Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Nod To A Writer I've Never Met

I never met a 98 year-old man by the name of George Whitman before, but was rather inspired by the obituary The New York Times wrote in honor of him. That being said, as I will now not have the opportunity to shake his hands, I did have the chance of visiting his bookstore, Shakespeare & Company, that is situated right on the Left Bank in Paris. If the walls of this solitary book haven could talk, I'm sure it would be a classic novel in itself. Having been a familiar stop amongst literary mavens such as Hemingway and James Joyce, Whitman's Shakespeare & Company also offered refuge for traveling novelists and visiting poets.

Beyond all the stories of who laid footsteps in his bookstore, what fascinates me the most is his own personal story. Whitman was born in East Orange, N.J. and grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. His father's career often meant much traveling for Whitman and his family. Eventually, he went to Boston University and majored in journalism. After graduating, he continued to explore the world and write. His studies didn't stop there as he enrolled in Harvard, but had to change his plans once he enlisted in the army in 1941.

Whitman served until the end of WWII and despite that abrupt change of pace for his life, his journey exploring didn't. He finally settled in Paris and used his G.I Bill to start a small lending company in a hotel near the honorary Sorbonne. The rest is literary history.

Even as the humble beginnings of Shakespeare & Company eventually earned famed company to walk through its doors, it seems to have held onto such a quaint and placid vibe surrounding it.

My first recollection of any special association to a bookstore was my childhood replays of Belle singing through the villages in Beauty and the Beast. She loved that one book in that one bookshelf in what seemed as the only bookstore around. So when I finally lived in Paris for a month about 3 years ago, the travel books recommended a visit to Shakespeare & Company. The shelves were filled from top to bottom with racks of books that I've never heard of but could only imagine what mystery existed between their pages.
I did recall reading the walls that posted sayings such as "Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise" by Irish poet W.B. Yeats.

I enjoy that quote even though I might disagree with some of the stances Yeats held as an Irish public figure. I digress.

This is about a notable bookstore that came about by a man's quest for a journey and the ability to write about it. Who am I to point fingers at our human condition and the things we've said and done in the past. And that was rightfully expressed with the lifestyle of this 98 year-old man I've never met. They say he lived at the apartment right above the store. In a very odd recollection for my own sake, maybe he was hanging out in his Euro flat, sipping some earl green tea, thinking about the Jets or days gone by, all the while, a young writer from Queens stood in awe of his creation.

photo cred:Madamelani

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Visual Appetite: Jesse Boykins III

This is why I do it.

Candid moments when an artist allows us to dive into the essence of their affair with music. But the point that seals the deal is when actual substance and talent coincide with their overall presentation.

Coming from a perspective as one who enjoys creating poetry, and more importantly the message behind it, I understand the vitality of the "craft." Words not to be spoken just because they can, but rather because there is meaning. I suppose it's a mutual understanding as artists. Which is why respect is given when due.

Meet, or for followers of his beginnings since '08, be reintroduced to Jesse Boykins III.

We could sit here and discuss his accolades and his Soul Train Music Award Nomination, but that's another post. *crossing fingers*

I recommend taking a look see at this 3 piece film Reebok covered that highlights the process behind this indie soul artist and his craft. (Didn't even know Reebok jumped on the music train like that) but hey, sure glad they did. Enjoy.

Part 1

Part Deux

Part 3

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mash It Up: "De La Soulviet" x TenDJiz

Da Vinci had The Sistine Chapel. Dostoevsky had The Brothers Karamazov. Einstein had revolutionary theory. The success of such ingenious creators of intelligent masterpieces are sometimes gauged upon that one particular piece or creation. As for producer/sound engineer, DJ Tengiz, his take on matching interesting sound bites from Russia to the masses of hip-hop and beyond are as revolutionary as Tsereteli himself.
On the surface, De La Soulviet itself can come across as just another remix refreshing the hits of the hip-hop pioneer group De La Soul by some self-proclaimed producer who sits at home with their digital audio workstation. But what you might not know is that DJ Tengiz brings to the plate an opportunity to hear how incorporating Soviet jazz and soul music to a hip-hop sound sees no borders . The M Report got to know more about the mastermind and his latest release De La Soulviet.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Arts, Beats + Lyrics with Gentleman Jack Tour Stop

Event Recap
This is a national event that tours different metropolitan cities to expose its self-proclaimed title, arts, beats and lyrics. Different artists from various cities provide the arts, but the beats and the lyrics are mostly local talent.

The night was all about hip-hop.The heart beat, the boom boom bap, the emcees and breakers alike.

May I present to you Gentleman Jack's Art Beats + Lyrics event.

DJ Flash Gordon Sparks from H.I.S.D on the ones and twos
H.I.S.D hit the stage

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Album Review x Beyonce's "4"

So I was able to sit down with Beyoncé's latest album entitled "4" and here's my brief review.

I'd like to think many artists use their music to portray their current state of mind or what they're going through or what they've been through. Kind of like a journal made through music.

If that were the case with Queen B, she's all the colors on a mood ring. Except the dark gray color, know what I'm talking about? That's because the dark grey color usually represented anger or gloom. And that's not what this album's necessarily about.

It's about falling in love, dealing through love, knowing that you're a ROCKSTAR LADY and having fun! She's head over heels in love with her man (throws up the Roc sign) and she's not afraid to share it with the world this time. I must admit that compared to her last LP, " I Am...Sasha Fierce" it seems that she might have put more time and effort into this album. Bey's said to have made her previous LP under a quick turn-around time.

"4" has great production work with Bey going through her usual vocal ranges. There's the uptempo pop songs that bring a new light to all those nights you had to dance to "Single Ladies" with "Party" featuring Andre 3000 and Yeezy. "Countdown" is up there as well as "Run The World (Girls)" with one unifying common thread. And that is she makes sure everybody knows she will continue to rep her block when she shouts out to Houston, Texas as the city that raised her.

Upon first going through the songs, it took some time to build momentum. Nonetheless, there are some standout songs to choose from such as "Love on Top" and "Rather Die Young." "Love on Top" gives off a 90's throwback hit because the production and style of this song remind me of a song that would contend for the top when superstars like Tamia were still making hits.

The prevalent theme of girl power wasn't dismissed with this album and I don't think it ever will. You can't be mad at that because Beyoncé Knowles will always know how to unite the ladies (and the gentlemen) who know how to dance like there's no tomorrow.

Only three words remain: You Go Girl.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Artist Interview x 2-Twenty Music

As if the music industry isn’t competitive enough, enter underground hip-hop. Where one artist under a major record label is granted the means to make their music buzz-worthy, underground artists have to do just as much legwork, if not more, in their own capacity. Therefore in an environment not necessarily understood nor easily exposed, where hustle is the name of the game, how can camaraderie exist when everyone is out for their own shine? 2-Twenty, a local group of college students who are vouching to take the new wave of underground hip-hop to the next level, one college kid at a time, seem to have some answers.

“When we first started, we were “the other guys in the room,” says Gene. “But now, it’s like we’re starting to get love because everyone sees how hard we work. If we’re in the building, we’re going to shake everybody’s hand and we’re going to introduce ourselves to everybody and we are going to let you know that we are 2-Twenty. It’s good though. Underground’s great, I love it.”

Gene, EscalatorUp, Haize, and DJ Auditory compromise 2-Twenty. Three emcees hailing from three different states and one hometown DJ are set to take Houston’s college music scene by storm. Having been one of the opening acts for this year’s University of Houston Frontier Fiesta featuring Wale, the group’s initial beginnings were actually a touch of undergraduate fate.

In spring semester of 2010, Calvin Green, better known as Gene, was living in the dorms at University of Houston when a new roommate was displaced. Marc Haize, also known as Haize, was living there as well as an out-of-state by way of Detroit- student. Gene introduced Haize to his recorded music he once plugged while living in Japan during his military assignment with the Navy. Together they shared the connection of both living out of the country, specifically Japan, while their talents meshed to form MH and Gene.

Less than a month later, the two met Lonnie or EscalatorUp, who had to be somewhat persuaded to join them after hearing that he could rap. He agreed and since then, the name of their game consisted of a path filled with trial and error. Trial had taken place at a handful of venues etched in their memory.

“913 Prairie, as many times as we promoted it, 913 Prairie,” recalls Haize. “It’s like a little hole in the wall.”

Haize could pinpoint the exact location of venues they took up, such as Escape Lounge on 913 Prairie. Or 511 Main, which is Club Heat, and Zula Lounge, where they performed on a tiny wooden box. That event resulted in EscalatorUp literally falling off due to the mishap stage’s incapacity to handle all the hype. During that time, they incorporated DJ Auditory into the scene. This Houston native was to add a special touch to all their shows and help play their music.

The group also figured the next moves required transitioning from the club atmosphere into doing actual shows that garnered a larger crowd. That led to acquiring one of the independent stages at the 28th annual Los Magnificos Car Show. All good except for when they were about to take stage, Chris Brown simultaneously went on to perform his set. With all attention fleeting before their eyes, the setback was still a long way from their club days. Not to mention, this group has a unique optimistic outlook on the struggles they face, be it school, music life or their personal life.

Take it from their single entitled “Sail On” that came out this year. Their sampled Commodores track is a subtle and smooth backdrop to bars that discuss their current reality filled with frustrations.

“I’m kind of like sail on,” says Gene. “No matter what happens to you or what you go through, you just gotta keep it moving, you can’t just dwell on it.”

The group has since released 5 singles from their two mixtapes entitled “School Daze” and the following “Extra Credit.” Other songs include “All That” which is their take on Biggie’s hit “Juicy” with all its similar lyrical themed packaging of envisioning dreams before making it. You’ll be sure to hear some songs heavily influenced by the opposite sex. “Hear Me Out” and “Under-Rated” spit game to the ladies and include the vocal talents that Gene perfected while in high school. Another rapper/singer cliché you say? Just take a minute to appreciate the mixtapes before jumping on the bandwagon, and then one might feel indifferent.

2-Twenty’s come up story is, well, still coming up. They’ve outgrown their days of flipping their pants around like Kriss Kross and memorizing unheard Eminem lines. But they’ve yet to perfect their craft. Still, after a successful experience during their latest shows at Frontier Fiesta, which they’re actually set to perform again next year, to Miller Outdoor Theatre’s “A Night To Remember”, 2-Twenty describes what onlookers might not expect.

“Progression, it’s only going to get better.”

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I: Inspiration

Taken from an interview on, here's one response from Houston Texan's running back Arian Foster that can only remind us of two words: Motivation & Inspiration.

"G: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment to date?
AF: My whole life people would tell me I wouldn't make it to the NFL. In the 7th grade, when my teacher asked me what I wanted to do and I replied, "Play in the NFL," she told me to have a back-up plan. She didn't tell any of the kids who wanted to be doctors or lawyers to have a back-up plan. After college, I didn't get drafted, and I was also cut from my current team. Then this past year, I led the NFL in rushing, and touchdowns, while becoming a pro bowler and First team ALL pro. My biggest accomplishment is overcoming limitations."

Lesson here: Support your local Boys & Girls clubs! You never know whose lives you're affecting :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cherchez Le Femme

Vestergaard Frandsen x WomenDeliver x Carbon For Water Campaign

I've always said that during my travels, my theory coincides with truth. I've learned that we are a global community and we shouldn't think otherwise. I consider myself a global citizen. My neighbors aren't limited to the lines that separate our states or the waters that separate our countries. Rather, a fine line connects us together.

Especially during the influx of the technology era we're experiencing. We've witnessed parts of Egypt intertwine by social media in order to stand for their rights. And the whole world was watching, stirring awareness and emotions to fellow neighbors all over the world.

But there are so many other stories out there that validate our fragile connectedness. I'm going to make every effort to jump start this opportunity that will only further my will to be a better global citizen.

With my pen, pad and the inspiration from fellow journalists such as Ann Curry, Marisa Mazria Katz and others who travel to lands unknown to be a voice for the voiceless, let us begin.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Q: Quotes: Taking a Cue from Maya Angelou

"Most people really don't become friends. They become deep and serious acquaintances. But in a friendship you get to know the spirit of another person; and your values coincide. Friends may disagree, but not about serious matters. A friend will stand for you when you are no longer able. A woman can say to herself,If I die, I know that my friend, my sister friend will be here to hold up the banner. Now that's very profound." -Maya Angelou as told to Essence Magazine

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hope In the Time of Despair: Based on a True Story

Hope In the Time of Despair: Based on a True Story [EDIT 8/26/12] The post no longer exists on's forum, therefore I will just share the entire story here with you on my blog.
I did receive positive feedback from women on the site who appreciated the story during the time the Egyptian revolution was still very fresh on people's minds.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Peace UV Mine Presents: An Intimate Musical Journey with Krystal Hardwick

Houston- March 3, 2011

Underneath the persona that is known to the masses as the independent hip-hop group H.I.S.D, exists a platform that aims to expose progressive artistry in a variety of mediums. Peace UV Mine Entertainment, pronounced “peace of mine,” has just about 14 artists underneath their management. One might suggest calling their efforts a Houston-bred grassroots artist label with a dynamic roster of emcees, poets, vocalists and visual artists.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fashion Fetish

I'm here to share my current Fashion Fetish: Nail Fetish

I'm currently typing with the the cutest new color shade on the OPI block.
There have been many posts that I've read before that show the writer's interest in the glitter nail polish trend. The thing about this trend is that you don't want it to come off cheap as if you bought the glitter top coat at the 99 cent store.

That's why this OPI collection has a variety of fantastic colors to choose from. Ranging from blue, green and black hues. I chose the green shade and absolutely love it! It doesn't look tacky at all. By the way, the green shade is called "Glow Up Already" which I thought was too cute.

My sister tried the black shade and for some reason the glitter didn't come off as flashy as mine.

Take a look!

Try it next time you're at the salon or if you buy it. I'd love to hear your feedback.


After a couple of days from wear, the nail polish chipped. I suggest getting it done at the salon and to keep your nails on point, buy the bottle to adjust the chipping.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

MP: Music Promo

Yes, this is a shameless promo from an on the rise artist hailing from my alumnus, St. John's University.

I suggest y'all stay tuned to Will Smooth.

Here's another one, entitled "Iced Tea Lemonade"

Can't knock the hustle.