Release Sep 7 2019 | Vol20 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of #SlayBells! This Big Book volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of model Funmi Okusi Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick, Olympian Keturah Orji who created a mentorship program for young girls; our Community Spotlight on rising actress Jenasha Roy; our highlighted Hair Feature, Intl I Love Braids Day – Braid Love Celebration 2019; “Solo Travel: Blackness Abroad” by dCarrie; “Atum Manifest” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “Back to Natural” Documentary by Gillian Scott Ward; “Black Excellence is Not Hyperbole” by Janelle Naomi; Our Vol 20 theme “#SlayBells” collective photo stories; our Fitness Feature Ase Boogie; Vegan Fun with Delliz the Chef; Featured art piece by Will Focus; Must Have Graphic Novel: “Marassa” Book 2 by Greg Anderson Elysee; “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” by Dapper Dr. Feel; The Celestine Collection Has the Body Butter Scents of the Season; Black Business Highlights; Forensic Toxicologist, Tamykah Anthony of Xanthines Cafe, is Inspiring the Next Generation; “Yoga For Every(body)” by Jo Murdock; Frances Vicioso Gets Real About Mental Health; Thoughts on the Abortion Ban from Podcaster Lineh; Naturalz Salon in Atlanta is Pure Good Vibes; Pharaonic Brand Reminds Us of Our Greatness; BMORE DREAM BIG is Uplifting the Community; Nonso Shows Men How to Dress Without Breaking the Bank; and more!!
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.
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 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.
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.
The 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!
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!!
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.
‘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.”
“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
Black don’t crack black don’t crack black don’t crack because I am Instika Yesizwe.”
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!!
X Gallery Presents Photo Artist Diaja! In the “We Are Our Ancestors” exhibit, each portrait has a specific meaning and embodies rich African culture. Pairing each capture with modern African art, she produced a blend of traditional portraits with abstract sensitivity.
X Gallery @ 163 Malcolm X Boulevard at 118th Street
Viewing November 29th to December 22nd 2018
Opening Reception is November 29th, 6 to 9pm
Ceres Henry, known artistically as Diaja, is recognized for storytelling though various photographic series which are often inspired by current events, Black and African culture, and social disparities. Her work has caught the attention of various publications including Vogue Italia, Huffington Post, and recently Black Enterprise to name a few. Diaja prides herself on not only creating photos appealing to the eyes of her audience but thought provoking and educational photos that raise awareness of the world around her.
X Gallery is dedicated to participating in the cultural development of Harlem through the exhibition of Art and Photography. They strive to create an environment where local people and foreigners of every background can be touched by the beauty of art. They are committed to exhibitions and programs that will strengthen and sustain our community. Lisa DuBois, curator.
Release Dec 7 2018 | Vol17 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Prints² (Prints Squared)! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of model Windela Hall. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick on Proud Black Fathers Founder, Kenneth L. Womack; Community Spotlight: Instagram Recommended apparel line “NuvaAfricWear”; our highlighted Hair Feature; “Solo Travel: Choosing a Destination” by D. Carrie; “People as Drugs” by Jashua Sa’Ra; RB20Denim is Revitalizing Jeans; Our Vol 17 Anniversary Issue theme “Prints²;” Fitness Feature on Jean Titus aka Fit Grandpa of TitusUnlimited; Vegan Fun with Delliz the Chef; Black Business Grant Winner: Werds of Art Photography; “#BlackLoveConvo: “How to Make Friends in Your 30s” by Dapper Dr. Feel & Africa Jackson;” Featured art piece by Will Focus; Must Have Graphic Novel: Marassa; Black Business Highlights; Taji Mag Model Contest Winners; and more!!
The Jamaican born director, Storm Saulter, put together a masterful film entitled Sprinter. The film has received tons of positive critiques for both its acting and content. Without giving too much away, the film follows the lead character, Akeem Sharp, a Jamaican sprinter who has aspirations of becoming the best sprinter in the world and using the sport of racing to escape poverty and unite his family since his mother resides in the U.S.
The film consists of elements that explore some of the struggles of the emotional and mental health plaguing Black men. It’s extremely relatable considering all of the current issues that Black men face every day. Furthermore, the film lets its viewers know that these issues are global for Black men. How does Sprinter accomplish this?
3 Ways Sprinter Explores the Mental Health of Black Men
It’s in the Culture
During the film, there are issues that the lead character Akeem, played by actor Dale Elliot, struggles with. They include both mental and emotional health. Given that both his father and older brother deal with their issues negatively at the beginning of the film, Akeem goes into a downward spiral once a family secret is revealed to him. Acknowledging that Akeem had some fragility in these areas and needed help is pivotal. The lack of exemplary male role models displaying how to deal with mental health can lead to horrible results. This is a universal issue that most black families suffer from which leads to men harboring emotions and not dealing directly with those issues.
Akeem, played by Dale Elliot, winning a race in the film.
Ego is Thy Enemy
To quote Neil deGrasse Tyson, “If your ego starts out, ‘I am important, I am big, I am special,’ you’re in for some disappointments…” Many Black men have fallen victim to their egos and have lost due to it. When he starts dominating at his craft, we see Akeem begin to become popular. Just as in real life, many celebrate him and want to be in his presence to benefit from his success and this further feeds his ego. This is short-lived as Akeem’s declined humbleness begins to cost him relationships and more. His actions while his ego is inflated is resemblant to some of the Black male celebrities we see today that struggle with success and have fallen off.
It Takes Support to Get Through
Although Akeem and his family struggle coping with their mental health, we see that, once help and support are available, he is able to better combat his issues. This is something that Black men are doing better with as many are fighting the stigma and receiving treatment for mental imbalances. The examples can be seen in some of the most influential sports in the United States like professional basketball and other male-dominated sports all over the world. NBA athletes are revealing their issues with mental health and discussing the ways they are treating it, being positive reinforcements that Black men shouldn’t be ashamed of admitting their issue and finding positive solutions to treat it.
“Sprinter” is a great film and does an excellent job of evoking an emotional response. This Overbrook Entertainment (Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s production company) produced film will not only win more awards but also the hearts of many moviewatchers.
For Real. Instead of depicting Basquiat’s story as an isolated tragedy, Director Sara Driver diligently addresses the circumstances and environment that the Artist’s life was lent to. No debating his greatness, Boom for Real takes on Jean-Michel as a feeling and thinking human being. One who interacted and lived his life with intention. Focused on the accounts of friends and contemporaries, the viewer gains perspective and insight to some of the intricate parts behind the Artist so many have come to love. The Soho art scene, the popular clubs, the music culture — his fellow artists reconstruct a wild and sometimes crowded portrait while managing to place Basquiat neatly within it. Fab 5 Freddy, Al Diaz, and Lee Quinones are just a few of the remaining staples of that period who appear on-screen.
For 78 mins, both you and Basquiat watch from afar; you through the silver screen and him through wrinkles in time. You actually rarely get to hear him speak during the documentary. It’s almost as if the very words that his peers speak are forming the images of him. Throughout the film, he flips on and off of the screen. Sometimes he’s a still close-up while other times it’s his full body in reverse motion. This allows him to feel to the viewer, at once, both omnipresent and imaginary. Perhaps this powerfully alludes to the artist’s eternal presence in the art world; Lord over the renegades and disruptors yet to come. As opposed to allowing Basquiat to speak for himself, Boom for Real bestows upon those who were akin to his flame the task of reconstructing his essence. He, young, beautiful, and full of potential. Perhaps they even succeed in conjuring his very existence, because by the end of the documentary you will feel as though he is someone you have sat with, hungered with, and grown with. Not only as if you have known him, but as though you also lived through and were shaped by that time and era.
If you are looking for fundamentals such as the likes of family life etc, you will have better luck digging through public record. Appropriate, seeing as how Boom for Real addresses the artist’s teenage years, for most of which he was homeless on the city streets. For a feast of form figuratively following function, allow the film to take you to the very streets and people that shaped his formative teenage years. The years that led to him being the Basquiat that is written in stone on our hearts.
More information about the film can be found here.
Close out the Summer with one of the hottest parties in the Hamptons, ya’ll! Yes, the Hamptons– like Beyonce’ and Jay Z– Hamptons. Art ‘n Pool is set to be a sexy pool party showcasing New York’s finest emerging Artists. The art exhibit will be featuring the work of Melosa Basquiat, Ben Moon, Cee Love, Justin 32, Jaime Zevallos, Eddy Bogaert, Sunhe Hong and Marcus Glitteris. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by the best artists while taking a sip and a dip? So come prepared and hope to snag a piece from one of the next big names in art. Like Jay said, “Two years later that **** worth $2 million”. Okurrr!
Art ‘n Pool will be taking place at Oreya, one of the trendiest locations in the Hamptons; this event is seriously not to be missed! Exquisite Events NY is hosting with Beautique, alongside Jaime Zevallos, and INN-A-CIRCLE productions, and they are pulling out all the stops for this fashion forward event! Sponsored by Marcel Fine Wines and featuring the sounds of Dj Marcus GlitteriS, guests are promised a night filled with live entertainment and music. So put on your sexiest pool attire, and wear that ‘for when I go out’ outfit that you bought but haven’t shimmied into yet. Summer is ending and this is going to be the night to remember.
Slay you there.
Sunday, August 26th, 2018 from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Oreya (281 County Road 39A, Southampton, NY 11968)