other in a good minute, i'm sure he knows that he's influenced me in my work beyond measure. he will be missed...

rest in power, al.
rest in power, bill.
rest in power, richard.

til' the wheels fall off... makibaka.

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