Ruud-van-Empel
Creative Media

LIFE SHORTS DESIGNS

Life Shorts Designs 
By Lenaugne
Based on true events

Dear Reader,

Take what you want from this piece but as you will see, writing this was more for me than it is for you.

I was in a state last night where I wanted to roll up and sink into myself. Like, I wanted to return as an egg to my mother’s uterus. I mourned for my self, contemplated how helpless I was against my emotions so much so that I did not do anything productive but stare unblinkingly at buffering YouTube videos of Casey Neistat and NYT articles on the latest Safdie brothers film.

In times like these I don’t talk.

I empty myself of strong emotions.

I mute them inside my head and watch myself outside myself– I become a projection if you will– squirm and whine and give up, hands flailing in agony and frustration, at how easily I make excuses for myself and then I officially, withdraw.

I have issues. Psychology class has blatantly pointed that out. But lately, when I am alone at night tossing at 2AM and listening to the leaves rustle in the Christmas breeze, I recreate my childhood and the teenage years, adamant, fixated on finding the moments in time that made me like this. And it is pointless because I only do it to extend the emotions that hurt  me. Doing this only tells me that  I am addicted to the grief, to the emotional mutilation.

Idle: I mentioned Casey Neistat earlier. His YouTube channel is the hippie’s adventure isn’t it? It’s about living life on your own terms and earning a living from it but I try not to watch Neistat that much. He’ll lead me down the white American’s road of achieving dreams with a Les Brown vinyl on in the background egging me on and I am not white or American plus I have issues with self, remember? Have to come to terms with my own reality first before I can dive into the world of dream chasing. Sad.

And it has always been like this. Emotions are rocky for me. I commit to nothing but often feel so much. And the issue is not really about identifying the pitfalls of the way I cope when sh!t gets to me, it’s more about why it is only in times of low that I see how unhappy I am with the overall picture. No other time. Know what I mean? And while I am torturously squeezing myself into the fetal position on the edge of my bed at nights is when I am in a great position to disassembly these epiphanies… Oh, the sweet irony. 

No, I know that you’re not any closer to figuring out what the hell you just read but it’s fine. Listen, last night will be one of many nights to come.

With Love, 

Lenaugne                                                                                                                                

[cover art by: Ruud van Empel]

Advertisements
Standard
iris-scott-lenaugne
Creative Media

3/4 | October

Today  I want to share with you a few of my favourites from the third quarter (not really) of the year.

Read:

The novel, Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard/ Jackie Brown directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Many people don’t know this but Leonard is often cited in the top five, usually second to Stephen King, in the number of works by an author that has been adapted to the screen. Rum Punch is the sequel to the first Leonard novel that I read at age fourteen, The Switch, and the rapid-fire dialogue, strong female leads, and witty humor had a huge influence on me back then (I have been a Leonard fiend ever since). Whereas The Switch is characterized by the friendship of two kidnappers, conniving Ordell and sweet Louis, who ironically rescue a bored house wife from her cheating husband only to fail at ransome negotiations, Rum Punch tells the grittier more violent story of the years following those events. In 1997 Rum Punch was filmed as Jackie Brown by Quentin Tarantino and the author has said that it’s the best adaptation of his work, ever. If you pay attention too, you will realize that a lot of the director’s signature style is a direct influence of Leonard’s genius– just watch the film, here [or if you are one from a dying breed, read (epub, pdf)] to see what I mean.

Watch:
dave-chappelle-the-age-of-spin-lenaugne

Dave Chappelle for Netflix, 2017.

The comedy special, ‘The Age of Spin’ by Dave Chappelle.

So I have watched the two Chappelle specials that Netflix released in March and this is the better one– it focuses more on culture while ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’ deals with mostly morality and race. He is no longer skinny, goofy and nasal-sounding, but Chappelle is still culturally aware and delivers intelligent and morally fluid storylines. His humor now feels more mature to me, may be he’s more grown up now or may be I am– maybe it’s because I’m watching him talking about things I am living through rather than things I only heard about in his 2000 specials. ‘Age of Spin’ touches on controversial areas like homosexual gangsters and his son meeting Kevin Hart and Key and Peele stealing his formula but the key highlight is the four times he’s met O.J. Simpson which Chappelle sprinkles throughout the special leaving the best story for last. Yep, everything we wanted, Chappelle answered and more. The king has returned.


Honourable Mentions

The films, Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde for interweaving music irrevocably into their plotlines. Music gives both films perfectly timed, more elastic, more graceful action scenes but mostly they just make them feel cooler. This is especially true of Atomic Blonde, a beautifully shot neon-lit, cold feeling spy thriller that gives us nothing we haven’t seen before except Charlize Theron kicking ass to 90’s classics like, ‘Major Tom.’ I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the start of a franchise. On the other hand Baby Driver traces the life of a getaway driver as he falls in love and makes plans to get away for good. Sounds easy enough but the director, Edgar Wright has a knack for focusing on details and using sharp editing (and pumping 50 year-old juke box pop songs into chase scenes) that gives the film originality, like it’s opening scene.

The song, ‘Pine & Ginger’ produced by valleyz for being smooth electro-dancehall fire. Released quietly in January, the song is social media’s open secret that we all silently wait for Billboard to hear about. Similarly, the song, ‘Love Situations‘ by 19 year-old Jada Kingdom has that same fresh dancehall hybrid sound that I see a future for now more than ever before. Lastly, the song, ‘Upholstery’ from Damian Marley’s Stony Hill album for giving me a strong dancehall production with bars on the female form that remind me of ‘All Night,’ behind  a strong baseline. And, for producing the word of the year, ‘Mermale.’

[cover art by: Iris Scott]


 

Standard
sometimes-i-wonder-by-dan-bunea
Creative Media

2/4 | June

This is my final article for the month of June. Thank you for reading and I will see you in August!

Today I want to share with you some of my favourites from the second quarter of the year.
Listen

Songs:

Do You…” by Miguel

I believe that Miguel is a needed  presence in the evolving Rn’B scene. He keeps his sound identifiable and dreamy, there is no darkness or insecurity, like what I hear in modern Rn’B crowd. This maturity is especially evident in his 2012 album,  Kaleidoscope Dream. This was the record that introduced Jamaicans to, “Adorn” but my  personal standout is, “Do You…,” a guitar led love song that uses whispered notes and falsettos to express sincerity and need. Lines like, “What about matinee movies/ Pointless secrets/ Midnight summer swim, private beaches/ Rock, paper, scissors/ Wait! best outta three!” feel so euphoric and innocent yet there is a serious intimacy there too. And, yea, Miguel may very well be the Prince of our generation but his success is always somehow undercut by poor promotion. 

Miss Your Sex” by Raheem DeVaughn

Taken from his his fifth album, Love Sex Passion, the album is a collection that marked 15 plus years since DeVaughn has been an Rn’B artiste. From the record, “Miss Your Sex” is the most special to me because behind the lascivious lyrics there  is a layer of passion and heartbreak backed by these grand instrumentals that soar towards the middle of the song… it is just awesome. Two other favourites are: “All I Know (My Heart)” that has the type of slow narrative I grew up with– and miss– from Rn’B artistes like Jaheim (Won’t you sit ya self down and take a seat/ And let me ease ya mind girl) and Maxwell. Immediately following that is, “Terms of Endearment,” a soft ballad that creates a beautiful atmosphere with Boyz II Men like harmonies backing up DeVaughn who glides on notes about how it feels to realize that you are in love and that you are loved in return. It is honestly the most perfect wedding song, ever. The whole album brings back a kind of nostalgia that goes back and forth between true soul and true Rn’B in a way that makes me feel like I have been reintroduced to the genres.

Album:

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Just to begin: Ms. Hill conceived the album at 22 years old. 22. She was also single and pregnant with her firstborn, Zion. I Listened to Miseducation for the first time in full this month and I get now. I really do. Her album is not just a supernova inspiring and promoting blackness and fierce independence and self-expression, it is a symbol of Hip-Hop culture in a decade.

Miseducation is defined by its heavier themes like learning to cope with personal pain (“When it Hurt so Bad,” “I Used to Love Him” and “Ex Factor”) and intense observations of the world (“Forgive them Father,” “Every City, Every Ghetto,” “Doo Wap,” “FInal Hour” and “Superstar”) but my favourite section is the last third of the album that is dedicated to self-love. It is guided by a theme of reverence and as such is deeper than personal, it is spiritual.

lauyrun-hill-1999-grammys-steve-granitz

Lauryn Hill made history by becoming the first Rap/Hip-Hop artiste to win Album Of The Year also becoming the first female solo artiste to win five Grammy awards in one night. (photo credit: Steve Granitz).

In my favourite song, the titilar track, (if you want to make me cry just play this) Ms. Hill belts lyrics on self actualisation backed by a church organ. A church organ on a Rap album. Lit. She also asks the Higher Power for humility and strength on, “Tell Him” (… Make me unselfish/Without being blind/Though I may suffer/I’ll envieth not) and inspires on, “Everything is Everything.” John Legend, who played piano on this track whilst in college said of the record, “Lauryn had that blend of toughness and soulfulness, melody and swagger. She did it better than anybody still has done it. People are still trying to capture that moment.” I have never seen Hip-Hop/Rap and Soul and Reggae and Gospel dovetail in such an organic way on a record. This album has my heart, it is fully bad.

Watch

Films:

Train To Busan

Think, the claustrophobia Snowpiercer meeting the horror and hysteria of 24 Days Later served with  a fun side of class conflict.  A South Korean family, a father and his daughter, are caught in the middle of a zombie epidemic which they find out about whilst leaving Seoul on the final train to Busan. The set up is not bloat heavy, so 15 minutes in, the action begins and I respect that. I also liked that unlike Hollywood films, Train To Busan has a moral struggle as well as several mini heros giving the plot some heft, and the action is also oh so sweet. As far as zombie movies go you won’t find anything exceptional in this film but it does everything exceptionally well and while watching it I kinda saw why Train to Busan became the highest-grossing South-Korean film in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore last year alone. It doesn’t miss a beat.

Captain Fantastic

This is an indie film detailing the lives of a family who chooses to abandon society for an eco-friendly lifestyle. The drama comes when the wife leaves and the father and his six kids have to reenter society, providing for some very humorous circumstances.  Can I tell you how inspired I was by this movie? Like, I want to raise my children like this. Swear. But what I really liked was that Captain Fantastic not only served to highlight how inadequate society is in terms social issues like, health care (“Why ar they all so… fat?”) and how it fails to help our children to think critically but it also shows us the disasters, albeit funny, that can happen when any lifestyle is taken to the extreme. Yo, parenting has never looked as interesting to me.

Television:

Fleabag

This is a six-part BBC Amazon sponsored series that is similar to Lena Dunham Girls, in that it is provocative and observant comedy about a sexually active woman whose personal life is in a tailspin, but Fleabag is more crude and more unorthodoxed than Girls. The star of, Fleabag is completely loveable; she breaks the fourth wall often to reassure us– her friends– of what will happen after she messes up but it is her step-mother who takes the series for me. She gives the word bitch new meaning by being sweet and demeaning while still managing to appear completely innocent and charming. You feel sorry for the title character until you understand how terrible of a person she is, but somehow you understand. She is self-destructive and selfish and full of self-hate because she is in pain and because she is lonely {sigh}. Fleabag is brilliant black comedy.

bbc-fleabag-season-1-Phoebe-Waller-Bridge

Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and her sister, Claire (Sian Clifford) in a scene from the comedy series, Fleabag, 2016 (photo credit: BBCThree)

The Bullsh!t Award

So, the Cosby case in a sentence: more than 60+ women came forward to say that they were drugged and raped by Cosby; the defense in court said that never happened, if any sexual relations happened it was consensual and then the jury pretty much set him free.

Whether you want to attack the Bill Cosby case from the point of view of, what is consensual sex, or from the view of the power of celebrity, is your issue I am not here to take sides but The Bullsh!t Award for this quarter goes to the jury in the Bill Cosby trial who deliberated for over 52-hours and because they couldn’t make a decision, allowed Cosby to walk. Where is the justice in that? Feel like this is an O.J. Simpson situation enuh… Cosby will go free for this but they will catch him for something else hella petty in the long run.  I can feel it in my bones.


Honourable Mentions

The song, “Biggest Fan” by Lila Iké for being a budding female Chronixx in the making. Go read my interview with her, here.

The song, “Body” by Syd for being the finest single on her debut LP, Fin. It is a simple, sultry, smooth sex jam that incorporates lyrics about sensual predation typically used by male artists like R. Kelly only this time it is seen from the female perspective and that is something that I can really appreciate.

The French film, Elle for taking a complete opposite route on how it handles the subject of rape. Elle, a wealthy woman with an infamous past, in trying to learn the identity of her rapist, engages them both in a cat and mouse game that has a marvelous end. The film is deliberate and quiet in how it explores relationships like most foreign films I have watched and there are some grimy scenes that aren’t for everybody but if you can get through that you will see the amazing way in which a taboo subject finds precise and icy revenge that is just fresh and fearless to me.

[cover art by: Dan Bunea]


 

Standard
Creative Media

LIFE SHORTS DESIGNS

Life Shorts Designs 
By Lenaugne
Based on true events

BLACK
FRAME OPENS

“The First Time You Meet, People Tell You Who They Are”

EXT – SCHOOL CAR PARKING LOT – DAY

Set The Scene: This is sixth form. My first day in a new school. I am going back and forth from the classroom to the main office because I don’t know what else to do. I have used up small talk on everybody I’ve met and I want to wait until tomorrow for them to pry me open some more.

Action: I am coming back from the office and a guy my height stops me to ask if I am new. The tight shirt, the bow legs, the asshole smile. Jesus. So it begins. I am honest and crass, let me see if  that loosens things up. It does. He starts to open up to me: he has daddy issues, is not sure about his future. I am touched, but not really.

WE ARE TALKING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WALKWAY. THE BELL RINGS, SCHOOL IS DISMISSED. PEOPLE PASS US, EYEING ME

I know this looks really bad. The gyallis and the new girl. He seems more comfortable with me when he offers to walk me to my stand. I realize that this is the time to listen. Yes. Just shut up and listen. He starts to babble, trying to impress, to get me to laugh, matching my tone.

RAIN STARTS TO DRIZZLE

I pull out my umbrella, the ni**a doesn’t even offer to hold it for me… kool.

SILENCE FOR A WHILE. WE JUST HEAR FOOTSTEPS IN THE RAIN

Then he tells me, I tell you no lies, in the exact words: “I am not a good person,” (I think, that is a really nice line. Very Mr. Rochester/Mr. Grey) five minutes before asking me for my digits.

Plot Twist: I come the school the next day only to find out dude is a model student. Loved by all. Teachers adore him. His best friend is a tomboy. I kinda feel like a bad person. Yet, something tells me that people in that school see what they want to see. And that brings me to my next lesson…

CONTINUE:

“Respect/Like”

EXT – UWI –  AFTERNOON

Act 2, Set The Scene: I am a strange character my first year in university. I end up with most of my friends being males, they are similar to me, our personalities match, they make me laugh and I feel like I have brothers. In March comes this guy who is everything that I despise: loud, rude, arrogant and snobbish but he is honest about all of it. We never became friends but he taught me the best lesson of the three.

Action: My friend and the asshole sit down beside each other. I am to the left, on the end. After a while I become aware of the polar opposite personalities. I observe and remain quiet:

Friend (to the asshole):

So, what do you plan to do with your leadership position next year?

Asshole:

Whole heap a tings

Me:

What leadership position?

FREEZE FRAME
IMAGE: THE VOTING PROCESS. THE TICKS IN THE BOX BESIDE HIS NAME, PEOPLE CHOOSING THE ASSHOLE KNOW-IT-ALL. OUTSIDE THE VOTING BOOTHS PEOPLE SAYING, “Y’MAN, IS A GOOD YUTE.”
CUT TO:
INT – BEDROOM – YEAR’S END – MIDNIGHT

Act 2, Scene 2: I am packing up suitcases contemplating the friendships that I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned in a year.  Suddenly, I realize  that the asshole has to be on the list because he taught me that honesty is the greatest form of self empowerment. People end up having nothing to use against you, they can’t hate you with reason, they can’t manipulate your faults, because you have no secrets, and you become untouchable in that way. Thus: #RespectOverLike.

BLACK OUT
TITLE RISES

“Use Love and Kindness to cut through Fear (and Anger). They are also the only things that can maintain true Beauty”

INT – FLASHBACK – FIRST DAY OF LABS – ESTABLISHING – DAY
STUDENTS SHUFFLE IN. THE PLACE IS STERILE, QUIET. PEOPLE HALF LISTEN TO THE FIRST LESSON. MOST ARE LOOKING AROUND, REGISTERING FACES. THE WHITE LAB COATS ARE CELESTIAL

Set The Scene. Voice Over: This one is dedicated to one of the the most amazing persons– outside of my family– that I have ever met in my lifetime. I do not say this lightly. The first time I saw her, the thing that got me was that she was so still and self-possessed. There was this quiet confidence that I have come to admire in the few people I see it in. She solidified this, as well as the first two lessons.

INT – LABORATORY – DAY

Action:  My first day of labs is intimidating. I feel as if I don’t know anything. I fumble, drop sh!t; I nearly break a lightbulb with a moving stool that I hoist above my head. The professor looks annoyed. I want to sink into the floor and die. A few days later, we do something new and I ace it, everyone watches me, nobody says sh!t. She is the only one to hail me up. Respect…

Voice Over: A lot of times people are full of it. Flattery and smiles are a part of a long con, but this girl was consistent.  That is what got me. She treated everybody the same, same indifference, same personality, same attitude, same love, same kindness. And, because of that she shone. Like a diamond. 

SNAP TO BLACK
END

Footnotes: a young woman gets a business degree from UTech in 2010 and after graduating she immediately gets a job in a bank. She knows that she is lucky. She is there for four years. She complains that living in Kingston is expensive and the company it seems, is not keen on giving promotions; she is living from hand to mouth. Luckily, she does not have student loans so she manages to save for a plane ticket to the US to stay with family. In a little over a year, after she gets a small job, she sends down papers for her father to sign. She is getting married to ‘keep her stay.’ So, the other day I was reading a WordPress post from, ShaffieCTV about Millenial struggles and on the same day the documents come, and everything just hit me hard: weh degree a goh in deez times? The filter getting narrower and it is just adapt or die. And I think it hit me especially hard because she is my blood, my sister… Jah know. It real, man. It real.

[cover art by: Francoise Nielly]

Standard
Creative Media

1/4 | April

Today I want to share with you some of my favourites from the first quarter of the year.
Listen

Songs:

Impatient” by Jeremih is the better of Late Nights’ two best singles. The album was quietly released in 2015 without much fanfare but this song is a gem. “Impatient” makes me see Jeremih in a new light, he is a true Rn’B artiste not just a pop hybrid. The song is a slow jam: Jeremih’s voice is smooth– he oftentimes drops into deep sensual whispers making you float– his voice brings back a R. Kelly’s “Your Body’s Calling” vibe from the 90’s. Ty Dolla $ign is here too with a line about lotion that is the funniest thing to me. THIS is my 2AM song.

Without You” by Lana del Rey is the song said to have inspired Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.” Taken from her best album in my opinion, Born to Die, the song has a grand operatic, orchestral feel that swallows you and abandons you at the same time making you understand the pitfalls of love. It is synth heavy but it’s also a dreamy 1950’s love song only with lyrics like, “Though you’re so dope/ Your love is deadly.” This a fusion that Del Rey is well known for. I am not a fan of her music, all her songs sound the same to me, but sometimes, once in a while, I get caught in the hippie web and go searching for new music and it so happens that I ended up finding something worthwhile this time. Unlike some people though I don’t copy what I find (ahem, ahem).

Album

Intro by Dexta Daps. Can I tell you how happy I am to see that Jamaican artistes are taking album releases seriously? 12 free songs, 12 hits, 2 features: 1 with Alaine and the other with Daps’ protege Blakkman. ⅓ of the album is for baby making (parental advisory, strong language), but the rest go from songs about innocent and tortured romance like in, “Love Again” and “Be Good”; to a Lovers Rock Reggae song so clean the Jamaica Tourist Board should use it for ad coverage (“Love Vacation”); to a celebration of life and blessings in,“I’m Blessed,” “Superhero” and “Toast,” and finally to a brutal dissection of ghetto life in, “Coke” and “Grow Rough.” Few talking points: “Owner” is Rn’B fire. The Gospel used in “I’m Blessed” is mad overlooked, it is straight out of Chance the Rapper’s hand manual. “Coke” with the “Stranger in Moscow” guitar notes told me that this album was going to go places. “Only U” holds me down for reasons that I can’t explain. “Toast” is now my anthem and lastly, the video graphics for the album makes the collection even more beautiful. One word for Intro: versatile. A great start for the young don.

Watch
The Night Of.

John Turturro and Riz Ahmed in a scene from season 1 of The Night Of, 2016 (photo credit: HBO).

The Night Of

An 8-part HBO miniseries that came out last year detailing the worst night of a young Pakistani’s life and the trial that followed. A college student, Naz has a hazy night with a mysterious girl, wakes up to find her dead, and is then arrested for her murder. The Night Of is as much a coming of age story as it is a mystery; in prison Naz meets Freddy (Omar from The Wire) who breaks and molds him into a man. (BTW, I just finished watching season 4 of The Wire and I tell no lies when I say that the show has my heart entirely. My soul kryptonite. Swear.) At home, the series shows the realistic and unglamorous struggles of a family of colour with a son in prison, how important money is but also how invaluable integrity can be. His lawyer, John steals the show though. He manages to be funny and pity worthy in a single shift and his season finale speech… the man needs an Emmy nod.  

Youtube

The Nerdwriter and kaptainkristian

Two channels that round up interesting media in a visually appealing way. Whether it be music, artistes, comic origins, politics or culture, each channel produces content with precise details that comes from keen observations. You are educated and entertained at the same time like with Nerdwriter’s analysis of Michael Mann’s style and story execution in my favourite movie of all time, Heat as well as his explanation of how to examine art (mad helpful). There is also stuff like kaptainkristains praise of Childish Gambino’s confluence of talents and how necessary this is for his type of art while he also informs his subscribers about the comic origins of Bugs Bunny. Enlightening and fascinating. I wished I learned this much in school.

Bring the Pain and Killin’ Them Softly

So I decide to watch a stand up comedy show once per week because I think comedians are the smartest people on the planet. I go back and skim through specials I watched when I was younger until I find Dave Chappelle. He’s signed that $60mil deal with Netflix and is in the news a lot so I say let’s go back to the year 2000. Let’s go back to back to Killin’ Them Softly… then to Bring the Pain. If you watch/rewatch Killin’ you will see Chappelle’s undoubted influence by Chris Rock’s 1996 Bring the Pain which changed the game, Rock turned black anger into entertainment gold. It is probably the best comedy show I’ve seen to date; Rock is  jumpy and well-rehearsed but also observant and timeless for this (I haven’t seen Pryor yet so this may change). Both shows are poignant and sadly still accurate today. Rock’s Back People vs Niggas, “Who’s more racist: black people or white people? Black people. You know why? Because black people hate black people, too.” is something which everybody still uses today. Chappelle’s delivery is more relaxed and you are fooled into thinking he’s telling you an off hand story but his analysis of what white vs. black people can get away with, male and female relationships and America’s deep seeded racism are deeply thought out and blurs the line between fact and fiction. And, if nothing else, you will love his, “white people voice,” there is nothing else like it. Watching a special a week is the best thing I ever did for myself in recent memory.

Read
Lily's letter.

Lily’s Letter to President Obama which The President answered (image credit: The White House).

The New York Times article, “To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation.”

The article details a journalist’s interaction with The White House team which dealt with the letters that President Obama received daily. “President Obama was the first to come up with a deliberate and explicit practice of 10 letters every day.” 10. No less, no more. But more important than the number was the order, the journalist noted of the lady who did this job, ”She could set the president up with a letter from someone gushing about the Affordable Care Act and then another from someone on the margin whose life was made worse because of it [and]… “Sometimes on Friday, particularly on Friday, we’ll end with one that’s like, ‘Hey, I like the way you tie your tie.’ ” She called that a chaser.” There is also a small interview with the man himself in which you learn the process by which some of the letters are answered. The article is fascinating, you get to see a select few yourself, and you get to understand the love and the hate that the American population has for The Obamas vs. other administrations. It’s a lengthy read (took me 3 days to finish while I read it on and off) but well worth it.


The Bullsh!t Award (inspired by A Girl With Something To Say )

Bruh, I ain’t heard “shETHER” or “Another One” since “No Frauds” was released in March. YYYYYY? Couple of facts first: “shETHER” is on the top 10 diss tracks of all time list but Remy killed herself with “Another One.” Nicki disrespected the Rap culture by 1. not responding until she felt like it and then 2. by responding with sh!t. All 3 songs she released, 3 of them don’t add up to 1 when compared to “shETHER” but Hollywood just proves without fail, that fame trumps talent mo’ time. #ImAFanOfTheArtNotTheArtiste and so Nicki Minaj and her fans get The Bullsh!t Award for the quarter.


Honourable Mentions

The movie Hush. It’s the new thing in seems: creating home invasion movies with a disabled victim. A deaf woman is tormented in her home by a sadistic killer. Hush is the yin to Don’t Breathe’s yang. If this film does nothing for you, it should at least teach you the power of your own weaknesses #walkingparadox and that is a good thing.

Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” by Wet and “Focus” by H.E.R. “Focus” speaks for itself, it is a dreamy, soft Rn’B track that merges the presence and voice of Bryson Teller and Kehlani to help create the mysterious artiste’s sound. Beautiful and sultry but not new. “Don’t Wanna…” is the best single from Wet’s 2015 EP Don’t You. The song is just under 3 minutes but it feels like you move in slow motion, like this is what forever feels like. With both songs, you listen and feel textures, moods and everything else that Indie and Rn’B music ought to give you. Listen to both with headphones for the full ‘pressed effect.

Etel Williams and Hanna vs. GrangePolitics is a messy business. In the recent UWI Mona Student Guild elections one of the candidates was disqualified from the race and the dark underbelly of The Guild’s role at the university reared its head. The Guild has a responsibility to protect, inform and represent the student polution yet the response to the disqualification was lacklustre and pitiful. The Guild pretty much threw Etel under the bus as if he was the first to breach the very vague rule in the  constitution; offered a poor explanation to the students as to why he was disqualified– they instead chose to cast full blame somewhere else– and then moved on with business as usual. Once more it is proved to me that The UWI Guild is more ornamental than functional.

And then this month Lisa Hanna aired The Culture Minister, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Granges’ dirty laundry without hard, concrete evidence (rookie move) in parliament showing that even in one of the highest offices in the country women just can’t keep petty cat-fighting alone. Well done to both student and government representatives, Jamaica’s moving along nicely as a political force thanks to the both of you.

[cover art by: Thomas C. Fedro]


 

Standard
Creative Media

Blogger Recognition Award

This is my final article for the month of February. Thank you for reading and I will see you in April!

Rules for Blogger Recognition Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you for this award and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers to give this award.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

Much love and respect to Lexie Jungling for nominating me for this award. You’re amazing for including me in your list, thank you.

| LENAUGNE | started off as | shadysardonix | at the end of summer ’16 when I felt an itch to create something that was authentically mine; something that was expressive and pure and honest. I feel as if every young person goes through this. Some people find music, dance, sports, fashion… I found blogging.

I would advise new bloggers to:

  • Write honestly. Make sure your work is yours. I’ve seen bloggers write about their day or a normal conversation that they had with someone and the nuances of their space, their personal perspective, their sense of humour make regular subjects great to read about. I like when writers make the ordinary extraordinary.
  •  Read widely. Support your fellow  bloggers. Support does not necessarily mean follows. Taking the time to read and comment on someone else’s work means that you and the writer are partners in their ideas, in their thoughts, in their world, even if only for a minute but that means everything. Personally, that means more to me than follows or as Chronixx would say, “We dweet fe the love, we nuh dweet fe the likes…”

My 15 nominees are:

ChitterChatter: she writes poetry that is very atmospheric to me. Think an empty beach at dawn with Coldplay in the background.

Shannydelioness: I am new to her work but her post on celibacy and singledom just caught me off guard. The post was so open and strong, it struck something in me.

The Mumbler: a lifestyle blog that features a lot of reminiscing about Jamaican life as well as the present day-to-day. The Mumbler is your everyday young woman.

jamaicachange: a politically aware and very witty blog that dissects local and international politrix.

Two or More: a blog that focuses a lot on knowing one’s self through the connections between family and childhood.

A Girl With Something To Say: I just found this blog and I love how blunt and unapologetic the writer is. This young woman has sass and it’s evident in her work espcially her Billshit Awards series.

The UnSchool: this guy has found the perfect formula: he writes about common things from a Jamaican perspective.

Razor’s Edge: written by the legal manager for Jamaicans For Justice, an advocacy group. I have much respect for this young man and his opinions on Jamaican society.

PartyHeart: a blog that gives a straightforward review of some of Jamaica’s well known parties and stage shows.

Speaking From An Open View: a conscious blog about life, struggle and growth.

Petchary’s Blog: this lady sees all and knows all, she is the mother of Jamaican blogging to me. She was the first person to follow both my blogs and she is on the constant look out for more young’uns. Greatest of respect to Petchary.

And my 4 favourites:

seen by LYNCH: Young. Creative. Bold. #BadOne. Follow him.

Gerby: says everything most Jamaicans think about our society in a succinct and realistic voice. Follow him.

Sagba Chronicles: is the funniest blog on this list. The definition of a storyteller. Follow him.

Jamaica Woman Tongue: Provocative. Outspoken. Unapologetically Jamaican. Follow her.

— Bless

Standard
Creative Media

2016 Year in Review | My Favourites: People

This is my final article for the month of December. I will return in February. Thank you for reading and I wish you a Happy New Year!

Today I want to share with you some of my favourite personalities from this year:

Chimamanda Ngozi ADICHIE

There was a girl in my class who was really obsessed with this one professor. She would call her by her first name (“I’m going to Kerry’s class right now”), celebrate for days if she acknowledged her in tutorials and praise her beauty and intelligence (“I love that she is a great bullshit spotter.” She told me once after Madam Kerry shut down a boy who asked an excessive amount of questions in one lecture). Her admiration got so annoying that one day I asked, “do you like her or do you want to be her?” She took offense and I forced an apology for by bluntness to save face. But now I get it. CNA (I even gave her a nickname) is everything I want to be. She is beautiful and poised in a way that makes me think that this is what African princesses looked like in the past; she speaks like an author which is something I love and her education is never flaunted but is apart of her– that last one is what makes her most amazing to me honestly. There is this self awareness in her interviews and in her speeches where you see her check herself before she answers a question or says something humorous to make sure that whatever she is says is hers. Like here where she shuts down a Donald Trump supporter in a way that even the interviewer overlooked. CNA reminded me and still reminds me to think for myself, redefine what ever the world has already defined (that TED Talk, anyone?) and to be open to changing the conversation. Krystal Tomlinson reminds me a lot of CNA actually: she is truly rooted in her culture and she makes sure it’s something she endorses and promotes in all things. For example, in everything she wears and everything she says. The bottomline is CNA is my Kerry. 

chimamanda-ngozi-adichieNigerian author Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie (image source).


Damion CRAWFORD

Damion Crawford represents the, ‘be the change you want to see’ quote to me like nobody else in media/politics. He is the symbol of every Jamaican who works  hard and has bright ideas. His radio talk show program, Straight Forward With Crawford perfectly represents who he is in the topics he chooses to discuss and how people respond to him when they call in. I tell my mother all the time that I want to marry somebody exactly like him when I grow up (she says he smiles too much so he can’t be trusted). I listen to him talk and he inspires me because he gets it. He is aware of the opportunities it takes to make it and the pitfalls that will most likely cause you to fail; he is street smart and ‘book educated’ in that 50/50 way that is rare with the males I talk to nowadays; he talks about his father a lot; talks about entrepreneurship a lot; is loyal but not a blind follower to the PNP; has some of the best ideas I’m surprised people have not come up with yet (on one program he mentions advertising speed to overseas players in their off season to build Jamaica’s sport industry. Genius!) and he never forgets where he came from. Mr C. forever advocates for the poor and that last one is something I love whole heartedly.


Dionne JACKSON-MILLER

 It was never just one instance that made me like her it’s an overtime kinda thing. This  year though her interview with the Prime Minister and her interview with DPP Paula Llewellyn and Deborah Martin after the X6 Murder Trial sealed the deal. I really love her program All Angles which is strange because when I was younger I hated it, the intro alone was like fingernails on blackboard to me, but maturity is a beautiful thing. I especially like when she interviews youth (I found out that UTech had a Student’s Union because of the All Angles program that aired on AIDS Day 2016. I mean, you never hear about them. #toopetty) she really listens and probes and connects with us. Her facial expressions while she listens too are amazing, I’m surprised she isn’t a target for memes. Overall she just seems really cool and down to earth.


Mutabaruka and Dr. K’adamawe K’NIFE

Every generation we needs a Muta and a docta K’nIfe. We need people who will analyze, break down and rationalize politics, culture and history as well as predict the future (based on our current  paths) in a way that everybody will understand. My dad was a fiend for former radio personality Mutty Perkins when he was alive. He respected his reasoning and his intelligence (Mr. Perkins was his CNA) but I never really could connect with him in the way that my father did. He was very bright yes, he was the ‘poor people’s professor’ yes, but he was never really one of whom he defended, do you understand what I mean? Notwithstanding this, nothing should ever take away from his work and his character but he was never really for me. The teachings of Rastafari as well as the humour Muta and Dr. Kn’ife inject into dissecting certain issues are soo raw and authentically Jamaican… these are things I needed that Mr. Perkins never had. These two men are Jamaica’s conscience, they help to keep us relatively sane.

mutabaruka-shady-sardonixPoet and radio personality Mutabaruka (image source).


Issa RAE

So I watched Insecure and I was really impressed by the creativity in the storytelling so I decided to do some minor research. Eventually I stumbled upon Rae’s radio interview with The Breakfast Club and fell in love with her personality. Who wouldn’t love somebody who claims to be the awkward black girl? I AM an awkward black girl, I mean, I have that same silent throw your head back laugh she has. But what I love most is how she used that feeling of being an outsider to create the Awkward Black Girl web series back in 2011 and certain things she’s done are things that I’ve done too like how she said she dumbed herself down in certain subjects in school to fit in, how she says she doesn’t take compliments well and how this new found fame with Insecure makes her uncomfortable  because she is still introverted… like guuurrl, I think I found a new soulmate. I mean, you see that discomfort in this interview with Jimmy Fallon but she makes it look cool. She’s helping to pave the way for creative silent types to have a voice, to be openly vulnerable, while still being uncomfortable with attention #walkingparadox. There was this TED Talk by Susan Cain that highlighted the power of introverts (that talk helped to change my life) and Issa Rae perfectly represents that movement for me right now.


Dame Maggie SMITH

People either know her for Harry Potter or Downton Abbey but forget about those things. Watch her interviews. Even though she doesn’t do much talk shows (I think her last one was with Graham Norton?), she is charming and hilarious and brilliant… she has the most deadpan, wittiest personality I’ve ever seen. She is 100 percent British in the most AMAZING way. A fantastic woman. A legend. I love her.


Honourable Mentions

Nadiya Hussain for being one of those people who as you see her you like her. She seems unintentionally funny (the best type of funny) and honest. I don’t bake and my personality is nothing like hers but I love how naturally friendly she seems.

The Scottish actor James McAvoy for being the mischievous, cheeky brother that I always wanted but never had. EVERY single Graham Norton episode he is on is a blessing for me.

Charlamagne Tha God for being America’s conscience. Not only does he often try to analyze present day USA for my generation but he also says the things that no one will say about people who are famous and in doing that CTG makes them human.

[cover art by: Eric Zener]

Standard
Creative Media

2016 Year in Review | My Favourites: Films

Today I want to share with you some favourite films from this year:

Animations

Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings

Animation has always been that genre that never fails to deliver the perfect story: rollercoaster plots, deceptively simple morals and those tear jerker scenes. Zootopia was a film about humans, for adults, without humans, right? An idealist country girl comes to town where they say everybody lives together in harmony — even predators and prey– but just like in the real world that is BS, there is always prejudice. This film was perfect, seriously. I have nothing bad to say: the writing is funny and charming, Jason Bateman’s Nick Wilde was my everything with his on spot wit and that Godfather scene was priceless — I still laugh everytime I watch it.

But this year it wasn’t just a great story that got me interested. A story about a boy and his two friends who go on a journey to find his father’s missing shield to unlock his legacy was really good too. Kubo and the Two Strings — the name isn’t the coolest but you soon get over it — was a masterpiece. Magic is woven into the story like I’ve never seen before (it’s not a side piece), there is an intricate beauty in each frame especially in the scenes where paper is manipulated into moving origami but beneath the adventure there is Kubo, who you sometimes forget is holding this loss and sadness while trying to connect with his dead parents. This makes the story darker to me, more mature. Unfortunately, like all animations there is the happy ending and it’s not that Kubo’s finale was predictable it was just a bar below what the entire film was. The ending seemed like something that was slapped on to me, but that’s just me. The beauty of the world created, the delicate storytelling and the transcendent power of the soundtrack  makes this teeny, tiny  flaw worth it though.

Films

Green Room and Don’t Breathe | I have not seen a good mid-budget thriller trapped-I-need-to-get-out-now-or-else film in a while and this year I saw two pretty good ones. Green Room and Don’t Breathe have this great method of building tension and suspense that is amazing. Green Room is a little bit more cut throat, a little grittier, less refined than Don’t Breathe  but I think that’s intentional. A group of hard rockers who no one knows about go to this neo-nazi club for a performance (in the first act they do this interview with the weirdest guy and he asks them, “why no social media presence?” and they say something along the lines of: we want to create a moment, be fully invested in the performance in that moment and leave it there until you see us again. I really liked that explanation) and they stumble upon a crime scene afterwhich they decide to lock themselves in a room. Later they are told by Patrick Stewart’s modern, ice-cold ‘Hitler’, I guess, “You’re trapped – that’s not a threat, just a fact… this won’t end well.” And it didn’t.

Don’t Breathe is more of a well rehearsed film to me though: our characters make more sensible choices than stupid ones, the tension is more controlled and actually builds towards the end instead of recoiling, but characterisation does not appeal to me as much as it did in Green Room. But, things that thrillers need like resourcefulness, pieces of horror and character vulnerability, it had those 10-fold. Three young thieves decide to rob a blind man who appears so noble at first but by the end of the film you are not sure who you are rooting for — it’s like a reverse Panic Room. Honestly the first 30 minutes are crap, (I wanted to skip it but was afraid I’d miss something. I didn’t) but once they get in the house every scene is better that the last, you gasp louder each minute, you want to turn away but you can’t… I literally caught myself holding my breathe a couple of times… I’m laughing now only in hindsight. I was so nervous while watching this.

the-lobster-collin-ferrell-shady-sardonixColin Farrell in a scene from The Lobster, 2016 (image source).

The Lobster This is the funniest movie of 2016 to me but it’s not the warm, cozy humour that I’m used to, it’s more eccentric, colder and stranger in that British way. Recent divorcee David is in a world where being single is not tolerated so he moves into a hotel where he must find another partner and if he’s unsuccessful after 45 days he’ll be transformed into an animal of his choosing (he chooses a lobster) and thrown into the woods to fend for himself. Explaining it sounds absurd but it’s a film that has made it’s home in absurdity so anything normal is strange, am I making sense? For example, the hotel manager tells David in the most normal almost automated/bored voices to choose compatible mates because, “a wolf and a penguin could never live together, nor could a camel and a hippopotamus… That would be absurd.” The film is like a bad (but good) fairy tail. People end up doing the most juvenile things to find a partner in this world and in this way The Lobster is an allegory and a satire mocking our own crazy world that we bend and mold ourselves to fit in. Without a doubt The Lobster is the best film I’ve seen all  year.

The Invitation | I was going to group this with Green Room and Don’t Breathe because it is another thriller and it is also a cult movie but The Invitation is so much more elegant and slower to build (in the best ways). A man, Will, is invited out of the blue to his ex-wife’s and her husband’s dinner party. Needless to say it is awkward and weird but the ex-wife’s handling of the couple’s previous loss makes it even more strange. What truly makes The Invitation scarier than the sporadic violence of Green Room and Don’t Breathe is how adult and civil the dinner party is presented to the audience: grown people going with the flow, drinking wine, fake laughing, holding their discomfort until something breaks and we all relax. But then there is always Will, the ex-husband, who is full of distrust and who keeps us in check until we soon realize that Will’s an unreliable narrator. The best part of The Invitation is the last 15 minutes when everything is revealed and you also realize that because of how good the build up was and how normal everything was seen, that this tragedy could. Happen. To. Anyone.

Television

O.J.: Made in America

The best documentary I’ve seen since Blackfish. It has everything that a great docu should have: massive amounts of research that is presented in an entertaining light that is not bogged down but instead sustained by great interviews and flawless editing. I wasn’t even walking when the real trial ended but I do remember very dull, hazy memories of people talking about it or referring to it in conversations — it’s like F.R.I.E.N.D.S or Rodney King: the trial is a staple reference that will always be apart of pop culture. From those snippets of conversation I only understood that some black guy was put on trial for killing his white wife (yes, that crass). I never understood if he was guilty or framed but what I loved is that this documentary not only answered that question but also dissected the case through the context of America’s obsession with celebrity, the history of Racism in Los Angeles and who O.J. was before fame (how he united America with his talent) and after fame (how he allowed America to ruin him). It wasn’t just a synopsis about ‘The Longest Trial in American History’ but it saw the audience as smart enough to make sense of the half truths told over the years. I tried watching the FOX miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story but I couldn’t get past acting in the first episode, everything felt too staged for me, I like reality more than re-enactment I guess.

hbo-insecure-molly-issa-shady-sardonixYvonne Orji (left) and Isssa Rae (right) in season 1 of Insecure, 2016 (image source).

HBO’s Insecure and FOX’s Atlanta

Donald Glover and Issa Rae like Frank Ocean and Roy Woods I’ve realized, create experimental genres that are different from anything else we’ve seen before and are a little weird but they keep us glued because they never fail to reflect the truth — black truth. Atlanta walks us through 10 episodes of Donald Glover’s Earn, a college dropout who tries to manage his rapper/weed seller cousin, Alfred who raps about songs along the lines of CoCo (baking soda, I got baking soda!).

But (both) the series is not about the story but more about the exploration/deconstruction of human  nature. Racism is strung throughout both but in Atlanta it’s more about how low-key, weird, specific things like being obsessed with Instagram fame and self promotion at the risk of losing yourself and walking that fine line between understanding that you’re a poor, unemployed male with a family to feed without being too serious about it. And this is where the surreal off-beat comedy drops in like, there are always two lines of dialogue but you only choose one (for example, the weirdest [and coolest] character, Darius, abruptly says about a dead friend in one scene, “ain’t nobody seen the body since the funeral.” while business is being discussed) and the show is so nonlinear that there are plot lines that just start and end (like the second episode about jail. We still don’t know what Earn was charged with) but those are fine because the show is more about the day in the life than an evolution of the characters, the opposite of Issa Rae’s Insecure.

If Glover tells us that the life of a black man is about going with the flow then Rae tells us that the life of an intelligent, late 20’s black woman navigating urban life in 2016 is something you have to take by the horns. Every episode flowed into the other and the writing is soo funny and soo blunt in our vulgar Millennial way. For example, in an early episode Issa Rae’s Issa (yes, that’s right) tells her best friend that she cannot sleep with an old flame and her best friend says, “All that drama for zero d*ck? B*tch, you buggin…” I felt giddy because this series is so perfect! I feel grateful for how observant and insightful both shows are. I feel ready for the next 10 years of my life (not really) because of Insecure and Atlanta.

Films I want to watch: The Edge of Seventeen, Split, Moonlight and Silence.

Honourable Mentions 

The Asian film The Handmaiden for giving me a Great Gatsby feel (opulence, manipulation and deception) in 1930’s Japan. A handmaiden is part of an elaborate plot to con a spoilt, confined upper class woman but there are twists in turns, games played with points of view, and soon we find out that the lady and the slave are not that different after all.

The film Captain America: Civil War for being the only watchable superhero movie this year. (I still cry tears over what Suicide Squad could have been.) The plot was not just about disabling some bad guy it was more about answering the question of: should superheroes be given a leash since to save the world civilians almost always die? The question gave the movie consequence, it made it grown-up and the acts to set up the new Spider Man were really good too, those were the funniest scenes to me.

The character Robert Andes played by Michael Shannon in Nocturnal Animals for making me forget that I was watching an actor but a real human being. My favorite movie moment is a scene in East of Eden where James Dean’s Cal screams at his mother not to kick him out of her office. I forgot I was watching an actor, Dean floored me and he is my favourite actor just because of that one scene. Bobby Andes is a hard to understand Texas lieutenant who’s navigating life with nothing to lose, in that way he’s a bit like Cal. They say it’s not what you say, it’s how you make me feel and I felt. This was the best performance of the year for me.

[cover art by: Eric Zener]

Standard
Creative Media

2016 Year in Review | My Favourites: Music

Today I want to share with you some favourites from my playlist this year:

New Artistes

Roy WOODS

I accidentally happened upon Woods sometime last year only because I was listening to a Drake playlist. “Drama“. “Drama” was the song changed my life. I found out that there was this whole hazy, moody, harsher Rn’B that his 2015 EP Exis exudes. There are songs like “Jealousy” and “Get You Good” that give a laid-back feeling that is popular now a days but songs like “Gwan Big Up Urself” throw in mellowed Jamaican slangs and pronunciation to give his work some energy. His debut album Waking at Dawn is less special to me though because his sound is less distinctive from the broodiness and sometimes sleepiness of a Tyson Briller, PARTYNEXTDOOR or a Majid Jordan but Woods is still only 20 (the youngest artiste to be signed to OVO BTW), experimentation is a necessary thing. However, I hope that he knows his uniqueness before he loses it in this new Alternative Rn’B crowd.

roy-woods-2016-shady-sardonixCanadian artiste Roy Woods, 2016 (image source).

Olivia O’BRIEN

So I’ve realized that it’s okay if I cannot describe what connects with me so deeply and so easily to someone or in this case to music. Olivia O’brien embodies this current enigma. There is something in her voice that is so vulnerable- even when she sings electro pop- and also closed off in that teenage way that we see but never like this. Say you sing Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” in a down tempo, striped version, how is it possible that you make the song your own? Remember James Arthur and that raw dangerousness that we first heard  in his voice? She has hints of that to me except more contained and angsty. Mainstream music now has a distance, bored style to express the pain of loss and love but O’Brien’s sadness is real, I hear this in her original version of “i hate you, i love you” and “Find What You’re Looking For (my current obsession),” and it is a little scary too, I mean, she only just turned 18.

New Rappers

Young M.A

Her sexuality definitely made her stand out to me but it wasn’t even that really, it wasn’t even “OOOUUU” either, it was her interview on The Breakfast Club that made me stand up, relisten to “OOOUUU” and put her in my subconscious- you know waiting for her to give me something that really made me go crazy-  then “EAT“came out I had to listen to other things she’d done. DJ Envy was right when he sad she has a presence, a realness about her, you hear it in her bars. She is a breath of fresh air to the rap scene, she puts a new flare in the hustle songs- tired of hearing about Nicki’s ‘assets’ and the ménage lines she puts in every song and Future’s side pieces and Rick Ross’ and Khaled’s plane trips and designers. To me M.A brings back the harshneess, the hardness of street rap, that still fits into mainstream but without the excessive candy coloured pop hybrid thing going on these days. It makes me even happier that a female, a gay female too, is doing this for the music.

Desiigner

I believe that “Panda” is one of those rare Hip-Hop songs that will last decades because of the double time flow, the way the song turns, how it feels like a freestyle but especially because of how cryptic the lyrics are. In certain songs Desiigner does sound like Future but I never listened to Future (mainly because I don’t like him as a person and the bragging in his songs never really appealed to me) so it doesn’t really bother me anyway. But generally Desiigner voice seems to have more energy, just like his performances, he is like  a race car rearing to go at the starting blocks. Unfortunately, his mixtape, New English is a copycat of Future’s style but “Tiimmy Turner” and “Panda,” his two biggest songs, are not and they prove that if Desiigner keeps on working on songs like those he will eventually find a formula to create his one lane.

Artistes

Dexta DAPS, Alkaline and Vybz KARTEL         

Dexta Daps did an interview with OnStage last year and Winford Williams basically told him that he already had a catalogue of songs to live on for his entire life as an artiste. Lets recap he’s done: “7/11,””Jealous Ova,” “Chinese Jordan,” “Pretty Nicky,” “Shabba Mada Pot” and this year, “Coolest Summer,” all in the span of two years. While listening to him I realize that Daps is unique because he is both a singer and a deejay and both a gangster and a gyalis. I see I recipe for success. (wo-wo-wo-wooo-wo.) The only person to surpass Daps this year with content, quality and consistency is Vybz Kartel. King of the Dancehall only had three good songs to me, but it was the releases that came after, an ad campaign for versatility, that made me sit up and listen: “Real Youth,”  “Summer ‘16,” “Best Place Pon Earth,” “Miracle” and “Electric” all in different ways confirm the genius that is Vybz Kartel. I remember being in second form in high school when the world saw the meteoric rise of the Gaza Nation in 2009/2010. This year Alkaline brought back that excitement more than 5 years later. The last 9 songs on his Vevo channel have made Dancehall  billboards this year, the cult following, similar to the Gaza/Gully loyalty of the past, says Alkaline has something special. But it was not obvious to me until I heard “Afterall” two months ago then I finally understood that Dancehall really has a new prince and he’s not too far away from the crown either.

Albums

4 Your Eyes Only J. COLE  The dude that went platinum with no features. As Rap activists go I see J. Cole as a softer version of Kendrick Lamar. Self-aware, critical of society, honest and desperate for change. There are so many lines that get you from this album: a line in the titular track teaches, “real ni**as don’t speak when the got beef with you” and I find that the whole album is dedicated to teaching, breaking down what it means to be a man. “Deja Vu,” (“damn intricate soft lips, soft voice… she f**k with small town ni**as, I got bigger dreams”) and “Folding Clothes” hit me to ma soul because Cole raps about the beauty in simpler things. Racism comes up on “Neighbours” in a not so obvious way on the hardest beat of the album (my mums bobs her head while listening to this, I’m not sure she even hears the lyrics) which is a lot different from how Lamar would play it. The core of the album comes from both parts of “She’s Mine” which are soo beautiful to me, “I’ve fallen in love for the first time/ I wanna cry and I ain’t even tryna fight it…” This is my favorite album of the year. 

Life of Pablo Kanye WEST No matter how psychotic Kanye West is, he is still one of the dopest rappers and producers in history to me. I loved the Gospel used to begin the album (“Ultralight Beam” is the best album opening song I’ve ever heard in my life) but the most creative song by far is, “I love Kanye,” “What if Kanye made a song about Kanye/Called ‘I Miss the Old Kanye?’/Man that’d be so Kanye.” Only Kanye could go from reverent to superego in one album and the whole album is like that too. He goes up and down in tempo and tone as well as how much of soul he chooses to express (for example, “Real Friends,” is that about Jay Z tho?– and “Father Stretch My Hands Part 2”). However, the winners of the album go to the guests. All of Kanye’s features are staples to me. I cannot hear “High Life” without Thugga Thugga, I cannot hear “Waves” without BOOM BOOM and I cannot hear “Fade” without Ty Dolla $ign… that’s a big deal.

22, A Million Bon IVER Ain’t gonna lie, I heard my first Bon Iver song from Twilight: New Moon– “Roslyn.” (*hangs head in shame* I was young OK. I wasn’t strong enough back then, I was a sheep.) The special thing about music like this- Indie Folk- is that it’s atmospheric. “10 dEATh bREasT” for example blends so many things together, you hear Jazz and a little Country with electronic sounds that all feed off each other. There is the near yodelling in “29 #Strafford APTS” that made me nearly tear up,  “715 CREEKS”  is barely intelligible but even in an automated voice I still feel a misery that comes with unrequited love, the melancholy Gospel in “00000 Million” is beautiful… all I could think while listening was, The Beatles meets Daft Punk with a softer otherworldly edge. 22, A million is your childhood, your disturbances,  your softest, prettiest, lightest emotions heard on the darkest night. I listened and I didn’t hear songs, I felt emotions. This is a magnificent album.

j-cole-4-your-eyez-only-album-2016-shady-sardonixJ. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only, 2016 (image source).

 You Want It Darker Leonard COHEN Orchestral albums could never hold me steady; I do not listen classical music. And even though this is a classical album, it coaxes me into it. There are African drums, Spanish guitars and Gospel overtones along with the regular violins and pianos. You Want it Darker is a spoken word album. Cohen speaks in rhythm over beautiful instrumentals (almost like Sam Hunt’s, “Break Up In A Small Town” or “Take Your Time” but not really). Plus Cohen’s voice is like Marlon Brando’s: slow, unsettling and grim. Cohen sings about things I cannot relate to like losing love, sobering up to old age, – I mean he is 82- but listening to him is like watching a melodramatic classic Hollywood film, no one can relate to these people but it’s still fascinating to watch anyway, right?

Honourable Mentions 

Views by Drake for infusing African and Caribbean vibes into his moody world of relationships and celebrity paranoia. Unfortunately, the topics he sings about are things I’ve already heard from Drake and the large amount of singing I could do without. 

Lemonade by Beyonce because of how fiercely personal and honest her work is. She is not playing the pop game like everybody else: she drops albums whenever she wants, does no interviews and sings about things nobody has ever sang about. But personally I am not a scorned wife so I couldn’t really relate to Lemonade that much and plus I’m still waiting on the third consecutive album (remember Off The Wall to Thriller to Bad?) to make Queen Bey an undeniable living legend like the late great, right now she is only a three-quarters there. 

The artiste Tory LANEZ because he is an amalgamation of every underground alternative Rn’B artiste in the last five years and that’s great but somehow he still doesn’t have his own sound.

The artistes Jahmiel and Shenseea for showing that there are talented and creative young people- Jahmiel is 24, Shenseea just turned 20- who want to inject new life into Reggae and Dancehall. Every Jahmiel song is an anthem, a song for upliftment that comes from a place of truth without the washed-up lines about badmind that too many of these songs have today. With “Loodie” Shenseea is breaking the glass ceiling that female Dancehall artistes use as an excuse to put out mediocre songs- the one exception is Spice- because Shenseea has great management, branding and substance (I mean, did you hear that freestyle on Nightly Fix last month? Girl’s here to stay).

[cover art by: Eric Zener]

Standard
Creative Media

The Courage of Youth and Power | A Fountain of Youth Series

In the year I began university I became more aware of my age. I was one of the youngest in a place that had been molded by a legacy of success and currently holds and nurtures the ideas of those who created and will create their own success. I realized that true success could have began long before the age of 18, this knowledge gave me a power boost that I regret not achieving earlier.

This series gives an overview of ten generally unknown but brilliant youth who have made their presence known to the world. I created this series in an effort to peak interests and inspire so that anyone could feel as if they could change the world as well.


1. When Necessity became a Businessludwick marishane 2
Ludwick sits in a bathtub on the set of his DryBath™ photo shoot, 2015 (image source).

Ludwick Marishane is a South African businessman and entrepreneur. In 2011, at the age of 21, he was awarded with the Global Student Entrepreneurs Award, an award which recognizes the best student entrepreneur in the world and acknowledges them as Global Champion. He won the award  after producing DryBath, a gel that can be used in substitute for a bath. He speaks about this here: Ludwick Marishane: A Bath without Water (TED Talk).

In that same year Google named him as one of the 12 brightest young minds in the world. DryBath which is housed under Marishane’s company, Headboy Industries, has made him his country’s youngest patent-holder. Currently, the product is being distributed to Europe and America where demand is high among campers. Now a 29-year old, Marishane was handpicked by Rémy Martin to be a representative in their One Life/ Live Them 2015/ 2016 campaign.


2. Elizie vs. White AmericaNETTAJohnetta Elzie, 2016 (image source).

Johnetta “Netta” Elzie is an American civil rights activist who rose to prominence during the August 2014 protests that condemned  the shooting of 18 year old, unarmed Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting fueled the #BlackLivesMatter movement that we see today in the USA. At the time of the shooting Netta was an ordinary 25 year old studying  journalism at Southeast Missouri State, but when she arrived at the scene where Michael Brown lay dead for hours she decided to become a spokeswoman and activist for justice in America.

Her activism applied pressure to the Clinton and Sanders presidential campaigns to develop concrete platforms around racial justice; she is one of the leaders in the activist group We The Protesters and she co-edits and co-created, This Is the Movement protester newsletter in 2014. During the year she attends, protests speaks at US universities even though she has been harassed and arrested by local police but she says, “I have no choice but to live. That’s what they hate, right? The fact that we’re still alive. That we can still smile.” (Information Source).

In 2015 Fortune named her one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders for her work in The Black Lives Matter movement and in the same year she won the Howard Zinn Freedom to Write award from the PEN American Center Literary Society for This Is the Movement. She hails her mother who passed away as her biggest motivation in her Essence Magazine shoot video interview


3. South Africa’s Evolution in Do It Yourself Art 1Tony Gum (image source).

In 2015 a Vogue article christened 20 year old independent self portraitist Tony Gum as  ‘the coolest kid in Cape Town.’

Her  portraits  are characterised by strong, dazzling color and patterns (she sites the Rastas of the 1978 Jamaican movie “Rockers” as on of her inspiration) but they also tackle political themes like race and commercialism which seen in her YouTube video interview for FNB Joburg Art Fair in 2015.

Her most popular work is the reimagined branding of her “(black) Coca Cola” series where she presents a tongue-in-cheek take on our universal preoccupation with identity, branding and  politics. When describing the series she mentioned her country’s history of Apartheid in her LOSTWKND interview, “This is what happened, we were oppressed, okay, great. But we were never taught about being conscious, about being proud of being black…” She advertises mostly on her Instagram and blog pages. 

Another young woman passionate about art is  Zama Phakathi, one of the youngest gallery owners in South Africa. It all started In 2012 after she worked on the Soweto Art Residency project and she started receiving work from artists who needed a platform. After approaching art galleries that turned her down Zama decided to open on her own ‘mobile contemporary creative space’, an art gallery that is hosted inside a shipping container.

Processed with VSCOcam with m6 presetZama Phakathi (image source).

At the age of 23 years old in a 2014  Times article- after her Stop Sign Art Gallery had been operating for one year- Zama said, “The inspiration behind starting the gallery was that I saw a gap in terms of resources for young people; there weren’t enough resources for upcoming young artists.” She also explains this in a YouTube video interview for the #YouthofToday MTV South Africa project.


4. LEADING FearlesslyJerome CowansJerome Cowans, 2016 (image source).

While living in Parade Gardens/ Te La Vive in Jamaica, at 12 years old Jerome Cowans witnessed the murder one of his best friends. After that he founded Leaders Endeavouring for Adolescent Development (LEAD). The program provides skills training, homework assistance, sports matches…  anything aimed at reducing the likelihood of young people getting involved in crime and violence.

Jerome served as President for LEAD for the six years he attended Jamaica College where he attained eight CSEC subjects (4 distinctions, 2 credits and 2 passes) and was awarded 2s and 4s at CAPE.  He went on to the University of the West Indies where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with a minor in Public Sector Management.

He became President of the Kingston Youth Council and later on he received the Governor General’s award for leadership in 2011. In 2013, he received both the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in leadership and the Queen’s Young Leader Award. In November of the same year he represented Jamaica at the Commonwealth Youth Forum and Elections in Sri Lanka where he presented a Youth Declaration. A year later at 25 years old, he became the first Jamaican to receive the CIVICUS Nelson Mandela Graca Machel Innovation Award in the Youth category (he speaks about it in his YouTube interview) and he was also appointed the Head of the Commonwealth Youth Council, Project and Budget Committee.

President Obama said of Jerome at the UWI town hall meeting in 2015, “So at the ripe old age of 13, he founded a youth group to help others like him stay on the right path. And he started small, with only six people, but they had one big thing in common and they believed that change was possible.” And it was.


5. Taking Medicine to the SkiesOla-Orekunrin-and-shady-sardonix                    Ola Orekunrin, 2015 (image source).

Ola Orekunrin is a British-Nigerian medical doctor, helicopter pilot and the founder and CEO of Flying Doctors Nigeria, the first air ambulance service in West Africa which she started in 2013. By aged 21 Ola  had already graduated from the University of York as a qualified doctor, becoming one of the youngest medical doctors in the UK.

When her 12 year-old sister became very ill whilst Ola was staying with relatives in Nigeria Ola she decided to really do something more for her country. Her sister died from sickle-cell anemia complications because there was no available air transportation to take her the a hospital. Ola sights her sister as her main inspiration in her TIME Next Generation Leaders  video interview in 2014. It her was death that prompted Ola to leave behind a high-flying job in the UK to address the vital need for improved health care in Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria, through means of the skies.


6. Save the Land, Protect the Peopledestiny-watford-shadysardonixDestiny Watford, 2016 (image source).

Baltimore has the most deaths caused by air pollution in the USA, and Curtis Bay where Destiny Watford lives, is the dirtiest community.

Since her senior year of high school at 16 years old– in her YouTube interview she describes herself as a shy girl, but in spite of this–  she led a committed group of teenagers-called Free Your Voice, in a movement to stop a company from building what would have been the largest incinerator in Eastern US, in her community’s backyard.

Free Your Voice knocked on doors, pressed elected officials and corporate executives until authorities revoked the project’s permit in 2016. In the same year Destiny was honored with one of the world’s most prestigious environmental award, The Goldman Environmental Prize, for her community leadership. She is the youngest winner to receive the award to date.


7. A Comedian must be True to Lifemichaela-coel-shadysardonixMichaela Coel (image source).

A 29-year-old London-born screenwriter and actress, she rose to prominence in 2015 when the first season of her comedy series, “Chewing Gum” debuted on Netflix. The show follows a young Christian woman who is is on a campaign to lose her virginity.

Michaela Coel created and wrote the 6-part series entirely by herself.

She got a place at university to study English but nothing stuck until she won a scholarship to Guildhall School of Music and Drama in central London where she majored in Drama. She started writing “Chewing Gum,” as she states in her YouTube interview with Forbes, as a part of her final project because she wanted to write about things that mirrored her upbringing, race and class– things that most student plays hardly ever had.

In 2016 the New York Times named “Chewing Gum” among its best TV shows of 2016 and in the same year Micaela won the British Academy Film Award (BAFTA) for Female Performance In A Comedy Programme. Here is her speech.


 8. Pursuing the Business of SportsJehue-Gordon-launches-Ambition-cologneJehue Gordon advertises his Ambition cologne (image source).

Jehue Gordon is Trinidad and Tobago’s only athlete to win a gold medal in the 400m hurdles  on the international scene. He stated that deciding to pursue athletics full time took him a year and a half. He became a fully professional athlete in June 2010, and signed a deal with Adidas in August 2010.

Three years later, at 21 years old,  he was a world champion. In 2012 The BBC video team tracked him down to hear his life story. After the World Championships, in 2013 Jehue was awarded with his country’s Spirit of Sport Award and The Chaconia Medal,  the latter is the second highest state decoration of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2015 Jehue received a first class honours Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management with minors in Marketing and Human Resource Management which he later put to good use when he launched his cologne line, Ambition in the same year.


 

Standard