<![CDATA[Wendell Tucker: Director, Actor. - Blog]]>Thu, 17 Sep 2015 04:57:34 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Short Summers, Long Winters - ]]>Thu, 03 Sep 2015 19:27:47 GMThttp://www.wendelltucker.com/blog/short-summers-long-wintersPictureShort Summers, Long Winters - D2G (Reflective Music)
Everyone who knows me, knows that I am a HUGE Hip-Hop head. I love a great beat, vivid storytelling, clever word play, gritty themes, and irreverent party anthems. I'm particularly blessed to be friends with one of my favorite emcees. Several years ago, during the run of I Still Love H.E.R., I was bemused by the state of Hip-Hop in Chicago. Yes we have Kanye, Common, Lupe... but I was waiting for the next great Chicago Emcee that wasn't a backpacker or a drill rapper. There is a happy medium in Hip-Hop where legends vibe out, that mixes street intelligence, with  book smarts, an intrinsic smoothness, and a ferocity that resembles that of tribal warlords. It's that well rounded guy or girl, who can reach people on several different levels while not seeming phony on any of them. You can play their music when you're getting ready for work, going out to get your mack on, or about to hand out a fade or two. 

As I sat musing over this current missing link in our scene, my boy Andre DuBois (CEO of Reflective Music and Co Founder of Theori Fine Arts) sends me a link of this guy freestyling and tells me this is a guy I need to know. Now I get these messages all the time, but Dre doesn't vibe to Hip-Hop on the level I do, and his seriousness about this dude has me curious. I take a listen... and my first thought is "This is what the **** I'm talkin' about." I ask for the cat's name: D2G

Fast forward to 2015. 2 Albums and an EP later. I am listening to an album that shows growth, hunger, and bevy of emotions and experiences. This isn't as much an album, as it is an Opus that could have been orchestrated by Chicago's soul itself. It has a sound than is inexorably Chi. The first single, "Hydroplanin" ft. Isaiah Jones and Ashley Laschelle of the Reflective Music camp, is a smoothed out tribute to cruising down Lake Shore Drive on a warm summertime Chi night. It's the type of song that anyone can vibe to, but if you have experienced it... seeing the skyline, the lakefront, the crowds of people change from brown, to white, to an assortment all over again... it reaches you on a molecular level. It's a powerful connection. 

The features on the album have a feeling of magic. It's not so much in the names, it's in the coherence of the vision between D2G and the featured artists. Collaboration can be tricky, with artist looking to "murder you on your own record" and what not. When you have collaborators who not just come to bring their A game, but make sure that their contribution is with pure intentions... prepare for your aux cord to catch fire. My favorite collaborations on the album are the features from lady emcees. Long Days ft. AP Remedy is an intense, look into the times when an artist is searching for a reason to continue to create beauty in a world so ugly. The brooding, melodic beat catches you from the beginning and never releases you. Immediately I was given memories of sitting in the park at night, listening to Psycho Drama, and ranting about how the Chi doesn't get the proper shine in Hip-Hop. Love it. 

I Got It ft Breezy City, D2G's long time collaborator and label mate brings the infectious Chi-Town Chopping/Soul Bounce feeling that made Do or Die and early Kanye West songs so amazing. Breezy and D2G seem to bring out the best in each other, as Breezy delivers some of her finest bars ever. She's powerful, intense, and completely in control of  a beat that is absolutely bananas and would swallow a lesser emcee.  D2G shines as his comfort with his sister in art brings out a verse that is simply fire. 

That's not to say that any of the other features are not awesome, JDP, C. Rich, La Royce Hawkins, Katrina Valene, and Sohje all bring their unique brand of amazing to this project that shows why Chicago should NEVER be underestimated when it comes to Hip-Hop. Herbalist will especially love the dreamy Fall Intro by Mon Cheri Soul, a sing-song/spoken word libation that sucks you into the essence of the cosmos themselves. 

All in all, I can't express how much I love this project. But if I had to sum it up, I would have to quote my father, Zack Lewis, upon listening to this album for the first time:

"This ain't no ratchet Hip-Hop shit, this mothafucka got soul. He reminds me of Pete Rock."
Word pops.

get the album
<![CDATA[leaders against their followers]]>Mon, 03 Aug 2015 03:17:25 GMThttp://www.wendelltucker.com/blog/leaders-against-their-followersI need the "Woke" community to stop trying to police Black Thought. I am not your respectable nigga either. I don't have to agree with every conscious trope and whatever cause de jour it is today. Yes, white supremacy is far reaching and takes many forms. Do all of those forms affect me? No. Some parts I find oppressive, others I find a mild inconvenience at worst, others I barely consider an issue. The Black experience is both shared and individualized at the same time. How I experience parts of it will not be the same as how you experience parts of it. Just because every action of white ignorance doesnt send a person into the outrage cycle doesnt mean, they aren't down and don't care.

<![CDATA[I am a Black Man Who Beat Depression]]>Mon, 12 Jan 2015 05:11:58 GMThttp://www.wendelltucker.com/blog/i-am-a-black-man-who-beat-depressionI’m Black. I’m a man who was raised on the South Side of Chicago by my mother and step-father. In my lifetime I have traveled the world, gone to some of the best schools, performed for thousands of people and been blessed to have brought several of my dreams to life. I have also been homeless, struggled to find work, sold drugs, gotten banned from Chicago Public Schools and attempted suicide. My life has been a full one, but one of constant battles. The greatest one has taken place in my brain. I have Major Depressive Disorder.

As a playwright and a director, I have an obligation to my audience. I owe them the best I have to offer and for me to continuously elevate the quality of what is considered to be my best. They deserve honesty, intelligence and integrity. When they purchase a ticket to a Theori Stages performance, they are paying to share my world. They have made a choice to invest in my vision, with the return being an entertaining evening that they will remember for a lifetime. For me to provide that, I have to be willing to expose the complexities of my spirit and the reality of my heart. Clearly, this presented a problem.

I want my audience to leave with a sense of joy and levity. Often I would leave my own performances and go to my apartment (or wherever I was sleeping at the time) and stew in my on sorrow. I want the people who paid to see my art, to leave with a broader perspective of the world and how they can affect it positively.  Immediately after the applause ended however, I would find myself plummeting from the high right back into the dark, claustrophobic prison of my thoughts.  What I wanted for my audience I wanted for myself. I wasn't being dishonest with them. I truly believe the messages that I put out. There was something blocking me from being able to hold on to the feeling that I was trying to convey.

There was this darkness everywhere I went. No matter what I did, I couldn't escape it. I prayed. I fought. I smoked. I drank. I womanized. I abstained. I exercised. I binged. I cut. When I could do nothing else, I went to get help.  There were no more options.  Poison had failed me twice. Guilt at what my family would have to see stopped me from slashing my wrist or blowing my head off. I considered tricking the police into doing the job. Lord knows no one would suspect a Black man of trying to get killed by the police. I couldn't bring myself to ruin an innocent person’s life because I was screwed up. 

I couldn't leave my sisters. I may not have been much of a big brother, but I was (am) still big brother. When I thought of them, I wanted to live.  It was enough to make me go to the emergency room. It helped me through 6 days of being kept on the psych ward under suicide watch. It’s what keeps me going today and gave me a doorway to find two more reasons to live: The prospect of joy and to help others like me make it through.  Through therapy and medication, I was able to find the strength to fight this illness. One year later, I debuted my first one man show, Wendell Tucker Hates the World, the story of my battle with depression. In this show I chronicle the events leading up to my breakdown, how the community has failed its members with mental illnesses, and how I fought for my life. The hope is that my story will encourage others suffering from MDD to get help and motivate people to be on the lookout for the warning signs in their loved ones. 

When I wrote this, I was on the 23rd day of a 40 day fast, with the goal of raising $25,000 to create and produce plays and documentaries to teach about depression and suicide prevention. In the time frame of my fast, 38 members of the US Armed Forces, Director Tony Scott and countless unsung individuals have committed suicide. The majority of their friends and loved ones are completely shocked. It’s hard to recognize the signs and nearly impossible when you don’t know them. I want to help.  I need your support to do so. Please visit www.thetheori.com, make a donation, or come to a performance of Wendell Tucker Hates the World and join in the fight to defeat depression.