19Feb/18
Black Panther movie

My Reaction to the Black Panther movie aka Spoiler Alert!

Black Panther movieThe Black Panther movie released this weekend in all of it’s Black Excellence glory. It was worth the wait and the estimated $218M it earned during its opening weekend, shattering records and telling movie studios to STFU about Black movies not busting box offices wide open. More on that and my thoughts about the deeper storyline to come (skip to below the bullet points), but first my reactions to some of the Blackest moments and lines in the film. Ryan Coogler has a way of capturing the essence of Blackness, especially with Michael B. Jordan, from Fruitvale to Creed and now with Black Panther. The writers did an excellent job at including colloquialisms and mannerisms specific to Black culture and the actors did a phenomenal job of bringing them to life.

  • I loved the irony of the newscaster calling Wakanda a “third world country” which made me ask wtf defines a third world country to begin with?
  • Okoye (Danai Gurira): “Don’t freeze when you see her.” T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman): “What are you talking about? I never freeze.” Then he freezes, LMAO. Lupita has that effect, hunny.
  • Shuri (Letitia Wrightgives T’Challa a playful middle finger while walking away and Ramonda (Angela Bassett) calls her on it without even seeing it. Black Mothering at its finest…
  • Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordantells the lily-white museum director, “Don’t worry, I’m going to take it off of your hands,” referring to the Wakanda artifact. MJB is consistently Black as hell…
  • The boat ride to the ceremony with Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) giving us a taste of #danceislife deserves mention.
  • When T’Challa walked into the water and saw his nation rooting for him. That was powerful on multiple levels. We all need to be rooting for each other like that.
  • When Zuri (Forest Whitakerasks if anyone of royal blood wishes to challenge for the throne and Shuri raises her hand only to ask them to wrap it up because her outfit is too tight. Typical Black sibling trolling.
  • Ramonda yelling to T’Challa “SHOW HIM WHO YOU ARE!” during the challenge with  M’Baku (Winston Duke). Babbbbbbyyyy, I felt that in my bones. That needs to be a daily affirmation.
  • I loved how every ritual was ancestrally-based.
  • T’Challa telling Nakia she would make a great Queen if she wasn’t so stubborn (I almost threw my boot at the screen), for Nakia to respond that is WHY she would make a great Queen. T’Challa just wanted her to admit that she wanted to be his Queen.
  • Shuri’s consistent afrobeat playing throughout her lab. *hearts*
  • Shuri yells “WHAT ARE THOSE” to T’Challa’s traditional sandals. She then gives him his new soundproof footwear and says she calls them… wait for it… sneakers… get it? LMAO! THEN she tells him about his new suit design and he’s all my suit is fine and she says, “Functional, but old. If people are shooting at me, wait, let me put on my helmet.” She had jewel after adorable jewel. She tells him to strike the suit and he boots it across the room and she yells at him for messing up her lab, but informs him of the suit’s design and that it absorbs and then redistributes kinetic energy. She takes out her camera, for research purposes, and tells him to strike the suit again only to howl laughing when he goes flying across the room when he is blasted back by his own force.
  • Okoye said she couldn’t wait to get her wig off of her head and that it was a disgrace. Shots fired?
  • Nakia in the green dress in the Korea scene. Have mercy.
  • Black Panther movie
  • Agent Ross’s ole bitchass needed to be popped in the mouth for how he was speaking to T’Challa at the table. Find some respect.
  • Okoye pointed out that no weapons were allowed yet yielded her weapon less than 60 seconds later when the fight broke out! Black women always prepared for EVERYTHING. That jump down from the 2nd level was the first of her notable jump scenes.
  • Shuri’s excitement when the car populated in her lab. Adorbs.
  • The quick shot of Nakia driving barefoot was a great attention to detail since she lost her shoe when she used it as a weapon in the fight.
  • When their car is blasted by Klaue, Okoye flips, grabs her spear in mid-effin-air, and lands on a piece of the car. Then Nakia comes hilariously sliding in with just the seat and steering wheel.
  • Can we talk about how T’Challa could’ve ended Klaue and Killmonger wouldn’t have had his dead body as leverage if we weren’t in such a digital age? Oh ok.
  • Okoye’s disdain for taking the shot Agent Ross into Wakanda to be healed, and Shuri saying, “great, another broken white boy for us to fix, this is going to be fun.” Classics.
  • Killmonger showing his Wakanda tattoo and killing Klaue made me smile.
  • When they revealed that Young T’Chaka (Atandwa Kaniand Young Kuri (Denzel Whitaker) left baby Erik after killing his father, N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown), I was livid. Though we are ultimately responsible for our actions, we cannot ignore the roots of our issues. People keep referring to Killmonger as the villain, but, in my opinion, he killed the main villain. He’s just a brother who needs some healing and therapy to learn to deal with his past and how to properly bring about the change he wants to see for his community.
  • Shuri to Agent Ross: “Don’t scare me like that colonizer!” when he woke and started asking her where he was. According to the internets, wypipo will officially be referred to as colonizers until further notice.
  • Black Panther movie
  • Killmonger points out there are 2 billion people that look like them struggling around the world and that Wakanda had the tools to LIBERATE them all. T’Challa remarks that it is not their way to use vibranium for they are not judge, jury, and executioner for people that are not their own and Killmonger then he says “Not your own? But didn’t life start right here on this continent? So aren’t all people your people?” JEWELS JUST FALLING FROM HIS LIPS!
  • Killmonger nonchalantly to Ramonda: “Hey Auntie.” By far tied for my favorite line of the movie. He makes the challenge for the throne and Zuri says it’ll take weeks. Killmonger says I don’t need the whole nation, I just need him. That was real. I also lowkey enjoyed watching him fight T’Challa . It was like he had the power of every oppressed souled within him. His pain was relatable. Hated that it was targeted towards his own blood, but that was also real. We usually strike out to those closest to us. Him having them burn all of the ancient flowers was egotistical and short sided, but also a key part of the character.
  • When Killmonger sits on the throne, he points out that where he’s from, Black people start revolutions without the firepower and resources to fight their oppressors. More jewel dropping…
  • Okoye’s face when W’Kabi agrees with Killmonger…
  • M’Baku to Agent Ross: “You cannot talk one more word or I will feed you to my children. Just kidding, we are vegetarians.” The vegan in me howled with laughter. Plus he made him shutup initially by overpowering his voice with their chants. Then he made Agent Ross turn away during the ritual. He won 4 times (presented the preserved T’Challa) in under 4 minutes.
  • I appreciate T’Challa realizing that his father was wrong for both leaving Killmonger and for turning his back on the Africans worldwide and for calling him out on it when they meet once again in the ancestral realm.
  • Killmonger: “All that challenge shit is over with. I’m the king now.” Hood af, lol!
  • W’Kabi so quickly fighting with Killmonger made the whole theater suck their teeth. Will Focus gon say he’s still in the sunken place. I DIED! LMAO
  • Killmonger got Black Panther suited. That shit was sexy.
  • We all felt Okoye’s pain when Killmonger killed one of her fellow Dora Milaje. *sad face*
  • Black Panther movie
  • Will also brought up a good point and asked where were the other 3 tribes during this fight before M’Baku’s tribe showed up to assist the Dora Milaje against W’Kabi and his tribe?
  • When W’Kabi and his techno rhino were charging towards M’Baku but Okoye stood between them and the rhino kissed her. All powerful. Then W’Kabi asked if she, his love, would kill him, and she said, for my nation, absolutely. POWERFULLLLLL.
  • So I was highkey pissed that T’Challa took Killmonger to look at the damn sunset instead of to Shuri, but later that was put into perspective for me (read below).
  • T’Challa: Maybe we can still save you…” Killmonger: “Why? So ya’ll could just lock me up? Nah. Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. They knew death was better than bondage.” CHILLS. That line right there spoke volumes. VOLUMES!
  • T’Challa buying the block. Just. Yes.
  • The kids wanting to break apart Shuri’s ship to sell for parts. So real, lol. We need that community bridge building though.

Black Panther movieThere has been lots of debate about seeing a white studio production and where our dollars could have gone and even about the characters parallels to sections of society, but I personally feel like it’s all chest-inflated poppycock. 99.9% of movies that we love and hold as staples in our society are produced by white studios simply because, well, WE DON’T OWN ANY YET. Keyword, yet. So Malcolm X, Selma, Hidden Figures, Thurgood Marshall, Coming to America, and the likes that are so near and dear also fall under that umbrella, but we still went to see them in droves. Could we have collectively used that money and built a small town with our roughly 37% contribution to the $218 million? Most likely, but we already know we’re still combating centuries of conditioning and teaching ourselves to love ourselves and each other. So chill. It’s a process, and this movie is a major part of that process because representation matters. Seeing ourselves and what could be matters. Sometimes people need to see it to even know it’s possible.

Black Panther movie

Yes, this is in Africa.

The visuals and quotables definitely woke up some of the sleeping and even smacked a few people into loving themselves and reframing their thoughts on Africa. Yes, Wakanda is fake, but Africa’s beauty has never been a lie. It’s just been retold and intentionally hidden from the masses, especially Africans born in america, in attempts to continuously divide and conquer. This is touched on via Killmonger’s story. His story simultaneously parallels the american Hood King and the Revolutionary. He grew up without his parents, more specifically finding the dead body of his father. He had to learn and grow on his own which resulted in his genius-level intellect and thirst to avenge his father via combat and claim his spot on the throne. Via his research, he learned of the advancements of Wakanda and grew resentment because they had the capacity to liberate Black people globally, but never bothered to. He wanted to ‘stick it to the man,’ and rightfully so.

Black Panther movieKillmonger’s passion was in the right place, but his methods wouldn’t have fully resulted in the outcome suitable for most, mostly due to his dictator ways. T’challa had to come to learn that peace and hiding weren’t the way either. With their collective intellect, Shuri’s technological advancements, and Wakanda’s wealth and resources, they could have liberated Africans globally, but pride was a key factor in Killmonger having to die. (And also, as my bro Jashua Sa’Ra pointed out, “the movie studio couldn’t show us what it would’ve looked like if the forces joined in this already powerful Black Panther movie.” AKA the reason why the FBI killed Malcolm & Martin when their speeches started to mirror each other and they were on the verge of working together instead of fighting each other. Someone call up an independent Black production company to bring that story to life. “If Malcolm & Martin Lived to See Their 40s.”)

Leave your thoughts on the Black Panther movie in the comments. What rating do you give it?

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12Feb/18
Young MA discusses fame weight loss

Hip Hop Star Young M.A discusses fame, weight loss, and more on Made From Scratch *Video*

Young MA discusses fame weight lossThe new digital series, Made From Scratch, gives viewers a taste of what music’s hottest artists are like when they step outside of the studio and into the kitchen. In the premiere episode, rapper Young M.A invites us into her home as she and her grandmother, G Mac, cook up the family favorites M.A misses when she’s on the road. With spice as the main ingredient, the two open up about Young M.A’s life before becoming a platinum-selling rapper, her introduction to music (queue 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Trying), M.A’s commitment to controlling her own identity and more. Young M.A also opens up about her recent weight loss and what prompted her to cut out the junk food on the road.

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12Feb/18
Tracy "Twinkie" Byrd

Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd Releases her Director Debut for “The Counter: 1960”

After 27 years of working as a casting director for famous music videos, TV, and films including Being Mary Jane, Fruitvale Station, and Southside With You, Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd releases her first film as a director, writer, and producer, The Counter: 1960. The Counter: 1960 is a short film inspired by and motivated to bridge all races, cultures, and generations. Co-written and co-produced by Ashley Jackson and produced by Kimberly L. Ogletree, The Counter: 1960 hopes to create a change within the film industry by bringing light to such less represented narratives.

The film has been selected for screening in the 26th Annual Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, as well as the 10th Annual Jaipur International Film Festival in India. In addition, it has received Gold and Silver Awards at the LA Shorts Awards and the NYC Indie Film Awards in 2017. Based off of a true story, the film begins with three North Caroline University students, Joseph (Jerod Haynes), Diane (Ashley Jackson), and Franklin (Etienne Maurice), who are completely frustrated by a constant string of police killing of the unarmed black youth. They decide to meet and think of what it is students like them can do to contribute to positive change. The film’s plotline unravels through a bridging between different temporal backgrounds and settings.

Screenings: Tue, February 13th @ 6:25PM
Thu, February 15th @ 3:30 PM
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Rave 15 Cinemas
3650 W Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90008

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10Feb/18
Malcolm X Legacy Collection

Malcolm X Legacy Collection Premiered During Harlem Fashion Week

February 4th wrapped another successful Harlem Fashion Week season. Held at the Museum of the City of New York, Harlem Fashion Week combined the downtown fashion with the uptown culture and vibe, including an Emerging Designer’s competition show and a guest appearance by TV host, Creative Director, and makeup artist, Jay Manuel. The night featured 17 different designers including Styles of Imagination, Christy + You, and the Emerging Designer winner, XX. Premiere designers for this year’s show were Beast Mode by Marshawn Lynch and the Malcolm X Legacy Collection, designed by Yvonne Jewnell of Yvonne Jewnell New York.

Malcolm X Legacy Collection“There are so many people who have no idea about Malcolm X beside what’s in our textbooks, and even then, it’s limited to one or two pages,” said Yvonne Jewnell, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Harlem Fashion Week. “It’s time that his [Malcolm X] legacy resurfaces for both new and old generations.”

Guests were treated to a four-level experience including a vendors market selling clothing from the designers, natural hair and beauty products, books, and a host of accessories. On the main level of the museum was the brand experience floor featuring other vendors, a media hub and interviews, and VIP red carpets.

Executive Producer and Co-Founder, Tandra Birkett recapped the evening by saying, “To have three sold out shows, on Super Bowl Sunday, facing the torrential rain, we could not have asked for a better night. We will continue to share the word about the richness of Harlem and all that it has to offer.”

The next Harlem Fashion Week event will be XX and guests can look forward to the S/S 2019 show in the fall.

Photos from the Malcolm X Legacy Collection:

Malcolm X Legacy Collection Malcolm X Legacy Collection Malcolm X Legacy Collection Malcolm X Legacy Collection Malcolm X Legacy Collection Malcolm X Legacy Collection

Malcolm X Legacy Collection

Malcolm X Legacy Collection

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30Jan/18
Taji Mag Subscribe Vol14 Copper and Gold

Taji Vol14: Copper and Gold

Release Mar 7 2018 | Vol14 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Copper and Gold! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of Sassy, Krystal Garner, and Shanice Thompson. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick on Glamourina’s newest athleisure line; Community Spotlight on Melanating.com, your Premier Source for Black Events; our highlighted Hair Feature by Ngone Sow; “Solo Travel: Deciding and Booking My Flight” by D. Carrie; “Spiritual Teknowledge: Openness” by Jashua Sa’Ra; Must Have Book: Authentically Rich by Khay Shepard; Knotable Designs providing Marketing for Emerging Brands; Black Youth Appreciation: Theirno Barry; “#BlackLoveConvo: “Greatness in Brotherly Love: Ali and Me” by Dapper Dr. Feel; “Who are Financial Systems Designated to Uplift? How Do We Take Control?” by Jatali Bellanton of Kids Who Bank, DTR360 Books; our Health & Fitness Advice Column with Trainer Clint & Vegan Fun with Delliz the Chef; Featured art piece by Will Focus; Must Have Graphic Novel: DayBlack by Keef Cross; Black Business Highlights; Taji Mag Model Contest Winners; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Purchase Taji’!

Taji Mag Subscribe Vol14 Copper Gold

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 14

Taji Mag is the epitome of the positive Black experience. Our brand embodies the traditional and modern royalty of Pan-African people via our quarterly digital and print publication and live events.

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17Jan/18
Black Lightning

Black Lightning Lights Up DC in DC 2018

This past weekend Warner Brothers hosted DC Comics in D.C. highlighting the upcoming tv show Black Lightning. It featured four different panels and premiered the first episode of Black Lightning. All of the panels were great and featured a lot of great talent and artists, but the panel that was most representative of the MLK weekend was the panel titled “The Many Shades of Heroism: DC Heroes Through the African American Lens”. This panel explained the creation of many of the popular Black characters of the DC television series world. The panel consisted of the show’s producers, Salim and Mara Akil, as well as actors Cress Williams (Black Lightning), Candice Patton (The Flash), Chris Chalk (Gotham), David Harewood (Supergirl), comic artist and producer Denys Cowan, writer John Ridley, and author and songwriter Alice Randall.

Black Characters on DC TV Series

Candice Patton portrays Iris West on the popular show The Flash. She discussed the importance of portraying an outstanding version of the character on television and how doing so has influenced creators to change the race of the character in the comics. Originally Iris West is portrayed as a white woman in DC comics. “I feel extremely honored first of all to be put in this position,” Patton explained.

“I am happy that a black woman is carrying the torch so generations after this will remember that Iris West was a black woman .” – Candice Patton on portraying Iris West.

Chris Chalk plays the intelligent and brilliant minded Lucius Fox on the show, Gotham. The show is based on a young Commissioner Gordon fighting crime against many of the developing iconic villains in the city of Gotham from the Batman series. “This character is great! I went to this STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program for Black youths and the kids would tell me they knew how I solved a problem on the show and I was like well tell me, ’cause I don’t know…” He emphasized the joy in playing a character that breaks racial stereotypes in television, saying “It is cool to have a Black character that is the smartest person in the series and he doesn’t fight.”

David Harewood plays Martian Manhunter on the show Supergirl. Being a native of London, he explained how important it is to have a Black lead character on a television show because, where he is from, there aren’t really any characters that look like him. He smiled as he proudly displayed his Black Lightning t-shirt. Harewood also discussed how happy he was to represent a person in of color in the media, making the audience aware that there are opportunities for all races and backgrounds to be represented.

Black Lightning: The Series For The Time

Black Lightning takes place in an urban, poverty and violence-stricken community where our hero, Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), lives as a high school principal and family man. He has hung up the mantle of Black Lighting for 15 years because of the stress it was placing on his family but is forced to return to crime fighting when the local gang, The One Hundred, starts wreaking havoc on the neighborhood.

“It is a dream come true! After I put on the costume I was ready to run into the wall! I was ready to fight!” – Cress Williams on portraying Black Lighting

The show is produced by the power couple Salim and Mara Akil. They both have a successful history of producing great shows like the Soul Food TV series, Girlfriends, and Being Mary Jane. When asked about Black Lightning, they expressed the importance of the project and how great of a story it can tell about love, family, and community. “We are led by a vision and clearly this is Salim’s,” Mara explained about choosing the project to bring to life in television form. She explained the importance of giving people the perspective of a Black man that is positive, stating “July 2016, two Black men were killed after the long list of other Black men and we were in that moment of what was happening in our communities. When you look on television there were no Black men in the center of a television show, speaking on the issues that were about his life.” Salim Akil explored his vision of the project in-depth when quoting:

“We use that authenticity when it comes to other cultures but really we are talking about the nuance and Black folks are an integral part of American culture. What we will see with Black Lightning is that yes, we are getting culturally specific nuances of what it is going to be like being an African American man in the United States, but you will also see a man that loves his family and his community and wants what is best for his community. You can take the African American off that (character) and you have just a man that wants the best for his family. I hope everybody can identify wanting the best for their families and their community.”

DC Comics is continuing to evolve its characters that people from different backgrounds can relate to. Black Lightning debuted tonight, January 16th at 9pm, how’d you like it?

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05Jan/18
Side Chick Web Series

The Side Chick Web Series is a Roller Coaster Worth Riding

Side Chick is a drama that follows the emotional millennial roller coaster of Lynn’s (Gabrielle Briana) affection towards James (Mike Merrill) who is engaged to an honest, caring woman named Kia (Chloe Stafford). Unlike some women, Lynn doesn’t fit the role of “the other woman” because she is misled and deceived into dating James, who loves his fiancé but is also intrigued by Lynn. As their emotions grow fonder, conflict unfolds, morals are questioned, and love is tainted. Ultimately, Lynn, James, and Kia are forced to examine what love truly means.
Side Chick Web Series

Our faces at James throughout the whole damn show…

Season 1 of the series dives into the lives of Lynn and James and how they start to intertwine. The finale of season 1 releases a truth that we were all waiting to be revealed. Season 2 carries us through the relationships developed separately and has us on the edge of seats wondering what’s going to happen. (It also has a significant production upgrade that made us happy to experience their growth and elevation.) When a major connection is unveiled, we all yelled “ohhhhh sh*t!” We’re definitely looking forward to Season 3.

You can watch the full series on YouTube and contribute to their production with your dollars. Yes, producing great content requires money and everyone involved should be paid, so watch the show and open your wallet! Follow the series via the links and start watching the show below!
Instagram: @sidechickwebseries | Facebook: Side Chick Web Series | Creator: @ashmcart3

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04Jan/18
Unrequited Love

Unrequited Love

Unrequited Love – A feeling, especially love, not returned or rewarded.

Have you ever found yourself in love with the idea of someone loving you, while knowing that they don’t love you back? Deadass, it’s probably one of the most damaging things we can do to ourselves. Loving someone who doesn’t love us. Unrequited love is not attractive and its most definitely not romantic. The sick part is, we don’t even realize that we’re doing it until the damage is done and we are left not recognizing ourselves when we look in the mirror.

I’ve definitely found myself in that position more times than I’d like to admit. I got to a place where I was literally begging for that love in return. In the end, it never came, at least not how I wanted it to. It was cold, it was forced, and it wasn’t authentic. I had to come to the realization that loving someone, without being loved in return is not love. It’s worship. It’s self-destructing. You start questioning your self-worth, thinking that maybe the reason that love isn’t being returned, is you. When in fact, that’s not the case at all. Just like how we can’t help who we love and have feelings for, we also can’t help who we don’t love and don’t have feelings for. Unrequited love is a two-way street, and it’s unfair and selfish to blame the other person for not returning the love we’re giving if they simply don’t feel the same.

Unrequited LoveShould you ever find yourself in that position, which somewhere down the line you probably will because we’re humans and shit, self-preservation is key. Take that energy away from that person, and put it into yourself, or the person who actually does want to return your love. “Love yourself.” That shit sounds cheesy and cliche, but it’s true. Love yourself until you get to a place where even if someone doesn’t love you in return, you don’t blame yourself, and then once you get to that space, keep loving yourself. One mistake we often make after experiencing that unrequited love, is shutting down. We don’t wanna love anymore, we don’t wanna give love another chance, but we should be doing the opposite. Love wholeheartedly, love endlessly, and love without borders.

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03Jan/18
It Won't be Good in the Evening

It Won’t be Good in the Evening

If you see something is going bad in the morning, it won’t be good in the evening.

My grandma told me that a couple of days ago. And when she said it, I knew it was a gem. A lot of times I find myself ignoring the bad in someone or something, and making excuses for it in order to continue dealing with it, knowing damn well that I shouldn’t. And then when everything is said and done, and that shitty thing that I knew was shitty and was only going to produce more shit to hit the fan actually does, I can only be mad at myself.

The things that happen to us and around us, half of the time, are allowed by us. We see that something might not be the greatest thing, and we ignore the damning future that comes with it. When I noticed this behavior in myself I first chose to ignore it, which didn’t produce anything positive. Then I started being a little more cautious and being more aware of the company I kept and the things I got involved with. I started making different choices in regards to those things and I found that I’m pretty fucking smart when I actually think about who and what I’m giving my energy to.

It Won't be Good in the Evening

Not only am I smart AF, but I’m much happier now that I’m seeing the possible bad in a situation and moving with that energy, without questioning it.

 

At the end of the day, if something brings you bad energy from the jump, chuck it in the fuck it bucket, and keep it pushin’.

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