When I was growing up I would hear the name Malcolm X and immediately think radical revolutionary, “By any means necessary” and that he was the total opposite of Dr. King. What many of us fail to see is that Malcolm X is an example of growth and spiritual awareness. His journey was public and he was brave enough to share it with the world.
We do a disservice to the legacy of Malcolm when we liken what he has done or his stance to fictional characters. In the spotlight of the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther there are those who liken the anti-hero Killmonger portrayed by Michael B. Jordan as a representation of Malcolm. Killmonger may have a passion for his people but he is fueled by vengeance and is a murderer. That was not Malcolm.
Upon his return from Mecca, Malcolm became enlightened and recognized that spiritually we are one under the umbrella of the creator. This did not make him less adamant about fighting for freedom for our people, it provided insight and made him aware that this fight for freedom is for ALL people.
50 years ago Malcolm X was murdered in Harlem. We remember this day with reverence and insight. Physically he is not with us but the spirit of his enlightenment, his courage to challenge the status quo and stand by his ideals will always be with us. We honor him for this. Thank you Malcolm.
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This year was great for the culture of hip-hop via rap music. We witnessed the emergence of women who rap, an increase in social commentary and an all-out assault on depression with an emphasis on living your best life. The five projects that made the top 5 best rap album list for 2017 encompass all of that and more. Check out the list. Let me know what you think.
1. Jay-Z – 4:44
Jay-Z continues to hold the torch and consistently moves into space where it can be argued that he is the best to ever do this rap thing. 4:44 is viewed by many as Jay’s response to his wife Beyoncé’s telling release Lemonade. Jay mentioned in an interview with Elliot Wilson on Tidal that they were working on both projects at the same time and Beyoncé’s took precedent. Regardless of how it happened, 4:44, in this writer’s humble opinion, is Jay-Z’s best work. He speaks clearly to his peers. He challenges his own sensibilities and is as vulnerable as a bragging rapper can be. The production provided by Chicago native NO ID provides a bed of lush samples and rhythms that pull the listener into the insightful bars. The most ingenious aspect of the project was the rollout. Every week a new visual was attached to one of the songs on the album tackling racism “The Story of Oj” and Black men’s mental health witnessed in the title track “4:44.”
2. Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom
Rapsody is nobody’s female rapper. She an emcee’s emcee and her project Laila’s Wisdom forces you to take notice. The 9th Wonder produced project is a Golden Age nod with a millennial vision. Her project has been nominated for “Best Rap Album Of The Year” at the 2018 Grammys and she has a legitimate chance at winning. Rapsody does everything right. She can be miss rappity rap, give you a love song and a complete story filled with irony and metaphors. Her song “Ridin” featuring GQ feels like a ride through your nearest hood on a beautiful day. As the song rides along, Busta Rhymes comes out of nowhere to continue with the feel-good vibe. The Jamla artist has been prevalent in recent years on many of her peers’ releases and she always represents solidly. Her wordplay and the way she can stretch out a metaphor is uncanny.
3. Tyler The Creator – Flower Boy
Odd Future impresario Tyler the Creator delivered a project in Flower Boy that is sonically above his peers and musically continues to stretch the boundaries. This is not new to Tyler; however, this project feels like a culmination into what could possibly be his magnum opus. The gritty song “Pothole” featuring Jaden Smith on the chorus harkens back to the original odd futuresque style that is irreverent and bold. The song “Boredom” that was featured on Issa Rae’s hit show Insecure opened a door into Tyler’s production skill. The track takes its time and allows Tyler’s gravely deep voice to live between the sounds. The song itself is inspirational in that it compels the listener to get off their ass and get busy doing something. Live your life.
4. Kendrick Lamar – Damn
Kendrick followed up his undeniable revolutionary classic with an introspective, honest and highly personal release in Damn. He has firmly held his ground as the thought leader of his generation. He boldly tells his peers to be humble and gives insight into his deepest thoughts when it comes to religion and love. “Element” stands out as a song where he just let’s loose and makes it clear who he is and where he comes from. “DUCKWORTH” is the most telling song on the project, as it basically tells the story of Kendrick’s life before his conception. It speaks to how life can conspire in your favor when you pay attention.
5. Big Sean – I Decided
Big Sean has been able to deliver witty bars since his emergence in rap. His project I Decided is a spiritual experience. The album starts off with an elderly man lamenting on his life and feeling like he should have taken another direction in his life. Big Sean open on “The Light” saying, “I spent my whole life trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel / I should have realized that it was inside.” Chicago crooner Jeremih fills up the space of the sparse track with a falsetto soul reminding all that no one can stop your shine. Out of all the projects that made this list, this is probably the one (with the exception of 4:44) that spoke to me the most. The Metro Boomin produced “Bounce Back” is a reminder to keep pushing even after taking a loss. Big Sean is about shining that light and spreading that positivity, and that’s what’s up.
That’s my list. It’s dope, right? What are your top 5 for 2017? Share in the comments
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This is me, Precise rocking the mic at an Olive Harvey talent show 25 years ago. This show is the day I decided I could do this rap thing and consequently was the same day I met one of my best friends and producer Chris Rice, May he Rest In Peace. As I watched the video I felt myself being reenergized as if I was being reminded that it is time to claim my spot and do what I was sent here to do, Live in My Purpose.
What does it mean for one to “Live in their purpose?” How does that benefit the individual and the universe as a whole? All of us have been given tools and talents that are provided to us to open up doors and add value to this world. When we neglect these talents our growth is stagnated and we never fully realize why we are here and what we are here for.
We waste time in fear and doubt. It is a disservice to the creator when we don’t honor our gifts.
We find ourselves at the time of the year when we take an assessment of our lives and look to catapult ourselves into a better circumstance. We must understand that the better circumstance is waiting for us.
I recently received word from two people very close to me that they have accepted their purpose and hearing that from them paired with the surfacing of this video is a message that I hear loud and clear. GO FOR IT! God got you and you will not be forsaken.
Let this message serve as a reminder not to bury your talents. Allow these talents to grow to make a way for you and live in the fullness of your purpose.
God is Awesome and so are YOU!
Now what you gonna do?
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22 years ago I paid $50 for a round trip bus ticket that would change my life. The trip would take me to Washington DC for the Million Man March organized by Minister Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. I was 23 years old with no direction or focus trying to find out more about me. Injustice towards Black people was just as prevalent as it is today. This injustice and economic empowerment were the focal point. A sea of Black men came together in order for the world to take notice and make a change.
There were a few things I came back to Chicago with after my trip. I recognized the power of coming together for one common cause. I developed an understanding of what the Black man means to our families and to our country. I also learned the concept of being self sustaining through ownership and business The most important lesson I learned on that day was the one of forgiveness.
October 16th 1995 was more than a gathering of one million Black men calling for freedom justice and equality. It was also the day of atonement. A day to ask for forgiveness for anything that you may have done that harmed someone. It was a day to sincerely work towards making a mends.
22 years later Black people find themselves in a situation where it feels like the establishment is looking to turn back time. The only difference now is that so many of us are so distracted from the reality of this and we don’t even notice what is happening. We have relinquished our freedom to a screen. In this moment it is imperative that we claim our freedom and get better at the same time.
In the spirit of The Million Man March I am taking this moment to apologize to anyone I have wronged in any way. I am atoning for my sins before the creator. I do this in order to move forward with a clear focus and mind in order to change my circumstance and the circumstance of Black people. Long Live The Spirit of The Million Man March.
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Yasiin Bey performs “The Boogie Man Song” at Concord Music Hall in Chicago during his retirement tour.
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The 14th annual Silver Room Block Party still has Chicago on a love high. Check out a few sights and sounds from the legendary summer event held in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.
As a Chicagoan, a South Sider and a loyal Sox fan this win is one that can be shared with the entire city. The biggest day in Chicago baseball history has culminated into the Cubs finally becoming World Champions.
Social media is on fire, friends are texting me and the excitement is genuine and infectious. “To love the Cubs is a true love because they will kill your soul, crush your spirit and never say sorry…but the love is unconditional…because, to be a Cubs fan takes love to last…and finally….I feel like I been loved all along…it feels amazing!” said Victor R. Moore II.
Next year has finally arrived. It arrived at 11:47 local time at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The Cubs won 8-7.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement, saying:
“From Opening Day in April to a historic November night, the Cubs championship season united the city of Chicago and fans around the world behind this incredible team. The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series is about more than a game, more than a team, and more than a sport. It is about the families who have passed down a love for the Cubs from mothers and fathers to their sons and daughters, and from grandparents to grandchildren. It is about generations who have come together around radios, televisions, and within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field to root for the home team and share triumphs and defeats. Cubs fans have never given up hope that this day was possible, and this young team made it happen. Congratulations to the Ricketts family, Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein, and the players, staff, and fans who together broke the longest drought in professional sports and made history this year. Go Cubs go!”
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GZA brought himself and the spirt of the Wu to City Winery in Chicago. When you think City Winery, a certain aesthetic comes to mind. The clanking of wine glasses, jazz horns and a sultry singer paints a traditional picture of what can be expected. These days, it’s a little different. As hip hop matures, tastes change and so does the expectation of what you will see.
The band came out to introduce themselves, then the intro from GZA’s first release played. The mood was instantly changed. Lyrically, GZA is a reminder of what rap is. As he runs through his album Liquid Swords, you can feel his skill grow with every song. His wordplay is mesmerizing. The fans soak up every second only to release it in wave of love and reciting his rhymes. “It was a great show. GZA is my favorite rapper. My favorite part was when he did his acapellas. He is a great lyricist and he as great metaphors and has more substance than anyone else out there. I got my album signed too, that was the highlight of the night.” said Will K
Fans soaked up every second, some reciting his rhymes. “It was a great show. GZA is my favorite rapper. My favorite part was when he did his acapellas. He is a great lyricist and he has great metaphors and has more substance than anyone else out there. I got my album signed too; that was the highlight of the night,” said Will K.
GZA did not just stick to his discography. He managed to sneak in a few verses from his Wu-Tang brethren. To see him run effortlessly through his rhymes speaks to the bond that the Wu has and the impact they have made over the past two decades.
Check out a few pics below.
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Taraji P Henson, Brooke Mackie and Ashunta Sheriff were all present and in full Halloween regalia at the second annual Hallo-Ball. The event was held at Room Seven on Chicago’s Gold Coast. To say it was the party of the night is an understatement. Taraji was rocking a beautiful Egyptian Queen costume while her co-star Bryshere Grey wore his Rick James wear. The VIP area was packed to capacity, drinks flowed people danced and embodied the characters they chose to dress as. One of the most original costumes was Che “Rhymefest” Smith as Black Panther. Jeezy was also in the building celebrating the release of his latest album Trap or Die 3. As Monday nights go this was one for the history book. Check out a few pics below.
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