Celebrities, Culture, Important People, Music, Reality Shows

R&B Divas LA: Positive Images of Us…Finally!


Kelly, Dawn, Michel’le, Lil’ Mo, Chante, and Claudette. I feel like I’m on a first name basis with these girls!

I love each and every woman on this cast: grew up on Dawn from En Vogue, not only her music but her image; she has always carried herself like class. Chante Moore’s talent is just….flooring. Lil’ Mo will take you to church and Brooklyn, B’more and back, laughing all the way, she’s just hilarious. Claudette is ARRESTINGLY beautiful with a really sincere spirit, Kelly….PERFECT voice, really down to Earth and innovative and inclusive, and Michele-Le is so cool, so L.A….such a POSITIVE representation of the music industry. Finally… (The world breathes a collective sigh of relief…)



Celebrities, Culture, Events, Important People, Music, Travel

Coors Light and Ice Cube Float to PHILLY to find the Coldest MC

As published on www.blackstarnews.com

Thursday July 11, in the City of Brotherly Love (PHILLY, PA)- Bun B, DJ Drama and the legendary Ice Cube teamed up as celebrity judges for the Coors Light Search for the Coldest MC Competition; French Montana was featured as a guest performer.

me and cube

I slid right in there, had to be aggressive as the ONLY female media at the press conference. That means I’ll be the ONLY female voice to have documented this event with the legendary Ice Cube! They gotta publish me! Women are supposed to be taking over and it’s OUR time now…right?

Expectations were high. DJ Drama says of the competition, “[Electric Factory] is the biggest venue we’ve had so far, so [the contestants] have no choice but to tear it down. Philly MCs are some of the greatest MCs.”

Of Philly’s rich musical history the judges unanimously agree that, Philly is major in Hip Hop because of artists like Fresh Prince, The Roots and more, so these rappers had better do their city justice. Houston, Texas based rapper Bun B also isn’t afraid to admit that “Philly don’t play” when it comes to their artistry.

It’s significant that Coors Light has someone like Ice Cube, who’s been in the game for so long, judging these artists just breaking into the industry. Ice Cube is a veteran and even if he did nothing else in music from this day on, he’s still one of the most relevant Hip Hop artists of all time. Bun B of UGK and DJ Drama are also far from novices and can boast very successful careers in music. Though some feel that there is an age limit on Hip Hop artists, Cube has this to say on there being a glass ceiling: “It’s crazy to think that you have to quit just because of your age.” He goes on, “This is what we do, there is no shelf life if an MC is committed to [their] fans…”

Bun B adds, “Hip Hop is still very young. We are just getting to the point where our fans are 50 [years old]. Even when athletes retire, they still commentate.”

Ice Cube recalls when he did a concert with De la soul and LL Cool J, for the Kings of the Mic tour, and there was a packed house every night. “People think Hip Hop is all for the kids, but auntie and uncle out there too!” Even at the show that night a grandma strutted through with what looked like her daughter, bobbing her head like it was nothing; she belonged there. Ice Cube half-jokes, “When I get 75 or 80 you can see me in Vegas,” assuring his fans that he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Now for the competition.

For the first round, contestants and Philly natives Reno Sinatra and Thee General were tested by Ice Cube to do a freestyle on why they deserved to be the coldest. The I’m-the-shit-freestyle is one major component of Hip Hop, as many songs from the beginning of the culture were about being the dopest MC. We’ve seen the subject matter change a bit over the decades but it still remains: Hip Hop is a genre of cockiness.  Although it was hard to hear, in order to judge actual lyrical content, the audience seemed less than impressed with and booed Thee General on his freestyle. He was lacking a bit of energy.

“That is just a freestyle” says Ice Cube to calm down the crowd. “You can’t win just freestylin’. It’s only one aspect of MCing; some [MCs] can, some can’t—But every MC should have a hot 16.”

Which brings us to the next round: People were skeptical of Thee General’s 16 bars but once he started riding the beat, the audience started bouncing with one hand in the air like they were feeling it– And thus is the fickle nature of the game, in the blink of an eye you can redeem yourself.

The next and final round of the competition was the original song. Ice Cube says that this is the “true measure of who will be the coldest,” for an MC to have a song that fans appreciate is essential.

Reno Sinatra’s original song “Go Hard” has a musical hook complete with a young and feisty female singer… and at least it’s not about hoes.  It’s never good to lead with that–but it’s definitely about money and going tirelessly after your dreams.  “We gettin’ money” was the resounding refrain. His other notable single is simply called “Philadelphia,” an anthem to his hometown.

Thee General’s original song, “Bobby Storm,” was completely different. His flow is off center, every line doesn’t rhyme, yet it works. He’s just lacking a little confidence on stage; the song sounds better on the track, rather than live.

What may amaze one the most about viewing this event is that a bunch of people can be thrown in a large room with virtually nothing but music and some cold beer and everyone instinctively knows what to do—look at the stage to see what may be the future of music for years to come.

Bun B rocked the stage, performing his various hits including his classic verse on “Big Pimpin’’ and also covered the late Pimp C’s verse, which still is flawless  lyrical representation of Texas.

Later, after a nostalgic DJ set the winner was ready to be announced.

So who was the coldest? If you were just going on the crowd’s reception of each MC you would have predicted that Reno Sinatra would win and you’d be right.  Thee General’s less than fresh freestlye is what probably knocked him out of the running, because in the other categories he was actually pretty good and gave Reno Sinatra a good run for his money: $20,000 and more in prizes for winning the competition.

Featured artist French Montana performed a few of his latest hits and even Freeway made a surprise visit to drop his verse on his classic “What We Do.” We waiting on the DJ to play “California Love” to get us ready for some of Ice Cube’s classics like “It Was a Good Day,” and although he didn’t perform, it was still a pretty good day.

The best line of the night rang out like a call and response from French Montana: “If you ain’t worried about a motha-fuckin’ thing then put your hands in the air!” which led us right into his care-free anthem (which one can twerk, bounce or simply ride to) “Ain’t Worried About Nothin.’” For a quick second, a question came to mind: how can a Moroccan born rapper who moved to the Bronx later in life can end up with a southern drawl? But after witnessing a die-hard Philly representative under-dog reach the pinnacle of his career as of yet, a free concert from artists we already know and love, and a couple of free ice cold Coors light, hell, I’m not worried about a damn thing either.

For more pictures of this year’s entire Search for the Coldest Tour, search #SFTC2013

Culture, Food and Wine, Important People, Personal Liberation, Travel

PHILLY PHOTOS: The People and Places I Saw

On the way to where the bus was leaving, I stop by 711 where they were giving out FREE SLURPEES from 7-11pm before hopping in a cab thinking I was late (but I needed a cool and refreshing drink)! But of course, Universe had my back and I had a whole half hour to kill before boarding. I had decided that 711 would be my good omen that no matter what was happening on my trip all would be WELL!

Leaving for a trip to the City of Brotherly Love to meet some local foodies and cover a cool competition hosted by Ice Cube. Two local Philly MC’s will compete for $20K and more in prizes. I stop by 711 where they were giving out free Slurpees from 7-11pm (cute, huh). I thought I was running late, but I needed a cool and refreshing drink so I went for it. But of course, Universe had my back and I had a whole half hour to kill before boarding. I had decided that 711 would be my good omen that no matter what was happening on my trip all would be well!

The first thing I see when I get off the bus is a horse drawn carriage! Horses are my totem animal so this was a good omen for sure. I had plans to meet a few people before I went to cover the Ice Cube show, so I hopped off and let God show me the way!

I didn’t really have that many hard plans. The first thing I see when I get off the bus is a horse drawn carriage! Horses are my totem animal so this was a good omen for sure, so I hopped off on instinct!

I can't get enough of free, non-profit events. If you're in the area, the Philly Art Splash is going on till Sept. 2, 2013. If even one person is helped by throwing this photo in, I've fulfilled my purpose...*praying hands*

I can’t get enough of free, non-profit events. If you’re in the area, the Art Splash is going on till Sept. 2, 2013. If even one person is helped by throwing this photo in, I’ve fulfilled my purpose…*praying hands*

It's so cool. I got a high school kid on a field trip to take this pic of me. If you look this up you can see a street view of EXACTLY where I was standing! Just search 566-598 Market St, Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, PA 19106

I got a high school kid on a field trip to take this pic of me and took his photography-virginity. This was his best shot. If you look this up you can see a street view of EXACTLY where I was standing! Just search 566-598 Market St, Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

I've been to Philly before but I've NEVER seen it like this! This poor horse who was bred to pull carriages was actually shipped from NYC! I wanted to ride him anyway even if I didn't feel it was fair treatment. The guy said No. Philly was shaping up to kinda look and feel like New York!

I’ve been to Philly before but I’ve NEVER seen it like this! This poor horse who was bred to pull carriages for his entire life was actually shipped from NYC! I wanted to ride him anyway even if I didn’t feel it was fair treatment. The guy said “No.” Philly was shaping up to kinda look and feel like New York!

billboard in philly

Nothing says it like a billboard. Maybe I’ll be commissioned to write one of these one day. I love to fly, travel, and new ideas. I took this as another good omen that everything would work out. I never heard back from the venue about getting on the press list…

feather in philly

The feather. It’s another sign that all is well.

city hall in philly

City Hall Area. The majestic buildings with the sun peeking out from behind was a beautiful sight. I was on my way to walk about 20 blocks to my first meeting. Who knew my crappy iphone camera would serve me so well?

711 boxes

Now this funny, ratchet as all get out. I stopped by another 711  (I saw them everywhere) because I needed another cold refreshing drink. The store girl told me “get your cup from outside.” I said “In NYC they do it for you…” (It slipped!) When I saw these boxes full of cups I hoped this was not what she was talking about. Thank God she wasn’t!

tattered building on Market st

Just a tattered building on Market St.

local philly paper

Some papers I would later submit my coverage of the show to.

the philly enquirer

Maybe I’ll write for them some day. I tried to go in and “inquire” but the door was locked. Classified!

bus on hope and market, philly

This seems to be some type of abandoned train car decorated with protest paraphernalia on Market and Hope St. in Philly. I tried to look it up and couldn’t find any info on it.

bus on hope and market, philly, side view

Side view of the mysterious protest train car.

shepsa mural phillly

This is the most breathtaking mural I’ve ever seen in my life, at Broad and Spring Garden Streets. The most miraculous thing about it is that I kind of know the woman (shown on the mural as a young girl) featured on the top. Her name is Shepsa, and she wrote a book called The Goddess Pages: Honey, Full Moons and Daggers, available on Amazon. In this photo, I felt she kind of looked like me when I would wear braids. The face, the attitude; she represents a whole slew of things about Black women at that age. I totally resonated with the beautiful work on this mural. Find out more here: http://explorer.muralarts.org/

me and leslie in philly

After a refreshing vegan meal at Whole Foods, me and raw food chef and actress Leslie sat for almost 2 hours and talked about “effortless manifestation” and “trusting the process.” Her fascinating story of letting go and learning to trust the Universe is truly motivating, especially as she is my coach for a great goals program, Cn365.

althea's desserts

An adorable and appetizing presentation from Althea, a local food artisan who owns  A Taste of Bliss Bakery. Find the page on Facebook to see where in Philly her dessert cart will be set up! She serves all hand-made-from-scratch cupcakes, cookies, raw vegan frozen fruit pops, and ice creams sweeted with natural sweeteners like agave and cane sugar! It was DELICIOUS and such a taste-bud turn on!

altheas fruit pop

This fizzy fruit pop is totally vegan, raw, and freakin fantastic. From A Taste of Bliss Bakery in Philly.

Nefar jewelry

Jewelry artisan Nefar. She greeted me in a text, “Hatep zamal tat,” which means “peace unto you, beautiful.” Her designs can be seen all around Philly. More coming soon!

The Fearless Bunch

From left to right, the “Fearless Bunch” of female entrepreneurs: Raw Food Chef Leslie, Bakery Owner Althea, me, and Jewelry Artisan Nefar

happy hour menu at sampan

After talking raw food, vegan cooking, desserts galore, and the importance of women owning their own business, Althea treated Nefar and me to a happy hour smorgasbord at Sampan. Yes, those prices are real!

crispy brussel sprouts from sampan in philly

The crispy brussel sprouts from Sampan were especially delicious. Nefar ordered hers without fish sauce which the tender buds are tossed in, and I liked hers better. More crispy! That’s puffed rice sprinkled on top.

electric factory philly

Electric Factory, where the Coors Light Search for the Coldest Competition was held. Featuring Ice Cube, Bun B, and DJ Drama judged, French Montana performed.

exact change philly

Exact Change (rapper + live band) must have performed here. See the story I did where he’s mentioned at http://www.blackstarnews.com

coors light girls

I’ve always wanted to do this. Now this is an easy job, right? Check out their little TV’s. New media and music go hand in hand.

ice cube, bun b, dj drama

The press conference. Left to right: Ice Cube, Bun B, DJ Drama. On the far left in the foreground holding the camera is this really hype+dope reporter from http://www.hiphopsince1987.com

me and cube

I slid right in there, had to be aggressive as the ONLY female media at the press conference. That means I’ll be the ONLY female voice to have documented this event with the legendary Ice Cube! They gotta publish me! Women are supposed to be taking over and it’s OUR time now…right?

Lounge chair legs

Lounge chair legs. After I got my story, I was ready to go home but first I rested. Ran into a friend at the monthly Philly Sound Sessions at Voltage right next to Electric Factory. More laid back crowd…

A friend said this of Philly, his hometown, while walking me to a cab:
“The mentality, the beards…I don’t get it.” But everyone knows Philly for one thing: Music. “Unlike NYC, Philly kept their music programs so everyone knows if you want the best musicians, they’re in Philly.”

Celebrities, Culture, Events, Important People, International Relations, Life, Music, New York City, Travel

Afropolitan Dream- tapping into the soul of BedStuy with a day of arts and culture

On Saturday May 4th, the Afropolitan Dreams Block Party presented on by MoCADA Museum, an art institution which showcases art of the African Diaspora, promised a day of sunlight, music, style and mingling with creative entrepreneurs. The partnership with local Bed-Stuy businesses fused to create a rich event that truly captured the “Soul of Brooklyn.”

Brooklyn Zoo

This block party brought out the least likely of characters. Too risky to be named (it’s illegal to house wild animals without the proper license) Brooklyn based brothers brought their 2 giant snakes outdoors for some sunlight, fresh air and impromptu photo shoots with curious children and increasingly intrigued yet worried neighborhooders.   A boa constrictor and an anaconda seemed to enjoy the attention. “Her last owner didn’t take her out much,” says the eldest brother.  The anaconda spans 14 feet, weighs 155 pounds and eats live 30 pound chickens, although her owner says “rabbits are better for her nutritionally.” With the TLC and patience the owner says it takes to foster wild animals, she’ll have no problem getting to her maximum size of 38 feet and 700 pounds. This is interesting. Because he was rocking the passé urban uniform of baggy sagging jeans, chains, baseball cap and matching t-shirt, you would never expect this man to possess the big sensitive heart it takes to care for wild animals who would otherwise be killed into his home for safekeeping. He expresses that care through his mostly vegan diet as well. That was just one of surprising anomalies I stumbled on that day…

Art by Amit

amit sahu artist and his art

Bed-Stuy artist Amit Sahu stands next to one of his pieces with a local buyer…me! Photo by Akinfe Fatou.

Lured by a sign fashioned out of an old cabinet door that read “$1 art and plants,” I found a small Macon street garage sale on a block of beautiful brownstones. Amit Sahu is a local painter/sculptor/graphic designer whose pieces incorporate images of lions, naked female seductresses and chalky colors pastelled over chunks of recycled wood which take on the form of the subject in the painting.  His card quietly proclaims in small print that he creates “art for the public.” When asked what that means, Amit, who is East Indian, says “my art is not over conceptual.” He works with images that have inspired him from African and East Indian culture. Because of its striking appearance it’s very accessible and consumable for the public…and affordable. I surprisingly walked away with a two piece set for 20 dollars, named “Cleopatra.”  When asked about the price of the pieces Amit shrugs, “I’ll work with you,” he says. Lucky me!

The concert was peppered with people…

…Including campaigning politicians. Before the crowd thickened, I ran in to Reverend Conrad Tillard, the “committed concerned consistent” candidate (in his own words). What stood out about his impromptu speech was that he seems committed to the arts, as he wants to allot 1% of city’s budget to arts programs if he gets into office. He represents the Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights area of Brooklyn.

It had gotten so cold that people went home to their nearby brownstones and put more clothes on their children. An hour and fifteen minutes after the promoted time of 7pm, Blitz the Ambassador prepared the crowd for take-off. Rightfully so. This is what many had been waiting for, along with the arrival of international superstars Les Nubiennes. Via simulated airline announcement Blitz informed us that we would be taking a virtual trip to Accra, Ghana. Finally, it was about to get real.

Horns moving in unison

Blitz the Ambassador perfectly commands the stage

Blitz the Ambassador perfectly commands the stage. Photo by Akinfe Fatou

Blitz, with his fast raps, regal Ghanian attire and perfect command of the stage performed songs from his former album, Native Sun. It includes nuts, bolts, and smoothies: a fusion of afro-beat, hip-hop and neo-soul that always sounds better live.

A sample of Fela’s Water No Get Enemy trickles in and at this point the base could be felt in your chest. Literally the heartbeat of that song was that of the city. Blitz starts rapping in an obscure language, Twi.   “Akwaaba (the song’s title) means welcome” is the refrain. Ambassador Airlines, our vehicle for this musical journey, flawlessly combines hip hop and contemporary African music. Through his beatboxing and samples of “Soul Makossa”…I’d say he was a pretty good captain. Then came the command to scream: How often do you get to scream at the top of your lungs without being judged? So I screamed as if my life depended on it.

blitz and les nubiennes

Blitz the Ambassador and Celia of Les Nubians. Photo by Akinfe Fatou

Les Nubians perform their classic, "Makeda." Photo by Akinfe Fatou

Les Nubians perform their classic, “Makeda.” Photo by Akinfe Fatou

Highlife music resounded, and then a mysterious siren came from nowhere. Our captain of the airline became  commander in chief and spoke of martial law and the hornmen became an army. Blitz proclaimed this next song “The national anthem of the crooked African leaders, ‘Free Your Mind.’” Then, along w Les Nubiennes, serenaded the Motherland with “Dear Africa.” His booming evergy blended perfectly with their soft sweet voices that lilt. Talk about an Afropolitan Dream.

“Usually when I fly people to Africa I don’t bring them back, I just leave them there, ‘cause who wants to come back?” The crowd nearly drowned him out with cheers as Blitz the Ambassador concluded that he wishes to take the Afropolitan Dream (Also the title of his new album) Block Party all over the world.

I hope he does. And it’s fitting that he’d begin in Bed-Stuy. With the influx of celebrities moving to Bed-Stuy in the past few years: Solange Knowles, Les Nubiennes and even Blitz himself lived not too far from where he performed…it’s all coming full circle. Of all the talent that originates here and snakes around the world it’s only right that Bed-Stuy would boast an international line up. There’s a bright future for Bed-Stuy beyond the usual implications of gentrification. This event proved that by bringing brown bodies together for one full day of arts community and pure Afropolitan dopeness.

Culture, Life, Nature, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Sprituality

Positive Post on the Trayvon Martin Case: A Woman’s Topfreedom in the Face of Tragedy

I didn’t follow the news. I never do, I’m ultra sensitive and can easily get caught up in the emotional manipulation of the mainstream media (and they’re not the only ones who do it). But I have to say I only saw other people’s words that could even begin to explain how I want to feel, choose to feel about the Trayvon Martin Case. The only way we can change is from within. I’m not quite sure how, but putting my attention on rallies and protests doesn’t seem to sit well with me, although I’m not knocking anyone else’s way of grieving, griping or growing. This sister, a living Goddess in her own right, chose to bare breasts and ‘love back’ (instead of fight back) with Topfreedom and a spiritual declaration of independence.

These are the words and picture of another. I was very touched by her fearlessness. I just want you to read the post. Look at the picture. Notice how your focus changes, even if just for a moment. This isn’t about sex… it’s about transmuting the energy of helplessness, it’s about knowing what is within your power to change, right here, right now. With Love…

topfree for trayvon

A powerful demonstration of peace, and love. But will the rest of the world ever understand? I think we will.

She writes:

Yemaya is considered the Mother Goddess in African Belief. ‘Mama Watta,’ as she is also known, presided over the Ogun River that she called home. Her breasts are full and large from birthing so many creations. It is said that Yemaya gave birth to all the world’s water. She is very distressed over the situation of her beloved Earth Mother, so pray to her for the Healing of Mother Earth..
I was approached by my loved one this morning… A request to post a picture of my breast for healing today for the men would kneel down and weep and receive restoration for today is heavy. I don’t know about for you but certainly not for me I see a large group of people in a lot of pain, fight back tears, wounded one more ‘gain for another one of Mother Earth’s children has transcended; and yes yes of course all is well and in divine order. Yet, on this plain of reality, it would be a lie to suggest that there is no pain, no aftermath, a crystal clean break, and everyone-meaning all mothers and the fathers of humanity are on sync with the “nothing-missing, nothing-broken” factor… Of course I rebuke the reality that this will ever be me, but I morn with the mother for the sons, hubbies, and fathers whom fit the profile of hoodie-wearing, or just looking-black, Indigenous enough [person]. For that was really his only crime on the surface….

So when I was first asked, I was apprehensive to posting. Although, in my gut it felt right the words he spoke. If in fact I truly did want to play my part in a non-violent way. This is a powerful solution the ancestors asked of me. Sacred energy, breast energy is the sacred healer, capable of healing all humanity if we will just let it flow freely or at the very least when called upon.. For I am devotee, I am ‘mama watta’ whose job is to heal the planet for it is her deepest desire to do so… Here is my gift of healing to humanity as you requested dear you, as I am highly compelled to channel mama Yemeyah for me, for my youth, for our world today… Releasing tears, I need to perform ritual tonight going to fetch watermelon and the nearest ocean water, might possibly be in my tub, but I have to clear this for the gathering season is upon us….

Stay strong. Be present, at all costs remain loving…even if you don’t choose to demonstrate in anyway, all is well. All choices are valid. Tough to stand on this peaceful stance in the face of tragedy and as much as I feel it is one’s right to demonstrate how they see fit…It is still a violent world. At least we have the internet. If you can open a mind…then I believe it is possible to change the world.