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)
‘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.”
DC-based Music Collective Crank LuKongo has gotten the ball rolling in a major way. Their new album Born Again is the jam session and history lesson you’ve been missing in your life. As your head nods and sways to the beat of each song, years of experience effortlessly pour into you. With both the group and the album produced and composed by D.C. Native, Matt ‘Swamp Guinee’ Miller, very few stones are left unturned. Master Drummer, Vocalist, Percussionist, Songwriter, Historian, and Renegade Realist, Swamp calls on his fellow artists within Crank LuKongo to create as a sacred art.
Briefly, the group itself includes vocals and drums by Swamp Guinee, the likes of Junior Marvin of ‘Bob Marley and The Wailers’ on electric guitar, plus vocals and acoustic guitar by songwriter David Blackwell of ‘Charles Road’. In actuality, the list of greatness of members and featured artists on the album goes on. The group consists of several hyper-talented individuals who each bring a unique and irreplaceable component to the overall sound. And boy, does it mesh. Spearheading their own genre, Swamp Guinee has distinctly named their sound ‘Afro-GoGo-Roots’. Make no mistake about the fact that each compositional influence holds equal weight in the recipe of the band. Afro for the unmistakable Jazz, Soul and Rock’n’Roll undertones throughout the entire project. GoGo for the don’t-leave-home-without-it attitude of their crankin’ native D.C. sound. Roots speaking to the revolutionary nature of their cause and the messages within their music, delivered in a way that you can’t help but jam or rock. Therein lies the perfect makeup for music that remains in the body and mind but aims for the heart.
Crank LuKongo’s sound stands as a testament to how our very existence relies on the existence of all that has come before us and also has the potential to shape what will follow. First single and video, ‘Ghosts of Anacostia‘, speaks directly to the extent of that history, especially regarding the guarantee of it repeating itself under the guise of willful ignorance. ‘After the Revolution’ touches on the future, asking of us what part we will play in the shaping of the world for ourselves– come hell or high water. Reaching back to the present, the album also touches greatly on Washingtonian pride, which is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. ‘The Legend of Petey’ is a sonnet of Funk dedicated to beloved Shock-Jock Petey Greene, while ‘Mayor 4 Life’, featuring D.C. rap artist, Head Roc, expresses the town’s widespread and undying allegiance to the late Mayor Marion Barry. The range of sound and subject on this project makes for a truly artistic journey.
Aware that we live a multi-dimensional existence, Crank LuKongo’s album “Born Again” stands as the perfect embodiment of just that. From pre-colonial history to current issues intertwined with songs about life and love, the project is undeniably a classic. Grown from the fertile soils of Chocolate City, Crank LuKongo is a clear benchmark for musical excellence and possesses a special brand of Soul that is unique unto itself. The album serves to give you a chef’s table sampling of a richness you may have not been lucky enough to experience yet. Be sure to hear it for yourself.
Requests regarding booking information for Crank LuKongo, Swamp Guinee, along with album purchases, can be found here.
Subscribe to my blog for upcoming profiles on members of Crank LuKongo.
Fate allowed me to attend the taping of the 2018 Black Girls Rock awards show, which took place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark this past Sunday. This year, awards are given to Dancer & Choreographer Judith Jamison, Queen Mother Janet Jackson, Writer Lena Waithe, and Queen of R&B Mary J. Blige, to name a few. Believe you me, the stars presenting the awards are of the same fan-moment inspiring caliber as the honorees. The likes of the incomparable Phylicia Rashad, Ava DuVernay, Ciara, and Misty Copeland are far more superior than anything else likely to grace your screen. Yes, ever.
Photo Credits: FashionSizzle.com
I refuse to ruin anything for you dear reader, especially regarding the opening, but I definitely suggest that you prop yourself up before the show begins. I pretty much keeled over in my seat watching it live. You have been warned. With the door having been immediately blown off its hinges, you will soon realize that it was just to make way. Behold, the mogul MC and Black royalty, Host Queen Latifah. Black Girls Rock and we get to rock with the Queen for the entire evening. Stunning and attention demanding, suited in an almost tangible coolness, the Queen commands the stage just as you would expect.
With praiseworthy performances (plural, yes) from Yolanda Adams, a goose-bump raising ballad full of swagger soul by H.E.R., and the dipped-in-honey vocals of none other than Tamia, the announced performers will give you the show you are expecting. The soul-stirring performances will leave you with more to say than ‘Great gowns– beautiful gowns’. Okurrr? But what you’re NOT expecting though? The sheer force of the performances that WEREN’T announced. While there are no spoilers here, the good news is that you don’t have to wait long in order to experience it for yourself. ‘ Black Girls Rock ‘ premieres on BET this Sunday, September 9th, at 8pm ET/PT. Check your local listings.
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)
Have you heard? At last month’s Essence Fest, Essence Ventures CEO Richelieu Dennis announced the official launch of the $100 million New Voices Foundation. Dennis, also Founder of the Shea Moisture Brand, had already invested more than $30 million in the 6 months prior to the announcement. “What many of you may not have known all these years is that when you were buying Shea Moisture products you weren’t just investing in that business,” said Dennis during the event’s opening press conference. “We need you to continue buying Shea Moisture so [that] we can continue putting that money back in[to] the community.” The New Voices Fund, dedicated to funding Black Women in business, was originally established in 2017.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence
As if that were not enough, the CEO also took the opportunity to announce the new Essence Creators and Makers Fund. Essence Ventures, the parent company of Essence Communications, has already invested $20 million into that fund under the guidance of Dennis. Focused on curating African-American content, production company ‘Flavor Unit Entertainment’ lead by Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere is the first partnership on the bill. Appropriately so, being that during the announcement Dennis gave credit to the duo for developing the idea in the first place. During a later panel discussion on Entrepreneurship, Queen Latifah spoke about the financial obstacles that new ventures often face. “One of the most difficult things is struggling to find the capital to continue your ideas. So by supporting us, you are going to keep this engine running in a way you [can’t] even imagine.” Flavor Unit Entertainment will both create and finance film, television, digital, and documentary-style content that reflects the lives and experiences of Women of Color. The Essence Platform — including print, digital, and live events — will be used to market and promote projects taken under the fund.
I truly respect Dennis for his direct actions against the disadvantages plaguing Black Economics. So far concerning the Makers and Creators who need to “own our content and not just be work for hire” and the Black Women Entrepreneurs that will receive funding for their businesses, I can’t wait to see what else is in store. “Essence and the vision… speaks to Black Women, but also that creates an economic engine through which… we can reinvest back into our community.” Dennis leads by the example that, with initiative, each of us can take part in the collective growth. I’m convinced that, in finding his purpose, Dennis has our backs for the long haul. That’s almost enough to make me grow back out my hair to support Shea Moisture again. Almost.
Rnb Bombshell Mya’s recent album, “TKO” (The Knockout), has an absolutely accurate title. As her 8th studio album, it was released just a day shy of the 20 year anniversary of her beloved self-titled debut album, Mya. She was a boss then and not much has changed. The artist executive produced and released the album via her independent label, Planet 9, with teaser singles like ‘Ready for Whatever’ that surfaced in September 2017. With heat like the track “Damage” (my jam already) and “Open,” that features Goldlink, Mya takes us on a sexy, heartfelt journey yet again. Single ‘You Got Me” is just that–HEAT. With writers like Kevin McCall and Marsha Ambrosius, I’m sure that’s exactly what she intended.
In this video with FuseTV, Mya gets to be the first Vegan to make an ASMR video. Honest moment: I had no idea what ASMR was. Once I started watching the interview I instantly remembered having seen a video of another woman whispering and eating a head of lettuce into a podcast mic. I had dismissed it as some fetish trend for people who liked whispering and watching others eat food. I know, irresistibly sexy right? But this is Maya we’re talking about. Sweetheart, darling diva, supremely sexy but sublime. So… what’s up?
For those of you as curious as I was, ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It is centered around the practice of listening to a variety of spine-tingle inducing sounds like whispering and crunching. With quite the following, ASMR is generally used for meditation, sleep, and in aiding anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Surprisingly non-sexual. Of the several theories I read surrounding the practice, it seems that whispering both relaxes and stimulates by triggering a reflexive sense of intimacy. Who knew? I’m surprisingly here for it and I’m pleased that Mya was the one to break me in. In the video, we get to watch as Mya speaks (or whispers) about being Vegan, her new Alkaline diet, and shares some veggie tips. I’d tell you why she chews and then spits out Carrots like Tobacco, but that would spoil the video.
Catch it here and of course check out Mya’s new album, TKO, available everywhere.
Juneteenth is a day that pays tribute to the freedom of slaves and their opportunity to establish themselves as respected people. What better way to celebrate Juneteenth than spend the evening at the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.) watching one of our greatest Black fictional heroes, freedom fighter Luke Cage, a bulletproof Black man who fights for Harlem’s people. Netflix and Spotify hosted an advanced screening with an afterparty filled with old-school hip-hop, jazz, and other genres of music featured in the Luke Cage series.
Luke Cage Season 2: The Screening dived into the mysterious past of Luke and other characters like main villain Mariah which turns out to be intricate in the development and existence of the characters. The new villain this season, the Bush Master, has been featured in the trailers and looks to be a challenge to Luke Cage both mentally and physically. As we discover his connection to the city of Harlem and Mariah, he looks to be a foe that will have Luke Cage teaming with the antagonist Mariah. In this case, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, really holds true in this season.
One of the major themes in season 2 is self-reflection – what are the true identities and morals of Luke and some of the other characters. It is something that we all can relate to as we partake in this journey called life. I think that by the end of the season, we will truly be able to see growth and self-discovery in the characters. We may also be able to see the facades of these characters finally be revealed. With all that said, Luke Cage season 2 will definitely keep audiences engaged. Beware, you may be tempted to binge because of all that this season has to offer!
The Teacha: KRS-One
Followed by the screening of Luke Cage, the infamous and rhapsodist rhymer KRS-One gave a short concert that provided energy to the crowd with his flows and hype freestyle. His words consisted of knowledge, influence, and support of the unified people. KRS-One covered oppression, deportation, and strengths of unity. KRS-One showed that he is not only a lyricist but a teacher as he went into the some of the backgrounds of deportation and illegal immigrants. To sum it up, no human is illegal which many in the audience agreed is a valid statement. By the end of his concert, he showed why he is a major part of hip hop culture. He provides entertainment that is laden with substance and quality content.
Midnight Hour at Harlem’s Paradise
While watching Luke Cage, some of us fans dreamt about exploring the Marvel world in real life. Well, Netflix did just that by recreating Harlem’s Paradise in the Kennedy Center’s Atrium. Decorated with purple and red hues with white decor, copies of the Notorious B.I.G painting that can be seen in Mariah’s office were placed around the space. The mood really set the atmosphere as if Mariah herself was watching us network and dance with her lover/partner ‘Shades’ at her side.
The entertainment was opened by the music group and soundtrack directors the Midnight Hour, a group consisting of producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad and composer Adrian Young. They performed jazzy tunes that bring back the feel of Digable Planets with a hint of Wynton Marsalis. During the show, they brought acts Joi, known for her unique and groovy tunes under the Dungeon Family and talented guitarist, aka B.B. King 2.0, Kingfish.
The night ended with a surprise guest no one expected, Mr. God MC himself, Rakim. When he got to stage the crowd erupted and the evening was set for another explosion of hip hop culture fun. From his hits ” I Ain’t No Joke” to ” Paid In Full,” his lyricism echoed, what seemed to be, across all of DC combined with the crowd that rapped in unison. Well, close to it anyway.
One of the best lines from the night came from KRS-One. He said that bulletproof Black men do exist and those are the ones that are intelligent, educated, and not doing negativity in the streets. As we watch Luke Cage fight for his Harlem people in this next season on Netflix, let’s fight for each other in a positive way.
Check outLuke Cage Season 2 on Netflix June 22, 2018!
“Thank You” is ArinMaya’s newest offering that explores issues of self-love, momentous endings, relationship redemption, and freedom all at once. Directed by actor and screenwriter Chris Greene of Truth First Productions (The Night Of; 7 Seconds), the video portrays an introspective ArinMaya looking for inspiration and self-healing in the pages of O Magazine and Together We Rise, the book written and published in commemoration of the Women’s March. An inaugural member of the Resistance Revival Chorus, which was born from the Women’s March, ArinMaya first wrote “Thank You” as mantra in an act of self-love.
Inspired by a relationship turned disappearing act, ArinMaya came up with the refrain, “Thank you for setting, setting me free – Thank you for letting me be me – Thank you for setting, setting me free,” after realizing that her sadness over the relationship’s ending should actually be joy.
She begins telling the story of love gone wrong, taking lyrical assistance from her bandmate and energetic emcee, BD3. Produced by Edson Sean, the third and most versatile member of ArinMaya’s musical collective The Experi3nce, “Thank You” is a crowd banger. Shirazette Tinnin (Hugh Masakela; Alicia Keys) is the song’s secret ingredient, whose percussion adds a special layer to the song’s already upbeat feel. Replete with a memorable baseline and a clean and vibrant horn arrangement – also played and arranged by members of the Experi3nce – “Thank You” is a song for everyone, as both men and women will find themselves in this powerful, relatable message and melody. Song + Music by ArinMaya featuring The Experi3nce Directed by Truth First Studios. Click here to purchase the track. For more information, visit her website.
The Janelle Monae new videos are visual fire. Both giving different moods with the same Janelle mastery. Django Jane is empowering and strong with a nod to women rappers of the 90s. Make Me Feel is flirty and fun with blatant Prince influence (and others, but only Prince is relevant, particularly when referencing Janelle) featuring Tessa Thompson.
Preorder her upcoming album, Dirty Computer, which is slated to release on April 27th, or download both songs if you can’t wait that long here: JanelleMonae.lnk.to/dirtycomputer
Enough talking, just watch and tell us your thoughts in the comments!