I Live in LA…

I moved to LA just over two weeks ago. It is not a decision that was made lightly, come to think about it, its inception came with the new year. Each month at work we would plan out our calendar, filled with team outings, special events, and days of recognition. Not unlike most, with the New Year came New Year’s Resolutions. So many people have a love/hate relationship with the idea of making resolutions but it is a habit I have come to enjoy and look forward to. On our team, at work, we made vision boards to hang at our desks, this way our days would be led, both consciously and not, with thoughts and images that would propel us into the direction of our dreams and completing our goals. In retrospect, I notice that I have actually been looking at my path every day for seven months before I ever left Virginia. A vision full of quotes of inclusion, countries to visit, and a cut out of the word HOLLYWOOD. Fast forward just a bit, maybe a few months later, and I actually started to have dreams that would push me further. They were reoccurring, maybe two or three dreams that were time sensitive. All centered around me moving to Los Angeles, where an obstacle or some sort of family life almost kept me from leaving. A flight nearly missed, or an opportunity that I wasn’t able to take advantage of, yet in the end, I always made it. These dreams made me believe that I had just a small window of time to plot out and make the move, or I would miss my opportunity and live a life unfulfilled. After that I was certain. I knew that God had something to do with this, like it wasn’t just me wanting to pick up and go somewhere or be famous. I felt and I prayed that I would align myself in God’s will for my life. So, I started to actualize my vision with a plan. I decided that I would give myself to the end of summer ’17 to move to California. I prayed some more, I fasted, and I knew that by August 29, sink or swim and ready or not, I would leave my nest of home and pursue a life of passion.

IMG_2640I moved to LA July 19, a little over a month before my intended plan. The budget that I had been planning to implement, out the window, My savings account, pretty depleted. All I had to really hold onto was the fact that I was working up until that last Friday, that way I was set up to leave with a full paycheck from my employer, as well as one on the way, once I made it to California, a weeks work for that following pay period. Celi ended up presenting an option for a two bedroom in her neighborhood that we had the potential to try and secure for the month of July. Neither of us wanted to pass up on the opportunity and although we didn’t end up going that route, that was my catalyst. It left me with a date I would not be able to walk back out of and as soon as I surrendered to it, everything else fell into place. It’s interesting. I put a ton of energy into feeling like I needed to leave with a certain amount of money,or interviews and jobs lined up; yet, as soon as I trusted myself with the date, all the weary of needing the picture perfect exit plan escaped me. I felt unstoppable and it didn’t matter how much money I had on standby, I was leaving Newport News, Virginia.

There were no tears at the airport that Wednesday morning. My mother waited until we parted ways to have her moment; thankfully so, and I have yet to cry since leaving VA. I never would have imagined things would happen as quickly as they have. As soon as I landed at LAX we literally hit the ground running. These past two weeks have been a bit of a busy blur. I’ve been to Palm Springs, visited a friend from school in San Diego, hiked Runyon Canyon, and met so many people. Literally by the time we got to Sunday I was begging Celi for the weekend to be over. Don’t get me wrong, it was great fun and adventure, the world never stopped, but I felt in my spirit that I needed a moment to sort of be still and plant my feet into the ground of Southern California. I needed my mind and body to recognize the fact that I was 3K miles away from home and on a journey, all on my own.

As fate would allow, I had all of about 2 days or so to come to that realization. By that Wednesday I was at an interview with a temp agency and by Friday I had booked my first industry gig, hired to work as a Production Assistant on the set of a feature film, Jezebel, through Monday. I was floored. Are you kidding me?! Let’s be clear, I was super ecstatic to even have an opportunity of this magnitude. All with little to no experience, and so quickly into my life in LA. I had another interview, (yesterday) which went really well and I can’t wait for everything that’s about to happen. This train is just getting started. I had a production meeting for #TSAP, (The Sunday Afternoon Podcast) coming very soon! Also, August 14, I am hosting a script reading for none other than my best friend, and roommate Franceli Chapman. She wrote a movie y’all so stay tuned for all this greatness.

P.S. I got the job.

DAY 11: A Song that you NEVER get Tired of

These are harder than I thought they would be! This one is really tough because there are so many songs that I love and they never get old to me. I wanted to go with the first song that comes to my head, but then again, I also want to choose music that will be impactful and make others feel the same.

The first time I heard Mariah Carey I had to have died a little bit. I don’t know why or how I even relate so much to who she is, vocally, but I say it all the time, the first dream I ever had was to sing backup for Mariah Carey. Like, I’m pretty sure I was still high school  trying to actualize this dream! I knew the lyrics, I have the hand gestures down, and back in high school I could easily belt out one of her infamous whistles. You couldn’t tell me nothing!

Anyway, this song always shows up when I shuffle my apple music, each time I scream at the top of my lungs trying to hit the whistle sequence at the end. If I’m good and warm, on a good day, I can hit a few.

30 DAY MUSIC CHALLENGE

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Better late than never! I have been looking for a blog challenge, because I haven’t done one in so long, when I stumbled across this gem on IG. It’s the perfect prompt for me because music is such a huge part of who I am. So for the duration of the month, each day I will post a song and blog about the reason I chose it.

I’ll do the first seven days sometime between now and the 30th. I would love for you to participate with me and if you don’t want to write about your song choice, you can always comply with the challenge and share your song of the day with me. This should be fun! 🙂

 

After Sunday: 10/23/16

Sometimes I listen back to the podcast and I cringe. There were so many moments, in this episode, where I felt as if I had no clue how to articulate just exactly what was on my mind. And, I do believe, that’s the beauty of this After Sunday series.

We started this weeks episode with an announcement, that low-key, went seemingly unnoticed. Perhaps it was just that natural, but LUHRAY is the official co-host of The Sunday Afternoon podcast. I’m thrilled for many reasons. Not just because we have known each other for the most of our lives, or because when I first had the idea to go in and start a podcast I wanted to do it with her, but more than anything, because we gel so well together! I believe ours is a relationship that will grow both of us, the show, and our brands, collectively and independently. There is so much work to do, but I truly am excited to move forward into all that is to come.

Also, I wanted to flush out a bit more of the conversation we had about my father and his birthday. You can check out the backstory on our relationship, here. I think that Laure’s advice was deeply insightful, to just be, and invite the man to do things that we can both appreciate, together. I won’t lie, it won’t be the easiest thing in the world, for me. However, it really changes my perspective and takes the pressure off of trying to repair a relationship and just foster a space to build with the man.

In many ways, thats the exact same sentiment we have to take with relationships in general. Getting rid of all the pressure and just learning to be with people and communicating with them. More openly and more honestly. That’s the challenge of adulting. At least as I know it to be.

The idea of support is pertinent to me. When you think about you dreams and your goals there is no way you can consider them coming to fruition without some semblance of support. The topic was liking and lurking. Which one are you? I’ve spent a lot of time considering my vantage point and changing my mindset when it comes to an assessment of social media. It’s hard y’all, because we spend so much time in our own heads consistently evaluating the way in which other people perceive us. I can save you some trouble, it leads to nowhere. Chin up and check out this episode.

https://soundcloud.com/keith-andre-3/liking-or-lurking

We’ll definitely see you Sunday. Oh, and I have a few tricks up my sleeves!

 

Carlton Baker: ’92 Love Episodes

Its strange. How little I actually know about Carlton Baker. I mean, we’ve got a few mutual friends. At some points our paths crossed at Norfolk State University as well, I can remember glimpses of show and performances featuring his talent. I’ve even seen him perform at local open mic nights, but we’ve never formally met.

I was considerably surprised when I saw my name tagged in a post of his on Facebook, seeking bloggers. (thanks @itstereno) Particularly because I felt noticed. That my talent for writing had finally become increasingly visible, appreciated and acknowledged by others. But, that is a whole different story.  Carlton inboxed me and wanted to know if I would listen to his project and let him know how I feel about it, good or bad, and I could not have been more honored to do so.

Make no mistake about it, the boy is a beast. It is difficult to describe his talent though, because  he has access to the parts of his voice that most male singers dream about. If I had to make any comparison it would have to be to Musiq Soulchild. His tone is masculine with an array of range. He flows beautifully between his head, mixed and chest voice. The most appealing aspect about his voice is his ability to just sing. He does so effortlessly. Like, there is an earthiness about it, grounded in his body, and it never feels contrived, or thought too hard about.

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The project, ’92:Love Episodes,  released just a couple of weeks ago, features nine tracks. They are all well produced. I was definitely impressed, sonically, the composition of the record is dope. Every track is seemingly professional, for lack of better words. The sound is definitely RnB and its just in time for the sumner.

Honestly, we’d be here all day if I went through each of the tracks. I feel like ’92 is a great introduction to who Carlton Baker is as an artist and I’ve got so many questions. I can hear it on the radio and I’ve spent a lot of time riding in my own honda, sun roof open, blasting the record. He ebs and flows over each track easily. But don’t plan on singing along without a few listens because Carlton’s got an affinity for runs that don’t end.  Sing well sir.

If I had to choose only one song from the album it would undoubtedly be Time Flies, it speaks to me most for what I’d like to continue to hear from him, he shines as an artist, as a creative artist. If I had no choice but to get rid of one of the records it’d probably be the trap/rnb influenced Flash. Only because one has to go and I’m just more inclined to 90’s RnB. And, if there was one thing I had to change about the project as a whole it would be more focus on the background vocals, I like them to be complex, especially with a voice like his.

I can enjoy the project without skipping any tracks. Carlton Baker is a singer/songwriter and I’m pretty sure he gets it. His ability to remain true to himself, or at least what I perceive him to be, while being creative and artistic is uncommon, and applauded. I believe in the power of opportunity and more than anything the need for support. We all know talent alone isnt enough to “win” but there still is no denying it. I find myself most attracted to talent that is unassuming, when it’s packaged with a person who has a passion for greater but still genuine in spirit. That is exactly who I see Carlton Baker to be.

Stay Connected for an exclusive interview, coming soon. In the meantime, ’92: Love Episodes is available on all digital platforms and you can follow Carlton at @officialcarltonmusic.

This is Why I Rock

Since its inception really, Black Girls Rock has been a pretty big deal. In 2006, Beverly Bond launched an organization for empowerment with a mission to uplift and actually mentor young Black women, by celebrating great Black women. What she has accomplished is so much bigger, and ceiling shattering, than just that.

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One of the most fascinating aspects of Black women is the fact that there is this shared sisterhood of likeness. Black women have found increased ways to bond over communal experiences, similar trials and tribulation, and overall and unwavering will to overcome and succumb to greatness. It is beautiful to see how one Black woman can link herself, her voice to another, especially in media and that camaraderie has served as a platform to usher more Black women into the room, seated at the table.

Conversely, there is not a similar sentiment for Black men in media. Interestingly enough, I don’t think its a conversation thats been had, but there is no voice to celebrate Black men, particularly, and there absolutely is no bond of brotherhood.  I think its unfortunate. I mean don’t get me wrong, there are so many great Black men that I follow and consider myself a student to; Toure, Jesse Williams, Michael Arceneaux, Barack Obama, Will Smith, Marc Lamont Hill, Stephen Curry, John Legend and the list goes on and on, and on.

There appears to be a common disconnect when it comes to black men relating to one another, openly, and I think it all is rooted in the idea, facade, and/or appearance of masculinity. So much of our culture is rooted in defining a sense of hyper masculinity. Think about it, the images projected in media and reality alike all come down to a black man being a “no good” or gay. That’s the spectrum and it is those same ideas that not only limit the ways in which others view us, but the ways in which we view ourselves. Ultimately we lack in challenging those beliefs.

Prime example. Two black men go into a restroom. There are three urinals and one is occupied. Instead of standing next to another man, one of the gentlemen will elect to wait or use the toilet facility, but why? It’s all about masculinity. It is as if there is something so deep inside of us that makes us follow a stringent guideline. One that gives a head nod in passing each other in public, or deepening our voice to speak to another black man we don’t know, or even averting our eyes to one another, so as to not have to speak at all. This happens more often than not for me because in most encounters I am the polar opposite, the complete antithesis to what “manhood” looks like.

prince-lianne-la-havas-clouds-mp3-mainLately I’ve taken more notice to the whole idea of finding a formula that allows Black men to come together and celebrate each other. The untimely passing of Prince reveals much. Here is a man who broke every standard and narrative of Black manhood. He did so diligently, he owned every ounce of who he was as an artist and a Black man. From what appeared to be the fluidity of his sexuality to his religion, he was most conscious of his presentation of himself,  and he managed to do so with the respect of Black men. Moreover, the African American community.

Yet, Prince remained an anomaly of sorts. A rare occurrence of acceptance that so many people will never willingly acknowledge. Still, examine the relationship of Prince and Michael Jackson, one would expect that these two “otherlings” (when it comes to what is perceived to be Black manhood in America), to be the very best of friends. However, there is no record of friendship between the two, even with all that they seemingly appeared to have in common.

Black men have difficulty accepting each other. I deeply believe that there is a craving, and a space available for us to shape the thoughts and experiences of Black boys in this country through the lens of media and entertainment. Black men are brilliant, intelligent, solution oriented, problem solving, handsome, compassionate, resilient, protective,  genuine, and unique. I am a Black man. This is why I rock. Because I stand on the backs of my ancestors, because I believe in the oneness of the human experience, and because I readily accept the challenge to reshape the standard of our Black identity, as well as the plight of community instead of angst in each other.

TOP FIVE .

1 KEVIN HART 

Somewhere along the way I missed the memo that this man was a complete boss. Well, I’m quite remiss, but I’m taking detailed notes. Earlier this week he did an interview with the breakfast club and shared just how dope he is. What I enjoy most is how intentional he is with his brand and the decisions he makes to sustain his greatness.

 

2 #OscarsSTILLsowhite

In case you missed it, the list is out for the 2016 Academy Award nominees. Surprisingly to some, way more than others, the list features no one of color, not in any of the four major categories (or elsewhere really), for the second year in a row. I’m hugely disappointed, and I’ve wrote about it years ago, here, White Guilt in Hollywood, for MusedMagazine. Now, with sentiments like those of Jada Pinkett-Smith,

But we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together?

I definitely plan to see The Revenant and its looking like the Academy may finally be ready to give Leo his Oscar, but I may be boycotting this years festivities.

3 SHADES OF BLUEp11770766_b_v8_aa

At 46 years old Jennifer Lopez is a complete powerhouse. She’s left a long withstanding mark on the entertainment industry and she’s leading a new series, Shades of Blue on NBC, Thursdays at 10PM. At it’s premise the show is about a complicated cop (J.Lo) who finds herself in a dilemma to face jail time or turn on her squad as an informant for the FBI. The show is two episodes in and I’ll continue to watch, check it out.

 

4 UNEVERSAID ft @itsbmcknight

ObRA5UFeHe’s the son of RNB legend Brian McKnight and just like Dad he has a voice and is pursuing  music. I came across Archie McKnight on twitter and he shared this song with me. What I appreciate most is the fact that he is telling a story through song, you know, the way RNB music always has? Well, in 2016 its not the easy thing to hold onto. His palate is reminiscent of Usher mixed with Mario and of course Brian. Check out TheFALLAlbum on soundcloud, here.

 

5 NURSE JACKIE

Nothing is more comforting on the weekend then a good binge on Netflix. Sure, I’m tardy to the party bur I’m now in the fourth season of showtimes hit, Nurse Jackie. At its crux the show is a survey of humanity. Jackie is flawed deeply; yet, righteous and completely relatable. If you’ve got the time give it a chance.

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Emergency room nurse Jackie Peyton does everything she can to provide her patients with the best care possible while navigating the waters of a crumbling health-care system. But she has a secret that is increasingly difficult to keep from people — she relies on Vicodin and Adderall to get her through high-stress shifts at a New York hospital, where she isn’t above bending the rules to keep things running smoothly in the face of indifferent doctors, penny-pinching bean counters and miles of bureaucratic red tape.