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Creative Media

LIFE SHORTS DESIGNS

Life Shorts Designs 
By Monique Lennon
Based on true events

Nubian

Watching– air traffic converging like domino pieces on a bar table. Everybody wants to return home.

Seeing– an old woman, alone, knees bent in the middle of the tarmac- the midday summer sun relentless- repainting road lines with bright white strokes.

Remembering– the day your mother gave you the box of light in the midst of our serene green sea. You were nineteen then. Trapped. Angry. Impatient.

The first time you let it out for everyone to see, the light came back to you cloudy and you didn’t understand. When the light died you disappeared too. Daddy said, “Yuh nuh serious.”

Smiling.

You had seen her first moonlighting at mass. Staring, you waded past the jostling bodies and blurted, “You’re amazing!”

Tried to wear her skin, roamed around in it until it fit but it was like wearing a banana yellow bodysuit and it darkened you

Eventually made you feel hollow, like a body cavity; so black you were blue. You tell your mother to call you Nubian.

She leaves you when she sees better.

Four years like this. You struggle with the Swiss visa, bullies, Bodhi.

You learn three things:

–     Don’t walk the line like everybody else. As a reward Babylon will love you like they love hoodies.

–     It is your job to correct the mistakes of your parents

–     A woman is not defined by a man

The Swiss farm work is fur not merinos, skiing not scams, smooth highways not haphazard B-roads.

You think about marrying someone for your stay but your mother is getting older and she will need you to come back to her.

Suddenly, last week, your father texts you: Nubian here, she asking ‘bout you.

Pain.

Nubian thinks she’ll wait for you because she is ready now.

Reflecting– that excessive reflection is pointless. You have nothing to prove now. Your light has returned, created and nurtured by you, not given.

Untouchable.

A young stranger beside you is saying, “Jesus Christ, wah she a do with the paint so long? A bless she a bless it?”

Laughter.

[cover art by: Corey Barksdale, ‘Dance of our Lives’]

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Creative Media

Caribbean Artists on Art: Devon Ramdass | Our YouTube Future

I was so excited to find a Caribbean YouTuber who took his content and video quality seriously that when I contacted Devon Ramdass in December for this interview, I (the dumbass) assumed that he was only influenced by Casey Neistat.

Devon told me, “Casey has definitely stapled the “drone shot followed by handheld” sort of look for vlogs. I look up to him in terms of content quality of course, but I am definitely more influenced by people like Sawyer Hartman and Peter McKinnon.” Huh.

You see, all of Devon’s vlogs open with flawless drone shots overlayed with instrumentals then he cuts to a hand-held. Neistat does a lot of that but I’ve come to realize that intro isn’t special/rare. Devon is less interested in the aesthetics of Neistat’s mini movies and more in the style of Sawyer and McKinnon. “Their style and color grading makes you feel a certain way when watching their videos and that’s what I hope to achieve.” Huh. I need to do more research.

Devon is a Trinidadian tech-entrepreneur and a speed-talker. The two combinations make some words fly over my head when I watch his vlogs, but the organic interactions between he and his friends (#smashlife!) gives me a peek into this whole other culture and that’s worth it.  It’s unfair that his vlog channel does not have more than 1,100+ subs. but he is still appreciative of it all,“Everything I do at the moment is all thanks to YouTube. Before starting my main channel where I do tech reviews, I didn’t have the simplest idea of what shooting editing and producing a video in general entailed.”

His main channel, Devon X Scott, has been up for about three years and the moment he decided to take it seriously and the moment things started to turn around were simultaneous. “If I had to pinpoint one specific moment it would honestly be the day I got my first Adsense cheque (Devon made a video on making money from YouTube, watch it, here). To experience doing something with your computer and a website and then seeing a physical cheque come in your mail is a pretty amazing feeling!”

Devon does technology reviews and content production for local Trinidadian dealerships and gigantic companies like LG and Samsung. “Since starting [YouTube], I now do videography and photography professionally and I own a relatively successful graphic design company. All of which birthed due to having to learn those skills to further my YouTube channel.”

Yea, you read that right. YouTube gave him the opportunity to create the beginnings of an enterprise.

I believe the beauty and ultimate success of of YouTube is it’s intimacy, it’s an intimacy that T.V. and movies can’t give us. It has this great ability to connect the most random group of everyday people with a range of  talents to create a YouTube culture and anybody can add to it.

I told Devon that we have social media stars here in Jamaica who are making a living from using their personality to add to this culture but that I think they don’t have the true professional mindframe that even the youngest of American Youtubers have. The biggest problems we face in Jamaica are that generally: video quality and editing are not taken seriously, vlogs are boringly long and plotless and video releases are inconsistent and uncreative because everybody wants to be a comedian.

Devon agreed that Caribbean YouTubers’ video quality is poor, the same thing happens in Trinidad. He basically told me the same thing that Romario Lynch did: we have very low standards in the Caribbean when it comes to art. Devon said, “If you look at most widely known productions locally especially TV ads and segments, they set the bar pretty low in my opinion.” Romario said, “I notice, across all fields of work [in Jamaica], much attention isn’t paid to detail or quality of work. I see it in ‘fancy restaurants’ where they just use the cheapest ingredients.  I see it in construction and even carpentry where work is decent but not perfect. There are people can cook and there are people who create dishes. There are people who can work a camera and there are people who capture moments… Creativity isn’t as valued out here as it is overseas.”

And this is sad because YouTube not only helps an individual, but a country. “My YouTube work has resulted in monetary gain locally here in Trinidad and Tobago due to companies contacting me for video production purposes,” Devon said. “Being noticed by those large companies really showed me the sheer power that platforms like YouTube and its international reach can offer to creators, even if you’re in the Caribbean.”

However, both Devon and Romario believe that the creative fields are growing so rapidly that in time things will change. “Truly I believe that the next generation will raise the standards in terms of video quality for sure,” Devon said. And I believe him too because the funniest part of all this is that we have everything we need to start a Caribbean YouTube revolution: content and culture… Devon said, “Being a “good YouTuber” isn’t just about the gear you use, but the content you produce. If your content is on point, that’s the most important thing.” …we just need to work on the rest. Especially since it’s so easy to start too, a modern smartphone is all you need. That’s how most Youtubers started out and most importantly, that’s exactly how Devon Ramdass– one of The Caribbean’s rising YouTube stars in my eyes– started out. –Bless.

[cover image by: Devon Ramdass]

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Creative Media

Caribbean Artists on Art: Lila Iké | The Mama Song Formula

Lila Iké’s song, “Biggest Fan” is a rarity for me among female Reggae artistes. In my experience “mama songs” are usually reserved for males– Gyptian’s, “Ma Ma” and Sizzla’s, “Thank You Mama” pop up to me easily– not because females love their mothers less than males do but because Jamaican parents are usually harder and are generally more influential on their sons than on their daughters. So when Lila’s debut single gave a female perspective on a personal struggle, her career path, it was not only different from Gyptian’s and Sizzla’s song for that reason, it was also refreshing and more intimate to me.

The song has propelled her to go on tour with Protojé in 2017, who currently signs Lila under his In.Digg.Nation Collective label. I asked her what sort of emotions performing for a different crowd every time evokes.  I wondered how scary it was. Lila said, “Performing on tour does evoke a lot of emotions. I am excited because I get to finally do what I have always dreamt of doing. Performing in a different space is also exciting and scary because I don’t know what to expect.” And I feel like that is the benefit of being a new artiste. There is freedom to surprise the audience, no one really knows what your presence is suppose to feel like as yet and maybe this why she said of performing, “I usually have no expectations and so I challenge myself to please every set of audience both at home and away… [I want]  to bring good vibes always and provide music that is universally accepted and in the same breath make my mom proud that I am actually doing what I wanted to do something that she was scared of.”

And listening to, “Biggest Fan” you understand her mother’s fear. Being in the music industry is often seen as harsh and unforgiving especially for females. In one line Lila sings of her mother’s fear of sexual favours, “You feel like no producer bwoy can carry go a studio and lock up.”

I think Ms. Iké is half way there though because her curly afro and John Lennon specs has given her a signature style, which she explained was somehow born out of comfort.“The glasses are tested (I’m farsighted lol) but I chose to get the frames in that style because I don’t like the regular frames. My hair is just easier to handle in an afro so I normally wear it like that; I guess overtime it has become a signature but my style is really not limited at all. I style according to my mood really.”

But even with eye catching image for younger audiences popular music nowadays is almost completely reserved for dancehall. Once in awhile you will hear one or two Reggae songs being dropped in a prime time segment at a party– most recently there is Agent Sasco’s, “Winning Right Now” and Dre Island’s “We Pray” featuring Popcaan –but the crowds don’t come to the parties for Reggae and Lila sees this. Getting exposure is hard, especially for females.

“I feel exposure is hard to gain for females in the music business and because of this females usually feel that its easier to “buss” quicker in Dancehall rather than Reggae music.” And maybe it is, but for the music Lila produces thankfully there is a new wave of young Reggae artistes. Chronixx & Protojé lead the charge, reinvigorating  young people, and Lila is prepared to ride the wave while still understanding that, “One of the major challenges is making a career out of it [Reggae music]– in and out of Jamaica. I got the opportunity to perform for yaad and abroad and see where it is very well received and is in demand so this has inspired me and I’ve become more driven to conquer the odds.”  

It is this perseverance that in a twist, has made her mom come around, and has given Lila inspiration for her first major single (her second single, “Gotti Gotti” was released five months after her first). It is a twist that she really appreciates. “What surprises me most is because I believed in my music for myself, I got to see my mother turned a listen ear. Not only that, she has been encouraging me since and this all happened in a short period.” Her Mom is one of her biggest motivators and that is the winning formula for the perfect “mama song” I have realized: appreciation + love = mother heroines. “Ma Ma,” had it, “Thank You Mama” had it, and now “Biggest Fan” has it and if you don’t believe me while on stage Lila confesses, “While performing sometimes (lol) I usually mute the crowd and imagine my mom is the only one sitting in the audience. At that point I feel so proud of myself and my brand which I’m creating.” — Bless.

[cover image by: Nickii Kane]

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Creative Media

Caribbean Artists on Art: Romario Lynch | The Timeless Photo

My earliest memory of appreciating a beautiful photograph came from Vogue magazine. It was 2006 and the autumn issue that year saw Beyoncé and Jamie Foxx on the cover. From my memory Beyoncé had that model perfect c-pose and Foxx wore a black suit, the collar loose, fedora tipped, hugging the queen with hover hands. They looked flawless.

But seeing the cover now, the picture looks boring. Even back then I felt ambivalence after looking at the cover a little too long. Beyoncé’s and Foxx’s teeth were too white, their skin too flawless, and where was that wind blowing Beyoncé’s hair coming from?

So, when I emailed Romario Lynch, a young Jamaican graphic designer/ photographer,  just before Christmas last year, the first question I wanted to ask him was what makes a timeless photograph.

His series: ChocolatéCodeine Crazy, and Red October, as well as his digital photo book, “seen by LYNCH Vol. 1: 100 Shots from 2015,” are the works Romario is most proud of.  Especially of his earliest nude series, he said, “This was my first attempt at nude photography and I’m pleased with how the images came out.” (expect a sequel to his “Beautifully Torn” series, an experiment involving censorship and beauty, soon.)

I understand that photos should be appealing in some way but why does appealing to many people consist of the perfectly composed shot? Romario gave me three techniques for the timeless photograph.

“I started taking photos on cellphones in high school,” he said. “I’d take photos and try to give them a certain look, and what appeals to me is vibrancy and contrast. For me, these things give a moment more character.” Yes, his photos are very high on character.

He’s popular for his saturated night photos that feature backgrounds of deep, dark, black skies which allow human faces– usually swept up in some kind of intense emotion– to shine through. However, his day photos focus on the environment more. There are varying levels of intense greens and orange-browns for grass and land but the skies can be anything from blinding white to soft purple. Romario says, “I edit my photos to create the mood or atmosphere that the camera doesn’t pick up.” This editing he believes adds to the timelessness of photos as well as having an eye for rare human moments. “The second someone sees a lens pointed at them, they put on this mask that doesn’t show the real them, ruining the moment. I see beauty in untouched moments and that’s why I capture them.”

More than anything else though Romario is obsessed with the female form, “They say if you want to see what a man holds dear to him, watch what he photographs… I love the female form. It’s wonderful. The different features that make up a face or a body. The symmetry. Similarities and differences between them. It’s all beautiful.” And so it’s no surprise that a lot of his photography includes artistic nudes of faceless women in various positions usually on a bed or in water.

Taking nudes demands a level of trust between the model and cameraman, don’t you think? A woman stripped and looked at by a man is vulnerable whether nakedness is her choice or not. “My technique involves being observant and somewhat hidden.” he’s says, not of taking nudes, but as his final criteria for the timeless photo. But it this technique that I think is the most understated.

I think for a naked model it’s more important to feel as if you are looked upon by lens than by the eyes of a man but he says not quite.“With my nude photos, I choose someone who isn’t afraid to show their body. They’re usually close friends of mine so we’re comfortable in each other’s space, and that’s important. This makes shooting much easier as it’s less of a “shoot” and more like two friends hanging out, allowing the full expression of one’s true colors. No mask.”

For the interview my favourite thing that Romario said was this: “What got me started in photography was the fascination with freezing time.”

The three basic techniques he gave me for the timeless photo are seen in the foundation of all good photographs, I think: the hidden camera, the observant cameraman who captures honest emotion and the appealing editing. That Vogue magazine cover I saw at 9 or 10 years old lacked all of these things though. And when I think back to these two words: “freezing time,” I understand that a boring photograph is a waste of time because life’s too short to hold to boring moments. Yea. Pause. Wait a while and just let that sink in for a minute. –Bless.

[cover image by: Romario Lynch]

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Creative Media

4/4 | December

Today  I want to share with you a few of my favourites from the fourth quarter of the year. Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year when it comes. I’ll see you in February! 

LISTEN:

Slam Poetry

Slam is dub poetry minus the African drum beat. I think slam is what poetry was meant to be until paper got in the way. Porsha O. introduced me to the art form with the genius piece that is,  ‘Angry Black Woman’ and ‘Damn Right’ (Damn right I pay eighty thousand dollars for a education and still walk around stupid…); I keep a printout of ‘How To Cure a Feminist’ by Kait Rokowski on my bedroom door as the last thing I see before I walk into the world, it helps me to  cope with just trying to be a woman; when I saw some pictures from Davianne Tucker’s series this month, her words reminded me of Dominique Christina’s, ‘The Period Poem’; Edwin Bodney’s ‘When a Boy Tells You He Loves You’ will always come to me before love itself…

What I’m saying is this:

I dare you to listen to slam and not feel your blood rushing to your skull a new, I dare you to listen to slam and not think differently about your world, your art and why you aren’t doing more in both areas, I dare you to listen to slam and not feel a little bit more wiser, a little bit more complete and sadly a little bit more stony… the truth tends to do these things to us.

Songs

Banana Clip’ and ‘Told You So’ by Miguel

Taken from his fourth studio album, War & Leisure, these songs prove that Miguel has found the formula. Every, single, song on the album is perfect but these two are a stand out for me. The video for ‘I Told You So’ features some political images, like clips from Trump protests, and Miguel mentions protecting his girl in ‘Banana Clip’ (There’s a war on love/ Just look around you/It’s hard to know who to trust) these things make the album socially and politically conscious without losing the Rn’B power. I feel like that is so rare for modern artistes. I think that this shows the maturity in Miguel’s songwriting and I guess this is why the album is so great to me. He’s not trying as hard with digital funk beats and overt sexuality like he did before, he just lets the dreaminess and the truth of the music happen. Miguel’s  truly the amalgamation of M.J. and Prince for our generation, the only (distant) competitor to the throne is The Weeknd.

Express Yourself’ by Markus Guentner

Equals-film-poster-(2015)

Equals film poster (2015).

To find this piece anywhere is a b!tch, mostly because it’s a part of the soundtrack to the 2015 futuristic romance film, Equals, that came out to a limited release. The film itself is really very pretty and heartfelt, but it’s this piece that I want you to focus on. This music genre I found out is called, Atmospheric Electronica/ Ambient Pop, it’s soothing and freeing so much so that when I wake up and listen to ‘Express Yourself’ with headphones on my mind becomes instantly clear. It’s like I’m being washed by rain on a quiet night on the first day of autumn every time I listen to this. Which is everyday.

Honourable Mentions

The song, Saved’ by Khalid from his debut album, American Teen, for capturing the sad torture that is heartbreak (the whole album is like this, honestly) for Millennials which is kind of scary for a dude who just graduated high school last year– he’s 19 now– and is already up for five grammys next year. Like, what am I doing with my life?

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Erykah Badu and D.R.A.M. perform, ‘WIFi’ at the 2016 Soul Train Awards (image source: Mindy Small/ FilmMagic).

The song, ‘WiFi’ by D.R.A.M. ft. Erykah Badu for being the funniest and weirdest love song I’ve ever heard in my entire life. D.R.A.M opens with the seductive Rn’B whisper, “Do you got Wi-Fi?” and by the time Ms. Badu answers, “Boy I got Wi-Fi!” You’d think she said “Of course!” after D.R.A.M  asked her to marry him. In a way the song perfectly sums up what the Wi-Fi password status in modern relationships mean, it’s more than a hallmark of love, exchanging the Wi-Fi password says, “This a new level, I trust you now.”

The song,Hold Me’ by Janine and The Mixtape taken from her 2014 EP, Dark Mind, for giving me a haunting, distant yet emotional sound about the fear of strong love fading. I call Janine the softer version of Jessie J.

WATCH:
YouTube

Vox and The Verge

I have this vision of creating the Jamaican version of these two channels in the near future. I am obsessed with the content quality from the both of them. This is what news should look like, Vox particularly uses wonderful graphic design to illustrate and simplify complicated news stories and The Verge is practically the benchmark for quick and brutal tech. reviews in my opinion (runner-up: MrMobile). These two channels to me represent the YouTube future that Jamaica should pursue.

Honourable Mentions

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk for its style and ambition only. The manipulation of time seen from the air (1 hour), the sea (1 day) and the land (1 week) is the star of the film. There is this old fashion sentimentality that you feel whilst watching it,  it’s less about blood and gore and the horrors of war and more about one man’s will to survive. That was really refreshing to see. However, the trade-off is that by the end of the film when they return home I didn’t celebrate with them because they never entered war so catharsis never occurred for me therefore any kind of celebration felt half-baked. 

Bad-Genius-(2017).

A scene from the film Bad Genius (source: Cinema Scope / DCP, 2017).

The Thai film, Bad Genius for giving a face to what The West translates as horror stories about the seriousness of Asian school examinations. Some years ago I remember this picture circulating on Twitter and I remember thinking, if parents would do this, nothing is far-fetched. In Bad Genius a young girl cheats in her exams for those who can pay. The story is entertaining and poignant because after the thriller element thaws you realize that the poor will always be bottom feeders because a lot of times money can always trump hustle and academic brilliance.   

The documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work [watch it here] for showing that aging in Hollywood is a really death sentence but that comedy is one of the few professions that gives you a thicker backbone as you age. Joan says half way through the film:

“It’s such a hard business… this is the one business in the world it is total rejection. I’m 75 and I’m still rejected. In this business you are mud your whole life.”

This was released in 2010 but I wasn’t interested in Ms. Rivers then but, I dunno, I was watching an old interview with her the other day and it surprised me because I felt like she wasn’t dead and so I went looking for her. She’s one of those people who puts up a front for everybody but she’s a real one, and her soul really shines through in this documentary. God rest her soul.

READ:

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby

I suggest you read The Anatomy of Story [read a chapter by chapter synopsis here] if you are an aspiring writer who wants to start your journey to actually sounding like a real one. Truby is a teacher and screenwriter so the book gives an exhaustive map of story structure through character and plot. The first 7 steps fleshes out your characters with things like ‘weakness and need’ and ‘desire’ and towards the end the book Truby zooms in on the intricacies of plot focusing on things like ‘theme line’ and ‘moral argument.’ You get homework too as The Godfather, Casablanca and Tootsie are the main examples used to drive home the points.

Disclaimer: read this with a grain of salt. Don’t swat the rules else your writing will become stiff, but don’t forget them entirely else your writing may lose or lack momentum which is something that has to be learned. I am no expert, trust me, more anything after reading this I realized how difficult writing really is.   

Honourable Mention
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Barack Obama and Donald Trump during the inauguration. (image source: Damon Winter. The New York Times, 2017).

The New York Times’ ‘The Year in Pictures 2017′ for showing that the world is bigger and more troubled than we can ever imagine but that through the timelessness of photography every issue has a voice and every issue has beauty in it. — Bless. 

[cover art by: Shevon Johnson]

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Creative Media

LIFE SHORTS DESIGNS

Life Shorts Designs 
By Monique Lennon
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, 

M. L.                                                                                                                                

[cover art by: Ruud van Empel]

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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:
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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]


 

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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, ENTIRELY.

Watch

Films:

Train To Busan

Think, the claustrophobia of 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.

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]


 

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LIFE SHORTS DESIGNS

Life Shorts Designs 
By Monique Lennon
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]

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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]


 

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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

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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. 


Mutabaruka and Dr. K’adamawe K’NIFE

Every generation 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 Motty 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 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% 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]

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