Tag Archives: culture

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.

14May/20
DanceAfrica

BAM Launches DanceAfrica Digital Programs, Bringing the Joy of the Beloved Festival into Our Homes, Launching May 18

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BAM launches DanceAfrica digitally with a series of public programs celebrating the nation’s largest African dance festival and its community. Programs launch May 18th with offerings that include conversations with Abdel R. Salaam, Rennie Harris, Ronald K. Brown, Mikki Shepard, DanceAfrica Elders, and more; online dance classes; streams of past performances; FilmAfrica; and other programs that bring the joy of the festival into audiences’ home. The popular Brooklyn bazaar goes digital for the first time in 43 years highlighting 20+ small businesses through an online marketplace, May 14—June 15.

Images from DanceAfrica: 2019 Rwanda Reborn: The Remix_Photos by Julieta Cervantes

DanceAfrica digital public programming has been specially created in response to the current world environment, with audiences seeking compelling ways to connect with their community and explore the arts from home. BAM’s longest-running and most beloved program is a community celebration, welcoming all to observe. The celebratory events will continue the series of unique digital experiences offered by Love from BAM. Visit BAM.org to join and view a weekly schedule.

Public Digital Programming Includes:

May 21, 2020/Brooklyn, NY—DanceAfrica—the nation’s largest African dance festival—continues its celebration through May 29 with special Memorial Day weekend programs, including a live dance party, a conversation with Mikki Shepard, and more. Visit BAM.org to join and view a weekly schedule. Detailed information below. 

Mon, May 25 at 11am ET

DanceAfrica, The Early Years 

Mikki Shepard, the original producer of DanceAfrica, discusses the festival’s inaugural year and how the program grew, from 1977 to 1984, complemented by video clips from past DanceAfrica performances. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

Mon, May 25 from 7pm—9pm ET
DanceAfrica Dance Party with DJ YB
Keep the DanceAfrica celebration going with a live, virtual dance party featuring a set by DJ YB. During the dance party, DanceAfrica will encourage donations to the mutual aid group Bed Stuy Strong, a network of neighbors helping neighbors in central Brooklyn during the COVID-19 crisis. Join DJ YB for an evening of Afrobeat, funk, soul, rock, jazz, and hip-hop stylings. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org 

Tue, May 26 at 6pm ET

DanceAfrica and The Council of Elders

The DanceAfrica Council of Elder members Mamma Normadien and Baba N’goma Woolbright join Abdel R. Salaam

and Charmaine Warren to reflect on their DanceAfrica wedding ceremony (1983) as well as their participation in DanceAfrica over the years, both as Elders and as longtime stage managers. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

Wed, May 27 at 6pm ET

DanceAfrica and The Council of Elders 

DanceAfrica Council of Elder leaders and longtime members Mamma Lynette White-Mathews and Baba Bill (William) Mathews join Arts Consultant Stefanie Hughley for a discussion on performances over the years, complemented by video clips from DanceAfrica performances in 2011 and 2019. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

Thu, May 28 at 6pm ET

Education and DanceAfrica

Karen Thornton Daniels, Sabine LaFortune (RestorationART), Coco Killingsworth (BAM), and Abdel R. Salaam share their experiences and insights about the essential and evolving role education has played in DanceAfrica. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

Fri, May 29 at 2pm ET

Bantaba West African Dance Class

Karen Thornton Daniels and Farai Malianga lead this bantaba dance class with a focus on a variety of dances and traditions from West Africa. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

Fri, May 29 at 6pm ET

DanceAfrica Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Coco Killingsworth, Charmaine Warren, and Abdel R. Salaam gather to talk about the beloved program and the passing of the torch after Founding Artistic Director Baba Chuck Davis’ transition. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

SCREENINGS

FilmAfrica Co-presented by BAM & AFF, Inc

BAM partners with African Film Festival, Inc. to present online screenings of a selection of modern African cinema classics. For prices and more information visit BAM.org.

Opens Thu, May 21

  • Aya of Yop City (2012) Directed by Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie (85min)
  • Mother of George (2012) Directed by Andrew Dosunmu (106min)
  • Rafiki (2018) Directed by Wanuri Kahiu (83min)
  • Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love (2008) Directed by Chai Vasarhelyi (102min)

Opens Thu, May 28

  • A Screaming Man (2010) Directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (92min)
  • Chez Jolie Coiffure (2018) Directed by Rosine Mbakam (71min)
  • I Am Not a Witch (2017) Directed by Rungano Nyoni (93min)
  • National Diploma (2014) Directed by Dieudo Hamadi (93min)

ONGOING

Fri, May 15—Sun, Jun 14

DanceAfrica Digital Bazaar  

DanceAfrica’s popular free outdoor bazaar goes digital this year, creating an online marketplace highlighting small businesses offering the finest fashion, food, jewelry, and crafts. Free and open to the public. For more information visit bam.org/bazaar

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.

Subscribe to my blog for upcoming profiles on members of Crank LuKongo.

04Oct/17
Don't Sweat

Don’t Sweat The Small Shit

Let’s say some shit happens between you and somebody else. I’m talking have you wanting to throw hands, or had one too many drinks while listening to ABoogie all night type shit. Because of what happened, it’s automatically considered a bad day. At the end of that day, if I was to ask you how your day was, instead of talking about all the negative stuff, ask yourself these three questions.

1. Did it take any money out of your pocket?
2. Did it take the roof from over your head?
3. Are you or anyone you know in any physical pain or danger?

If the answer to all these questions is “NO”. Then guess what, IT DOESNT FUCKING MATTER. Why do we insist on being so ready to decide that it’s a bad day overall? Things happen, and the reality is, they’re going to keep happening. People my age have what, maybe a good 60-70 years left in this world? Come on, it’s unrealistic to think we can ever progress or move forward in life if we direct so much focus and energy towards the negative.

I won’t lie, I dead used to be that way. It was a really hard habit to get rid of, but I started to ask myself, do I really wanna be mad or sad, or any other negative emotion everyday? Hell no. I got tired of it, and I knew if I continued allowing myself to choose the negative, I would start doing that in everything else that I do. Whether it was dance, work, this blog, relationships… anything. I would always be negative.

It had to become part of my morning ritual to literally say out loud to myself, “I’m choosing to be happy today, and I’m going to make sure today is a good day”. Regardless of anything that happens, if it didn’t take your life, there’s no reason to sweat the small shit.

Don't Sweat

18Dec/16
Pan African Children's Books

29 Pan African Children’s Books!

 Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO

Pan African Children's Books

Add ones we’ve missed in the comments 🙂

List somewhat compiled by www.binoandfino.com
“Here at Bino and Fino, we are always on the look out for things that will help nurture young minds.  Finding children’s books for kids that have a black girl as the protagonist or the main character can be tricky. This is because of the fact that there is very little visibility of black & brown kids in the world of children’s books.  This is changing with campaigns such as We Need Diverse Books calling for more diversity in children’s books.

If you like any of these books and are looking for similar titles check out Tutu’s Storybook’s. They specialize in selling a wide variety of Pan African children’s books that celebrate black heritage & diversity for early readers.”

14Jan/16
Chef Quincy

Chef Quincy Caters Mary Ann’s Birthday Celebration

Chef Quincy and his team beautifully caters Mary Ann’s surprise birthday party! Watch the video below for a look at how wonderfully it was executed! Follow him on instagram at @chefQuincy and check for him in the “Featured Dish” section of Taji Mag Vol 6!

04Dec/15
Sweet Daughter

Sweet Daughter by Michael Ware Jr.

Sweet Daughter
Pure soul
I wanna protect you from the world but I know you need to grow
From a baby to a girl, a girl to a woman, but respect yourself like a lady and no man can ever consider you a hoe
Daddy broke a lot of hearts and threw them away, but yours I will cherish and hold
Hold it to my heart and lock it with the key to my soul
Sweet daughter
Pure soul
You’re very independent, but there is still a lot to learn and a lot to know in order to fully grow
You will make mistakes and do the right thing, you may also get your heart broken and cry to sleep, but don’t ever be afraid to love
Love is pure, and you have a pure soul
Love them like your mother loved me, because that pure love is like no other
I am your father and he is your brother and she is your mother, but we all love each other equally like no other
Sweet daughter
Pure soul
I look into your eyes and your the reason why I have life and strive to be the best, wake up and go
Stay pure and cleanse your soul
Always pray because blessings will help you with life
Just don’t be afraid to grow
By Michael Ware Jr

 

 

30Nov/15

Dynamic Duo: Devon and Daphne

While mainstream media continues to spotlight negative attention towards people of color, very little is said about true artists in various fields. Artists that collaborate or self-motivate have always been seen as the underdogs to those who take the easy way out. These days, not many artists of color connect with each other, feeling that the industries they work for only have room for a few candidates to succeed. Dynamic duo, Devon Taylor and Daphne Lee, are making an impact in the art world today and are defying odds.

An accomplished Drummer, Actor and Model, Devon Taylor, hailing from Camden, NJ, uses his “inspiration of all art forms” to excel his expression. Currently playing for vocal artist, Nadjah Nicole, Devon spreads his passion by collaborating with artists locally and around the globe. Devon has a need to just make music and teach others on really telling a story. “I am all about art expression” says Taylor, “the story you tell when you’re on stage and when you are able to mentally and emotionally connect with your audience.” Devon even has his own production company where people can request his connections of talent for various events. Just recently, he connected with an NAACP ACT-SO regional gold medalist alumni (like himself), Daphne Lee, who is also a New Jersey native.

A professional dancer who is currently a ballerina for Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, TN, Daphne has always made a statement through other mediums of art via music, speaking engagements, and visual art, but most recently her photographs. “Ever since college, photographers connected with me not only as a dancer, but a ballerina of color to spread awareness of the lack of black female ballet dancers not being exposed in the media”. Even though her resumes extends from working with Beyonce, to being part of Ailey 2, Daphne mentions that there is a bigger purpose to it all.

Devon and Daphne collaborated with Memphis Photographer Ziggy Mack (@fomoloop) to demonstrate that art serves a huge purpose. Music and dance go hand in hand and with these NJ Artist, they want to continue to educate, inspire and mentor future artists of color to collaborate. They are always looking for a platform to connect with other musicians, photographers and visual artists. Follow Daphne and Devon on their careers on all social media platforms and watch their passion create pathways for the next generation.

Instagram: @daphne732 and @devskeerocket

Websites
Daphne: www.daphnemlee.com
Devon: www.pmeprime.com

Devon Taylor: Camden, NJ

Daphne Lee: Rahway, NJ

Dynamic Duo

Dynamic Duo

17Nov/15
Jahlaam

Jahlaam – Electric Atlanta Soul Artist

Jahlaam (a mesh of her name Khadijah Salaam) is an electric soul artist born in Philadelphia, PA but bred and based in Atlanta, GA. Her earliest memory of herself singing was when she was four; a Whitney Houston song played around her childhood home and she happily sang along. Throughout her grade school years she would catch the ears of her family and especially her dad who encouraged her to sing often as he enlisted her in several talent shows. In elementary school she played flute and was apart of the school choir. She even got to sing “The Greatest Love of All” alongside some of her peers for her elementary school graduation. She continued attending chorus up until high school. Around this time she began writing but perceived her lyrics to be too amateur. After high school Jahlaam would pursue a college degree & placed making music on the back burner. However she could not keep away the urge for making music. Eventually she returned to creating what she loves most and began churning out lyrics upon lyrics while seeking out music that would fit her vibes. So far, Jahlaam has performed at several Atlanta venues and had a performance set during the 2015 A3C Festival. Currently, she is actively pursuing a music career and building her brand as an artist.

Find her latest singles “Everything” & “Everything Remix” on all digital music stores including iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, Beats Music, etc.

Social Media: @Jahlaam

Website: www.soundcloud.com/jahlaam

Jahlaam