Many of us have our favorite rap groups, but too often, the groups we like the most tend to fall victim to ego issues or they just can’t work past their creative differences. Back in the late 90s, a group called Nappy Roots entered the scene. Their sound was country and soulful. Their words made you feel good, but they also made you think. They quickly became a group I wanted to hear more from and I hoped they wouldn’t become a rap group statistic. Thankfully, this has not happened.
Recently, global genius society had the opportunity to speak with the group about their latest collection of music known as “The 40 Akerz Project.” We talked bout their place in the industry and where they are in their careers. We discussed how they find a way to navigate through the music industry differently than others. I even briefly vented some of my frustration about how they are often overlooked and underrated, even by some people who call themselves fans. All the while, the group was able to remain humble while finding silver linings while talking about negative situations.
The conversation with them helped me better understand why I like them as a group. As I mentioned before, they make undeniably great music, but that’s not it. When they speak, you can tell they are grateful to make a living off of music. They don’t take the opportunity for granted. That appreciate and humility makes it nearly impossible not to cheer for them. So, take some time to listen to the interview, then go pick up, or (legally) download “The 40 Akerz Project” and all of their other music. And like the group says, “Keep it Nappy!”
The Austin Area Jazz Festival, held at the 360 Amphitheater in the Circuit of the Americas, was one of the main festivals I was looking forward to attending this year. However, as the day grew closer, the weather had me fearing the event could possibly be ruined. Thankfully, this was not in the plans. While there were threats of having a rainy Sunday, it didn’t work out that way. The skies were a wonderful shade of blue and the sun shined all day long.
As for the show itself, it was wonderful! I’ll be honest with you, the main act I wanted to see was the Grammy-nominated singer, Ledisi, who served as the headliner for the day-long festival. Sadly, I missed many of the day’s performers. I was, however, able to see legendary singer, Will Downing as well as Ledisi. So, I will just speak on those two performers.
Mr. Downing has been performing for quite some time and his show made it easy to see how he’s been able to stay around for so long. He controlled the crowd easily as he sung his classic songs as well as some of his more recent material. He easily went from singing baritone to a near-falsetto tone (sometimes in the same song) and the crowd loved it! Not only was Will amazing, but his band was as well. It was a great moment in the show when each one of them was given solo time to really showcase what they were capable of. If the performances of Will Downing and the band weren’t enough, he had a background singer, named Carol Riddick, who will be a star in the music industry. Her voice was amazing and that was put on display when she sung a duet with Will. It was great to see all of the couples in the crowd holding on to their loved ones as the song progressed. Will’s entire set just made everyone feel good and with the music that’s out today, making the audience feel good doesn’t always seem to be on the artist’s priority list.
Will left the stage and the crowd knew that Ledisi would soon be the one entertaining everyone. I don’t know about everyone else attending the show, but I had never seen Ledisi perform live, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I am a fan of her music, but great music doesn’t always equal a great show. In Ledisi’s case, as great as her music is, I now can tell you firsthand that it doesn’t compare at all to her live show! From the first note she sang, she grabbed ahold of the audience’s attention and she refused to let it go. She got so into the show, at one point, she left the stage while singing her hit “Pieces of Me” as she casually strolled throughout the crowd. She kept the song going as she inspired the women to not only support one another, but also not to worry about what other women are doing. Instead, she said for all of them to be confident in their walk and their actions. It was a great moment! I also thought it was wonderful that as she moved from the front row to the back, she told the security that they didn’t have to fear for her safety. She said on multiple occasions, “These are my people” and “I ain’t afraid of nobody here.” She said she just wanted to get closer to her supporters and entertain everybody and she certainly accomplished that. Her actions made me even more of a fan and I’m sure the same could be said for everyone there.
As you can tell, even though I wasn’t able to see everyone who performed during the festival, I still had a great time! The weather was great, the environment was relaxed, the staff was accommodating, the crowd was excited and had lots of energy and all of the performers were all on top of their game! This was my first year going, but if this year’s show was any indication of how things will be, then it will certainly not be my last!
Pictures and video courtesy of Global Genius Society Co-Founder and very talented photographer: Kokovisions
Art, by definition, is simply an expression of one's imagination and creativity. Anyone who creates said 'art' is an artist. Simple, right? Well, not really. In the age where social media gives just about everyone the idea their opinion is more valuable than everyone else's, many people have become what I call 'art snobs.' I won't sugarcoat it when I say I hate 'art snobs' and if you are one, I hope you become a little more open-minded after you read the remainder of this article.
Back in the day, I was one of those people I now hate, at least when it came to the artistic expression known as hip-hop. I would listen to the rappers who were known to be more socially conscious and hate on those who were not. I was closed-minded when it came to rap and because of that, I missed out on a lot of music. One day I was in the car with someone and they played some stuff I wouldn't normally pay attention to and I just remained quiet and listened. I heard the rapper spit out words that were actually clever, and that's when it hit me. Everyone has pictures, music and words inside their heads they want to get out to the world, but too many times the masses won't accept their 'art.' That's when I vowed not to judge things on how I thought they would be, I would simply see how they were.
Now, it doesn't matter if someone is playing Waka, Common, Nicki Minaj, The Roots, Talib, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Soulja Boy, T-Pain, Too $hort, Lil' Kim, Drake, Jean Grae or anyone else because they all, at times, have clever lines. They all, at some point or another, say something that makes me think "How did they come up with that?" They all have a story to tell and art to share. It goes beyond music when it comes to 'art snobs,' though. In the world of paintings/drawings and writing, the problem of artistic acceptance seems to be even bigger.
Sure, the work of famous painters such as Rembrandt and Michelangelo should be respected because they were great, but so should the work of lesser (internationally) known artists such as my father, Gregory Grovey, Sr (RIP). Sure, my opinion may be biased, but his work should be no less the subject of admiration than the work of the others. Not just my father, but the countless other painters and talented tattoo and graffiti artists across the world whose work is often looked down upon because it never caught the positive attention of the snobs.
Poets such as Big Rube, Saul Williams and Georgia Me don't get the attention they deserve because some may view what they say and write as 'street poetry' or 'urban.' If such is the case, what did they think of Langston Hughes? Contrary to how he is viewed now, Mr. Hughes' work was also looked down upon when it was initially created. Why? Well, he was also urban. His work and legacy are both looked upon differently as the years pass, though. This brings me to the actual point of this rant, which is the 'artistic life cycle.'
Too many times, when it comes to art, we go through these artistic life cycles. The steps may vary, but the artistic life cycle generally goes like this: (1) Recognition (2) Persecution and then after death comes (3) Appreciation/ Understanding. Quickly explained, it goes like this. When a new artists becomes popular, or recognized, the majority of the people love him/her. They are like new toys in which we can't get enough of. We play and play until we start to notice flaws. This is the start of step two.
After the initial phase of popularity starts to wear off, we start seeing things a little bit differently. The things we used to like about the artist are the things we grow to hate. We used to love the style and colors used by a particular artist, but now we can't stand them. We used to enjoy the southern slang and dialect of a certain rapper, now he just sounds 'country.' This is the persecution stage. This is the stage where most people's career goes downhill and they are never able to regain what they once had. Life passes and the artist continues to do what they love (sometimes), but it seems the people have forgotten about, or dismissed their talent. Then, after their life comes step three: understanding.
This portion of the cycle is somewhat like a revert to step one when we recognize, accept and understand their talent. We dismiss the negativity from step two simply because we know we will not be able to get more work from the artist. We start to look at their work and life in a different light and we suddenly feel as though we understand the artist's struggle. We understand why certain words were used in verses. We can see why the artist used so much red in their later paintings. We buy everything we can so the artist will once again be appreciated, but the sad thing is, it's too late.
The last thing that artist knew before his/her death is how the people who were once their fans, turned their backs, and in turn, seemed to stab them in theirs. I think this is why many times there is such an onslaught of support after an artist passes. Two major examples of this is how record sales for Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston shot up after their deaths. This trend actually saddens me. It seems too many times we fail to realize artists (even the famous ones) are still just human. They will make mistakes like we do. They will stumble and fall, like we all do, and just like the rest of us, they will need a helping hand every now and then.
We should never be judgmental of anyone because of who we think they are. It is one thing to not like a person's art because we all have the right to do so, but it is wrong to actually say we dislike the person, especially when we don't know them. Let me also reiterate how we all need to be more open-minded when it comes to art. Step outside of your normal confines and more than likely, you'll discover something new that you truly enjoy. Don't be afraid of what others may think, just stay true to who you are and have confidence that your opinion is valid (but not more important than the next person's).
All in all, I guess I am trying to say, we simply need to respect one another. We need to respect everyone's right to express themselves however they may see fit. We all have stories to tell, but we must realize everyone is not going to agree with our artistic visions. If we do these simple things, art criticism will be taken away from the snobs and the ability to appreciate every form of art will be given to us all. Not only that, but the artistic life cycle, that has been a part of so many people's creativity, will crumble. We should not wait to show appreciation and love to an artist once they are gone, we should honor everyone's artistic integrity while they are still creating.
Life is art, so be careful how your picture is being painted.
Many times when it comes to entertainers, we tend to generalize and make assumptions about who they are. We mainly base our ideas off of what we see on the screen, or what we hear on the radio. This seems to be especially true when it comes to rappers. It is not uncommon for fans, or those who critisize the art of rap, to hear words of drugs, violence and the bravado that normally is heard throughout their lyrics to feel we know who they are. We feel we know their level of intellect and every aspect of their lives, but this is not true.
Recently, globalgeniussociety.com had the opportunity to have a conversation with the legendary rapper, Fiend (aka International Jones). As he prepared to put his youngest child to sleep for the night, he spoke to us not only about music and his latest release, #MFOK (Music For Our Kind), he also talked to us about fatherhood, being a husband, his dreams and some of the things he's had to deal with throughout the different stages of his epic career. With passion, great articulation, humor and laser focus, Fiend spoke words that will give everyone a much greater understanding of who he is as a man and how that impacts who he is an artist.
Take some time to enjoy this honest and insightful interview with Fiend.
My peace has been disturbed
I sit quietly, but my heart and my mind are constantly racing
They race simply because of my race
See, it's the first thing people see when they look at me
Some may say they don't see color, but those who do seem to go out of their way to make up for the others
I am feared and I am hated
Not because of what I've done or who I am, but because of my skin
Contrary to what some believe, I think my people are beautiful
But we are always being told we are not
I believe my people are brilliant
But we are constantly being fed a buffet of b.s. that fills us with inferiority
With the idea that we aren't worth the air we breathe
So we are always gasping as if we are expecting our next breath to be our last
As if we're drowning
And if such is the case, it's no wonder we can't keep our heads above water
We are looked at very differently
Some see us as a virus
Better yet.... a mutation
We are looked at as something many in America wish they could get rid of
So, they try to
They try to kill us off
They have spread so many lies that they have most of us believing them
So, many of us are helping with their objective
We are getting rid of ourselves
It's as though we are committing suicide
For when we shoot and kill one another, we might as well hold a gun to our own head
It may take a village to raise a child, but that's not needed to destroy one
We are endangered
But some of those hired to protect us want us gone
They want us to see how powerful they are
They serve us with judgement as they try to beat us down mentally
And beat us up physically
It's a chilling thought, but people always say it's a cold world
And I won't lie, I get heated
The pain burns me
I know my "hurt" will not heal by hurting others
So, as much as I'd like to, I don't
Instead, I pray
I pray as they try to handcuff me
My spirit will forever be free
I pray that as they try to destroy those who look like me
God continues to find a way to build us up
I pray, not because I'm strong enough to do so
But I'm weak enough to know I need help
I pray for direction that I can never find on my own
I pray for ideas on how to help change this world
I know there are those who want to disturb our peace
But we have to find a way to carry a piece of God with us
When we do that, we can't be defeated
This world is crying for peace
When will we finally pay attention?
by Jacob Grovey
John Lehr, along with his producing partner Nancy Hower, co-created Hulu’s comedy series “Quick Draw,” in which he also stars and executive-produces.
Lehr is a comedic performer, writer and producer working in television, film and theater. Lehr starred as Leslie Pool in “10 Items or Less,” the half-hour improvisational comedy series from Sony on TBS. Lehr also co-created and executive produced the series, which ran for three seasons.
Lehr is one of the original Geico Cavemen from the wildly successful commercial campaign. He appeared in dozens of spots, including the first commercial as a caveman boom operator, the caveman in therapy with Talia Shire, the tennis spot with Billy Jean King, Superbowl spots with Phil Simms and many more.
Under their banner Howler Productions, Lehr and Hower have created multiple projects, most involving their unique improvisationally-based “hybrid” style found in “10 Items” and “Memron” (a Slamdance award-winning mockumentary). With Lehr starring and Howler directing, the team recently completed “Let It Ride,” a half-hour comedy pilot set in Las Vegas for Comedy Central; “Retreat!,” a half-hour comedy pilot set in a corporate retreat for NBC; “King of Beers,” a half-hour comedy set in a brewery for EUE/Screengem; and “JailBait,” a web series for Sony and Crackle.com.
In addition, Howler Productions created the pilots “Team McPhearson,” an animated series inhabiting the world of Nascar for Fox starring Jeff Foxworthy; and “John Lehr Movie Club” for TBS. Recently Lehr and Hower completed a pilot script for Sony Television in association with the BBC.
As an actor, John has appeared in numerous television series, including “Friends,” and was a series regular on “Jesse,” both for Warner Brothers/NBC. His feature film roles include “The Sweetest Thing,” and three Noah Baumbach films, “Kicking and Screaming,” “Mr. Jealousy,” and “Highball.”
Lehr’s critically acclaimed Comedic Lectures solo performances have had sold out runs in LA and New York. He is also a respected improvisational performer having worked at the Organic Theater and Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, The Montreal Comedy Festival, Chicago Improvisational Festival and multiple venues in Los Angeles and New York.
John’s hosting credits include “News Weasels” for E!; “I'm a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” for ABC; CBS’ special "Clash of the Commercials” with co-host Heidi Klum; and “John Lehr’s Movie Club” for TBS.
John is married to author Jennifer Lehr with whom he has two children. The Lehrs reside in Los Angeles.
To show your support and keep Quickdraw going into a 3rd (and hopefully many more) season click here>>
Photos: cover; (July 30, 2013 - Source: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America, top (Still of John Lehr in 10 Items or Less (2006), bottom (taken from Hulu)
A little time has passed since I started my quest to find online friendship through Twitter. So far, nothing has happened, but it’s completely my fault. The only thing I've posted was me just saying that it was my first tweet. Nobody follows me yet and I only follow about 5 people, so what did I really expect? I told myself if I was going to do this, I had to get serious about it. So, when I got back to work, I decided to speak with my personal Twitter expert, Vivian.
“Hey Vivian. I need to talk to you whenever you’re free.”
“Oh, you need to get clarity about those reports we have to send off? I wasn't really clear about those at first, either. I’m ready whenever you are.”
I was so confused. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.
“What?” I asked. My face had to show how lost I was.
“Girl, you know everything about everything that goes on in this company. If there were any reports that needed to be sent off, not only would you know about them and understand them, but we’d probably be coming to you for help.”
“Well, I guess you’re right about that.” I said as I started smiling right along with her.
“Of course I am! But what did you really wanna talk to me about?”
“Nothing important, just more of this Twitter stuff.”
“Oh okay. That’s cool. We can talk during lunch, if that’s cool.”
“Yep! It is.”
And that was the end of that conversation. We went about our normal routine until it was just about time for lunch.
I was looking forward to lunch more than normal even though I didn't really know exactly what type of things would be
discussed. Then, at around 12:30, Vivian walked over to me.
“So, where did you want to go?” Vivian asked.
“Well, I’m kinda in the mood for some Chinese food. How does that sound?”
I guess that’s exactly what she was thinking because it seemed like only a few seconds had passed before we were out of our
office building and we were soon sitting down eating our meals.
“So, how’s your quest for finding online “friendship” going?” She asked almost immediately.
“It’s not really going at all.”
“Carla, if nothing's working on Twitter, that just means you’re not really working Twitter.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I mean, I know you, and there are a few things I’m gonna guess. Please let me know if anything I say is not true.”
“One, I would guess you actually set-up your account simply because you said you would and you're a woman of your word. Next, I know you like to think, re-think and re-think what you already re-thought about. So, it probably took you forever to come up with a name. Not only that, I bet you only have, like, a handful of tweets. Am I wrong on any of this?”
“Actually you are.” I said.
“Okay, I don’t mind being wrong. What exactly am I wrong about, though?” she asked.
I almost didn’t want to answer, but I had backed myself into a corner.
“You said you bet I only had a handful of tweets, right?”
She stood up.
“Oh shoot! You’ve been on your Twitter game heavier than that?”
Although we were fairly close in age, every once and a while she would say a sentence like that. It seemed like the main purpose of those type of statements were to confuse me and make me feel old. Well, mission accomplished.
I was lost for a few seconds, but I used context clues to figure she was asking if I had posted more than she thought I had. I had to tell her the truth.
“I don’t have a handful of tweets because I only have one.”
Vivian took a seat and shook her head in disbelief.
“And how many people do you follow” she asked.
“Probably like 5. I didn’t want to just follow anyone.”
I stuttered as if she had given me a calculus problem.
“I didn’t think you had a reason. Look girl, no disrespect, but you if we’re gonna use twitter, we don’t have time to overthink everything. Do you even follow me?”
“That’s okay, we’re about to change that. Will you pull out your phone and sign into your mobile store?”
I did as she requested. Once I was finished, I awaited my next set of instructions.
“Okay, now go ahead and search for the Twitter app, download it, sign in and then give your phone over to me.”
She took only a few seconds, then she was giving my phone back. I looked at her information. Her name was @_viv-i_am. She was following around 80 people, she only had 9 followers and she had a profile picture of a lady I recognized, but it was surely not her. Once again, I was confused.
“I don’t get it.” I said
“You don’t get what?”
“Well, you aren’t following that many people and you don’t have many people following you. Why?”
“Last week somebody hacked my old account, so I just set-up a new on a few days ago.”
“That makes sense, but who is that woman in your profile picture?”
“You don’t remember who that is?”
I thought about it briefly. Like I said, she looked familiar but I just couldn't place her face.
“Girl, that’s the original actress who played the aunt on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
"For real? But why did you decide to use her as your picture?"
"Well, do you know who the rapper J. Cole is?"
I knew most of the world listened to rap, but I didn't. I have absolutely nothing against it, but I'm just not a fan. Maybe it's because every time I try to listen to it, they just seem to be talking so fast I can't even understand what they're saying. I'm sure Vivian didn't' want to hear all of that, though. So, I simply answered her question.
"No, I don't know who he is."
I expected her to look at me crazy because of my answer, but she didn't. Instead, she just continued with her explanation.
"Well, he's one of my favorite rappers and on his new cd, he has a line that says, "I want that real love, that dark-skinned Aunt Viv love!" When I heard that, I freaked out because normally people consider darker to be...well, not as cute. So, I was glad he said that. And when my account got hacked, that line was stuck in my head, so I just found a picture of 'Aunt Viv' Plus, the fact the name Viv was used, I pretty much had to use it!"
Her explanation didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but I guess it really didn't have to simply because it didn't concern me. So, I just casually moved the topic of the conversation back to me.
"So, how do you think I should get more followers?"
"Like I said, you have to put yourself out there by posting. And you have to follow people. Like, you can't meet someone by just following me and a few celebrities. Don't take this the wrong way, you're a beautiful woman, but if you're only following people like Kevin Hart, I don't know that you'll be able to start any new meaningful friendships. I mean, I doubt Kevin is gonna leave the chick he's with, leave Hollywood and move out here to Austin for you."
Her words were a little harsh, but they were honest. I respected her for speaking the truth.
"Okay, So, help me, Viv."
She looked around the restaurant before responding to me.
"How do you feel about asking a stranger for their phone number?"
"It's not really something I do, at least not at this point." I said
"What about giving your number out?"
"I will, but...."
"But you don't really feel comfortable doing either of those, right?"
"See, social media lets you get over your fears and insecurities. You control what the people see and know about you."
She paused and looked around the restaurant again.
"What do you think of that guy?" she asked.
She was pointing at someone that had to still be in his 20s and to a 43 year old woman, that's still a baby.
"I'm gonna take your silence to mean you at least think he's okay. Carla, here's what you're about to do. You're gonna go over there and see if he uses Twitter. If he does, you're gonna get his info. I know it seems stupid, but if he has info and he gives it to you, then you'll be on your way. So, go ahead and get up, go over there, introduce yourself and get his information."
I didn't questions her. As dumb as the whole idea seemed to me, I got up and headed in his direction. I was nervous, but I continued to walk over.
"No thank you, ma'am. I don't need anything. I'm good."
It was so embarrassing. I wasn't even looked at as someone attractive, or someone there to have an adult-to-adult conversation. He assumed I had to be an employee in the restaurant. By no means was I saying there was anything wrong with working there, but....well, I just was hoping for a different reaction.
I put my head down in shame and started to walk back to Vivian so I could tell her what happened, but then I was stopped.
"Excuse me ma'am! Excuse me!"
I wasn't going to turn around, but for some reason, I did.
"Ma'am, I apologize for thinking you worked here. I just don't get approached by very many pretty women."
I couldn't believe what I just heard.
"I'm sorry, are you speaking to me?"
"Of course I am!"
We exchanged some laughs and a great, but brief conversation. After a few minutes, I saw Vivian stand up. Obviously, she was ready to go. So, I had to go ahead and try to accomplish my goal.
"Ummm, this may seem kinda weird, but are you on Twitter?"
"Yeah, I have an account. Why?"
"I know people generally would try to exchange phone numbers or something, but I'm trying something new in my life, so I just want to get your Twitter name, or you can have mine. Whichever you think would be easier."
I didn't know how he would respond, I just stood there hoping it would be in a positive manner.
"I like the way you operate, Miss" he said.
"And I like...I..umm... thank you." I replied nervously.
I knew my sentence made me sound anything but confident, but the person I was talking to didn't seem to mind.
"I know you just asked for my Twitter name, but I wanted to tell you, my real name is Dawayne."
"Well, Dawayne, my name is Carla."
"Carla, you have a beautiful smile, and I would like to be able to see it again sometime."
Wait! Was someone showing interest in me? My heart was beating very quickly and I was ready to agree to going out on a date, but I knew that wasn't what I was supposed to do.
"Do you have your phone or some paper or something?" I asked.
He pulled out his phone.
"Okay, so could you put it on an app that'll let me type in my info?"
He did, and within a few seconds, I typed @jaded_carla into his phone and handed it back to him. He looked at his phone and then looked at me. He repeated these actions before asking me a few questions.
"Is this how you feel? Is this who you are?"
I didn't really know what to say. I felt I had just taken our great conversation and threw it out of the window.
"Honestly, Dawayne, that is who I am. Life has not always been great to me and so, that's just where I am right now."
I know it may sound a bit cliche, or maybe even corny, but I felt at that moment, honesty was the best policy. If anything were to actually grow out of our meeting, I couldn't have a lie about how I was feeling about life come back and haunt me.
"Well, Carla, you may have to change that Twitter name."
"I just don't think you'll be feeling that way much longer. At least, not if I have anything to do with it."
I thought the statement was incredibly sweet and I was sure that showed on my face.
"See, I've already made you smile a few times and we've known each other for what, like five or ten minutes? I'm off to a good start, if I do say so myself."
Still smiling I said, "Yeah, you're off to a good start, but we both know it ain't how you start, it's how you finish."
He let out a loud, very nerdy laugh that included a snort at the end.
"You can't have me snorting out here. You may ruin my reputation." He said.
"What kind of reputation?"
"I guess you'll learn more about my rep as we get to know each other."
He paused and reached out to shake my hand.
"I think your friend is ready to go." he said as he pointed over to Viv.
"Yeah, I guess it's about time for us to get back to work. It was very nice meeting you."
"Likewise, Carla, likewise."
"Make sure you contact me."
"Don't worry, I will.
Right after that, Vivian and I left. The entire way back to work Vivian excitedly asked me how everything went. I kept it cool by only responding with one or two word sentences, which I could tell was killing her. I guess that's why I kept doing it for the rest of the day. Before we left for the evening, though, I felt it was necessary to fill her in on how the conversation with Dawayne really went because if it weren't for her, we probably wouldn't have spoken in the first place. On second thought, I knew we wouldn't have.
She was super happy when I told her things went well and I gave him my information.
"So, has he followed you yet?" she asked as we were walking out of the door.
"I don't know, I haven't checked yet, but it's only been a few hours, so I doubt he has. I'll check right now, though."
I fumbled my way through the Twitter app Vivian downloaded during lunch to see if Dawayne had gone to my page. Surprisingly enough, he had. My notifications said he (@driley1989) started following me. Not only that, he had already sent me a message.
"So, did he say anything? Did he follow you?"
"Yes...to both questions."
"Oooohh, that's good, girl. What did he say?"
It was crazy. I felt like I was in high school. I was already excited, but Vivian's level of excitement was even greter and it was contagious. It made me more anxious to see what had been written to me. What I was saw was both simple and sweet.
@jaded_carla it was nice meeting you today. You really should tweet more often, though.
While I was reading, I hadn't noticed Vivian was looking over my shoulder.
"That is so nice! What are you going to say back?"
I had literally just read the message, so I had no idea, but after thinking about it for a few seconds, I responded.
@driley1989 nice meeting you too! maybe we can hang out one day...
Viv patted me on my back, smiled and walked away. She didn't say anything, but she made it easy to see she approved.
From those two simple sentences we sent to each other, things just grew. The restaurant where we first met became the place we decided to meet again. I don't know how long it actually took for him to see my tweet to him, but I do know when I got home I saw I had another notification. I couldn't wait to see what had been written.
@jaded_carla let's not waste any time! we can meet up at the same restaurant we met Saturday night if that's cool!
I was smiling so hard it hurt! I thought to myself, "Maybe I have actually found a friend." as I typed in my reply.
@driley1989 yep! that's cool! i'll see you around 8! #LuvStory
And I didn't know if it was a 'date' that had just been set up or not. I didn't really care what it was called, but I did know I had a very small sense of hope. At the same time, though, I wondered if life was going to screw me over again. Come to think of it, I was almost sure I would get messed over after all, the consistent inconsistencies of my life so far are the reason the title jaded is currently tattooed to my heart. I don't want to carry that sort of negativity with me to my date, but I have to. My pain is my baggage and life, just like the airport, requires you to keep an eye on your baggage, whether you want to or not.
Ski Beatz name may not be known by the casual hip-hop listener, but his work is. He has worked with some of the biggest names in the game like Fat Joe, Camp Lo, Curren$y, Jay-Z and a ton of others. Global Genius Society recently had the opportunity to speak with him to see what's going on his world. Take some time to listen to this in depth interview as he talks about his production, who he's worked with, sampling and using live instruments as well as some of his new ventures.
There has been a lot of hype surrounding Wale's latest project (partially due to his friendship and the placement of Seinfeld throughout the album). When you add that to the fact that I'm actually a Wale fan, it's easy to understand why my expectations for "The Album About Nothing" were extremely high. Before we get into what was on the album, let me briefly talk about what I hoped was on there. I simply hoped to hear great lyrics, a little bit of the DMV go-go sound, some poetry, Seinfeld with some comedic words of wisdom and a little of that MMG influence. Sounds simple, right? Did he meet the expectations I had? Well, let's go ahead and get into this 1st Listen.
"The Album About Nothing" starts off with a brief interaction between Wale and Seinfeld, followed immediately by a nice, mellow, piano driven intro track in which Wale spits the poetry I was hoping he would. So, already something was marked off of my musical expectation list. In my opinion, it was a very good way to get things going. Great album intros don't necessarily mean a great album, so I was ready to see what else was in store. I'll admit, when I first heard Seinfeld would be on the album, I didn't really know how it would work out, but the more I listened, the more comfortable I became with the concept.
It became evident early on that Jerry would serve as a guide as we traveled through the depth's of Wale's mind. We all know Seinfeld is a smart guy, but I did not expect him to throw out so many words of wisdom that I could relate to. For example, in the song "The Success," Jerry says "The worst thing is when you get comfortable, that's why success is the enemy." To me, if I hadn't heard him say it, I could have easily believed that was a line from one of the old school gangster movies (like Scarface). Who knows? Maybe he got it from something like that and I'm not aware, but either way, I thought it was brilliant. Another jewel he dropped was on the song "Matrimony" feat. Usher. He was speaking to Wale about marriage. Wale basically asked him even if you plan your wedding, can you actually be ready for marriage. Jerry replied, "It's like any growth, you can't be ready for it because it's growth. It's gonna be new, you're gonna have a new life, you're gonna be a new person." That was wonderfully said.
Although Seinfeld was dropping words of wisdom as if they were breadcrumbs in the forest helping Wale find his way home, and I appreciated them, they were not why I really wanted to hear the album. There's a fine line between great placement of conversations and clips from the iconic show and that line was walked perfectly. They did not take away from the messages and lyrics Wale was trying to get across to his audience. In fact, they were so well placed that they really did add to them. Also, it didn't change at all who we know Wale to be, as a rapper. As a fan of Wale, I know he's not the type of rapper to let you know everything that's going on in his "real" life. In fact, he'll convey the fact that he wants people to just leave him alone sometimes. The song "Middle Finger" was that song. To me, Wale made a song which would have been very comfortable on a Kid Cudi album, (which is a compliment because I'm a fan of his work as well). You can hear that he craves to be the best, but doesn't want to sacrifice his individualism, and you can't really fault him for that.
The last song I'll point out individually is "Glass Egg." This song was about how carefully you must be when you're trying to make it to the proverbial mountain top of whatever your field is, and how things may change if/when you get there. Wale said sometimes he's left wondering "if those around you are actually for you, who's on your back or who's got your back?" Similar thoughts have probably crossed our minds at one time or another. Wale isn't scared to say what he's thinking, regardless of how people who hear his music may take it. That's one of the reasons I'm a fan. He says things we all can relate to, no matter how much money we have. The same cannot be said for the content of most of the rappers out there.
I could go on and speak more about the album, but I want to have more time to sit and listen to it. Wale says a lot of clever lines and I want to make sure I catch them all. So, overall what did I think of the album? It had everything I was hoping it would: poetry, lyrics, MMG influence (listen to the 2nd part of "Helium Balloon"), go-go (on "The Bloom") and Seinfeld gave away a boatload of wisdom. The overall flow and fluidity of the album was great, which made it almost like an audio book. In case you can't tell, I like the album and I think you will too. Well, at least that's my opinion after the 1st listen.
1. The Intro About Nothing
2. The Helium Balloon
3. The White Shoes
4. The Pessimist
5. The Middle Finger
6. The One Time In Houston
7. The Girls On Drugs
8. The God Smile
9. The Need To Know
10. The Success
11. The Glass Egg
12. The Bloom (AG3)
13. The Matrimony
14. The Body
The whole concept of love seems stupid to me. Am I actually supposed to believe there’s someone out there in the world whose personality blends so well with mine that I’ll want to spend the rest of my life with them? That’s crazy! Okay, I’ll admit, my opinion on companionship may have something to do with my age. At 43 years old you have to start grabbing ahold of reality and letting go of the fantasies you’ve been holding onto your whole life. I’m admittedly jaded
Where did I go wrong? Where did I get off of the path of finishing college and getting married in the first half on my 20’s, then starting my family in the second half? Perhaps my standards and expectations for my potential mate have been too high. Maybe I’ve been unrealistic and should just come to grip with my options. I should just settle. Yeah, I should just find someone who’s somewhat compatible with me because just about anything has to be better than being alone.
I remember when I was in high school and my mom started asking me who I was going to prom with. I had some ideas of who I wanted to go with, but the truth of the matter was nobody asked me. I felt the urge to approach someone I was in, but my mom had always told me it was not very lady like for me to do the “chasing.” So, on the night of the prom, I found myself sitting by myself most of the time in a beautiful dress my family paid way too much for, especially since nobody looked at me long enough to even notice it.
I know it may seem like my life has just been lonely and sad, but it actually wasn’t. When I left home and went off to school, I started to discover who Carla really was. I found out I loved to teach. So, after my sophomore year, I found a local junior high school who allowed me to be a teacher’s assistant. When I landed that job, I felt my confidence grow. Of course, when you’re confident, no matter what you may look like on the outside, you suddenly become more attractive to people.
I was going on so many dates, I couldn’t believe it! Oh, and I know you may be asking “what was she doing to get so many dates?” Well, contrary to what you may be thinking, I wasn’t doing much. I wasn’t sleeping around with everyone who tried to talk to me. In fact, my partner list count was not only still in single digits, but I could still count the amount on one hand.
Around the age of 26, I thought I had found the one. Sure, I was a little behind in my “plan” for my life, but at least I felt like I was on the right track. This person was supportive of my goals and dreams. They seemed to truly care about me, so we took our relationship to the next level and got engaged.
During those days, you couldn’t pay me to stop smiling. I knew our relationship wasn’t perfect, but it felt very close. Not only that, I loved my job and everything was just going right. My life was like some sort of fairy tale, but unlike fairy tales, life doesn’t always have those happy endings. Sadly, I found that out through experience.
I remember calling home right before I was about to leave work. I felt like eating out, so I called home to see if Alex was there and if he wanted something. He seemed overly excited about ordering some Chinese food from the other side of town. I should’ve known something was going on then, but I was so naive, I just though he really thought they had the best food in the city. About an hour and half after leaving work, I pulled into the driveway. Everything looked normal, but it didn’t feel that way.
When I walked in, candles were lit, but the wicks were almost gone. They had been burning for a while, but I convinced myself that they for me. There were two glasses on the table and a wine bottle nearby, but I didn’t drink. Either he was being very sloppy with his affair, or he simply didn’t care. I could have been loud as I searched my home, but that would have only provided him with extra time to “prepare for my expected arrival” or time for my mind to continue to try to come up with illogical explanations of what was going on.
I moved quietly. My heart pounded harder with each step. I soon heard confirmation of what I suspected as I approached the room, but I needed to see it. The door was partially open to our bedroom, so I made no noise as I pushed it open. I then saw the person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with, with a woman who was supposed to be my best friend.
I was so hurt, yet so angry. In my mind, I was yelling while brutally attacking both of them. In reality, I said nothing. I did nothing. I stood there as they communicated how much they loved each other. They only looked towards to door once they were “finished.”
“Carla? How…what…how long have you been there?” Alex asked.
I smiled. I don’t know why, but I did.
“Long enough.” I replied.
That’s when my “friend” Joyce decided to chime in.
“Girl, I already told you about him. I tried to warn you.”
He looked at her in disbelief. They sat together in our bed acting like an actual couple. It was sickening.
I’m sure I had vengeance in my eyes, but I prayed that God have it removed from my heart. I wanted to hurt both of them, but I knew that would not be very beneficial for me. So, I didn’t. I did get a slight sense of payback, though. I pulled out my phone, as they tried to explain their situation and get me to calm down, and I called Alex’s mom.
“Hello. Hey, Miss Dawn. How are you?”
I truly loved his mother and she always expressed how she looked forward to me becoming her daughter-in-law. We exchanged a ton of pleasant words before I transitioned into the point of the call.
“Miss Dawn, you know how you had been looking forward to the wedding?”
She got excited.
“Well, I just wanted to let you know, because your son decided to sleep with my friend Joyce, it will never happen. I want you to know I love you and if you ever need me for anything, feel free to call me or something. I may have a different phone but the number should be the same.”
She wanted answers about what happened, so I wanted to help.
“Miss Dawn, I don’t know all of the details because I just walked in from work, after going to get Alex something to eat. He was actually having sex with Joyce in our home. They’re both here staring at me, right now. They’re looking like they can’t believe what I did. That’s ironic, huh? Well, I just wanted to keep you updated. I’ll let them explain because I’m done! I love you Miss Dawn!”
After that, I put it on speaker phone, walked even closer to them and said “Alex, your mom wants to talk to you.” I dropped the phone on the bed and walked out. Was it the revenge I wanted to get? It absolutely was not. In fact, I wish I hadn’t been put in a situation where revenge would have even crossed my mind in the first place, but I was. All I wanted was to stay in what I thought was a loving relationship, but what I got instead was a greater appreciate for the truth.
See, I thought my relationship was good. I thought the person I was preparing to marry was actually ready for the commitment. I thought the person who was like a sister to me would never do anything to intentionally hurt me. I thought I was about to enter into my “happy ever after.” Obviously, I thought wrong about a lot of things. And when I said I got a greater appreciate for the truth, it was because I found I was unknowingly living a lie. That’s when I learned I would rather know the hurtful truth than live with a happy lie.
When I walked out of that house, I cried so much, I ran out of tears. I drove over to my sister’s place, without warning and without calling. On my way there, I prayed she would be there and thankfully, she was.
“What’s going on, Carla?”
I didn’t say anything, not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t. She didn’t try to force a conversation. She, instead, just grabbed me, brought me insider her home and hugged me like she did when we were little kids. I closed my eyes, hoping that once I opened them again, would be good again, but it didn’t happen.
“You may not want to speak now, but whenever you are, I am here for you and you know this.” My sister said.
I still hadn’t said anything, but it didn’t matter to her. She saw her little sister was hurting and that was really all she was concerned with.
I decided I couldn’t withhold my situation from her any longer, I took a deep breath and cleared my throat.
“Dana, things are very different now.”
My sister was very observant and my body language and those six words were enough to let her know my problems stemmed from Alex.
She stood up and asked, “What did he do?”
Her question was direct and simple, yet I wanted to provide a deep answer. My sister was not having that, though.
“Carla Washington! Do not sit there and try to think of some educated way and proper phrasing for what you need to say! Do not beat around the bush! What did he do?”
As if our mother was asking me a question, I just had to stop trying to make up something and just be honest.
“I caught him with Joyce.” I said, almost whispering.
“Wait! I know you can’t possibly mean your friend Joyce!”
I put my head down in shame, almost as if I did something wrong.
“Yeah. I walked in and…”
Dana seemed as upset as me. It wasn’t surprising, though. Sher had always been the type to let the emotions of others become almost intertwined with her own. That was especially true when it came to me.
“Look Carla, I’m not usually the one for violence, but in this particular case, I can’t say Im opposed to it.”
She was 100% serious, but for some reason, her statement made me smile. Before long, the look of anger was chased away by a smile of her own. Soon, we were both laughing so hard, for a moment, I had almost forgotten I was feeling miserable. Still laughing I said, “I hate you Dana!”
“How dare you fix your face to say something like that?!”
“I was supposed to be mad and you have me in here laughing!”
The laughter soon faded and my sister went back to making sure I was okay.
We ended up talking for hours about what I had gone through. She let me vent and mainly just chimed in when I asked her something or when she saw I needed some type of encouragement. We laughed, cried and then did it all over again. She agreed to let me stay with her as long as I needed to. She even said I was free to use her clothes. I love my sister and was incredibly grateful I would have temporary shelter and clothing, but I was also very grateful for the question she posed as she was going to bed.
“Would you have preferred to find out what kind of ‘man’ you were dealing with nor, or after you vowed in front of God and your family to be with him for better or worse, ‘till death did you part?”
I had no idea how to answer that, but I didn’t really need to. The question was meant to help change my perspective and even over the next few months, I thought about that question every day, even though it hurt. Soon, I was still thinking about the question, but not really thinking about the person who was the cause of it. I was getting over my relationship much sooner than I thought possible. When you think about it, the crazy thing about moving past your past relationship is that it makes you want to get into your next one.
I was admittedly nervous when I got back into dating. In fact, the last few years of my 20’s was mainly me getting adjusted to being single again. I never thought being without my ex would have helped me discover more about who I was, but that’s exactly what it did. By the time I reached about 35 or so, I had gone from being about dating, to enjoying it, to being with the entire process. I was also questioning if my standards and expectations had been set too high.
During the start of my re-entry into the dating world, I had Dana there to help me out, but that was no longer the case. It wasn’t because she no longer cared, it was because she had met and married her soulmate, Brice. I was glad my sister was happy, but at the same time I was jealous of her and I sort of resented Brice for taking my sister away from me. That feeling left quickly, though. It took a short amount of time for me to realize what type of person he was, quit being selfish with Dana’s time and see I wasn’t losing my sister, but gaining a brother-in-law.
I also have to mention, during this time, we lost our father after he had a heart attack. We grew up with our mother and he wasn’t really around much, not because he didn’t want to be but because after my parents divorced that’s just how it worked out. So, almost needless to say, the various transitions during this time were very difficult for me, but through the grace of God, I was able to make it, but I was feeling very lonely.
It was at this point I really started to question not only who I was, but my worth. I was telling myself if I were worth anything, I would have attracted the right person. My self-esteem was dropping and prayer was the only thing that kept me from hitting rock bottom. Somehow I was depressed and optimistic at the same time. Somehow, I was ready to give up, yet I knew I couldn’t.
I didn’t want to maintain those feelings so I started speaking more to people at my job and at church to try to make myself be more social again. I actually surprised myself at how well I was able to adjust and rejoin various social circles. Doing this helped me gain some of my confidence back. I saw myself smiling more. I heard myself laughing more and I actually felt like I was finally getting back to a revamped version of the “old” me. Fast forward back to the present. The 43 year old Carla is alone, but I’m no longer lonely. However, as a stated before, the idea of having a life-long companion that was “made for me” seems kind of ridiculous. I’ve seen and gone through too much to really still believe in that concept. As I said, I’m jaded.
I know some of you reading my story may be thinking, “It only seems like she through one major love-related incident, she’s over reacting and should just get over it.” I can understand why some would feel that way, but let me say I neglected to mention some of my story earlier. So, let me go ahead and go into a little more detail. See, not only did my ex and my ex-best friend betray me by sleeping with each other, they also forgot to tell me it had been going on for at least six months. After I left Alex, these two wonderful people decided it was important that they keep their ‘relationship’ going, so they got engaged and a little further down the line, they had a set of twins. With all of that, you would think they would take it all the way and get married, but that never happened. I’m not exactly sure why it didn’t, but the word around town was that they were both cheating on each other will multiple people. Who knows if the twins even belongs to Alex? I doubt if he knows for sure, but that’s not really for me to worry about. Karma can be funny sometimes. It goes to show, what you do to others, like it or not, that will be done to you. It also shows not only can you not turn a ho’ into a housewife, but you can’t turn one into a husband, either. Please forgive my language, but you know there’s nothing like a woman scorned.
And with all of that, I know that should have actually helped me get over them, but it didn’t. The idiotic part of my mind kept trying to convince me the reason they didn’t work out was because ultimately I was supposed to connect back with Alex. Finally, after many, many, many years of trying, I was able to quiet down the inner idiot about a year or so ago. Letting go of the idea of reconnecting with someone I knew would be bad for me built a wall up against me connecting with anyone. I didn’t want it there, but it was. I know that wall needs to broken down at some point, but I know I won’t be able to do all of the breaking by myself.
When it comes to me now being guarded, jaded and not as hopeful as I used to be when it comes to love, I’ve been trying to get the people I know to help me out of it all. I’ve been taking advice from everyone. I’ve even gone so far as to start going out on blind dates (which is something I had really done since I was about 17 years old). Really, I’ve just been trying to meet someone I can build a friendship with that will have the possibilities of changing into something more. Honestly, nothing was really working, but then Vivian, a friend from work, talked to me about trying something different.
“So, you’ve already done the blind date thing, right?” she asked.
“Yes, I have and more than one, too. That just doesn’t seem to be something that will work for me.”
“Well, have you ever tried to meet anybody online?”
“Online? What do you mean like AOL or something?”
I knew immediately by how hard she was laughing at me, I had just shown my age and how out of touch I was.
“No, Carla, I am definitely not talking about that! I’m talking about social media.”
“Oh, okay. You mean like Facebook and stuff?” I asked, hoping I wouldn’t make myself sound even older.
“Yeah, like Facebook, but that’s not exactly what I want you to try.”
“Well, which one do you want me to try to get into?”
“There are tons out there, even some strictly for hooking up and dating, but we’re not going to go there with you, at least not yet. Let’s just start you off with Twitter.”
“Oh, I think I’ve heard of that! That’s the one with the bird where you send out all of the little tweeters with the pound signs. You can write about 150 words each message, right?”
I suspected I had some, if not all, of the terminology wrong, but at least Vivian would know I wasn’t completely oblivious to the stuff, even though I didn’t understand most of it.
“You almost had it, Carla. You don’t have 150 words for your message, you only have 140 characters. And the messages you send out are simply call tweets. The last thing is, those pound signs, they didn’t really call them that. They’re called hash tags.”
“Hash tag? What in the world does that even mean?” I asked.
She started laughing again.
“Girl, to be honest with you, I don’t even know. That’s just what they call it, so I call it that, too.”
We went on for a little while talking about what I needed to do to get started. I wasn’t really sure what the purpose of Twitter was, or what she hoped I would get accomplished by joining, but I was willing to try. Later on that evening, when I got home, I tried my best to follow the instructions I had been given and believe it or not, it was less complicated than I thought it would be. It wasn’t quite all smooth sailing, though. I had a difficult time trying to see what my screen name would be. I wanted something simple like @carlawashington, but I guess that idea didn’t pop into my head quick enough to still be available. So, I thought about it for a little while, then it hit me. Who am I? How do I feel about life and love? Well, I keep saying I’m jaded, so I might as well let the world know it. So, I snagged the name @jaded_carla and clicked on a few famous people (that were suggested to me), so I could follow them.
I may not know much about this Twitter thing, but I know it probably is not the best idea to use it to tell strangers my ongoing story while I search for love (or at least a good friend). I guess the possible reward is worth the risks of putting myself out there and possibly looking foolish. Now, what should my first message be? Well, Twitter suggested something like “Hi” or “1st Tweet” or something like that with the pound sign….I mean hash tag in front. Maybe I’ll do that, but how can I also tell everyone this is about my story? Okay, I know I’m probably thinking way too hard about what to say, but this is all new to me.
“Come on Carla, think”.
This will be my story of love, so what do I say? Then, the simplicity of what I needed to do slapped me in my face.
“Just tell them what your story is about and introduce yourself!” I said aloud to myself.
So, without any further hesitation, I introduced myself to the world of social media.
#Hello #world this is #myfirstTweet! Let’s see how this goes! #LuvStory
And with that, I was done with the first of what hopefully will be many posts. I put a lot of has tags on there, but I’m not quite sure if I did it correctly. Oh, well! Also, I decided I’m going to end my posts with #LuvStory each time because that’s what this is about for me. I won’t say I’m excited about the future because I don’t want to be let down and heart broken again (if I can help it), but I am anxious to see where this journey is going to take me.