Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

rrrgravatarGo here to read my new creative writing blog! I’m a bit more serious on What Looks Like Crazy, and Relax.Relate.Release is the perfect ying to WLLC’s yang.

On the new Web site, I’ll be putting a fun spin on current events because reality is relative, and this is the way I see it. (Yes, I played Raphael Saadiq’s latest album to death.)

I’ve only started the creative writing blog, and already it’s been a true Relax.Relate.Release experience. If you don’t know where that saying comes from, please Google Debbie Allen.

I had so much fun creating the site and writing the first few posts. I hope you enjoy reading them.


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Most of us have to be willing to build a foundation first.

In the media there are so many people thrown to the top these days, not for having talent or working hard, but for being related to someone famous, just for looking pretty, for sleeping with the right person, for having a bajillion kids, or for feuding with someone else. But everybody’s not a Kim Kardashian, Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, Octo-mom, or Real Housewife.

I never thought that the words Diddy reality show and thought provoking moment would go hand in hand, but they did for me during the second episode of the new show, “Making His Band.” Kristopher, one of the contestants vying for a spot in Diddy’s band, ripped his audition in the first episode – scroll to the 3:20 mark on the video: .

Straight ripped it. Had people standing up in the audience and everything. Fast forward to episode two and the judges want to make sure the contestants have the musical foundation to make it to the next level. Alas, we discover that Kristopher can’t read music. (Insert Nick Cannon scene from Drumline here …) But moving on. While some of the others in this boat stress as they try to learn the music for the next try out, Kristopher is pretty confident that he will be alright without really practicing like crazy.

Cut to the day of the next try outs and suffice it to say, although he’s playing something on the drums, it isn’t what the judges are reading on the sheet music. The judges try to give him a small break and ask if he worked hard practicing the piece. “To the best of my ability,” he answered somewhat lackadaisically. The look on the judges’ faces said it all. He was out. Not for not knowing how to read music, but for not having the drive to want to do whatever it took to make it to the top.

I observed a similar experience during my last semester in college. I decided to take a beginners’ percussion class as an elective. Never mind that I was a journalism student who had played the piano for a few years, but had never touched a drum in life. Sounded like a fun class to ease on out of undergrad in!

 Um, yeah, so things did not go as expected. The first day of class I thought I might have accidentally enrolled in an intermediate course. A whole bunch of guys in the university’s marching band were just chillin’ and playing around with the drums in the classroom. Some were getting all fancy with the sticks and twirling them in the air. What the hell was I doing in there?!? (more…)

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The greatness that was Stevie Wonder on the piano during this week’s Michael Jackson memorial:

Last weekend I told my aunt that my soul was complete after finally purchasing Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life.” Why didn’t anyone tell me before? Why did it take 23 years for that to enter my collection?  She told me that I would have fit well into the ‘70s. I could see that. I already rocked a fro a few years ago.  It wouldn’t have taken me that long to learn how to walk in those platform shoes.

But, back to the topic, because today’s mainstream R&B/soul music really sucks isn’t always that great, I’m always looking back to see what music I don’t have from the ‘90s and before to add to the play list.

So what are you listening to? What are some of your favorite old-school albums/songs that you would suggest adding to a good soul music collection?

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Recently I’ve seen a few things that were a little strange, and begged the question, is it just me or is this just all kinds of wrong? 

  1. Too old for tank tops – I saw an older woman with gray hair wearing a midriff top.  Now, she wasn’t that much bigger than this girl in the pic to the right, but still, it was wrong. She was old enough to be somebody’s grandma (or great grandma in these days). Soo, how old is too old to wear a midriff top? 18? 21? Or just when it should be obvious that you shouldn’t be walking out of the house looking like that?
  2. Questionable parenting – Over the weekend I saw a couple come in the restaurant I was at and while they were figuring out where to sit, placed their baby (who was still in his/her car seat) on the floor of the restaurant. Now, I don’t even have kids, but if I did, I sure wouldn’t be putting them on the floor at a FRIDAYS restaurant. No telling what was on that floor… Is it just me? Is it ever OK to put your baby on the floor of a public place/restaurant?  
  3. Auto tune in Gospel music – I feel some type of way about this. I caught Marvin Winans Jr.’s video recently for “Never Let Me Down.” It took me a minute to realize it was a gospel song even though it was on BET on a Sunday. It was the same reaction I had to “The God In Me,” by Mary Mary (which I like). At first, I was like, who is this? What are they saying? And then finally realizing it was gospel. I remember when I was younger and Kirk Franklin was getting big that there was this controversy with older folks saying his music was too secular sounding. I was a big Kirk Franklin fan (still am) and couldn’t see what the issue was. I don’t know though… I still feel some type of way about gospel songs in auto tune. If you listen to gospel, do you see an issue with it, or is it just like with Kirk Franklin in the ‘90s — the artists are trying to stay current to reach young people?

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It feels like
Is passin’ me by
Every now and then
It feels like (feels like)
My ship has gone and sailed away
But I
I gonna be strong (gotta be strong)
Gotta hold on
It won’t be too long

I would travel to the seven seas
(I would even go)
I would even go wherever the wind blows me
(I’ll do anything)
I’ll do anything to find my destiny
It’s like fightin’ with gravity
And it’s bringin’ me down
If this world was really round then tell me how
It’s just a moment for you to come around

I’ve been loving K’Jon’s “On The Ocean” for a minute. (Link here to listen if you haven’t heard it before). But it wasn’t until recently that I thought more about the lyrics, and could relate them to my own life. I rarely write about my personal life on WLLC because that wasn’t my goal when I started it up. But I felt like it today.

Right about now, I can see the ocean, but I’m not sure where the ship is or if it’s coming at all. And sometimes I wonder if I already missed it.

Before I graduated college last spring, I usually always knew what was coming next. The ship didn’t look that far into the distance. But then the economy hit crisis mode a few months after I graduated and all of a sudden I was back on the shore looking into the distance for a ship that I wasn’t all that sure would ever come. If only I had graduated earlier, I thought. Or if I had gone to grad school just to be in school. (more…)

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There are so many entertaining people at the job I’m working now. And if you’ve read the blog for a bit, you know I’m easily amused and love people who make me laugh. So during a conversation with a few co-workers last week, a hilarious revelation came about. We were supposed to be working, so by the topic of this conversation, you can tell we were completely off task.

One coworker was asking about some fact based on “The Parkers” show that no one could remember. So she turned around and asked me if I ever watched the show. I shook my head and explained to her that I can’t take Monique. Because Monique annoys me to no end and her unnecessary screaming and yelling during live shows always makes me want to turn the channel. Like when she hosted the Apollo.

 “Oh, yeah. I remember that,” she said. “Who hosted before that?” “Steve Harvey hosted it at one point,” someone said. “Who was before him?” Someone mentioned Sinbad and Mark Curry. Then the topic of “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” and Raven-Symone came up. “Yeah, that’s when she started trying to become a singer,” I quipped.

Everybody laughed as we talked briefly about her attempts to become a big-time singer. Except for one guy in the group. He was quiet. Then he said, “She’s not that bad!” Uh huh. We all just turned around and looked at him.

Then he hung his head and said, “I guess I have to admit one of my guilty pleasures … I have all Raven-Symone’s albums. And they’re good!”

OMG, we all immediately burst into laughter as he said this. Soo funny. I finally met one of the 50-or-so people who will admit to owning Raven-Symone albums.

He even said he’s looked up some of her performances on YouTube. “What performances?” someone asked. “The Cheetah Girl ones?”

I’m still laughing. My soul died a couple of times from that conversation.

Everyone has a guilty pleasure or two. I’ve discussed a few of mine on the blog already. With complete shame, I watched “For the Love of Ray J” and enjoyed every minute of it. And I’ve watched “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” I feel even worse about that one. Another one is that I really love crazy Britney Spears. The one after all the babies and hair shaving and the relationship with K-Fed. Crazy Britney actually has some songs I like. I’ve danced along to Womanizer, Break the Ice, Circus, and If U Seek Amy – alone of course – in the car.

So, what are some of your guilty pleasures? Things you wouldn’t admit to most of the people you know? Are they worse than the Raven-Symone admission?

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B-Rand’s back! Because I’m cheap and never make it to the movies the first week, and I don’t talk about my personal life that much on the blog, B-Rand’s writings fit perfectly on the site to add some balance.

By B-Rand

What took two and a half years to create was eradicated in 53 minutes. After careful consideration, I decided to get rid of my Earthy ebony locks.

I had been thinking of doing this for a while, and when I had some free time in my schedule and some money in my pocket I decided to quit thinking and start doing. Well, let someone else do it for me.

This decision wasn’t made all willy-nilly like; there are numerous factors that made me come to this choice. Anyone who knows me well enough will know I’m not a high-maintenance person, but having dreads — dreads that look nice — requires me to sit in a chair for two and a half to four hours every two weeks while someone ( on numerous occasions, someone with an attitude) pulls and twists the s**t out of my hair and then throws me under a dryer for another half hour. Every time I want to take a shower, I have to put on a Du-rag and a shower cap to keep any trace of moisture from my head. And to top all that off, I have to sleep in a Du-rag, bandanna, bonnet, etc.

And then there were the costs of keeping up this look. Get out your calculators folks because it’s time to go to school…and math is my weakest subject. It cost me $70 to initiate the dreading process, $50 every time I wanted to get them re-twisted (which should have been every two to three weeks), $20 to get them unprofessionally re-twisted, $7 to get lined up, $5.99 each for three packs of clips to hold my hair during the twisting process, $3.99 every time I brought more locking gel, and about $2.99 every time I bought hair ties. Being the cheap son of a saint that I am, I’d much prefer to only shell out $10-$15 every two weeks for a hair cut.

Having locks got in the way of me being me. Whenever I hung out by the pool, laid on the beach, or almost died on some God-forsaken river in Marianna, Fla., the first thought that always came to mind was that I needed to keep my head above water so I wouldn’t mess up the four hours that went into twisting that mess. (more…)

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