Category Archives: Creative

15Jun/19

Lil’ Buck: The Real Swan Doc World Premiered at Tribeca

Lil’ Buck discussing his career with Taji Mag during the Tribeca Film Festival.
Photo by William Baldon

A crowd of people sat in silence and awe at a dance performance that was beautiful, captivating and fluid to the accompaniment of music provided by the talented musician, Yo-Yo Ma. Though there weren’t many if any, people of color in the crowd as this was in Beijing, China, what mattered was the headliner was a young Black man from Memphis, Tennessee named Lil’ Buck.

It was a thing of beauty – a man doing what he loves and performing art for the world to see. His performance was something that Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. would be proud of, a young man being seen for his talent and not just his color. In a world where Black men are vilified, subjected to toxic masculinity and seen on the wrong side of police brutality, it was refreshing to see a glimpse into a world that could exist without racism or discrimination.

When asked about his performance, Lil’ Buck stated, “I never really thought about my performance in that way. For me it wasn’t about performing for the audience, I’m trying to make them feel a certain way. I think that’s why a lot of people gravitate towards me because they don’t see anything else because I don’t. When I’m performing, I am doing my best to become music. It’s a real thing for me. Especially to music that has a story already in it, like the Swan. You can hear the story within it. For me, I can visually see the journey in that song. I don’t come up with anything to impress people, I just feel the music and bring people into my imagination.”

Lil' Buck

Lil’ Buck performing during the documentary Lil’Buck: Real Swan. (Photo provided by Tribeca Film Festival)

The video is a snippet from the documentary “Lil’ Buck: Real Swan” that world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival; it was also the part that stuck out the most to me. To be honest, it made me misty-eyed because it’s what every person wants, or at least what every human being should want — to be able to live in peace and love freely. About the documentary, Andrea Passafiume wrote, “In this exuberant documentary, director Louis Wallecan takes an in-depth look at this extraordinary artist whose passion, drive, discipline, and talent have blazed a unique new path in the world of dance that has included performing all over the world, touring with Madonna, mentoring young dance students, and becoming a passionate advocate for arts education.”

Lil’ Buck: A Young Man From Memphis

Growing up in the Memphis skating scene, particularly at Crystal Palace Roller Rink, was the big thing for youth to keep them entertained and off the streets. Once the skates were taken off and the rink was open for dancing, that’s when the main fun began and people were able to show off their new jookin moves. Jookin is a popular dance style in Memphis for all ages that stems from breakdancing and the gangsta walk. This is how the film, Lil’ Buck: Real Swan, starts to chronicle the life of Lil’ Buck.

“I was born in Chicago and my family moved to Memphis when I was eight. Even back in Chicago, I can remember seeing footwork in indigenous street dancing.” – Lil Buck explained about his roots in dancing and upbringing.

Charles “Lil’ Buck” Riley developed a passion for jookin and dance at the young age of 12. From there he had the desire to become the best dancer he could be. He became so impressed with the length of time that ballerinas could stay on their toes that he decided to take up ballet.

“Growing up I always thought these dancers in videos were making all this money, we literally thought they were rich. All these dancers are next to celebrities like Lil’ Wayne, Madonna, and all these people. Some were not as good as my friends and I, so we would be like, “How the f*ck are they on TV?” We would ask this question every day and tell ourselves that’s where we needed to be.” – Lil’ Buck

Lil’ Buck said that in the beginning, he just wanted to be in videos and put jookin on the map. To be able to reach where he is now. Thinking about how small his dreams were, it just inspires him to dream larger and tell others to do the same. He further explained to not be afraid to dream big and to go after it! It’s not enough just to dream, its the work you put into it. He remembers when he experienced bloody toes and toenails falling off, trying to stand on his toes in his sneakers. Lil’ Buck reminisced, “Imagine walking around all day in school on your toes because you want to build that strength and to be on the level where you surpass ballerinas. It was painful but worth it!”

With some dancers, their goal is to tour with a different artist but not too many dancers see themselves as the artist that has the same strength and power as a singer or actor. They can make a good living for themselves and their family, creating generational wealth. Dancers like Lil’Buck, don’t always have that platform but their art is just as captivating. A lot of kids today are gravitating towards this instant success instead of really investing in themselves and really building themselves, enjoying that journey towards their goal. Lil’ Buck hopes to be a good example of enduring and enjoying the journey.

The Inspiration

Lil’ Buck being interviewed by Felipe Patterson (aka Dapper Dr Feel) of Taji Mag at the Roxy hotel during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. (Video by William Baldon)

Lil’Buck discussed that his inspirations are Earl “Snake Hips” Tucker, the Nicholas Brothers, Little Buck, Buck and Bubbles, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Michael Jackson. He explained the way they combined film and dance was inspiring to him. The way they combined storytelling and dance was amazing to him. He remembers that Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, always called his music videos short films.

“Those that inspire me are my peers, Daniel Price, G-Nerd, Jah Quincey, Caviar Taylor (On My Toes), BoBo and all the rappers like 3×6 Mafia, DJ Squeaky, they created what I’m into.” – Lil Buck talking about others that inspire him.

Bruce Lee was one of his biggest inspirations because of his philosophy on life. Not isolating yourself mentally to learning only one thing. He was open to learning and putting together different forms of martial arts. He’s always into strengthening himself and thinking outside the box.

Lil' BuckThe doc starts off with smooth jookin moves, that impressed me and reminded me of the great dancing films like Breakin’. I wasn’t sure what the aim of the film was but this direction definitely kept me engaged. It didn’t feel corny or fake like the multiple Step Up films that lack the originality of dancers in this film. Every one of them passionate about their craft and every move.

The film was amazing and well done down the other performers describing their love of jookin and their performance that followed to the storytelling of a young Buck’s evolution of aspiring background dancer to a headlining performer. The ending of the film is creative as it has a dancing Lil’ Buck transitioning from background to foreground and left of the screen to the opposite side, representing the journey the project has taken you on.

It’s a film that everyone should see, especially the little boys of color, to show them that they should follow their heart and that they can truly be what they want to be in life.

Thank you Lil’ Buck and Lois Wallecan for the great film about such an inspiring young black man!

31May/19

Another Dream, a Tribeca VR Immersive, tells a Story that Needs to be Heard and Felt

Another Dream

Tamara Shogaolu and Dapper Dr. Feel aka Felipe Patterson. (Photo by William Baldon)

Love is hard to find in this world, so image finding a bond with someone so deeply that you can’t stand being away from them. Now imagine having to hide that relationship, restricted from fully exploring it in fear that you will be disowned, harmed physically, or killed. So you escape with your partner, leaving behind family friends and a life within a community, to have emotional and relationship freedom. That is the case for the two women in the virtual reality (VR) immersive, Another Dream, by Tamara Shogaolu.

Another Dream started out as a collection of interviews that were collected by Tamara and journalist Nada ElKouny over two years in Egypt. They interviewed many women, ethnic minorities, and people of the LGBTQ community about their experiences.

These stories needed to be heard because their relationships, in the eyes of some people in Egypt, are seen as immoral; having the livelihood and lives of people in the LGBTQ community threaten due to aggressive homophobia.

“After the Revolution, people became very open and started to reimagine what Egypt could be. What stood out to me about the experience was a lot of the queer voices and stories had optimism that things were going to change,” Tamara Shogaolu explained about her interviews.

Another Dream has more themes of discrimination within the project than that of the LGBTQ. When it came to explaining this Tamara stated, “For me, it’s not only about the LGBTQ community in Egypt, it’s also about when the characters come to Europe they face racism. You leave one form of discrimination to another form of discrimination. I think that is a global issue of how we create our own empathy and compassion so that we can all be better humans.” She then added, “With this project, the intersectionality of their identity goes that they are LGBTQ but they are also people of color, and even within the LGBTQ they face discrimination.”

Another DreamTamara mentions that the word refugee is misinterpreted, elaborating, “The word refugee has been highly politicized. If you really think about it, it’s someone that is forced from their home and I think people forget that. It means we don’t want you here and there are people that have whole lives, like the characters in our story. One is an engineer and the other is a medical professional. They have to leave that and start from scratch. They are doing well, back in school re-studying the occupation that they were doing, in another language, while only being there for two years. That’s amazing.”

FYI: There are some cases where authorities in Egypt have stepped in opposition to the LGBTQ community. In this case, eight men were jailed after their gay wedding video went viral showing two men kissing.

The Another Dream VR Experience

Another Dream

Dapper Dr. Feel experiencing the VR immersive Another Dream (Photo by: William Baldon)

Another Dream is a virtual reality immersive that pulls you into a world where two lesbian lovers have their relationship and love tested through many challenges. Two lovers are first introduced to you with their dog while sitting on a couch. As their story begins, the environment changes to match the narration of the two. The colors and visuals evoked emotions that allowed us to sympathize more with the couple telling the story.

The experience is very interactive, having intermissions where I had to use a laser pointer (almost a like a lightsaber from Star Wars, so I was geeked!) to trace positive Arabic words. Upon completion, I moved on to the next part of the story.

Another DreamThe most beautiful scene was that of the city; it’s a mix of colorful hues and sounds of the environment that are highlighted by the dark of night. I found myself floating as if I were on a magic carpet ride from Aladdin when exploring the area. It’s definitely amazing work by the VR and sound team.

During the journey, I got to a part of the story where the two lovers escape to Europe overnight because their love for each other is not accepted and one of them was set to wed in an arranged marriage. At this point, I felt the cold and dark of night, the fear of being captured by those in search of the two or just any random stranger that could harm the women on their search for refuge.

When the characters arrive in Europe, you feel the eyes of judgment and unfamiliarity of them being women of color as characters shop at the local grocery.

Eventually, they become comfortable in the fact that the only thing that matters is their love for one another. By the end of the experience, I felt happy for the two coming to the revelation that they were safe and although they are starting their lives together, they can do it happily together.

FYI: Another Dream is part of an animated transmedia series, Queer in a Time of Forced Migration. The first part of the series began with the first short Half A Life.

Who is Tamara Shogaolu?

Another Dream

Tamara Shogaolu and Dapper Dr. Feel aka Felipe Patterson. (Photo by William Baldon)

Tamara Shogaolu is a talented director/creator/artist from a multifaceted cultural background. While studying economics at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA, she was convinced by a professor to study film after creatively using it in her economics research projects.

From there she earned her MFA from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and her previous work, Half-Life, is a short film that has garnered many awards. Not only has her work has been featured all over the world in galleries and festivals, but she also is the creative director for Ado Ato Pictures.

Seeing Through It All

I didn’t know what to expect when I first put on the VR gear but I am glad I went to the experience with an open mind and with no expectation. This experience is a learning tool that may help others understand that love shouldn’t only be celebrated and hindered.

With the work that Tamara and her crew have put into this project, I am happy to say they have achieved the goal of both creativeness, experience, and informing the audience. Hopefully, Another Dream will touch enough people that it will allow people to safely and openly love whomever they want without any hindrance.

24May/19
Keep It Royal

Royal Sounds Releases “Pure Love” and it’s Pure Vibes

If you’re looking for positive vibes and dope lyrics over a smooth groove… you’re welcome.

Pure Love released May 2019 via Majestic Sound Works Records
Video produced by Lewi London

Keep It Royal UK tour May 2019 – Written and produced by Royal Sounds Additional horns by Patrixx Aba. Original Mix by Gyasi Crosdale, Mastered by Luis Bonilla @ Old Street Studios UK, Published by Copyright Control 2019

Special thanks to: Visions Club (Dalston, London UK), Mellow Mix (London UK)

Cast extras:  Elleyana Mckenzie-Ross & Shaliyah Neuine-Hunted (Under 16s) | Skipah Lako (Bouncer)

17May/19

Exclusive: Phillip Youmans, Youngest Director and 1st Af-Am to Win Featured Film at Tribeca

Phillip Youmans

Phillip Youmans (Photo by William Baldon)

“I didn’t dream about being a director. I didn’t know I wanted to do something with film until the summer between my sophomore and junior years at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.” – Spike Lee. Spike Lee may have spent his early years in college discovering his talent but there was a young director who has spent his first years in college winning awards for produced work. Juggling press junkets, red carpets, interviews, all while finishing his college exams. That was the case for the 19-year old director, Phillip Youmans, who became the youngest and first African American to win the Founders Award (Best Narrative Award) category for his creative and introspective film Burning Cane.

Phillip Youmans, Burning Cane

About the Film: Burning Cane is Phillip Youmans’ first film that stars the talented Wendell Pierce, Karen Kaia Livers, Dominique McClellan, and Braelyn Kelly. It explores relationships of a Southern Protestant church, toxic masculinity, gender/family roles within the small African American community, and toxic cultures that can plague families.

The Louisiana native discussed with Taji Mag the film’s origin. Youmans had put time and energy into a screenplay titled, Brothers and Sisters, that he is looking to produce next. His focus changed after a teacher suggested he put more energy into the Burning Cane realizing its potential upon reading the draft.

Inspiration for Burning Cane

Mostly inspired by his upbringing and questions about the southern Black church culture/spirituality, Youmans explained that the film was a form of therapy for him. Youmans went more in-depth about the film stating, “The biggest inspiration for Burning Cane was my upbringing and childhood in the Southern Baptist church, a lot of the hypocrisy and fallacies that I recognized early on in my childhood in the church. These were questions I had about the church that I was able to work through while making the film.”

Lessons of Life In Film

There are many topics that Youmans addresses in the film – one being toxic masculinity. Particularly when the film focuses on the character Daniel Wayne, played by Dominique McClellan. When asked about toxic masculinity, Youmans said, “In terms of toxic masculinity, there is a lot of danger in trying to uphold traditional gender roles. I think a lot of that is indirectly upheld through the Southern Baptist church. Especially in the fundamentalist Protestant communities. I did want to touch on it and it’s a pretty glaring issue. It’s a part of the fabric of American culture, world culture.”The struggle of religious practice was also a player in the film, having the various characters learn their moral identity. Helen Wayne, the main character played by Karen Kaia Livers, struggles with it the most as she faces decisions that push her to make impactful choices.

When it comes to exploring his thoughts on religion in the film, Youmans explained, “Growing up, I was able to extrapolate life lessons from religious doctrine. For instance, there’s a sermon about how relationships are more important than material possessions, that’s a valuable lesson regardless of age or experience.”

Phillip Youmans on Directing

Phillip Youmans, Wendell Price

Wendell Pierce in Burning Cane

Making the film, Youmans didn’t have any issues directing the cast and crew to bring his vision to life, even working with well-known talents like Wendell Pierce. “Wendell is dope! Working with him was incredible!” Youmans said excitingly. “This dude is a talented actor and he approached the script with so much excitement that it was a dream come true! Mel, my producer, knows that Wendell is a hometown hero in New Orleans – working with him was insane,” Youmans added.

Youmans said that the production went really smooth for all involved in Burning Cane. He further explained that “the camera is like neutralize and since we are all students of the craft, that age or experience doesn’t matter, we are all just trying to make something cool. In truth, it went really smooth, I think what was great about all of the actors was that there wasn’t any placed or forced upon hierarchy because there was such a respect for the material. By the time we showed up on set, it was about implementing the project. There were never any conversations about talking down.”

With the passing of the virtuous John Singleton, who himself created a film masterpiece at a young age titled Boyz n the Hood, we can only hope that Phillip Youmans continues his success in developing amazing films that add to the legacy of Black filmmakers.

Phillip Youmans

Directed by: Phillip Youmans
Starring: Wendell Pierce, Karen Kaia Livers, Dominique McClellan, and Braelyn Kelly
Production: Denizen Pictures

01May/19
Taji Mag Vol19

Taji Vol19: Loc Livin

Release Jun 7 2019 | Vol19 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Loc Livin! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of influences and models Keisha Charmaine & Chris NV. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick on Angel Kaba Teaching Afro’Dance at the Infamous Alvin Ailey Extension; our Community Spotlight on loctician Thando Kafele; our highlighted Hair Feature, Ele Jane of Naturalz Salon in Atlanta; “Solo Travel: What We’re Not Gonna Do – Travel Edition” by D. Carrie; “Holistic Destruction” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “When Your Body Turns Against You – the Black Woman’s Health Plight” by Melissa Lamarre; “Black Hair in Schools” by Janelle Naomi; Our Vol 19 theme “Loc Livin;” our Fitness Feature; Vegan Fun with Delliz the Chef – Tikka Masala; Black Business Grant Winner: Precious Bartending, LLC; “#BlackLoveConvo: “Tarsha Hamilton: Ready To Become a Beacon of Change” by Dapper Dr. Feel;” The Styling of Zayaswardrobe; Featured art piece by Will Focus; Must Have Graphic Novel: “The Legend of Yukmouth” by B. Van Randall; Black Business Highlights; Taji Mag Model Contest Winners; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Shop Taji’!

Taji Mag Vol19

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 19

Taji Mag is the epitome of the positive Black experience – elevating Black brands, narratives, and imagery. We embody the traditional and modern royalty of Pan-African people via our quarterly digital and print publication and live events.

22Mar/19
Celebration Of Our Queens

Lindi Roaming The Streets In Celebration Of Our Queens

‘Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo’ (you strike the women, you strike the rock)

These words from the famous resistance song have come to symbolize the courage and strength expressed at the Women’s March of 1956 as South African women refused to give into increasing oppression without some form of protest.

Before the 1950s, only Black men were required to carry passes. This gave them permission to be in an urban area. Only people who could find work were given a pass. This allowed the government to control the influx of Black men into the cities. The passed law was one of the most hated of the apartheid laws. Men were repeatedly arrested under this law and it had the effect of turning the majority of the population into criminals.

In 1952, the government announced that Black women would also have to carry passes. Women actively resisted this. The idea began in 1955 at a meeting of FSAW, where a suggestion was made: “Let us go to Pretoria ourselves and protest to the Government against laws that oppress us.”

On the 9th of August 1956, over 20,000 women of all races marched in unison to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to hand over a petition to, the then South African prime minister, Hans (JG) Strijdom.

This was a significant turning point in the struggle against unjust apartheid laws. Though the march was against the restrictive pass laws, it led to significant changes towards the emancipation of women

‘Nelisiwe Mwase’, better known as “Nells”, optimizes the word “Imbokoto” (rock)! She’s a scriptwriter, content creator, music video producer, and actively manages Ofentse Mwase Flims, “OM Films”. The company was officially launched in 2017 as a comedy skit brand.

In that short space of time, Ofentse Mwase has been able to secure 1million views on two of their short film videos. While they don’t have a properly set up training program as yet, they take in a new intern from film school every three months.

They scout natural talent from underprivileged individuals who can’t afford tertiary education, and are passionate about film… encouraging them to start creating content with what they have, to develop consistency and discipline.

‘I DON’T BELIEVE IN MYSELF.’

“I couldn’t believe my own words. I could think of 10,000 different ways and things that anyone in public could say to discredit me. In my heart, I knew without any dim light of doubt; that I am great. I am gifted. I am good for it. This is my life.  But I was negative.”

-Nells

“I’m here to inspire”

Radical Creative Entrepreneurs

“My name is Ennock Mlangeni, a self-taught visual art artist based in Sasolburg, Zamdela SA. I specialize in various mediums from pens, paints, fabrics and pencil works.” His work is mostly influenced and inspired by women, as he has seen the strength that lies behind their beauty. Ennock started drawing in grade six and still remains loyal to the same resources he used when he began. He believes he stands a chance to compete with the new age technology material and artists, as he has refined and mastered his craft over the years using just basic tools… basic tools such as ballpoint pens, wax crayons, bottle caps, fabric etc.

     

“Black has never looked this good, bathed in the sun with pure sheer glow, black has never looked this beautiful. Dressed in the colours of my ancestors walking like the greatness of my past, I am not my scars but I am my heritage. Proudly reaping the presence of my heritage… black don’t crack, don’t crack, black don’t crack, as it oozes out of me cause kenna, it’s me, ndim dizibiqele ngoba ndim, black don’t crack. It simply draws the path on the palm of my hand…YES, black don’t crack! I am who I am because of my ancestors. My head wrapped in the presence of men to show respect, head bowed and knees bent to signify the presence of the man

Instika yesizwe

Black don’t crack black don’t crack black don’t crack because I am Instika Yesizwe.”

IG @mandy

Amanda Limpho Mboyi

21Feb/19
Growing Up Immigrant

Series, Growing Up Immigrant, Explores the Dynamics of a First-Gen Ghanaian-American

Growing Up Immigrant is a 6-episode cultural comedy and web series that explores the dynamics of first-generation, Ghanaian-American millennial, Nicholas Aajayi, as he navigates his career and romantic life while adjusting to living with his more “traditional” aunty. This series travels through so many cultural stigmas, most that people are silent about or choose to turn a blind eye towards.

Growing Up ImmigrantGrowing Up Immigrant’s creator, writer, co-director, and lead actor, Nathaniel Kweku, is American born but grew up going to Ghana every few years and recognized some strong cultural misunderstandings between Africans and African-Americans. As a first-generation Ghanaian-American, he understood the dynamics of both sides and became passionate about helping to spread cultural healing. Inspired by legendary African leaders and activists such as Kwame Nkrumah, Fela Kuti, Jomo Kenyatta, and Steven Biko, Nathaniel believes that more holistic African stories are needed to heal the wounds of colonialism and slavery.

The series takes a comedic approach, in the beginning, joking about who makes better Jollof between Ghana and Nigeria but eventually leads us straight into the unjustified murders of unarmed Black men in America. Along the journey, we experience what it’s like to be an undocumented immigrant, an elder African woman who is interested in dating but fears she is no longer desired, a millennial African woman who can’t find a man (particularly not an African one) to match her success who isn’t loving a white woman (Sidebar: she needs some restitution in a spin-off series), a Black man with a record from crimes he didn’t commit who cannot find a decent job due to said criminal record, dating a white partner who doesn’t understand… well… anything, and so much more. Watch it for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments.

19Feb/19
High-End Black Designer

50+ High-End Black Designer Brands Across the Diaspora to Support Instead of…

High-end Black designer brands have existed for decades, yet we often look to the colonizers to flex our style. No more. Here are some extremely amazing brands with high-quality products to fill your closet listed in alphabetical order. Let us know your favs!

High-End Black Designer

Adele Dejak | AdeleDejak.com | @AdeleDejak
Adele Dejak The Brand is home to luxurious African inspired jewelry handcrafted in the heart of Kenya. Everything comes from materials that different African tribes would use to make their ornaments and trinkets. We have contemporary, artistic and wearable bags, necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets not forgetting some exclusive home decor items. If you consider yourself sophisticated, edgy, trendy and fashionable, Adele Dejak is the brand for you.

High-End Black Designer

Adoni MMVII | AdoniNYC.com | @AdoniNYC
Signature products, apparel, and accessories.

High-End Black Designer Brands

Ainsley & Troupe | AinsleyAndTroupe.com | @AinsleyAndTroupe
Ainsley & Troupe believes there aren’t many things in life (aside from a strong spiritual foundation) that gives a man confidence and a sense of purpose quite like being well-dressed does. Their aim is to equip men with the sartorial tools they need to exude confidence and remain purpose-filled throughout their everyday lives.

High-End Black Designer

Andrea IyamahAndreaIyamah.com | @AndreaIyamah 
Andrea Iyamah, owned by Nigerian fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah, is a clothing line strongly inspired by color and ethnic cultures. Although Andrea Iyamah is popularly recognized for its eccentric and unique take on swimwear, using vibrant colors and cuts inspired by an array of African cultures, the brand also specializes in ready-to-wear and custom made special event dresses.

High-End Black Designer

Armando Cabral | Armando-Cabral.com | @armando_cabral
Founded in 2008 by Portuguese model and designer Armando Cabral, Armando Cabral was established to offer premium footwear and accessories that reflect and support modern living. Inspired by timeless design, easy elegance and luxurious comfort, the brand merges minimalism with intricate details and innovative technical construction. From loafers and derby shoes, to boots and sneakers, each style is crafted from premium leather and made by Italy’s finest artisans, creating new classics designed for every occasion.

High-End Black Designer

ASHYA | Ashya.Co | @Ashya.Co
ASHYA is a Brooklyn-based design label featuring exclusively belt bags and travel-friendly accessories made for the modern day explorer. The brand aims to unify function and style through its purposeful designs. The contemporary design label reinvents a staple style by offering an unconventional and reimagined look on luxury belt bags. The brand emerged as an “ode to exploration” and pays homage to effortless movement. The thoughtfully crafted accessories are designed to fill the gap in the traveler of today’s arsenal of timeless pieces.

High-End Black Designer

Brother Vellies | BrotherVellies.com | @BrotherVellies
Brother Vellies was founded by Aurora James with the goal of introducing the rest of the world to her favorite traditional African footwear, while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs within Africa. Handmade in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco, Brother Vellies creates boots, shoes, and sandals in styles that maintain the spirit and durability of their ancestral counterparts.

High-End Black Designer

Christie Brown | ChristieBrownOnline.com | @ChristieBrown 
Luxury Ghanian fashion brand.

High-End Black Designer

Claude Lavie Kameni | LavieByCK.com | @LavieByCK
The Life of Fashion and Beauty. Celebrity Designer, originally from Cameroon, currently based in the D(M)V and Los Angeles.

High-End Black Designer

CUSHNIE | Cushnie.com | @Cushnie
CUSHNIE is a luxury women’s ready-to-wear and accessories brand designed by Carly Cushnie. At the helm of her namesake label as CEO and Creative Director, Carly Cushnie sets forth with a mission to empower women, and to celebrate diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the business.

High-End Black Designer

Dleak Leather Bowties | DleakLeatherBowties.com | @dleakbowties
Dleak Leather Bow-ties is a NewYork-based brand with a collection of handmade leather bow-ties and accessories. Each bow-tie is customized for each individual.

High-End Black Designer

Fe Noel | FeNoel.com | @FeNoel
“Eat well, travel often, and dress to inspire!”…In other words, make life beautiful. This is the philosophy behind the Brooklyn based, womenswear brand Fe Noel. The label’s founder, Felisha “Fe” Noel, is deeply influenced by her Grenadian heritage and has mastered the ability to bottle up culture and glamour infused with sensibility and sensuality.

High-End Black Designer

FEAR OF GODfearofgod.com | @fearofgod.com
American Luxury.

High-End Black Designer

Felix Asuquo | @Fai_World
Bespoke fashion brand based in Lagos.

High-End Black Designer

FemiHandbags | FemiHandbags.com | @FemiHandBags
Colourful. Eclectic. These are the trademarks of FemiHandbags, an African handbags and accessories brand that embodies the exuberant approach to life of its founder, Femi Olayebi.

High-End Black Designer

FRÈRE | FrereNY.com | @MusikaFrere
FRÈRE is the new voice of modern fashion. With an obsessive focus on fit and fabrication, the FRÈRE brand elevates classic silhouettes with extensive experience in bespoke suiting. FRÈRE brings the expertise forward to express a continuation of this vision of an expansion into a fashion house with the offerings of ready-to-wear collections and accessories with a global presence. All of FRÈRE’s garments are hand-made by the finest artisans in the world using the most luxurious materials.

High-End Black Designer

Hanifa | Hanifa.co | @HanifaOfficial
Hanifa is a Ready-to-Wear (RTW) designer line which features contemporary apparel for women. Feminine with chic simplicity, Hanifa features an array of styles, colors, textures, and exclusive patterns that cater to a woman’s body. Hanifa targets your everyday hardworking, bold and beautiful woman who embodies class and a subtle edge.

High-End Black Designer Brands

Haus of Falenci’ago | HausofFalenciago.schedulista.com | @HausOfFalenciago
Specializing in Red Carpet Fashion.

High-End Black Designer

Hideoki Bespoke | HideokiBespoke.com
Born of traditional craftsmanship, infused with an innovative style, and personalized to express the client’s individuality, a Hideoki Bespoke garment enhances every client’s lifestyle.

High-End Black Designer

Ites International | ItesInternational.com | @ItesInt
Caribbean-born, but raised in New York, Sequoia’s journey to Jamaica and her exposure to Reggae, Rastafari, and the African culture inspired her to launch the ITES INTERNATIONAL label.

High-End Black Designer

John Ashford Shoes | AuthenticByJohnAshford.com | @JohnAshfordShoes
John Ashford is a New York Shoe designer and published visual artist and photographer who hand makes his shoes.

High-End Black Designer

LaQuan Smith | LaQuanSmith.com | @LaQuanSmith
LaQuan Smith, born in Queens, New York, has cultivated an equally dynamic private order clientele which spans the globe from Lagos to London. Smith’s unapologetically glamorous aesthetic has also been tapped by world­ recognized brands.

High-End Black Designer

Laurence Basse | LaurenceBasse.com | @laurencebasse
Project Runway Finalist with an excellent aesthetic.

High-End Black Designer

lemlemlemlem.com | @lemlemofficial
lemlem is an artisan-driven collection of women’s, men’s, children’s and home goods made entirely in Africa. Supermodel Liya Kebede was inspired to launch the brand following a trip to her native Ethiopia where she met a group of traditional weavers who no longer had a market for their craft.

High-End Black Designer

Made Leather Co. | MadeLeatherCo.com
A leather goods brand that inspired the avid traveler and stylish business person to create a brand for the same. Handcrafted bags for any occasion or no occasion at all.

High-End Black Designer

Mantsho | Mantsho.co | @PalesaMokubung
Mantsho” is a Sesotho name meaning “A Beautiful Complexion” a clothing label that was established by Palesa Mokubung in 2004. Palesa zooms in on African materials and cleverly transforms them into modern and edgy designs incorporating fine silks and woven fabrics to end up with a 100% Mantsho garment.

High-End Black Designer

Mifland | Mifland.com | @MiflandBrand
Mifland Leather Goods is an American based mixed accessory goods company with a modern utilitarian approach. The collections are defined by Mifland’s signature architectural inspired bold design and attention to detail, with an emphasis on durability and unique use of colors and heavyweight leather.

Milano Di Rouge | MilanoDiRouge.com | @MilanoDiRouge
Milano Di Rouge, LLC is an apparel brand that focuses on providing luxury to the fashion enthusiast. Owned, operated and founded by Milan Rouge, the message the brand promotes is Making Dreams Reality.

High-End Black Designer

MWR Collection | MWRCollection.com | @MWRCollection
MWR Collection is a luxury lifestyle brand that is bold, distinctive, and connected. The masterful hands of our Creative Director, Mia Wright-Ross, and our experienced artisans work to massage a true connection of design, creation, and human kinship within each customizable work. The brand seeks to bring back a sense of human nature and character to each individual product.

High-End Black Designer

Negash | Negash83.com | @Negash83
The name Negash is of African Amharic and Tigrinya origin. The meaning of Negash is “in line to be king”. Negash is generally used as a boy’s name. It consists of 6 letters and 2 syllables and is pronounced Ne-gash.

High-End Black Designer

Nene-YayaNene-Yaya.afrikrea.com/en | @neneyayahb
Stylish Clothing, Accessories, and Home Decor from Senegal

High-End Black Designer

No Tribe Clothing | NoTribeClothing.com | @notribeclothing 
LA Based, print-inspired brand.

High-End Black Designer

Nubian SkinNubianSkin.com | @NubianSkin
A nude bra and skin tone hosiery are the basics of every woman’s wardrobe, at least in theory. For many women of colour, finding suitable skin-tone hosiery and lingerie has not been an option. Frustrated by the lack of skin-tone choices to go with her ever-expanding wardrobe, Nubian Skin founder, Ade Hassan, decided it was time for ‘a different kind of nude’.

High-End Black Designer

Off-WhiteOff—White.com | @off____white
This luxury streetwear label was founded by Abloh in 2012. The range of items includes markers, leather goods, shoes, purses, belts, and pants.

High-End Black Designer

Olori | BeOlori.com | @beolori
Olori means “Queen” in the Yoruba language, which symbolizes every girl’s inherent worth and power. We make handbags that make women feel strong, confident, and secure. We work with artisans and women-owned businesses to help preserve unique craftsmanship and regain influence in a woman-driven industry. Every product sold provides tuition fees for an underprivileged girl.

High-End Black Designer

Orijin Culture | OrijinStore.com | @orijinculture
Orijinal’ Design, Culturally inspired. A brand creating a unique culture lifestyle through African inspired fashion. Although Orijin is Afro-centric in nature, our themes are universal. An Eclectic brand fusing creative, modern, ambitious and “orijinality”.

High-End Black Designer

Oudyk | Oudyk.com | @oudyk_
Offers a garment that is an extension of your personality. Cuts minimalist and sophisticated outfits that will enhance you. Garments made in Mali.

High-End Black Designer

Ozwald Boateng | OzwaldBoateng.co.uk | @Ozwald_Boateng
Ozwald Boateng’s design evokes the essence of a man’s spirituality and character through the enhancement of the physical being. The acknowledgment that style is an extension of one’s self culminates in the wearer having their own voice. The quintessential cut. A thought, a revolution, detail, concentration, pushing the craft of bespoke tailoring further. Crisp and structured, exquisite artistry, innovative classicism. Our secret, uniquely Boateng.

High-End Black Designer

Paul Elle | PaulElle.com | @paulelle
Celebrating African Craft. Shoes, Bags,
Dakar – Paris -Montreal – Worldwide Shipping

High-End Black Designer

Pyer Moss | PyerMoss.com | @PyerMoss
Pyer Moss was founded in 2013 by Kerby Jean-Raymond. Jean-Raymond describes the brand as an “art project” or “a timely social experiment” at times. Pyer Moss aims to use its voice and platform to challenge social narratives and evoke dialogue. Pyer Moss continues to redefine itself every season with collections and runways that combine storytelling, activism, debate, theatre, and social commentary; all while using collaboration with artists and brands as a medium to further the dialogue around seasonal themes.

High-End Black Designer

Romeo Hunte | RomeoHunte.com | @RomeoHunte
Romeo Hunte New York is a definitive lifestyle brand created for all women who appreciate intricate details. Designed in New York City, the line embodies an aesthetic that is cool, conservative and intricate with a balance of feminine and masculine. The brand emphasizes on impeccable outerwear that is practical such as the signature cashmere shearling hood shawl that is one of the core elements of Romeo Hunte the brand.

High-End Black Designer

Southern Gents | S-Gents.com | @S_Gents
We strongly believe the characteristics of a true Gent, Southern or otherwise, include but also expand beyond the execution of style and eloquence alone. Through the delivery of a wide array of enlightening information, contemporary yet classic style accessories, along with hosting of dynamic & inspiring events, an ambition to unite Gents around the world regardless of age, ethnicity, religion or disability has begun. The intent of such efforts consists of bringing about the re-emergence of strong positive community leaders, responsible for administering the common good in all aspects of life.

High-End Black Designer

T-Michael | T-Michael.com | @tmichael_bergen
T-MICHAEL is a bespoke tailor/ designer /artist with a conceptual approach to men’s tailoring inspired by his love of sartorial traditions and his passionate quest for a different narrative within tailoring, design and creativity, to celebrate stylistic and cultural diversities present in today’s zeitgeist. He is known for his meticulous attention to detail and for his garments’ impeccable construction.

High-End Black Designer

Talley & Twine | TalleyAndTwine.com | @TalleAndTwine 
Talley & Twine was created after realizing that most watch companies just emulated the most popular brands. Their goal was to create a quality, detailed, attention-grabbing timepiece. They like to operate outside of the “norms” and away from the long-standing gatekeepers of the watch industry.

High-End Black Designer

Tsemaye Binitie | TsemayeBinitie.com@TsemayeBinitie
Tsemaye Binitie is a contemporary fashion label characterized by exquisite clothing encapsulating a love of luxury and innovative design, specialising in cutting edge advanced contemporary ladies-wear that combines functionality with high design content. Meticulous cut, indulgent fabrics and sartorial construction permeate the delivery of sharp, refined and timeless pieces. The pieces will feature dynamic, draped and body conscious silhouettes with a deep desire to communicate a new sense of elegance and modern glamour.

High-End Black Designer

Undra CelesteUndraCelesteNY.com | @Love_UCNY
Contemporary Clothing for the Modern Woman.

High-End Black Designer

Uniquelywiredm | Uniquelywiredm.com | @Uniquelywiredm
Uniquely Wired M. jewelry is essential to every King and Queen’s trove of fine pieces. From rings to bracelets, crowns to vests, everything is designed to revitalize and re-imagine the feeling of individual strength and style.

High-End Black Designer

Wales Bonner | WalesBonner.net
Informed by broad research that encompasses critical theory, composition, literature, and historical sources, WALES BONNER explores a distinctive notion of luxury via a hybrid of European and African approaches.

High-End Black Designer

Waraire BoswellWaraireBoswell.com | @WaraireBoswell
The WARAIRE BOSWELL brand has been synonymous with attention to detail, proper fit, style, taste level, and innovation.

High-End Black Designer

Vitae London | VitaeLondon.com | @VitaeLondon
Vitae London is a watch brand based in London, England. Vitae combines classic and beautiful design with social justice. Pairing minimalist concepts with stylish modernity, their watches are subtle, yet slim, sophisticated timepieces suited to everyone.

High-End Black Designer

Yvonne Jewnell New York | YvonneJewnellDesigns.com | @YvonneJewnellNY
Yvonne Jewnell New York is an award-winning women’s wear company that creates clothing that promotes women empowerment and celebrates culture from across the globe. Owned by a mother-daughter team, YJNY creates garments with an ethnically inspired message of overcoming obstacles and revitalizing strength.

High-End Black Designer

ZAAF® | ZaafCollection.com | @ZaafCollection
ZAAF is a collection of premium leather goods and accessories handcrafted by artisans in Ethiopia. ZAAF is a word that means “tree” in the ancient and noble Amharic language. We offer a broad range of fashion accessories for women and men including handbags, weekend and travel accessories, scarves, leather jackets and more.

Post others in the comments and we’ll add them! Many thanks to @NewVisionAfro for making us aware of most of these brands!

15Feb/19

Mercy Baez Embraces Women Empowerment This Black History Month

Mercy Baez is a women’s advocate for domestic violence and, through her artistry of performing and motivational speaking, she tells her stories of woman empowerment and survival. She’s a freestyle dancer, spoken word artist, actress, and model. Creating her own concepts for her projects allows Mercy to help uplift and motivate women.
Photo: Royal | Mercy Baez @Lordda_mercy; Photographer | @ukayhip_photography;
MUA | @Iamlee__; Styling | @Eldiorsodeckdesign
Mercy Baez Mercy Baez Mercy Baez Mercy Baez Mercy Baez Mercy Baez

30Jan/19
Taji Mag Vol 18 Embrace the Black

Taji Vol18: Embrace the Black

Release Mar 7 2019 | Vol18 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Embrace the Black! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of model Jennifer “Milk” Laloi. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick on The Laya Center, a Plant-Based Preventative & Rehabilitation Center; our Community Spotlight; our highlighted Hair Feature; “Solo Travel: What Does Your Travel Say About You?” by D. Carrie; “Everyday Spiritual Teknowledge Everyday” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “Representation in Education” by Janelle Naomi; Our Vol 18 theme “Embrace the Black;” Fitness Feature on Athlete, Actress, Wife, and Mom, Gillian White; Vegan Fun with Delliz the Chef; Black Business Grant Winner: The Unique Foodie Witchery; “#BlackLoveConvo: “Fennell Adventures: A Family of Authors” by Dapper Dr. Feel;” Featured art piece by Will Focus; Must Have Graphic Novel: “Cypher Team i01” by Tyrone Jackson/SoveReign Comics; Black Business Highlights; Taji Mag Model Contest Winners; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Shop Taji’!

Taji Mag Vol 18 Embrace the Black

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 18

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.