Thursday, September 27, 2012

101 Days Project: Black Music Month

Image courtesy of Cafe Mocha Radio.

 On June 7, 1979, President Jimmy Carter officially designated June as Black Music Month.  Black Music Month is a time to acknowledge the vast contributions and achievements of black singers, songwriters, producers, musicians, and executives in the music industry.  Music would have a completely different feel if it were not for the ingenious artistry, undeniable talent, fiery passion, and stone cold soul of many of the most influential and inspirational black figures to ever grace the airwaves, TV, silver screen, or stage.

For the first time on BuddahDesmond's Place, I celebrated Black Music Month by honoring artists ranging from newcomers to legends.  Some of the artists featured, like Adriana Evans, Conya Doss, Teedra Moses, and Eric Roberson, are stellar underground acts with devoted, growing followings that make music that often rivals those of their mainstream counterparts.  At the end of the day, it's about good, real music.  Music that you can feel.  Music that brightens your day.  Music that inspires you.  Music that makes you dance.  Music that motivates, uplifts, and means something.  That's what it's been throughout the history of Black Music.  Let the legacy continue on!

Check out the following artists featured in my Black Music Month series:
  1. (Day 63) BuddahDesmond
  2. (Day 62) Syleena Johnson
  3. (Day 60) Adriana Evans (Redux)
  4. (Day 59) Cassandra Wilson
  5. (Day 58) In Remembrance - MJJ (Repost)
  6. (Day 57) Robert Glasper
  7. (Day 56) Phyllis Hyman
  8. (Day 55) Mint Condition
  9. (Day 54) Conya Doss
  10. (Day 53) Vikter Duplaix
  11. (Day 52) Eric Roberson
  12. (Day 51) Teedra Moses
  13. (Day 50) Meshell Ndegeocello
  14. (Day 49) Lenny Kravitz
  15. (Day 48) Janet Jackson
  16. (Day 47) Chaka Khan

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Running Into Memories: A Tribute to Vesta Williams (1957-2011)

Image courtesy of the Karen Vaughan site.

The first time I heard Vesta Williams' voice I had to be around 4 or 5 years old.  It was most likely on the radio one morning while my mother and I were getting ready for work and school.  WKYS (93.9) and WHUR (96.3) were the stations of choice then.  They played some of the best in classic and contemporary R&B/Soul music.  It was during this time, between 1986 and 1989, that I fell in love with Vesta's music, along with Phyllis Hyman, Miki Howard, Meli'sa Morgan, Regina Belle, Stephanie Mills, and Anita Baker.  During this period of R&B/Soul music, real vocalists still reigned supreme.  Though, we could see the glimmer of the industry's future with the rise of videoswhere image began to be everything and talent became an after thought.  As we know, Vesta (along with the aforementioned powerhouse vocalists) had ample talent.  She could sing like nobody's business.  She said you have to be an actress to properly tell the story and convey the emotions of a song.  And what an actress Vesta Williams was.

At the age of 4 or 5, I probably couldn't verbalize or understand it completely but there was something about Vesta's voice that left me enraptured.  It spoke to me.  It captivated me...touched me.  It was similar to the feeling I get when listening to Chaka Khan (who was one of many artists Vesta sang backup for in her early years).  In terms of vocal characteristics, Vesta and Chaka Khan's voices were similar in terms of timbre, color, phrasing, and agility.  Not to mention the fiery, playful, seductive qualities of their voices. 

Like the vocal greats before her, Vesta was a song stylist and interpreter.  When listening to her music, disbelief was suspended instantaneously.  There's no doubt that she knew and felt what she was singing about.  You weren't alive if you couldn't feel a Vesta tune, especially the ballads.  You felt Vesta's heartbreak and thought the guy that did her wrong was a creep after hearing "Once Bitten Twice Shy."  Because Vesta seemed like the type of woman who gave everything her all, you'd wonder why any guy would screw up after listening to the funky "Don't Blow A Good Thing."  You felt the longing and hope in Vesta's search for love on "Somebody For Me."  When Vesta gets to the chorus of "Congratulations," your heart sinks just thinking about the notion of the one you truly love getting married to someone else, and the growth it takes to be able to let them go.  And if real, true love was embodied in the form of songs, the tender "Sweet Sweet Love" and "Special" would be at the top of the list.

Image courtesy of the Billboard Music site.

If you had the chance to see her perform live (in-person or videotaped), you could understand why other singers would be pissed or scared to perform after her.  She owned the stage, giving high-energy yet moving performances.  She could dance her ass off too.  Her video for the single "Do Ya" is proof of that.  Vesta was also a natural comedienne, which added to her charm and magnetic, addictive personality.  I have wonderful memories of watching her on The Arsenio Hall Show and BET's Video Soul (as she was a frequent guest on both), and losing it because she was so funny.  Her impersonations of Tina Turner and Chaka Khan (amongst others) were spot-on.  She'd also had memorable performances in the Mario Van Peebles film Posse (1993) and a recurring role on the TV sitcom Sister, Sister during the 1998-1999 season.  I'd always hoped to see her doing more on TV and in film.  Could you imagine if she'd had her own show?  It would've been sidesplitting.  For a time, Vesta was a radio personality and co-hosted a morning radio on KRNB, a Dallas/Fort Worth station.  Oh what joy it must've been hearing Vesta cut up on the radio in the morning!

Vesta lent her horn-like, four-octave voice to TV theme songs for the ABC miniseries The Women Of Brewster Place and the UPN sitcom Malcolm and Eddie.  She also did jingles for a variety of brands such as Nike, Revlon, Diet Coke, and Exxon.  One of her infamous spots was a commercial for McDonald's where she sang with another vocal legend, Al Jarreau.  Trading rhythmic vocal lines, scats, back and forthit was an event.  They sang their faces off!  The performance was so divine it made you want to go against your constitution and have a Big Mac (or two, or three, or four).

No matter what happened in her career, Vesta never strayed too far away from the music.  Between albums or periods when she wasn't signed to a label, she toured and went back to session singing--guesting on a number artists albums like George Duke, Phil Perry, Howard Hewitt and Najee.  Most notably, she appeared on the remix to Norman Brown's remake of SWV's "Rain."  The oft-requested tune was an instant favorite amongst fans.  The first time I heard the song was while I was on break from college.  I remember being pissed because the version of Norman Brown's album that we had, Celebration (2002), didn't have the remix with Vesta on it.  I rejoiced years later when I found this version of the song for sale on iTunes.

Image courtesy of the TVOne site.

Vesta was fighter.  Even when faced with challenges, she never gave up.  She dealt with record executives who didn't know what to do with her (A&M Records) and said they couldn't promote her because she was too fat.  This was typical at a time when executives were putting image over everything (as discussed previously).  The label eventually dropped her, but she continued performing and making music.  Vesta battled with an addiction to cocaine that she successfully conquered  in the 1990s.  Not too long after the release of her Everything-N-More album, Vesta lost 100 pounds (which she kept off).  She attributed her weight loss to changing her lifestyle (eating healthier and exercising more).  Her weight loss also inspired her to become an advocate for juvenile diabetes and childhood obesity.

TVOne gave a fitting tribute to Vesta in January 2012 with an episode of its Unsung series.  It was one of the last projects she worked on before her passing.  I can't believe that as of September 22, 2012, it's been a year since her death.  I, like many others, miss her presence dearly.  Though she's no longer with us, there's joy in knowing her beautiful spirit and musical legacy will continue to enrich our lives and the lives of those who come after us.  Vesta's final album, Seven, was scheduled to be released in May 2012 via Bronx Bridge Entertainment.  Though there's been no updated information, there's still hope that Seven will see the light of day in late 2012/early 2013.  I'll be one of the many fans looking forward to its release.  I'm sure it will be another soulful chapter in Vesta's storied career.

Vesta was a multi-talented, multifaceted woman.  She exuded confidence and a belief in her herself and her talent that was inspiring.  There will never another like her.

Vestathe dynamic diva who gave her allmay your soul rest in peace.

Vesta releases: Vesta (1986), Vesta 4 U (1988), Special (1991), Everything-N-More (1993), Relationships (1998), and Distant Lover (2007).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

101 Days Project: Prevail

One of my biggest accomplishments this year has been the release of my first book Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and PoliticsPrevail was self-published through iUniverse and released the summer of 2012.  Prevail is an eye-opening collection of poetry inspired by personal experiences, history, culture, and social issues of the last 10 or 12 years.  Varying in subject matter, voice, and tone, this work touches on the ups and downs, highs and lows, trials and tribulations, and the many facets of life, love, and politics during this time period. With a style that is, at times, proselike, unconventional, raw, and in-your-face, Prevail seeks to offer an underlying message of strength, persistence, and triumph.

The feedback on Prevail has been quite positive, thus far.  There's nothing like sharing your work and seeing it have an impact and connect with others.  Nothing can describe the feeling.  

I've shared a number of poems from Prevail on my blog and some other posts related to promotional opportunities for the book.  If you haven't had the chance to check them out, please do.  

Remember, no matter happens in this life--we must PREVAIL! 
  1. Announcing the Release of My First Book - Prevail
  2. Day 86: Gone Too Soon (from Prevail)
  3. Day 75: Flash In The Pan 
  4. Day 72: Prevail (Title Poem)
  5. I'll Be Appearing at OutWrite 2012 in DC
  6. Day 79: OutWrite 2012 Was a Success
  7. 5 Minutes, 5 Questions With... BuddahDesmond on
Other Prevail Poems:
  1. I'll Never Understand
  2. Past, Present, and Future
  3. Normal?
  4. When Hate Kills
  5. Luther Is Love (A Tribute to Luther Vandross)
  6. The P/H Factor - Phyllis Hyman: Tribute to a Sophisticated Lady
  7. Politricking
Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics is available at iUniverse, Amazon (Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle), Barnes & Noble, Book-A-Million (Paperback | Hardcover), and other retailers. 

101 Days Project: Poetry & Prose

I think we're truly blessed to have so many creative ways to express ourselves.  The catharsis that each creative method provides us is invaluable.  Writing has always been a reliable method (one of several) for me to address various situations in my life and the lives of others.  While the subject matter isn't always pleasant, I try to find something positive about it.  And if I can laugh or joke about a situation or event long after it's happened--I call that progress.  During my 101 Days Project, topics for my poetry and prose hav run the gamut--love, sex, heartbreak, freedom, and family (to name a few).  Check out some of my favorites:
  1. Day 94: The Ultimate
  2. Day 85: You've Got It Now (No Excuses)
  3. Day 83: Can't Make You Try
  4. Day 82: Get Over It
  5. Day 68: The Comeback
  6. Day 65: Get Free
  7. Day 64: The Good Ole Days
  8. Day 61: We Need You
  9. Day 46: Without You
  10. Day 45: Whenever The Feeling Comes Along
  11. Day 44: Once Upon A Groove
  12. Day 43: Closure
  13. Day 39: OUT (Written in Honor of National Coming Out Day)
  14. Day 12: Poetry Spotlight - Not Anymore
  15. Day 11: Poetry Spotlight - Ain't Worth It

101 Days Project: Anecdotes & Inspirational Writing

When working on the 101 Days Project, there were several periods where I was not churning out poetry and prose the way I normally would.  If remembering correctly, there were times when I wasn't writing creatively at all.  But that soon changed one day while on my way home from work on the train.  The muse returned and the words started coming to me in the form of anecdotes.  These writings, many of them brief, were about everything from communication and relationships to self-esteem/self-love and spirituality.  Check out some of my favorites:
  1. Day 33: Loving Yourself
  2. Day 28: Getting Beyond Blame
  3. Day 89: Many Ways to Get to the Ultimate Destination
  4. Day 97: Making Dreams Happen
  5. Day 25: Fear
  6. Day 23: Faith & Determination
  7. Day 41: Apologies
  8. Day 30: Obligation & Convenience in Relationships
  9. Day 34: Communication
  10. Day 37: Love & Bills

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

101 Days Project Is Complete!

After several days, weeks, months, years (so sad about the years part), my 101 Days Project is complete!  The inspiration for this project came from a post on a websitefor the life of me I cannot remember which site it wasthat described someone doing various creative activities/tasks/projects for 101 days.  I thought it would be a great idea to do it on my blog.  My mission with the 101 Days Project was to get out of the "Let Me Tell You About My Day," "Whoa Is Me," "I Hate My Job," "Life Sucks," and "This Is What I Did This Weekend" posts you so often find while reading blogs.  No offense to anyone if these are the kinds of blog posts you fancy.  I know I've done my fair share.  But I wanted to push myself and get beyond this.  I wanted to push myself to write about the things that touched my soul, intrigued me, excited me, moved or inspired me, and made me look at life a different way.  I was also hoping that this project would encourage me to blog more consistently.  Well, the consistency came in spurts.  (The project should probably be called 101 Things in 1037 Days.  Ha!)

Like me, this blog is a work-in-progress.  I am glad however, to have DRAMATICALLY improved with the overall variety, versatility, and frequency of blog posts.  In the seven years that I've been blogging, I knew I didn't want my blog to be solely used to vent or share poetry.  I wanted it to be more than that.  The 101 Days Project, I believe, has made it more than that.  The project may be over, but the intent and drive continues on.  It is my mission to continue pushing myself creatively and improving upon the content of BuddahDesmond's Place.  

To commemorate this milestone, I'll be breaking the posts down into categories and highlighting some of my favorites over the next several days.  Be sure to check them out!  Feel free to share them with others and comment.

As always, I thank you for your support.  Stay tuned for more!

Peace, Love, and Many Blessings,


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Day 101: Teedra Moses, The Lioness Live in DC

Image by Everyday LaVan Photography c/o The Howard Theatre.

On September 7, 2012, after seven years of waiting, I was finally blessed to The Lioness, singer-songwriter Teedra Moses live.  Moses opened her "Lamb 2 Lion" tour in DC at The Howard Theatre.  She dazzled on the stage.  Her show included a well-paced set of favorites from her debut album and her mixtapes, along with several inspired, well-received cuts from her soon-to-be-released sophomore album The Lioness.  The show was further proof that she is one of the most underrated R&B/Soul singers in the game.

It's actually been eight years since the release of Moses' debut album Complex Simplicity.  The album was released to great critical acclaim but to little commercial fanfare.  However since that time, she's developed quite a devoted following.  Her beloved live shows are well-attended and her mixtapes tend to be better than some of your favorite contemporary artists' albums.  Moses has released 5 mixtapes, her most recent was 2011's Luxurious Undergrind (released a few months after being signed to Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group).

Moses wasted no time getting the crowd hype by opening her show with the lead single from Luxurious Undergrind, "Another Luvr," with an interpolation of Soul II Soul's "Back To Life."  Moses turned in stellar performances, especially on songs like "Take Me," which featured her talented background vocalist Jeret Black (or J. Black), "You'll Never Find (A Better Woman)," "Complex Simplicity," "You Better Tell Her," which featured Carl Kelly, "Caught Up," and her sultry classic "R U 4real (freestyle)."  Moses' voice, pure, smooth, and soulful, glided effortlessly over the music.  She possesses one of the most beautiful voices in the industry.  She's also one of the few contemporary artists who sound even better live than they do in the studio.

Moses developed a great rapport with the audience instantaneously.  She rapped to the audience like we were best friends or family throughout the show.  At the beginning of her encore for example, she talked about how crazy Hollywood is and how difficult it is trying to keep one's composure when dealing with the insanity.  She said she's a sweet, down-to-earth person who is so not Hollywood.  But she made it a point to say that while she may be sweetdon't fuck with her (yet another reason why we love her).  Moses had planned to perform a song she wrote entitled "Hollywood," in which see sings about the craziness of the industry, but opted instead to pay homage to Rufus & Chaka Khan by singing an impassioned version of their song of the same name.  Moses closed the show with the sexy, fan favorite "Backstroke."

 Image by Everyday LaVan Photography c/o The Howard Theatre.

Another memorable element of the show was the live art.  During the show, DC artist Demont "Peekaso" Pinder painted a beautiful portrait of singer-songwriter extraordinaire Sade, Moses' favorite singer.  I had the opportunity to meet the extremely talented Peekaso after the show.  He's mad cool.  For more information about Peekaso and his work, go to:

After the show, Moses greeted and took pictures with fans.  The fact that she takes the time to meet her fans after her shows is a testament to how much she loves and appreciates them.  Having met Moses, I have to say how refreshing it was to meet a celebrity who is so sweet and laid-back in-person.  Some celebrities turn the shade, pretense, and ego on when meeting their fans.  Not Moses.  She may be a natural rock star, but she's approachable.  And this translates quite well into her music and her live shows.  Her artistry comes from a passionate, genuine, authentic place.  That's what makes it so easy for fans to relate to her and her music.

I highly recommend catching Moses on her "Lamb 2 Lion" tour.  Aside from Luxurious Undergrind, I promise you it's the perfect musical treat to tie you over until her sophomore album The Lioness is released later this year. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day 100: Aaliyah—Tribute to a Princess

Image courtesy of the African Limelight site.

Missing you so...
Haven't been right since The Creator called you home.
The fact that your presence will never grace us again is still so unreal.

The exalted one—yes, you were.
One in a million—yes, you were.
Your spirit and the legacy you left behind—yes, it will go on and on.

You came on the scene at the age of 15 and immediately captured everyone's hearts.
Something about your soul, your style, and your sound that struck a cord.
It also set you apart and made you seem so much older than what you actually were.
You went on to become one of the most sought after entertainers of the day.

You created musical magic with R. Kelly and again with Timbaland and Missy Elliott.  
You didn't need to follow the trends—you set them.
You left us spellbound with your beautiful, angelic voice, intricate dance moves, and extraordinary, inspired music videos.
You had us in a trance while watching you on the big screen in your first major film role.
Undeniably, it was your talent and your magnetism that made you one of the brightest  
     stars and had industry insiders saying you were the one to watch.

And just as you were getting ready for what was being called the next big phase of
     your career, you were called home.
We were grief-stricken, in denial.
We couldn't believe you were gone.

We thank God for you.
We thank God you were blessed to wake up each day to do what you loved.
And we were happy and blessed just the same.

How could we forget an entertainer who was so influential in such a short period of time,
And one who will forever be regarded as one of the best of her generation?

The exalted one—yes, Aaliyah was.
One in a million—yes, Aaliyah was.
Everything Aaliyah gave—yes, forever, it will go on and on.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 99: 9/11—Day of Remembrance

The true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division. It will be a safer world; a stronger nation; and a people more united than ever before. ~ President Obama during the September 11th Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial, Sept. 11, 2012:
Rest in peace to the many who lost their lives on 9/11. My prayers go out to their loved ones. We will never forgot you. Humanity is doomed in a world where hate prevails. May we continue to strive for harmony, unity, and peace in this world.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Day 98: I'm Voting for Progress - Obama Biden 2012

Image courtesy of San Antonio Express site.
If you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election. ~ President Barack Obama, DNC 2012 Speech
I want to live an America where we all have the same opportunities.  An America where we all have the chance to live up to our fullest potential and achieve our dreams.  An America where we all have access to the resources, services, and programs to maintain acceptable well-being, welfare, and livelihood.  Because it's about access, equality, and leveling the playing field, and not about entitlements or what we "deserve."

I want to live an America where the wealthy are not rewarded for being wealthy and held accountable to the same standards and expectations of the working class and the poor.  I want to live an America where I don't have to make a case or fight for rights that are inalienable, because they are human rights granted for all.  I want to live an America where the rights of corporations do not trump the rights of the people.  Because after all, there wouldn't be any corporations if it weren't for the hard work and service of the people.

I want to live in an America where those that fight for the civil rights and freedoms of Americans and our brothers and sisters from nations abroad are not left to falter when they return home.  An America that will look to its people to help maintain its competitive edge instead of looking abroad just save a few bucks.  An America that will treat all of its people equally regardless of whether we were born here or are immigrants.  Because we're all here for the same things...we're all dreamers.

For those of us that believe and share in the dream and this country we call home, we're more than willing to be diligent and work collectively to move this nation forward.  We must not succumb to the propaganda, lies, and false promises of those who hold their personal interests above the interests of the people they represent.  We must stand for up what we believe and support the officials who share in these beliefs, and will honor them while holding office.  That's why I'm voting for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.  They have and will continue to fight for America, its people, and the promise of its future.

I'm voting for progress, not regression.  I hope we all will do the same.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Day 97: Making Dreams Happen

Image from OutWrite 2012 in DC, taken by Author Donald Peebles

When everything else falls short, our dreams are sometimes the only things that can pull us through.  When you wake up each morning and go to bed every night yearning to break out and bring your passions to life, you’re eventually going to have to make a decision.  Either you’re going to continue living a life unfulfilled or you’re going to commit yourself to working towards a fulfilled life where you achieve your dreams.  I’m glad that I finally made the decision on November 27, 2011 to make a serious push towards achieving one of my lifelong dreams. 

On November 27, 2011 I submitted the initial draft of my manuscript to be self-published through iUniverse.  For at least three years, I’d been toying with the idea of publishing my first volume of poetry.  For whatever reason, I was conflicted.  I take that back.  For several reasons, I was conflicted.  I’d given so much of myself away to my job and school and other entities outside of myself, that there didn’t seem to be much time or energy left to focus on what truly mattered to me.   I doubted my talent and wondered if I really had what takes to make it.  And I got caught up in others’ and society’s expectations of what I should be doing with my life.  I found myself trying to adhere to standards and live a life that I didn’t want and that didn’t fit me personally.  I suffered because of it and had to work to rebuild and get myself back on track. 

So in the months leading up to submitting my manuscript, I eventually said, “Fuck it!”  I was tired of being depressed.  I was tired of doing things I wasn’t passionate about and could really give two shits and a side of fuck about.  I realized that there was no better time than right now to go after what I wanted.  I couldn’t blame anyone else but myself if I got to a point in my life where I was completely frustrated, disappointed, and angry about what I did and did not accomplish.  The blame would definitely fall within no realm but my own if I committed to the quest of living the life dictated by others.  So I went to work.  I did research on how I should go about getting my work published, talked with friends and others about their experiences publishing and what advice they had for me moving forward, and continued nurturing my craft.  And in roughly six months time, my book Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics was available for public consumption. 

It fills me up with so much pride and joy seeing my book in print.  It’s a major accomplishment, and I’m glad I finally pursued it. Now that my book is out, work hasn’t stopped.  I’m still writing, networking, and planning for signings, readings, and other appearances to promote my work and myself.  I’ve also begun work on my next project (more on that in another post, I promise).  The focus for me is becoming a full-time writer.  Outside of my writings about music, entertainment, pop culture, I’m most interested in writing about the human condition and the many things that we experience in our day-to-day lives.  My writing—be it poetry, song lyrics, short stories, or prose—can, at times, be raw, confrontational, and confessional.  As people who’ve read my writing have said, it’s engaging and it’s real.  I’ve long since realized my style is not for everybody.  However, if my writing resonates and touches just a few people, then I’m on the right path.

While writing is one of my passions, the dreaming doesn’t stop there.  I’m in the process of achieving two other dreams.  The first is finishing my MBA (which will be completed December 2012) and the second is becoming a voice over actor/artist (which I’m training for as we speak).  And I have others, that, in time, I will continue to nurture and work to achieve. 

It’s great to have dreams.  We should all be encouraged to dream.  But nothing is sadder than when we don’t go after or put in the work to make our dreams come to life.  It’s critical that we do not let anything or anyone (and that includes ourselves) stand in the way.  And you can’t give up if success doesn’t happen immediately or happen in the way you think it should.  Always be open and flexible to what the universe may bring you.  It may be better than anything you ever dreamed or anticipated.

Whatever you do—keep dreaming and keep achieving.  Live your destiny.

Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics is available at iUniverse, Amazon (Paperback | Hardcover & Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Book-A-Million (Paperback | Hardcover), and other retailers. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Day 96: Michelle Obama at the DNC 2012

Image courtesy of The Washington Times Communities site.

Michelle Obama is the epitome of what a First Lady should be.  She exudes class, grace, eloquence, and wisdom.  She hasn't forgotten where she came from and she will not allow us to forget where we've come from either.  We cannot sit back and allow ourselves to falter. We have to bring each other up.  It's about OPPORTUNITY.  When you have it, make sure you're leaving the door open for others to follow.  Set the example.  Lead with character, honesty, and integrity.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Day 95: Inspiration from Chinua Achebe

Image courtesy of the Chinua Achebe FB page.
I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it. Just think of the work you’ve set yourself to do, and do it as well as you can. Once you have really done all you can, then you can show it to people. But I find this is increasingly not the case with the younger people. They do a first draft and want somebody to finish it off for them with good advice. So I just maneuver myself out of this. I say, Keep at it. I grew up recognizing that there was nobody to give me any advice and that you do your best and if it’s not good enough, someday you will come to terms with that. ~ Chinua Achebe, 99U & The Paris Review
When it comes to writing, if you want to get better at it—write.  Just write.  And keep writing!  Believe in yourself and what you're writing and do the very best that you can when writing.  There simply is no other way.  You must continue to work at your craft.  Write, rewrite, edit, revise, finalize, and repeat as many times as it's necessary.  Don't be scared to do the work.  It will pay off.

You have everything you need within you already.  You must trust what lies within.  It will very rarely steer you wrong.  And write about what you feel.  Write about what moves you.  Write about what you're most passionate about it.  Let that be your guide.  Write from your heart first.  Be critical about it later.  Use the feedback you get from others to help fine-tune and guide your work.  But please, don’t take it personally.  If you can do this, everything should fall in place.

Don't be scared to take risks either.  You never know how it may help you grow not only as a writer, but also as a person.  If it proves to be a bust, so be it.  It's still a learning lesson that will help guide you as a writer and as creative being as you move forward.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Day 94: The Ultimate

Your tongue dances all over my body.
Your kisses walk upon my face.
Your hands swim into my skin.
Your valley is my playground,
once I enter I never want to leave.

Your love saved the stomach of my heart from being
Your mind nourishes my mind.
Your body is the sculpture of my passion.
Your are the essence of perfect love,
And I am your reciprocal makeup.

We are two rivers,
Connected by a stream of love.
We flow into each other
Sharing, giving, transporting, and providing nutrients,
     nurture, and nourishment.
The ultimate is this existence of love.

© BuddahDesmond

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Day 93: RIP Chris Lighty

Image courtesy of the BrooklynVegan site.
'"I am utterly, utterly devastated...It feels unfair to us. He was our wealth. Chris was like the fruition of all that could be. He was loved."' ~ Harry Allen, Hip-Hop Activist (NY Daily News, 2012)
When I first started seeing tweets on Thursday that Hip-Hop mogul Chris Lighty had passed, I couldn’t believe it.  I immediately started doing some research to see if these claims were true.  Eventually, site after site confirmed that he had in fact died.  Suddenly it seemed as if my day was at a standstill.  I couldn’t do anything.  His passing saddened me so.  Lighty was, at only 44, yet another pivotal figure gone too soon.

Lighty, CEO and co-founder of Violator Management/Brand Assets Group, was a fixture in the world of Hip-Hop since the late 80s.  It was impossible to experience anything in Hip-Hop without feeling Lighty’s impact.  He truly was one of the last great power moguls in the entertainment industry.  Lighty began his career carrying records for Kool DJ Red Alert and acting as a party enforcer for the DJ and their Violators crew (The Grio, 2012).  Also a DJ, Lighty was known as “Baby Chris.”  He went on to become a respected manager, managing the careers of several Native Tongues acts, including the groundbreaking, influential groups De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest.

Lighty credited his time working in several executive positions under Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen at Def Jam and Rush Artist Management as being pivotal to him becoming an entrepreneur.  Under their tutelage, Lighty, in a 2011 Black Enterprise article, said,
'"I learned you are only as strong as the people around you,” he says. “You’ve got to build a good team–from your accountant to your right-hand man to employees–the whole nine yards,” he says. “I also learned you can have a plan [for what you want your business to look like], but you need to know when to deviate from it. You have to be able to bend and sway with the moment…"' 
And it’s clear that the he applied (and expounded upon) what he learned from his experiences when establishing his own business, Violator Management/Brand Assets Group, with co-founder Mona Scott.  Lighty was a highly lauded and favored, achieving stellar success managing the careers of artists such as LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Foxy Brown, Mariah Carey, Diddy, and 50 Cent.  Lighty was also praised for brokering multi-million dollar endorsement deals for his artists, most notably for LL Cool J and 50 Cent.

Lighty, in a 2011 Black Enterprise article, said one of the keys to success in the entertainment industry is diversification.  
'"From my point of view you have to be a multi-tasker and know every aspect of the entertainment business,” says Lighty, whose marketing firm has inked deals with Adidas, Coca Cola, Sprite, Reebok and Motions Hair products and others. “Back in the day you could get away with focusing on one thing, like A&R. Now whether its digital, marketing, A & R, radio, whatever–you have to know how to get your artist from A to Z, even if you need help pulling it all off."'
Other important keys to his success, as highlighted in 2011 by Black Enterprise, were 1) thinking outside of the box, 2) consistent common courtesy, 3) always adapting to your environment, 4) believing in your business or failing in your business, and 5) using persistence to overcome resistance. 

Lighty was respected, admired, and loved by so many, within and outside of the entertainment industry.  The outpouring of love on Twitter was more than enough to signify this.  Devastating already, the news that his death was a suicide made the impact, I’m sure, even more so affecting.  You never know what a person is truly going through, especially when it appears from the outside that everything is cool.  News reports state he was having financial woes, and that he’d gotten into a spat with his estranged wife over the phone just before taking his life (NY Daily News, 2012).  We may never know or understand the full extent of what Lighty was going through, but sadly—he was troubled. 

With Lighty’s untimely death, I hope our community takes it upon itself to say enough is enough.  It perplexes me why mental health remains such a taboo subject in our community.  So many of us are suffering in silence.  There’s no need for it.  It must stop.  If we have to look beyond ourselves to get the help we need, so be it.  Prayer is not always enough.  Ignoring and suppressing our issues is not cutting it.  Self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, and other addictions—thinking it will make everything better—is no way to win the battle.  Sometimes we need an intervention from trained professionals in the form of counseling, therapy, and/or medication.  As someone who’s battled with depression, I know.  We must not be afraid to speak on our issues and get the help we need.  There’s always support available.  We have to take better care of ourselves.  Good mental and emotional health is critical to sustaining our overall well-being.  We have to prevail.

My condolences to Chris Lighty's family and friends.  As writer Danyel Smith said in a recent NPR story,
"Chris Lighty made history. He helped make hip-hop. He was a success story. He was a sweet and brilliant man. But there will be no more knowing of him — the complexities, the simple s—-, nothing. The man in the liner notes, the kid backstage, the dude counting the show money, the father with his children. It's beyond tragic. Everybody's Baby Chris is gone."
We’ll miss you Baby Chris.  Rest in peace.