Rest Well, Neighborhood Nip’

When I was Music Ed. Asst. at VIBE back in the day, one of the things I did was essentially host new artists. If you were a new act in Hip-Hop/R&B and your label/team knew right, they’d plan a meet-and-greet with our staff.

In 2009 Nipsey Hussle visited our office a little after we moved to Wall Street. I got him situated in the conference room. Wrangled staff to come listen to “this LA rapper with a Snoop feel.” (I was trying to sell jaded staffers on leaving their desks to hear new music.)

Once I loaded his CD into the boom box and hit play, everyone acted like being there was a decision they didn’t make reluctantly. Lol, he was dope! I remember liking “Hussle in the House.” But what I loved was the brief Q&A I had with him in the conf. room when the music stopped.

I’m not going to lie to y’all and act like I remember specific words from that chat. But I do recall being impressed with him because listening to him speak and hearing his accent, slang, and such… you’d think he was just another around-the-way LA hood cat. Wrong.

His ideas were elevated. He talked about investing in real estate being a goal. He talked about how being in the studio was the key to leaving the mess of his old life behind. He talked about wanting to put his people on.

In the years since it was a joy to see Nipsey hustle and win. Especially last year. His album Victory Lap was as good of a business move as it was musically (And musically it was great!). I enjoyed his press run for it, too.

In interviews he talked about getting his body and mind right. Manifestation/visualization. Being a true businessman. You could tell he’d taken The Turn. Like he had ascended and become a true hero of our culture that was doing good in our community with his actions. Inspiring!

I think that’s when our stars become most dangerous. When they’re connected and communicate their success blueprint to their community. When they’re not greedy and try to lift more of their people up by using their voice to share. Nipsey seemed like that dude.

Neighborhood Nip. I loved that nickname.

His death hurts. I just hate it when it looks like the bad guys won. They took one of the good ones. Took a guy that people could feel because he literally could still be touched. He was still in the hood. Not stunting or showing out.

Doing business. Bringing money into it. Lifting it up. Showing people the way daily. Ugh. I don’t have a thoughtful finale to this chain. It sucks that he’s gone. He was good for us. He was good.

Tour Fashion: Jay-Z and Beyonce’s On the Run II | Drake and Migos


As the game changes and traditional reviews become less of a commodity (who wants to read a play-by-play of a concert when it’s being plastered by fans over social media, city-by-city?), I’ve had to find ways to cover shows and qualify my access to all the cool shit I get to go to. It’s a blessing to get a free pair of tix to see huge acts rock.

How Beyonce, JAY-Z, Migos And Drake Made Their Tour Stages Fashion Runways, Too

A decade in the biz and great relationships means that no-strings-attached assists happen all the time. Still, why not mix a little work in with play and get a good story off? So instead of doing a basic review of the Drake and The Three Migos and Jay-Z and Beyonce’s On the Run II tours, I stepped to it from a fashion perspective. What brands assisted these guys in looking like the icons they are? I ended up talking to Migos’ stylist Zoe Costello and designer LaQuan Smith for Vibe Magazine and learning about what goes into draping Jay, Bey’, Drake and the Atlanta amigos for the road.

Read it here.

Air Jordan Talk with DJ Khaled

DJ Khaled | Shot by Jerritt Clark / Getty Images for Epic Records

DJ Khaled’s a man for the people. I met up with him to talk about his new Air Jordans. Following the press conference of sorts that he held to debut the sneaks, fans who lined the block to see him were allowed inside. We were supposed to have a brief interview in a back room, but he insisted that we do it in the main area with the fans.

DJ Khaled opens up about Jay-Z and Beyoncé, his son Asahd and his recent Jordan Brand collaboration

So at the podium, he picked up his microphone as I sat next to him. “This is one of the big editors,” Khaled told the crowd jokingly, urging them to quiet down. His publicist had just told him that I was with the Los Angeles Times Fashion section. Then he slid me an ice cold water, in a motion that suggested I deserved it more than he. Comedically catering to me aside, we had a fun convo about his Air Jordan IIIs, how his Airness inspired him, and creating furniture. Head over to the LA Times to read it all here

 

 

Blood Orange and Touring Grief: Billboard Review

 

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Devonte “Blood Orange” Hynes | Photo c/o Instagram

 


 

I saw what maybe was my fourth Blood Orange show a few weeks back. I love his latest album, Negro Swan. As I mention in my Billboard piece about that Friday night at The Greek Theater here in L.A., Swan is a fragile collection of sad happenings in singer-songwriter Devonte Hynes’ life.

Blood Orange’s Negro Swan Tour Brings an Outcast’s Pain to a City Near You

His concert reflected that, which made me feel for him. There’s a victory in turning tough times into income and a viable connection with countless fans and followers. But still, after three mostly somber solo offerings, I’m about ready to hear a joy-filled Blood Orange album. I guess that means he’d have to live a happy life that inspires that sort of content and sound. I wish that for him, too.

Read the piece here.

Recommended Viewing: Sorry To Bother You

sorry-bother-poster

To call Sorry to Bother You “this year’s Get Out” is somewhat accurate, but also reductive. Similar to Jordan Peele’s cult-turned-critically acclaimed classic, it deals with race and what the Black man experiences in a dynamic way. But there’s more at play here.

This film truly is a sci-fi dark comedy that also functions as a conversation starter about the idea of capitalism. It asks: How far will one man and his job’s CEO go to make a dollar? I loved this movie for director Boots Riley’s perspective, so much so that I wish I hadn’t seen it alone. It would have been better to catch it with a bunch of friends and then talk it through my thoughts over food and drinks.

When I first saw the trailer (which not once hints at all the wild hell that breaks loose around the two-thirds mark of the movie), I thought this was simply going to be a funny flick about code-switching and a Black guy doing what it takes to be successful in a racist world. Having a “Black” voice, and all it suggests is typically not a good thing in the business world. Sorry to Bother You tackles that and much more.

A couple of things I thought about while at the theater watching Sorry to Bother You (NO SPOILERS):

  • Have I worked at a WorryFree of sorts? Yes.
  • How many Steve Lift’s have I worked under? [Redacted] I have too many stories
  • The feeling of being the Chosen Black Guy and then being surrounded by white people daily
  • I can sense the discomfort in the white viewers beside me as they wonder if they have been unconsciously racist before and then realize the answer is Yes. That fireside chat scene where the boss asks Cash to tell him a story about the rough ghetto lifestyle he assumedly lived, followed by demanding that he raps (because all Black people can rap) and be the party’s entertainment is not too far from reality.

Go see it! I want people to be talking about this through awards season.