Category Archives: Music & Poetry

13May/21
Chris Blue Taji Mag

Chris Blue Discusses How He Rose After the Calls Stopped

Chris Blue Taji Mag

Oftentimes, viewers of shows like The Voice and American Idol wonder what happened to the contestants after the show. The Voice has a solid Country following so a few of their artists are able to chart, but what about everyone else? I had a wonderfully candid conversation with The Voice season 12 winner, Chris Blue, where we discussed what he did after the phone calls stopped and the excitement for his current projects. If you haven’t yet, check out his recent release, Moon, on all major platforms. See the full Video interview below.

Taji Mag (TM): What do you feel is the difference between this project and your previous projects?
Chris Blue (CB): I think for this one, it’s something people have been asking for. People have been asking for Moon, essentially, since I finished my time with NBC. It was a journey getting them here but now they’re like ‘thank you, finally, this what we’ve been wanting and we gon blow this thing up’… and that’s what they’ve been doing! So I think that’s what’s different. Back2TheFuture was a great song because I felt like I needed to say something, I needed to have my imprint on society, but as far as my musicality and my art and my VISION… Moon, to me, is it. It’s that cross between what’s new and the respect of what I have to what’s old. It’s old school/new school. You’ll hear influences of the Weeknd, Michael Jackson, and you get to the end of it and it’s like where’d this Afrobeat vibe come from? The reason I did that was because I’m still learning about my heritage, I’m a descendant of the Jamaican-Caribbean-African heritage. I’m really digging into my ancestry now. I was like maybe THAT’S why I love curry chicken…

(TM): Did you feel like you couldn’t produce the same type of artistry during your time at NBC?
(CB): Yea… I mean… Yea. I feel like I was somewhat restricted on what I could do. My first anything as a solo career happened on NBC. I wasn’t out here grinding grinding grinding before that show. So when I won and got the accolades, the money, and the deal, it was great, I get to do what I want to do. I’m telling people now, I won but at the same time I lost because for about 2 years, I think, I realized like I’m losing myself. I’m losing who I am. I’m losing Chris Blue…

(TM): Was there a lot of outside influence on who they wanted you to be as an artist.
(CB): There was. There was a lot of influence on what they wanted because, again, it’s a business. A lot of people have to remember it’s the music business. So that word business sometimes outshines the music in most cases, especially when you’re dealing with other people and other people’s money and they have to figure out how am I going to make my money back? So when you start to see this is trending and this is what most people will like and this is selling, let’s reshape and redefine you and make you fit this. The issue with that with me is and was I’m not that. I’m me. I can only do me well. I can’t do that well. So I lost. I lost a lot of confidence in myself. I lost a lot of belief. Because I’m not becoming that, the telephone stopped ringing as much, my emails weren’t blowing up, I wasn’t getting as many messages on Instagram, and everything just started to collapse. I was just like well maybe I wasn’t that good… It messed me up in a lot of ways, so much that my family started to feel the effects of it. My mom just sat me down one day and was like you’re changing. I was like dang, what you mean by that mama. That was one of the defining moments for me that brought me back. If I’m gonna do music, I gotta do it my way, I gotta do what I love and I can’t do it to spare feelings or to pacify anyone else.

You can’t sustain living a certain way that’s not conducive to what you want to live like. You can’t do it. It don’t work. You’ll wake up every day hating yourself. You’ll become the perfect example of the person who wakes up to the 9-to-5 job that you hate.

Chris Blue Taji Mag

(TM): Makes note of how I’ve watched contestants change from the beginning to the end of the show to fit cookie-cutter molds and that, by the end of it, I’m just skipping through each episode to see who they chose as the winner.
(CB): It’s funny you say that. I had to learn this as well. The American public ain’t stupid. Y’all are not dumb. You watch artists on them shows and you be like ok dope, they this, they that, but ya’ll know, nah, this is show. Some people have to be reminded it’s a show, right, so the expectation that as soon as you come off of a show like that you’re supposed to just blow up… I didn’t realize that going in. That’s a TV show. They have to do what’s best for them. It’s on me to get out here and actually work and grind and build. I tell people, I wish… If could do it all over again, with the same result (big smile), I would. I would go in thinking like an artist. I wasn’t thinking like an artist. I was some green, wet behind the ears, new-to-this-thing singer. I wasn’t an artist. I just want to sing. Put me on the stage, give me a microphone, let me SANG, let me do what I do. If I could go back and do it again, I’d have my team in place, I’d have everything ready to go so that by the time they said and the winner is I’m ready to use that launching pad to actually launch off.

(TM): What else are you working on now? I hear you’re doing a docuseries?
(CB): Yea so ya boy just got a leading role in a docuseries that we’re getting ready to shoot next month at a studio in Atlanta. So I’m excited about that. The role I’m playing is a guy who I feel like is me right now. Everything this bruh is going through, that’s ME. Everyone feels good about this docuseries, It’s real. It’s raw. It’s uncut. You’ll see a lot of truth a lot of reality. I believe highly in putting things into the atmosphere, when you put things into the atmosphere, God’s ear, he hears.

So happy that Chris Blue is stepping into his true artistry and exploring multiple avenues of his creative genius. Click here to stream Moon. Follow Chris Blue on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. Stay tuned for more updates and real conversations.

Click below to watch the full video interview.

02Feb/21

Relationship between Poetry and the Body

Poetic Introduction – What is A Poem, But a Body?

If poetry is yet another body, then we are blessed. 
What else gets to create, envision, become, and shed more than one body?
A cat may have 9 lives, but we have as many lives as we have pens to paper; 
as we have scattered fleeting thoughts; 
as we have silence. 

What a true blessing it is playing, 
holding a moment still and alchemizing it into whatever we like: 
truth, lies, darkness, light, expression, secrets, life, death,
everything and nothing.

- Sadie Jay
A poem comes from emotion. Emotions are felt in the body. The body is the starting place of the poem, whether you write about the body or not. 

A poem is a container, just like the body. Because the black body is so highly politicized, Black poetry is highly politicized. 

What a poem presents is one thing and when you look more closely it shows itself in another light. Poetry is reflection; a way to understand yourself. 

- Dannie Ruth (excerpt from a cento with lines from Omotara James)

How We Found Poetry

Growing up, I was fascinated with sound, letters, and making words. I loved learning new words and their meanings and the many ways they could be used, reshaped, and used again. 

In the fourth grade, I began studying Latin and continued for many years. Although Latin is a ‘dead’ language, it has given itself to so many other languages. Ninety percent of English words are derived from Latin, while French, Portuguese, and Spanish are direct offspring. 

Ancestors are like Latin; dead bodies in this realm, yet they keep giving to the living. 

As a child, I learned to grieve and often found comfort in writing poetry and journaling. I’ve kept most of my composition notebooks and journals from then until now—pages and pages of me at different life stages. 

At a certain point, writing poetry became a hobby, something I would do when I was bored in class. Sometimes just coming up with lines. Noting words or phrases that were spoken that day. Depending on the class, I would manage to pay attention and play with words and worlds on my page. Writing allowed me to be somewhere else.

– Dannie Ruth

My relationship to poetry sparked in elementary school with my observation that the “trees danced in the wind.”

My fourth-grade teacher seemed so genuinely pleased by my answer that I kept a relatively positive association to poetry, even through the “write a sonnet in iambic pentameter” days of high school.

Poetry became a more focused interest during the quarantine. I started connecting to my body more through movement and dance. I looked to other black women and their life experiences.

From there, I realized people who had an intimate connection to their bodies could access their truth and express it in ways that felt inaccessible to me. Poetry has given me ease in expression.

– Sadie Jay
poetry and the body 
Image with pink and blue gradient background with white text that reads: 
"Write after a shower. Write on the toilet. Write after an argument. Write in and about liminal spaces. Writing can be cleansing. Revisit your writing. Keep adding layers or scrap everything and start all over again."

Try out this writing prompt!

Choose a photo, image, or piece of art. Write a description without naming any objects in the photo.

Ekphrasis & The Body Cave Canem Fall Workshop

I found Cave Canem during my time in The New School’s Creative Writing MFA Program. Their mission is to cultivate African American poets’ artistic and professional growth by offering fellowships, workshops, prizes, and host readings.

Finding them was a relief because it became challenging being one of the few Black poets in my program. Cave Canem is pouring into Black poets who elevate the canon.

– Dannie Ruth

I came across Cave Canem while searching for online poetry workshops. Although I consider myself still very much a novice in writing poetry, I felt a strong desire to explore. 

Among the many transitions that happened last year, I abruptly moved from Brooklyn back to my small beach town in Florida. I had come to my first writer’s block. 

Every week I was encouraged to write and connect. This consistency was calming as my world was in flux.

– Sadie Jay

We had the opportunity to attend a ten-week workshop, facilitated by Omotara James, titled Ekphrasis & The Body. Ekphrasis is a response to a piece of art, and the art does not have to be visual. We make ekphrastic responses daily (memes, comments, shade!). When a piece of art moves us, we usually experience it viscerally before we process it intellectually. In other words, we experience art in the body. The body not only houses these experiences but contains every memory that has shaped us: individually and collectively.

We completed the workshop and are now left to consider: (1) the way poetry can enact itself, (2) our duty as poets to research, explore and respond to the artwork and our respective worlds, and (3) how to cultivate a deeper understanding of our own bodies and the poems that come from us.

We must take time to unpack poetry as it relates to the body fully. Write and connect with us as we engage in this process. Whether you consider yourself a novice or experienced poet, check out the Spring Workshops offer by Cave Canem. A lottery now chooses community workshops, and participants receive a stipend of $250 upon completion. Submitting can’t hurt.

17Feb/20

The Man Behind the Music, Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper

The Photograph was a phenomenal film, no doubt. Much is to be said about the collaboration of artists on the project as one of the most impressive elements of this film is the music composition. The film composer is none other than Robert Glasper. Knowing he was responsible for the soundtrack immediately gave me confirmation that The Photograph would be an overall great production. Right after watching, I immediately sought out an interview with the man behind the music, Robert Glasper. I had the chance to ask the multi Grammy Award-winning and Emmy winning artist about his work on the film. 

Dapper Dr Feel (DDF):  What brought you work on this film? 

Robert Glasper (RG): Luckily, Stella being a fan is what really brought us together. She liked my trio albums so a lot of the music in the film was based on that earlier work.

 DDF:  What was your creative process for the film?

RG:I liked making things up in front of the director. We’d put up a cue and they’d tell me what they wanted to accomplish emotionally and I liked writing there right on the spot. Sometimes it takes ten different tries or sometimes it’s magic on the first try, but that’s just the process that works for me. If the director is there, I can include them in the process and get the best result.

Robert Glasper

DDF: The music definitely matched the tones and colors of the film. How did these aspects of the film influence your work? 

RG: Each scene had a purpose and some kind of emotion behind it that Stella wanted to portray, whether it’s anger, confusion, sadness, happiness, sexiness… Whatever it is, it’s my job to try to match the emotion with music, or musically support the emotion. The great thing about it was that she was very free with letting me be who I am musically to try to get these points across.

DDF: How does music composition for film differ from composition for albums? 

RG: For albums, there’s nothing you have to match it with. When you’re composing music for a film, you’re trying to help tell a story that people are already seeing visually. There’s something already there and you’re trying to attach something to it that emotionally reflects and assists the storyline.  

When you do an album, there’s no visual, so you’re creating whatever you want. The visual is in each person’s head. There’s no director steering you towards what to see or feel, but that happens when you’re watching a film. The director is steering you towards a particular emotion. 

DDF: What movie music composers are you inspired by and why? 

RG: I’m not really inspired by movie composers, I’m more inspired by artists and musicians who do music. If it just so happens that they do a movie great, but there are no film composers I pattern myself after or study, per se. 

DDF: What are some of your favorite film scores and why? 

RG: I like Love Jones film score. This score kind of reminds me of Love Jones because it’s the story of two young black adults that are really artsy. Both films kind of parallel each other and both use music of their generation to tell their story. The Love Jones soundtrack was full of people of the generation and it was really cool. The Photograph is also full of music of the generation. At the same time, it had some throwback stuff that inspired this generation and used jazz as well. The difference is that Love Jones used Charlie Parker and John Coltrane — jazz from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. This one was more modern. It has music from me and Christian Scott; it used jazz of today.

Mo’Better Blues is one of my favorite Spike Lee films and one of my favorite soundtracks. It featured not only Terrence Blanchard but also Branford Marsalis.

Actor Denzel Washington and director Spike Lee.

DDF: I actually thought of Mo’ Better Blues while I watched the film. Was it your inspiration?

RG: Mo’ Better Blues is definitely one of my favorite soundtracks like I said earlier. When most films use jazz, they use jazz from the 20s-60s; they rarely use jazz of this time period. Mo’ Better Blues was made in the 90s and used music and musicians of that era, and that’s what made it really dope to me, so this feels like the same thing for sure.

DDF: What would it mean for you to win an Oscar? Is that the goal? 

Robert Glasper and actor/rap artist Common celebrate their win at the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards

RG: I’ve already won an Emmy for my work on Ava Duvernay’s documentary The 13th on Netflix. I wrote the ending song featuring Common and Bilal. So it would be amazing to win an Oscar. Most musicians aim for a Grammy. I’ve been blessed to have a few Grammy’s and an Emmy so to get an Oscar would really be icing on the cake. 

DDF:  If you can choose one song from your catalog to describe The Photograph, what would it be? 

RG: I’d probably say a song I did on my Black Radio album called “It’s Gonna be Alright” featuring Ledisi. It’s saying no matter what the ups and downs of life or a relationship, there’s always sunshine, there’s always a bright side. These particular movie characters had their ups and downs in their relationships and they found a way to make it work, so I’d probably say that song.

DDF: How have you grown as a score composer since your first movie project?

RG: I’ve grown a lot. I’ve just learned how to read and understand directors better. My musical palette is bigger. Understanding how to bring in different vibes from all across the global palette of the world. I’ve had to mix all kinds of styles of music, some I’ve never had to tackle before to bring across one scene. It helps you grow, the more knowledge you have, the better. For instance, in this film, I had to compose some New Orleans music and I’ve never had to do that before. Having to compose styles outside of what you’d be personally oriented to create has just made me a better musician. 

Robert Glasper was a perfect choice for the Photograph soundtrack. His musical talents paired with Issa Rae’s and LaKeith Stanfield’s acting skills plus Stella Meghie at the helm, audiences everywhere are in for a treat. It’s artistic range, both directorial and musical, feels similar to the Spike Lee classic Mo’Better Blues. Anyone familiar with the 90s classic would find this a testament to The Photograph’s contribution to cinema today.

The soundtrack by Robert Glasper also features music by artists Lucky Daye and H.E.R and can be found on platforms like Google Play, Apple, Spotify, etc. Watch The Photograph in theaters now then run and buy the soundtrack. You’ll be thankful you did.

12Aug/19

Hip Hop Visionary Missy Elliott To Receive the 2019 MTV VMA Video Vanguard Award

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JULY 07: Missy Elliott performing at the 2018 Essence Music Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on July 7, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

Just Announced! Five-time Grammy award-winning artist Missy Elliott will receive the prestigious Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards! There is sure to be a great tribute to her and the hip hop pioneer herself will perform on stage! This will be a special treat for fans everywhere since she hasn’t performed at the MTV VMA’s since 2003. Fans will be looking forward to the performance of her hits “ Get Ur Freak On”, “ Work It” and “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”

Missy has had an amazing year thus far from being inducted into the SongWriters Hall of Fame to receiving an honorary doctorate at the Berklee College of Music. 

In honor of Missy, MTV and Pepsi have partnered together to host a fan pop up event entitled MTV and Pepsi Celebrate the Museum of Missy Elliot. The pop-up event will be in New York from August 24th-25th highlighting the career and work of the multi-talented, transcending musician. 

Several people on Twitter congratuatled the artist and Missy responded back with the following tweet:

https://twitter.com/MissyElliott/status/1160961691527602176?s=20&fbclid=IwAR2IelHerRhkYXTwjIAy37obXyCQ1ZLF2htCjCKwEnXy7i6l_zUEtKHTO6Q

Missy will join the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna, and Jennifer Lopez. Tune in Monday, August 26, 2019 at 8pm EDT live from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

About MTV:

MTV is the leading global youth media brand in 180 countries, reaching 450 million households in nearly 30 different languages across every platform. A unit of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), MTV operations span cable and mobile networks, live events, theatrical films and MTV Studios. 

12Jul/19

Founder, Owner, CEO & Artist: JAE Black

JAE Black hails from Asheboro, North Carolina. He reigns as the Founder, Owner, CEO, and Artist on his independent Label, Illcapone Records LLC.

Best Advice Given
JAE receieved the best advice from his friend of 15 years, Emery. They were hanging out at JAE’s house back during their high school days, making a beat and structuring a song for their rap group at the time, which was called “yung gin.” Emery looks at JAE and says, “yo dog, out of everybody I know in my life and out if everybody in the group, you got it… you’re going to make it… never stop this music thing ’til God allows you to go no further.”  He’s had people share that same enthusiasm ever since that moment, but it was something about that day that made him believe it!

Being able to be diverse in the game is critical and that’s why JAE Black believes that he is both a MC and a Lyricst. Why? He makes great music as an artist and, from a technician’s, stand point he paints pictures out of real life that people can relate to.

Popular Artist most likely to perform with: Drake.

To create this recent album, he was inspired by things that he went through between the release and the few months prior. He experienced a wave of hate, betrayal, jealousy, greed, and even the doubt from loved ones because they couldn’t understand his goals. The Penalty of Leadership is for those individuals who do things out the norm which scare people into only following. It doesn’t bother him to step out of the norm and he doesn’t think it should bother anyone else either; be great no matter who’s against it! The reason for the release date is due to his great grandmother’s birthday. Her passing has given him a focus and drive like he’s never had before.

The Penalty of Leadership dropped on JUNE 9th 2019 on all music platforms.

Where it all started…

His mom dated this guy named Al Luck for four years and, when JAE Black was in 5th grade, Al Luck and his son, Marquese, moved in with JAE and his mom. Marquese and Jae became close like brothers and remain the same to this day. They looped music from the wrestling video game they recieved for N64 and then they recorded it off of a tape recorder.  He had the tape recorder from the Home Alone movie and they would play the beat back from the radio while they rapped over it.

They got to the point where they would take two plastic sticks from toy golf clubs, a couple of empty soda bottles, and other objects to create beats. Marquese would do the drumming and JAE was the MC. It’s funny for JAE  to think about it now but that’s where his love for music began.

JAE Black has written his own music since he was 10 years old and has yet to collaborate with anyone but in the future it could be a possibility. Yet, as he ventures through new levels with his music, he finds that he enjoys the creativity behind each of his songs more and more. He doesn’t have a favorite song but the song that he is most proud of would be: Trust Issues from his recent album.

He’s proud of that song because he took a risk and tried something new. Listen to it and you will understand why. His most memorable performance was when he performed a track in downtown, Greensboro in 2015. A guy in the music industry was given JAE’s music when he came down to visit North Carloina and he liked what he heard. He invited Jae to New York to perform at a music festival called “The Gathering.” It was his first and only experience. In his first song he fumbled and messed up the lyrics so bad that he just went straight to the next song and from that day forward he always told himself to be prepared. Shortly after that, he took a 3 year break because of life. Now his focus and drive are much different.

NEXT STEPS FOR THE FUTURE

The Penalty Of Leadership dropped on June 9th. Some music videos to some joints from it were released but then it’s get back to the studio to work on another project. He has tracks for another project that he is working on but currently JAE is focused on promoting The Penalty Of Leadership and putting more momentum behind the ball.

For Bookings & Music

For all bookings and features reach JAE Black at [email protected]

  • Website: JAEBlack.com
  • Instagram: @_jaeblack
  • Youtube: JAE Black
  • Facebook: OfficialJAEBLACK

Find his music and his newest album on on every platform – including Tidal.

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)

19May/19
It Takes A Village

It Takes A Village Gives 8 Rising Artists a Platform

It Takes A VillageOn May 11th, 2019, A Village United held its debut event entitled It Takes A Village – a musical showcase that gave eight rising artists a platform to shine and share their art. Founded by Bronx-native Eric Davon, the showcase was designed to create a village amongst likeminded individuals who are able to listen and learn from one another through art. The artists who took the stage consisted of a diverse group of singers and rappers who all put their own spin on their performances, some adding choreographed dancing, others bringing a full band – all for the love of their art.

It Takes A VillageA panel of four entrepreneurs, who are artists in their own respects, inspired the crowd by sharing their success stories, their plans for leaving a legacy in their fields and paying homage to their own village who has helped them throughout the way.

A Village United partnered with Damatrix Studios Network (DSN) radio station to help create exposure for the artists. DSN held one-on-one interviews that aired on their website (www.damatrixstudios.com), their mobile app (DSNBX), and throughout their social media platforms.

Assisting in cataloging the event, David Anthony, contributing photographer for Taji Magazine, was in attendance. David captured all elements of the event from performances, audience takes, panel discussions and some behind the scenes moments of the members of The Village.

The event garnered a crowd of 70+ with connections made and the start of A Village United.

It Takes A Village It Takes A Village It Takes A Village It Takes A Village It Takes A Village It Takes A Village It Takes A Village It Takes A Village It Takes A Village

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

03Nov/18

Born Again: D.C.’s Own Crank LuKongo Releases First Album

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.

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06Sep/18

Black Girls Rock Shows-off This Sunday

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.