On a summer Sunday in Central Park, there were a multitude of witnesses watching Goldlink preach his gospel for an hour. He was accompanied by Brasstracks and the heavenly vocals of April George. My summerstage neighbors asked why he spoke in a sing-song manner. They had no clue that it’s not only his thing, but also his rap style. Pastor GL Smooth performed popular cuts like “Sober Thoughts“, “Planet Paradise“, “Spectrum“, and even let his newest song “Fall in Love” rock for the first time. See below
In between songs he checked in with his congregation to hand out blessings in the form of hip-hop party records. As soon as Fatman Scoop said “BASS DROP” the holy spirit moved through the crowd and the flood gates were open for good times.
In the middle of Goldlink’s set, newcomer Masego brought his uptempo and eclectic act to the stage. He was donning a gold saxophone necklace to match the one he played so beautifully. Songs like “Send Yo Rita”, “Girls That Dance”, and “Bounce” were well-received (she got dem yams!). The DMV love was apparent on stage and in the crowd. The Backyard Band were also a part of the connection as they brought forth devotional with go-go tunes and mixed in hits such as “The Light” by Common, “Around My Way” by Talib Kweli, and “Hello” by Adele.
In the end, no one wanted to see Goldlink give his benediction so abruptly as he exited stage left without closing in prayer or saying peace. Instead, his DJ and band rocked for about 10 more minutes and then it was over. After, I walked around the park, enjoyed the sunset and was welcomed back into realitee by encountering train delays on 86th St’s non-air conditioned subway platform while trying to get home.
If you listen to the speech above you may gather that MLK’s blueprint for empowerment hasn’t exactly seen itself through yet. Over 50 years later, and we’re still witnessing our people die at the hands of violence, starvation, illness and drug abuse. The question is: are we delusional to the point of believing that all we can do is wait for someone to come along and change the way things are? With this type of mentality, distractions are constantly allowed to get in the way of movement– doing nothing to hold this country or ourselves accountable.
Circumstances can make it feel like it’s a struggle just to make it through the day because money is valued more than our own dreams– failing to realize that we are getting in the way of ourselves. Black vs. White looks like the main event on the surface but we’ve been battling internally for a while now and this cycle of pain continues. We have to remember to be responsible for our own actions.
We should be looking to do what we can not only to better ourselves but also our community. Becoming educated is fine and dandy, but what good is it if we don’t find a way to strategize together? Now let me ask: Is tweeting about our issues making any advances? Is marching to the end of the world stopping our daily struggle? Sure we’re not going to remain quiet about all the heinous things that happen in the world. But we have to be honest– we’re stuck in an old way of thinking and until we figure out a new method of fighting, the quicksand will keep swallowing us.
Continuing to make the wrong moves also has to stop. For example, we know that crime is a business to make the rich richer and keep those in prison without the means to be creative, right? But how many people do we know that are locked up right now (not because of the powers that be but) for something stupid that could’ve been prevented? It’s also time to start changing the way we think about each other– because most of the time we’re just holding petty grudges. We have to come together for the greater good. Until there are communities continuously and whole-heartedly working together, there can’t be any movement. We also have to stop the drum major instinct. Once we figure that out, we will be ready to strategize.
Even though there is a lot of work ahead, don’t be afraid to dream like Dr. King– standing behind a purpose to see humanity in harmony. He didn’t have a holiday or boulevard in mind for all the hard work and effort he put into bringing people together for the cause. But if we continue to fight to keep our dreams alive, we’ll go further than we’ve ever gone– and surely that’s worth more than any dollar amount in a bank account. My dream today is for people to grow personally and build as a community, what’s yours?
In the clip below, Yasiin sounds off on tragedies, puppetmasters, the media, social justice & more. He points out that we take for granted our opportunity to live in harmony as humans– often buying into distractions and not realizing that we’re losing our basic freedoms on a daily basis. It’s our responsibility to love each other better. Nuff said.
Our comfort zone is not something we just walk out of– it doesn’t happen overnight but rather through the practice of taking small steps over time. Often we resist leaving what we know which blocks the leap into an area of vulnerability. Our minds tend to tune in to what fear has to say and it is a challenge to overcome that behavior. Being afraid of vulnerability might come from not wanting to reveal who we truly are to the world or more importantly to ourselves.
Eventually we have to face our fears– it is life’s inevitability. Recently I have been trying to conquer a fear of standing on my head. As silly as it may sound, I haven’t put much effort into it since childhood. The more I let fear sit within me, the less likely the chance of me accomplishing the goal. The small steps of practicing yoga, meditation, and healthy eating habits have made it easier for me to be more comfortable within my skin.
Through research, I’ve come across multiple sources that have listed benefits of what I was trying to do. I’ve put it into practice as much as possible and when I tried today something remarkable happened! Even though I didn’t make it all the way, I realized that because I was creating the tension, my body would only allow me to go so far. The lesson learned here is that we can let unnecessary tension go by not inflicting it upon ourselves in the first place. We’re not always going to be in a comfortable environment, but the more we relax, the more receptive we can be.
Growing confident within myself
I realized anything’s possible with God’s help.
I really want to stress the importance of getting into practice mode. If you’re afraid of speaking in front of a large group, start by practicing in the mirror, in front of friends, small groups, etc. until you get to the point where you’ve exceeded the goal. There will be times when you feel like you’re getting nowhere or that you’re not digging deep enough. But by continuing to practice leaving your comfort zone, a confidence will grow from within. When you finally step into where the magic happens, you will realize that anything is possible.
Two weeks from now I’ll be putting on my cap and gown. I cringe everytime the word congratulations is thrown at me because there’s a cliffhanger of uncertainty about the rest of my life. Somehow I don’t feel like How To Make It In America prepared me enough for what’s to come (sidebar: a movie or third season would be clutch Mark Wahlberg).
It’s getting closer to that time for me to encounter to a harsher reality. I can vividly remember reading a rather delightful article on the joys of student loans a while back, which life has given me a crash course on already. Being a Brooklynite, I already know struggle is real(er) in NY when I move back.
The beauty of all this is being able to laugh at these situations before they actually hit me. I randomly checked out a web series called Clench & Release in which comedian and all-around good dude Kevin Iso has a cameo. It couldn’t paint a better picture of the life I will have to get used to.
The series follows Charla Lauriston’s woes of being a struggling stand-up comedian. Her encounters are everything from a homeless guy offering her cocaine to a man masturbating on a subway platform, which is NYC at its best. I let out a sigh of relief thinking I won’t be alone riding out my twenties being broke and wanting to find love (& messing it all up in the process). It was refreshing because I haven’t been entertained by a YouTube series since Awkward Black Girl went on hiatus. C&R was a good segue.
Since I’m climbing out the small window from my age to 30, there’s a lot of pressure not to mess up anything else. So until I take my flight back home in the summer, I’ll enjoy the last hours spent sitting through pointless lectures, procrastinating homework, and getting to boogie by myself– because even though I’ve grasped many lessons, I fathom this is just the beginning. *cues MGMT*
Betty Davis is a queen of funk in her own right. She was married to jazz legend Miles Davis (see “Mademoiselle Mabry“) and set up his connection to Jimi Hendrix. After her divorce, she moved to London to pursue modeling which eventually spawned her career in music. Her self-titled debut circuited in 1973. At the time, her music was deemed as raunchy and got banned on the radio. The censors put on her sexuality were plentiful– as her last album was shelved. Though she wasn’t a commercial success, Davis was definitely a fox that couldn’t be contained.
Many forms and colors exist within any world. The one I love goes beyond any food, sport, or gadget. It’s truly liberating roaming arenas of drama, music, dance, literature, cinema, etc. This world that I describe is called: the arts. Its evolution has truly shaped me in II the man I am. Even though I’ve observed a great deal in my adolescence, discovering more about this world is pivotal to me.
While documenting my experiences and using various platforms, this journey will allow me II be exposed II new ideas that will hopefully inspire you. Join me and invite others II come along the way. welcome II fanIIsee.
But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigured so together,
More witnesseth than fancy’s images
And grows to something of great constancy,
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.
– William Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)