Yelle Magazine

Progression || Justin ‘Mosaic’ Culver

On a rainy and cold Sunday, Justin ‘Mosaic’ Culver’ (‘Mo’) and I decided to take some photos in front of the public art project/trailer called Centre-Fuge in East Village, New York. Mo is a lyricist, poet, hip-hop artist, beats-maker and has been a good friend and YELLE inspiration since the beginning. His journey and struggle and experience in New York seems more visceral than most. People talk about how New York unlike many other cities has a distinct persona. The way Mo talks about New York personifies that belief.

Mo has a unique combination of ambition and realism. He reaches just beyond in order to move forward towards goals that border the impossible. We discussed the idea of moving, of progression. Then, he more literally described his process. At the first of every month, he would reflect on the past 30 days and assess which activities were moving him forward, and which ones were holding him back. He would then plan for the next month with this in mind — being severe in his focus. As he repeated this monthly exercise, it became more formal and involved writing, reflections, lists.

I’m constantly digging to learn more about artists’ process, their methods, their ways of organizing and collecting. I asked him to write a piece on this idea — the idea of progression and how that had become his motto, his culture, his modus operandi.

Naturally, he responded in lyric form.

(the full piece by Justin ‘Mosaic’ Culver is below the photos)

Justin ‘Mosaic’ Culver: Okay… I wrote the piece in the form of a soliloquy from a playwright. *shrug* not exactly sure why …

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Scene 1

Set in the confines of my corpus collosum. THE

VOICE INSIDE MY HEAD is sitting on my hippocampus,

sipping cosmic juices from my pineal gland. He is

talking to future me at this very moment.



(takes sip from pineal gland)

You were ridin in da passenja side uda Red, da nineteen

atey-ate three twunny-five i BMW convertible despite

the attachment gained once occupyina driva side when

you were finely rendered dem keys. ’Member that night?

You drove as far as yo gas tank could take you… damn

near kissed freedom. You had some good times wit da

Red… greeted some of the highest levels of elation

and met a few waterloos in that bad boy too. But on

this particular night, as you frantically tried to sift

through the web of knots eroding yo stomach, fumblin in

between silences and impromptu counsel from Momma, you

couldn’t help but stoicly revel in the moment


fo you were on yo way to the end of an epoch, bruh…

mo specifically the bus station.

(takes sip from pineal gland)

y’all got dehr, began scramblin through da drizzle

gatherin yo ridiculously heavy bags when Momma was

like, ’you probably should’ve wrote Mosaic on your

luggage rather than your real name.’


she was always super cautious wit personal

identifications and whatnot being accessible to da



Mosaic, doh. She called you Mosaic. You ain’t even know

she knew of that monicker of yos


and after dat hug… and irrationally succumbin to the

idea of dohs same arms holdin bout damn nehr halfa Joja

innat moment, you took dat last puff and baptized da

jerney you were embarkin own, da Jerney of Progression.

New Yoke Siddy was the destination… an afta bout

twunny ahwuz o’so, New Yoke Siddy you wuz…

Progression… and ehva since you aint never look back.

Well I’m bein a bit kindly actchly, dehre’s been some

regressive phases innehr. But thanks to da system you

forced yo’self to abide by, you got right back on





CONTINUED:                                              2.


who woulda thought dat you’d actchly be able to

function under such struccha. Memba back when you

couldn’t een keep up widda planna for over a couple



All dohs munts bout as blank as a new planna. But on da

real, dehr you were… settina first of err munt as a

day of self examination. After err thirtay days…

o’howeva many days were innat particula munt

o’whateva… you reflected on yo progress. And if it

didn’t meet a set standard, you halted all odduh

planned engagements an assessed just what exactlay

needed to be done in o’da to resume da progression.

Take da udda munt fo example… you were livin in

Jersay at da time an you reflected on that munt only to

recognize just how it was the least progressive munt

you had since you made da move up nohth. And despite da

prior engagements and financial commitments you had,

you put er’thang off and worked on movin directly in da

city… ana few weeks and couple hussles layda you were

in Bedstuy, gettin yo websites tuhgeda, with newly

scheduled studio dates… progression.

(takes sip from pineal gland)

stahted off as justa broad assessment udda entire munt

to a meticulously prepared an written down list of

ubjectives dat needed to be accomplished by evry

checkpoint. You even worked yo weekly and monthly

budgets innher as well… an fo da most part you stuck

widdem. Got’damn boy you woulda thought you were on

adderal or suhmn. But nah… it’s just all apart of the


(shifts eyes down at pineal gland

momentarily then looks back up)

Just wanted to tell you bruh that you must adhere the

path that you’ve taken upon yoself to set about on. You

def gon stray at times… gotdamn you gon stray… but

rememba… do not get settled in any facet of yo

life… this is yo life, no one elses.

(suppresses what appears to be a hiccup

while still attempting to speak)

Don’t fo’get about workin on dat fallback plan doe…

you been puttinat off fo quite sometime now… you got

time to work it into this munt, mattafac… prolly

don’t een memba what folda you keep yo resumes in do

you? And I’m talkin bout the revised ones


Yo… just… keep on keepin on… as this thing

continues to transpire, memba… continue to love

always… attempt to relate as necessary… and keep it

g, playa. If there’s only one thing you end up takin

from all dis… keep it g.