Inspirational Photography: Encouraging Positivity Captured by The Lens

Uplifting photography that represents positive messages are captivating and symbolizes just how beautiful life is…especially the ‘simple’ yet priceless & precious moments/creations we should never take for granted.  Here are some of my favorite photos that are delightful, inspiring, and interesting to reflect on. Of course, people may not always share the same perspectives, but I sincerely hope these amazing photos can inspire more happiness/hope and encourage us all to have a wondrous/positive viewpoint on life.

Children laughing in a field of marigold flowers in Panskura, West Bengal, India. The picture won the Families category in the worldwide photography competition

 

Third place – "Winter Sunrise Over" by Stephen Banks

Stephen Banks/VELUX Lovers of Light 2014

I want to go to Africa someday and take pictures like this and show the would a smile can change all..

 

duckling climbing - a picture is worth a thousand words

David Bitton

 

 

Twin Baby Elephants, East Africa {by Diana Robinson}

Twin Baby Elephants, East Africa by Diane Robinson

Survival

 

 

 

 

A Homage: Marley Marl, Juice Crew & Cold Chillin’ Records Legacy

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During the ‘Golden Era of Hip-Hop’, innovative producer/DJ Marley Marl and DJ Mr. Magic (1956-2009) formed the legendary Juice Crew. Groundbreaking artists that were a part of the Juice Crew created music with Marley Marl on the Cold Chillin’ Records label, which includes Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Masta Ace, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, Roxanne Shante, and MC Shan. The collaborative music team helped usher in a new era in music, and of course…there was the well-known ‘beefs’ with the Boogie Down Productions. The famous ”Bridge Wars”, which partly started when lyrics were misinterpreted in MC Shan’s ”The Bridge” and then KRS-One/Boogie Down responded with ”The Bridge is Over” and ”South Bronx”. Not to mention the ”Roxanne Wars” series started by a then 14 year old Roxanne Shante (which influenced at least 100 response songs about the ”real Roxanne” created by different artists). The Juice Crew created a distinct collection of songs that are timeless and a great reference to the ”Golden Era”. Some of my personal favorites includes Biz Markie’s ”Vapors” and Big Daddy Kane’s ‘Long Live the Kane’ album. Marley Marl produced a variety of classic projects, which includes L.L Cool J’s ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ album, and Marley Marl’s first album ‘In Control Volume 1’ introduced one of the most influential and recognized songs in classic rap…”The Symphony”. Some of the legendary artists who consider Marley Marl an influence are Biggie Smalls, RZA, DJ Premier, and Pete Rock. When paying homage to those who helped create the ”Golden Era of Hip Hop”, it is important to always remember innovator Marley Marl and the Juice Crew. Their music still sounds amazing and refreshing.

 

Positive Thought: ‘The World I Know’ by Collective Soul Analyzed

The thought provoking lyrics and perspective of the 1995 classic ‘The World I Know’ by Collective Soul is a great song/video to analyze. How I perceive this song is that it’s okay to question and feel deeply bothered with the state of our world,  but we should always try to not let this reflection prevent us from encouraging more positivity and good progression within our planet. I love this song and whenever I listen to it, the overall composition is compelling to me. I encourage all to never give up on our world…to never be comfortable or numb to the evil & unfortunate happenings that may be prevalent in our world. One of the many beautiful reasons why hope still lingers on is because this world also includes inhabitants/souls who are conscientious, good-hearted and genuinely care to implement/spread positive change. Therefor, let’s never feel as though this world is mainly full of only gloom and despair…because it is not. We all are each equally important & vital in implementing positive change, and there are people who still sincerely care for the pain/suffering others experience.  If we can’t seem to find many, then let’s be one of the light-filled souls we seek and desire. I also love how this video encourages people to never give up on life and that there is always inspiration/positivity we can grow from and contribute to.

Has our conscience shown?
Has the sweet breeze blown?
Has all the kindness gone?
Hope still lingers on
I drink myself of newfound pity
Sitting alone in New York City
And I don’t know why

Are we listening
Hymns of offering?
Have we eyes to see
That love is gathering?
All the words that I’ve been reading
Have now started the act of bleeding
Into one, into one

So I walk up on high
And I step to the edge
To see my world below
And I laugh at myself
While the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I know
Oh it’s the world I know

I drink myself of newfound pity
Sitting alone in New York City
And I don’t know why, don’t know why

So I walk up on high
And I step to the edge
To see my world below
And I laugh at myself
While the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I know
Oh it’s the world I know

So I walk up on high
And I step to the edge
To see my world below

And I laugh at myself
While the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I know
Oh it’s the world I know

Songwriters: ED ROLAND, ROSS BRIAN CHILDRESS
© KAREN SCHAUBEN PUBLISHING ADMINISTRATION

Trip Hop & The Bristol Sound: A Few of My Favorites

Trip Hop originated from Bristol ,U.K, & the sound has been partly influenced by jazz, hip-hop, funk, and soul. The Bristol Underground scene of the 90s involved experimenting with art and music, particularly with drum & bass. Trip Hop’s drum-based breakdowns and sound involves several types of music styles , and is a good example of just how diverse electronic music is…there are literally no less than one hundred ‘subgenres’.  When I think of some of the most interesting and diverse sounds in electronic music, it seems only right to mention Trip Hop greats/legends such as Howie D, Morcheeba, and Nightmares on Wax. To pay homage, here are a few of my favorite classic Trip Hop songs & artists of the 90s, an amazing innovative time for Electronic music.

 

A Retrospective: The Amazing Artworks of Jacob Lawrence & William H. Johnson

Here are some of my favorite artworks by two remarkable artists that have contributed greatly to the art world & society alike. Whether the focus is the Harlem Renaissance, love, War, the notorious chain gang, modernist illustrations of everyday life, serene nature or self portrait/reflections…each of these artworks are truly enthralling. While Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) was considered a modernist/social realist artist by some, Lawrence himself considered his creations ”dynamic cubism”. William H. Johnson (1901-1970) created artwork with evolving styles, ranging from realism, expressionism, and folk-style. I love how the artists’ creations have vivid colors to create realistic stories & settings in their paintings that are a part of not just African American experience, but America’s history as a whole… diverse settings/stories that real people have experienced in the 20th century. These artworks, many now on display at art museums such as the Smithsonian & Metropolitan  , are important expressions that definitely deserve continued acclaim.

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Jacob Lawrence ”The Library”

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The Strike by Jacob Lawrence

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William H. Johnson Self Portrait

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”Teheran Conference” by William H. Johnson

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Jacob Lawrence Self Portrait

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William H. Johnson

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William H. Johnson ”Training For War”

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Jacob Lawrence Migration Series

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Jacob Lawrence ”The Swearing In”

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William H. Johnson ”Chain Gang”

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William H. Johnson

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William H. Johnson ”Off to War”

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”The Lovers” Jacob Lawrence

Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins: ”There Will Never Be Another You” Live in Denmark 

Saying that Sonny Rollins had a ”great” seven decade long career is an understatement. Rollins is not only one of the most significant jazz musicians in music, but he is a living inspiration and amazing composer who has received accolades such as the National Medal of Arts , Polar Music Prize, multiple Honorary Doctor of Music awards, and elected to the American Academy of Arts of Sciences. Yet, it is not just the awards that represent just how astonishing Rollins’ career has been. Even if Rollins was not as recognized or given so many awards, his music’s quality is momentous and exceptional. Whether he was a saxophonist creating music for Blue Notes Records, Okeh Records, Prestige, RCA, or any other recording company…his compositions will forever be rich jazz standards that are a part of music history since the late 1940’s. Thank you Mr. Sonny Rollins.  Here is one of my favorite performances/song from live in Denmark, 1965, ” There Will Never Be Another You.”

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The Art of Funk Classics Sampled in Rap: Some of My Favorite Original Versions

Here are some of my favorite legendary songs that have been sampled and redone by rappers, who then recreated hits or classics all over again. These songs were already brilliant when first created, equally innovative/unique, and will always sound refreshing. The four videos I chose, in order are: ”Walk on By” Isaac Hayes Version, which was sampled by many including Notorious B.I.G in ”Warning”; Parliament Funkadelic’s ”Swing Down, Sweet Chariot (Let Me Ride), which was sampled by many including Dr.Dre & Snoop Dogg in ”Let Me Ride”; ”Funky Worm” by the Ohio Players, which was sampled by many including M.C Breed in ”Ain’t No Future in Yo Frontin” & N.W.A ”Dopeman”, and Taana Gardner’s ”Heartbeat”, which was sampled by many including De La Soul in ”Buddy”.  The words of Parliament Funkadelic from Swing Down Sweet Chariot (Let Me Ride) explains it all, ”….Light Years in time…ahead of our time….”

Underground to Pop Music: The Art of the Evolution of Music

Manipulating the sound of a record while someone spoke on a microphone was not widely accepted less than 40 years ago. Before the musical art form we call Hip Hop and the method we know as rapping was an internationally recognized fixture in popular music culture, it was a underground innovative movement. It is always exciting and refreshing when a new form of musical style (which eventually is often considered a subgenre) has been introduced & created. Whether it was the origins of punk music with bands like The Kinks and The Ramones  or the “college rock radio” era of alternative music with musicians such as R.E.M & The Smiths, they all have one thing in common. Rebellion. They all rebelled against what was popular and mainstream. Yet, often times in history an underground musical art form became a part of the mainstream popular music culture if it was accepted on a massive level. Case in point: Kurt Cobain was not comfortable with Nirvana’s music being a part of pop music culture (In Bloom song speaks about this). However, that is what “Grunge” music became…chart topping hits that was played continuously on heavily viewed channels such as MTV. Nevertheless, it was their decision to  sign with a major record label, and “bandwagoners” naturally came with this. In fact, there is often a repeated pattern in music with this, which will probably always be. There are many factors such as generation, society/cultural events, technology, and demographics that correlate with an underground “alternative” sound being popularized. The problem is when a new musical style/sound starts off as fresh and different… then is transformed into something that has lost its “edge” and individuality due to exploitation in the music industry. The art of “underground”music becoming popular mainstream music has its pros and cons, all how we perceive it. Either way, music has & always will be an ever progressing art with many different colors. Hundreds of years from now what we listen to today, what we call “rebellious”, “alternative” or “innovative” in comparision to a “pop music” sound will be so interesting to compare with what sounds/styles may be introduced in the future. The evolution of all music is inevitable. 

Boogie Down Bronx:Classic Photography

1520 Sedgwick Avenue and D.J Kool Herc are names forever synonymous with a part of the origins of rap music. In 1973 on August 11th, Kool Herc hosted a back to school party for his sister at the recreation room of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue apartment building. At the community house party, he introduced a technique that involved two turntables, a mixer, two copies of the same record, and playing another song at the beginning or middle of the record while focusing on ”the break” in each one. With D.J Kool Herc presenting his technique, his friend Coke La Rock began to rap and many legendary rappers like Afrika Bambaataa and Grand Master Flash all claimed to have witnessed this historic significant event in music history. In honor of The Boogie Down Bronx, here are some truly amazing and influential photos that shows why  The Boogie Down Bronx will always be considered a birthplace of the rhythmic poetic art we call Hip Hop.

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mixtapes

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red alert

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John Coltrane’s Blue Train: A Classic Revisited

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John Coltrane’s 1958 released album Blue Train is one of his gems that is both timeless and significant in any era. Not only was the label Blue Note Records a legendary & important part of music history, but it is Coltrane’s brilliance playing the tenor saxophone, Lee Morgan on the trumpet, Curtis Fuller’s trombone skills, Kenny Drew playing the piano, Paul Chambers on base, and Philly Joe Jones as the drummer that completes this album in such a compelling manner . The album was produced by Blue Notes Records co-founder Alfred Lion and Coltrane wrote nearly all of the music, with Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern writing the song ”I’m Old Fashioned.” The album has two sides, which includes ”Moments Notice” and my personal favorite ”Blue Train” on side one. Side two includes ”Locomotion”, ”I’m Old Fashioned”, and ”Lazy Bird”.  In 1997, alternate take bonus tracks were released of ”Lazy Bird” and ”Blue Train”. This was only Coltrane’s second solo album & although it is considered ”Hard Bop”, I think all of his music is beyond just one specific genre. Of course, not long after releasing Blue Train, Coltrane would go on to create an album that was chosen as one of the 50 recordings picked by The Library of Congress & added to the National Recording Registry…the groundbreaking & innovative classic Giant Steps.