The Revolution Will Be Televised: Occupy Wall Street

13 Oct

Gil Scott Heron is turning in his grave. The socially charged poet who penned “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” died this spring but the spirit of revolution is deep in the heart of New York City’s Financial District. What started as a an ad campaign by the Canadian-based group, AdBusters, has turned into a full scale occupation in Lower Manhattan’s Zucotti Park to protest the growing corporate greed of corporate America. To be honest when I first heard of the protests I didn’t give it much thought. People protest every day, especially in NYC, but with the occupation gaining momentum and supporters nearing the 10’s of thousands it’s hard to ignore.

If you are a twenty-something you need to pay attention to what’s going out here. The fact of the matter is we are screwed as a country. Unemployment in the U.S. is at an all time high of 9%. Unemployment is running out and the number one cause of debt is unpaid medical bills resulting in a higher percentage of American’s filing for bankruptcy. In this year alone, over 1.4 million homes have been seized in foreclosure. Add that to the facts that college tuitions are skyrocketing and due to rampant outsourcing graduates are facing a grim job market. Where does that leave us? With a bunch of pissed off and disenfranchised American’s, that’s where. To the retirees living off my Social Security contributions I hope you’re enjoying it; we’ve already been told that by the time our generation is of retiring age there won’t be anything left in Social Security. Do I have your attention now?

So where does that leave us as a people? In all honesty, I have no clue. I support the movement but I think it’s going to take more than occupying a park to make some real change. The only way to evoke real change and get corporate America listening is to hit them where it hurts: their bank accounts. What would you be willing to boycott in order to show your support? In 1955, during the heart of the Civil Rights Era, the Montgomery Bus Company suffered huge financial losses during the 13-month boycott in which African-American’s refused to ride the segregated buses. In that time people pulled together and formed carpools or walked to work. This is before Facebook, Twitter, text messaging or email; it was truly a community effort. 50+ years later do I think we have the fortitude to really stick to our guns and fight for social change? I hope so.

With so much going on in the world it’s easy to stay in your bubble and lose touch with the world around us. It’s refreshing to see so many people band together to fight this crazy capitalist system but I’m anxious to see the next steps. On Friday Mayor Bloomberg has ordered that the protesters camping out in Zuccotti Park be evacuated for a routine cleaning. This has been met with heavy criticism from OWS supporters because of unfair treatment of supporters at the hands of the NYPD. Actually, J.P. Morgan Chase, one of the banks that Occupy Wall Street is protesting against, just donated 4.6 million dollars to the New York City Police Foundation for new laptops in patrol cars and security software. Really, J.P. Morgan? Really?

To find out more about the Occupy Wall Street protests or to support an occupation in your area check out the official Occupy Wall Street website at http://occupywallst.org/

-Nikki B. Decadent

Album Review: “Cole World: A Sideline Story”

29 Sep

It’s been a little under a year since J Cole’s third mix tape Friday Night Lights was released. If you were one of the many who downloaded as soon as it dropped, as I did, then you probably realized the Internet almost crashed that night. His buzz was remarkable. With a solid fan base built, a sign by Roc Nation and “In The Morning” on all local radio stations hourly rotation, we were all expecting a follow up album… like now. But, it didn’t happen. Time was passing, the buzz flattened into a fizz and his not so loyal fans focus drifted towards a more accomplished artist (ahem, Drake). With rumors circulating of him being dropped, we were all left wondering: Has his career hit a brick wall?

Fast forward to September 26th, 2011. “Twas The Night Before Cole World,” the rapper tweeted. I was up, (way past my bedtime) waiting for the clock to strike 12 to purchase Cole World: A Sideline Story on iTunes, like the rest of my Twitter followers. Seeing the track listing left me with some concerns. Two mix tapes songs made the album, and “Who Dat” was also a contending bonus track. I couldn’t understand why. Why would “Lights Please” a song we first heard in 2009 even be considered on his debut? Great song, but the fact still remains it was two years old.  I wondered if this could possibly hinder sales.  The album opener, “Dollar And A Dream III” hijacked the thought right out of my mind.  An optomistic beat and a encouraged flow, this track was hopeful.  ” What would you do when you’re on your last dollar?”  A situation Cole found himself in, between graduating from college and being signed, working dead end jobs to make ends meet.  “Do you fold? Grow bitter and cold? No Longer fightin’/now the only thing you grow is old/ Or do you, flip that f*ckin dollar to a dream? Whether a scholar or a fiend, watch a pawn become a king.” Cole played chess well.

“Mr. Nice Watch,” an uppity club track with a beat reminiscent of a 90’s video game which Cole speeds up.  The song was still unfinished just five days before the album’s release date. What was missing? Of course, the first cosign from the boss “What’s up Cole? It’s your time, let these n*ggas know.” Jay-Z  adds what most would call his seal of approval which appropriately compliments the song.  The following track is the albums title “Cole World,” in which the rapper name checks, Sallie Mae. “Bet it on black and pray, I quadruple my salary/ If I win maybe then I could pay Sallie Mae.”  It’s no secret J Cole is a St. John’s graduate, this makes his music that much more relateable. He glorifies the struggle of a post-grad bum, trying to live a dream.  The album’s midpoint Cole incorporates what I feel hip-hop has been missing —  story telling.

In “Lost Ones” J Cole takes listeners through the scene of an unexpexted pregnancy.  First verse is from a man’s perspective: ” I know you’re wonderin’ if this gon’ make me think about wifin’ you/like if you had my first child would I spend my whole life with you….I refuse to bring my boy or girl in the world when I aint got sh*t to give em/ and I’m not with them n*ggas who be knocking girls up and skate out.”  Women’s emotions never go unheard and in the second verse, Cole’s pitch changes. He speaking from a different place, a womans prespective “Tryna take away a life, is you God mothaf*cka? I don’t think so/ this a new life up in my stomach, regardless if I’m your wife this new life here imma love it.” The narration on this song is strong, amazing and ultimately home hitting.

“Rise And Shine”  is a hard-hitting joint. Cole aggressively attacks the beat with meaningful word play. “More than a rapper this a natural disaster/boy, I’m meaner than katrina mixed with Gina, shut up, Cole!”  The intro to the song is fitting, a sample from Jay-Z backstage tour in which he’s discussing the kind of artist he’s looking for. “In between eating his Apple Jacks he’s writing some hot sh*t and he wants my spot.”  Jay may have lucked up.

Cole World  wraps up with the first single, “Work Out.” The album experiences a record vinyl scratch moment with this track, “Straight up now tell me do you really wanna love me forever/oh oh oh.” A  Paula Abdul sample meant for a more mainstream appeal. Although the song recieved a lot of negative feedback it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the disc.  A cohesive song line up — no fillers, pure talent, no gimmicks, and substance. Cole World: The Sideline Story an impressive first debut.

-Channie

Has Boxing Lost Its Integrity?

19 Sep

As a little girl, I remember spending a lot of time with my grandparents. My grandfather is a huge boxing fan; its actually the only sport I can ever remember him following.  I found myself watching with him on a regular basis, not because I was interested, but it was a way for me to bond with him.  His love for the sport was reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s character in Million Dollar Baby. My grandfather was no trainer, but if you can remember the scene where Clint’s Character was watching a boxer he trained in his first professional fight, you can probably understand how passionate he was about it.  Through his passion I have grown a great appreciation for boxing.

Saturday night, one of the biggest fights of the year took place: Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz.  Boxing stans were going wild with their predictions and theories of the outcome. Most had all bets placed on Mayweather, but the underdog, Ortiz, talked a big game and made it known he was bringing nothing less than an A+ performance.

With all the predictions put forward and the major hype surrounding this match no one could possibly predict the fight to end as it did.  The fourth round sparked the drama, beginning with Ortiz head butting Mayweather.  More kisses seemed to be blown than punches by Ortiz, which left Mayweather an open opportunity to land two clean sucker punches, resulting in Ortiz being knocked out. During Mayweathers post fight interview, that spark of a flame was blown into a full fledge forest fire. Words were exchanged between him and  HBO’s  bumptious commentator, Larry Merchant. “HBO needs to fire you, you aint sh*t…” Merchant responded, “If I was 50 years younger I would kick your ass.”  Watching this fight made me ask myself: Is this the sport I appreciate?

The acts displayed during this match were digusting and flat out annoying.  All parties, whether right or wrong, should be ashamed. Boxing is a sport, an art, and here were grown seasoned men treating it as a dirty street fight. I know my grandfather wasn’t pleased. Usually, he’d be the first I’d contact, chatting him up about any and every aspect involving a fight, but I haven’t. What could I say?  I had high expectations for this fight and it only left me highly disappointed and wondering: Has boxing lost its integrity?

— Channie

The Case of The Ex

1 Sep

What do you do when your ex won’t stay away?

Not these two again...

I’ve held off on writing about this for a while because I firmly believe in the law of attraction: that whatever you focus on is what will be attracted to you. I have a few exes who, try as I might, I cannot shake them (or maybe it’s them who can’t shake me? hmm). In my younger years my solution for an old boyfriend was to replace him with a newer, shinier one but do I need to explain how problematic this line of thinking is? I didn’t think so.

After nursing my wounds from a bad relationship or toxic friendship I often make a vow to myself to be kinder, nicer, more compassionate to myself than the dearly departed were. It’s a vicious cycle that I have fought myself on for years and it goes something like this: make vow to be nice to self –> make progress –> get sidetracked/back slide into negative behavior –> pain –> back to square one. I want to touch on the step smack dab in the middle – getting sidetracked.

Let’s use a real scenario: you’re on minding your business one day and your phone goes off. Its an text or email from your ex – what do you do? I’ll be honest, on a good day I can ignore a message and keep it trucking. On a day where I’m not my best I might engage them but that never ends well. Or maybe you’re the one who is acting as the initiator, sending messages and  maintaining contact with your ex. Opening the door for your ex to communicate with you is never a good idea. I have my theories on why exes come back but this Madame Noire post explains them better than I can. Which brings me to my first point:

Stop Entertaining

Communication is 50 percent what you say and 50 percent what you dont say. In other words, that simple ‘hey, how are you?’ is never that simple. Your ex is an ex for a reason and depending on when you broke up usually no communication is for the best. You might be tempted to reply to that text but think about what it really means. You’ll be waiting by the phone for their reply, reading into the conversation way more than necessary and pretty much allowing this person to rent space in your head.

Distract Yourself

Work and working out are two of my coping mechanisms. When life gets rough I bury myself in work and torture myself with new and creative workouts. Ok maybe the word ‘torture’ isn’t the best descriptor but if my muscles are aching I don’t have time to think about my ex. The time I’ve spent pining over a failed relationship have never brought me anything but a headache. Putting that time to good use on a project or at the gym will always benefit you. Always. I thought I’d never say this but, my mom was right, time really is the best medicine.

Call for Reinforcements

If you’ve put in those extra hours at work, did all you could on the treadmill and you still can’t shake the feeling to call your ex then its time to call for help. Those friends who helped you during your breakup should be on speed dial because a friend who helped you through the break up will not want you to go down that road again. This is not the time to gloss over details or conjure up theories about the hidden meaning of the message he sent. Keep it real with your friends and ask that they do the same for you.

I don’t have all the answers. Writing this post is as therapuetic for me as it is for those of you reading it. What I can say is that usually communicating with my exes came from a place that remembered the good times of our relationship. I won’t lie – I can be a sucker for love. I get to thinking about the good ol days, looking at pictures, listening to some Jill Scott and BAM I’m actually giving the relationship a second chance. It happens to the best of us. What I’ve learned about myself over the years is while I can feel nostalgic for good times with an ex, that doesn’t necessarily mean it was meant to be (Belle touches on this in her book). If you go fishing for reasons to get back together I guarantee you will find at least one that makes sense to you.

The bottom line is this: someone out there is better for you than your ex and keeping in touch with your ex could be keeping you from meeting them. Think about it: how can you get a new living room set if you’re holding on to the old one?

-Nikki B.

What to Expect Now That Beyonce is Expecting

30 Aug

If there is anything people love more than peeking into the lives of people they don’t know is peeking into the lives of famous people they don’t know. Personally, I think this country is too damn obsessed with celebrity. So much that the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred beyond recognition. To quote Ariel and her latest post on Armoire Chic regarding the public outrage of Will and Jada’s rumored separation, “How did we allow someone else’s happiness determine our own? We don’t even know these people, for goodness sake! Is it that easy to give up on love?” The Smith’s later released a statement saying that they were not headed for divorce court but the damage was done; people were losing their ever loving minds over a couple they had never met.

Enter, Beyonce and Jay-Z.

I’ve long expressed my dismay over the power couple. They are notoriously private but that does not stop them from over-saturating the media. I think Beyonce’s pregnancy marks an all time high (or low, depending on who you ask) for the couple’s PR strategy.  Not only do they both have albums in stores and pending tours in the works, they are now making room for a little prince or princess. In turn, their teams will find new and nauseating ways to subject us to Beyonce and her baby bump.

Oh the joys of opening the market.

Continue reading

Book Review: Demetria Lucas “A Belle In Brooklyn”

24 Aug

When I think of relationship experts, an older man or women always comes to mind. Some Doctor, with a degree in psychology, giving a seperated couple advice on how to start over and mend their falling apart marriage. I always think to myself, how does this Doctor have all the answers? I invision them taking one man and one women captive, putting them in a lab and performing random studies on them for about 3 months. ( These guinea pigs are getting paid for their time, probably an ad they responded to in the local newspaper.) Studies include: a man approaching a woman, their interaction with one another, sex and how long before the man begins to masturbate. Doctors will probably throw another woman in the mix at the half way point just to spice things up a bit. Of course this is just my mind running wild, but you get my point, right? What actually makes these doctors such experts?

I recently finished reading Demetria Lucas’ book, “A Belle In Brooklyn” and I must say, this book was everything! Belle, (a nickname given to her by her then New York native coworkers, who claim any other city outside of New York City to be country), is no doctor. She doesn’t even claim to have all the answers. What she does is take readers through her dating life: the trials and tribulations of male and female relationships, friendships, and/or situations, one dinner date at a time. “A Belle In Brooklyn” is a refreshing read; so different from the normal boy-meets-girl relationship advice that is just all wrong. When to call? What to say? How long to wait? blah, blah, blah. Belle takes a different approach. She’s not some sly, smooth-talking sales lady looking to get your hopes high. She isn’t trying to sell you a toad who she promises will transform into your prince charming, if and only if you follow her simple advice. No. Belle is an everyday girl living and learning. An adventurousome women enjoying her single life. No set goal on finding a husband or even a boyfriend for that matter. Just basking in the dating atomosphere –  all while taking notes.

Belle’s advice is honorable and sincere. She touches on many subjects and indulges in questions most women may have always inquired but were never brave enough to pursue an answer. Topics that range from men faking orgasms, taking viagra, and personal preferences when it comes to a woman’s physical appearance. The responses aren’t typical or cliché. In fact most are pause-worth but not the, ‘that statement didn’t come out right’ pause, more on the lines of ‘hmmm, very interesting’ kind of pause. Readers are sure to find one chapter, one moment that they can totally relate to. I found many. Although I would love to quote the entire book, I cant.  A chapter that stood out to me was “A Work In Progress” where Belle list 30 lessons she describes as simple and obvious but very hard to get. Here are the five I favored:

You don’t always get closure. Make peace with it anyway.

It’s ok to be alone. You’ll be fine without him. Pinky swear it.

Know that if he is the one, he will be the one.

Men don’t read minds. If you want something, ask for it.

Learn to compromise, but don’t compromise yourself.

It’s probably impossible for anyone not to gather some sort of take-away from this novel. Not only have I learned how to live my best single life, I’ve learned the importance of surrounding myself with successful role models. Whether you’re male or female, single, married, or divorced if you enjoy reading, read this!

-Channie

Will Beyonce Remain a One-Trick Diva Forever?

30 Jun

The leak of Beyonce’s new album 4 hit the Internet a couple weeks ago, and it was just officially released this past Tuesday, and it was all anyone could talk about. I got my copy, but to be honest I wasn’t too enthused about it.

The first single from the album, “Run the World (Girls)” didn’t blow me away. It was an unsuccessful mish mosh of incoherent noise, and her lyrics were less than sub-par.

Of course, since her album is about to drop she’s already on a slew of magazine covers. Essence is no exception. Bey actually wrote the article herself. I bought the mag, hoping it wouldn’t be another typical Beyonce article. I wanted her to really show who she is. I wanted to shake from my mind that she’s boring with a flat personality outside of her Sasha Fierceness.

Well, the article didn’t change my mind. And I might have dozed off for a minute too. It wasn’t that the article was a snoozefest, but if you are a true Beyonce stan, everything that was in there you would have already known, such as:

1. Beyonce is from Houston.
2. She grew up eating fried food.
3. Her mom worked in a salon.
4. She loves to vacation where there’s water. (I mean, we always see her pictured on a yacht or on the beach!)

You get the picture. She went on to explain what she did during her well deserved time off. But still, the read wasn’t anything amazing.

One thing she did say jumped out at me, though. “I was going to give myself a year to do the things I never get to do. Simple things like… cook a meal and spend time with my husband.” I thought it was really sweet.

Which brings me back to her album. Her ballads on 4 are the absolute best. “1+1” and “I Miss You” I could listen to over and over again. “I thought things like this would get better with time / But I still need you, why is that? / You’re the only image in my mind / So I still see you… around.” I can completely relate to the lyrics. Whether or not Bey wrote them is besides the point. I feel that when you go through something that might have taken you on an emotional roller coaster, the easier it is to relate to the artist.

Her fast-paced songs sound like they should have been on the Destiny’s Child Survivor album. There hasn’t been any real growth. She was never really one for substance, but the uptempo songs on 4 are truly lacking. “Love on Top” sounds like it could be an American Idol finale song if they did them uptempo. All fluff, no substance.

She should have taken a tip from her husband. He continues to evolve while remaining relevant after 11 albums, which is rare to do nowadays. Some artists can’t stay afloat after their fourth single let alone fourth album.

Which leads me to this question, can Beyonce evolve? Can the Queen put aside the dance routines, ladies’ anthems, predictable lyrics and produce a record that shows growth and still hold the number one spot?

–Cherie Redd

(This post was originally published on Armoire Chic. )