I met a lil soldier when he was four years old
And what I loved most was he was an old soul...
It’s with infinite melancholy that I report that CrewUnB family lost one of its charter kid members this past Saturday. Before Princess Zari, before my godson Asher, before Boss Lady Kayla’s young soldiers, there was Amorie. Amorie was the first born to the CEO’s high school pal and my home girl Ebonie Nunnally (Eb). CEO was blessed with the task of taking lil pre-k/kindergarten Amorie (Morie) home a few nights a week after our after school program concluded each day over six years ago. I was the shotgun man in the old Tercel. The program ended at 6:00 pm, but rarely did we ever leave before the bottom of the hour. So naturally, lil man and me became well acquainted. He was unforgettable from day one: those big brown eyes, perfect corn rows, and a persona unmatched for a kid so young. He always looked me in the eye and spoke to me like we went to high school together or something. He was fearless. But the difference between Morie and other kids like him was his delivery wasn’t at all disrespectful. He was simply ‘bout his issue. Imagine that—a four or five year old kid who was ‘bout his issue. But that was Morie. He spoke like he’d been here before. But, in true lil kid fashion, Morie was almost always asleep after the short five minute trek from Grieco Elementary to Reade St, 4th Ward #eastside Englewood, NJ, USA. CEO would unbuckle lil man and carry him to the door. The innocence of youth. Over the years I didn’t see Morie as much. I’d see his mom and pop a lot, as they came to my old job to pick his lil sissy up from day care every day. But every time I saw lil man it was love, in our own unique fashion. He’d usually challenge me with some type of bravado. I’d usually reply with a “go on ‘head lil nigga”. We’d laugh and I’d dap him up until the next time. Recently, Eb and the fam began attending my church. It was love all the way around, including getting to see lil man on a semi-regular basis again. Older Morie, same spirit. The last time I saw him was about a month ago. In typical Morie fashion, we dapped after service was over. He looked up at me and his immediate statement was, “you should cut your hair off”. For almost any other kid, I probably woulda told him to go climb a tree. But that was my lil man. So I just looked at him like damn. At least I don’t have a hole in my natural. No moon roof. Sure, my five head is rather prominent, but I make it look damn good (in my mind), compliments of my trusted barber J. Peterson. I said my lil piece. Morie just looked up at me and calmly repeated, “you should cut your hair off”. I just smirked and gave him a big homie mush to the side of the dome and left out the church house. That was the last time I saw my lil man. Amorie McClenny passed Saturday afternoon. My lil man was 11. CrewUnB offers its sincere condolences to the McClenny and Nunnally families. Love y’all. Morie shall forever live on in my heart. Forever plus a day.
I’d like to wish a belated 25th born day to the album that changed my life. It’s widely considered to be the best album ever released in the rap genre. Illmatic, the debut album by legendary Queensbridge MC Nas, was released on April 19, 1994 to widespread critical acclaim from media, fellow artists, and fans alike. The Queens bred prodigy, son of blues player Olu Dara, was an teenage MC of almost mythical proportions before signing to Columbia Records. After signing, a who’s who of producers tagged along for the ride: fellow Queens native and the first man to give him a feature on a track Large Professor, Premo (DJ Premier) of Gangstarr fame, A Tribe Called Quest frontman Q-Tip, Mt. Vernon legend and one half of the legendary duo Pete Rock (& CL Smooth), and then a then unknown LES, who would also become Nas’ traveling DJ. The end result was perfection: 10 tracks (including an intro interlude) of unrelenting yet controlled fury. Nas wasn’t necessarily an advocate for the streets nor was he a corner evangelist, rather, he was more in the line of a hood news reporter giving you the cold, candid, and often hard to deal with truth. What further separated him from the rap masses was a delivery and flow unparalleled, reminding many of Rakim Allah, one of his childhood idols. But at the end of the day, he was his own man, the oracle bred from Queensbridge Houses. A quarter of a century later, his work and influence are indelible, celebrated across the globe. I’m a witness. Illmatic is tatted on my right forearm. I’ll still be screaming its praise on its 50th. Y’all be cool how y’all be cool. To the projects I’m ghost shorty wop, one love.