Tsunami Season

Summer 2018 is looking like a hot one and I’m not talking about the weather. Bop after bop keeps raining down from the heavens above and the recent catalog of music to hit the charts this year has me in summer mode already.

An ANTHEM! Yara. Issa. Tracey. Latitia. Misty. Black Girl Magic. And they all looked gorgeous. I.S.S.A. R.A.E. That bitch is gorgeous. She has the most beautiful smile to me… and her skin lawd! Ugh… but I digress.

I’ve sincerely been an Aubrey “Drake” Graham fan since the jump, like since “Best I Ever Had.” Coincidentally, Drake has also always managed to release music at pivotal moments in my life. Nothing Was the Same came out the year I graduated high school. If You’re Reading This, when I made the decision to change my major, change universities, and change the direction I wanted my career to go in. Drake, for me, is synonymous with growth. It’s just like he and I have been on the same wave from jump.

As his music has changed, it has stayed the same, yet he always manages to come back sounding fresh and in-pocket. “Nice for What” is no different – an anthem for all the girls out here getting it.

As I gear up for some major changes in my life while also coming into my own, this new single will be a mainstay on my summer soundtrack to remind me to continue to keep piping up on these niggas and that I don’t necessarily have to be nice to these niggas.

Janelle Monae came in hot with a new single, “Pynk.”

A new project “Dirty Computer” is expected at the end of this month and the singles she’s released thus far have my expectations on ten.

“Pynk” is a sexy, erotic summer jam, an ode to pussy if there ever was one and I’m here for it.

Tessa Thompson made yet another cameo in the video, adding more fuel to my growing suspicion that Tessa and Janelle are an item.

When Tessa’s head popped from between those lips aka Janelle Monae’s legs…

 

I knew.

Best friend and I are headed back to Afropunk this year. We were both a bit skeeved after last year’s festivities but, y’know… a bitch will be in town or whatever so why not? The lineup looks absolutely amazing and Janelle Monae is one of the names headlining so I know her set is going to be out of this world.

Last but not least, the generous queen has come bearing gifts. After an interview with Zane Lowe, Nicki dropped two new singles and from what I heard, it looks like we’re about witness the second coming of Nicki Lewinski.

Bars. For. Your. Ass.

The general consensus seems to be that we’ll be receiving an album from Nicki just in time for the summer. At least I sure hope so. The 2018 summer sound wave is already gathering steam and in effect and something is telling me if we get a Nicki album, on top of everything else, it’s gone be tsunami season.

Ducks in a Row

As this semester draws to a close, the clock is ticking for me to get my shit together.

Graduation. A move. Grad school.

We’re now 4 weeks out from graduation and at this point, I’d really just prefer they hand me my things so I can just go. No need for the pomp and circumstance of a graduation ceremony.

As I type, I’m listening The Friend Zone and they have the Budgetnista on as a guest. I can’t say I was familiar with her before listening but she had some valuable info to share. Numbers have just always sort of made sense to me since I was young, so finance, on the face of it, was pretty easy for me to get.

Don’t spend more than you make.

Don’t take out unnecessary loans. It’s not free money.

Ideally, save half your check and live off the other half.

Simple enough in theory.

But oh bitch, when life starts life-ing, it’s a little bit more difficult to align practice with theory.

She gave an amazing tid-bit about student loans.

Income. Based. Repayment. It’s a thing. Basically, should push come to shove and you broke but still have that loan bill, you can essentially have your monthly balance reduced to $0.

I had a notepad out the whole episode. Can’t be caught out here slipping, especially in New York City. Of course, I’m planning for everything that I can plan for, living situations, jobs, a budget. I’m considering everything that I can think to consider. Obviously, shit will come up that I simply cannot account for, but that’s life. Unplanned things will come up whether I’m in Oxford, Hattiesburg, or New York City.

Overall, I’m stressing but I’m not. In my heart of hearts, I’m at peace. Change doesn’t really scare me. Of course, I’m going to put myself in the best and safest situations that I possibly can, and if some shit hits the fan, we gone chalk it up to the game of life and keep it pushin’. Ain’t no monkeys stopping this show.

It’s full steam ahead.

 

Slow Claps for Cardi: An Album Review

 

Cardi B’s got a new album and y’know… I can appreciate it for what it is. A bop here and there, I fast forwarded through a couple. Overall, I wasn’t disappointed.

From the top, Get Up 10 is brazy. Cardi’s coming out the gate with bars for that ass. I love a good Migos feature and “Drip” is no exception.

“Bickenhead”: a bop.

I can never hear Bodack Yellow ever again in my life, I’ll be just fine.

Now, a lot of folks on the twitters and the grams and the shade rooms had a lot to say about “Be Careful.” Cardi, herself, addressed the flac she got after releasing the single in an interview with The Breakfast Club. But I loved the song the first time I heard it. The Lauryn Hill sample really won it over for me. And to hear that Lauryn, herself gave Cardi the blessing to use the sample – validation.

If you check my track record, I’m clearly Chance the Rapper’s biggest fan. Upon scanning the track list and seeing his name, I actually started the album out of order with “Best Life.” Talk about a personal anthem.

Anything with that Caribbean/hip hop flavor immediately has my attention. “I Like It”: I love it.

I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m not saying it’s right but I really just loathe Kehlani’s voice so that really shot “Ring” in the face for me. Skip.

“Money bag”: it was cute the first time, but it’s a skip 8 times out of 10.

“Bartier Cardi”: it goes off in the gym.

I suppose the last three tracks were cute. It got a little more reserved, a little more introspective, which was nice. You can’t go wrong with a little SZA… And just like that it was over. I say it was a good show and a solid debut. I didn’t not like it. I thought it was cohesive. There are certainly some bops for the summer time.

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I’ll give it to her. I sincerely hopes she keeps going. She’s already begun cultivating a lane of her own and I definitely see room for growth. Perhaps, the new baby will kick the creative juices into a new gear. That seems to be a thing. Regardless of all that, she’s apart of the canon now. If you can’t find it in some part of you to commend this woman on a job well done, regardless of if you like her music, I contend that you are simply a hater.

*Kanye shrug*

That Was Wild

Among the titles from this year’s Sundance that have made it to my Netflix recommendations, Wild Wild Country is the first that I’ve sat down and watched so far.

Now off rip, I wasn’t swayed by the title. Wild Wild Country: I didn’t know what I’d be getting myself into with that. But after reading the description and learning that the Duplas brothers had a hand in producing the series, I reconsidered. The Duplas brothers, Mark and Jay, have been working in film a long time and I’ve been an admirer of theirs for some years now.

So I said, “fuck it, I got some time to kill” and pressed play.

This series has me feeling all kinds of ways.

The doc is about this “cult” of Rajneesh. Baghwan Shree Rajneesh a.k.a Osho. I certainly wasn’t familiar with the title Baghwan, but Osho I was familiar with. People like to quote him a lot on Instagram and Tumblr. Osho was a spiritual teacher who believed that utopian society was possible and developed a whole spiritual teaching based on this belief. He had an ashram in India, but where this series starts is when he and his followers decide to pick up and leave Puna, India and set up shop in Oregon, near the town of Antelope, Oregon.

Already I’m like, “Oregon, tf?”

But it gets crazier. Evidently, the Baghwan had bags and he bought several thousand acres of land – 80,000 to be exact – to build his new utopian city. And oh, did people come out.

These “sannyasins” were out in Oregon deep af. ENTER Ma Amand Sheela. personal secretary to Osho who managed the newly established Rajeeshpuram in Wasco, Co., Oregon.

You can say a lot about her but all I’ll say is that, she was strategic in making sure that her job, as the “spokesperson” for the Baghwan and his ashram, was done efficiently and effectively………. even if those methods were illegal/not entirely ethical.

List of charges against Sheela:

  • Attempted murder
  • Voter fraud
  • Wire tapping
  • Arson
  • Conspiracy
  • Immigration fraud

In a timeline of about four years, Ma Amand Sheela and her “cabinet” of sorts, transforms this sex-positive, peace promoting, truth seeking sannyasin movement into an army, having so much control over those closest to her that she could talk them into murder. MURDER.

It’s truly an enthralling tale and it all went down in little ole’ Wasco County, Oregon.

I don’t know about y’all, but I must have missed this page in my history books. Or maybe it was conveniently left out, who can really say?

Moral of the story: The series raises philosophical questions and grapples with some seemingly contradictory forces: hippies strapping up, Christians being intolerant, the nature of conviction vs. control. Sometimes, in life, there are moments where I’m like “Y’all serious right now?” Real life is often times more fantastical, frightening, and unexpected than what any imagination can conjure. The world is as frightening as it is fascinating. Even if you couldn’t care less about the philosophical implications of this whole Rajneeshpuram debacle, the series is sure to make you think, “What the fuck,” on more than one occasion.

 

 

Moving On Up

Though I can’t yet afford the deluxe apartment in the sky, I’m actually beginning to plan for this big move to my own little “east side,’ or what will more likely be somewhere in Harlem.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that this ain’t about to be all roses. In life, you have to take the crookeds with the straights, right? Right. Financial woes will come. Inconveniences will come. General life fuckery will come…. and that’s fine because the good times will be just that much sweeter.

I’m starting this move on a good foot, though. The line up for Afropunk 2018 is out and after last year’s experience, Reuben and I were kind of side eyeing this year’s proceedings. But the line up is fire and I’m gonna be in town or whatever *flips hair* – #gradgang, #gradstudent – so we said why the fuck not. Afropunk, here we come! Back like cooked crack! Here we go like Mystical!

Alright, I’m done.

Now, check back in with me in a few months, and I might not be singing the same song but I’m gone continue to keep on keeping on. Now that I’m actually in the MFA program at The New School, I want to get my master’s. I want this next notch on my belt. I’m charged up. So, it really isn’t too much that will make me stray from this.

By hook or by crook, come hell or high water, I’m making the move to NYC and I’m bout to get this degree.

The Kids Are Alright

I was at work earlier this week, closing shift. It was around 7 and I went outside to smoke a cigarette. (A nasty hobby, I know, but food service will do that to you) Naturally, I’m scrolling on my phone, Facebook, Instagram, email. And when I saw that @newschool.edu domain in my recents, my heart stopped. I could only see the first line of the email cuz I didn’t have any data, but that was all I needed.

“I wanted to personally congratulate you…”.

I literally gagged. I ran back inside and yelled, “I just got into grad school,” to which everyone rejoiced loud and black-ily.

I’m moving to New York City and iss about to go down!

I’m too excited! With graduation just weeks away, I can’t help but feel like I’m on the precipice of the dopest era of my life. Firmly in my twenties, I’m out for adventure and new experiences. In the months leading up to getting my decision letter, I started coming up with plan B’s for if I didn’t get in. I was determined to get to NYC by hook or by crook and started researching job prospects in the city and cheap living arrangements. Even if I had to pound the pavement to stay there, I would do what it takes to sustain a life in my dream city. But now that I know plan A came through, I’m even more excited to move to a new city.

For someone who is quite introverted, being in a space where peer-to-peer interaction is a encouraged, like a classroom, really helps to lessen my social anxiety. And what better way to meet new, progressive-minded people than in the heart of Manhattan at The New School?

Momma, look I’m grown now, iss about to go down, my heart beating so loud…

 

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I’m sliding into my season like ole’ buddy, here.

Expanding the Canon of Black Film

Sorry to Bother You is the first film of the Sundance Class of 2018 to pique my interest thus far. In short, it’s a comedy, but mix in elements of surrealism and sci-fi and you’ve either got something really amazing or something not so much.

This is director Boots Riley’s, a musician by trade, debut into the independent film world. At first glance, he has a disposition of quiet confidence and his personality seems as ambitious and interesting as the vision for this film. With Sorry to Bother You, Riley adds his name to a growing list of black writer/directors emerging in film.

The movie stars LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Terry Crews, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, and Omari Hardwick and it follows the story of telemarketer, Cassius Green who discovers the “secret to success,” catapulting Cassius into a world of fantastical fuckery. It’s set to come out in July.

LaKeith has been a favorite of mine for a while now. His role as Darius in Atlanta is what endeared me to him initially and though his role in Get Out was small, that meme will last for ages.

Tessa, Tessa, Tessa Thompson. *bites lip* From what I understand, she plays Cassius’ girl in the movie – an interesting pair. I’m excited to see what her performance brings to the table. She’s always been such a talent to me, attraction aside, and her presence on screen is always refreshing.

My expectations are always high when Terry Crews’ name is attached to a project. Not only is he hilarious, he’s intelligent and always delivers a performance that is as endearing as it is daring.

All in all, my expectations are quite high for Sorry to Bother You. I’m always excited to see how the independent film scene is moving and changing. As of the past five years, independent film has been especially popping, particularly as it pertains to black folks. Films like Dear White People, Tangerine, Night Catches Us, Mississippi Damned, Pariah, and Middle of Nowhere are all indies that came out within the last 5- 10 years. These films, among many others that I do not have the space to mention, ushered in a renaissance era in film for black filmmakers and auteurs that continues to push the boundaries to give us shows and movies like Insecure, Queen Sugar, The Chi, Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, and now, Sorry to Bother You. 

 

 

 

It’s Showtime

It seems like Showtime’s The Chi just premiered yesterday and now the season finale is upon us. When I first heard about the show, I was hype af to tune in because one of my favorite names in Hollywood, Lena Waithe, was the brains behind the show. But I’ve stayed loyal for nine episodes because I’ve fallen in love with a place and with people who are just trying to make it through their day like everybody else.

Kevin, Jake, and Poppa

(right, left, and center)

This group of guys has really grown on me since the first episode. We knew Kevin would be close to the action after the first episode, but the way his two bros, Jake and Poppa, have grown this season has been interesting to watch. Poppa is my fav, a true renaissance man. He’s got the moves, he whittles, and when it comes down to it, he’s a true blue friend.

Jake, Jake, Jake. So young, so misguided, so foolish and the sad thing is, he can’t even help it because his only guardian, his brother, Reg, is just as misled as he is. His boys are trying their best to look out for him but he might just be a little too hard headed to listen.

The Block Boys

Trice: Lieutenant

Trice is established as the HNIC early in the season. Trice’s block is the center of the action of The Chi. In many ways he’s your typical dope boy: flashy clothes, nice car, intimidating but he also likes yoga and apple juice.

Reg: Commanding Officer

Reg might not be my favorite character but as is the case most times, once you get to know him, you can at least begin to understand where he’s coming from. With a dad doing a bid in prison, an absentee mom, and a little brother to look after, that pressure would drive any well-meaning person to desperation.

The Outliers

Ronnie

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What we know of Ronnie from the first episode is that 1) He and Tracy (Jason’s mom) used to talk and refers to Jason as his son on several occasions. For this whole season, Ronnie’s been on a mission to get to the bottom of Jason’s murder, but he just might get himself killed in the process.

Emmett

If you’ve been following the season, Emmett is not the irresponsible, teen father we met in the first episode. He’s still got three baby mommas but when he’s forced to deal with the reality of having a child, after a baby is literally left on his doorstep, he begins to show signs that he has potential to make a great dad someday.

Brandon

The definition of a good kid in a mad city, Brandon, played by Jason Mitchel aka Easy E, is really a light in a dark situation. He’s just lost his brother Coogie, but he can’t let that stop him. Fuck a piece of the pie, he just wants his own thing, but no matter how much he tries to stay out of trouble, it seems to find him anyway.

Quentin aka Q: OG

Q’s back and no one knows why but everybody’s on guard. We don’t know much about Q when he’s introduced other than he used to run the block that Trice now runs and he doesn’t like what he sees.

The Mothers

The women in this show are phenomenal. This show is really a testament to the strength of black women and the integral ways that they hold entire communities together.

Jada: Emmett’s mother

Jada was my favorite from episode one. Not only does she lay down the law when it comes to her knuckle-head son, she’s resourceful, caring, and funny.

LaVerne: Brandon’s mother

Having just lost her son, LaVerne is just trying to start fresh but her biggest challenge is her own son, Brandon. She’s simply doing her best to hold her head up as she goes through the unimaginable reality where her youngest son, Coogie, isn’t with her.

Tracy: Jason’s mother

The murder of Jason Roxboro is the point of entry for the series and the woman left to deal with the fall out is Tracy Roxboro, his mother. She wants answers but has none. She’s searching for

Nina: Kevin’s mother

C’Mon LGBTQ representation! Though Kevin’s moms don’t make many appearances, it is understood that Kevin has two moms. Nina, the woman who birthed him and Karen, his mother’s partner. More than anything, their portrayal on screen goes to show that same sex partners are just as capable of raising smart, well-rounded kids as anyone else.

Ms. Ethel: Ronnie’s grandmother

The only silver lining in Ronnie’s life. She’s the only person that Ronnie’s got left and he looks after her best he can. Ms. Ethel is something of a moral compass for Ronnie, and though he takes the scenic route (i.e the entire season) to get there, he ultimately does right by her and as a result, everyone else in the neighborhood who he’s wronged.

This show is one of the most well-written, well-cast, and straight up well-done shows on television right now. It’s new, it’s refreshing and exciting. For people like me, who grew up in the South and only know of Chicago what I’ve seen on the news, this show is important.

A bullet doesn’t just hit the person it’s aimed at. It hits their families, friends, and community and alters their trajectories forever.

The Chi was renewed for another season earlier this year and I cannot wait to see where these stories go and how these characters continue to grow and evolve. As for season one, we’ve only got one more episode to try and put the rest of the pieces together. Last week’s episode gave us some answers, including who murdered Jason but the fallout of that initial murder has yet to be resolved. It’s been a stand out season for Lena Waithe and The Chi, and regardless of how it ends tonight, they’re just getting warmed up.

Wakanda Forever: Thoughts on Black Panther

Four times… and counting. That’s how many times I’ve seen Black Panther and honestly, Marvel can continue to take my money until it’s no longer in theaters.

This. Movie. is simply everything. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything quite like it. As someone who aspires to write for the screen and work in film, I feel like this movie has changed the game has began an era of clearing the path for folks like me who have new ideas and new stories.

What Black Panther has assured us of is that black does indeed translate internationally. Black entertainers like Kevin Hart have made a point of talking about this very phenomenon in multiple interviews. And Kevin does bring down the house. He’s kind of a superstar. (I mean how many movies has he done in the past five years?) But he’s one guy.

Black Panther gave us a cast full of black excellence, some familiar faces, and some new.

And oh baby, did it travel.

$1 B I L L I O N, and still climbing.

Following Ryan Coogler’s career, I knew he was capable of delivering something of quality. He’s a brilliant story teller, but I wondered how he would bring his auteurism to a studio like Marvel, who, in my opinion, makes movies that generally lack depth. Marvel makes good movies, obviously, but I rarely go to the theater to see them.

The two philosophies pitted against each other in the film worked perfectly as the defining conflict between T’Chala and Eric. Tradition vs. Innovation? What is a nation that has built and sustained itself to do in the context of a global society? Do they have a moral obligation to help those who cannot help themselves? Or should they just mind their business like they’ve been doing?

I knew I smelled a rat. W’Kabi a.k.a. Brutus, Daniel Kaluuya’s character, said something telling in the first act of the film.

“If you bring the refugees here, they bring their problems with them. Then Wakanda is like everywhere else.”

Sounds like a Trump supporter to me. When he said that, I knew I had to watch that nigga. And low and behold, this bitch is leading the rebellion. But he knew he wasn’t stepping to T’Chala – and winning – so he waited for his moment.

ENTER Eric Killmonger.

The beginning of the movie sets up his tragic story and we get some context to what he’s trying to accomplish here. The MO: to liberate oppressed people the world over and usher in a new era of Wakandan global dominance. But his motives are revealed to be completely selfish and ill-founded so the mission was doomed to fail from the start.

From what I’ve seen on the internet, very few people are acknowledging the voice of reason, Nakia, Lupita Nyong’o’s character, who was basically saying “We don’t have to wage war on the world to help it. We have the juice here. Ain’t nobody fuckin’ with Wakanda. We can all be great.” A happy medium right? I thought so.

T’Chala is ultimately won over by Nakia’s philosophy and he even confronts his dad about it after being revived from the spirit realm. Leave it to a woman to be the rational one.

This is where my absolute favorite comes in. Lord M’Baku of the Jabari people.  He sees himself as this defender of tradition in his initial combat with T’Chala. He’s been watching from the mountains and does not like what he sees. He’s gracious enough to keep T’Chala alive after finding him nearly lifeless but set in resolve to remain neutral in the ensuing struggle for power. But in the end, the Jabari people help to save their Wakanda, realizing that it would be more a crime to remain silent than to let Killmonger and W’Kabi wage war on the world.

Depth. Thought provoking. Insightful. The performances were amazing. The costume design, the detail, the aesthetic, everything about this movie was out of this world. It’s the best Marvel movie I’ve ever seen hands down, but it also one of the best movies I’ve ever seen period.

This was a feat of tremendous proportions and I am both floored and fascinated. What the world is about to witness something I will call the Black Panther effect, pushing forward an era of pushing boundaries, telling new stories, and inspiring new ideas.

And I cannot wait.

#100: A Weekend For the Books

#100: A Weekend For the Books

Even with only 2 classes this semester, I’m just exhausted. It’s like no matter how much I think I’m eliminating from my plate, it somehow manages to fill itself back up almost instantly.

We last spoke at the end of February and since then a lots been going on. As I type this, I’m flying 3000 feet in the air back to Memphis from DC after a weekend with my best friend, Reuben. As avid listeners of…

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