From the Frontlines
Posted August 28, 2007 10:20 pm (about 4313 days ago)
Kamikaze AKA Mr. Sho-Nuff recently returned from a three week stint in the Czech Republic and shares some of his thoughts about the experience. For those who forgot, the Mississippi-based Kamikaze was one half of the critically-acclaimed hip hop group Crooked Lettaz, alongside David Banner. They’ve both moved on to solo careers, but continue to collaborate.
On a personal note, I appreciate his comments because he gets away from the glitz and glamour to talk about what it’s really like to travel overseas. I don’t mean those who isolate themselves in limos and fancy hotels, but those who actually get out into the community. By doing that you can’t help but expand your world view. He makes some interesting points about U.S. policy abroad that Americans don’t hear about as well as how we’re viewed. It’s always more complex than you hear from the talking heads. I have my own stories, but this is Kaze’s forum, Be forewarned, he has some choice words for our Commander in Chief. Ouch!
Week 1 In The Czech Republic: Jetlag
I always thought that jetlag thing was some kind of myth LOL. I’ve heard stories about it from world travelers but didn’t realize that the body is REALLY affected by time change. Prague is seven hours ahead of the U.S. Going to sleep while leaving Detroit and waking to the sunlight and a time of 11AM when my body still thinks its 4AM!!!!. Its almost 7pm here on Thursday and I’m STILL catching up.
There are a few things right off the bat that will take some getting used to. Czechs don’t like ice (I had lukewarm orange juice), they LOVE cheese (all kinds), Beer, and Rap music!!! And what’s the deal with these electrical sockets? NOTHING I have can be plugged in. So, no charger for the camera and I can’t get any numbers out of my non-useable phone. My host is vegetarian and gas station sandwiches are just as bad here as they are at home. They've got McDonalds, but hey...gotta’ try something new, right?
The show last night was GREAT!!! It’s amazing how receptive they are to American hip hop. It’s a shame that I had to go half-way around the world to find fans that appreciate the music for the MUSIC and not the glitz. They don’t care if you have a song on the radio or if your video's playing on BET or MTV. They love a good show even despite the language barrier. I swear from the footage you would think they knew every word. Ironically, it showed me the arrogance of America. What foreign rap artist do you know that could come to the US and NOT speak English and have people PAY to come see them? What we see as a barrier, they don’t. It’s all about the music. That’s an ideal situation for me and Phinga.
Banner is about to arrive. We've got rest and rehearsal to do. My head is still ringing from all the Jim Beam we swigged last night (they're one of the tour sponsors). and by the way, I’ve got a new energy drink named for me over here and I’ll be bringing it back to the states to knock Red Bull from its roost, LOL. But, more on that later. Ciao!
Greetings, all. It’s my second week across the pond and my body is still on Mississippi time. I’ve tried to intimate to people how physically demanding touring can be. For those that think it’s just fun and games, think again. Five shows in five days in five different cities. Shows that were either one, two, or two and a half hours away from home base (Prague). Couple that with a grueling 45 minute set inside of a hot club and then emerging tired at 5am to temps of 40-45 degrees (yes, summer nights in the Czech Republic are COLD!!!). Then imagine seeing the sun rise when you're trying to recover and get some sleep but then you've got a radio interview or meet and greet at noon and your body still thinks its 5am!!! My muscles haven’t ached this much since my football days.
But I can say the crowds have been great. The energy level is off the meter and I’ve never taken so many pictures and been offered sooooo many shots of liquor. Drinking is a national pastime it seems here. Beer is offered at breakfast and he locals get offended if you offer them chaser, LOL. It certainly is a culture shock...but a good one. I’m learning things about myself and my country more so than anything. My views of America have definitely been changed a little.
For instance, the food here is MUCH healthier. Although McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC have made their presence known, fast food is still not the dining of choice. By and large the folks here are much more healthy than in the states. I’ve seen MAYBE 4 clinically obese people since I’ve been here. Everyone's fit. The women have lovely abs and the guys look like Tommy Hilfiger models. Sure, there's your basic beer guts and flabby arms but they are far less frequent here then the US. I feel out-of-shape and unhealthy when standing next to some of the locals in Prague. I’ve got work to do in that respect.
The second thing that has opened my eyes is the country's inclusion of other cultures and languages here. I’ve run into folks from Great Britain, Africa, Germany, Russia, and India here. Most Czech citizens speak at least two languages and that practice is encouraged. I didn’t realize that Czech was such a difficult language to grasp. I was told that it is as difficult as Latin making it one of the hardest languages to learn. Yet, all of the folks from other countries I met knew it. I met a gentleman by the name of Jacko-ko from Nigeria (he is a reggae artist) who was proficient in 7 languages!!! I have never felt so inadequate and unaccomplished in my life. For all of my achievements and all of my education I only know ONE language proficiently. When I look at it, we Americans are kind of like the dumb jocks of the world. We're popular, everyone wants to hang out with us, but they secretly talk about how dumb we are behind our backs. We are so arrogant and insular that we refuse to acknowledge or even encourage people to learn other languages. Here, the menus, food products, even DVDs are in several different languages. In America, you either learn English or you're up s*** creek! And to think we're making a fuss about folks learning Spanish (which Jackko-ko has inspired me to learn upon my return) and having to accommodate the Spanish speaking folks in the US. I was a little embarrassed actually, LOL. So yes, Spanish is on my agenda and learning to better communicate in Czech will immediately follow.
Anyway, must run its close to 10pm and I’m recording a song with one of the Czech Republic's biggest hip hop artists tonight. He's acting as if I’m doing him the honors. What he doesn’t realize is it is HE and the rest of Bohemia that’s doing ME the honor. Ciao.
Week 3: Treason
OK, here’s the more controversial part of the post. I had to take my comment section down because of spam, but you can jump in right here, at Kaze’s official spot.
Greetings again, from across the pond. We've finally gotten over the hump and the countdown is on until my return home to the States. And with the work we still have yet to put in, it’s gonna’ go fast!!! The hardest part and the biggest crowds await me at the Hip Hop Kemp festival next week. Four shows in two days in front of literally 15,000 screaming hip hop fans. WOW! Rest assured the Czech Repubic will know that MISSISSIPPI has been here when we leave!
This past week has been like none other in my career. Mind you, I have been doing this for the better part of ten years and never have I witnessed the reception that I have gotten from the fans here. Phingaprint and I are literally on rock star status! The crowds are fanatical!!! We're greeted at every show by throngs of folks waiting outside the venue to take pictures. There's even been a few Paparazzi showing up getting some flicks from Czech hip hop mags. It'll spoil you, trust me, LOL. Our shows have been attended by celebrities and athletes alike. Now you may not know it but the American Idol brand has become an international phenomenon. There's versions of it in several countries and its huge in the Czech Republic. Well how about last Thursday at our show in Prague we were performing in front of the Czech version of Ryan Seacrest and 3 of the finalists from Czech Idol!!! They came to see OUR show. Quite humbling indeed.
For anyone who is a performer, you know that there is no other feeling quite like the one you get when you're on stage and you're ON!!! I mean really ON. The crowd is hinging upon your every word and following your every command. They are like putty in your hands. The energy is unbelievable. I have always told folks that it is quite intoxicating AND addictive. I could only describe the feeling as damn near orgasmic!!! And I’ve had one EVERY show!!! It’s a shame I have to return home to the less than enthusiastic crowds that usually attend hip hop shows in Jackson. After this experience anything less than all out pandemonium at my shows will be a let down LOL. Hopefully I will have a few clips posted on Youtube soon. Stay tuned!!!
Now by now I know you're like...What’s up with the "treason" heading Kaze? Well, I'll tell you. Since my arrival here I’m getting abreast of Czech politics and a lot of the lightning rod issues that folks here have to deal with. As you guys know, I simply MUST give my F*** George Bush speech at my shows. I feel it is my duty. Turns out folks here are none too enamored with Bush themselves. Imagine a club full of eager hip hop-goers screaming F*** George Bush and me leading the chant. Sean Hannity would call for my head as a traitor LOL! Bill O’Reilly would call for my music to be banned and my co-host Kim Wade would call me a "looney on the left". Thing is, folks abroad LOVE Americans. The hate isn't for the people, its for the GOVERNMENT and some of its ridiculous foriegn policies. Its not America that folks hate Dubya, its your idiocy and lack of leadership that makes folks not like you...the Czech Republic is no different. The mention of his name envokes a chorus of boos. It's even stirred up discussions with some of the local folks.
Did you guys know that the BIG news here is the U.S trying to convince the czech Republic to put a radar on their borders so that we can keep an eye on the surrounding countries i.e. Germany, Russia etc. In return, the U.S has offered to drop the Visa provision for Czechs so that they can come unimpeded to the states. Hmmmmm? We'll make it easy for you to come to America(which we believe EEEEEVRRYBODY does) and all we want in return is for you to let us put this radar on your borders and thus thrust you headfirst into the messes that WE have made abroad. Needless to say Czechs arent too happy about it. There are some in support but the hiphop demographic here is vocal in their dissent!!! and I think thats a good thing. Mind you the Czechs are rightfully STILL leary of America's "help" as it were. While getting brushed up on some WWII history I learned during the war the U.S. was "supposed" to come in and liberate the Czech cities on the German border that had been overrun by Nazi forces. But what we weren't told is that U.S. troops inadvertently bombed the wrong cities killing thousands of innocent Czech citizens who were simply waiting on the calvary. But of course THAT part of WWII history is never taught because the U.S. military NEVER makes mistakes riiiiiight. So that explains the chip on the shoulders of some older czechs when it comes to U.S. "help". These ramblings may surely get some extra FBI eyes on me and my travels. I can only hope LOL.