Posts Tagged With: Los Angeles

Complex T.O.N.E.z – One


Part I – The Journey

CAM05088

I thought it never rained in SoCal?

It was an unusually heavy downpour that dreary Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles. Unusual in the sense that this was the most significant amount of rain we’d had in L.A. County since drought conditions were declared just a few months earlier. I was on my way to meet T.O.N.E-z at the studio where he was shooting the video for his latest single, “My Baby Girl, ft. Alicia Witt”.

My oldest son, Maurice Jr., and I drove under ominous looking gray skies – and among even more ominously questionable drivers.  We marveled at the transparent sheets of rain as they drifted across the highway, casting a thick layer of water against the windshield with a dull swoosh. My frantically swinging windshield wipers were desperately – and sometimes ineffectively – trying to push away the water and provide a safe field of vision. Being born and raised in Los Angeles, I’ve seen my fair share of rain. I was pretty confident of my ability to get us from the South Bay to our final destination – an unmarked studio tucked away in the small upscale neighborhood of Windsor Square.

40 minutes into what would normally be a 15 minute drive, I asked my son if we should trudge on or turn back and head home. I called Joel and asked him if the shoot was still happening. Yeah, the rain was coming down THAT hard. But he assured me that everything was still a go, and to be honest, the rain was actually fascinating. There was so much water everywhere that we almost felt like we were in a submarine. Plus, I wanted to meet T.O.N.E-z, whose family includes pioneering MCs T La Rock and Special K of the Treacherous Three. And so, we pressed on…

I was able to expertly navigate the flooded intersection of Western Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard before coming to a stop on 3rd Street. I turned to my son and watched him as he shot brief glances through the water pouring down the passenger door window before turning his attention back to his marathon texting,  while also periodically checking to see if he’d had any increase of followers on Vine.

When we arrived at what I thought was our destination, we couldn’t find the building. A quick call to Joel and we discovering that the address he was initially given was wrong. So after a little finagling, we figured it all out and finally pulled up to an unassuming, brick, storefront building just as there was a break in the rain.

Getting out of the car, I saw a guy leaning against the stone wall of an inset door frame. “Is that the guy you were talking to on the phone?”, my son asked pointing out the window. “No,” I said. “That’s not Joel. That, is T.O.N.E.-z,” I said, recognizing him from his Facebook page

1623727_795278983820142_459745999_n

Check out his Facebook page! Click the photo!

“T.O.N.E.-z?,” I said as we approached him. “Yeah,” he said coolly, with a friendly nod. “Glad you guys made it. Come on in.”

And so, we did…

Categories: music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Heart Brakes


“Nothing warms the heart quite like brake lights in the morning.”

My commute the last few days has been horrible. I leave my house at 6:45am and I get to work after 8:00am. You’d think I lived in another state and not just a little over 15 miles. :-/

Categories: personal, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who Am I?


My name is Maurice. All of my family and many of my friends call me Riis (pronounced Reese). So please, if you’ve friended/followed me or have been friended/followed, feel free.  I was born, raised and still reside in the County of Los Angeles, California.  I come from a Pentecostal Christian family with parents who have been happily married for 48 years. Their story is from where I draw my deep understanding of commitment and devotion. I am the youngest of 4 children with 2 brothers and one adopted sister who’s exactly 6 months older than me. I grew up in what used to be called the infamous South Central part of Los Angeles. Yes, I’ve seen drive-bys. I’ve been shot at. I’ve been involved in school brawls that included more than 50 people. And I’ve had family members murdered. But neither me, nor anyone from my family has ever been in a gang. Your learn quickly to adjust to your environment and how to survive the set of circumstances you’re dealt.

I am a husband and father. I have 5 children, 4 boys and 1 girl. My oldest 2 boys are from a previous marriage that lasted from June 4, 1994 to March 3, 2001. It was especially painful to be in court on Valentine’s Day 2001 as the judge handed me the papers granting us a dissolusion of marriage that would take effect in less than 3 weeks time. I have always been, and continue to be an advocate for marriage. My current marriage began on August 7, 2004. Dre and I will be happily celebrating our 8th anniversary this year. The difference between the two is like night and day. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating… I used to think relationships like this only existed in movies. You know, the flirty looks, giddy teasing, full of adventure, romance between two like-minded people who began as best friends and ended up as lovers. That’s us. She is, in a word, extraordinary. In my eyes no woman will ever compare.

I am a musician. Music is my passion. I dream music. When I hear music I can literally see the movement of the notes, the syncopation and the various instruments used. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a type of synesthesia. Music literally conjures images in my head. It is a part of me as much as breathing. I began playing the piano at age 7. It wasn’t that my parents felt that all of us kids should learn an instrument. No, that wouldn’t be interesting at all.  It all started because the brand new piano my parents bought for my older brother to practice on, sat in our living room untouched because he grew bored with the lessons he previously begged for.  I, on the other hand, was fascinated by this monsterous noise maker and decided that since no one else was using it, I’d teach myself to play. And I did. Slowly but surely I went from finger pecks to two-hand quad-chords. I have never had a formal lesson, but I’ve been a studio session musician, played in a few bands, and on good days I can play circles around some trained musicians. I have also taught myself to play the drums, guitar and a little trumpet.

I am a thespian. I won a trophy in a Cal-Poly Pomona Shakespear Festival in the Male Monologue category at age 16. I was Marc Antony from Julius Caesar. I have been in plays, on TV and even in movies. Never as the lead, but with enough exposure to put together a pretty impressive bio if I wanted to pursue it full-time. But I don’t. It’s not the life I wanted to lead, although it was fascinating getting a glimpse into that world.  Plus, it afforded me a SAG card which comes with its own perks. The acting comes in handy with everyday life at times. I can be quite convincing when I need to be, but I never abuse this talent.

I am a writer. I’ve been blogging since early 2001. Writing is probably second on my list of passions. I love to write and express myself in the written (or typed) word. I am not a grammer nazi, but my eyes are often automatically drawn to what I consider blatant typos in professionally published material.  I know the difference between accept and except, and I can give you the what-for in regards to new words being added to the dictionary, like noob, l33t or bootylicious.

I could go on and on about the various ingredients that were combined to make me who I am today. But at least that’s a beginning. If there’s anything that may have stirred up a follow-up question, feel free to ask me. My life is transparent.

Riis

Categories: personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Pivot Point


Living in Los Angeles, there are probably very few people who haven’t at some point in their lives dreamed of being famous.  You know… face plastered on billboards all over town or your contagious song on the radio.  I’ve been fortunate to experience many extraordinary things over the years… two albums (do NOT ask me the names, I will NOT tell you), movies (VH1, but hey it still counts), and TV commercials (Coca-Cola, KFC, McDonalds… FYI jingles make a TON of money), among others.  For the most part, I’ve always been two steps shy of the spotlight. At any moment I could easily have stepped into the hot glaring lights of Who’s Whoville. Ran through the Hollywood scene with reckless abandon.  Schmooze at houses with bathrooms bigger than my backyard.  But with all of the things that I’ve seen, read or personally experienced, I’ve come to the conclusion that fame was the last thing I ever wanted.

I told this story a couple years ago about a very well-known, highly respected (and still active) industry exec who told me, “Riis! I will make you a star!  We’ll make your album and feature it in all of the movies I work on and you’ll guest spot on every single TV show I supervise.  Just sign on the dotted line…”

I never did.

I knew everything he said was probably true.  But the cost was far more than I was willing to pay. I’ve seen what fame & celebrity has done to people.  People I know personally.  There’s absolutely no privacy.  Increased instability for my kids who already have enough to contend with just trying to be kids. The constant traveling and being pulled in several directions at once. I realized back then that in all of my pursuing, I wasn’t chasing a desire to be famous, but simply… a desire to be liked.  I wanted to feel special.  I wanted people to look at me with the awe that comes with seeing a child prodigy, getting a book signed by their favorite author or scoring backstage passes to a sold out show.  I wanted to feel wanted.

But you know what you get with fame? You get criticized… you get judged… you get picked apart for everything you do… you become the subject of asinine headlines like “Riis Addicted to Starbucks” or “Riis’ Marriage On The Brink Of Failure! Drinks Red Bull To Calm Frayed Nerves!”  And then you realize that the affirmation is fleeting.  This industry is fickle.  Jealousy overshadows your accomplishments.  People have unrealistic expectations of how you should act and who you should be.  Close relationships begin to fall apart because you just don’t have the time to invest in them like you should. Then one day you find yourself sitting alone reflecting on your records and awards… contemplating how you’d willingly trade them all to get back those things you’ve lost.

I’m not saying this is what fame looks like for everyone, but when he placed that contract in front of me and I looked at my future… this is what I saw.  And I was thankful that in a sense, at that moment I was at the pivot point… a chance to rewind.  I could choose now to trade that successful but empty future for a different one.  The one I have now.

When I take stock of all that I have, I recognize that it’s everything I ever truly wanted.  I’m not just liked, I am loved… by my wife, my kids, my family and close friends.  Sometimes my children look at me with awe and think that I know the answer to everything.  I’m recognized for my skills and talents at work, with colleagues and fellow artists.  My wife wants and affirms me everyday.  And you know… if I never win a Grammy or an Oscar, I’ve acquired something far more valuable… fulfillment.

Categories: family, personal, relationships, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: