Jam – v. to cross-pollinate with fellow creatives.
In the middle of a serendipitous play date with Lucy Papaya – visual artist, movement enthusiast, emerging photogfairy and DJ - we decided to make some sounds. “Throw out a word”, Lucy said as she hit the record button. I blurted out, “peanuts”. Not because they are my favorite legume, but somewhere deep in the laurels of my mind this word must excited me, right? Mmmm, peanuts. Peee-Nutsss. As an improv evangelista, I trusted that we would make magic with my random offering to the cipher.
And we did. Chanting the word peanuts over and over again Lucy kept the baseline. I moved in and out of the base with soul stirring calls for those “peaaaaanuuuts”, and then, Lucy crescendos with a break beat, and then...there was the climax - a freestyle about how I'm allergic to peanuts but they are good but I can't buy them in my ‘hood which is reflective of the systemic food injustices that plague urban communities (d r a m a t i c, I know)! And finally, with some trusty Bad Boy P.Diddy -esque “yea yea yeas”, we faded to black.
Lucy hit the stop button and we stared at each other. “Did that really just happen?”
A little team + work = twerk. I offer up our collective imagination at play… The Peanuts Song (1.5 minutes of free form far-far-from-serious fun).
Your #AiP Prompt – create a song, sound scape or mantra based on one word.
After making our hit we listened to some "classic" 90's Hip-Hop, from Junior Mafia. Peace to 90's. Peace to hip-hop. Peace to Timberland boots, silver lip gloss and goosedown jackets. We lamented over the Notorious B.I.G.'s brilliance and resilience, early Lil Kim as girlhood contraband, the assination of our hip-hop revolutionaries and the power of the Crew.
According to Urban Dictionary a Crew is,
A group of friends who are there for each other day in & day out....they always have each others back no matter what. The last thing to remember is The Crew has no limitations, because the sky is the limit.
Wikipedia tells us that Junior Mafia was,
An American hip-hop group from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York. The acronym M.A.F.I.A. stands for Masters At Finding Intelligent Attitudes. They were formed and mentored by New York rapper The Notorious B.I.G. in the early 1990s and released their debut album, Conspiracy in 1995.
On Conspiracy, song after song was a meticulous balance of verse from each Junior Mafia member - Lil' Cease, Banger, Nino Brown, MC Klepto, The Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim, Bugsy, Blake C, Capone, and Chico Del Vec - each offering something to the cipher that was distinct and complementary. It was magic, too.
I suspect that a Crew, like any group or team, probably has to balance between shared leadership and one leader. To put it into a further hip-hop perspective...
- Junior Mafia had Notorious B.I.G
- Rocafella had Jay-Z
- DTP had Ludacris
- Goodie Mob had Ce-Lo
- Destiny's Child had Beyonce (I had to slip that in to make sure you were still with me)
...and the list goes on and on.
(*deep curtsey* Dear Hip-Hop scholars that may read this post, my list is totally debatable and far from exhaustive. )
Thinking about all of the superstars that sprouted out of the groups that presumably nurtured their artistry, I couldn't help but wonder, "who cares for the Crew?"
"Caring for the Crew" translates to groups and teams too. As an organization development practitioner by day I stress to leaders and influencers that if they want collective success they must actively cultivate the groups and teams that they manage. That means consistently examining their own leadership; encouraging everyone to play to their strengths (and stretch); and re-imagining what the world can be because their group exists... essentially some Crew love.
How do the teams and groups you are a part of sustain each other? Share your magic tricks in the Comments section!
And now your reward for listening to The Peanuts Song and reading this post...Awkward teenage photos! Me and my Western High School "Crew". Yes, my hair was red. Again, peace to the 90's.