Issa New Year: Get Into It

Let’s be real: 2017 came with its own special steaming pile of bullshit. I don’t need to go into detail. Y’all can just look back at the Shade Room’s feed for the past year. This one was really one for the books.

But so is every other year. If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize is that the bullshit don’t stop. It can’t stop and it won’t stop. It’s here to stay and as long as niggas are alive, the bullshit will persist.

So let’s talk about things that really matter. It’s a new year and although its a lot of shit that can just stay in 2017, it’s also a lot of things that I’m excited to see pop off in 2018. This is my theory and I’m sticking to it: chaos feeds the engine of creativity. As the world slides deeper and deeper into fuckery and chaos, there’s always a few individuals that rise above and attempt to bring everyone who’ll listen with them. And when you pay attention to them instead of the asshats of the world, it’s almost seems like a good idea to be optimistic about the future.

My last few posts are going to be my personal picks for who I’m looking out for in 2018. I’m looking at musicians/artists, film, television, internet influencers, activists, allem. It’s also awards season which I kind of live for. The grammy noms are out and I’m pretty much here for the line up. I hope this is setting a precedent for what we’ll see with the rest of awards season.

Regardless, I’ll be here, behind my computer. Watching. Listening. Judging.

 

Songs in the Key of My Life

This time of year always gets me in my feels. Tis the season for reflection on all the fuck shit that went down and lots of celebrating with weed and alcohol for just how in the hell you managed to make it through.

My last few posts of the year are probably going to be tinged with a touch of nostalgia cuz bitch, I can finally see the light at the end of this tunnel and to that I raise my hand and say hallelujah.

I was poking around on SoundCloud and found some old jams that I used to listen to in my dark days. When I think about it, music is a big factor in how manage to make it on the day to day. I generally don’t keep much company so music, the occasional sex-capade, and a decent amount of weed are what keep me going.

I’m one of Chance the Rapper’s biggest fans. Not even on some bandwagon shit, I found Chance’s music at a difficult transitional moment in my life. I was leaving high school, starting college and more or less trying to figure myself out. In his early days, he released a project with Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment, something like a mixtape and on this particular mixtape was this song “Wonderful Everyday.” It was Chano’s own remix of the Arthur theme song and it always just touched me.

Gives me the feels every time.

Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon was my saving grace. I had been a fan of Cudi since middle school. His music just spoke to me. The shit he talked about going through were things that I could identify with and I always felt like if we ever met irl, we’d probably vibe.

Last but certainly not least, J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive.

I mean, do I really have to explain myself?

The third anniversary of the release of this project is coming up which is crazy because I distinctly remember sitting in the dark, alone listening to this album, crying during my freshman year because a bitch was especially in her feelings. Freshman year was… whew.

Honorable mention goes to, Big Krit’s King Remembered in Time was like my bible in high school.

I’ve grown more appreciative of my southern roots over the years. This place irks me but it also produced Krit which has to show for something. He’s refreshing… Not to mention, his new shit, Forever is a Mighty Long Time, is some fye.

I’ll probably be doing a post on my faves of 2017, but until I️ get around to it, kids.

Gotta blast.

Everybody Has a Breaking Point

The Stanford Prison Experiment. Let’s chat.

Not the real thing, but the movie. I watched it for the first time last night and… woah.

First of all I didn’t even know the shit was based on real life before I watched it. But I did my Googles afterwards. Evidently it won a couple awards at Sundance when it premiered there and that was enough to get me interested enough to watch.

Breakdown: So 24 male college students willingly agree to participate in the Stanford Prison Experiment for two weeks, for $15/day. Peanuts, today, but I guess that was a nice chunk of change for a college student in 1971. They were chosen because they were all supposedly mentally and psychologically healthy, they came from similar backgrounds, and were similar ages – young, white boys of privilege.

One could almost say they were equals – until shit got real.

When you’re an English major, like myself, you read a lot of shit. Thematically, the premise of this story was similar something like a Lord of the Flies (by William Golding) or an Animal Farm (by George Orwell).

The thing with having the “guards” in the experiment wear shades at all times was trippy too because as I was sitting there watching it, I thought about Michel Foucault’s Panopticism and the role that seeing/sight plays on the psychology of “guards” and the “prisoners.”

But I won’t bore you with theory.

The acting in this movie was fucking brilliant.

Fucking Michael Angarano – who plays Chris Archer a.k.a the dude that took that guard shit way too serious with his Captain from Cool Hand Luke impersonation – knocked that shit out of the park. All the actors gave some Oscar-worthy performances.

Moral of the story: absolute power [always] corrupts absolutely.

What started out as an experiment turned into a dangerous example of the human psyche and how fragile it is and once again shows us how if any one of us, if given that inch, can take the whole damn mile.

The experiment was supposed to last two weeks but things went to shit much sooner than expected and was terminated after just six days.

Go fucking figure.

 

 

Living on the Edge

This weekend I finally got to go to Afropunk and… bitch.

The line up was fire.

The melanin was fire.

The atmosphere was on fire – it was hot af but myself and my main man Reuben (@fromthedeskofreuben) kept it fresh and funky and had a blast.

Not only was it my first time at Afropunk, it was my first time in NYC, which was double my trouble.

I’ve been debating on whether or not I want to continue grad school up there and after this weekend… whew! It would definitely be an adjustment but I think I could accept the challenge.

It was a ton of people! Usually crowds make my ass itch but luckily we had a few joints rolled and ready to calm my nerves. In the midst of the sea of people, I actually ran into Dustin Ross from The Friend Zone!! *fan girls*

I’m gay as fuck but that is a beautiful man. Our interactions only lasted seconds before he was carried away in the crowd, but that was enough time for me to yell “Hey Dustin” and him to acknowledge my existence and say “Hey” back.

Honestly, I feel liberated. I’ve never seen so many carefree black folk in one place all smoking, dancing, and living in the moment.

I loved every second.

Here’s to next year!

In These Podcast Streets

A month ago, I didn’t even know who Janet Mock was. I don’t know how I came across “Never Before with Janet Mock” but the shit is lit.

Her first guest was none other than the queen mother, Tina Knowles – Lawson, and for a little under an hour they waxed philosophic about the princesses of Parkwood and her own endeavors in making the world a more hospitable place for young black girls.

And the roster just gets better as the season goes on.

Two weeks ago, none other than the man behind Joanne the Scammer, Brandon Miller, came on to talk about how he got to now. I must admit, I was a bit late on the Joanne the Scammer wave. But I kept hearing people say “Get out of my caucasian home,” and I had to investigate the origin of such a statement. My googles brought me to Joanne’s Instagram page.

Last week, she had none other than my #wce, Crissle West, from The Read. I didn’t think I could love her anymore than I already did, but after a fun talk between she and Janet, I can’t shake the thought that somewhere in a parallel dimension, Crissle and I are actually sisters. So smart, so beautiful, so black.

In my analysis thus far, Janet’s got the podcast juice. And we’re only like nine episodes in.

 

 

Backshot Heard Round the World

Bitch.

Insecure season 2 kicked off on Sunday and…

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Issa Rae is truly a treasure.

So season one: We get to know Issa’s world. Her friends, her relationship, and the dynamics of both. Even though Insecure was becoming its own thing, I couldn’t help but compare it to Awkward Black Girl, an ABG 2.0, if you will.

But now, in season 2, Insecure definitely feels like its own entity. Where each of the characters has a niche in the world that they occupy and cope with.

Shout out to Dustin from The Friend Zone podcast! When I saw his face in the trailer, I screamed like a boy band stan and I’m not ashamed of it.

Issa’s out here dating, trying to get back into the swing of things after her break up with Lawrence. But dating, quite honestly, is much. She’s doing that “where are you from/what do you do” bullshit and I was cringing for her.

Meanwhile life don’t stop and Molly, Issa’s bestie, finds out this white nigga makes more than her at the law firm that they’ve both been at for the same amount of time. I get my life when she checked that bitch at the dinner party and reminded Trevor (or whatever the fuck) of his white and male privilege.

She’s still not fully feeling this therapy shit yet though.

And last but not least, Lawrence.

I really don’t know how to feel about him yet. I really don’t.

He trash as fuck for leaving that raggedy ass shirt in the closet and taking the pillow. And him and that girl Tasha… I just…

She needs to sit the fuck down somewhere.

Of course, the fun didn’t end with the season premiere. The internet and its commentary made for lots of fun.

Say what you want about Charlemagne, but the nigga is good for a laugh.

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I see where his allegiance lies. Typical.

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All in all – that was a damn good premiere. In the coming weeks, I look forward to Issa’s hoe-ventures and hang-ups. This is gonna be a wild one.

Buckle up.

Not an Album Review

Honestly, I can’t say I have ever called myself a Jay-Z fan.

His was a wave that I missed, as fate would have it, and I never really got into it.

And I’ve heard shit about Jay-Z being a top pick for the hip hop heads of the internet. How innovative he was, how he sold drugs then turned to rap and just fucked the game up, how he married the baddest bitch, Queen Beyonce – yeah, I peeped the resume and still, I wasn’t a believer.

But this shit right here.

This shit right here.

This shit right here.

This album is being touted as Jay’s Lemonade. I think that’s a pretty accurate summation of this record.

And for the same reasons I loved Lemonade, I love 4:44.

I think it’s a beautiful thing when people show that they’re human. It’s becoming an increasingly prevalent habit for us to forget it. Jay’s made the transition – in my catalog – from a figure to a full form human being.

 

I’m not lost on Jay’s ability to produce a banger. I saw a couple of his videos on 106 & Park when I would sneak and watch it as a young, black tot.

The production on this album though! It’s amazing.

To paraphrase Anthony Fantano, the internet’s busiest music nerd, this album kind of sounds like it could’ve been released on Stone’s Throw records.

And Jay isn’t on that typical get-money-fuck-bitches tip that I’ve come to know him for. He actually talked about someone other than himself for a good chunk of the project. Blue, Bey, his mother, his marriage, his thoughts, his feelings, legacy.

I just admire growth. And to that, I say kudos to Mr. Carter.

I gotta say, he really surprised me with this.

*throws up the rock*

 

Still Processing…

At the top of this year, I really thought Netflix was starting to find a groove with their original content. That last season of Orange is the New Black aside, they had some nice selections.

I really got into The Get Down. After asking around, I gathered that there weren’t too many people that I knew who enjoyed the show, so I binge watched the first season on my own with a few pints of Talenti. The thing that hooked me was the historical fiction-y aspect of the story.

The gist of the story – the beginning and proliferation of hip hop as a culture – was historically accurate but the characters were amalgamations and variations of people real and made up.

Shaolin Fantastic was a badass character, but to my knowledge there was never a real MC called Shaolin Fantastic.

I get that the budget might’ve been a bit hefty. And evidently, Bas Luhrmann was committed enough to it to keep it going. But damn.

Then they cut Sense 8.

Here y’all go with this insufficient budget excuse. It’s been done before. Commit bitch. There are people counting on knowing what the fuck is going to happen with the Sense 8s now that Whisper’s is creeping up on them again.

How do you cancel the show on a cliff hanger?! – The unmitigated gaul.

I actually tried it with this season of OITNB. Not a fan. That shit’s over.

Now that’s one that Netflix could actually let go.

How Do I Measure the Time?

In episodes of The Read, quite honestly.

I really feel like they’ve perfected this podcast shit. Like they’re funny, witty, intelligent and just plain relatable. And don’t let both of them come in the studio fucked up – GOLD. I think I discovered the show around this time last year and ever since, I have to get my fix every week.

Fury said he was in Jamaica this week and that the episode wouldn’t come out til Friday, instead of their established Thursday release date. I had a four hour drive back to Oxford on Thursday. Now what was I going to do to kill the time?

Listen to old episodes, of course.

In the past year, I’ve branched out into that whole LSN conglomerate. The Friend Zone, Combat Jack, Gettin’ Grown – I really enjoy all the content.

It’s really something I’m really excited to see grow and flourish.

It’s to the point where I’m either listening to music or listening to podcasts, truly and honestly.

How do you speak to me when I have headphones in? Don’t.

Bad Mutha Shut-Yo-Mouth

I really can’t even lie… I fucks with DJ Khaled.

Like on some real shit, the man is the shit. Not only is he business savvy, but he puts on a damn good show. In every sense. I start my days, most of them, with his snapchat story.

Sidebar: I’m a loyal one. I still haven’t been won over by the Insta Side.

That is truly someone who works and lives what he speaks – unapologetically. He’s very well adjusted to this 21st century life. He’s tech savvy. He’s got deals with Beats and Jordan. He’s practically the king of social media. If you won’t concede that, he’s certainly mastered the medium as a means of personal branding.

He’s aspirational.

He looks good.

He seems to be enjoying life.

The relationship between he and his son makes me like infants just a little more. That is the happiest baby I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

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Asahd just handles the cameras like a G. I mean it’s almost as if Khaled’s constant reinforcement that his son is a don, a mogul,  a legend, god’s gift to earth, or whatever else he says to empower that baby.

An empire is on the horizon, I feel.

One of RussellSimmons/RickRubin/DefJam or Puffy/BadBoy or JayZ/RocNation proportions. This man is smart. This man is focused. This man is talented. And say what you want, he’s talented. He certainly has an ear for quality shit. He recently posted a video of just him speaking into the camera saying he’d had some offers from major record companies to become president of those respective labels. Of course, a video on the gram is a minute so he didn’t go into much detail but…

B I T C H.

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Y’all remember that: “We taking over!” 

Like that song is damn near a decade old and I still know all the lyrics and rap along every single time I hear it.

But I don’t mean to dick ride or anything. I listened to Grateful and aside from the singles and the song with Chance the Rapper (of course), I really could do without a second listen.

But “To the Max” goes off. I think it’s going to be my summer song.

“Wild Thoughts” goes off. I love it.

He could’ve missed me with “I’m the One.” And that’s okay. I don’t have to like all his songs to know that Khaled is a bad mutha shut-yo-mouth and that he’s quickly on his way to the stratosphere.

All that said, all praise to DJ Khaled and the young don, Asahd. They’re the tops. I only wish good things for them. I’m truly inspired by them and y’know… they’re really two of the most refreshing people in the world right now.

And hell… give this man his roses NOW. He’s really a treasure.

**ALL pics courtesy of dj khaled’s instagram**