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I should be more excited about Halloween. I really should. At 23, I’m still young enough to anticipate an excuse to dress ridiculous, drink, steal candy from unsuspecting children and hit on the one girl dressed as the sexy ventriloquist (or maybe one of the hundred sexy cats walking around). The truth is: I just don’t care anymore about this day anymore. You would think that after growing up never going trick or treating—well, maybe twice—I would live for this holiday once I got to college, but the opposite happened. Halloween came to be a reminder of not having enough good memories from childhood and a reminder that I’m always too broke to get a costume, so as a result I just stopped caring. I try to have a good time on this holiday but… meh, who gives a shit, just hand me candy already. I mean it’s cool for kids who go trick or treating from door to door but as an adult, unless you’re spending the night with good friends, you’re stuck going to bars and parties on what might be the douchiest night of the year. A night where alcohol, costumes and debauchery are used as excuses to out asshole each other, all in the name of having a “good time” and hooking up with sexy Dora The Explorer. Frankly I can do without it, I don’t need an excuse to drink and I’m not interested in almost getting into a fight with someone’s drunk bro just because I was staring at his girlfriend’s sexy hippopotamus costume a little bit too long; not to mention, I’m not looking to answer the “where’s your costume” question 50 million times in one night. Maybe, if I was in a relationship, I’d be willing to do the couple thing and be the Sherman to her sexy Mr. Peabody but until that day comes I’m just not interested in going out on this night. However, if you’re in DC, keep an eye out and you might see me circulating the streets. I’ll be in my sexy nuclear physicist costume, or maybe I’ll just pull an Adam Sandler move throughout the night.

Last weekend was Howard Homecoming so, as always, ratchetry was aplenty and there was a whole lot of frontin going on. Luckily for me, I got to spend the weekend not overpaying for parties with too many people in them by photographing for D’usse Cognac. For the uninformed, D’usse is a new dark liquor specialty spearheaded by Jay-Z; it’s strong, yet sweet and the bottle will make anyone look like they’re on some serious king shit.  Case in point:

Thursday

Thursday night was spent at The Park on Fourteenth. A four-story club that looks extravagant and parties without abandon. Over the top? Maybe, Bougie as hell? Definitely but fun all the same. I spent the entire night–from happy hour at 6, to last call at 1:50–behind the lens capturing the party, taking pictures for the D’usse brand and pushing my way into VIP where Wale and self-made mogul Ken Burns were located. By the way, in a city like DC, where you’re only as relevant in the black community as whatever status you hold, I definitely felt pretty damn gangster brand dropping anytime someone tried to check me about who I was photographing for–easily the best, subtle middle finger to people.

Saturday

So many feelings come to mind when thinking about the Stadium gentleman’s club in DC. What should be a happy place intended to showcase the premier acrobatics of well-built clothes-averse glitter painted machines–seriously, they’re machines, machines designed for twerking–is usually ruined by large crowds and overpriced drinks. When it came to Saturday night during Howard Homecoming, just about everyone in the city tried their best to push their way in; this of courseled to shoving, pushing, arguments and the fire marshall making sure the huge parade of people still trying to get in were left out in the cold–including myself and the D’usse brand manager, Elaine. Sucks but I mean, you make the best of it, and with an outdoor tent filled with more drinks and performances from kings of hood music, Pastor Troy and Yo Gotti, how much can you really complain? Plus I got to meet Memphis fucking Bleek; my quest to meet the original rock-a-fella all-stars is now slightly more complete.

Sunday

After the ordeal that was Saturday, I got to spend sunday brunching it up at “Eyes Wide Open”, an art + brunch affair sponsored by grey goose cherry noir. Full on D’usse promotion mode here, with me snapping away and pretending to be some sort of professional while secretly hoping that none of these pictures come out bad. (You know… everyday for me). The event also brought about a great opportunity to market the drink with a young up and coming Roc Nation artist by the name of Bridget Kelly (whose music you should check out by the way) and the forever awesome Anthony Hamilton. Lowkey, this was a big deal for me but I kept it cool… because you know… I’m a grown ass man and shit. Next stop after this was the day party at bar code, a nice little sports bar which, like a lot of places here, rented out the place to promoters wanting to throw parties. I don’t know what it is about day parties but they always seem more fun; it’s always more fun to party during the day–having some beautiful young ladies pass out free shots of D’usse to the crowd probably helped a lot too. The Howard alums turned up to an 11 of course and with appearances from Bridget and Anthony, Raheem Devaughn and, one of the new 106 & park hosts, Miss Mykie, the party turned out to be a stellar event… ratchet all the same but stellar.

To find out more about D’usse, like them on facebook here and follow them on twitter here

So for about a week or so there’s been a new Rihanna track circling the wagon that everyone seems to be sitting on. Now I’ll be frank (no ocean), I don’t dislike Rihanna (shifty eyes)…Okay, I do, but for reasons I don’t have the time to delve into. But unlike my “RiRi-Hater” cohorts who see no good in the self proclaimed Good Girl Gone Bad, the majority of my reasons are comprised of musical quality, or lack thereof. Don’t get me wrong, RiRi has lots of talent, otherwise she wouldn’t be where she is, and so highly celebrated. And while this is Hollywood, where the “real” is harder to find than a g-string on a fat man in a two-door coupe, they don’t tend to hang around fakes too long either (see Milli Vanilli).

For me, it is her talents, at least one in particular, that annoys me. Like the majority of her hits, RiRi seems to have the “catchy track” jones. Whether it was Pon de Replay (when we mixed her up with M.I.A in 05’), S.O.S, Umbrella ella ella (ey ey ey), Don’t Stop The Music…Music, Hard ey ey ey so hard (sorry Jizzle), Rude Boy Boy, S&M, Birthday Cake cake cake cake cake cake cake (not to be confused with 2Chainz’ Bday special) or Diamonds, Rihanna will work the hell out of a catchy tune. This is to be commended because of course you need to move units. Unfortunately for her she’s become so good at it that she’s a Mega star because of it. People overseas and in the states flock to her shows and will beat you down for anything ill thrown her way (Don’t be standing outside my window damnit).

Now maybe I’m the only one that believes this, but once you become a mega-star the pressure should continue to build along with your skills and success. But, I honestly think we get so caught up just jamming along to an otherwise catchy song that we skip over a lot of bad vocals, stale verses, terrible live performances, or we (not so much I, hence the blog) simply don’t care. So then where’s the appreciation for the art? Why do people rip Beyonce (the Queen of the hive) when her performance is slightly less than goddess-like? Why not say Soulja Boy (king of catchy dance tunes) is the best rapper alive? Why didn’t they make Soul Plane 2? Why was D.L Hughley and Cedric on the Original Kings of Comedy and not Martin?? (Yeah I went there #Runteldat)

With this Diamonds track, you know, the one that had to be written after a long and trippy night at K.O.D, hence saying DIAMONDS 39 Times!! (Insert Chief Keef ANY phrase here) It was simply the same formula, same result. It says truly nothing. Or, at least nothing you can’t text. I can just imagine how this went down in the studio… RiRi: Yo…fool I got this hard ass track tho! (thug life) Crew: str8 str8 RiRi: Check it…We shine bright….(laughs and hits the molly) We shine bright like…like..like a diamond ohhhhh shit…Crew: ……str8 str8.

As I looked for a deeper explanation on rapgenius,com I noticed that RiRi has gotten so advanced on the catchy song flow that this track had a PRE Hook, Hook, and Post Hook, which had to take up ¾ of the entire song…where’s the verse space!? #wddda #barbados. You don’t have to try to talk about Slavery, Somalia, Women’s Rights, Education, or the Economy (see what I did there) but if you make a love song, go all the way in. Remember RiRi you’re a mega-star. If we label people mega-stars shouldn’t we get our moneys worth? When Jay-Z or Ye drop an album in comparison with say Young Dro (Best Thang Smokin’ was fie back in 06’), there is a huge difference. The pressure, criticism, detail, skill, everything is heightened due to an appreciation and respect of the artist and music. When RiRi drops an album (she’s done so every year 2005-2012, except 2008’) its like lets hit the club and get ready for a continuation of this album next year, just like last year. Just one huge compilation. Which is fine if you’re trying to make your cash and dash! Just not so much for a mega-star who millions idolize.

And I’m speaking on the masses that hear your singles on the radio. In today’s day and age, you buy an album at your own risk. So if the album is trash, use iTunes album preview. But, for those who for whatever reason can’t and only see you on TV or listen to radio, you have to do better. The game calls for it. RiRi is much better than the Diamonds track, or is she? Cause at the end of the day I’ll probably have all 39 diamonds stuck in my head. Or cubic zirconia, I’m on a budget; either way we’re screwed til’ the next fish line is cast out.

Torch Eberhart is an inspired and highly motivated filmmaker eager to create reflective films that impose a sense of urban culture. The themes of separation and loss are prevalent in his stories due to his inspirations in Japanese Manga and Anime. But his films are not absent from the surreal and imaginary, as Torch believes the ultimate goal of a movie viewer is to escape the threshold of their everyday lives; to venture out and enjoy the real and unreal stories of others. You can check out his site here and you can follow him on twitter here.

The Sneaker Pimps tour-a showcase for talented street artists, up and coming brands, under the rader rappers and, of course, celebration of sneakers-made it’s way to the Fillmore in Silver Spring this weekend. Among getting caught up in the illest of sneakers and jumping into mosh pits during different sets, I managed to take a few pictures of the event. Enjoy.

All photos credited to Israel Daramola

 

 

Lil b, rap artist/life philosopher/permanent internet meme, hosted a lecture at NYU, much to the chagrin of people like me who don’t live in New York; but lucky for me and the world as a whole footage is available now over youtube of Professor B’s message to the people. Despite lil b having trouble with getting his words out, there are many gems to be found in his lecture such as:

1. Appreciate people

2. The secret to life is to look at everyone like a baby (which is kind of a beautiful sentiment, albeit a little weird)

3. Be honest with yourself

4. Honesty, integrity, passion and friendship are the keys to life

5. Appreciate the world we live in and the life we get to have

6. Carry love in your heart

7. Put down the guns and the knives

8. Stop messing with the earth bruh
Now people have their different opinions on lil b as a rapper and as a person but the fact of the matter is lil b gets my respect for the simple fact that he’s one of the few genuine people in rap: no perpetrating, no fake bullshit. He embraces his weirdness and awkwardness and in a world of unearned boastfulness and swagger jacking; it’s pretty refreshing, and even though the lecture was a bit repetitive, it had heart and I learned more from it then I did some of the lectures I had to go to in my own college. So for that, thank you based god

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