Category Archives: Culture

02Feb/17
cloudy visions

Taji Artist Lounge: Cloudy Visions

Cloudy VisionsCloudy Visions, born Danai Graham, is a painter based in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Taji Mag: How did you discovered my craft:
Cloudy Visions: I discovered art at a young age. I remember really trying hard to copy cartoon characters and finally getting that “S” with the the lines down packed. I used to not want to go out and hang out and lay with the other kids. I would rather draw cartoons and make up characters. I’ve always drawn, but never really did anything with it, it was a hidden talent that nobody really knew about. After taking school trips to museums and then later in life doing lots of research on dope artists such as Michael Jean Basquait, Miya Bailey, Justin Bua, Funny Tummy, Kaws and others helped me fall in love with art. I moved to Denver in 2015 for work, didn’t know anybody there. That’s where I painted my first canvas out of boredom and loneliness. It was pretty bad, lol, but I enjoyed the process and I’ve been doing it ever since. I have now been painting seriously for 2 years, started my Instagram page on 1/2/16, and did my first shows and events all in 2016.
Taji: What inspires your work?
CV: The inspirations for my art work are usually from conversations, real life occurrences, a lot from music, and my family.
Music: Music is big influence on my work. I listen to A LOT of music, it tells the stories that I’m not able to tell verbally. While painting, I am usually listening to instrumentals with a jazzy soulful vibe. This then allows me to make the words or the emotion that I would put on the track through my painting. In my art, it really is the thing that puts me in a creative space. Painting without music probably won’t ever happen. I am that guy who finds random artists from all over the world and digs for music. Its a passion of mine; I can’t live without my music.
Real Life and having my own style: I’ve gone through some stuff. Being an only child has made me a “loner” so being able to say it without saying anything is a big help for me. I really try to put something personal on every canvas I do, even if it’s just the color that I paint a character or a random place, that color will be an emotion I felt or feel. My style is different. Growing up in London, England exposed me to different cultures and lifestyles so you will see that in my art. Sometimes I will paint someone Black, other times the person will be blue but you can still see that it’s a Black person. To me that’s just saying we are all the same in ways even when we are different in color. I love being labeled a Black artist but I don’t want to be boxed in. I can do a bunch of everything. Just like in life, we all want to grow, don’t box me into anything, I’m a  free spirit. I am also a grown man with real world  issues like everyone, a husband, a father, etc., my aim is to let you know that.

Website | Instagram | Facebook

cloudy visions cloudy visions cloudy visions

cloudy visions

 

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Vol10

Taji Vol10: Revolutionize

Release Mar 7 2017 | Vol10 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling it’s theme of “Revolutionize”! This volume features Pan-Africanist and Entreprenuer EmpressAK on the cover. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick: Fruiggie is Making Painting Fun & Safe; the community feature on the powerful Ezekial’s Divine Oil; Hair Feature by Mz Lady Lox; “Multiple Streams of Revenue = Wealth” by Nay Marie; “The Root of Travel” by M’Bwebe Ishangi; the delicious seafood catering and pop ups of KnicknacksBK; unique eyewear from 9oclockteeparty; the sensual scrubs, butters, and jewels of TheCelestineCollection; #CareFreeBlackKids2k17 & Beyond” by Tajh Danielle Sutton; “#BlackLoveConvo” with Africa Jackson & Dapper Dr. Feel; our Health & Fitness Advice Columns with Trainer Clint & Delliz the Chef; Featured artist Will Focus; Must Have Comic Book: Is’Nana the Were-Spider by Greg Anderson Elysée; the Taji Model Winners; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Purchase Taji’!

Vol10

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 10

Taji Mag is a Black Beauty & Culture specialty publication highlighting the artistry of our essence.

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27Jan/17

We Are The Universe Pretending To Be Individuals/As Per the Airport Detainees

It isn’t as if POTUS Cheeto has managed to clone himself and send his minions to enforce the executive order. Those that are implementing these shameful and immoral dictations are citizens like you and I (saying that as referentially as possible, fully acknowledging the entire rank and system is one big delusion of grandeur). They are people who have to work for a living, rely on their jobs for healthcare, and likely have immigrants no more than 3 generations removed. If there was a twinge of consciousness and concern, it was likely overruled by instinct to maintain their own livelihood first. This delusion has become the means by which we are made to feel that standing for what is right risks our own survival.

In any war or oppression, the citizens are the ones to carry the burden of some power-hungry, greed-stricken aristocrat. It could be said that the armed forces and the like are just ‘doing their job” but not speaking against what is wrong silently reinforces it. An injustice to some is an injustice to all, with the opposite being true as well. We as humans have such a capacity for love that we do not necessarily get to exercise within this manufactured society. I don’t believe that true freedom is in being able to choose which color refrigerator we want or which ecosystem disrupting fuel we use to heat our home. I truly believe that true freedom is not a solitary movement.

What if majority of those who are responsible for carrying out these tyrannical sanctions simply refused? What if the man power that is necessary to abuse and oppress were to fully awaken to its TRUE power? It may seem far-fetched, but it is entirely possible sine what a man can think, he can do. Why “squabble over pieces of the Earth”, when in our truth we ARE Earth. We are slowly coming to realize that our true freedom lies in the fortification of the collective and our ability to outwardly manifest the sanctity and oneness of all. We are crawling towards awakening, but there are plenty who are still mired in darkness. For now, that is okay, as they are as necessary to our advancement as our own vertical movement is. We can spread our light simply by continuing to be that light, but it is going to take a lot more than just doing so for ourselves. We have to be as adamant and soaked with conviction as those of us who choose to preserve hate. What if we ALL found ways to show and share our light consciously so for the benefit of Humanity? Especially within our own Cultures and Communities where we have adept influence. How much more powerful will we be when we choose to put our lights together and perpetuate a greater good!

It is easy to wish the climate were more conducive to our growth but if man had nothing to resist him, he would not exist. More so now than ever, I am consistently asking myself how I can contribute to our united ascension. We must each pick our avenue; for some it will be fiery protest while for others it will be watery ritual and visualization. Some will plant the seeds and some will build the shelter, but we all must do something. I am glad you are on your electronic device reading this, but in knowing better, we are required to do better as well. I know you have a life to live and a self to preserve but your soul is eternal and you are a part of the whole. What will YOU do? We need you.

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26Jan/17

Photo Story: “Helios” The God of the Sun

Helios
Photography & Set Design |
Jefferson Ariaga @haremgraphia
Royal, Makeup, Styling |
Emma Theresa @emma_eazyliving

“Helios is known as the god of the sun in greek mythology. I always show the paramount nature of the black woman. With the defined and unyielding beauty which Emma has, I had no other in mind to show what the god of the sun looks like.”

Jefferson Ariaga is a Nigerian Boston based fashion photographer.

helios

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26Jan/17
missy elliott

Missy Elliott Blesses Us With Another Banger

As much as we want (and NEED) Missy Elliott to be a constant presence in our lives, we’ll gladly accept these annual bangers with visual videos that make everything else current look like child’s play. From concept to choreo, this video is everything. Shout to her dancers as always! There’s levels of core and balance required to execute these moves that us sub humans cannot even imagine. Missy keep slaying!

Missy Elliott – I’m Better ft. Lamb [Official Video]

 

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25Jan/17
Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa

Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa, Read Why

Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa

This is the logo

Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa

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Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa

“The most important part of a tree is the root” says Tandra Birkett, who is not only the executive producer of Harlem Fashion Week, but she is also a historian.  And as a historian she recognizes the importance of Harlem’s cultural roots… Africa.  As a result HFW donates a portion of its proceeds to the Senegalese American Bilingual School and their initiative The Big Goree Project. The goal of the Big Goree Project is the restoration of the The House of Slaves, the originial slave fortress into  a Slave Museum on Goree Island in Senegal, West Africa. “We believe that it is integral to maintain a productive connection with Africa and the arts, more specifically fashion, is an avenue that we used to sustain that connection.”  As a result, one month after the historic grand opening of Harlem Fashion Week in the fall of 2016, Tandra and Yvonne were on a plane to Senegal, West Africa. “We did not want to just give money but we wanted to personally connect with our roots ”.

Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa

The creative director of Harlem Fashion Week,  Yvonne Jewnell is also the lead designer and co-owner of the fashion design company Yvonne Jewnell New York LLC.  As a designer, the culture, texture and history of Africa are the inspiration for her design aesthetic. “Fashion is art and my art must reflect my heritage.  I have always been drawn to creativity and story of African culture and I want my designs to reflect the interconnectivity of an African in America. Actually going to Senegal was not only a personal transformation but it was also a design inspiration that will be reflected in my new collection, showing on February 12, 2017 on the main stage of Harlem Fashion Week.” Yvonne Jewnell.

Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa  Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa

Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa While in Senegal Tandra and Yvonne visited the Senegalese American Bilingual School, it was a refreshing experience to visit with Stephanie Kane and the students of SABS. Tandra shared, “As an educator I was so excited to meet the children, I had to jump in on their lecture about Christopher Columbus, it was a great experience!”

Support Our Cause

Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa   Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa

Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa Tandra and Yvonne also had the pleasure of visiting the mayor’s office at Goree Island and meeting with the Chief of Staff Mamadou Adama Diop, we discussed ways of building a stronger relationship with Goree Island and the African Diaspora through the arts and education.

Harlem Fashion Week Tickets

Tandra shared, “The last part of our pilgrimage to Senegal was bittersweet, it was time to visit the slave fortress on Goree Island and stand at the “Door of No Return” the place where the ancestors stood before they were stolen from Senegal forever”. Tandra said, “As I approached the The House of Slaves, Le Maison des Esclaves I literally broke down in tears, I could feel the pain of my ancestors.”

Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa

Tandra and Yvonne came back to the states with a new sense of vision and purpose. Harlem Fashion Week will once again be donating funds to the Big Goree Project, your ticket purchase to the February 12th Runway Show at The Museum of the City of NewYork will help to restore La Maison Des Enclaves into an Amazing museum and the Door of No Return Will become “The Door of Return” for the African Diaspora.

Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa   Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa

Harlem Fashion Week hope that you will join us on February 12th, knowing that your ticket purchase helps to not only build a female-minority owned women’s business in the United States but HFW is also helping to restore relationships with the African continent and financially support the children and institutions in Senegal, West Africa.

Harlem Fashion Week Tickets

Harlem Fashion Week Goes to Africa

“Special Thanks to:

Eugene Adams, the Director of Collaborative Education at Bronx Community College, the American liaison of the Big Goree Project,

Stephanie Kane, Founder and Director of the Senegalese American Bilingual School

Mr. Sandaro Fame, our guide and educator at  SABS

Mamadou Adama Diop the Chief of Staff for the mayors office at Goree Island”

For More Information: info@harlemfw.com

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25Jan/17
hilary banks

Check out the “Hilary Banks” Music Video from Reign

hilary banksMeet a Real Hustle Bunny! Atlanta’s own singer/rapper/songwriter/producer Reign is a multi-talented artist who has had musical aspirations since the age of three. She prides herself in her work, setting herself apart with music that is uniquely her own. With the ability to play several instruments, write/arrange songs, and produce, Reign encompasses the total package. Currently writing, producing, and working on her solo album, Reign is on the move; with a unique, upbeat, pop sound she is ready to take the music industry by storm. hilary banks

 Reign has co-produced with platinum producers and wrote for upcoming Universal acts. Currently she is under her own label “Hustle Bunny Campaign” while still working with super producer Mr. Hanky pushing the club single “Hilary Banks.” Check it out for yourself!

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13Jan/17
Natoya

Taji Artist Lounge: Natoya P

Natoya PNatoya P created a collection of work that embodies her daily experiences as a woman. This body of work takes us through the present stages of life. She seeks to evoke emotions of heartbreak, love, bliss self-realization, and self-acceptance. She states that “many times society overlooks the inner evolution a woman goes through to attain self-actualization and become enough. We don’t take time to reflect on the journey we take to get to the point of self-love and acceptance. This collection takes us through that personal journey of a woman painting the pictures of the pages of a diary.” This is Natoya’s first formal collection and introduction to the world of art. Her work highlights the use of colors to depict the story on a canvas. Her dynamic pieces are multifaceted, showcasing various walks of life.

Natoya can be contacted by emailing natoyap@gmail.com for showings, interviews and inquires. | Natoya P Instagram

Natoya Natoya Natoya Natoya Natoya Natoya Natoya

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04Jan/17
Vernac

Celebrating our Heritage in Vernac!!!

Celebrating our Heritage in Vernac!Vernac

The everyday language spoken by people as distinguished from the literary language. Railways Cafe is of an indigenous building style using local materials and traditional methods of construction and ornament especially as distinguished from academic and historical architectural styles. Every country has its peculiar turns of phrase – quirks that give local languages flavor, color, and character. But unless you’re a native speaker, local slang can be tricky to grasp, let alone use. South Africa, with its 11 official languages, is blessed with a rich slang culture that can be quite daunting for foreign visitors – heck, even some residents flounder when faced with some of the more obscure lingo. “Heterogeneous We Are”

Railways Café, based in Irene Pretoria, is one of the most diverse restaurants enriched with culture and the spirit of UBUNTU.  On this day we celebrated the underground musicians that go unnoticed, yet produce the most powerful, rich sounds of Africa. People from all parts of the globe came through to honor these beautiful souls.Vernac

Vernac  Vernac

We spotted Mr Sibabalwenathi Mfabe, writer of Azania 1236″

The story of Azania continues in the year 1236 in the territory slightly south, and then into the north and its east in what we know today as KwaZulu Natal. In Azanian times no such place had existed at the time of the events that begun in 1234 and continued two years later. Here in these lands, lush and well vegetated, had been brought to order and control by the well liked custodian Cagn, under instruction and supreme protection of Tsui-Goab, Azania’s Arch Custodian. The book will be launched at one of the Taji Night’s book reading events soon.Vernac

“DO NOT SAY YOU WERE NOT WARNED”

 Vernac             Vernac             Vernac

All artwork sold is exclusively hand made to suit your individual desire by;

Sam

Biggie

Tendai

Felix

#Proudly African

Vernac Vernac Vernac

This wall is situated just outside the restrooms for individuals to write what they want to do to change the world. I found that very fascinating.

Vernac

“I want to change the world by always trying my best in everything I do and by being an outstanding ambassador for our nation, everywhere and under all circumstances, create an environment that will enable us to fulfill our vision of making our nation exceptional.” -Muhlez

“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.” – Nikki Giovanni

Last month, Taji hosted an event to honour our Queens, and with that came a gift hamper sponsored by ShowbizAfrika, Muhlez Catering and Projects and Peo Information Technologies. This hamper went to the Queen who is and has always been the light in underprivileged communities, and selflessly so.

“My dream is to retire to my very own orphanage.”

Vernac Vernac

Vernac   Vernac

The children of Setlopo, a small village in Mahikeng north west of South Africa, hand printed this sheet in her honour.

Vernac

This woman has been sharing her income with communities for over twenty years, and has never asked for help doing so. We found that very touching and not to mention inspiring and heart-warming.

She carries five (5) degrees of different sectors, yet she chose to teach ONLY in rural settlements, because she believed it was her calling.

“YOU WILL NEVER INFLUENCE THE WORLD BY TRYING TO BE LIKE IT.”

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04Jan/17

Why I Cut My Hair: Black Girl Magic

Why I Cut My HairWhy I Cut My Hair: Black Girl Magic

When I decided to cut my hair two years ago, on October 3, 2014, the shortest I’d ever gone at the time, it was due to the excessive shedding I was experiencing. I was also looking forward to having a new look. I’d had the same style for the last decade and desperately wanted a change. I also wasn’t happy with the growing, and visible, specks of gray at the crown of my head.

Since cutting my hair, however, the versatility and self-awareness that came with it, gave me a sense Why I Cut My Hairof confidence that I’d never known before.

With the cut went the notion that a Black woman with little to no hair couldn’t still be beautiful and feminine at the same time. I know not everyone believes that, but growing up in a world where your beauty is defined by European standards, your sense of self can be non-existent.

Cutting my hair freed me of such a notion. For the first time, I began to see ME! The real me, what was under the hair. As my confidence grew, I became more playful and experimental with makeup and various short crops, highlights, whether curly, straight, natural and everything in between to accentuate my natural features. The standards that I’d grown to know as normal began to subside. I felt beautiful. Authentically beautiful. Just as I am and there was/is beauty in that.

I recently shared the above image with my Instagram followers with this statement:

“I use to think that having long hair was a beauty feature. Especially as a Black girl seeing perpetuated ideals of what it means to be beautiful. And to be considered a beautiful Black woman. Ironically I’ve never felt more beautiful after cutting all my hair off and going nearly bald. The best thing you can do for yourself is reject society’s definition of what’s beauty and find it in you. You already have everything in you. Imo short hair gives you versatility. And a big chop normally represents new birth/a new phase in your life. I’m ready ❤️”

To my surprise, there were many brown faces on my feed sharing their own thoughts on the matter, and expressing much of the same sentiments.

When I re-read that message, I recall the days in elementary school wanting my hair to be long and down my back like some of the other girls in my class. And along with it, lighter features: fairer skin and a straighter nose.

I don’t know how young or at what age I began to acquire these standards, and internalizing them as my own, but I am sure that they are the same ideals passed down from my mother, sister, grandmother, aunts, cousins, and friends. And it’s important for me now to break that cycle, so that I can pass down better messaging to my future daughter. To own her beauty and feel confident and enjoy every bit of this black girl magic.

What I also hope this message does for others, like myself, is help them in eradicating beauty standards that aren’t ideal or natural or maintainable. It’s important to understand that beauty comes in all forms, shapes, sizes and colors and, honestly, it starts with each one of us.

They say a woman who cuts her hair is getting ready to change her life. For me, that is exactly what happened. I changed my perspective and it reflected externally.

You won’t begin to see your physical beauty until you’ve tapped into your inner beauty, what makes you so unique, different and special. Loving you trumps any social standard of what you should look like and who you should be.

By: Antoinette “Ms. Toni” Warren
Ms. Toni is a Digital Media Influencer, Content Marketer and Founder of cottenkandi.com.
Twitter: @i_am_mstoni
IG: @iammstoni
FB: Facebook.com/iammstoni

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