Tag Archives: Uncle Nef

Uncle Nef: Love Songs

EDITOR’S NOTE: I did it again. I wrote a lot. See the review of Uncle Nef’s Love Songs album far after the jump. Catch the whole album here.

It’s been over 13 years since I first moved from Alabama to New Orleans to attend college. Most people ask “Loyola?” No. “Tulane?” Helllllll no. I landed in New Orleans at the University of New Orleans (UNO) one week before the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

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Yours truly, wearing low rise jeans. Probably making bad decisions. Mardi Gras, 2009

It would be remiss for me to not mention that New Orleans was, as many of you who weren’t there have forgotten or didn’t know, very much still a mess a year after Katrina (and several years following that). Military Police regularly patrolled the campus and the city. There was still a curfew. The piles of debris stood 15+ feet high on the neutral grounds. Groves of trees stood, bent at disturbing angles (imagine an entire forest that’s been mowed down by a Godzilla-size monster truck). Many of my friends lost their homes, schools, churches, cars, contents of their homes, and general memories. Many friends lost family members, pets, and friends. Many lived in FEMA trailers for months. Many got sick from the chemicals in the FEMA trailers. A guy got murdered in our dorm building the first semester, and, I believe, his murder was never solved. New Orleans was ranked #1 on the FBI’s list of cities with the most murders per capita in the U.S. for 3/4 of the years I lived there. Beyond these very real problems, I was a general wreck– homesick, in a doomed long-distance relationship, a bit rudderless, and having many, what I now call, “youthful indiscretions”.

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New Orleans (August 30, 2005) – U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Shawn Beaty of Long Island, N.Y., looks for survivors in the path of Hurricane Katrina as he flies in an HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter over New Orleans. Petty Officer Beaty is a member of an HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew sent from Clearwater, Florida, to assist in search and rescue efforts. Katrina, a Category 4 hurricane, came ashore at approximately 6:10 a.m. CDT near the Louisiana bayou town of Buras. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nyxo Lyno Cangemi (Source: https://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=27531)

It was a Very Bad Time™, but is there a more poetic city and time to be a wreck in? Absolutely not in the U.S., but I think Detroit was a close second. If you would like to more fully understand the events leading up to and occurring after Hurricane Katrina, I highly recommend Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke .

While home on my first winter break from college, I remember finding a Word document that was a letter my mother wrote and presumably sent to my grandma with words I’ll never forget: “I still don’t understand why she wanted to go down there.” It was a fair question that she never ended up asking me aloud.

And why did I want to go “down there”?

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