Thursday, 3 September 2015

THREE | I remember you was conflicted...

I've known I had a gift for writing from quite young - primary school age.

I remember I would always get awards from the head teacher for my creative writing and A* from my class teachers and often had to read my work in front of the rest of the class. I was never boastful with it, I just knew it was something I enjoyed doing and was passionate about. I loved creating my own world, characters and being in charge of their development and the how the story would progress.

I was quite a gifted illustrator too!

I always had images in my stories and art is another thing I was pretty good at in school.

I was also quite active in the 'fan fic' scene back when message boards were a thing. I'd write stories with the B2K members, Bow Wow and whoever else was a hot commodity at the time. I honestly wish I could find them and post them on here, I remember them being very well detailed but just truly and utterly unrealistic.

As I got older, I thought I'd fallen out of love with writing and producing a piece of writing, but subconsciously, that feeling had never left, I just became more passionate about other things and let those things distract me.

Now at 25, I've only now just realised this is my God-given talent.

I don't think people understand, writing is a whole process... there's a whole process that has to take place in your mind before you even attempt to pick up a pen or open Microsoft Word. To be honest, I think that's partly what puts me off writing these days, I'm so critical of my work - it really pains me sometimes!

I have to literally train my mind to behave a certain way in order for me to focus and come up with content that I'll be at least content with. It's a constant battle and inner conflict and easy to take out the frustration on other things.

I suffer from writer's block a lot, mainly from overthinking and am always seeking inspiration.
There was a period where I would write dozens of stories in my little note book I got from my after school centre but could never finish any of them. Tragic.

We'll just never know the fate of David and Emily's dysfunctional relationship or what happened to their poor, adopted dog, Warren.

However, the older I get I'm slowly starting to see there's inspiration in so many other things, you can literally step outside your house, see something and it will inspire a thought.

An idea.

A story.

An opinion piece.

A song - whatever.

I've learned it's about altering your perspective, training your mind and thoughts and ultimately having a vision.

I need to work on not giving myself such a hard time about people not being able to understand what I'm trying to communicate. I believe the more I keep writing, the more I'll start to ease up on myself.

This post has actually inspired me to start song-writing again, so look out for those - if I'm brave enough to post them!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

TWO | When did you first fall in love with Hip-Hop?

I first fell in love with hip-hop at around 11 or 12.

You see, I was raised in a house hold that appreciated and exposed me to a diverse range of music.
Growing up, my parents loved the classics - Whitney, The Jacksons, Michael, Janet, Donna Summer. But there was also a lot of country music played, funk, classical and rap, so I've always had an open-mind, not just towards music but life in general (growing up where I grew up, there were a lot of influences around, I'll get to that later though).

I regret not being old enough to fully enjoy or appreciate playing the vinyls on the record player! 😭

A typical kid growing up in the 90's without the internet and the likes of google, myspace or  soundcloud to discover new artists, I listened to a lot of popular music and whatever was playing on radio and music TV channels, which of course included a lot of rap music. It literally wasn't until we finally got internet in the house that I began to find out all I'd been missing out on!

The media had and still has an overwhelmingly American bias, as we all know, especially over here in the UK, so it was easy to find up-and-coming and underground music during my formative years.

And then with all the US imported TV shows and magazines and the mainstream emergence of more Hip-Hop and R&B radio stations here in London, that's when I really started to find all these new artists (I kind of had a knack for finding new artists). I remember I would hear a song and then go and look it up online and find out it was a sample of another song and then I'd research that song and that's how I would find out about all these old school artists like Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, De La Soul, Souls of Mischief etc (I kind of had a knack for finding new artists) and that's why I've always been so fascinated by how they even come across these sometimes obscure songs, take a small part of it song from 1973 and transform it into something special.

I was so fascinated by producers and musicians, I remember back in the Myspace days all my friends on there were involved in making music and I'd go to their studio sessions and watch in complete awe how the whole process would come together.

I was constantly researching and just eager to learn more about this genre, this lifestyle. Only my sister knows this, but I used to steal copies of Vibe and The Source magazines! They were so expensive over and I just had to know what was going on in the world of Hip-Hop, (not an excuse I know, trust me, I always felt bad after) so whenever I didn't have enough money for lunch and a magazine, I wasn't stupid enough to miss out on lunch! It's kind of funny looking back, because while my classmates were stealing clothes and accessories, I was stealing magazines... crazy.

There were so little resources available at the time that a 15-year-old could get access to so I had to do what I had to do.

 These are some of the copies I actually bought/stole and it makes me laugh because I had no business reading any of these at all! But that's just a testament to show how powerful and influential the hip-hop culture is. I guess for me it was like these people were from a different planet, I couldn't relate to their lives at all or how it was for them growing up but it was still so interesting. I had a fairly normal upbringing which was quite sheltered for the most part, but I guess what we all had in common was the love for the music.

I was so inspired by Brandy's character Moesha on the show with the same name, I became obsessed with Vibe magazine and it was around that time I decided I wanted to become a journalist or writer. But I digress.

Going to America for the first time when I was about 14 or 15 furthered my obsession with the culture - So embarrassing now but at the time, I was so desperate to blend in with the Americans, I made sure I dressed like them... well my interpretation of what the average New Yorker who was raised in the projects (safe to say I've pretty much been obsessed with New York ever since).
I begged my mum to buy me a pair of timberlands, I already had my baggy jeans and my snapback cap (that I would of course wear back to front) courtesy of Virgin Atlantic who flew us there to boot, got my lavender timbs and I was good to go!

Hip-Hop and rap music ultimately got me into basketball, fashion and even Grime music which originated in the streets of East London in the early 2000s. As the years have gone by, I've really
come to appreciate what hip-hop was and is and everything that makes it what it is. I find myself these days going back and listening to the older stuff because music these days really isn't cutting it. I think we could all find some inspiration by going back and appreciating the talent from yesteryear.

Here's to Rock The Bells,  and more hip-hop festivals in general coming over or back to London!

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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

ONE | Talk about it

Being a believer in this current climate is the hardest thing ever!!

Trying to uphold and maintain my Christian values and ultimately my relationship with God, while all this craziness ensues, specifically over in the States - police brutality, corruption, senseless murders, racism etc. - is becoming a daily battle to keep my insanity and not spazz out!


I'm naturally a calm, laid-back person but I'm also extremely passionate and it's hard to maintain that calm, laid-back attitude when there's so much injustice affecting my fellow brothers and sisters. Admittedly, I usually wouldn't let it affect my spirit too much, but having spent more than 6+ months in the States between last year and this year (the height of murders by police in the US), there's no way I could not take notice when everyday if not, everyday, there was a case every night on the news. One of the most significant cases while I was there was of 50-year-old Walter Scott in Charleston, South Carolina (note: just a few miles from the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston back in June, I was in the States when that happened too but that's for another post).

Since then there have been numerous other shootings and instances of thoughtless police brutality; kids, women and of course the Charleston church tragedy and it gets to a point where you, for a split second, contemplate this never ending.

But then I'm reminded by God, these are the times when we need to be praying the most and talking to him on a daily basis for peace of mind, wisdom, patience and most importantly, love.
It's the lack of love we have for each other as human beings that got us here in the first place, but it's not too late.

As long as we're still living, breathing, there's always another chance to make a difference and turn things around.

I can never lose my faith, ever because of what God has promised. He never said everything would be harmonic all the time and through the trials and tribulations we learn wisdom and crucial life lessons about ourselves, each other and the Lord almighty. What we learn, we later pass onto the next generation, the ones coming up after us and so on and so forth

As long as we ride these waves, go through these tough seasons while looking to him and seeking him throughout, we'll start to reap the blessings and favour God has promised us.

I honestly believe that people in power need to speak up more about these issues and speak life into these situations. It's like, you've been given this platform to talk about whatever you want, why not use it responsibly? To do good? 
I love what Kendrick LamarJ. Cole have been doing, music with substance, and so much truth - you really have to commend them for being able to stay mainstream and still able to hold an audience and get people to listen.

('To Pimp A Butterfly' and the movie 'Straight Outta Compton' partly inspired this loooong overdue post)

If that isn't inspiration for using your talents for good, I don't know what is...

We all need to step it up to be quite honest, myself included and not necessarily for us but for the generations to come. I love that their has been an influx of organisations and grassroots efforts in the wake of this current wave. There really is no excuse in this day and age, so I really encourage anyone reading this - let's do something! 

Something is better than nothing. 

I'm not saying we need to organise protests every week or hold rallies but we actually have healthy discussions and educate ourselves instead of speaking out of ignorance or naivety. 

Be encouraged and stay positive, things have already started changing, let's keep the momentum going.