Category Archives: FEATURES

R&B + CHRIS BROWN: TOP TEN SONGS YOU’VE (PROBABLY) NEVER HEARD

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After dropping a critically acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2005 that was deeply rooted in R&B, CHRIS BROWN was quickly given the daunting task of spearheading a new generation of a genre that houses such greats as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. In 2008, though, Brown released “Forever” – his first real venture into crossing over into the mainstream and the pop/dance/electro hit shot him into superstardom. Many felt this success signified the end of his career as an R&B artist and haven’t given him much acknowledgment in the genre since. I feel like this debate will always be relevant because Michael Jackson is considered one of the greatest of all time and he’s deemed The King of Pop yet his name is thrown in plenty of R&B conversations; Brown has traveled a similar path but is slandered constantly whenever he’s nominated at award ceremonies in the R&B categories.

God forbid he actually win an award, but he did in 2012 when he snagged the Grammy for Best R&B Album for 2011’s F.A.M.E. and beat out El Debarge, Ledisi, Kelly Price and R. Kelly. People said Chris hasn’t been R&B since he first came out and that he shouldn’t claim the genre at all; I think that’s extremely unfair especially considering his catalogue is full of R&B gems that are hidden for some reason – until now. With his sixth album, X, slated for a summer release Chris has said that this album will revisit the vibe his debut effort held and many are skeptical that he’s able to pull this off.

So much music has been recorded but the masses have never gotten to hear them for whatever reason. Industry politics are a bitch but I’m here to bring the best of the best from CB’s resume so you’re not so lost out there – here we go!

10.) “Submarine” (2010) – A song that has him recounting where he went wrong to make his woman walk away, Chris spoke his heart and he spoke it to a jazzy, shoulder bopping beat that, if performed live, would have his feet moving in some way. No rapping, no cursing – just a voice and a beat. That’s what R&B is and “Submarine” displayed just that.

9.) “Calypso” (2012) – This Polow Da Don-produced promotional single was released ahead of Brown’s fifth LP Fortune in the summer of 2012 and was the lowkey cookout song for the scorching months. With backing vocals that were strongly reminiscent of a Mike Jackson in his prime, Brown had no problem enticing young ladies to just give into him and his harmless advances. He just wants to find out what you like, girl.

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THEN AND NOW: MY 2012 IN A NUTSHELL

I like to look back and reflect on the highs and lows of my year when New Year’s comes around; my yearly progress report is a bit more interesting than usual – let’s review:

  • I started off the year at Urban Outfitters drowning in hipster attire and hostile management but decided that I’d had enough and left just two months into the year,
  • I was able to focus on blogging more and attended events, adding more write-ups to my portfolio. I even interviewed one of my favorite artists (Brandon Hines) and write a great piece for KillerHipHop.com,
  • Sista needed funds so she hit the pavement and eventually came upon a random start-up in the city and made the move from the suburbs to the concrete jungle,
  • Trips were taken, fun was had throughout the summer but my attention span was fleeting so I needed something to entertain me besides working and blogging,
  • In comes school and I restarted my love/hate relationship with education (fun),
  • My frustration with my job’s randomness bubbled over and I began my job hunt, eventually planning to quit by January since I’d come upon no leads,
  • Love was rejuvenated within me and a brand new start was born from a second chance (awww),
  • A leap of faith turned into the opportunity of a lifetime and just like that my life was changed – two weeks before a new year was to begin.

So, as you can see 2012 held its ups and downs: I doubted plenty and triumphed even more. This is the most grown-up I’ve ever felt in my life and 2013 is about to take me to new heights. The lows are inevitable and I’m preparing myself just in case but I’m looking forward to more growth.

I’m getting my health in check – I really mean that – and working on what I feel needs improvement within myself. I’m excited for what’s to come because what’s already happened has been pretty dope.

Happy New Year, guys – here’s to becoming who you want to be and pursuing your dreams in 2013. You have all you need to do it, so go do it!

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A QUiRK’S JOURNAL: RESOLUTIONS, GOALS, WHATEVER – JUST GO BE GREAT!

IMG_0569Ah, New Year’s Eve – the time when half of the population is scrambling to find a party to attend and the other half is determined to make their list of promises for the impending year. Don’t lie – have you made your resolutions known yet?

Don’t be ashamed if you did; people try to mask their resolutions by calling them goals or aspirations since the word “resolution” has such a negative stigma this time of year. News flash, guys: it all means the same thing.

You need a to-do list for your life, whether you think so or not. Mapping out what you’re striving towards is never a bad thing and can be done in so many creative ways from lists to vision boards. Have fun with speaking your future into existence and don’t get hung up on what others choose to call it. At the end of the day, you’re trying to get your life together – and that’s commendable.

Be healthy, be happy, be prosperous in this new year. Most of all – be a better YOU. Enjoy guys, and I’ll see you on the other side!

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A QUiRK’S JOURNAL: SCARED MONEY DON’T MAKE MONEY

IMG_0564This week has been the week for my family and friends to utter the same phrase simultaneously:

“I need to get on my game and get like [Steph].”

If this isn’t pressure, I don’t know what is but I’m glad I can motivate people to get their lives in check…I guess. I never really realized how much people looked up to me until this week. I don’t see myself as a role model or anything like that – I just want what I want and happened to position myself to where it’s actually possible.

I made a huge jump into the right direction this past week and the moniker that comes to mind when I think about what I’ve done in these last three days is:

“Scared money don’t make money.”

At this point in my life, money isn’t the motive; working in a field where I care about every single facet of what’s happening is the motive and I’m on my way.

I don’t want to be arrogant and say “get like me” but if you’re looking to make your dreams come true, then always remember that scared money don’t make money.

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A QUiRK’S JOURNAL: WHAT DO YOU SAY TO TAKING CHANCES?

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I told you a while back I had to quit my job as a means of stepping into my destiny. Well, I didn’t; as a matter of fact, I accepted a raise which is the exact opposite of quitting.

I sat back and told myself, “since nothing’s coming your way in the field you want anyway, you can use the next six months to save up for your apartment then resume your quest to be all that you can be for those you want to be that for.”

Folks, don’t do this – it’s a trap.

I psyched myself out, willingly gave up on the path lain for me before I continued to take my second step toward it. The whole reason for me leaving Houston to come to NYC was to achieve great things, not make great money. To be quite honest, the money’s not even that great because I have to pay all these taxes back come January, but that’s another story for another time.

I’m guessing that God allowed me to accept this raise in exchange for my will to chase a dream and said, “um boo, just what ARE you doing? This ain’t it and you know it.” I’d stopped applying for jobs and everything, but one tweet (I love Twitter) had me scrambling to send my resume off just this once. I was curious to see if something would come of it.

A response wasn’t likely; my experience on paper is great for the position I have now but if I let that stop me I wouldn’t have had any many interviews as I’ve had since being up here. I’m a “cross your fingers and see what happens” kind of applicant – the worst they can do to you is not reply. That’s what I was expecting with this particular title.

I have an interview tomorrow afternoon instead.

This is the biggest interview I’ll have had since I started working at sixteen because it’s in the direct line of my talents and vision for myself. I’m nervous because I don’t want to screw up and I want them to say yes to me, but I only have control over what I do that will make this a success for me.

I have to be myself and sell my capabilities vocally, which is hard for me but I want this so I will prepare as much as I can so I won’t have to report back to this current job anymore.

Everything is riding on this, but even if I don’t get it (I’m a realist just as much as I am an optimist) I can be proud that I went after it and I won’t give up because I know it is possible. I’m trying not to jump ahead of myself and take this one step at a time.

Sixteen hours until the coin lands – I’m hoping for heads.

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A QUiRK’S JOURNAL: OPEN UP

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I classify myself as a selective mute: I don’t speak unless I feel compelled to by events happening around me or if I feel comfortable with whoever is near me. If we’re cool, you’ve gotten my goofy ratchet side – be thankful because I don’t bestow that unto everyone I come across.

Not everyone deserves it.

Still, as I get older I’m learning that opening up is vital to my growth as a person in every aspect: professionally, personally, emotionally and spiritually. I have to know that somebody out there feels me and I’m not going to get the chances I feel I deserve if I don’t give a little of my true self in everything I put into the universe.

I want to be a part of great things, things that my kids will look at and say, “Mama, you so damn dope though”, which in turn I’ll say, “thanks but you’re not cool enough to curse in front of me yet so pump your brakes.”

It’s going to come – with focus, determination and tunnel vision my dreams will come into fruition.

Step one: OPEN UP

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THE QUiRKY FIND: GET YOUR “REALITY CHECK” BY WAY OF JASFLY & NYDELIGHT

Most times, I find myself wandering aimlessly around the information superhighway in hopes of stumbling across any kind of distraction from my everyday life; my latest success in doing so involves a little podcast called Reality Check brought to you by the folks at the Combat Jack Show which features two fiercely opinionated ladies – NYDelight and JasFly.

I’ve been a fan of Jas’s writing for a while; as someone who aspires to be an entertainment journalist (not the messy kind – you guys know how I feel about that), her pieces are great to read and it’s refreshing to know that the art of music journalism isn’t lost even if it has switched gears from print to digital in the last seven years. Now Delight – that’s what I call her when I talk to the podcast … – I had no real knowledge of before this discovery but having heard her thoroughly entertaining stories over these past weeks I can honestly say I love her to death.

Reality Check is described as “organic” and I couldn’t agree more; with topics ranging from pop culture headlines to relationships, the ladies cover every base imaginable just by conversing casually. It’s not a perfect broadcast – “struggle shows” are quite possible but those are just as great as the broadcasts that are well put together. I suppose it’s the confirmation that even people that you’re sure have it all together all the time have their days too – struggle humanizes us all and RC is a human production.  The environment is fun and playful, but the show just wouldn’t be the same without a weekly appearance by one Just Blaze – super producer extraordinaire, philanthropist and resident awkward. His stories are curated with the speed of someone who’s purposefully trying to mind-fuck you and make for extremely amusing situations.

Why do I listen to Reality Check?  I listen because it speaks to a part of me that is looking for real things while trying to break into a world where there isn’t too much of said real going around.  It’s a great way for me to escape uncertainty in my own life and I unexpectedly gain clarity to make decisions every now and then.  I listen because it entertains me; I laugh until I cry because I’ve had some of the same conversations with my friends so I can relate to everyone who makes an appearance.  Most of all, I listen now because I’m attached to these people and I must know how they’re doing each week.

I look forward to the show growing bigger and gaining the recognition it deserves; I tell everyone I know about it and this post is my way of telling a few more people.

SUBSCRIBE: iTUNES | STREAM: WEBSITE

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THE FIRST TIME EVER I … : VOTED

We’re just two short weeks outside of the biggest election of our generation and with everyone tossing around their opinions, thoughts, and predictions I feel compelled to say something too. No, I am not advising you on who to vote for because honestly, you should know that by now. No slanderous TV ad or whatever should be swaying your decision at this point because all they are is part of a last ditch ‘pick me! pick me!’ effort. Elections are pretty cut and dry: you choose the person whose plan adheres the closest to what YOU want for your future as of now. That’s how I determine my vote, anyway.

I’m digressing, though; like I said, this isn’t to endorse anyone or force my decision onto anyone else. It’s to remember a milestone that many will experience on November 6th – first-time voting.

I’m twenty-six years old (I feel better if I spell it out; don’t judge me) and that means that I’ve been eligible to vote in two other elections before this upcoming one. However, 2008 was the first time I voted and I’ll tell you why: my eighteenth birthday was an election year (lucky me) but I was in Buffalo at school and nobody ever explained the absentee vote to me nor did I get proactive in trying to figure out how I was supposed to go about it, so I sat in my room and watched as George W. Bush won his second term and John Kerry slinked off into the unknown.

Of course if I’d considered the severity of me not voting, I would have worked a little harder to get my ballot in but I learned from this and decided to do better for the next election. In ’08, I was in Texas living my life like it was golden and the election crept up on me. This time, though, I watched debates and all that good stuff but most importantly I made sure I was registered and had my card and valid ID for when the day came. Of course I had to close at my job and I didn’t drive so I couldn’t go on my lunch break to vote like others did so my chauffeur/co-worker – who hadn’t voted yet either and I think he was actually still on the fence about voting – decided to take me after we finished our shift.

We head to the middle school and I’m grinning like shit as I hand over my ID and the lady gives me instructions on how to vote and such. It was a big thing: in all the “living” I’d done in the four years since the last election, this was the first time I actually felt like an adult. As I remember it, I think my co-worker did end up voting but don’t quote me on that. Anyway, I find my booth and head inside. I remember there being a computer screen and looking at a bunch of local names that I had NO earthly idea who they were.

I maybe recognized one or two from seeing their signs en route just a few minutes prior, so I voted for them and just pressed buttons until it got to the part I knew about. I smiled the whole time and stood in the booth for an extra three minutes to make sure my votes were registered like they were supposed to be then I walked out to receive my ‘I Voted’ sticker. I wore it home, yes I did.

Later that night, I sat with my cousin and all three TVs in the house were on news outlets as they tallied the votes – it was the most agonizing three hours ever. I got my vote in and I wanted some results, dammit! I got the results, alright. My cousin, who’s actually more like my aunt in the short time I’d known her,  was 54 years old at the time and had never thought she would see anything like what we’d seen that night it was confirmed that Mr. Barack Obama was named our 44th President of the United States. That lady hugged me so tight and we cried as we saw everyone in Chicago go crazy and cry too.

It wasn’t a boo-hoo, hysterical cry so no need to revoke my G pass – I kept it cute, don’t worry.

I voted because it’s what I’m supposed to do: I’m taking advantage of every single right I have as a citizen of this country because they’re MINE. Hell, I drink alcohol because I’m old enough to do it; I play lotto when I feel like it because I can; I vote because I’m able to and I do it for those who are just as passionate about it but aren’t old enough to vote yet. I have to watch out for them because my kids and my brothers’ kids and my sisters’ kids (when they have them) need to know that we backed up our shit talking.

No matter who you plan on voting for, just do it. It’s none of my business who you vote for – just get up and do it! Hope to see you at the polls on the 6th!

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A QUiRKY MOMENT WITH STEPH

IMG_0462I have brain farts all the time at the most random moments one can ever imagine. Suddenly, I feel compelled to share them and since you’ve decided that you accept my socially awkward demeanor, guess who gets an all-access pass to my kooky inner workings? Congratulations!

– Have you ever wished that life was like a movie where you could just cut through the awkward shit and pan to the moment after when it all worked out for the best?

– I have a bad habit of bearing my ankles on the coldest days; I need to be more aware.

– Being social at events I cover never gets easier; I saw one of my she-ros last night and was a foot away from her yet said nothing…

– I’ve found that my cozy little box I reside in is hindering me with the assistance of those around me; I like doing things my way though. This is gonna be tough.

– I just want to write all day and eat pasta all night.

– You ever want to drift into town to see ONE person, post up for a few days then leave without anyone else knowing you were there? Me neither; that’s rude, huh? =\

– Saying how you feel is such a novel idea, isn’t it? It’s really cute.

– Seriously, I need to get to the point where I’m able to write all day and eat all night.

– I made an interesting proclamation that I’m completely fine with: I’ll probably be a housewife who writes books and scripts for the rest of her life. I really don’t mind that, though; I have to nurture my future kids’ dopeness and being stuck in some office ain’t gonna cut it!

– Kendrick Lamar’s album really is dope, though (I felt the need to mention something music-related since this blog is centered around it *shrugs*).

Welp that’s it for now; as thoughts come to me, I won’t hesitate to share them because I know you’re dying to read them =)

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A QUiRK’S JOURNAL: WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? … HOW?!

hi! my mental is going through tons right now, hence my absence lately, but i need to get this off and work through it. the most effective way i can think of doing this is to write through it, so here is my first entry in my quirky journal. read up on my struggle, won’t you?

 

 

I ask myself all of this all the time:

who do I want to be?
what do I plan to do?
when is shit gonna pop?
where is said shit gonna take me once it pops?

The most important question I ask myself is HOW am I going to do all of the things I’ve just listed?

I promise that these are all genuine questions; I haven’t come upon the answers to these just yet. I feel like that’s happened because I haven’t been dedicating enough time to my craft in order for something amazing to happen for me.

It’s hard to give my writing the attention it deserves when I’m going to school and working at such a thankless job that takes up any kind of free time I may have. So what are my options?

I could drop school but I’ve been doing that since ’07 and despite my small gripes here and there, I actually enjoy being in school and want this damn degree once and for all. Scratch that, we’re staying in school.

I could kick this job to the curb, which wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all. Only problem is…I got bills, Gina! This city life is not cheap and I don’t even go out like the average social twentysomething. I like to eat – a lot. I need to eat out here, so completely eliminating a job is out of the question. I could scale back my schedule to allow my focus to be more evenly distributed. That sounds great but either way this current job has to go; it’s counterproductive for me and causes me way too much stress than it’s worth.

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