Tag Archives: taji mag

02Feb/22

Taji Vol30: Grounded Earth

Release Mar 7 2022 | Vol30 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Grounded Earth! Each volume is a tabletop collectors item and Vol30 is no different! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of @justhalo_. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick, #BlackLoveConvo: “Aunjanue Ellis, One of the Best to Portray Black Mothers” by Dapper Dr. Feel; our Community Spotlight, Earth’s Pot Kisses Your Taste Buds; our highlighted Hair Feature with Debra Hare Bey; “Solo Travel: You’re More Prepared for Solo Travel Than You Think” by dCarrie; “Paper Can’t Hold A Marriage” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “And how are the children?” by Janelle Naomi; Our Vol 30 contributed photo story, “Grounded Earth;” Fitness Highlight, actor, Kevin Wallace; Vegan Fun with Earth’s Pot’s Hit Meh Walnut Burritos; “3 Tips For Lowering Your Grocery Bill” by Naomi Bradley; NURILENS Eyewear Prioritizes Eye Care Maintenance, Wombilee Menstrual Pads are Helping to Combat Unhealthy and Unprotected Wombs; Featured Art Piece by Craig C.; Comic Appreciation with Concept Moon; Black Business Highlights; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Shop Taji’!

Vol30 Grounded Earth

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 30

Taji Mag is the epitome of ‘Cultural Drip’ – elevating Black brands, narratives, and imagery to new levels of Black Excellence. We embody the traditional and modern royalty of OUR people via our quarterly digital and print publication and live events.

18Jan/22
53rd NAACP Image Awards

Queen Sugar and All American Among Nominations for 53rd NAACP Image Awards

Today the 53rd NAACP Image Awards announced 16 nominations for Warner Bros. Television Group including some of our major favs, Queen Sugar, created for television by Emmy® winner/Oscar® nominee Ava DuVernay, and All American, from executive producer/showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll. They are both up for the Outstanding Drama Series category.

53rd NAACP Image Awards Warner Bro Nomination Highlights

Queen Sugar the 53rd NAACP Image Awards
Queen Sugar on OWN

Queen Sugar has received six nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series and acting nominations for Rutina Wesley (Nova Bordelon), Dawn-Lyen Gardner (Charley Bordelon West), Kofi Siriboe (Ralph Angel Bordelon), and Bianca Lawson (Darla).

All American has received three nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series, an acting nomination for Daniel Ezra (Spencer James), and writing for Nkechi Okoro Carroll.

Acting nomination for Anika Noni Rose received an acting nomination for the series Maid.

Director Cierra Glaude received a Breakthrough creative nomination for Queen Sugar.

Complete list of Warner Bros. Television Group Nominations

QUEEN SUGAR (Warner Bros. Television/OWN): 6 53rd NAACP Image Awards Nominations

  • Outstanding Drama Series
  • Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series: Dawn-Lyen Gardner
  • Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series: Rutina Wesley
  • Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: Kofi Siriboe
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Bianca Lawson
  • Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Television): Cierra Glaude

ALL AMERICAN (WBTV/The CW): 3 Nominations

  • Outstanding Drama Series
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Daniel Ezra
  • Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series: Nkechi Okoro Carroll, “Homecoming”

MAID (WBTV/Netflix): 2 Nominations

  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special: Anika Noni Rose
  • Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Television): Quyen Tran

THE REAL (Warner Bros. Unscripted Television/Syndicated): 2 Nominations

  • Outstanding Talk Series
  • Outstanding Host in a Talk or News/Information (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble: Garcelle Beauvais, Adrienne Houghton, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai Jenkins

TED LASSO (WBTV/Apple TV+): 2 Nominations

  • Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series: Ashley Nicole Black, “Do the Right-est Thing”
  • Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series: Leann Bowen, “Lavender”

THE VOICE (Warner Bros. Unscripted Television): 1 Nomination

  • Outstanding Reality Program, Reality Competition or Game Show (Series)

Watch the 53rd NAACP Image Awards on February 26th at 8pm EST on BET.

53rd NAACP Image Awards
01Jan/22

Matrix Resurrections Is Far From Just a Nostalgic Sequel

Matrix Resurrections
Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) Photos Courtesy of Warner Bros.

THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS SYNOPSIS: Return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more.

My rule of thumb for movie franchises is do not bother to make movie trilogies because they are unlikely to be successful. In the case of The Matrix Resurrections, it has proven to be one of the exceptions as the fourth installment of The Matrix franchise. I have to admit, I was curious to see how the storyline would develop with one of the most iconic movie heroes, Neo (Keanu Reeves), playing alongside a re-casted Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). If you are a new reader, I must warn you there are spoilers if you haven’t seen the film already. And if you haven’t seen the movie, shame on you because it’s been out since last month on HBO Max! Just kidding! Here at Taji Mag, expect my honest review of the film, including a few things I didn’t like.  

Matrix Resurrections
Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Bugs (Jessica Henwick) Photos Courtsey of Warner Bros.

The Matrix Resurrections * Spoiler Alert *

Enter the Matrix

The film’s introduction starts off with the opening scene of The [first] Matrix movie, except the audience looks on from the perceptive of a new character, Bugs (Jessica Henwick), who is communicating with Sequoia, the operator of the MnemosyneThe introduction of Morpheus as one of the agents during the first act was a surprise but is a nice setup for his storyline. He eventually fights Bugs before taking the blue pill, transforming into full Morpheus, a modal program based on the original Morpheus. 

The team of Neo, Bugs, Morpheus, and other freedom fighters set Trinity free from The Matrix with the help of an adult Sati (from Matrix: Revolutions). Once freed, Trinity discovers she has powers similar to Neo’s and together they go on to fight through the Matrix with the help of Smith: a collaboration I’m confident in saying no one expected.

From there, the two break Neo out of the Matrix where he exists as a video game developer named Thomas Anderson and is working on a game called The Matrix which is based on the real Matrix story. Neo’s partner/CEO, who is actually Agent Smith, also begins to display signs of deja vu while slowly disconnecting from the Matrix. Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) is now Tiffany, a love interest that Neo admires from afar because she is unavailable, married with two kids. Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) makes an appearance as the leader of the new Zion. Keep in mind it’s been 60 years since the war with the machines from the last installment, so she’s aged a bit. 

Lights, Camera, Action! 

What can I say about the action? It is spectacular! In the first installment, The Matrix exposed audiences to new graphics and fighting styles. Resurrections built on the franchise’s strong foundation of action. I personally enjoyed the fight scene in the old buildings where Neo and his new team fight off The Frenchman’s henchmen and Agent Smith (a recast version of the Agent Smith we know from previous films). Am I the only one who found it funny how the Frenchman resembled a dried-up dirty gym sock on a tirade about how Neo’s previous actions led to his decline into poverty?

The graphics were excellent! The updated form of transportation into and out of The Matrix through mirrors definitely looked smoother than using payphones as we saw in previous films. (Wait! What’s a payphone??)

The flashbacks in the film were also edited well and didn’t make me feel like I was force-fed nostalgia like other films have done in the past. These flashbacks were vital for showing the differences between the original Matrix and where we are today while Neo and other characters continue to discover their true identities. 

Matrix Resurrections
Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) Photos Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Matrix Resurrections In Character

I was disappointed Lawrence Fishburne did not return as Morpheus because I’m truly a fan of Lawrence. Yes, ever since Cornbread Earl and Me. However, Yaya is such a talented actor that his character’s portrayal felt organic. The scenes where the new Morpheus and Neo recreate their sparring scene from the first film were very cool. Plus, we get to see some of Neo’s new powers.  

Reeves and Moss as Neo and Trinity continue to have on-screen chemistry. Their evolution into a super-powered couple was a great plot twist. The montage of Neo in his other life as Thomas Anderson is hilarious as we get a sense that Warner Bros is poking fun at itself. The video game company wants another sequel with or without its creator and the suggestions pitched during his meetings are resemblant to real life. 

I believe Smith could’ve been a whole new character since Agent Smith just doesn’t feel the same without Hugo Weaving. It was still nice to see Weaving in the flashbacks because the development of the Smith character has always felt significant to me. 

The Analyst was the perfect villain, primarily due to Neil Patrick Harris’ excellent portrayal. He was annoyingly arrogant…as a good action movie antagonist should be! 

Bugs (Jessica Henwick) had incredible charisma and was the strength of the Freedom Fighters. It was fitting to have such a strong-willed character lead the warriors of new Zion. She was an excellent addition to the story and carried her weight much as she did in the Iron Fist series.

The Power of Love

In the third act of the film, there’s a scene where the mind-controlled civilians hold Neo and Trinity apart as they reach for each other. In my mind, for some reason, I heard the song “Power of Love” by Luther Vandross playing. Of course, we discover that the love between Neo and Trinity is stronger than the Matrix, and (as we already assumed) they are indeed destined to be together. 

To summarize, Resurrections is excellent entertainment that will please audiences everywhere. I’m very interested to see where this franchise goes, but I would also be ok if it ended right here. So, log into HBO Max and watch it today! 

10Dec/21

American Auto’s X Mayo Says Martin Lawrence and Living Single Are Her Inspirations for TV Comedy

X Mayo

From eighty dollars and a suitcase to Emmy award-nominated writer, X Mayo has always had a knack for entertainment. With her new NBC show, American Auto airing on December 13th and Amazon comedy special Yearly Departed premiering on December 23rd, X Mayo is giving audiences much-needed laughs into the new year. The South Central native took time out of her busy schedule to chat with Taji Mag to talk about her new show, her love for comedy, and her homage to Living Single. 

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): When did you fall in love with comedy? 

X Mayo (XM): When I was 8 or 9 years old, I acted with a dance theater company. I wasn’t sure what was classified as improv, comedy, or sketch at that age. All I knew about was performing and dancing, no specific category. During a performance of Cinderella, I was acting as one of the evil stepsisters with another little girl. The girl’s afro wig fell off on stage because we all had costume afro’s in the play. I came on stage and pulled my afro off, and yelled at the audience, “Stop laughing at my sister!” The audience laughed so hard. It was all instinct, and I wanted to protect her too. The little girl was mortified because we were dancing to fucking Mozart, and my improvising was not supposed to happen. I wasn’t sure what I did, but once I got backstage, the experience felt terrific, and all I could think was, “I want to do that again.”

X Mayo’s Inspiration

DDF: Who was your favorite comedian growing up? 

XM: Martin Lawrence. He is one of my top 5 favorite comedians. He was just a fucking idiot when he performed on his show, Martin. Martin reminded me of a lot of my cousins and many people I grew up with, and I loved how he played so many characters on his show. That show still makes me laugh so hard to this day. 

Starring in American Auto

DDF: What made you take this role?

XM: Justin Spitzer created it, and he has worked on hit shows like The Office. I thought to myself the opportunity to work with him. I just love the character. Dori is not just an assistant or some minor character; she’s three-dimensional. I love the fact that she cares about Catherine, and the writers wrote her not to play small, which gave me free rein to do my thing and not worry about being restricted. 

DDF: What is it like during the table read? 

XM: I am extroverted-introverted, so I was like, “Fuck, I want to be in the room with you all!” I feed off energy. Anna, John, and Humphrey were all improvisers, so they made me really want to do the table read in person. I loved that we, as the cast, could get feedback directly from the studio. I could feel all this good energy during the table read, which made me think this show would be a hit.

X Mayo

DDF: How much input did you have on your character Dori? Did you come up with the pink braids?

XM: I definitely had some input because she was initially written to be a 50 years old white woman from the midWest and a grandmother, which I am none of those things! I talked to Justin, and I got to speak to the writers. After my audition and shooting the show, the writers definitely curtailed Dori to fit my voice.

DDF: Who came up with Dori’s pink braids? 

XM: I auditioned in braids, but they weren’t pink, but they were pink at the table read. Justin Piltzer (Creator/ showrunner) and Jeff (executive producer/writer) decided at the table that the pink braids fit the character. Throughout the entire season, you’ll see Dori’s hair change. I grew up watching Living Single and, to this day, I think it’s one of the greatest depictions of uniquely different Black women ever! So my homage to Regine (played by Kim Fields) is Dory’s hair change. That’s not just a trait of Dori, but Black women in general, and I change my hair a lot. I told Justin, “I know you like the pink braids, but next episode, the hair has to change.” and he was ok with it.

DDF: Were there any obstacles shooting this show? 

XM: Just this thing called COVID. That was the only obstacle. We made adjustments, wore our masks, tested three times a week, sanitized our hands, stayed six feet apart, and I went to my trailer more often so I could take my mask off to breathe. So, I wouldn’t say it was an obstacle, it’s just the new normal, and we want to keep everyone safe, which is totally fine. 

X Mayo Self-Reflecting

DDF: Did you learn anything about yourself after playing this role? If so, what? 

XM: I learned that it is essential to prepare. So I knew I needed to punch up my jokes on the side before I came to work. Because the cast was so kind and collaborative, I would punch up jokes for other people and pitch things to them. I just wanted the best possible product, not to say that my jokes or ideas are the best, but maybe they can take part of my suggestion to make it work for them. 

I also learned the director would always pull me back; they would encourage me to do my thing but guide me. I come from a theater background, so I would be concerned that I was overacting when I was not. I am just used to playing for audience members in the last row of the theater. I would play small in some scenes, but the director would work with me to get me where I needed to be. 

DDF: Can you explain, “If my momma asks, I am in school for nursing?” in your bio for Instagram?  

XM: Ha! I switched up my bio. It was my filler until I changed my bio to promote American Auto and Yearly Departed. I put that because my mom is super supportive, but she is like “Mija…” because my mom is Mexican, “Mija, I love what you are doing, and I am so proud of you. But if anything fails, you need to have a degree.”

Anybody in my fucking life that has had any achievement or success. My mom is like, “Mija, you know why Dorian got that job? Because he has a degree. You know why Ashley has a fiance? Because she went to college. Mija, you know Joy got a house? Because she went to school. 

I am like, “what are you talking about?” Lol. If my mom saw someone get a reservation ahead of us, she would be like, “They probably have a master’s degree.” That is why I put that quote because if mom asks what I am doing? I am going to school for nursing.

X Mayo
X Mayo as Dori (American Auto) Photo courtesy of NBC

DDF: What do I have to say about haters/negative energy?

XM: I don’t have haters. I have people that count my blessings and prayers. I don’t think people want what I want, I think they (haters) focus on what they don’t have, and I don’t address negative energy. I stop it in its tracks if it ever tries to come my way. 

DDF: How would Dori handle it? 

XM: It depends on who the hater was. If it were someone she worked with like Wesley, Dori would have a conversation with him, and she’s going to keep that shit he did to her in her back pocket and whip it out when she needs it. Like, “No, you are giving me a Porsche. Remember what you said; you are giving me a Porsche.” 

Final Thoughts from X Mayo

DDF: What do you think the audience will get out of this show? 

XM: These are a group of funny-ass people that work at this place. Sometimes you will hate them; sometimes, you’ll love to hate them. A lot of laughter, fun, and you’ll want more. 

Catch X Mayo as Dori on American Auto, airing Tuesdays on NBC 8/7c and streaming on Hulu. You can also watch her on Amazon Prime’s Comedy special Yearly Departed streaming now.

American Auto: From the creator of Superstore comes a new workplace comedy that takes the wheels off the automobile industry. Set in Detroit, the corporate executives of Payne Motors are at a crossroads: adapt to the changing times or be sent to the junkyard. Shaking things up is the new CEO, whose leadership, experience, and savvy is only slightly offset by her complete lack of knowledge about cars. Luckily, her team has some of the best minds in the business – when they aren’t fighting or trying to outwit each other. From the corporate office to the factory floor, the crew of Payne Motors is driving home the laughs.

07Dec/21

iNTeLL of 2nd Generation Wu

© NayMarie Photography for Taji Mag | www.TajiMag.com

Often, when a gifted person becomes famous and has a child, society waits to see what talents the child develops and if they mirror their parent in any way. iNTeLL, the first-born son of U-God from the legendary rap group, Wu-Tang Clan, definitely doesn’t disappoint. It’s arguable that his pen and cadence may even outshine his father’s (which is all we really want as parents anyway), but iNTeLL never misses a beat to homage to his pops (and uncles). 2nd Generation Wu is led by iNTeLL with other Wu spawn, PXWER (son of Method Man), and features SUN GOD (son of Ghostface Killah) and Young Dirty Bastard (son of Old Dirty Bastard). Taji Mag went to Staten Island to chat with iNTeLL about his motivations and future.

Taji Mag: How did you discover you have bars? 
iNTeLL: When I was 13-years-old, my best friend told me after hearing my poetry.

Taji Mag: You are multi-disciplined, list off some of your talents outside of rapping and acting.
iNTeLL: Painting, photography, melting wax on canvas, organizing, curating, executive producing. 

Taji Mag: How was 2GWU conceived? 
iNTeLL: It was conceived once I was conceived. However, it started in 2019 after my production company, Intellectual Entertainment, did a joint venture with the independent label, Dock Street Records. I then had the space and funds to cultivate the idea into a reality. 

Taji Mag: What are some of your accomplishments that you’re most proud of? (Brag a bit lol)
iNTeLL:

  • I’ve Collaborated with Method Man, Inspectah Deck & Masta Killa from the Wu-Tang Clan. I’ve Collaborated with Snoop Dogg, current president of Def Jam Records. I’ve Collaborated with 88-Keys, whose work on DONDA is Grammy nominated. 
  • Established my own Production Company 
  • Established my own independent music label 
  • Landed Placement on Peter Rosenberg’s, of hot97, debut album 
  • One of My Hip Hop Idols and Lyrical Mentor from afar, Lupe Fiasco, referred to me as “Royalty”
  • I got to do a song with Del The Funkee Homosapien, another one of my Lyrical Mentors from afar
  • Have had Several Songs played on the Radio, FM & Sirius Satellite 
  • Received Over 1million Streams on a song
  • Created 2nd Generation Wu which will be remembered forever Alongside WU-TANG CLAN because WU-TANG is Forever For The Children.

Taji Mag: Verzuz is allowing us to see our Hip Hop favs put on full shows in their 50s, how are you preparing for longevity in your health and wellness? 
iNTeLL: Method Man started Tical Athletics, I’m bout to go to the gym with him and only drink seamoss.

iNTeLL 2nd Generation Wu
© NayMarie Photography for Taji Mag | www.TajiMag.com

Taji Mag: As the sun of U-God, do you feel pressure to carry on the Wu legacy? Why or why not?
iNTeLL: I did in my teens, but got over that early because their shoes not even the same size for me to be trying to fill them. I decided to use their soul to build my own shoes and walk my own path. A Legacy Branched out from a Legacy. Hip Hop is a Tree, not a totem. 

Taji Mag: What gems have you received about/applied to the game from any OG WuTang member? 
iNTeLL: Take your time. 
Let them hear you. 

Taji Mag: What have you discovered from your journey that you would pass on to a potential 3rd Gen Wu member?
iNTeLL: With Art, There are no rules. 

Stay connected with iNTeLL at @gftd.iNTeLL! Check out his music below and tell us what you think in the comments!

Website: Lets Make Music | Together

16Nov/21

Bruised is a Redemption Story for both Jackie Justice & Halle Berry

Halle Berry showing off abs she gained while training for film Bruised on Netflix

I just viewed Netflix’s virtual advanced screening of Halle Berry’s directorial debut, Bruised, that I was invited to by the Urban Action Showcase & Expo anddd… I’m here for it. I watched it without bias or prejudgment and allowed the film to take me on the journey with Jackie Justice, the MMA fighter portrayed by Halle Berry. The synopsis of the film is a disgraced fighter finds redemption in the cage and the courage to face her demons when the son she had given up as an infant unexpectedly reenters her life.

The Good

First of all, Halle Berry is 55. FIFTY-FIVE. On November 8th of 2019, she posted her amazing rock-hard abs on Instagram that she achieved while training for the film. In the film, she is standing next to women half her age and was giving them a run for their money even during her disheveled scenes. Outside of her aesthetic, Berry did amazing with the fight choreography. In her post-screening Q&A with H.E.R., who wrote and sings the film’s anthem, Berry stated that she was given a script that was originally intended for an Irish-Catholic white woman. In her head, she rearranged the role for a Black woman who has been beaten up by life and had to find her way through. She was tasked with finding a director but ultimately opted to take on the role herself when no one could bring to life what she saw because it only existed in her head. With this freedom, she was able to capture the intensity of her fight scenes as she dreamed because she was also executing them WITHOUT a stunt or body double. Berry trained in various martial arts styles for over 2 years to make her role as authentic as she could.

The film also comes equipped with a great supporting cast. Stephen McKinley Henderson is Pops, the inspirational “old head” who remembers who Jackie was and sees who she can be. Sheila Atim is Bobbi Buddhakan Berroa, Jackie’s elite trainer and mental sanity. Adriane Lenox is Angel, Jackie’s mom with the hella ironic name. Then there is Danny Boyd Jr. as Manny Lyons Jr., Jackie’s son who reenters her life and stole our hearts as viewers.

The Not So Good

I fully expect this movie to be ripped apart. We’re in a day and age where everything Black people touch is scrutinized under a microscope. There are definitely some cringy and eye-raising moments that will probably need to be explored in post-release interviews. I’ll leave those up to your interpretation, but I will say that the script felt like a lot of stories that needed to be fleshed out more. We received the gist of Jackie’s origin (some of it was even predictable), but there was room left to round out how she spiraled into the Jackie we were presented with.

The was also a scene where Jackie should’ve cracked someone in the face and didn’t but I guess her leaving was sufficient (eye-roll).

The Best

Danny Boyd Jr in Bruised

Earlier I mentioned Danny Boyd Jr portraying Jackie’s son, 6-year-old Manny Lyons Jr. Danny should be about 11 now which should’ve placed him between 7 and 9, if the math is mathing, when he was filming. This young king’s facial acting tugged at all of our heartstrings. He had to play a traumatized boy inside a range of emotions from scared to angry and all I wanted to do was protect him. I was ready to fight errybody. Throughout all of the storylines, I just kept wondering how whatever was currently happening was going to inevitably affect Manny. He drew me in. He understood his assignment. Mission Accomplished.

Will You Watch Bruised?

I think you should. Bruised is directed and led by a Black woman. Check. It has a predominantly Black cast that shows a range of Black lifestyles. Check. The soundtrack is all women artists. Check. It has literally kick-ass fight choreo with women who are powerfully strong (no bad running scenes or terrible punches, praise whoever you pray to). Check.

Bruised releases on Netflix on November 24th.

07Nov/21

Taji Vol29: Wata

Release Dec 7 2021 | Vol29 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Wata! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of @Honey.Scarlette captured by @TheOneWillFocus3. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick, #BlackLoveConvo: “SPIKE: A Collection of Movie Photography With Contributing Photographer, David Lee” by Dapper Dr. Feel; our Community Spotlight, MAKEDA Maska-Fleurs by FLORAFFIA©; our highlighted Hair Feature with the Moriri project; “Solo Travel: Now That I’m Outside, Here’s How I’m Managing My Travel Anxiety by dCarrie; “A Simple (But Not Easy) Formula for Freedom” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “Pedagogy in a Pandemic” by Janelle Naomi; Our Vol 29 contributed photo story, “Wata;” Fitness Highlight; Vegan Fun with Earth’s Pot’s Creamy Dream Pasta; “Eugenics & Economic Depravity by the Numbers” by M’Bwebe Ishangi, Founder of Cryptowoke Financial Sustainability Movement; Around The Way Girl Da Remix by Kaloni Cush of Seven Essential Creates; Featured Art Piece by @CraigCTheArtist; Comic Appreciation; Black Business Highlights; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Shop Taji’!

Taji Mag Vol29 Wata

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 29

Taji Mag is the epitome of ‘Cultural Drip’ – elevating Black brands, narratives, and imagery to new levels of Black Excellence. We embody the traditional and modern royalty of Pan-African people via our quarterly digital and print publication and live events.

30Oct/21

SPIKE: A Collection of Movie Photography With Contributing Photographer, David Lee

David Lee

Movie set photos are the first of what we see of upcoming films. Before the trailers, the soundtrack singles, and promotional material, the images give the audience a visual of what is to come. Spike Lee‘s new book, SPIKE, features film still photos, behind-the-scenes, and on-the-set pictures of all of the Award-winning director’s life’s work. Most of the photographs were provided by Lee’s brother, veteran lensman, David Lee. David has provided photography for most of Spike’s films from She’s Gotta Have It to BlacKkKlansman. Taji Mag was able to discuss the creative’s experience and contribution to the new book. 

Picture of Spike Lee

Falling In Love With the Art 

David explained his first exposure to photography was when he was twelve or so. His mom had bought a brownstone and one of the tenants was a photographer. Lee said, “He (the photographer) taught me how to process black and white film. I had a 35mm camera with the screws falling out at the time. It was not that great of a camera.” When asked when he fell in love with photography, he said, “The moment photography really clicked was when I was at my maternal grandmother’s house in Atlanta. My grandfather had a Kodak Brownie camera and, to operate it, I had to look down. It gave me an idea of composition and, as I walked around with it, I saw perspectives changing and never forgot that experience. I understood that I could express what I saw from that moment on, and the camera would be my paintbrush. There is no getting tired of photography for me. My muse is in my photography.” 

David did photography throughout high school. In college, he aspired to be a renaissance artist much like Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and other artists he was exploring at the time. His inspiration for the written arts came from his mother, an English and African-American History Teacher. His father, a musician, inspired him to explore music, but that all came to a halt around age twenty. He’d finally realized his creative potential and even wrote screenplays himself, but had difficulty writing essays. So he followed his true passion, photography. 

“Photography will be the artistic expression that will be with me my whole life.” – David Lee

How to Capture the Moment 

Lee explained how he captured the moment by saying, “At first you just try to capture and cover everything. With digital, I shoot too much and bury myself in editing. I pride myself in picking the right photo out of hundreds to capture the moment. It’s a great position to have. After all, you are pretty much limited because sometimes your only shot is next to a camera.” Lee further explained, “You have to find the right space, the right lens, and get the shot that is usable. Most importantly, you have to capture the moment. It’s the visual component of visual storytelling.” 

Pictures from Mo’ Better Blues

David walked me through what it’s like to discover those good photos after shooting, stating, “Sometimes your good shots are intentional and other times you don’t realize what you have shot until later.” He recalled a moment when he caught a fantastic and unplanned shot, explaining, “…I just did photography for Denzel Washington’s new film Journal for Jordan. We had this one-shot with Michael B. Jordan; he was shirtless, as usual, and with a baby on a couch. Two film cameras are running on each side, so I had to squeeze in between them to find my shot. As Michael raised the baby, the baby reached down, grabbed the dog tags around his neck, and looked at it. All I could think was, “Yes! Yes! This is a great shot!” This was an unscripted moment, and I knew right away that was the shot.” 

David explained that he was proud of himself. The next break the crew had for filming, he downloaded the shot and showed the photo to Denzel on a computer. He recalled Denzel being so excited that he ran into another room to grab the co-star of the film, Chanté Adams, to see it. Once Chante saw the photo, she burst into tears. David continued to explain that Denzel called up Dana Canedy, whom the film was based on, and sent the image to her. “She too burst into tears. Everyone who saw that shot became emotional because it was as if it had channeled something”, he described.  

I asked David if he ever had a conversation with Denzel about his creative evolution over the years from Mo’ Better Blues to now Journal for Jordan. He replied, laughing, “You don’t have a conversation with Denzel; you listen. You do whatever he tells you to do.”  

David went on to talk about his history with Denzel. He humorously said, “While shooting Malcolm X, he was throwing me off the set so many times. I was messing up; he should’ve thrown me off the set. During the scene in Malcolm X where Malcolm is copying the dictionary in prison, I am under the table and below the camera, trying to get into a good position. Denzel was like, ‘Get out!’. He explained, “I didn’t take it personally because I [knew] I was distracting him. 

Favorite Films

When asked what films David loved shooting with his brother Spike, he said, “My favorites are Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing, The BlacKkKlansman, and Da 5 Bloods but I mostly like documentaries… When the Leveey’s Broke and If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise.” He said Spike would send him off to take pictures for the films during the interviews and press. This threw me back into my documentary photography days”, David said excitedly. 

“It was hard for people to watch the opening death scenes of Clockers, but I had fun shooting!” David explained the research process and the method he used to recreate the photos he referenced, stating, “For research, Spike and I went to the Bronx homicide headquarters. We were able to look at pictures and look at old notes from investigations. I used that time to recreate the crime scenes and used my reference Weegee, a classic crime photographer in the 1940’s and 50’s. [With] projects like these, I like to showcase my creativity.”

I asked David how he became a part of this project to which he replied, “The editor, Steve Crist, got in touch with me through Spike. I started a months-long deep dive into my catalog.” David continued, “Three months into my search, I would remember having even more photos to go through. I would call Steve and tell him I had pictures of Lawrence Fishburne when he did the White Lines music video in NYU Film School. It allowed me the opportunity to go through my many years of work and find old photos. This book really covers the span of Spike’s career.”

  • FYI: David Lee has provided photography for films Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, John Wick, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Broken Flowers. He is also providing photography for the Denzel Washington-helmed film, Journal For Jordan

SPIKE is genuinely a celebration of Spike Lee’s life and serves as a documentary in book form. I spent a couple of hours revisiting the time in my life when each film was released. It was so cool to see pictures of the handwritten script pages and how many actors/actresses were featured in Spike Lee films before becoming household names, i.e., Samuel L. Jackson, Giancarlo Esposito, Alfre Woodard. I was surprised to find out through the book former President Barack Obama took his wife, former First Lady, on a date to see Do the Right Thing before they were married. Whether you are a creative, movie lover, or Spike Lee fan, you will appreciate the nostalgic journey that David Lee’s photos provide. 

SPIKE will be released on Nov.17th and can be purchased at https://spikelee.chroniclebooks.com/

Picture from Do the Right Thing
07Sep/21
Ty Vaughn Travel N Shit

Audacious Adventure with Ty Vaughn

When was your last adventure? Did you read that and think of your last vacation? What was the last exciting thing you did close to home? I’d like to introduce you to a woman who has made it her business (quite literally!) to embark on memorable adventures close to home, Ty Vaughn.

On her 40th birthday, Ty decided to follow the lead of one of her favorite shows “The Amazing Race” and step off of her first zipline platform. Skydiving, paragliding, parasailing, kayaking, ATV off-roading, bungee jumping, rappelling and thirty ziplines later, Ty Vaughn is now Adventuress Ty. Once a month, she organizes group trips for other thrill-seekers to join her in embarking on what she may describe as “a mighty gush of freedom” at different adventurous locations around her home state of California. 

dCarrie: What obstacles have you overcome to authentically engage in adventure?

Ty Vaughn: To be honest with you, I personally have not thought about it like that. I just saw something I enjoyed watching on T.V. every week and decided, I want to do that. These activities have always been here, but sometimes cultural ignorance and lack of exposure prevent you from enjoying these life experiences. I will say, I wish this would have been part of my childhood. I’m quite sure having had more of an outdoor adventure lifestyle would have encouraged me to appreciate the complex yet simplicity of nature. I’m all in Now!

dCarrie: What does adventure do for your wholeness? 

Ty: Being an adventure junkie sets me apart! You cannot function like a normal human being willfully jumping off of bridges, ziplining across cables, paragliding over the ocean, or parasailing off of a boat! You’ve got to be pretty confident and assured in yourself! My adventures are not optional, they are a necessity. They give me clarity of thought and a peace that is not found anywhere else; they are surreal and serene. I love the clean crisp fresh air, the sound of nature, and the feel of nature. I love the multitude of colors that change with each season. My mind tries to comprehend but it cannot. The outdoors are my sanctuary, it’s the place where I decompress and recharge. It’s a space for me to appreciate the craftsmanship of God and how amazing He truly is.

Head over to travelnshitpodcast.com to check out more of Adventuress Ty and her story in episode 143, Audacious Adventure Near and Far of Travel N Sh!t Podcast.

07Sep/21
Finance

What Banks Don’t Want You to Know

“Banking is necessary. Banks are not.” ~ Wells Fargo 2004 Annual Report

Fact: The average American doesn’t have $400 in their savings account. This is linked to both poor financial habits and the way the banking system is set up. Banking is the most important business in the world! Without it, all business comes to a screeching halt. However, a little unknown fact is in order for banks to function, they rely heavily on us.

Unbeknownst to most, banks do not lend out their money, they lend out ours. What’s more, they cannot make a loan unless it has a deposit, and we are the source of where funds derive. These monies come from our deposits.

How were we convinced—better yet—lured to supply them with our hard-earned monies? With the help of consistent commercial advertisement, we are duped daily to believe they are the safest place to keep our monies.

Heard of the Fractional Reserve Lending System? Each time you deposit money in your bank, made consistently from our paychecks that create a guaranteed and indefinite supply of funds, banks 10x that deposit that can be then used to create loans that only banks profit from.

If you make a bi-weekly $1000 deposit acquired from your job to your checking account at your bank, they turn it into $10,000 by way of the Federal  Reserve. The bank must keep $1000 on their books BUT… they can lend out  90% (or $9,000) of the now suddenly made up $10,000, affixed with a high rate of interest ensuring profit on top of the gift we give them with each deposit. Now multiply that by the hundreds-of-millions of folks employed and the billions they send to banks!

This is called Arbitrage or the act of taking advantage of the money market with said strategies not shared with the public. While these banking families continue to create bloodline wealth with each deposit, we’re lucky to get 1.8% through a savings account—which often requires a sitting balance of $10,000 or more. 

The greatest fact is you don’t need banks to build sustainability because they were never designed for us to do so. You don’t need their loans nor to store your savings with them to create wealth. But there are a few strategies we can use to our benefit.

How would you like to become your own bank using similar strategies to create a coffer of resources so you’ll never have to apply for a loan, credit, or have to crowdfund?

In order to do so requires a will to forgo what you’ve been taught. I invite you to join the Cryptowoke Financial Sustainability Movement where I show you ways to live off your savings and investments without falling victim to job loss or being taken advantage of in money markets rigged to fail.

Join the Cryptowoke Financial Sustainability Movement 

M’Bwebe Ishangi, Founder and Author 
A Pot to Piss In: Intergenerational Wealth Planning for Black People 
Cryptowoke Financial Sustainability Movement 
cryptowokemovement.com 
cryptowokemovement@gmail.com 
Facebook & Instagram: @cryptowoke