Life Is But a Read

Today in Black History, I honor The Read.

I’ve never related to two people more than I do these two. I found The Read at a really bad time, or a really good one depending on how you see it. Freshman year was the worst year of my life. I was away from home. I didn’t know very many people and my social anxiety was such that I sat in the back of all my classes and never talked to anyone. I went to class and back to my dorm. Towards the end of the semester, I just stopped going to class. My grades slipped, naturally. I had heard the phrase “College isn’t for everyone,” before but that was never more real for me than at that time in my life.

I couldn’t drop out. Momma wasn’t having that. So sophomore year, I opted to change scenery and transfer. I figured it might be a good move. I knew a couple folks on the new campus who introduced me to more people. It was a small town so I’d run into them often. But even then, I still spent the majority of the time by myself.

I listened to my first episode of The Read on August 19, 2016. The episode: Mess Side Story

So I came in about two years after Fury and Crissle launched The Read, but I picked it up with ease, feeling like I was listening to two friends chop it up over whatever came to mind. It was love at first listen.

Since that fateful day, these two are still doing the damn thing. A good friend and I wanted to get tickets to their 5th anniversary show at The Apollo (yes, bitch, The Apollo), but that shit sold like hot cakes. All the tickets were gone in less than 24 hours and our hopes were dashed.

I got over it, eventually.

But I’ll still be celebrating with them in spirit. At this point, Fury and Crissle feel like siblings to me. Three years after my first listen and a bitch finished undergrad early and is making moves to move to the Big Apple to pursue my own dreams in comedy and writing.

I said all this to thank Fury and Crissle for their contribution to the culture and to my own peace of mind. I’ve been watching them grind together this entire time and I’m extremely happy for them that all the hard work is paying off. They dared to move to NYC to get shit popping and while, at first, it was a little bumpy, they’re out here prospering.

Their wave is crazy and it inspires me every day to get on my shit. (If by some off chance one of them reads this…) Thanks Fury and Crissle for all that y’all do. For being inspiring, influential, and unapologetically yourselves.

Happy Anniversary! I wish y’all the best.

 

 

 

 

In a Real Way

How amazing is Snoop Dog?

Why I haven’t actually subscribed to the Gangsta Good News Network, I don’t know, but I occasionally watch some of Snoop’s interviews because sometimes they’re the best laugh I have all day. There’s really no one like him.

I feel like I’ve always known who Snoop Dog was. In hindsight, it’s like he was always just kind of in the ether. In middle school, I was really into “old school rap” and I knew Snoop by voice but the “Sensual Seduction” video in particular, comes to mind when I think about the first time Snoop Dog ever really stuck out to me.

I remember going to my aunt’s house when I was a kid. Their house was a duplex, set up to house to full families but only three people lived there – my aunt and uncle lived upstairs and my cousin lived in the bottom level. (Idk, they were from Cali)

But I digress…

Of course, I wasn’t allowed to watch BET at my mom’s house, but when I would go to my cousin’s house and of course niggas was watching 106 & Park in the basement when that video premiered.

Of course it was much later that I realized that that was the clean version and the real version was “Sexual Eruption,” but I think seeing this video was the first time I was realized that Snoop Dog was an iconic motherfucker.

And Snoop’s GGN News isn’t just some third string internet show. Snoop has sat and smoked with some esteemed individuals and they open up to Uncle Snoop in ways that they don’t get to on a conventional news set. I appreciate Snoop and this show. It really exists outside any other news media outlet and allows me to see my favorite movers and shakers in a completely different element than what I’m used to. Whether or not they decide to pass their turn on the blunt, the interviews are always fresh, interesting, and entertaining.

And he’s still good for a fresh freestyle

I was looking through the other day and Kathy motherfuckin Bates was on the GGN Network talking about her show, disjointed and the cannabis movement. The video’s about a month old, but it’s still golden.

Snoop also welcomed my good fave Lena Waithe to the Smoker’s Studio. They got high af and talked about blackness and film and Emmy’s.

Snoop has aged quite well and I mean that in every way.

Not only does he look good, he has managed to stay relevant in interesting ways. From his music, to his acting, to his social media antics and memes, to his independent ventures, Snoop is for the culture.

Today in Black History, I honor the Snoop D-O-double Gizzle, Calvin “Snoop Dog” Broadus.

Give Em LaHelle

On this day in Black History, I’m honoring Patti LaHelle.

It’s impossible to talk about comedy without talking about black women. I’ll forgo waxing on the idea of the plight of the black woman and comedy sometimes coming from situations that aren’t funny at all and  and all that and just say black women are funny as shit. They have been from jump.

If you haven’t seen the masterpiece that is the Got 2B Real series, stop what you’re doing.

 

Comedy gold. The style. The wit. The reads. Patti LaHelle truly created something for the culture when she created Got 2B Real.

G2bR, also known as the Diva Variety Show, is a spoof of a reality show that features some of the most legendary names in pop, soul, and r&b of our time. Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Mariah Carey, and Beyonce are some of the cast members featured on the show. The women are all invited to Patti LaBelle’s house for dinner and the personalities that find their way to the dinner table make for two seasons (and a short film!!!) of piping hot tea.

Together they deliver some the shadiest reads, quickest comebacks, and most potent quotables ever caught on tape.

The brain child of Patti LaHelle has been a mainstay in my life since I discovered it sophomore year of college. I consider Ms. LaHelle a visionary for what she created. Though her Got 2B Real journey is over (allegedly), Patti LaHelle has proven herself to be a force on the internet and a lot of folks, including myself, want to see her create even more content. The day is on its way, I’m sure of it.

This black woman is a comedic genius.

If ever there is a dull moment in your day, take a moment, pull out your phone, and watch a couple episodes. That always makes me feel better.

Thank you, Ms. LaHelle for your contribution to the culture.

 

 

 

 

Gimme Five on the Black Hand Side

In honor of Living Single being released on Hulu, I have to take a moment to acknowledge the greatness that is Queen Latifah, in another installment of “Give ‘Em Their Roses.”

I relate to Khadijah James as a writer and and entrepreneur. She was hard working, honest, and had some of the flyest fits out of the cast.

The queen has been doing the damn thing for a loooong time. Bow down, bitches.

We all (should) know that Queen Latifah’s introduction into the entertainment industry was as an MC. She blasted on the scene in ’89 with All Hail the Queen and the rest was history. If you’re talking about the golden age of hip hop and you leave Queen Latifah out of the conversation, just stop talking.

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In the pantheon of great female MCs, Queen Latifah’s got one of the most distinct voices to ever be pressed into wax. It’s up there with with MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill, and Missy Elliot.

Like a lot of her male counterparts, Queen La took her success in hip hop and parlayed that into an acting career. Most recently, she starred in Girls Trip along with Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Tiffany Haddish, but her catalog goes way back.

Who can forget her performance as Cleo in Set It Off?

Queen Latifah stays booked. From crime thrillers to comedies to dramas to musicals, she’s done it all. One of my favorite performances of hers is from Hairspray as Motormouth Maybelle.

(Perhaps one day, I’ll delve into my love of musical theater)!

Another one of her most compelling performances was in the HBO special, Bessie.

Queen La will forever be one of the GOATs. She’s talented, funny, and that black hasn’t cracked yet. And for that I say…

Giver her her roses.

Give him his roses

Have I mentioned that I’m only taking one class this semester. I’m done with my degree but I’m not about to forfeit this financial aid. But I’ve got a whole lot of free time on my hands as of late and that’s kind of new to me.

All my life, I’ve been in school. Nine hours a day plus homework. Five days a week. In high school, I was on the debate team so most of my weekends were booked. And those tournaments lasted all day.

Then on top of a full schedule in college, I manage to juggle a job (and last year, I added a blog to that list).

Long story short: A bitch finally got some breathing room. And now I have more time to blog!

So today I’m bringing back something I started last year: Give ’em Their Roses where I take a look at an exceptional individual who’s still living and breathing on this green earth but never really gets the credit for the work they’ve been putting in whether they be actors, artists, entertainers, etc. The culture owes a lot to these folks. I’m just here to remind y’all.

The first batter up in this new year is

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Giancarlo Esposito

In my new found freedom, I decided to re-watch Breaking Bad. I feel like the show’s following is still kind of occult. Not a lot of people watch it (that I’ve come in contact with) so I can only gush about it on here. Anyway the show is dope. Gus, the villain of the story, is as terrifying as he is compelling – a formidable antagonist to the great Heisenberg.

The earliest thing I can remember him in is a couple Spike Lee joints.

Who can forget Buggin Out from Do the Right Thing or the oh-so-fly, Dean, Big Brother Almigh-TEE from School Daze as well as Left Hand Lacy in Mo’ Better Blues.

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He’s got a streak on the indie scene too. One of my favorites being Fresh. It came out in the 90s and it’s a dope character study of this little kid nicknamed Fresh, in the hoods of Philly.

What I like most about him is his voice acting. He’s got one of those voices that just stick with you like Morgan Freeman or Sam Jackson. You might remember his voice as the narrator of the first season of Netflix’s Dear White People.

And he played Mylene’s father in The Get Down, but niggas always had something to say about that show. I thought it was cute.

The man’s been in the game for a long ass time. And he acts the fuck out of every performance. And he’s still out here doing the damn thing.

Giancarlo Esposito, you’re a true thespian for the culture.

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*

 

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**

Give Em Their Roses

We’ve all heard the saying “Give them their roses while they’re living.” And shit, since I have this blog, I’d like to pay it forward.

Y’all realize how many treasures we have in the world that we just take for granted?

In honor of 4/20 the first to be honored in this series is none other than Mr. O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson.

I’m actually sitting here listening to his interview on Snoop Dog’s GGN Network and listening to him talk, he still has a solid head on his shoulders. Even though I personally wasn’t alive when N.W.A. was in full swing, from what I gather, that’s always been the case. Cube is a smart man. From writing raps to writing movies, the man is gifted with the pen. (Something I’m personally enamored with.)

F.R.I.D.A.Y.

Nuff said, right?

Not only is this man responsible for a cult classic he acted in that bitch and showed the fuck out. Friday wasn’t just a “hood movie.” It was a movie about responsibility and friendship. It was an interesting story. Well written. Well executed. Just a classic.

The growth that I see in this dude is astounding. I always knew Cube was one cool mofo, but I don’t think I cultivated such a profound respect for this man until I saw Straight Outta Compton. On the surface, it looked like Eazy ran the show and, no doubt, Eazy was a business man. But I don’t care how you look at it, ain’t no N.W.A. without Cube.

There’s no Fuck the Police without Cube.

There’s no Friday franchise without Cube.

There’s no Boyz in the Hood without Cube. Like the character of Doughboy is still one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever seen in a movie. Never forgot.

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In fact, I would go so far as to attribute the current sound of the west coast to the precedents set by Cube, N.W.A., and the whole “gangsta rap” movement.

This man is a national treasure. Give him his roses.