“What you see is what you get, so now you know,” Dusk Raps
Looking for a hip-hop fix? Throw Away The Key, and take a
little journey with Dusk Raps of Salt Lake City, Utah in his debut solo album.
Dusk Raps is the MC from the hip-hop group Mindstate, and
I’ve been a big fan of those guys since catching them in Salt Lake a few years
ago. I had the pleasure of talking with Dusk (aka Ryan Worwood) after the first
Mindstate show I saw, and started up what has been a solid friendship over the
years. In fact, Dusk rhymes like he is everyone’s good friend, which I imagine
That’s a good place to start with Dusk Raps, his style. He
is open, honest, and reflective; he doesn’t hide anything or try to be anything
he isn’t. He clearly loves hip-hop, and each song reveals a different side. He
oozes Salt Lake City through the album, and is a major player in the hip-hop
community there. He raps on the song Laser Beams: “Get down for my town, so
proud you can’t hate it”.
I know Dusk Raps loves hip-hop so dearly because I helped
bring him to the cool mountain town of Gunnison, Colorado, a few years back for
a couple shows at the Gunnison Brewery. He came down with his brother, Ben (DJ
Honna), the other half of Mindstate, and they rocked the small brewery till
close, feeding a hungry crowd in a town that hip-hop acts only rarely visit.
Before one of their shows I was talking with those two, and
was surprised by their lack of ego, and general approachability. One
conversation was about hip-hop, and how many artists first hip-hop album is
their best work. Dusk commented that some artists say everything they have to
say on their first album, and have little to draw from in future offerings.
This is not the case with Dusk Raps. Throw Away The Key has
many dope tracks. My personal favorites are: Blink, Laser Beams, The First to
Know, Something to Say and Smoke Rings. Something to Say was the one I played
over and over after first downloading the album, one where Dusk showcases a
singing and rapping style, previously not seen in other tracks he’s on.
What is most clear in this album is that he is an artist in
the truest sense of the word. (He is also a painter and graffiti artist, and
the cover of the album is his own work, in his own, unique style.)
wordplay, combined with energetic beats, offers reflections on life, from a
thoughtful, hip-hop philosopher. (He thinks very deeply.) Pick up Throw Away
The Key, if you are in a hip-hop state of mind, and looking to experience a
unique and thoughtful style from an emerging artist from the great, Salt Lake.
Life either moves too fast, or too slow. As I sit at my
writing perch I realize there are events from weeks ago that I’ve yet to write
about or reflect upon. That is one of my favorite things about writing:
enriching my experiences by pondering what wisdom they have to impart to me.
Two weeks ago I was recovering from the Outdoor Retailer trade
show, held in Salt Lake City. During the show Shaun and I stayed with some
mutual friends, Stefan, Katie and Kevin; all of us are connected in one way or
another from Adam Lawton, our dear friend that passed away in an avalanche in
January of this year. Stefan was a close friend to Adam, and was with him when
he died. Typically when I’d visit Salt Lake I would always stay with Adam, he
was an old college friend, and the type of friend who, no matter what, the door
and couch were always open.
It’s been seven months since Adam died, and I feel like I’ve
learned many things about life and death since then. I probably don’t full
comprehend all of the things I’ve contemplated, but I do know that death brings
people closer together, and makes us there for each other. I barely knew Stefan
before Adam passed, yet because of our connection to Adam he offered up his
home (exactly how Adam would before) to us for the week.
One of the things I know about death now (Adam was my first
truly close friend to die) is that the person’s spirit is always with you. I
felt Adam’s spirit with me the day the news broke (and the ocean of tears that
came with it) and I still feel it now. I feel it encouraging me to do as much
as I can in this body, because the world needs us to be at our best, and we
need to be at our best to be happy.
The more I write, the more I wish I had more time and space
to write, because the potential for stories is infinite. Pondering my dear
friends untimely departure from his body makes me think of a conversation I had
yesterday with another good friend, Badger.
Ironically, or maybe cosmically, I met Badger at the Red
Rocks climbing area in Las Vegas, just before I moved to Durango. I figured I’d
see him around, but it was only after over a year of moving there that I ran
into him, just days after Adam passed away. (More whimsically, Badger has a
mutual friend to Adam’s, that I met at Adam’s memorial and then realized the
Badger has turned out to be a perfect climbing partner,
because we both climb at similar levels, and are looking to increase our
capacity for what we are capable of. We are also just a year apart, and in our
mid-thirties we are well aware that those are the prime years for achieving
one’s climbing potential.
He is also a very spiritual person, and I feel open to
discuss whatever is going on internally with my own spirit. Yesterday while
driving home after our climbing session the subject of past lives came up. I
was telling him about a friend who suggested we knew each other in a past life.
I’ve never had anyone suggest this to me, and I’ve been thinking about that
ever since she said that. This friend and I also have an incredible connection,
and I’ve also wondered where such connections come from.
Although Badger is very open minded, I felt somewhat
hesitant to bring this subject up. But, Badger in his wisdom, simply told me
that past lives are something he has accepted, he feels his greatest friends in
this life were those he was close to in previous existences. He also shared
that his times of high energy meditation led him to believe this.
When he said this it just made so much sense, as if I was
simply waiting for him to say it. I’m still pondering it now, and I will be for
a long time.
To conclude these thoughts, I’m always inspired by other’s
writing, and this last week I found out a co-worker of mine blogs, and I was
pleasantly surprised by her offerings. If you like stream of consciousness
blogging, www.whiskeychatter.blogspot.com is
sure to delight.
Until next Monday, Luke’s Bloggie blog is singing off.
"I do know that one and one is two, and I know that if you love me too, what a wonderful world this could be," What a Wonderful World by Sam Cooke.
Is the summer slipping away, or does summer always slip
away, remain fleeting, something we want to reach out and preserve, but realize
that is forever impossible.
This has been my most enjoyable summer that I can recall in
recent years. First and foremost my life and career are headed in the direction
I desire. Last summer that was not the case, I was stagnant, so I made changes,
and now, here I am. This has also been my first summer in Durango, my new home.
And how beautiful it has been.
I like it hot, I love the desert, and I love warm evenings,
where one can step out into the night, under the stars, with little else other
than a t-shirt and shorts. Many mountain towns don’t afford this luxury, but
Durango does. Along with the warm nights, hot days must be endured, this was
something that worried me a bit after living in Gunnison and Crested Butte for
so long, but the truth of the matter is that I’ve embraced the heat. It has
allowed my heart to be more open, I’m less inclined to be reclusive, more inclined
to embrace it all.
The summer of Durango is full of the noise of the train,
chu-chu-ing its way back and forth from Silverton, announcing its arrival with
a loud, but not annoying whistle. The summer begs one to experience the river,
tubing, or other more sophisticated forms of flotation. Tubing is my new
favorite sport, and my enthusiasm is shared with fellow tubers, who whisk their
summer dreams down the Animas, with lime green cans of local beer, serenading
childhood dreams of simplicity, loving the water, our source of life.
Rock climbing, as always plays a central role in release and happiness, my climbing has been nearly exclusively on a chunk of overhanging limestone we call the Golf Wall. It humbles when I am feeling weak, and encourages the upmost optimism when I am at a hundred percent. Begs me to be stronger, to reach that ceiling higher of what I am capable of.
I’ve managed to publish my first book, Climbing Out of Bed,
I’m proud, yet also thinking about number two, as it is dreamed and built up,
like the thunderclouds we’ve been blessed with in the latter part of this
The world seems to be on a bit of a doomed rollercoaster
lately, maybe it always is. But as I’ve taken risks to live my dreams, and to
live life to the fullest, everything seems wonderful, not perfect, just
wonderful, full of wonder to experience these opportunities.
I moved to Colorado thirteen years ago, and in many ways I’m
just getting to know her. She’s blessed me with adventure, stories, lovely
women, and the best and truest of friends. The goddess that inhabits summer
will soon fade into the magical fall, I’m not looking forward, just looking,
both inward and outward, but certainly thinking about the river, the road, the
granite and the sandstone, the fruits of the trees, and the inevitable
conclusion, and rebirth of it all.
all the world is real and everybody carries on like it is a dream, like they
were themselves dreams…pain or love or danger makes you real again.”
Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
What is a
real mountain person? This is essentially the question John Fayhee, the editor
of the Mountain Gazette, posed to me
in an email. Since then it’s been lots of thinking, writing, throwing away
(recycling), thinking, and here I am again, writing.
I’ve come to
the conclusion I am both unable and unwilling to define what a real mountain
person is. The main reason is that if I wrote about what a real mountain person
is, I’d be saying that certain people who live in the mountains aren’t
authentic. Who am I to judge who belongs in a mountain town?
I am a
typical example of a mountain town resident. I moved to Colorado from the
Midwest and I’ve been here for most of the last seven years. Maybe if I was
born and raised in the mountains, I could qualify to write about real mountain
people. If I was a miner who lost his job and watched Crested Butte, where I’m
writing from, turn from a mining based economy to a tourist based one. If I was
a cowboy who suffers through the seasons year after year, through all the
trials and hardships the mountains invite. Or if I was a Ute who lived off the
land in the mountains only to have it developed by the white person,
descendants who later put “native” stickers on their cars.
I am just
another white guy who moved to the mountains with little, except hopes of
finding something to live for, which the flatlands didn’t seem to have for me. The
search was for real mountain experiences, something I found through the
enthusiasm and wonder of youth, the luck of being in the right place at the
right time, and the often underrated advantage of having relatively little
Here is a
little more about the message from Fahyee. In the email, he mentioned that he
was moving from his home in the High Country of Colorado to New Mexico. One of
his reasons, he stated, was people moving to the High Country didn’t seem like
real mountain people.
Now I think
I know the kind of people he’s talking about. Here’s a semi-reasonable
stereotype: they drive shiny vehicles, they are interested in real estate, and
they usually come to the mountains with capital. These folks are flocking to
Crested Butte, too.
In the last
couple years, I’ve witnessed real estate prices skyrocket, and more flashy
vehicles driving around. I could go off on the capitalists ruining mountain
towns, but again who am I to judge? Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t hate
the player, hate the game?”
this game doesn’t interest me. I feel the true wealth of mountain living lies
in getting out there, in the hills and growing spiritually from these
experiences. Out there, in my little campsite a couple miles out of town, where
I’d easily surpassed the fourteen day limit. This was mountain living: a fire
pit, a tent, boulders all around, the sweet smell of sage, birds a chirpin’ and
bunnies a hoppin’. I felt richer than any man in a mansion. No rent, no TV, no
sofa, just a man and his thoughts. The plan went well till my car broke down. But
what did I care? I had a bike, and two feet. During this experience, I found a
peace of mind I hadn’t experienced since I was a child at camp, in the woods. It
was also a blessing as a young writer to have the stillness of silence every
night, with the fire as my only entertainment. I experienced a magical moment,
I can still vividly recall years later, sitting by the fire, a poem inspired by
my surroundings, actually writing itself.
My friend Brent
Armstrong is a little more out there than I am. He was a guru to all us
youngsters interested in the simple character building endeavor of rock
climbing. He had his eyes on a prime piece of real estate down in the Black
Canyon, an unclimbed big wall route. He spent nine days alone on the wall. I’d
discovered living simply in the wilderness brought great thoughts and
meditations, but living on a wall, what would that be like?
I never had
the nerve to do a big wall climb alone, but I did get stuck on a wall overnight
down in The Black. Dave Marcinowski and I didn’t intend to spend the night on a
cramped ledge, with barely enough room for the two of us to sit, a thousand
feet above the Gunnison River, but I’m glad we did. We were essentially naked
to the night, to nature. Having everything removed from your life makes one
appreciate even the most basic things we many times take for granted. We asked
each other questions like, “If you could have anything in the world what would
food and a woman,” was the answer.
buddy, Zach Alberts, is a simple cat, an inspiration to mountain town bums. The
guy hasn’t paid rent in like seven years, and he’s one of the most pleasant
individuals you’ll ever come across. One summer, he set up camp amongst the
local boulders, ones that happen to be in close proximity to a country club
with multi-million dollar homes. If the owners only knew, there was this
climbing bum living in the same setting, with the same mountains to view, with
nothing but his tent and some food, content as could be. I wonder if the
millionaires, burdened by their worldly possessions, are truly as happy as he
Tom Mally is
another local I admire. I could camp out for six months in the warm seasons,
but he camped out for two winters, this in a place that gets so cold many
residents can barely afford their heating bill. I told him recently I admired
him for his winter camping skills. He told me it wasn’t so bad, and once he
figured out how to stay warm, he really enjoyed the experience.
I think in
America there is an illusion that having a lot of money will certainly provide
one with a rich life. There is a freedom, a feeling, a lifestyle out there that
can be lived without a lot of money. There are many ways to find this freedom,
but, personally, I found this lifestyle by moving to a mountain town and
learning from the people here.
these years, I still get this blissful feeling when I’m out there on a rock, in
my tent, or with my friends, a feeling that is real, the thought that I should
try to live more simply in order to find more happiness.
Out there, I
also have this feeling deep inside in some way I owe the Natives who lived here
before me, the miners who saw their way of life give way to the easier, but
more complicated tourist based way of life, and the cowboys who still ranch on
land that was once worth little and now is worth millions; the real mountain
people who led the way for us living here now.