Baje One & Lars Viola “I Say Same Again (feat. Ryan Notes)”

22 May 2017

BAJE ONE AND LARS VIOLA I SAY SAME AGAIN Blog Main

Me and Lars made another one, this time with Ryan Notes on the hook. Download on the player above, or click here to nab this track AND the one we put out last summer called “Looking Down Again.” Soundcloud types can go here to listen and download.

If you like it, tell a friend. Art by Baje.

If Trump Isn’t a Narcissist, Then the Criteria Needs Revision

20 March 2017

SMILING TRUMP

By Michael Angelo Tumbarello, LMSW aka Baje One

I write this in response to a Letter to the Editor of the New York Times, submitted by Allen Frances and published in that newspaper on February 14th. In that letter, Mr. Frances said of Donald Trump: “He may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.” Granted, according to the DSM Trump does not meet the required criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and who could be more qualified than Allen Frances, the man who literally wrote the criteria, to make that determination? However, this fact ought not put the kibosh on public discussion of Trump’s mental health, since the psychological well-being (or lack thereof) of the man who holds the nuclear codes remains a crucial matter. Instead of ending the discussion, the fact that Trump, a “world-class narcissist” does not meet diagnostic criteria for NPD should motivate those of us in the field to examine the failure of current diagnostic tools to account for socio-cultural influences on the varying manifestations of mental illness.

It is an accepted truth within the mental health profession that mental illness is expressed differently by different groups of people in different places and at different times. At times gender plays a factor: Depressed men are more likely to exhibit symptoms of anger and irritability than depressed women. It would be difficult to argue that this difference is not owed in large part to differences in the ways in which men and women are socialized, wherein women are often taught not to express anger, while men are taught that aggression is the only safe, “masculine” conduit with which to express their emotions.

aggroboyz

At other times, culture plays a factor in the expression of mental illness: the American Psychiatric Association recognizes disorders which are “culture-bound”, meaning they only exist within a specific cultural setting. For example, the APA recognizes that in Latin America, and in Latino communities there is a disorder known as an ‘ataque de nervios’, which does not have an exact equivalent to any specific disorder described in the DSM.

And of course at all times, the cultural perspective of the assessing clinician plays a major role in determining diagnosis. Despite the fact that many (if not most) clinicians would rather avoid this particular discussion, it remains true that diagnosis is, at least in part, in the eye of the beholder. We can find evidence to support this idea when we look at race-based disparities in the diagnosis of Conduct Disorder, wherein African American children are much more likely to receive this diagnosis while their white counterparts tend to get diagnosed with ADHD when exhibiting similar sets of behaviors. Is it possible that this disparity correlates with disparities in racial representation within the mental health profession? But of course.

If we already grant recognition to social and cultural factors that contribute to the varying expressions of mental illness, is it really a leap to consider that Trump’s mental illness might also be “culture-bound”, and that the reason why he does not experience “distress” and “impairment” with regard to his narcissism is simply a reflection of the extreme degree of privilege which he experiences? As a rich, white, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied, educated, English-speaking American citizen, Trump experiences every possible degree of privilege in American society. Perhaps he isn’t just privileged, but sick with privilege. After all, he carries himself publicly as if the rules do not apply to him, and given the privilege he experiences he’s absolutely right to make that assumption. At a rally in Iowa in Janurary of 2016, Trump famously boasted: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” I don’t believe that this was hyperbole; I believe that he truly meant what he said. Is a person capable of making such a statement not sick and in need of treatment? Perhaps “Affluenza” really is a thing; perhaps possessing extreme degrees of privilege can be a form of sickness.

AFFLUENZA

In his Letter to the Editor, Allen Frances said: “Mr. Trump causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy.” It’s hard to argue with this statement (even though narcissists typically DO cause quite a bit of distress, some of it severe, for their partners and family members), and yet Frances’s argument ought to raise questions about the highly subjective nature of the diagnostic criteria for NPD. After all, who’s to say that Trump does not experience severe distress? And who’s to say what severe distress looks like for someone as wildly powerful and privileged as Trump? If the time stamps on his tweets are accurate, and rumors leaking from the Trump administration are true, then perhaps severe distress looks like the most powerful man in the world wandering the halls of a tower built in his name (in a bathrobe) while obsessively absorbing news coverage of his own words and actions, and labeling as “fake” any such news which is critical of those words and actions. Again, if these are not diagnosable symptoms of sickness and distress, then perhaps we ought to just admit that the diagnostic criteria itself has a major blind spot with regard to power and privilege.

If we already recognize that social and cultural factors play a role in the diagnosis of mental illness, and if we recognize that diagnosis is, at least in part, in the eye of the beholder, then why not add ‘degree of privilege’ to the list of factors that impact and shape the varying manifestations of mental illness? If Frances can call Trump “a world-class narcissist”, and also argue, within the same article, that Trump does not fit the criteria, then perhaps those of us in the field who are bilingual in DSM as well as social justice ought to be asking just how we can account for this disconnect. Perhaps those of us who have the power to diagnose are sick with our own privilege. Perhaps Western institutions of mental health carry the same forms of sickness carried by our other institutions – education, law enforcement, criminal justice etc. – which do a miraculously efficient job at reproducing structural inequality from generation to generation. Perhaps looking at privilege using a medical model would be useful. Perhaps we could develop treatments to help people sick with racism and other isms to recover from their sickness.

Stephany Rose

And yet we all know that this is not the way the world works, not yet at least. “Affluenza” is simply an imaginative way to protect rich kids from the consequences of their own shitty decisions. And the powerful and the privileged who are for the most part, ironically, the most psychologically fragile among us, will continue to be reflexively protected from the scrutiny and stigma involved with actual mental health diagnosis. The DSM’s failure to account for Trump’s particular experience/expression of narcissism adds the American Psychiatric Association to a growing list of individuals and institutions who are in passive collusion with the normalization of Trump and his mental illness. As I type this, there are already miniature versions of Trump cropping up at all levels of American politics. Until we identify “grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy” across the board as antisocial expressions of mental illness, then people like Trump will continue to get power, not treatment. We ignore this reality at our own peril.

Michael Angelo Tumbarello, LMFSW (aka Baje One) is an armchair cultural critic and a real-life cultural contributor. He is a writer, rapper, indie record label owner, and social worker, working on the front lines of social justice for youth and adults struggling with homelessness, mental health issues, and HIV. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, where he still lives.

Baje One “Because Black Lives Matter”

10 October 2016

Live from Brooklyn / For all my white people outraged by the fact that Kaepernick is kneeling / more than you are outraged by the extrajudicial killings of unarmed black civilians / for real, my white people caught up in their white feelings / this one’s for you, for you…

I GOT YOU STUCK LIKE A THOUGHT ON A STICKY NOTE / NEVER REALLY WANTED PRETTY CARS IN THE VIDEOS / JUST A STACK OF COMPOSITION BOOKS FULL OF RAPS THAT I REALLY WROTE / REALLY WHITE, REALLY WOKE / LOOK: THERE’S A WAR GOIN ON INSIDE, NOBODY’S SAFE FROM / YOU COULD RUN BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE FOREVER / FROM THESE PRIVILEGES WE ALREADY TOOK / SON LOOK, AINT NO SUCH THING AS SITTIN ON THE FENCE WHEN THERE’S BODIES ON THE STREETS / AND THE COPPERS ON THE BEAT THAT ARE COCKIN BACK THE HEAT LOOK A LOT LIKE ME AND YOU / WE SPLITTIN INTO FACTIONS / YOU STUCK LIKE A CHRISTIAN’S FAITH WITHOUT ACTIONS / STUCK LIKE WHITE GUILT, FROM WHITE MODERATES / STUCK LIKE A MANDATORY MINIMUM FOR PUSHIN WHITE PRODUCTS / HMM… / YOU STUCK LIKE A ROACH IN THE LIGHTS, WATCH EM SCATTER / FUCK AROUND I’LL LEAVE YOU STUCK UP IN THE CLOUD WITH THE FACEBOOK CHATTER / WITH ALL THE OTHER DUMMIES YELLIN “ALL LIVES MATTER” / YOU MAD LIKE HATTER / BAPTIZE YOU IN THE DATA / FILL THE CLIP WITH FACTS LIKE ‘RATTA TAT TATTA’ / IF WE LIVED IN A WORLD WHERE ALL LIVES WERE TREATED EQUAL / WE WOULDN’T BE SITTIN IN THE FRONT ROW FOR “SELMA, THE SEQUEL” / WHERE THE BABIES LEARN THE ART OF WAR / CHARLOTTE TO FERGUSON, OAKLAND TO BALTIMORE / FROM COAST TO COAST, THIS WHOLE BOAT IS BROKE / AND THIS ELECTION IS THE ULTIMATE OKEYDOKE / FROM ATLANTIC TO PACIFIC, MEXICO TO CANADA / THEY COMIN FOR YOUR SOUL IT’S TIME TO UP YOUR MENTAL STAMINA…

Cause we can do better / say it with me “BLACK LIVES MATTER” / that’s the name of this shit, “BLACK LIVES MATTER” / nobody asked you to make a fuckin remix to this shit / nobody asked you to remix the name of this shit / and for real: white rappers, white rappers who aren’t on board with this shit right now / you need to turn your rap ID card in right now / we comin for you / what happened to peace? / what happened to peace? / Governments earn peace, society earns peace / pay for that with justice / we pay for that with justice / so what happened to peace? / we’ll get to that once we get some justice in the streets.

Baje One & Lars Viola “Looking Down Again”

9 August 2016

BAJE ONE LARS LOOKING DOWN ART 475

Me and Lars Viola from M.A.E. started making some rap music together. This is the first jawn. If you like it, tell a friend! Download on the player above, or click here. And for those of you who prefer Soundcloud, yall can go here. Cover art photo by Matty Enderlin, who is a friend of the Sharks, and whose work you can see over here.

CAVALIER “HEAVY CROWN” VIDEO!

8 April 2016

Video by Vashni Korin. Track produced by Iman Omari, from their collaborative LemOnade EP. Enjoy!

REST IN PEACE PHIFE DAWG

30 March 2016

Nuk Fam SXSW Sampler Front Cover 475

Download this album that never really came out. Waaaay back in 2007, all of Nuclear Family (the hip hop group/collective that spawned this whole Modern Shark thing) went down to SXSW. Depending on which one of us you ask, the trip was either a triumphant success, a complete failure, the best time of all time, or the most miserable week ever. Anywho, we made like 500 copies of this here compilation unmixed mixed tape thing and gave them out in Austin and then we never released it again.

As a collective, Nuk Fam was like a creative house. We made our own beats, wrote our own lyrics, did our own engineering and mixing, made our own flyers, album covers, did our own press and promo. But because it was such a big crew, it was also hard to explain to folks who wanted an elevator pitch and didn’t have 3 minutes to listen to the ins and outs of who did what within the group/collective. On this tape, Tone Tank plays the role of the Midnight Marauders chick and explains how the whole Nuk Fam thing worked.

When Phife passed, I was reminded of how influential Tribe’s music had been for me and all my friends, to the point where we stole their whole narrator idea for this mixtape. Download here.

Nuk Fam SXSW Sampler Back Cover 475

Bi-Polar Bear Remixes Classic M.O.P.

29 February 2016

BPB comes through with some delicious ear candy for fans of the Mash Out Posse. Fun personal side note about the original version of this track: I first heard this song on an episode of Stretch and Bob, and I eagerly copped the vinyl when it finally came out. It was on a Relativity Records sampler called Urban Assault, and M.O.P.’s ‘World Famous’ was the lead track. The back of the record featured photos of a bunch of city scenes, and while scanning it, I saw my brother’s tag in one of the photos. That was a classic hip hop moment for me.

Years later I went to see my wife’s godmother perform at Joe’s Pub. (She’s an incredible jazz singer). My homie was bartending there at the time, and he leaned over the bar and whispered: “When the show’s over, just stay at the bar and act like you belong. There’s a secret M.O.P. show happening after, and they’re performing with a live rock band. It’s gonna be nuts.” And indeed it was a fucking amazing show, a secret, industry-only type of show, but totally bananas nonetheless.

TONE TANK & Serengeti “COP/BOOST”

22 February 2016

Track produced by J. Howells Werthman. Video by Kristan Sprague.

Ok. So you may be wondering: WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE. Fair enough. COP/BOOST may just be the most esoteric song on TONE’s new album. On the song, TONE and Serengeti trade verses, basically rapping the entire plots of two completely separate but equally obscure James Woods movies: COP (1988), and BOOST (also released in 1988, which is fucking weird in itself). These guys spent a week together recording an entire album (much of which you can hear on TONE’s record, and much of which is still unreleased) and obsessing over these two movies. TONE had seen COP but not BOOST and Geti had seen BOOST but not COP. Good thing TONE had both movies on Laserdisc (from the huge collection of Laserdiscs TONE got from the homie Doc Strange.)

I first heard about this thing when J. Howells played me the track in the studio and explained the concept. I immediately was like “This is genius. And nobody is going to understand what’s happening here.” Years later and now we have this amazing video, thanks to Kristan who is THE HOMIE. And since most of us have never seen either of these movies, now we can all watch both, mashed up and thoroughly explained to us over the course of 4 great minutes. Enjoy!

All Your Favorites on One Sandwich

19 February 2016

Yo. Dillon & Paten Locke featuring Tone Tank and Homeboy Sandman. SHIT IS TIGHT! For more on the Full Plate Fam, and their new record “Food Chain” which features Dres of Black Sheep, J-Live, Count Bass D, Willie Evans Jr., the aforementioned homies, and many more, click aqui.

This whole track is staffed by Shark fam. I first met Dillon way back in 2005 when he let me and Snaf and Cool Calm Pete crash on his living room floor in ATL where we were all doing a show together. Since then there have been multiple couch crashings and comical collaborations. Dillon is the dude. He even made a special promo for us back in the Gran’dad’s Nerve Tonic era. Check it.

At the same time we met Dillon, in 2005, me and Snaf were on tour with Asamov, a group that Paten (at the time known as Therapy) was rocking with. Paten is also the dude, and I try to connect with him when he’s in town (often when he’s doing shows with Edan). To date, Paten and I only did one track together, but it’s one of my faves. Listen.

Also, all of these people on this track have CHOPS. For the kids who don’t know what CHOPS are, you can google that, and find a picture of all these people.

Martin Luther King Jr., Alive & Well in 2016

18 January 2016

“I speak out against this government because I love America. There can be no great disappointment where there is no great love.”

“And the press generally won’t tell us these things, but God told me to tell you this morning. The truth must be told.”

Posted this last year. Had to post it again, for its eloquence, truth, and prescience. This is a critical time in the history of the United States. From this day forward, everything we do matters. Peace to Chances With Wolves for the original mashup. Love to all of you in 2016. Because Love, and only Love, will help us find our way out of the darkness.