GUARDING MY GATE…REMOVING THE BOX

I have existed in a box.

In some fashion or another, I have hindered my pinnacle and the distance of my core self due to these invisible confinements. I told myself that I can’t introduce myself to others because I may say something wrong,  that I can’t label myself a creative without a hefty portfolio of my work, and that I can’t fully embody the calling I know is placed on my life without a massive social media following. Any can’t is a box. Any can’t is a debasement to my power. Any can’t is a counter-productive to my output. These invisible casings have hindered my becoming for far too long.

These feelings have placed me in a dire space—spiritually, mentally, and physically longing for more. The fullness of life and the experience of following the intention of one’s truth is how I desired to live, yet I was doing the opposite, merely surviving. After realizing that society’s brainwashing and rules on how to achieve success and contentment are completely filtered through social constructs, there was no need to govern myself accordingly. Especially when I had no parts in creating the normative structures that I was abiding by.

Men are not vulnerable, I am only to cry in the dark, creativity and humor can’t exist in the same space, being active on social media makes me an attention-seeking imbecile, and many others. Through all these boxes I created for myself, the common theme was limitation. Through breaking free of such, I can fully operate from a nucleus of naturalness as it pertains to my being. All of which allows me to not simply survive and breath, rather to thrive and fully experience life, which is the call of the creative.

Thank you universe for showing me…me

KILLING FEAR

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Fear. It has been both a close lover and a distant enemy. I cling to it like an infant to breast milk and it fills me with angst, like the plight of a nation. It is not only towering, it has been deafening in every way fathomable. My creative journey has been eclipsed an infinite amount of occasions due to my relationship with fear. What is troubling about realizing this truth is just that, realizing it’s not the truth at all. In fact, the fears that I have about emancipating myself creatively are all conjured up in my head and the voices I hear repeating what is not possible.

Between the fears of what could happen if the world sees me in my most transparent state, naked and unveiled. After all, I am an artist. With words, music, and poetry, I have created a fortress where purity resides. No judgment, no ambiguous doubts, and above all no validation from any others but myself. My passions exist in a world of one, I am failing myself.

After years and years of agonizing over the launch of myself – the creative, the being that lives and breathes all that is artful and expressive,  and the soul who finds himself in the certainty of “being”, the time has come to no longer be comforted by fear. After all, do I want to live a life of comfort or a life where I know pushed myself to the heights that exist in my mind, in my dreams, and in a surreal place? Fear. False evidence appearing real no longer has residence inside of me. I relinquish you.

THE RE-EDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL

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What is life without evolution? What is creativity without elevation? It’s stagnant, which in many ways is the antithesis of creativity. When I look at Lauryn Hill, one fact is true; she has developed over the years. People can debate whether it was favorable or not so, however the purpose of growth is not to satisfy others, but to satisfy self. When watching her performances from her latest tour, it’s clear that she drowned her beloved material in freshness.

The new presentation, which makes her classics nearly unrecognizable is a heavy bite to digest for any fan of the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, however it’s plainly necessary. I truly appreciate the growth and the conviction it takes to be an artist when the world wants you to be a robot. All of which is beautifully displayed in this soul-bearing “Ex-Factor” performance. There is nothing more to say besides, watch and get lifted.

ART VS. AWARDS

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When did awards overpower the art? Or has it always been that way? Like many others I was puzzled at many of the Grammy nominations, and other Award Shows who continue to place Rihanna in the R&B/Soul category, while Janelle Monae who released one of the year’s best R&B/Soul albums with Electric Lady continues to get overlooked.  Then a thought came to me; this shit really matters to people, but why?

Music is an offering, a language, and an experience. Both surreal and tangible, it’s power and vigor is too vast to be filtered through and by meaningless rituals and practices. Often times, the point of music gets lost in the accolades that come with presenting it. If there were no Grammy’s, American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, etc., would that change what your favorite song or album gave to you? I’d venture to say a resounding no. Yet, every time award season rolls around many of us are waiting with baited breath to see if our favorite artists make the cut.

The proverbial time when the industry acknowledges the best of the best often lacks just that, especially in recent times (save that for another post). Speaking as someone who was once bedazzled with the lights and the meaning of these ceremonious events, I can easily understand how music fans buy into the pomp and circumstance. However, its 2013 and music is more abundant than ever.  As such, there is no excuse for not accessing quality art, but more importantly the interpretive meaning of it. It is the personal connection that occurs with music that matters more, or should at least.

VIDEO | FYFE – “Solace” [Live]

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FYFE is mesmeric. With his enveloping vocals and melodic vibrations, he has quickly become one of my favorite new artists. Having never seen a live performance since his debut single “Solace” premiered, I wondered had I not been looking in the right places or is there a strict no video policy at his shows because I know he had performed some shows in Europe. Well, whatever the case, a live performance of “Solace” has surfaced and it is quite the treat. Simple, striking, and moving, the showing is just as poetic as the sing itself.

BEYONCÉ GAVE POP CULTURE ITS DEFINING MOMENT OF 2013

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Pop culture needs defining moments. Beyoncé bestowed such this year. With the release of her fifth studio album BEYONCÉ, I was taken back to a time when the music reigned over the external mush that accompanies it. When I received news that the album was available with no prior mention or promo, my first inclination was to purchase. Having no visual representation, or the all too common album/video snippet, there was no expectation formed as to what the album would be. It was sheer excitement and adrenaline that ignited.

Across the globe, evident by its international chart position (number one all over the world), people, beyond her insatiable BeyHive stans were interested in the music. Maybe because Mrs. Carter made an unpredictable move or because people did not want to feel excluded from water cooler talk the subsequent day(s), the fact is, Beyoncé sent an unmistakable voltage of light to pop culture. Between radio, press outlets, and of course social media, we were all experiencing this event in some fashion.

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NOISE FIX | BRANDY – “I Wanna Be Down [starRo Remix]

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It seems like every day, multiple times a day we are inundated with remixes or reworkings of our favorite artist’s music. While many are forgettable, there are some that leave a lasting impression. starRo accomplished just that with his remix to Brandy’s supremely classic “I Wanna Be Down”. Fully absorbing in every way, the music transports you to a celestial place. Gone is the heavy R&B-based production. Instead, the track is filled with pristine electro tones. Not only is it incredibly current, it’s addicting. I would know after playing every five minutes. Above that, any excuse to indulge in old school Brandy is always welcome. Best of all, you can download it for free below.

VIDEO | Jessie Ware Performs For ASOS “All Nighter” Series

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Jessie Ware is magnetic. With her insanely gorgeous voice, she creates the most enveloping music. Put simply, it is not just music you hear, but that which you experience.  After seeing her live a few months ago, my fandom has reached new heights. Hence, why  I nearly beam at the mention of her name. Such was the case with her newest showing for ASOS “All Nighter” Series. With her thirty-minute set, she sailed through tracks from sublime debut Devotion.  The highlight of her impressive performance was certainly “Night Light”. Largely due to the string accompaniment that took the beauty of Jessie Ware’s artistry to a new plain. Indulge below.

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REVIEW | Beyoncé Owns Her Voice on ‘BEYONCÉ’

It’s no mystery why Beyoncé decided to self-title her fifth studio album; in all ways, it feels like the truest representation of all that she is.

For one,  its method of release is simply epic. From its surprise unveiling to its grandiose presentation as a “visual album,” BEYONCÉ is a monumental embodiment of her unfathomable talent and impact upon music and pop culture.

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NEW MUSIC | Sabi – “Dreams” [Fleetwood Mac Cover]

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Let me preface this with saying I am admittedly late with this post. However, it is better to be late than sorry. As one of our duties is to enrich your musical assemblage with songs/artists worthy of your attention, it’s only logical to shine light to talent, no matter the time frame. Disclaimer aside, this is all about Sabi.

The smooth voiced singer created a cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic “Dreams” that has been on constant repeat since hearing it. Completely entrancing in every way possible, from the suave resonance of the production to the wistful splendor of her vocals, this is quite flawless. Beyond serving as a compliment to the original, it further carves undeniable intrigue for Sabi herself. “Dreams” is taken from her current EP 0-60: Love Sounds. Indulge in both below.

SOUL WANTS TO KNOW…

  1. outkast-05 After Beyoncé’s epic release of her fifth self-titled album, isn’t it safe to say she now runs the world. The last time was too premature.
  2. Speaking of Beyoncé, isn’t it quite remarkable that people were questioning her status as Pop’s leading force, then she did what many surmised to be the unthinkable.
  3. With all this talk of an Outkast reunion (which would be awesome), wouldn’t another solo album from Andre 3000 be so much better? Just one more in this life time. Please?
  4. When will being a hipster stop being all the rage? Or where did that label even come from?
  5. Am I the only one that becomes super annoyed with artists who refer to themselves as visionaries? Janelle Monae has done that in every interview I’ve read lately. Let the work speak for itself please.
  6. Is Ciara’s career (or lack thereof) a cautionary tell to artists who focus on fame rather than the music?
  7. Why are people surprised by the Grammy nominations and the lack of deserving nominees? They have been on a constant decline in terms of artistic merit since the 2000’s began (Soon as pop music plummeted). It’s political-based, not talent based.
  8. Lately I have been seeing plenty of female artists being compared to the late/great Amy Winehouse. Simply because a singer has a raspy voice and some jazz nuances in their singing style does not make them comparable. Just had to say that.
  9. Do you think M.I.A. is a pop culture revolutionary? Why or why not?
  10. Call me crazy, but doesn’t all this talk of “indie being the new major” just signify that the standard has changed for many people in terms of quality. That’s across the board though. (There is poor indie music as well, trust me)

NEW MUSIC | MNEK – “Ready For Your Love” [Gorgon City Refix]

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MNEK is one of the most exciting artists to emerge as of late. Simply because he displays immeasurable talent as a singer, songwriter, producer extraordinaire. If you have heard one of his many remixes, then you are familiar with what this great musical maestro can do. However, if not I suggest you head over to his soundclound and listen, sooner than later. As he continues to climb the musical rankings, he will surely continue to collaborate with other artists (he is one of the most in demand talents in the UK).

His latest union paired him with DJ/Production duo Gorgon City and the result with the spotless “Ready For Your Love”.  Although he usually takes on other artist’s music to rework, his newest one is of his own. His refix to “Ready For Your Love” is as great as any MNEK fan has come to expect. Perfectly 90’s, perfectly house, and perfectly dance. There is nothing more to say besides press play.

NEW MUSIC | Ayanna Witter-Johnson – “Black Panther”

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Ayanna Witter-Johnson may be a new name to your radar but after hearing her newest release, you will surely want to dive deeper into her artistry. The London-based talent is full of a softly affecting voice that comes with equally moving music. Case-in-point, her current single, “Black Panther”. With the subtle rapture of the piano accompaniment and the warming stir of her vocals, you are allowed to fully immerse yourself in the tracks solemn narrative of love and aching. What’s most striking is the emotional conviction Ayanna displays with her tender singing style. “Black Panther” is taken from her forthcoming EP of the same name.  Do your ears a favor and indulge below (you can stream the EP also). If that’s not enough you can to watch the video for “Black Panther” below.

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Beyoncé Has Changed the Game. Again.

It’s official: Beyoncé has owned 2013. She’s sung at the Presidential Inauguration, headlined the Super Bowl and garnered one of the most successful tours of the year. She’s  directed her own documentary and starred in an animated movie. Then there were all of those media controversies. And throughout all of her headline-cloging moments, fans (and surely her haters) waited impatiently for the arrival of a new single.

But none of us saw what was coming today, December 13. It can even be argued that our generation of music has ever experienced something this epic. Beyoncé decided to unexpectedly drop an entire album—a visual one,  at that. Consisting of 14 songs and 17 videos, BEYONCÉ is the first album that matches the grandeur level of her stardom, impact and talent.

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NEW MUSIC | Durand Bernarr – “Anxiety” [EP]

While he may have received much recognition for his early YouTube covers and touring as a background vocalist for the supreme Erykah Badu, let’s not get it twisted—Durand Bernarr is one talented mofo in his own right. This week, Mr. Bernarr dropped his Anxiety EP, an intoxicating collection of soulful gems that further reinforces Durand’s destiny for musical greatness.

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NEW MUSIC | Last Lynx – “Lacuna”

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There is nothing like a mellow slice of audio enjoyment to get you through your day.  If you are in need of such, then look no further than Last Lynx. Their newest single “Lacuna” is a tuneful foray into tremors of minimalism. Light production and vocals provide the backdrop to the quietly emotive track.  As the lead singers, Robin and Camilla reminisce on the dissolution of a relationship, they are left with an empty feeling that’s perfectly uttered through the song’s airy ambiance. As this is my introduction to the Swedish-based band, I am quite impressed to say the least. Their forthcoming EP, Rifts will be released in 2014. Listen and download the song below via their Facebook page.