5 LIFE LESSONS YOU CAN LEARN FROM N.W.A

Straight Outta Compton has been on the tip of the nation’s tongue, since it debuted on August 17.  After raking in over $170 million and debuting at number one for three weeks in a row the notorious group has maintained its media presence for various reasons.  Whether you praise NWA for speaking out against police brutality or you shun them for their misogynistic lyrics, there is a lot to learn from the most dangerous group.  Below are 5 lessons in street knowledge N.W.A has taught us in their song titles alone.

“Gangsta Gangsta”- Being assertive and confident is a key to success.  NWA taught us this when they went head to head with the police at a concert in Detroit.  Officers warned the crew not to perform their hit F— the police, due to its racially charged violent lyrics against authority.  Luckily, the boys knew their rights and performed the hit anyway. While they were arrested and hit with a fine, it was a pivotal moment in Hip Hop.

“Fuck tha police”- There will always be someone who bets against you in life but you can’t let that stop you.  For N.W.A MTV was another thorn in their side.  N.W.A was initially rejected by MTV and had to fight to have their music video in rotation.  The group’s persistence is what ultimately got their video air time, despite earlier reviews that their video was too violent.  In reality, the group was simply reporting on the relationship between Black civilians and police in Compton, a reality that mainstream media neglected.

“Cash Money”- Financial Literacy is imperative for everyone.  Ice Cube understood this concept when he walked away from a $75,000 check given to him by the group’s manager Jerry Hiller.  Cube understood his worth and that he was being underpaid.  He knew that in business and life that the first offer is not always the best offer.

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“Express Yourself” – Expression is a powerful tool.  You may never reach your fullest potential without exerting self-expression.  N.W.A flourished by being genuine and encouraged others to do the same.  During a time when the nation neglected Compton, N.W.A used their platform to encourage people to never be ashamed of who they are or where they come from.

“Alwayz Into Something”-  Never keep all your eggs in one basket, most successful people have several sources of income.  N.W.A patented this mantra.  Easy E went from being the super star in the group to signing other big acts from Snoop Dog, Bones Thugs and Harmony and Tupac.  Ice cube invested his money into TV and film, while Dr. Dre became the first billionaire in Hip Hop after selling his headphones Beats by Dre to Apple.

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Through A Lens Darkly

This is a oldie but goodie I wrote for the legendary Amsterdam News.

THROUGHLENSD_Shareable_01A-copy_t580Every photo tells a story. But in a world of Instagram and Pinterest, we tend to look at a photo for its face value. That’s what Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and The Emergence of a People resonates.The film takes an intimate look at the progression of a people through a series of still photos.

This documentary is first of its kind to explore the role of photography in African American culture. The film takes its audience on a journey and depicts the African American experience in America from slavery to the present. “This is something to be passed down to the next generation, a passing of the baton that will include their stories and their photographs,” said film maker Thomas Allen Harris, at a screening last week at the City College Campus.

Harris uses his film as a medium to reintroduce professional and images from various family photo albums to shape the identity of Blacks and display our aspirations. Professional photos shot by photographers such as Roy DeCarva and Anthony Barboza among others appeared throughout the film. While these men used the camera as their tool to tell not only Black history but also American history, they are seldom recognized in main stream American.

Black women also played a huge role in the game of photography. Vera Jackson and Louise E. Jefferson helped raise African American awareness in media. They were also responsible for capturing some of America’s greatest talents from Dorothy Dandridge to Jackie Robinson.

Harris explains the entire project took 10 years to complete and he raised $150,000 to support the project. He felt a responsibility to complete the film despite the long haul. “I’m a finisher…and I have an amazing team, there were a lot of people who were counting on this project.”

The film maker noted that some of the images made him upset, and he was angry when he started making the film. “I had to learn to forgive and go to a real deep place of compassion, he said. I had to remember who I made this film for. I made this film for young people of color, and I don’t want to communicate just anger to them.”

Harris is working to get this film into high schools and grammar schools. He is passionate about educating the next generations on their history. Currently, Thomas is working on a narrative feature about an immigrant woman and her family. To keep up with Harris and learn more about Through A Lens Darkly visit http://www.1world1family.me.

Never Stop Writing

While it may seem as if I stopped writing, I never did. My time has been divided between the complications of life and writing for other publications. Instead of neglecting this platform, I have decided to include links to my most current pieces.( I couldn’t stop writing If I wanted to.) In high light of the 2015 Academy Awards last night, I have to speak on  BadAss Partricia Arquette for her amazing speech about the lack of equality for women in the work place and in regards to wages. She was so down to earth, and her speech was amazing. She hit the nail on the head by raising her voice.  While we have come along way we still have a long way to go. BUT Arquette articulately raising Hell about it in national TV was some real boss shit ! Check out the clip below, and take a peek at the article I wrote ” Talking Inequality in Media ” featured on Amsterdamnews.com.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/oscars/patricia-arquette-champions-equal-pay-for-women-in-oscars-acceptance-speech-10063328.html

http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2015/feb/12/talking-inequality-media/

The Queen of Rap releases ‘The Pink Print’

The Queen of Rap (yea I said it) blessed us with the ‘Pink Print’ while you were sleeping. This by far may be Nicki Minajs’ best work. Her third album came with features from heavy hitters like  Meek Mill, Ariana Grande,Beyonce’, Lil Wayne and Drake. Minaj takes us down a road of melodic flows followed by the hard beats that made us love her. The visionary continues to use imagery and heart-felt rhymes to walk us through what her life has been like since the last album. While it starts out with slow and heart-felt tracks, Minaj kept it one hundred and opens up her heart to us. In “I Lied” Minaj reminds us underneath the perfect figure and ensembles she is still a women longing for love and fears rejection and a broken heart.  In “I Lied” Minaj confesses “You just a heart breaker, won’t let you brake mine, because I’ll be smashing windows and cutting those break lines”. After being a tad bit emotional Minaj goes zero to a hundred real quick with Meek Mill for “Big Daddy”  and reminds us of her comedic persona.

If you were ever unsure about Nicki this is the album for you. The ‘Pink Print’ covers the hues of Nicki Minaj.

Peep the vid for “Only” featuring Drake and Lil Wayne