happy birthday, afropunk contributor nathan leigh!

November 14, 2014

Normally, I would be a little “eh…” about writing birthday posts. After all, there are more members of AFROPUNK and it would be the sickness to wish them all a happy one, right? I guess the reason why I chose to do this is because the more I have known him, the more inspiring he has seemed. Not to mention that, to some of us, he seems the most prominent. That’s why I think it would be fair that if we can wish birthdays with posts, we’ll let Nathan be the first person to receive such.

By Lightning Pill, AFROPUNK Contributor *

We all know how this starts, and it begins with us talking about how we met. We all know that I signed on to Afropunk not just for the community, but also for the love of music. It seemed like for every black rock band I know, Nathan Leigh has exposed me to, around, 15 more. Anytime, I look at a new post and see that the post is written by him, I know that I’m about to get exposed to something ill. Because of him, I’ve become fans of plenty of bands, and even got exposed to people I wouldn’t have heard from otherwise. He has done things from shining a light on the punk scene that doesn’t get recognized, eviscerating Kanye’s prey on the underground scene, and even taking on VICE. Before the latter, I had asked myself “who is this dude”?

That’s when I went to his website, heard he made music and even went so far as to enjoy it. Needless to say, it wasn’t what I had expected (I expected his A Life in Transit album to be a bit more shambolic than it was, as punk was mostly born around embracing your mistakes.) All that aside, he has taken on a cornucopia of stuff from punk-folk to even experimental pop (that would be Glitch EP). But if there is anything that Nathan did that assured his influence, it was that he opened my eyes to the realities of DIY.

In an interview, I had asked him about how DIY works out, and he was the first to admit that it was “fucking hard and thankless”, but for everytime he felt like he wanted to give up, he soldiered on. I know DIY has its hardships, and that will be true regardless of whether your art sucks or not. But Nathan brought me towards the reality of the grind with plenty of declarations: some days, you are going to live in your car, the one thing you must put out of your mind is this idea of being a “rock star”, and be thankful that someone next to you is willing to keep your feet on solid ground. The interview taught me that living a life in the DIY/punk rock/underground scene isn’t for pansies. You have to commit, be brave and stick yourself out, each chance you get. And for every person that isn’t listening, there are a few that are. It’s inspiring to me because it felt like in order to get up in the world, it requires that you have thick skin, a strong work ethic, and plenty of muscle from all the workload being put upon your shoulder.

When I sent all my stuff to Nathan (Proletariat Pop and Maintenance Man, both of which are on my bandcamp, which you will see below), his viewpoints were both honest and constructive, which inspired me not just to press on but also to try new things upon my journey. It’s through this moment of getting to know him and his work that we kind of got lumped in just enough to have me reminding dude about the new Open Mike Eagle album.

Due to my naturally shy nature, if I hadn’t gotten to know what I did about Nathan and heard his point of views, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post right now. I’d probably throw myself into a daily whirlwind of school, music writing, work and other commitments that I impose upon myself in a campaign to stay too busy. But I felt like if Nathan Leigh’s birthday is on a Friday, it would be sick if someone would wish him an overt happy birthday. Since I have plenty of time on my hands, right now, I figure why not all of us?

Happy birthday, you punk motherfucker! 🙂

Now, to get to know the rest of the crew…

* Lightning Pill is a blogger, poet, singer-songwriter, composer, Aspie, etc. from Dorchester, MA. You can reach him at or visit his Afropunk website. His Soundcloud can be found here and his main Bandcamp found here. Also here for the new agers. His new website is coming soon. Don’t be afraid to pass by and say what’s up!