Friday, March 27, 2015

Music Collective: vol. 29 {To Pimp a Butterfly}

"...And while this album does have a philosophy to divulge, Kendrick doesn't skimp on the music on this album. He realizes that making music is about the music; if the music under your message is garbage, the music is garbage..."
-Anthony Fantano, The Needle Drop

image source.
Musically, 2015 is off to a great start; this is something we all know to be true. I'm beyond amazed by the truth and story telling that is resurrecting hip-hop to its rightful place. Please excuse how long it has taken me to do this review. It takes a while for me to do a full album review, because it's an extensive process that involves press play of the album, a discography listening session, and then a track by track break down. Also, for whatever reason, I have to wait until I buy the hard copy first to "finalize" my review. Like I said, it's a process. Low and behold, the wait is over and I'm finally here to do my review of Kendrick Lamar's latest project, To Pimp a Butterfly.

To Pimp a Butterfly was the follow-up to Kendrick's second studio album released in 2012, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, a compilation that reflected on a young man's Compton, California upbringing. Despite how long Kendrick had been on the music scene at that point, I believe that was the album put him on the map in regards to mainstream hip-hop; his audience literally sky rocketed. Apparently, with fame came a lot of inner turmoil and you can absolutely feel every bit of that bottled up aggression he's been holding in for the past 3 years in every second of this project.

Click here to read the full review on The Sky Box Suite
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Queen Protects the King..

[Disclaimer: Although it's not my intention and I'm aware that this post might offend a lot of my readers, I feel like it needs to be said and will not apologize for expressing myself. However, I am always open to hearing new perspectives in a healthy, intelligent conversational setting. If you must debate what is written, all I ask is that you please 1) read before speaking 2) be respectful of my p.o.v. and that of others. Also, I feel like it's just as important to address that my reference to Kanye West in para. 4 has nothing to do with the love I have for him as an artist. Last but not least, it's lengthy and sarcastic. Continue accordingly.]

In the past, I've discussed quite a bit about unity in the black community without dismissing the beauty of diversity. As a blogger who has an opinion about everything, I try to be very selective about what I discuss publicly, especially when it comes to personal choices that have nothing to do with me. However, I was recently inspired to touch on the topic of interracial relationships, one that I'll easily discuss every now and then among friends. This post is one that dives deeper than normal and really puts things into perspective.  Twitter, where most of my inner thoughts see the light of day, is where it all began: 
I can't speak for everyone, but I, personally, see no real issue with any interracial relationships; you love who you love and I get that. Actually, taking one glimpse into my own bloodline, you'd see that it's not a foreign concept to me, not even when it boils down to my immediate family. I do, however, understand how people-namely black women-are able to find fault in it. Even still, it's not a problem until someone goes to war to defend what they willingly signed up for, rather than accepting the choices for themselves, especially black men who prefer to date outside their race/cultural understanding. A majority of the time, they'll feel inclined to do so by further depressing and oppressing the same women who birthed and raised them

When it comes to black men with racial preferences in women, many of them place non-black women on some sort of pedestal and hold them to a higher standard that's apparently unattainable for women of color. Typically, I pay them no mind. However, when these types of men, especially the ones with influence, have the audacity to disrespect black women all day, then turn around, expecting an applause from the entire black community, as if we collectively owe an award for finally being "good enough" to date a white man's daughter, that's when it becomes problematic. Whenever a black man tries to tear me apart in order to defend their views (by the way, an offense to one is an offense to all), my response is this: Please remember that once upon a time, you weren't even allowed to wink at a white woman without being lynched, so congratulations on achieving a certain level of freedom in this regard. Just make sure you walk on eggshells, because the minute you step out of line, she'll suddenly remember her inherited privilege above your own. 

It takes me back to high school and reading about the rape charge against Marcus Dixon-or even the more recent coverage on UVA student, Martese Johnson. I won't go into depth, but I do encourage you to read up on those stories, which I've linked in. Stories like that reflect what continues to happen in society and should be a deep cut reminder that nothing-no amount of accolades, nice suites, elite social circles, how many white families decide to adopt/accept you-will ever make the color of a man's skin go away. I'm all for crossing racial barriers, but ignoring racial issues or pretending racism doesn't exist won't make it magically disappear. Word to Kanye West.


While I think love is beautiful in itself, there is something magical about black love, on a historical level. If you study history, you'd understand that the purpose of slavery was to ensure that all slaves remained that way and for the cycles that began during the slave trade would only proliferate if the constitution of slavery were to ever come to an end. You don't have to take my word for it; read and educate yourself on the Willie Lynch manual. In brief, slave masters implicated these inhumane acts to dehumanize a certain group of people, specifically targeting black men. They recognized the power that rested inside a black man's lungs and knew that if they were able to tame just him, they'd be able to keep the rest of them in a place of docile obedience. 

With that very short history lesson, this is why so many women of color get so defensive/angry when a black man fixes his mouth to say "I only date white women" or "I don't date black women". It absolutely makes me cringe whenever I hear that, because despite how powerless you're painted to be in any given situation, we were/are/will always be the only ones who came to your honor to defend you at your lowest point. We are the only ones who will ever know your pain first hand and still be able to see the king in you. 

In conclusion, my stance is quite simple. Date whoever you want to date; just leave other people out of it. It's wonderful to feel like it's an honor to be in the company of someone else, as I do with all the people I keep around me, but it should always be based on an individual's character and who they are as a person, not because of a silly infatuation with another person's ethnicity. At that point where you feel superior, just because you choose to date outside your race, you're involved for the wrong reasons. If you find yourself in a position to defend the person you love, there are so many ways to do so without shattering the hearts of the ones who love you. 

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Music Collective: vol. 28 {Weekend Roadtrip: Hip-Hop Edition}


Sometimes a weekend road trip away from all the stress and demands of the daily hustle is absolutely necessary, especially when it's with someone whose company is more than tolerable. That was the synopsis of this weekend for me. The car ride was one of the best parts; it was the perfect opportunity to give a listen to some of the latest hip-hop compilations I've been meaning to check out. Typically, I like to switch things up for long drives, but apparently the mood was consistent. All I had to do was press play and I'm sure I'll listen to it on the way back to home base.

Creating this mega-list of approximately 5 hours worth of music helped me realize just how proud I am of what has been happening in the hip-hop community lately. When I say lately, I'm referring to the past few years (2013-current), but not limiting it to this year. This is also not to say that any one artist is above criticism from a music/hip-hop head like myself, in the case that you've witness any of my Twitter rants in regards to music. However, only 3 months into the year, so many positive gems have been released already and it's extremely impressive. Needless to say, all of it makes me excited about what this summer sounds like and anxious to hear how the continuation of the year will unfold.

(Press Play) Albums:

The Play List:

  • All Day x Kanye West, Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom, Paul McCartney (5:11)
  • Top Ten x Logic, Big K.R.I.T. * (4:26) <<patiently waiting for song to touch Spotify>>
  • Did It x Two-9 (4:14)
  • New York Raining x Charles Hamilton, Rita Ora (3:35)
  • Favorite x Nicki Minaj, Jeremih (3:03)
  • Heaven's Afternoon x Wale, Meek Mill (4:41)
  • No Regrets x Pusha T, Jeezy, Kevin Cossom (4:48)
+ Listen H E R E +

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Music Collective: vol. 27 {Classic Man}


Janelle Monae has recently reached a notable milestone in her career as an artist by stepping more behind the scenes and launching her very own record label (Wondaland Arts Society) in collaboration with Epic records. Not only did she elevated herself, as well as the creative individuals around her, she leveled up to mini-mogul at such a young age. I love to see queens prospering, but what I love even more is when someone with such a dynamic platform realizes that there are people who are just as talented, who very well deserve the exposure. People who recognize the greatness in others and genuinely want to see people win.

'Classic Man' is the perfect song to introduce Jidenna and Roman GianArthur to the music scene. It's something to ride out too that doesn't lack substance at all. I absolutely adore this video and everything it stands for; something like the modern renaissance. I love the contrast of vintage and new school elements to shed light on the different portraits of black culture that are largely misrepresented in mainstream media. The song has this really dope and catchy melody/bass line combination, but, lyrically it sends a message that it's cool for young black men to be dapper, educated, and well rounded, which is exactly what society needs.

Great song, amazing video, and I can't wait to see what's next for the creatives of Wondaland.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Redirecting Energies + Art Studio Inspiration

Lately, my mind has been going a million miles per minute, especially at night and spilling over into the next morning.  At some point in the sleepless hours, I find myself wanting to create something-anything-but I sometimes, I don't know what to create or how to go about creating whatever "it" is or fails to be. The harder I think about it, the less inspired I become, and the spark eventually dies. I hate when this happens and I think it's something any creative can relate to any time they feel stuck. Needless to say, I haven't been thriving creatively. The juices flow naturally, but the production doesn't always match, and just like any other time I'm faced with an obstacle of sorts, I get to decide how I want to redirect my energy.

Both the technical and artistic aspect of design always excites me. In a way, it helps me stay focused and calms my anxiety. So in the midst of re-channeling my energies, I looked at the small corner in my room and began to think of my ideal work space, careful to not be so distracted by daydreams that I forgot to be present and thankful for what I have.  I thought of everything from measurements and contrasting elements to furniture and decor. After framing the ideal aesthetics and dimensions in my head, I played around with some software (that I mostly use for school) to watch it come to life. Surprisingly enough, thinking of the possibilities even gave me the little motivation I needed to get work done that I'd been putting off all week.

Dream Office

As you can see, like most millennials, I gravitate towards the minimal look. That has less to do with trend and more to do with functionality, because I'd want a room that has enough square footage to double as a creative studio/office and a closet/beauty room. Also, I'm a pretty organized person and it's hard for me to think with too much clutter around. For this space, I don't want to avoid color/prints completely, so accessorizing is important. I'm pretty confident I can browse consignment shops and/or build some of the furniture myself, such as the bookcase, at a much cheaper cost than actually buying it from a big name furniture store. I adore homes full of character, the ones that have varying stories to tell, so what better way to implement personality than through D.I.Y.? Of course it would take more time, essentially, but we shall see. I do, however, want things that are on the more frugal side, so I'll probably spend most of my free time this summer hunting for good deals.

For those of you who are unaware, I am in school studying architectural engineering. This semester was my first glimpse into the more creative side of my major, which has been absolutely amazing thus far. In many STEAM related fields, students adapt to what some would refer to as studio culture, where a certain range of "elbow room" is required for different projects assigned throughout the semester/quarter. Well, because the community college I currently attend doesn't offer a proper facility designated for large scale design work, I generally have to make use of available space at home or travel great distances in order to get work done. It gets to be a struggle and often times anti-productive. Since this is a temporary situation all around, I try my best not to complain, but I am so thankful to be leaving soon.  As far as moving out goes, I won't be moving into my dream loft per se, but God-willing I'll be able to find a suitable oasis I love that is just as efficient and inspiring.  I'll keep you guys posted in regards to my living arrangements, relocation, and all that jazz.

What about you...do you currently work in your ideal office? What does your dream work space look like? Paint a picture for me in the comment section below, so that we can inspire each other!




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Friday, March 6, 2015

What it Means to Be African in America (Happy Ghana Independence Day)

Image source.
HAPPY GHANA INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!
+ March 6, 1957 +

Learning more about my African lineage and the connections I have with the illustrious Ghana, West Africa is one of the best decisions I could have made in my entire life. Not only has knowing the roots of my diaspora allowed me to better understand the role I play in propelling my culture forward, it gives me an opportunity to love my reflection from all angles in a society that will only choose to accept me if I'm willing to conform. Also, it makes my voice echo a little louder, the message in my purpose and my struggle to resound more clearly. 

In the essence of Black Lives Matter and social injustices everywhere (not just in the U.S.), I take so much pride in my melanin. Granted, I did not grow up in a traditional Ghanaian household, but I do believe I was raised with a sense of confidence in who I am. For many varying reasons, I embrace who I am as a woman of color. More than anything, I revel in the fact that I am standing on the shoulders of the kind of resiliency that makes it through the worst conditions known to man and to be a part of a culture that continues to thrive, despite what the world throws at us. And because of that, I will always do what everything in my power to support and uplift the black community.

What many people, more specifically non-blacks, seem to not understand, is that my pride doesn't make me feel like we are the "superior race", nor does it make me anti to other cultural differences. Diversity is beautiful and I truly believe that, however, inclusive does not imply that anyone should ever be ashamed of their own culture just to feed into the idea that we must be accepted by the majority in order to be validated.  I shouldn't be in a position to hide who I am to make other people feel comfortable, because it is quite possible to co-exist without being one in the same. 

I believe the sole purpose of all Africans in America is for us to be educated, because first and foremost, knowledge is power. It's up to us to take what we've learned back to our homeland to rebuild, heal, and restore what has been lost. In attempt to think global and act local, it's also beneficial to start wherever we are and use what we have, such as becoming a part of community outreach to improve black communities. By doing this, we empower our youth and set the tone for the leaders of tomorrow. 

Lastly, I believe we are to take action in finding non-violent solutions to establishing a true sense of freedom and justice the nation seems to be lacking. In my humble opinion, it's impossible for racism to perish with more racism. More hate will only add fuel to fire and won't solve any of the problems this nation has faced in regards to race division in America, as well as in other nations; it will only proliferate the cycles that my people have yet to learn how to break.  

♥ @ChymereA


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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Music Collective: vol. 26 {Going Through the Changes}

Tuesday morning, and I admit, I woke up reflecting the weather; a cloudy, somber down pour of emotions. Nothing was particularly wrong, however, I was not in the mood to deal with the day, let alone myself. For whatever reason, this song made me feel better and I allowed it to loop while I attempted to sort through my thoughts on paper. The repetition of the hook resonated with me and reminded me that transformation is taking place, which doesn't seem like such a bad thing. Going through the changes.

That's one of the most beautiful things about music + sound; when it speaks, you can sense a message that directly applies to whatever you're going through, but only if you're receptive. And for that very reason, I will always appreciate music that I can get lost in.

Press play.

♥ @ChymereA

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