15Aug

The Story Behind My Latest Song: Movie

(Click Photo To Hear This Record)
Anyone who is familiar with my catalog of music knows that this record is a departure from the topics I normally touch on. I usually push an “I don’t take crap from men because I am an empowered black woman” type of agenda/message. Given the fact that over the past year I have had so many life changes, my music has also experienced a change. I have fallen in love, started a new role at the corporation I am currently employed with, and started Graduate school to receive a masters degree in Communications and Media. 
The biggest influence to my musical evolution has been falling in love. Not only am I in love, I am in love with someone who is also musically inclined. He made the beat (Gria Bros Productions) for this record, if I might add. This song was one of the most effortless records I have ever made. My boyfriend gave me the beat back in February 2016. I knew I loved the RnB vibe of it but was not sure if I could come up with anything for it. One summer night in June 2016, we were hanging out in his bedroom. I told him I came up with a hook for the record and wanted to lay it down. Before I knew it, I had the hook and a whole verse recorded. It felt organic and effortless, as creating art should always feel. I never labeled it a love song in that moment. It was simply a declaration of my true emotions. Our relationship was brand new, so we were creating so many special first time moments. Everyday with him felt like I was living my life in a movie. Shahid pushes me to try new styles of creating and to approach it with a carefree and festive attitude. It has made all the difference in the records I am currently creating. Makes me realize I am capable of many different styles of music. This record is a celebration of love, and embracing new ways to experience it. 

 

 

31Mar

The Big 30 in the Big Easy

For my 30th birthday, I went to New Orleans and wanted to share a recap of my experience!

I stayed at a beautiful Airbnb in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. This is the oldest African American community in the United States and is filled with so much rich history and culture. My Airbnb host Truedell was super lit. She was accommodating and hospitable. Answered the phone anytime I called her for anything! Gave us free bud and everything when we needed it. Our flight landed 6 hours before check in time so we killed some time chilling at her home, which was 2 blocks from where we were staying. Her husband shared this expensive ass premier bourbon liquor with us and some weed. I was wavy as hell by noon. That set the tone for the whole trip. He gave us a tour of their gorgeous home that he constructed. They rent out various levels throughout their home to Airbnb. I will definitely stay with them anytime I go back.

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17Feb

Don’t Deny This #BlackGirlMagic

When I was in 7th grade, I went to a school dance at the catholic school I attended. It was the last dance of the night and this boy in 8th grade asked me to dance. As we slow danced, he leaned in and kissed me. After the kiss, I felt butterflies and started to feel like I liked him. You know when you young, you gassed over everything ha-ha. After the kiss, he tells me he likes me but he could never show it because his friends and family would judge him because I was black and he was white. I remember feeling confused. I asked myself, why did he even kiss me then? Maybe he just kissed me during the slow dance because the lights were dim and no one would see.

 

Just to show an alternative perspective I will share another story. In 8th grade, this boy named Mike and I would hold hands during recess. Typical young innocent behavior. The other white boys would make fun of him for it but he never cared. That was my dawg when I look back on it. He was brave enough to be himself and like what he liked even at a young age!

 

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, an Italian guy I also use to go to school with tries to slide in my Instagram DMs. He created a fake page with no profile pic and no posts. Sketchy as hell! I found out he is engaged to be married (because women are private detectives so we always get the scoop) but that is not even the part that disturbed me because boys will be boys. What troubled me was the fact that his white family and friends (and fiancé) probably have no idea that he is making advances towards a black girl. Even when we were in school together, we would chat on aim messenger after school (AOL aim was poppin) and he would be very flirtatious. When he would see me in school, that same interest wasn’t shown. Crazy how I can remember something that long ago but I do. I’m sure he didn’t remember that as he was sliding in my DM.

 

Him secretively sliding in my DMs triggered me to think of all the other times in my life that a white man has made a sexual advance at me. I noticed an underlining theme. Most of the time, the advance was made in a secretive way. What is it about black girls that is so bad that a white man has to hide his interest in her? Is it because his family and friends will judge him? On the other hand, maybe he does not even really like black girls but just wants to fulfill a fantasy/fetish.

 

From my personal experience, white men feel the most comfortable to flirt and make sexual advances towards me when they are drunk. In high school, during college, and even after, white men seem to only approach me when they have had one too many. That liquor must give them that extra courage. I always wondered if it was only because they were drunk or did they really like me? I mean, they say “a drunk mind speaks sober thoughts,” but I don’t think I ever believed that saying. People can definitely still tell lies when they are intoxicated.

 

I am a proud black woman and it offends me to think that a man of another race would only want to make advances at me secretly or when he is intoxicated. Are black girls not good enough for people to know you like us? This may be an extreme comparison (but hey, I am an extreme person lol) but it reminds me of slavery when the Master would fornicate with his female slaves but give off the impression he did not like her around his white peers and white wife. I do not ever want to feel that I am someone’s shameful secret or quirky fetish. If you like black women but your friends or family are racist, maybe you should not associate yourself with such ignorant people. Maybe you should be brave enough like that boy Mike from my 8th grade class, and do what you want no matter what people may think. Do not insult this #BLACKGIRLMAGIC by trying to make any black girl your “little secret” or adventurous escapade on a drunk night. Being with a black girl is a privilege and an honor. You can learn a thing or two from us.

 

Nevertheless, if you just want to fulfill a fetish I suggest you look up some Ebony porn or go to an urban strip club and pay for a trick! Us black women are strictly reserved for men who will show us off proudly.

 

*P.S. I responded to him sliding in my DM’s with a link to his engagement website and told him I don’t think his fiancé would like him in my DMs and blocked that ass!

04Feb

Leading the Formation

For as long as I can remember I have always been a girls girl. I never had the desire to be one of the boys. Anyone who knows me or is familiar with my brand is aware of my outspoken beliefs on women supporting and empowering one another. I formed such strong beliefs on this topic when I embarked on my journey as a rapper.

 

As I established a name for myself in a male dominated genre of music, I encountered a lot of sexism. I’ve been told so many negative things, by men specifically. Some of those things include: women don’t make it in rap so you’re wasting your time, you need to ditch the feminist message in your music because it does not appeal to men, and you would have made it already if you were light skin and sexier. Hearing these things never broke my spirit. It fueled me to work harder to prove them wrong and made my skin tough. I never succumb to the narrow-minded opinions of others. I am confident enough to embrace what makes me unique and carve my own lane in the process. 

 

As I began to gain credibility as a recording artist, I noticed a trend that didn’t sit well with me. I would meet women on the scene all the time and they would say they are all about women empowerment and supporting their fellow woman but their actions never matched up to the hype of their words. I never saw a significant amount of women attending my shows, promoting my music, or purchasing my products even after telling me they were fans of my work and singing my praises. I would see these same women go above and beyond for the men in their lives. They would support and promote their male friends, family, boyfriends, boy toys, and prospects with such passion and persistency. I started to wonder, why were these same women not giving their fellow woman that same love? 

 

I started aggressively challenging (and checking) women by asking the hard hitting questions: When was the last time you went to an event to support another woman? When was the last time you supported a female entreprenuer by buying her product or promoting it? Do you ever take action to support other women wholeheartedly? Having to ask those questions made me angry because I knew the painful truth. I would rant about it on social networks and make myself look like a bitter angry feminist who hated men and resented women for supporting those men. Nothing good comes from social network rants, I’ve learned. Even though what I was saying was factual, my harsh and blunt approach only alienated my female audience. It made them feel judged. I have decided to take a new approach. Lead by example. If I show women the right way to support each other by the way I live my life, that will inspire them to get in formation.

 

I go to at least 1 event per month to support other female creatives. Women encounter a lot of obstacles trying to build their brands so I purchase and promote their products and gladly give them my business. My website that you are on right now was designed by a female graphic designer named Vanatei. She also runs VanateiCosmetics.com and her Countess color matte lipstick is my favorite. Whenever someone compliments me when I wear it, I use it as an opportunity to promote her. I know a comedian named Ariel Leaty and I attend her comedy shows and show my support. I know a writer named Nuru Subira who published her first book of poems Fly, Blackbird and I purchased it on amazon. I can go on and on with all the talented female entrepreneurs I know and go out my way to support so…

 

C’mon ladies, now lets get in formation.

23Jan

Monday Motivation: The Story Behind the “Bad Apple” Music Video

Grounds For Sculptures: Hamilton, NJ

 

Many of you reading this may have already seen my music video for Bad Apple.

The above photo captures the moment in which the idea for the video came to my mind.

I was on a date with my boyfriend at Grounds For Sculptures (an outdoor sculpture garden). As we went through the garden and marveled at all the beautiful things we saw, we came across this card game set up with 3 male mannequins. I sat in the empty seat at the table to take a photograph. As I sat there I thought  about how sitting here with men who cannot hear or see me is often times how women feel when their voices are not being heard. I thought about everything the Bad Apple song (click on “Bad Apple Song to purchase on iTunes now!) stands for and how the video must demonstrate that empowerment as well. In that moment I knew I had to shoot the video here. I immediately asked me boyfriend, who made the beat for Bad Apple under his production company The Gria Brothers LLC, what he thought of the idea. He had a look of surprise on his face. It was such a spontaneous decision with no real blueprint but he was supportive nonetheless and encouraged me to explore the idea to its fullest potential. (You need people around you who will nurture your ideas and encourage you) 

The idea of taking on such a production made me anxious. How would I pull this off?

  • – Getting a group of dependable women to drive down an hour away to play extras in the video
  • – Making sure the videographer understands and properly executes my vision
  • – Making sure not to disturb the establishment and the other guests visiting the museum
  • – Getting all the scenes we needed before sunset

It was a mighty task to take on but I knew I wanted to tell this story. I took a deep breath, devised a plan, approached it with confidence, and was able to execute a piece of artistic expression that I am beyond proud of. I leaned on others for their guidance, assistance, and support. I knew I could not do it alone. It would have to be a group effort.

We got to the location late and only had a 3 hour window to shoot before the sun went down. We did not have a blueprint or layout for the scenes we wanted to shoot. We were really just winging it off my memory of the various sculptures I could remember from my last visit. We walked around and found new places I had not seen the last time I was there. The garden is huge so there were locations I planned to shoot that I could not locate. We came across many unexpected situations but did the best we could in every moment. After the video was shot, I spent hours over face-time with the director, Jace, piecing the scenes together to put together a video we both could be proud of. The above photo was one of the locations I did not get to shoot at but it spawned the idea for the foundation of what the video stood for.

This experience gave me wisdom. It taught me that just because something scares you, does not mean you should not take it on; does not mean you cannot get it done! Maybe the more it scares you, the more you should go in the direction of that fear. You’ll be surprised to see what you are made of.

 

18Jan

Know Yourself

                 I recently paid a visit to my go to nail salon, LA Nails. During my visit I was chatting it up with my favorite nail technician Maria. She is Ecuadorian and speaks broken English at best. On this particular day she was speaking Spanish with a young lady who was getting her nails done right next to me. I politely joined the conversation and asked what they were discussing. Maria shared her disappoint in her granddaughter who refuses to learn or speak Spanish. 

                 I chimed in and expressed the importance of her learning to speak Spanish and how helpful it will be to her in the future. The girl next to me confessed to Maria and I that she only speaks Spanish a little bit and regrets that she did not take the time to learn it from her mother as a child. I mentioned that Spanish will soon be the number one spoken language in America, over English. Both of them looked surprised, as they were not aware of this fact. I’m sure when Maria’s granddaughter starts applying for jobs and it says, “Bilingual preferred” she will be kicking herself in the ass. 

                That conversation caused me to think about my culture. I am first generation American in my family. I grew up in a household where English was not the primary language spoken. I am beyond grateful that I know how to speak and read Creole. I have been visiting Haiti since a toddler and embrace my culture with pride and intrigue. I know a lot of Haitians who are first generation American who do not speak or understand Creole. Nor have they ever been to Haiti. They seem disinterested in learning about any of it. How could you not want to know your roots? How could you not want to essentially, know yourself?

With my grandmother Marie at her home in Ennery, Haiti. February 2016.

               I reflect on the conversations I’ve had with my grandmother throughout my life. I reminisce on her colorful stories and life altering wisdom. What a disservice I would have done to myself if I had not been able to communicate with her. She did not speak any English; nor would I have ever placed that burden upon her in order to appease me.  I see the value in engulfing myself in my roots. I hope to instill that in my future children, and their children. I have faith that Maria still has time to teach the importance of culture to her granddaughter too. 

12Jan

Dear Momma

As I mature into my womanhood I realize the importance of familial relationships; especially the one with the person who gave me life. I have not always been the best daughter I could be. I get so busy living my own life I forget to nurture the relationships with the people I love, and love me back. I make it my duty to give my mother more quality time. Asking her to share stories about our family and my grandmother who passed away 9 months ago. Asking her to give me better insight on Haitian culture, traditions, and beliefs. Having her show me how to cook some of my favorite Haitian dishes (I am getting pretty good if I say so myself). I continue to learn so much from her. So much wisdom in one little lady!

So say hello to my mother, Antoinette Philippe.

And don’t forget to show your own mother some tender love and care if you haven’t lately! You’ll be better for it and feel better for it.

19Nov

Services: Professional Drafted Contracts

A lot of artists are scared to ask for money because we have been brainwashed to believe we don’t deserve to be paid until we are a mainstream success. That isn’t the truth. The “mom and pop” store still deserves to be paid even if they aren’t as big as a Walmart.

 

​If you are a local artist or entrepreneur who wants to establish standards for their talents and/or services, I am here to assist! I draft personalized business contracts & detailed service agreements. This document will specify your requirements in order to do business. If you have demands but need help on how to properly & professional word it, look no further! Whether you are mainstream, underground, or local, you deserve monetary compensation for your time & energy. If you want to be taken seriously within your career, having a professional contract is the only way to establish your value! Since I have started presenting my contract when I do business, I have been taken more seriously as well as compensated for my talents. Let me help you step up your professionalism by drafting an eloquently written personalized service agreement contract for you!