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LEVEL
Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

Life Lessons

In LEVEL. More on Medium.

The energy can’t be duplicated

“New Jack City.” Photo: Warner Bros.

New Jack City makes me feel nostalgic.


The truth will set us free — it will also help us heal

Photo: Nicole Baster via Unsplash

There are two types of parents: carpenters and gardeners.


What I first considered a failure became an asset

Photo: Naruemon Mondee/EyeEm/Getty Images

Everyone will fail at something at some point in their lives, but failure need not be a death sentence.


Sometimes the best lessons come from the bumps and bruises along the way

Photo: Ragan Henderson

In a year that has seen musicians scrambling to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic — which disrupted both touring and recording, not to mention wreaking havoc on release schedules — Hit-Boy has had one of the best stretches of his career.


We’ll get through these problems just like billions have before us — together

Photo: kupicoo/Getty Images

2020 was supposed to be my year.


How a traumatic encounter with a racist police officer 26 years ago still affects my life

Police with man on the ground
Police with man on the ground
Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Milpitas, California, was a strange place to grow up. With a population of 50,000 at the time, it was a small town by Bay Area standards. Located just north of San Jose and 45 minutes or so from San Francisco, Milpitas used to be a factory town, but the Ford plant closed years before my family moved there, leaving a host of environmental issues in its wake.


The toughest part of being strong is admitting when you need help

Photo: Tetra Images/Getty Images

Mortality isn’t a thought that usually crosses your mind in your twenties. But I found myself face to face with it a couple of days before my 29th birthday.


I am Black and White. My last name is Gray. And I exist in the middle.

Dad & me.
Dad & me.
The dudes. Photo: Shiloh Gray

As a kid growing up in upstate New York, my skin color was an anomaly.


The thing about rock bottom is that it gives you the perfect view of where to go next

Photos: Arvia D. Walker

When I was about 15 years old, my mother bought me a suede shearling jacket from Burlington Coat Factory. It was two sizes too big but I didn’t mind; this was the early ’00s, when there was a direct positive correlation between flyness and the degree to which you were swallowed by your clothes. Eventually, the jacket went out of style and into the closet, and wouldn’t see light again until I rediscovered it in college. It was still comically large but I decided to give it a shot anyway.

I lived on dollar store hot links and TV dinners…

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