Inspiration: Keeping Our Child-Like Curiosity & Fascination Throughout Life

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Su Blackwell artwork from series ”Dwelling”

When we were children, many of us asked our parents a thousand questions a day, genuinely eager to learn more & curious about what is around us. When there are trips to science museums or book club days at elementary schools, many children enthusiastically look forward to these simple yet amazing delights. The reason why I still visit public libraries for personal interest is because I love what I’ve found there growing up, and it has influenced me greatly. It started with my mother taking me to the public library often, & within the children’s section I was introduced to books like The Magic School Bus: Lost in The Solar System and Here in Space by David Milgrim. I believe educational books like these helped me become fascinated with astronomy & complex matters relating to space and time. Presently, I love books such as Space Atlas: Mapping The Universe & Beyond, Final Frontier by Brian Clegg, and physicist Michio Kauku’s books because they are amazing to me. Captivating books like the ones mentioned inspires me to ask even more questions due to passionate curiosity, & think of all the endless possibilities that have yet to be discovered. Unfortunately, often times a child’s curiosity and eagerness to extensively explore a variety of different subject matters can decrease. Many blame school systems’ educational curriculum, but learning is a process that never really ends. Of course, we may not find all of the truths of life and answers to questions that are surrounded in mystery…but there are valuable sources available to us for a variety of different topics if we are genuinely interested. I encourage us all to continue having a curious child-like fascination and to inquire more. Our whole lives are an educational opportunity, and it should not be limited. Let’s keep going to our city’s museums, supporting our libraries that are sometimes in threat of closing, reading daily, and exploring different topics beyond just the surface. As children, we are so eager to learn more and even what is considered ”simple” makes us want to discover why/how. So, as we continue on our educational journey (life)… let’s keep that same pure fascination/interest!

Retrospective: Underrated & Under Appreciated Women Pioneers in Hip Hop

We are aware of the many legendary men pioneers & innovators of Hip Hop like Grand-Master Flash, Cold Crush Brothers, and D.J Cool Herc. However, throughout Hip Hop’s history, there has always been iconic female artists who were influential MC’s, producers, and D.J’s. These ladies have never really gotten their full credit compared to their male counterparts. Here is a  brief description of some underrated women Hip Hop innovators & pioneers who deserve much more recognition than they have received so far. Of course, this list is not meant to be exclusive to only the women mentioned here. There are many equally notable underrated women pioneers not included, such as Nikki D, Oaktown’s 357, The Sequence, and so many more. Despite their lack of recognition, they will always be a major influential part of Hip Hop culture and it’s foundation.

238BEATS: #ClassicPic Sweet Tee & DJ Jazzy Joyce

Pioneer D.J Jazzy Joyce (left) with rapper Sweet Tee. 

Although D.J Jazzy Joyce is considered a pioneer female rap D.J/producer, she is still not as celebrated as her D.J/producer male counterparts. She was born in Bronx, New York and has collaborated with other female rappers such as Sweet Tee & produced her 1986 single ‘It’s My Beat’. She began recording in 1983 with Whiz Kid and Globe as a vocalist on the song ‘Play That Beat’.  She participated and won many D.J battles, including winning her first D.J award in 1983 at the New Music Seminar. Some of the artists she has deejayed for and collaborated with includes the 90’s rap trio ‘Digable Planets’,  M.C Lyte, Rich Nice, Africa Bambataa, and Nenah Cherry. Black Girls Rock awarded Jazzy Joyce and named their D.J award the ‘Jazzy Joyce D. J Award. Currently, she is a producer on New York’s Hot 97 radio station.

MC Debbie and DJ Wanda Dee - Harlem World by MC Debbie D on ...

D.J Debbie D (left) & D.j Wanda Dee

Here's a Tribute to Some of the Women MCs Who Raised Hip-Hop (THE ...

D.J Debbie D

D.J Debbie D was born in Harlem, but raised in the Bronx. She was the only female M.C with the 1979 rap group D.J Patty Duke & The Jazzy 5. She got her first start as a M.C while attending summer D.J block parties in 1977. After going solo in 1981, she began calling herself ‘The Grand Mistress’ and was one of the first Hip Hop female soloists. After joining the group US girls, she was featured in the film Beat Street, and collaborated with the Juice Crew as an M.C Soloist as well. D.J Debbie D is not only one of Hip Hop’s first female rappers, but a fashionable pioneering Fly Girl who is now a published author, earned a doctorate, and a preacher.  She has a non-profit organization called Us Girls, which aims to empower women and girls.

 

Sweet Tee | Discography | Discogs

Rapper Sweet Tee and her 1988 song ‘On The Smooth Tip’

M.C Sweet tee was born in Queens New York and was signed to Pioneer Records. Her first single was the 1986 ‘It’s My Beat’ featuring female D.J/producer Jazzy Joyce. Her debut album included the hit ‘On The Smooth Tip’ in 1988 . Some of her associated acts includes Kwame, Salt-n-Pepa, and Antoinette.

Bahamadia - Hip Hop Golden Age Hip Hop Golden Age

Rapper Bahamadia

Underrated lyricist and rapper Bahamadia was born in Philadelphia, and debuted her first album Kollage in 1996, which featured the classic single ‘Uknowhowwedu’. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with artists such as The Roots, Jedi Mind Tricks, Morcheeba, Guru, and Erykah Badu.

Exhibitions, events celebrate hip-hop culture | Cornell Chronicle

MC Sha Rock (center) of the ‘Funky Four Plus 1’

MC Sha Rock was born in North Carolina, but raised in the Bronx, New York. She is one of the first female rappers and is often dubbed as the ‘Mother of the Mic’. The Funky Four + 1 was one the first rap groups to appear on television and MC Sha Rock inspired many other legendary female rappers like MC Lyte and ‘DMC’ of rap trio Run DMC with her style of rapping on early mixtapes. She began rapping with the Funky Four + 1 in the late 70’s and also began her career as a b-girl/break dancer as well. She was affiliated with the Zulu Nation, and she had her first hit as a member of  The Funky Four + 1 with their 1979 hit ‘Rock The House’ on Sugar Hill Records and the 1980 hit ‘That’s The Joint’.

 

 

Inspiration: My Personal Nature/Astronomy Photography Throughout the Years & What It Means to Me

Nature’s enthralling beauty includes the way the sky appears when the sun is rising or setting and how ethereal it looks outside after an afternoon rain shower , which are all examples of daily/common treasures that should not be taken for granted. The way the orange, blue and pink hues in the sky blends together as the sun rises or sets is a (thankfully) re-occurring unparalleled sight to see. Perhaps it is easy to become comfortable with natural scenic views like this as we go about our daily lives, but there is also a refreshing & uplifting inspirational feeling we can receive from nature’s beautiful art. If something is heavy on our minds or we’ve encountered a lot of negativity within a day, sometimes we can find inspiration in daily gifts that are not always in human form. It is even scientifically proven that taking a walk in nature is therapeutic and good for our well being. I encourage us all to continue to remain purely fascinated with life’s natural treasures because it is a healthy & positive perspective to have throughout life. We all find happiness and joy in different things depending on what speaks to our souls/and passions.  Here are a few examples of nature’s art photographed by me throughout different years & changing seasons that makes me smile and thankful…I hope you find beauty in them too!

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Photo taken back in summer 2012. I saved this because it was very beautiful to me! Especially looking above at it, I nicknamed the photo ”Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning’ from a Journey song. The song’s lyrics do not actually correlate with the photo precisely, but the title of the song seemed befitting to me and sometimes I also interchangeably nickname this photo as : The ‘Will’ in the Sky Keeps on Turning  (”Will” meaning inevitable events and creations from a higher power/God.

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Photo taken on a snowy day in December 2017. I loved the tree’s aesthetic. It’s so interesting how many trees have been here way longer than us and have been present throughout many different happenings and lives as they come & go. This tree, like others, goes through many drastic changes within a year but it is beautiful no matter the season.

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Photo taken in 2018. Whenever I am walking somewhere, I like photographing the beautiful flowers that I see planted.  Unfortunately, I’ve procrastinated in the past when it comes to planting more of my own flowers, but this spring I am looking forward to actually growing more flowers and doing a little garden work with my mother. Photos like this gives me inspiration and they are so pretty!

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Photo taken in Piedmont Park in 2018. I am so appreciative of scenic views in parks. One of my favorite things to do is go to parks & preserves. There are so many activities I can do there. Just walk and take in all of nature’s aesthetics, have an outdoor lunch on the grass with my Dory from Finding Nemo plush blanket underneath, look at the sun setting or rising, go for a bicycle ride, watch the ducks & other animal sightings, enjoy live music, exercise, paint, pet people’s dogs if they let me,  take photos like this, whatever. The list goes on and on!

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Photo taken in December 2017. This photo (taken with an iPhone) made me decide to invest in a dslr camera instead of taking photos with a phone all of the time. I love astronomy and although I see mesmerizing views with my eyes and a telescope, I really want to start capturing beautiful views like this in better quality. Night time astronomy photography calls for dslr camera quality, and since I’m passionate about astronomy, I’ve been working on my photography more with a different camera. But still, I love & cherish these i-phone shots and I remember looking at it, thinking: ”This is so cool to me”…one of the moments in life that makes me happy.

I encourage us all to never forget the so-called ‘simple’ yet amazing gifts that are a part of nature in this world…it is really all around us. Of course, humans value material things to a certain extent, but let’s not get so focused on just solely these things and forget the priceless treasures that are among us daily.

”To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles”- Mary Davis

Bill Ray’s Watts Riot Photography: ‘Still Seething Collection’ Analyzed

The 1965 Watts riots can be analyzed from different perspectives depending on someone’s personal viewpoints. Some considered it a rebellious act inspired by systematic racism that differentiated the 60’s youth from their ‘We shall Over Come’ peaceful protest-only minded elders, while others consider it a community that caused more damage to their neighborhoods than progressive help/change. These remarkable photos are in vivid color and captured by Life photographer Bill Ray (1936-2020) one year after the bloody and tragic Watts Riots events of 1965.

I remember hearing about the Watts Riots from my parents, whom did not share the same perspective on activism as their elders. Like other baby boomers who were youth in the late 60’s & early 70’s, their ‘icons’ were outspoken young activists like Fred Hampton, Stokley Carmichael, and Malcolm X. It was a time when positive empowering songs like James Brown’s ‘Say It Loud’ was being played on stations and the youth were becoming increasingly angry by the mistreatment they were continuously experiencing.  I also recall seeing the 1993 movie Menace to Society, in which the main character Kane spoke about the infamous Watts Riots in the beginning of the movie, and how it changed the area permanently. At first I always wondered, ”why destroy the businesses and homes in your own neighborhood?” However, now I examine these unfortunate events from multiple viewpoints, and closely analyze the built-up intensity & frustration these youth were feeling leading up to the the Watts Riot.

I love these photos for several different reasons,  partly because I am a history & vintage culture enthusiast. I look at photos like these and wonder what happen to the subjects.  While analyzing the Watts Riots and the community’s transformation, I also think about the historic important neighborhoods in my native city Atlanta, like my father’s childhood on Troy Street. Before drugs like crack and crime infested the area & other  communities across America, these historic areas were filled with families that shared a positive strong connection with their neighbors. There were constant random peaceful block parties with feel-good soulful music blasting throughout the community,  neighborhood fish fry get-together’s full of laughter, kids safely riding their bikes outside and playing until the street lights came on, and just a different type of community-feel then what is present now.

Here are some interesting photos from Bill Ray’s Watts Riots Life Magazine collection.

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Molotov cocktails in Watts, 1966.
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts Los Angelos,1966. Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Pictures

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Molotov cocktails in Watts, 1966. Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Pictures

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

The words painted on the grocery store alerted rioters that the stored was African-American owned. Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Bill Ray/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

Encouraging Positive Self Esteem Among Ladies

Despite what society says is beautiful or not, it is important that people feel sincerely good about themselves. I wish that more ladies would genuinely accept their beauty, and not put others down while doing so. For an example, someone who sincerely is confident with themselves won’t feel the need to give another woman dirty looks, hate on another, or give out bad energy period. I’m speaking from a female’s perspective, but it is really unfortunate to me that insecure women give out negative energy to each other, and this all boils down to how confident they are with themselves. I’m not arrogant or conceited, but despite how attractive or unattractive I am to someone…that doesn’t affect the way I feel about myself. We should not thrive off of people’s compliments or take their criticism to the heart. That is not healthy, and we will never be satisfied. This means loving our body types, our skin, putting an emphasis on inner beauty & just feeling truly great from the inside. Don’t worry about not being someone’s preference or body type, because out of all the people in this wide world….some  will definitely be attracted to you. It’s  just science & how the way things work naturally. I want people to feel better from within, and not critiquing others so harshly just to make themselves feel better. So what if some people don’t like the way you look or whatever? Love the way you look, still be humble, & don’t ever feel bad for being in love with yourself just because of society’s beauty standards! Women should smile at each other more instead of giving dirty looks. I’d rather compliment another female than to hate on her or speak negative. Uplift each other, have authentic inner beauty, and understand that true beauty is more than skin. Our true self esteem level will always come to surface sooner or later. So, let’s not be intimidated by anyone, be beautiful from within, and encourage this among other ladies. Remember, beauty is not just skin deep and being a positive person is a true indicator of genuine confidence & good self esteem.

Ancient Africa Is More Than Egypt

There is nothing wrong with people being interested in the history and culture of Ancient Egypt. However, it seems as if many people tend to focus more on one part of a continent even though there is so much rich and innovative history in other ancient African civilizations as well. What about the history of Sierra Leone, Morocco, Angola, Ghana, Senegal/Gambia, and others? Many African Americans have ancestry and lineage in West Africa, yet many do not know a lot about the history of these regions. The western civilization has put an emphasis on Ancient Egypt, often times with false & inaccurate images. So, it’s okay to be interested in knowing the truth about Ancient Egypt, but this is not the only area of Africa worth knowing about. Although I feel as though Ancient Africa is a history that every human needs to know, however as a black person, I find it interesting that many other black people do not take an interest in finding out more about the regions where some of their ancestors came from in other parts of Africa. Yet, people have followed trends in wearing Pharoah faces on shirts, and jewelry, exploiting/profiting from Ancient Egyptian culture, but many can’t tell you anything about other aspects of Ancient African society. Of course, I am interested in all areas/regions concerning History, but it is fustrasting to me that there is forgotten about history in Africa that is just as important as Egypt, but many only choose to focus on one area in a continent full of history worth learning about.

Verse To Analyze: Lines In Jay-Z’s Moment of Clarity

       Moment of Clarity By Jay Z
“I dumbed down my lyrics for my audience to double my dollars
They criticized me for it, but yet they all yell “holla”
“If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli
Truthfully I want to rhyme like Common Sense
But I did 5 Mil, I ain’t been rhyming like Common since”

If many celebrities, especially popular musicians, can influence people to wear certain designer brands, have suburban kids imitating an image they know nothing about, and influencing little girls to make it a goal to be bad bitches ..then why can’t more use their talent/influence to drastically speak out on what needs attention in this country?  Perhaps, accumulating more wealth is far more important or safer than risking it for a much needed change in our society. Maybe many just don’t care that deep enough. And, perhaps it is also us, the listeners who needs to analyze our mindsets as well.

J. Edgar Hoover Deemed Them The Greatest Threat: Vintage Footage of Black Panther Party’s Youth Learning Centers *Edited*

J. Edgar Hoover once called the Black Panther Party for Self Defense ”the greatest threat to the internal security of this country”. Um,okay. At first I was looking at this quote from just one angle, but if you think about it they stood for a lot of things that many Americans with a mindset like Hoover did not want. So, they were a threat but definitely not a negative/bad one. One definition of ”internal security” means upholding the national law and defending against internal security threats. Yet when I analyze Hoover’s quote, what he really meant was ”keeping the order of things the same way”  and not acting, disturbing, or speaking out against unfair mistreatment/ racism in our society. The Black Panther Party were not about being racist or spreading a hateful message, but they believed in being revolutionary/rebellious concerning the mistreatment/societal issues in our country. In Hoover’s mind this was a great threat to our country’s internal security. Of course, just like all other organizations there were some members who were not really for the party’s cause, however the Black Panther Party were doing great things in the community like helping children learn, get healthy breakfasts, and basically following a belief that is totally fine with me and makes a lot of sense: Self Defense. The problem is, since they were black, armed, and speaking out against the horrible things happening on a mass mainstream level to African Americans and other minority groups….it was a problem. They were a younger generation who did not want to necessarily follow Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s method ,had revolutionary mindsets, and this was threatening to many. Unfortunately and sadly, COINTELPRO  and other illegal projects caused total destruction to the Black Panther Party, which included assassinating people like Fred Hampton, harassment, and etc.  This video is a great example of how The Black Panther Party For Self Defense had learning centers and positive resources in inner city communities. But nevertheless, Hoover said this was the greatest threat to the internal security of our country. I wonder why.

The Art Of Sarcasm In Songs: Two Examples of Songs With Thought Provoking Lyrics To Analyze

   

Both of these songs have a good message, but the way they say it is in a sarcastic way to mock and make you think. Here are the lyrics, which, is the best way to further understand the art and inspiration behind sarcastic/irony filled songs that are actually positive songs.

Christion Full of Smoke

But let us leave these two young men
To sit and reflect on the fate of the world
For life as we know it my brotha, must go on
And so the hustlers continue to hustle
And the playa’s continue to play

I’m the man today
Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
Got a hold on life
I’m takin’ each day by day being strong
Know just where I’m going to

As I get higher and higher
Dreams grow, visions flow by
This is as good as it gets
As I take another hit, suga
I can’t stop, I won’t stop

‘Cuz I’m too cool
And what they say is true
Ooh, I’m full of smoke
‘Cuz I’m too cool
And what they say is true
Ooh, I’m full of smoke

Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down

And all the day time just passes by me slowly
But I’m alright, you’ll see
Faces and places catching different cases
True runners it’s glorified

Same situation, nothin’ ever changes
Just being a bona fide hustler
Hustler, baby, from day to night
Business is as good as it gets
As I take another hit, honey
I won’t stop, I won’t stop

‘Cuz I’m too cool
And what they say is true
Ooh, I’m full of smoke
‘Cuz I’m too cool
And what they say is true
Ooh, I’m full of smoke

Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down

I’m the man today
Can’t tell me ‘cuz I’m feeling

‘Cuz I’m too cool
And what they say is true
Ooh, I’m full of smoke
‘Cuz I’m too cool
And what they say is true
Ooh, I’m full of smoke

Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down

Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down
Watching my life go down

Local H Bound To The Floor
Born to be down
I’ve learned all my lessons before now
Born to be down
I think you’ll get used to it

And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic
And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic

And you don’t
And you don’t
And you don’t
And you don’t

Born to be down
I think that I’ve said this before now
Born to be down
What good is confidence?

And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic
And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic

And you don’t
And you don’t
And you don’t
And you don’t

And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic
And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic

And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic
And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic

And you don’t
And you don’t
And you don’t
And you don’t

And you don’t
And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you don’t
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic
And you don’t
And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you don’t
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic

And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic
And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic

And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic
And you just don’t get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it’s so pathetic

And you don’t

Feminism 101: I Won’t Slut Shame You, So Don’t Virgin Shame Me.

There is nothing wrong with a female  who is against slut shaming. I don’t believe in slut shaming,  but not every woman has the same mentality when it comes to body count and sex.  We are all individuals who have different mindsets, and just because a woman wants to keep her body count as low as possible and does  not want to have casual sex without being in a relationship does not mean she is conforming to society or whatever. It just means she is doing what she thinks is best for her. It is a form of hypocrisy for someone to get angry at slut shaming,  but will turn around and virgin -shame or ridicule another woman for not being as “free” as they want them to be. People find freedom in different things,  and being modest, Abstinent, or “lady like” might give someone the same freedom and happiness that a woman with a different mindset has. The whole concept of women empowerment is supposed to be about uplifting other women with positivity and helping those in disadvantaged situations (education, health issues) & less about freeing the nipple, bashing men in general or bashing those of us who still believe in being classy/ a lady. No matter what “type” of woman you are, we all should uplift each other and encourage equality among every one on this Earth no matter what our personal beliefs are.