By Demarcus Robinson (@DocIsChief)
The second installment of my Top 10 series features Yu (@YucciMane) giving insight into the things we tweet, but then forget about. I’m pretty sure I started following Yu after seeing many of his captivating tweets RT’d by @DacPlanet from installment one. I now consider Yu one of my Twitter homies, and we participate in multiple subgroups. He’s never had a wack Tweet, and I wanted to see why. This is a longer Q & A but I didn’t want to break it up, because it needs to be consumed as a whole.
My questions will be in bold, and his responses will be in plain text.
How does Twitter enhance your life?
Twitter doesn’t enhance life directly – Twitter reveals life. This revelation may enhance your life depending on how you feel about ideas like the truth and honesty and shit like that.
Do you ever find your Twitter life clashing with your real life, or are they the same?
Twitter is real life but Twitter also isn’t real life. It clashes and it doesn’t clash if you know what I mean. For instance, I’ll be sitting in traffic and think of a Tweet – did that clash with real life? Yes. But did it really? Nah, cause I was still sitting in traffic.
How would you describe your style of tweeting?
I don’t think you can describe your style of Tweeting without describing your style of life. My Twitter is a reflection of self, sometimes even truer than self because it is words. So my style of Tweeting is illumination and self knowledge through each tweet. I try to be self reflexive and hold the mirror up and reveal some sort of truth. It all goes back to reflection and truth (on Twitter, on IRL though).
What role do you play within your sphere of influence on Twitter?
On a pragmatic level, amongst younger Tweeters, I try to give the advice and encouragement that I would have liked to receive back when I was young and reckless. But amongst Twitter in general, I try to provide some levity because Twitter can be very instantaneous and off the cuff which causes some to misrepresent themselves. I’m not impulsive IRL so I try to maintain that poise from real life into Twitter life cause once you Tweet something, it’s there forever. On an abstract level, I try to hold a mirror to Twitter and try to give the discussion of what is self knowledge, what is destiny within Twitter. As I said earlier, I try to hold that mirror into my Tweets. I want to make people aware that they are on Twitter or Instagram and examine the influence of these social media constructs not only in our real life but also our Twitter or Instagram life. That’s why I end several Tweets with “on Twitter” because we are on Twitter. So how does being avs with 140 characters on Twitter affect being avs with 140 characters on Twitter and how does that statement affect our relationship with Twitter.
[Note, I forgot to ask Yu if he mean Avitars with “avs”, I’ll clear this up]
You seem to have a lot of abstract ideas. Is that a concentrated effort?
Nah, abstraction is something that has driven me since kindergarten. I’m driven by ideas and theories which is why “Moneyball” (the movie not the book) had such a profound effect on me. Brad Pitt, what an actor, and Bennett Miller is on some next level quietly profound tip. Anyways, I wrote this down on a napkin in a coffee shop earlier today after reading this article in the New Yorker about politics – “The key to life is to balance theory with real life” which for me means that you can have all these ideas and live in your head but at the end of the day, it’s the real life influence which is what matters. You can be all about OBP [On Base Percentage] or usage percentage or whatever but when you step off your computer and go out into the world and hang out with friends or strangers, all that is thrown out the window and all that remains is a human being talking to another human being. So abstraction on Twitter yes, but real life on Twitter as well.
You’re part of the #ArticleSquad. Do you ever view Twitter as a platform to promote the dopeness of reading?
Absolutely and it’s an example of trying to use the influence of Twitter in a positive manner. Obviously there is one person in particular who is anti-reading but reading is still my #1 most important activity outside of Twitter or Instagram because it’s a silent, personal pursuit and ultimately knowledge and truth is a lone, existential journey. Especially in this world of mass voice, those silences become ever more meaningful and poignant, and the ability to separate what’s really important from what’s not is the new skill, is the new wingspan. But we can have passengers, co-pilots along the way, what I call the Sherpas of knowledge as we guide each other along our journey. Like that article Wright Thompson wrote that we all shared, that was real. That was life, and we talked about it on Twitter and FB.
How important is it for movements similar to #ArticleSquad to progress?
It’s important because it can illuminate life. In this internet world, what gets attention? What goes viral? Again, going back to levity, I think it’s important to provide another aspect to it because funny videos are funny and worth sharing or talking about, but what about those moments looking into the mirror? We can use funny videos to LOL but we can use #ArticleSquad to reflect internally with the right articles, and that way we all have the full experience – the immediate entertainment and also the thinking part too. You’ve got to have Pippen to go along with Jordan, and then you can win those life titles.
Would it be safe to label one of your loves to be shoes?
Absolutely, especially because as discussed earlier, I tend to live in a world of abstraction. Shoes are a physical manifestation of an abstract idea, and it’s really dope that there are several brands with their own aesthetic, from the boxy mechanical-ness of New Balances to whatever Nike has up their sleeve. I see it like the film industry – NB’s and Saucony are like the independent films – like “Killer Joe” or some Soderbergh movie. Then Nike and Adidas, with their technological arms race, are like sci-fi movies, their shoes look like “Prometheus” or “Cloud Atlas”. And you run the gamut. That’s what’s really dope to me about shoes – it fills that art niche for me but you can physically touch and wear these shoes. Again, shoes are the middle ground between theory/ideas (light weight, Volt colors) and pragmatism (you can wear it and look good).
P.S. If I could wear books and novels, I would.
What do shoes mean to you in the physical sense? In the metaphysical sense?
Going back to my last response, in a physical, pragmatic sense, shoes are dope. Like “look at these KD IVs” or “I have these shoes on, ask me where I got them”. In the metaphysical sense, it’s the manifestation of an idea. Shoes design speaks its own language. Like in books, you can say “the author, through character development and foreshadowing, meant this”. But in metaphysical shoe design, the language is in the lines, in the colors. Strict angles mean something, it’s meant to move something inside you. Wavy lines, like on the Air Max 95s, are another conversation. I had difficulty with this at first because I want my conversation to be spoken in words – here is my main character, he symbolizes the good in life, or whatever. But there are a million ways to communicate, a million types of languages, often innate, to get across an idea, and that in itself is so dope cause there are a million ways to be an artist and express something. When I see a dope shoe design, I can’t put it into words but I just know there’s something there. And that’s a term that me and my friends used when we first stepped outside our boundaries and found real, true freedom in creativity – there’s something there, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s significant and important. Besides, language is a cultural construct anyways, smh.
I’ve noticed you have a very descriptive way of writing about shoe release on Digital Refrain. Can you talk about your creative process and why you choose certain songs for readers to play in the background?
I’m in and out of shoe releases because I think shoes are dope and I think waiting in line is dope but from a distant perspective, it looks ridiculous. It all adds to the “lol smh-ification” of life. Like with the Yeezy 2 release, there were people walking by like “what is this large line for” and we said “a shoe” and they were like “smh”. So that was a bit absurd and if I had a sociologist lid on, I’d smirk a bit. But at the same time, those Yeezy 2’s meant something to a lot of people so you have to take it seriously. Again, it’s the levity, hitting that middle ground. What were we all doing that summer day of the Yeezy 2 release? We woke up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday, and waited five hours to buy a lottery ticket for some shit we had very little chance of getting, smh. But then again, what were we all doing that summer day of the Yeezy 2 release? Waiting in line for a symbol of childhood ambitions, future goals, how to be really dope in 2012, something physical that represented that moment in shoe culture. I try to see things from both sides but at the end of the day, I try to see how these single events or items are reflective of the larger movement and conversation. As for the song selection, I try to pick moody, atmospheric pieces because my favorite moments in movies are those juxtapositions with some classical music in the back. That’s why I’m down with “Friday Night Lights”. So in that sense, having something epic sounding with the reading makes the experience of reading more similar to “Friday Night Lights”.
You participate in a fair amount of hip-hop discussions. What rapper and or producer would you say best describes you as a tweeter?
Okay so I described my tweeting as a mirror into the self but not through discussion but by holding a mirror to what I tweet, self-reflexive within the genre. So I’m going to look at the deconstructionists of hip hop. MF Doom immediately stands out because he creates his own world with its own logic, it’s got to be someone like that. MF Doom creates his own rules and constructs – he’s gonna rap about food so here it goes. And it all makes sense. Then probably Jay Electronica cause he’s a deconstructionist as well. If I were a rapper, I’d be like that – I’d create my own world through language and logic, then seek to tear it apart because that is how you gain self knowledge. Ghostface is like that but I’m not as hyper as Ghost on Twitter. Rza and Gza are like that too. I can’t say who I’d be if I were a producer but my favorites are Pete Rock, Premier, and Shadow. Producers who create an entire story through one sound. But that has nothing to do with how I tweet.
You’re considered a member of #BasketballTwitter, but you remain above the fray. What’s your secret?
I don’t look too much into it cause at the end of the day, we respect each others’ knowledge of the sport and that’s what holds #BasketballTwitter together. Cause what are we – we are a group of people who met on Twitter talking basketball with the same sense of humor and perspective. That’s what I take from it. What came first – #BasketballTwitter or ourselves? Ourselves. And no matter what group we are labeled under, people like you, me, Dac or whoever will have conversations. #BasketballTwitter is a social construct but the individual can never be torn down. We are not defined by a group – we define ourselves as individuals.
You’re amongst a group of Portland area tweeters, and I enjoy all of them. What is it about that area that produces solid tweeters?
Like everything else in life, I think that the group of Portland Twitter accounts represents something larger within the culture of the city and surrounding areas. From “Portlandia” to the beer to the coffee shops to the bicycles, these cultural traits also push people to use Twitter. It’s a part of the individual culture – people are on Twitter. Secondly, I think it’s a representation of the personal relationships people here have with the Blazers since it is the only pro sport in the big 3 (also look at Timbers/UO Twitter). Thirdly, Portland Twitter accounts are often laid back and have that perspective which enables a tone which recognizes simultaneously how interesting yet absurd certain parts of culture here can be. Twitter here makes sense – my question is how did Twitter blow up in Fuquay-Varina?
Man, I’m not even sure. That seems to be the hotspot.
Instagram, what does it mean to you?
Instagram tells its own story. Like I talked about with shoes and how that enables its own conversation, Instagram is its own genre of conversation. Like how messing with the filters changes the meaning of the photo – you can make it blurry, you can make it colorful, or my favorite, you can make things much sterner, clearer, and poignant. It is its own truth, and I’m not talking about taking self portraits. I’m saying if I take a photo of a sidewalk and add an Instagram filter, there is truth in that. Practically speaking, it’s allowed me to see everyday life in all parts of the world – Tokyo, London, St. Petersburg, wherever. And it’s cool seeing the mundane life – like some follower lives in London, arguably the economic and cultural capital of the world, and here they are Instagramming their bike locked up against a rack. Yeah, they live in this large bustling metropolis with billionaires and all that but you can’t get away from having to live life and doing all the shit we all have to do each day.
Does Twitter have the perfect symbiotic relationship with Instagram?
I think both have the perfect symbiotic relationship with real life. You have Twitter for written communication, Instagram for visual communication, and real life for verbal communication. All you need then is Spotify or Youtube for music and that’s the Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham and Psycho Sid of social media sensory. I don’t think Twitter has a perfect symbiotic relationship with Instagram because it goes one way – you can Tweet out Instagram photos but you can’t have Twitter convos on Instagram.
You have been known to stand in line on shoe release days, but you recently tweeted you’ll be in line this Friday for the iPhone 5. What are your expectations for the event?
I have no expectations cause I’m not as hyped on the iPhone 5 as I was with the Yeezy 2’s, because I know that I’ll get the iPhone 5 eventually. Whether it’s this Friday or it’s next month, I’ll get that phone. I do want to observe and be apart of this iPhone 5 event because again, it’ll reveal a truth about society in general. I just have to discover what that truth is for myself on Friday so yeah, I’ll be there and I’ll live Tweet it. That’s if I can get up in time lol.
You rock an iPhone 3GS currently, and once stated “The S makes it real”. How real will things be when you make the jump to the 5?
Dude, it’s not even gonna be in the same universe. I’ma go straight from reading books on the Gutenberg press to flying in a spaceship landing on Mars. Instagram, Twitter, FB, Tumblr, all that. I haven’t been able to download or update an app in months cause no one makes apps for the 3GS anymore. I’ve been drawing circles in caves while I see peers on their Adobe Creative Suites. The screen is gonna make it real, it’s gonna be like reading texts in Imax. To have the ability to zoom into photos? I’ma pick life apart, one max zoom at a time.
How will the iPhone 5 impact these three things for you: life, Twitter and Instagram?
Life – it’ll make things clearer, more dramatic. That larger screen is gonna do some things with me visually cause they say the smallest details make the biggest impact. I’ma be looking at stuff from a cinematic perspective cause right now, with my 3GS, it’s like I’m seeing stuff with those TVs with the rabbit ears. The iPhone 5 gonna be the 80 inch screen with the surround sound plus the couch. As for Twitter, I expect my Tweets to be much more cinematic to reflect this new vision. Right now, I’m Tweeting like Charlie Chaplin, like due to the lack of cinematic clarity I have to move and form shapes with my language. With the iPhone 5, it’s gonna be more of “The Matrix”, something visionary, the “Prometheus” in real life. And Instagram is where I expect the most dramatic change because now I’ll have a x-ray vision into life and what makes my world work. So many of my photos are blurry or dark, I look at some of my pictures and just smh, like this is my POV?
Which tweeters do you admire the most and why?
I fuck with so many tweeters and I can’t necessarily say I admire the people I tweet the most because I fuck with them heavily on a friend level. Like do you ever sit back and say “I admire my friend X”? I mean, I guess when you get down to it and think about it like you gotta give a best man speech at a wedding, you have to deconstruct and think about it but on a normal, everyday basis, your friends are your friends. That mutual respect and admiration is unspoken and already accounted for or else there would be no friendship. In general, I admire tweeters who take chances in their everyday life, who stay true to themselves, who are able to articulate an interesting perspective, who are good people – the same traits that I admire and respect in real life. I can’t pick just one cause I talk to so many Twitter accounts. Also I can’t let anyone know I admire them cause this is chess not checkers and when it gets real I can’t have it turn into an Avon/Stringer type situation, lol.
When you get to 1,000 followers will you forget about us?
Nah cause age ain’t nothing but a number and a number ain’t nothing but a number. You can never forget about your Twitter friends before you made it to the threshold. I’ve heard 1,000 followers is a magical place, like it’s the point of no return. You can quit right now and get out of the game but 1,000 followers is like the second NBA contract. Yeah we all signed for rookie deals but who made it far enough to get that six years, 80 million dollar extension with a player option. Right now, I’m starting my third year in the league and I averaged eight points off the bench the previous year and just got moved into the starting lineup – can I step up into the role, word to Nic Batum? Can I get 16 points a game this year and add that jumper to make myself really effective? Or am I gonna rest on my laurels, and just sign some three year five million dollar deal with some other team and keep it moving, and that will be what I am. 1,000 followers means crossing that line, and once you go, you can’t turn back. That is where character and personal strength come into play. It’s like when what is being observed changes the thing being observed. Under 1,000 followers means you aren’t getting game planned for so you can have your 14 off put backs. When I had 20 followers, no one gave a shit. But you know what? Sometimes you choose Twitter, sometimes Twitter chooses you. In this life, truth and ultimately meaning and happiness is the red pill. So if I reach 1,000 followers and I ain’t shit, I wanna know that. Cause with 800 followers, you can hide – you can hide behind lineman or whatever and get your eight catches while the defense focuses on Mike Wallace. But take off all the shine and let’s see if the emperor has clothes.
Will you kick it with Slightly Factual in the future for a second installment?
Of course. #Article Squad and #WarOnReading for Twitter life.
Stay tuned for the remaining 8, and feel free to comment or share.