Josey Rose Duncan

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How 2 make a Drake: A collaborative art show



Collaboration is a chance for me, as a writer, to be part of creating something I would never be able to make on my own; to tell a story through multiple mediums, through different perspectives. To yawn, stretch, and reach my writing arms out wider than they could go on their own.


“How 2 make a Drake” is a narrative art show about duality; racism and anti-Semitism; love; and how Biblical narratives play out in pop culture. My partner, Jonathan Carroll aka SUPERCHIEFJERONIMO!, the genius artist who proposed this concept and that we collaborate, created the show’s 18 visual pieces; I wrote 18 accompanying vignettes (well, I wrote nearly 18—a few are just Drake quotes).

We debuted Jonathan’s art on September 4th, 2015 at the Trap x Art group show at Monroe SF.

Some visual selections are below as well as my 18 written pieces—and you can check out our website to see the full show—but I hope you get to see the whole show in real life very, very soon.





Step 1. He wasn’t human. When you stand near him you hear a whirring, whirring sound. A dull beep, beep, beep. His eyes were oil-dark but there was light behind them.

Step 2. Second soul, reincarnated soul, second being of the girl behind the bookcase, second World War’s sweetheart, second sweet girl (after the fact). Skin grows rosy with every smile, with every bag of cement, every snuck morsel of bread beneath the infirmary walls. Where we lay, shivering. Where we lay, scratching with caked-dirt nails.

Step 3. He was sent there to kill her. Ultimate weapon. Eyes dark as oil but there was light behind.

Step 4. “I wrote to you long before they forged you, from iron and microchips. I wrote to you from under the clattering hummeri, hip-bones; beneath lice. I wrote to tell you where to find me. I was prepared to rest for centuries under dusty skeletons, turning light enough to be wind-carried, to be smoke.”


Step 5. Designated weapons-grade, the ultimate weapon, Hitler’s wettest dream, never made in his image, of him but never-him, every thing he dreamed of being but never was, every thing he hated, every thing he feared, he made. He was sent there to kill her but they forgot one thing: You can’t give a cyborg a heart; even a heart made of metal; cooled by whirring blades; a ticking, ticking bomb—and not expect him to love.

Step 6. “You are made of galaxies! You are metal and icons; oil eyes. You are of space, but also the heaven in which neither of us should believe.”

Step 7. Jealousy is just love and hate at the same time.

Step 8. I like a woman with a future in the past.


Step 9. Its 5am and sun yawns, stirs, wipes crust from eyelashes, stretches arms across plains. Dawn is tangled feet, starched sheets half-pulled off the mattress; dawn is the air conditioner purring awake in the half-shadow of half-closed black-out drapes. The penthouse is on the 18th floor near the place where rain is made. Sun reaches bony fingers toward thirsty derricks, sunken neon, dying stars, telomerase. In these liminal hours, a cyborg and a dead girl loved each other very much.

Step 10. We had the type of nights where morning comes too soon and nothing was the same.

Step 11. “We cannot be caught because we exist outside of time. We cannot be caught the way people want to catch and capture other people, the way they want to keep them in cages, with chains and scraps of cloth. They way they want to keep us, want to catch us, we cannot be caught—will never be caught.”

Step 12. “My father is from Memphis.”


Step 13. Three times six is 18. March is liminal. Shoulder season, fly-over season, forgotten by vultures and barn owls. Dawn light peers past near-drawn 18th floor drapes that float absentmindedly in the air conditioning. Six am shadow: late nights sour with cocaine and cigarettes; early mornings, heavy eyelids, sugar syrup, March 6th. The cosmic roar of worker bee wings, Spring strapped to their ankles.

Step 14. October’s Very Own.

Step 15. He came out wet and spitting rhymes. Amniotic wine / blood and sunshine. Black hair matted, eyes green like American money. They named Baby Houston after Paris. 18th-floor, A-bomb daybreak. After central air brewing lightning in hotel walls. H-town baby. A dead girl and a cyborg morphed Nazi nightmares into champagne.

Step 16. When the wall crumbled they forged champagne dreams from the rubble. Follow me, he beckoned (finger stroke, cat-tongue) and they stepped through the hole in the Gold Curtain. On the other side everything was different and nothing was the same. West and East came from Cuba on a glass-bottomed boat. Jupiter pulled Saturn’s face close to his chest. Lady Liberty shook off sandals, lit a blunt, cooled her toes in Mariana’s Trench. When the wall fell.


Step 17. I blew myself up, I’m on some martyr shit/Carry the weight for my city like a cargo ship.

Step 18. 18 billion years ago Universe slithered out from between your ribs and took its tail in its mouth. It was the same year you became a man. Same year the River Jordan kissed your feet; same year you looked down at the river snaking through your toes, licked the corner of your thumb, and drew smoke rings on its forehead. Universe is a microphone, choking on its chord. 18 billion bubbles, 18 billion spotlight years. 18 years from now you became the greatest rapper in the galaxy. Your father and mother drank champagne at dawn, like their father and mother before them, and before them, and before them. 18 years ago you slithered out from between your own ribs, grabbed a mic, became smoke.


—Josey Rose Duncan

85,000 reasons


“That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.”
—Dave Grohl


You can show a drawing to 85,000 and they’ll think about 85,000 different things. You can dance for 85,000 and they’ll feel 85,000 different emotions. You can cook pancakes for 85,000 people (ok this one doesn’t work as well since you can’t also do it literally. Not like, easily, anyways) and they’ll remember 85,000 different chilly mornings in 85,000 different kitchens where 85,000 people flipped pancakes for them driven by 85,000 of their own unique motivations, their own chilly-kitchen-memories.

You can recite a poem to 85,000 people and they’ll see 85,000 different scenes in their mind. You can share a story with 85,000 and they’ll have 85,000 reasons why they love it or they hate it; 85,000 different ways they connect (or don’t) with the protagonist.

Everyone’s process is different. But when I write for myself I often arrive at the page with no expectations, or only an abstract set of emotions, colors, and sounds I want to express. I decipher the (real) meaning only after—and learn this often, at least in part, from anyone I’m able to trick into reading my stuff.

When I write for work I have specific intentions; specific goals I want my writing to accomplish, driven by what my clients want to accomplish. Maybe I want my articles to teach people things; maybe I hope audiences will think deeply, laugh, or get misty-eyed at my copy. Maybe I want to make people feel a certain way about a brand, product, or idea. Or maybe there’s an action I hope they’ll make after reading a blog post or tweet.

That doesn’t mean people don’t experience this writing differently. That doesn’t mean it’s not conjuring a plethora of varied feelings and thoughts and emotions and impulses and ideas for a multitude of different people. Who come from different places and love different things. Who live totally different kinds of lives.

But so what? So we see creative stuff differently, so we experience and interpret art and ads and poems and pancakes differently based on our pasts; based on the grooves snaking through our different brains and the metaphorical blood beating through our symbolic hears—how can I, the creator of said-ads and poems and pancakes use this understanding to make something better and more resonant?

Being aware opens doors. When you think in terms of layers and symbols and double-meaning and depth—whether you’re writing your memoir or ad copy for cat food—you find ways to allow all of this into your work, find ways of cracking your skull open (figuratively!!) and letting the light shine down on that big, beautiful brain of yours in ways it never has before.

From 85,000 different angles.


—Josey Rose Duncan