A good person and friend of mine has physically left us on January 3rd 2016. It is a sad moment that is deeply felt by many, many people. I’m still grieving and find it hard to believe.
He was in a fatal car accident in Denver, Colorado with a friend Jonathan Nichols aka Kokayi Danladi (RIP to them both). I don’t want to dwell on that because I’m interested in his life and his living. I thought it was only fitting to post this on NTBT because this site is something I feel Zin would believe in. He too wanted to give people a voice, as do I. Zin was about hip-hop and music. He was about positiveness. He was about Black people and people of color (white folks too). He was about Houston and Third Ward, what is also known as the Tre’ and not a made up word like “Midtown”. But first and foremost, Zin was about his family. Zin is survived by his wife and two daughters (Senait and Journey).
I attached a video that is part of an ongoing project that is marinating at the moment. Notice his smile when he speaks about his family, watch the smile glow. Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts or memories of him. They’re coming straight from the hip so excuse any grammar issues, structural problems or whatever. This is like Mr. T. Monk would play, Straight No Chaser……….
Here’s Zin’s Family Go Fund Me Page to help support Zin’s family in these hard times.
A short video of some of Zin’s thoughts that are part of another project I was working on.
2016 has started out on some high notes but then hit a low note a couple of days ago on January 03 2016, at least for me it has.
Some people ask how can you be in two places at the same time. How many things can you do or are you doing? I. Don’t. Know. But Zin aka Wali Aquell aka Ant Live aka his government name which he didn’t want you to call him, so I won’t mention it. Zin in my opinion, is *the* person to ask.
How many Zins are there?
He was a respected poet and rapper who had CD’s that you could purchase. He also performed with a band or turntables or a cappella. Take your pick. Not to mention he also produced music. He introduced us to a lot of Houston’s hidden talent and talent abroad in some shape, form or fashion. I mean recordings of Michelle Thibeaux, Sunni Patterson, K’ Monte and his band? And so many more…
I remember going to Zin’s recording studio with fellow visual artists Robert Pruitt and Robert Hodge and singer, writer, and don’t get in a debate with my debater friend, Natasha Turner who sings and can rap. Pruitt made a beat that we all rapped on and Pruitt re-did the beat. We needed it sorta quickly and like typical, kindhearted Zin, offered his space and said, “You all come through.” So we did. We had a great time. I can’t say how great the song was (it was cool) but I can say the experience and Zin’s hospitality was great. He’s like, “Ahhh, you about to get your spitting back on huh?” I’m like ummmm…well…. Maybe?
From this position he was considered famous and a celebrity. But he was much more than that. He transcended that descriptive location. He was also an activist. He was always present for all of these protests and rallies that went down. Admittedly I was only present for some of them. One day I get a text saying, “We will be cleaning up the Third Ward; come out and support, peace.” Well first, Third Ward is a historical Black neighborhood in Houston, Texas, where I was born and raised and how you gonna clean that up? Well, Zin literally and figuratively meant cleaning it up. We were picking up trash placing it in plastic trash bags.
There were a bunch of Black men laughing, joking, but also serious about that clean up, walking down Live Oak St and Alabama. We wasn’t putting trash on the streets but picking up trash (off) the streets. It was like a Black Excellence Clean Up Parade. This is what the news doesn’t show you. And it made you feel like you were doing something extra that was important for everyone. I now realize the impact of such a positive gesture; one that creates a positive image to counter the negative image placed upon the community. How could Zin be in all these places doing all of these things?
I asked myself, “How many Zins are there?”
Zin was a DJ and worked at a few stations but the most recent was KPFT. He soon was able to get his own radio station (in) the community. All Real Radio. It was something he’s been talking about and wanted forever and from what I’ve read, he was about to push that dream even further. He would invite musicians, rappers, poets, activists; people who wanted to promote their businesses, cooks, other talk show hosts and all types of folks on to his show. He gave people a voice. Do you know how much time it takes to be an activist? Then you realize he’s a radio personality as well.
I met Zin so long ago I can’t remember how we met the only thing I can remember is that it was through hip-hop and the rest is here and there and here.
It was way back in tha’ day in the early 90’s at Texas Southern University, sitting outside of the Student Center, where everyone was a dancer, a rapper, a DJ, a singer, a graff writer, or just a fan of hip hop. It was like a second major along with your major and minor, if you had one. We were learning that 5 percent math, freestyling on the tables in the courtyard with a bunch of other folks. The Gods, Earths, Homeboys, Homegirls, B-boys, B-girls, Folks, Fam, Knuckleheads, Tricks, Playas, all orbited around TSU or somewhere near it. One of those places was The Mahogany Café down the street from TSU. Zin hosted so many spots that featured art, music, spoken word, and fellowship I couldn’t name them all. I mean from way back then until now. I don’t know how he did all of that. I find it ironic that there’s a 90’s hip-hop TV show or film titled “The Breaks” on VH1 right now playing the background as I write this.
So many Zins in just one Zin.
Zin, was also a proud father and husband. He would always talk about his family. What they’re eating and the things dads talk about that are important to us as parents but to the kids it’s like (meh). People speak, and rightfully so, of how Zin lights up the area with his positive energy. I agree, but if he was lighting up the place with his energy, watch his face light up when he speaks about his family. You’re now witnessing one million multiple solar sun flares. I remember him riding up on his bike in front of my place and we started talking. He would ask me “How’s your seed fam?” I’d say good man. What about you? He’d say blessed. Blessed. Man. (I ‘m trying to get through this writing. It brings tears to my eyes, thinking about him passing) Anyway… Blessed was a word he’d always say regarding his family. He would give me the run down on all things they did as a family.
I can’t say much about his kids and wife because I interacted with Zin mostly, but when I did see them together you can tell that that family was a strong loving unit. This is also why my heart breaks because I know it will be so difficult for them. I know they will weather the storm. It’s just such a rough storm to weather. I am glad that he and his family were able to see him accomplish many of his goals and touch so many people. Zin supported everyone he could and much more than these words can portray. I can’t list enough positive adjectives to describe Zin. He was intelligent, giving, down to earth, supportive, genuine, interesting, funny, pro-black but not anti-white. He was pro-human being.
The positivity was his aura that he owned. Zin is what you call a multi-talented person, a renaissance man, a person with “that energy and that light” that moved through many channels and touched many people. He would always greet you with a genuinely warm “peace” or “what up” or “how you doin’ sis or bro?” It wasn’t a person speaking because they felt obligated to speak because you got on the same elevator with a person who thought you stole their last meal but couldn’t prove it but a person speaking because he was interesting so he could see the interesting things in you, you probably didn’t realize yourself. I could only say that the sincerity and genuine (everything) emanated from Zin was all things good from my perspective. He has motivated me in life and his passing to be more. I say this as I’ve felt I’ve lost a biological brother.
I am also grateful for Zin’s thoughtfulness or I should say we are grateful. I remember our wedding in 2012, when I married my wife Tyres, and how he was so excited about me getting married. I’m like who is getting married here Zin, me or you? Ha..ha..
It was so soulful and hip-hop. I emailed him our playlist with these two songs as the main songs. J Dilla’s “So Far To Go” and Donne Hathaway’s and Roberta Flack’s song “ Be Real Black For Me.” I told him our theme was Black soul music and he thought that it was a dope theme. That was one of the most important times in my life and I’m so grateful, so very grateful that he was able to be a part of that. The kicker is that he had to run and DJ at S.H.A.P.E. Center. I’m like how you gon’ do that brotha? But he worked it out. And he just smiled and said, “I got it Black.” The smile.. Always the smile with the work. I’m thinking people at S.H.A.P.E. Center was thinking, “Aren’t you supposed to be Djing a wedding Zin?”
So many Zins.
They say the memories you’ve created in your family and friend’s consciousness is what keeps your spirit alive once you transition. I think that Zin’s presence partly is what kept (us) alive or all the way live if you will. His return to the energy and light allows him to spread more of his energy to a greater amount of people and also reflect on our own purpose and light in our lives. I figure all of those Zins are all of the positives that were inside of us, that we couldn’t quite recognize, which is why we could recognize it in him. He was the trigger to turn on more of our inner light. I won’t lie to you. It hurts that he’s no longer with us physically as I type these words but if I was to think of all of those Zins, I realize everything I said about him in past tense is incorrect.
was is a servant to us and the community.
He is and will remain in the present tense. People say you can’t be in more than one place at the same time but I would disagree. If anyone could do it Zin could. He is still “Here” but not here. He is also there. He is like energy. Everywhere.
You inspired me brother Zin.
Thank you for being you and I will miss you brother.
Love you man.
Don’t forget to visit me, I know there are many other people who love you too and would also want a visit as well. I’m sure they all have a positive story to tell. (See what I did there Zin, spitting the rhymes) sigh……
My aunt always said to say see you later never good-bye. So I’ll say, see you later Zin.
Placing my right hand to my heart, where it remains open,
As I say ……….
Peace be with you.
Nathaniel Donnett is an interdisciplinary artist from Houston, Texas who is interested in human behavior and psycho-social concerns. Donnett is currently working out his “Dark Imaginarence” concept/manifesto soul theory, and is also the founder of “Not That But This.” You can find him at www.nathanieldonnett.com, https://twitter.com/artistik, and on facebook.