In 16 days, I will be graduating, equipped with a first-class education, four years of fun and growth, a political science degree, no immediately applicable job skills, and scant prospects for employment. I could sentimentally, sappily and predictably reflect upon the time I’ve spent in the A-Deuce, but that’s not my steez. I’d rather discuss the future.

Jason Pesick

I used to work at a Gap store near my home and could likely go back there seeking a job, but I don’t foresee happiness down the road if I spend years toiling as the Czar of the Khaki Wall. Besides, that would be a misallocation of my skills, because I excelled at folding T-shirts and running the “cash wrap” -that’s some industry lingo for the cash register. (I know, too inside.)

Aside from my dexterity folding assorted tops, I actually have few skills. I don’t know how to use HTML, I have no scientific training that will escort me toward a predetermined career, and my prior work experience has mostly endowed me with knowledge of what I don’t want to do. Really, I am only good at a few things: watching basketball, interviewing rappers, shopping (for almost anything, though, so don’t knock it), talking to people’s parents and imitating my grandmother Triple-B.

All of those qualities don’t do much for me unless I can find a job in broadcasting, writing, retail, fundraising or acting like a geriatric, yet few of those doors are open and I don’t even know where they are. However, having heard the Diplomats’ Diplomatic Immunity last week, I really am not too worried.

Before I proceed, let me bring the uninitiated up to speed: Rapper Jay-Z helped found a music label called Roc-a-fella Records. Spurred by Jay’s success, the Roc (I know, too inside) expanded and signed moderately talented Cameron Giles, who the kids call Cam’ron. Cam also brought his crew of idiot friends – collectively, they’re known as The Diplomats – to the Roc and made a record with them, the aforementioned Immunity. All of those friends are even less talented than “The Talent,” yet their record is selling and people seem to like them for reasons that either escape me or never even register.

But Joseph, why does this all matter? It matters because I’d like to follow Cam’s career blueprint – and really that of unfortunately too many MCs – and get a record deal for my friends and I despite our lacking talent.

To the skeptics out there who, upon reading the last sentence, are either laughing or scoffing, I ask that you both remember that style can often trump substance and read my motivating thought process, enumerated below, before judging my career plan as far-fetched or worse.

To begin, I’d like to assess all that qualifies me for a career as a hip-hop artist and leader of a crew. First, I already have a name picked out for my rhyming alter ego: JLitty. Second, I already have nicknames picked out for that nickname: Litty, JL, Joe Lit, and JLit. (Please note that once I blow up, my sister may lay proprietary claim to “JLit” much as the original “Biggie Smalls” did to his name when foiling the Notorious B.I.G. However, I was born before my sister and was JLit before she was in diapers, so don’t be fooled.) Third, I already have a crew, and not only that, but the gang fits many of the criteria for a successful rap posse:

It’s coed, so we can produce future Lil’ Kims in addition to the next generation of Memphis Bleeks and a full catalogue of rap songs with R&B hooks; it’s big, so we can demand a large assortment of opulent accommodations like frivolous tour buses; and it’s comprised of people who already have nicknames themselves, so we can all shout each other out in a confusing morass of synthetic identities.

To paraphrase the upcoming remix of our yet-to-be-made first single, Lee Mac, Tandy C, The Zwiggler, Jigga JB, Johnny School, Mike Scrotch, Dre-dub, R-dub, EHT, Em Easy, C Murder, BR, Super Stace, Lil’ Weasy, KP and The AlumnEye (CBrew and Kee-im) are all in the fornicating-with-your-mom house.

I still need to think of a name for the clique, but I’m leaning toward the Tribe, a sufficient moniker that is personally significant because it would pay homage to A Tribe Called Quest and my ethnic heritage. The debut album could be Members of the Tribe.

So what else qualifies us? Well, much like the Diplomats (remember, their schematic is mostly my inspiration), we are all breathing. More seriously, each of us is capable of butchering a hot beat with non-rhyming verses replete with asinine shout outs to peeps like the Taliban (don’t laugh, it’s true) and a jumble of incoherent phrases.

Need more convincing? Like the St. Lunatics, another crew of dubious merit, the Tribe can mispronounce words like it’s a job. In fact, that’s what we intend. Peep our underground joint “Airre Jordan XI’s.” Still need more? The bangin’ opening for our next song is, “Tribe in the house, son/Khmer Rouge runnin’ this shit.” After that, it continues with a bunch of bars that all rhyme because each ends in the word “fuck.” Not bad, huh?

Several other factors are also working in Tribe’s favor. We already have a clothing line, an endorsement deal with Andre Champagne and some movies about street hustlin’ due for straight-to-video release next year. They’re called “This Ain’t a Game” and “Keep It Gully, Ma” and both feature Tribe cameos and starring performances from William Zabka and Bokeem Woodbine.

Now all we need to do is hook up with Russell Simmons. Does anyone have my man’s two-way number?


– Joseph Litman bids farewell to his readers. But look for Tribe’s upcoming release or e-mail him at litmanj@umich.edu.

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