[Lower East Side] – Color Coded

One of the most colorful neighborhoods in New York City!

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[Harlem Vow Renewal] : Love Is…

Someone once said that love is friendship set to music! And for these two social activists and self-proclaimed music heads, no statement could be more true. Meet Detrel and her husband Thomas, who after meeting at a rally, have used their love of music and life to affect change in their community! So what better way to celebrate one year of love than with a “Love Is…” session in Harlem! With it’s rich and vibrant history in dance, literature and music, it was the perfect backdrop for our session this past weekend! Thomas and Detrel will be making beautiful music when they renew their wedding vows next month here in New York. I’m excited for what’s in store because after spending the afternoon with them, I know the day will be nothing short of amazing!

DandT2 Our first stop…the world famous Apollo Theater! With musical greats like Areatha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson having graced this iconic stage, it made sense that they paid homage but also made time to ‘get on the good foot’ themselves!

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bririzadaphoto1 Big thank you to Brianna of B. Rizada Photography for grabbing this photo of me during our shoot!

DandT1 Thomas is a man of few words, but that smile: GOLD!

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D&TDip And finally, a trip to Harlem would not be complete without a stop at the world-renowned soul food eatery known simply as Sylvia’s! Enjoy you two!

DandTDip2 As the sun set over the city, I walked down 125th Street and came upon the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. monument, which I thought is a perfect blend of admiration and advocacy for the people of Harlem! It kinda reminded me of Detrel and Thomas. Not only do they exemplify their love for one another, but also their love of their community and advocating for causes close to their hearts — bravo you guys! 🙂

Helping Hands

“The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm..” And with that, not only are my hands busy today, but my heart is full! It’s almost bursting at the seams with gratitude in being able to give to those who are less fortunate. I did A LOT of volunteering during my college days and I’ve missed the camaraderie that can easily come from the smile of a stranger! So, in the spirit of giving, here I am at a local homeless shelter surrounded by comrades in gratitude! Happy Saturday, good people! 🙂

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The Storm… And Mom’s Red Velvet Cake

So, with Hurricane Sandy barreling down on us and letting us here in the Northeast know what’s up, I’ve taken refuge at my Mom’s house. And even though she lives just a few miles away from the closest body of water here in Brooklyn, I couldn’t be more comfortable. We’ve stocked her shelves with all the necessary amenities: batteries, flashlights, a first aide kit, bottled water and food (including canned and non perishable items). I’m so happy to be spending time with my family, even in light of these events. And what really made me smile is when, just a few short minutes ago, she called me downstairs to join her for some tea and a slice of red velvet cake (besides cheesecake, it’s one of my favorite desserts!) So, the moral of the story is, take comfort in your family and BE SAFE OUT THERE, PEOPLE!!!

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The Evolution of My Life…

It’s been almost 18 years since New York’s own hometown girl, Mary J. Blige dropped her progressive sophomore album “My Life” and revolutionized the music scene. It was her innovative mix of soul and hip-hop, (which at this time in music was unheard of) that earned her the moniker the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. Released when she was only 23 years old, “My Life” was her journal of pain and struggle. She became synonymous for sharing her truth with every new declaration, at one point asking us to share her world (“Love Is All We Need”) while at another, adamantly proclaiming that there would be no more drama (“Family Affair”). Her growth has been evident, both as an entertainer and as a woman. She is known as one of the few people in the industry who has made herself both relatable to women and desirable to men (Sorry Mariah!!) And on Wednesday night at New York’s Terminal 5, she stood proudly and let her fans know that in spite of all of life’s ups and downs, her progression continues. Her 10th studio album, “My Life II…The Journey Continues, Act I” was released to solid reviews by various music outlets including Rolling Stone and Spin magazine.

But this huge crowd of her most devoted fans had little interest in what some anonymous music critic had to say; words couldn’t describe who she is to them or her impact on their lives, they just wanted to see “Mary! Mary! Mary!!” As the crowd clamored together and the chants quieted down, she appeared out of the shadows, almost as if on cue. With the crowd’s feverish acknowledgement came the intro…a phone call with Diddy (aka Sean Combs, aka Puff Daddy aka P. Diddy aka Diddy Dirty Money aka…you get the picture!!), a reference to the first “My Life” album’s intro and Combs’ executive producer credits. She then swaggered her way down memory lane with songs like “Mary Jane (All Night Long)”, the title track “My Life”, “You Bring Me Joy”, “You Gotta Believe” and “I’m Goin’ Down”.

In continuing to pour her heart out, she sang an impromptu happy birthday to her percussionist Rex and to fellow Sagittarius in the room and dedicated “I Love You” and a moment of silence to her long time friend and fallen comrade Heavy D, calling him a driving force in her career and a big brother to so many. She then spoke directly to the fans thanking them for their long standing support, saying that her hope is to keep blessing and uplifting the masses with her music. “We’re not gonna be perfect until we’re gone, but until then, guess what I wanna be?” This lead to an explosive rendition of “Be Happy”. In acknowledging the past, she now looks towards the future. With that came some of her latest material, namely “Mr. Wrong” and “25/8”.

It’s been said that growth takes place when a person has dared to become involved with experimenting with his own life. As Mary’s incredible life goes on, thank goodness that the journey continues. We can’t wait for ‘Act II’.

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For The Sake of Hip Hop

It felt like I was stepping into another world… A “secret society” of sorts, where cell phones were confiscated and every media outlet in the room (including Spin magazine and the music/pop culture icon known as Rolling Stone Magazine!) had their equipment checked, scoped out and inspected for the slightest possibility of a video leak. (Actually I may have been the only one and I have to admit to still kinda sorta feelin’ a way about that!)

The location was Santos Party House, downtown New York’s latest and greatest performance space. And the artist who appealed to his fans to step away from their connections in social media and networking (No tweeting, Facebooking, texting or video was allowed during the show!! I actually heard a few gasps as young people, who’ve grown up in the age of MySpace and instant gratification sent out those last few texts and tweets before falling into the abyss of music.) was none other than Jermaine Lamarr Cole, known to the music masses simply as J. Cole.

The Fayetteville, North Carolina native and Roc Nation newcomer let the fans know that, in spite of a broken ankle, he came as he wanted no pity. To him, this session was about nothing but the music. “If you came to listen, thank you for coming,” he said graciously. “But if you came to drink and talk and all that, please step to the back. This is ’bout to be some real shit.” ‘Nuff said! Look out for the release of his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story on September 27th.

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A “Picture Perfect” Day!

Eric Roberson — the soulful effervescent crooner and Rahway’s Native Son is back with music that will not only move you, it will make you smile…big! The album, Mr. Nice Guy, which is slated for an October 11 release leaves no emotional stone unturned. All of life’s inventory is examined, from love to heartache to laughter — it’s all here! And just recently, I again had the great pleasure of watching the magic happen. Firstly, with his salute to summer with the song, aptly named “Summertime Anthem”, featuring hip hop’s Grand Marshall, Chubb Rock! (Images can be seen here!) And now with his latest single, “Picture Perfect”, featuring Foreign Exchange frontman, Phonte with the video’s leading lady being played by model/singer/actress Sepsenahki. It was, in a word, crazy! But all that hard work will most definitely pay off…be on the look out for the video soon!

Big ups to directors, Derrick “D. Black” Savage and Jay Espinal (who was also the cinematographer), gaffer Ari Schaeffer, BlueErroSoul team, Tiffany “Sweetlocs” Taylor, Anshia Tull and everyone who participated in the magic! It was an awesome time and I’m happy to have been a part of it!

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