“You gotta make a decision on how you want to be remembered”
~Patrick ‘COMDOT’ Stuckey’
A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to not only perform at, but to bear witness to Patrick “COMDOT” Stuckey making his own history at his album release party for the three year in the making long-awaited CD entitled The Grey Maxell LP . But before there was a release party, there was an interview that took place on the grounds of the Indianapolis Art Museum between COMDOT and myself, of which I was able to learn a lot about the man, the artist and the album.
Stuckey has been working on this album for quite a while now or as he puts it “all my life”. He comes from a family of singers and also shares the talent himself, but he believes his true gift is hip hop. Someone once told him that he would NEVER be able to rhyme or make it as a rapper. He took those words as inspiration to make it happen. In 1999, he started off as a battle rapper with a lot of anger and frustration. He released an EP entitled “Pushing Dope”, of which he produced the whole album. In the time that has elapsed since then, Stuckey has endured several life changes and losses, growth and growing children that now look up to him. As with any great work of art-in-the-making, Stuckey has suffered more than his fair share of setbacks: corrupted files, trouble with other artists, studio issues and then the biggest issue that many of other artists can relate to: “I wasn’t ready.”
In August 2014, a bad car accident threatened to take him from hip hop for good. Friendships and the power of his own resilience were tested but that’s the thing about art. If it’s embedded in your soul, no matter what the mind tells us in the moment, stopping is hardly ever an option. Stuckey used the accident to step his focus up.
“This album is the first time I’ve done music where I’ve meshed both worlds together – the persona and the man”.
I’m of the belief that an artist can feel it in their soul in a distinct manner when it’s ‘time’ to birth their next (or first) project. For Stuckey, the time is now but before this could come into fruition he had to make a huge life decision: he packed up and left Indy for Charlotte, NC. He promised his son he would be back before his fourth birthday. He left with only $100 in his pocket and ran out of gas right at the Welcome to North Carolina sign. The plan: take a sabbatical from music and “touch home”, “kick back” and “reintroduce” himself to the his former community and ultimately reconnect with self. In effort to help keep focus off of music and free his mind, Stuckey, who is also a producer, went so far as to sell ALL of his music equipment in effort to break from the torment of it all. He immersed himself heavily into the apostolic church, attending services three days a week and “searching for enlightenment.”
“You have to isolate yourself,” he says.
After receiving the centering that he needed, Stuckey kept the promise he made to his son by returning prior his fourth birthday. The biggest lesson he got from his time in North Carolina: “It’s ok if you tell the truth. As long as you’re telling the truth and you’re helping someone by telling your truth. [It’s] your story, good or bad, just tell the truth.”
“It was a reset,” he says.
With that reset, he promised himself he would get back into music…seriously this time.
“…and we let the tape play”
COMDOT strives to be better than his predecessors. He considers himself a “student of the game” and has studied everyone from Nas, Big Daddy Kane and KRS-1 to Tupac and Biggie and of course many more.
“People who push boundaries inspire me,” he says. “I study them to find out what makes them great and what makes me great. It’s about being timeless. Every Mother’s Day I expect to hear Dear Mama. Every Halloween I expect to hear Thriller. You got records that stick with people. You got so many geniuses who aren’t here in the physical but their art is still revered. Their value has increased with time. You’re supposed to want to do something with your art.”
He also says that people need to put a higher demand on quality music and hold artists to a higher standard. “Stop chasing what everyone else is chasing. You as an artist have to purge yourself of any other influences,” he says. “There aren’t enough hip hop records for women (i.e. Keep Your Head Up by Pac and I Know I Can by Nas). I think you can give women empowerment. You got sisters, moms, you might have a daughter. Even if you don’t do it for the whole album, give them something.”
I couldn’t agree more.
We are living in an era of music where everything is microwaved and shipped to our ears as quickly as it was recorded. Beats are recycled, as are lyrics and flows and hip hop shows have become more of a mic mosh pit and less about quality lyrics and powerful energy. The Grey Maxell LP release party was devoid of those painful woes. The darkly lit room, which was rather cool due to the night’s air and small but open space, quickly filled with men and women both artists and fans. Kenny Kixx, DJ Metronome, Old Soul, Pope Adrian Bless, who also performed, were some of the faces I spotted. I stayed in the cut. I’m always in the cut. People tend to not know I’m in the room until I’ve appeared on the stage. I’m a ghost writer. * wink*
“I don’t believe in limitations.”
When asked what keeps him going, COMDOT says his children and the fact that he knows there are people who don’t want to see him succeed. He’s unwavering about his boys. “I’ve shown them too much about this not to follow through and deliver. They’ve seen the product, the shirts – I have to show them that if you can think it, you can do it.” He brought his kids into the studio with him during some of the recording for the album. “As a man, I can’t teach my kids that they can accomplish anything they want to if I don’t do things for myself and leave it on the table. The album is a blueprint for them. As they grow and go through things, they got to understand you have to come out of it.
COMDOT is adamant about raising future young men who know how to reach beyond the limits society will try to place upon them. He is also a stickler for the truth. Both of these passions, his children and his truth, are delivered on the Grey Maxell album, which is available now for downloading on Bandcamp (see flyer). “If you can look at yourself in the mirror and you lying and you can live with that, then there’s something wrong with that,” says COMDOT.
“When I say ‘COM’, yaw say ‘DOT’:
~12.16.15, The Grey Maxell Album Release Party
There weren’t many special guests (only a handful) and those who dared to step foot on the stage and warm it up for the main star did so gracefully. The lyrical content was stellar and full of substance, love and life. The presence of each performing artist, all MCs except myself, birthed the type of energy that creates fans and supporters. Once COMDOT took the stage after a series of chants of his name, he jumped right into paying tribute to his fallen brother, Skylar Jones and gave us a short background on the premise behind the album title.
“I alone am not the com dot; I’m just the spokesman for the network.”
The Grey Maxell LP is an experience. It is a venture into the mind of a man, an artist, a father, a brother and overall, a force of energy having a human experience. The difference between Stuckey the man and COMDOT the persona are joined in unison on this album and this was intentional. “The album itself is literally a tale of going from a boy to a man. I hope people that walk away with the album get a better picture of the man.” When listening to the album, you definitely get a picture of one man’s journey. From heartfelt tracks such as ‘Dear I’anah’ to inspirational songs (Our Song ft. Renee King whose vocals are an incredible addition) and the smooth sounds of ‘The Connect (remix)’, which has a beautiful Rakim-vibe to it, The Grey Maxell LP is definitely in a league of its own plays. It’s not something you want to skip. In fact, you WANT to listen to every song.
Remember when tapes were a thing? Remember the times we would listen to tapes until we broke them, only to perform cassette-surgery to get them in working condition again? During that era, the pursuit and passion of recording was full of urgency. Says Stuckey, “Back in the day of cassettes your album had to be dope because no one wants to fast forward through a whole project.” The album’s title was inspired by a series of things: the mixtapes both Stuckey and his father used to make (on grey Maxell tapes), a joint project that was supposed to happen years ago with producer D.R. Mayfield (who used to make beats on grey Maxell tapes) and finally the concept of creating a work of art that people don’t desire to get away from. He wanted to create a classic, timeless album with a lot of sweat, heart and soul.
Patrick ‘COMDOT’ Stuckey wanted to make the Grey Maxell LP a work of success. “Good health, good wealth, spiritual health, mental stability, genuine love [and] family; that’s success,” says Stuckey. He adds, “I just want people to have a closer relationship with the music again. I hope the Grey Maxell will fill the void because there is nothing out there that sounds like this album.”
And when you take a listen to the album that is exactly what you will receive from it: a feeling of success and an infectious relationship with the music and lyrics.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The Grey Maxell LP….it is available NOW!!!!!!!
***This article is in dedication to Skylar Jones, brother & executive producer on the album. #RestPeacefully