Our Town, Our Loss, Our Pain
Inspired by the harsh reality of Albany streets, rapper Pnal is bringing a message with his music, and his clothing.
If all you hear is negativity, you’ll start to listen to it. But if there’s a positive voice in the community someone will listen as well. Pnal, a rapper and businessman, from Albany is that community voice. He has started a company embracing the slogan #SoAlbany, with encouraging messages for the Capital City. Pnal has also joined S.N.U.G. (Should Never Use Guns) to show support for a city that has experienced an increase in gun violence over the last few years.
RRX: “Empty Bottles and Teddy Bears” is one of your songs that hits deep. At the corner store I frequent on 2nd Ave., there were empty bottles and teddy bears but after a while the memorial was cleared and a few weeks later another one was set up for someone else in the same spot. I care and I know you care. Does anybody else care? I really don’t know.
Pnal: Out of sight, out of mind, man. There’s this one song, I said “ten memorials, eight block radius, whole bunch of churches in a land full of atheists.” You know what I’m saying? People don’t believe in God. No wonder why we conversate outside and only go to church when somebody that we love dies. Somebody just got killed two days ago.
RRX: I know
Pnal: Every time somebody gets killed I know someone that knows the victim. It always hits home. I didn’t know him personally but it hits home for me.
RRX: I know you don’t have the answer but you’re addressing it and that’s what I feel is important. You’re putting a message out there.
Pnal: I’ve always been about peace, my music is about peace. I’m not gonna say there’s more violence now than there was before but the violence that used to happen years ago had meaning behind it; not saying it’s justifiable but you know there was a reason. Now it’s the slightest thing. A lot of people are getting shot by accident.
RRX: See, I remember the uptown/downtown rivalries growing up in Albany. I look at it like this, you live downtown because that’s where your parents could afford to live and you live uptown for the same reason. Now what happens when a downtown kid’s family moves uptown?
Pnal: I’ve been telling these young boys, you’re not from uptown, you just happen to live uptown. Right now there’s a kid from the other side and it just so happens he’s living in the heart of where the people are that he’s beefing with. That’s a nightmare.
RRX: Yeah it’s a nightmare.
Pnal: I was born and raised downtown but once I moved out, I moved uptown. I became a father at the age of eighteen, so I wasn’t caught up with hanging out with people from downtown. I was all about I’ve got to pay bills and I got to do what I got to do to support my family. I’m a father of six now, that’s my detour, my diversion from the streets. I wasn’t in the streets heavy once my son was born, I’m more of a father now.
Thing is, I did wrong, I committed crimes I got away with only to turn around and have my first born commit a crime and go to prison. He’s in prison right now for seven years. We come from a place where we say mind your own business, just raise your home. We can’t do that no more. You could talk to your son until you’re blue in the face, the minute he steps out of your house, he has ten other people telling him the total opposite of what you just told him. So the only way to try to change that norm is to talk with the ten people’s parents outside of your household. More community-base, ya know? Remember when we were young, we used to get beaten neighbors, aunts, grandmothers, everything.
My real name’s Anquan, my son’s name is Anquan McLean Jr. He used to play basketball for Green-Tech and Albany High. Dunking off of people, I can show you.
I could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice, that Pnal was greatly affected by his son’s absence. He proceeded to put on game highlights from his son’s short-lived basketball career. He wasn’t kidding Anquan Jr. was on the fast track to basketball stardom.
RRX: Seems like a good kid.
Pnal: He is, just started hanging with the wrong kid you know? My son came home from college hung with the wrong kid, made a bad choice. Took him out of college, it was heartbreaking.
RRX: You still got to be real proud.
Pnal: Of course. We all make mistakes. That’s my son, it is hard man and Facebook always reminds me, memories. I’ll be in the best mood, laughing, carrying on having a good time then I’ll go on Facebook and see a picture of my son and me at a basketball game.
RRX: I want to shift gears for a minute. Don’t get me wrong, gangsta rap can be really entertaining but I’m listening to these young rappers and I am honestly afraid for their safety. What they are doing and saying on camera scares the hell out of me.
Pnal: Coming out of your house every day that’s what you are subject to. Just being around these kids, you can tell what they’re around all day. All they talk about is guns, guns, guns. They’re fascinated by it. They talk about killing others, it’s crazy and then it happens.
RRX: I’m not gonna lie when I was a kid and I listened to gangsta rap, I thought guns were cool because this is what we were being taught.
Pnal: You see it in the movies, you see it on TV shows, you hear about it in music then it’ll hit home for you. Somebody close, you might notice your brother or your friend has one, you feel like it is cool and you need one too, for no reason at all.
RRX: So you’ve just started a clothing business and what’s unique is your gear has positive messages for Albany.
Pnal: Right now, I feel like I’m in a situation where I able to teach my kids something and not just work for the next thing. If it’s successful, I can pass it down. I can’t tell my boss I’m sick and I’m dying, can my son take my position? We’re taking this #SoAlbany wave and we’re gonna push it. I’ve actually got a website we’re working on right now and the person designing it asked, “What do you want the people to grasp from your website?” Accountability. This is where I’m from, I wear it on my sleeve so you see it. Vegan Delicatessen Student Discounts Available TROY 4th & Ferry Street ALBANY 227 Lark Street I take pride and ownership in it. This is me. I even said that in a song too. I am Albany, no disrespect I’m not saying you’re not Albany too. You’re from where I am from let’s let people know we exist.
Keep a look out for new music from Pnal entitled The Mayor “Final Term” coming soon! And follow the hashtag #SoAlbany
Originally Posted in the Xperience from RadioRadioX