To kick-off 2020, we decided to travel down to Louisville, Kentucky. Birthplace of the G.O.A.T. Muhammed Ali. Home to legendary Churchill Downs Race Track. Creators of the world’s best Bourbon, and last but not least Kentucky Fried Chicken. We spent about 3 days in the bluegrass state and mainly stayed in the Louisville area (pronounced LUH-VULLE? LOOA-VILLE?). Who knows. As far as I can tell, Louisville is covered in strip malls, a haze of cigarette smoke, overcast weather, and rusty rundown old buildings. But hey, it’s all good. No shade here. Traveling gives you perspective. There are many fun and interesting things to do in this southeast corner of the country. Although almost everyone we ran into asked us why we were in Louisville (are y’all allowed to leave?) the Bourbon Trail was our primary reason for visiting. Let’s get into it.
Kickin it at the Mansion
Upon landing, we were picked up by a near toothless Uber Driver who for some reason had it out for college kids and their penchant for experiencing different cultures and cuisines. I’ll say though, that every single Uber or Lyft driver that picked us up was beyond friendly and hospitable (even tho they all smelled of cigarette smoke). People down here really are about the good old positive southern hospitality even if their Uber is covered in NRA stickers.
Toothless Uber Driver: “What neighborhood are y’all staying in during your visit to Louisville?”
F. Dougie: “We actually don’t know, but here’s the address?”
Toothless Uber Driver: “Oh, that’s Old Louisville.”
F. Dougie: “Hopefully not too old, amirite?
Toothless Uber Driver: “………..”
Don’t think he liked that one, but I didn’t think it would be right if I didn’t kick off the trip with an off-color slavery reference. We soon arrived at our lodgings, The “Big Shot Bourbon Mansion.” The place was gigantic! 3 floors and about 20 rooms with multiple kitchens and washer/dryers. It looked like it had been built near WWI and was furnished with your grandmother’s favorite patterns. If you’ve ever seen Clue or Knives Out, it would definitely remind you of one of those old murder mystery mansions. I’m fairly certain that the place was haunted but we didn’t fuck with the ghosts so they didn’t fuck with us. Don’t start none, won’t be none.
Since everyone was arriving, we mainly kicked it at the spot the first night. We were told not to cross 7th street to the West End due to multiple unsolved crimes, as well as various stabbings and shootings… We didn’t want that smoke, so naturally, we ordered in and made the delivery dude risk life and limb to get us some hot wings.
A night of Beer Pong and Kings capped off the first night before we got ready for our first big day in Louisville.
Bar Hopping in the Highlands
We started the day with breakfast and coffee delivered to the house before our tour guide picked us up around 9:00 am. If you’re interested in doing a tour of some of the legendary bourbon distilleries in Kentucky, I’d highly recommend a guided bus tour. Many of the distilleries are vastly spread out over hundreds of acres, so getting to and from each can be tough if you don’t have your own transportation. Our plan was to hit 3 different types of distilleries and drink in all of that golden bourbon glory. Our first stop was Stitzer – Weller.
The Stitzer – Weller distillery is owned by major alcohol distillery Diageo and is home to major brands Bulleit, I.W. Harper, and Blade & Bow. All three are brewed on the property and each has its own unique taste and brand recognition. I won’t get into all the details because the best part of the tours are learning how the product is made along with how much care and hard work go into producing the product, but to be considered bourbon whiskey needs to have 3 basic attributes:
American – Whiskey can only be considered Bourbon if it is Made in America. After all, all Bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.
Birch Wood Barrels – Whiskey can only be casked in White Birch Barrels.
Corn – Bourbon is made with Corn only. No other flavors or colors can be added.
One common misconception is that Whiskey can only be considered Bourbon if its made in Kentucky. That’s not true. As long is it follows those 3 simple rules, its Bourbon.
At the end of the tour, we got a chance to sample a tasting of 4 different styles of Whiskey. Bulleit Bourbon, Bulleit Rye, I.W. Harper, and Blade & Bow. All had their own individual profiles, tastes as well as various strengths and weaknesses. After all, everyone’s palate is different. The bourbons can have sweet or spicy undertones. They can be flowery or fruity. They can even be leathery or dry. What you like is up to you.
After stopping for lunch we ventured about an hour downstate to a much smaller distillery called 3 Boys. They made 2 different types of bourbons (a 124 proof and a 134 proof) and also specialized in several flavors of moonshine including pecan and apple pie. This tour was a little quicker and didn’t really dive into the history and manufacturing processes of bourbon so much as the nice lady who ran the place gave us many many many shots of bourbon and moonshine. Think Darlene Snell from Ozark but without the homicidal tendencies and the shotgun. Thank ya, ma’am. Much obliged.
Last on our tour was Buffalo Trace, the oldest continually operating distillery in America. What do I mean by continually operating? Well, during Prohibition, only a few select distilleries were allowed to continue operating. Whiskey and Bourbon were distributed to pharmacies for “medicinal use only”. Every man, woman, and child was allowed a prescription for 1 pint of 100 proof whiskey every 10 days “for ailments only”. As you can gather, many people starting coming down with all kinds of interesting sicknesses to get their fix.
Our tour guide was fairly knowledgeable but a little newer to the operation so I gave her a bit of a hard time. She took us on the grand tour of the facilities and process.
Tour Guide: “If you see these steel pipes above the buildings, these are actually new and we move steam through them to help with several processes.”
F. Dougie: “How often would you say that you lay pipe?
Tour Guide: “…..”
Tour Guide: “These barrels actually get harder as they get older.”
F. Dougie: “Just like me.”
Tour Guide: “…..”
Sorry, it was right there. What do you want from me? She was a retired school teacher of 17 years and I wanted to remind her not to go back. To follow her dreams, dammit!
The coolest part of the tour for me was seeing the workers label, bag, and box the facility’s special aged bourbon. There was literally a team of 10 people at 10 different stations manually applying labels (perfectly every time), commemorative tops, hot wax coverings, bags, and then boxing the bourbon. They did it with smiles on their faces while conversing and without missing a beat. All in all, that small crew is able to complete 2,400 bottles per day. It was a wonder to see and it’s a reminder that some of the best-made things are done so with care and can’t always be don’t by machines. I’ll definitely remember their friendly faces the next time I buy a bottle.
That night, we went out to a Video Arcade and Bar called RecBar. If you’ve ever been to BarCade on the East or West Coast you know what I’m talking about. Nothing really special about this place but it was chill and we had a good time playing classic videogames like Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, Afterburner, and Time Crisis. Shout out to the Simpsons Arcade game for stealing my quarters. X-Men the Arcade, you’ve never failed me.
Highlands Neighborhood on Bardstown Road
This area was fun. After a day of drinking bourbon, we decided to switch it up to beer and go bar hopping in. As seems to be customary in any area with multiple establishments, most of the bars had a hipster vibe. We hopped back and forth to a few but landed at one with free karaoke. They didn’t have the Pokemon theme song for me, but the crew bought the house down with Backstreet Boys “I want it that way”. Keep your panties ladies. We’re taken. (We’re still calling ’em panties, right?)
Escape the Room
Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum
Jack Ruby Steak House
Match Cigar Bar
Escape the Room
The third day was a busy one as well. Like I said before, there’s plenty to do in Luh-vulle and we tried to get in as much as possible on our last day of the trip. My homegirl Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t in town but did hit me on the cell to give us a few recommendations. Naturally, after a full day and night of drinking, we thought it was necessary to test our brainpower and ability to work together as a group…. So we decided to hit up Escape the Room. Let me tell you…If you ever want to test your patience with people, lock yourselves in a room together and tell them that they have an hour to work through a problem before they pass or fail. Yeesh. In all seriousness though, for me, this was weirdly some of the most fun that I had during the trip. I love brain games, puzzles, and mazes. I love thrillers, and I love a challenge.
Our group of 9 was given a scenario and placed into a room and given a mission to create a secret antidote and save the world from an evil scientist bent on destruction. Mwaahahahahahaha!
The interactiveness of the game really threw me for a loop. There were secret walls that opened, codes to crack, computers to hack, scientific formulas to make, and a secret giant machine that ultimately helped us towards our final goal. It got hairy for a second but we banded together, worked as a team and completed the mission with 10 minutes to spare. Maybe next time Dr. Evil.
Put the boy in the box like David Blaine
Let the audience watch, it ain’t a thing
Lola’s was a dope Filipino spot near the escape room. You know I had to get the classic Tosilogg like I always do. Not much more to say here. Filipino is amazing.
Batting 3rd in the order was the Louisville Slugger Museum. The forest that they use for their tree is on the border of PA and NY and it is MASSIVE. On average, every baseball player orders around 100 bats each per year. You can do the math on that one.
I know what you’re thinking. How terrible for the environment. All those trees cut down for baseball bats? Well LS actually dedicates themselves to plant 2x more trees than they cut down every year.
Thanks to all the crazy technology bat making process are fairly quick spread around 10 or so steps from cutting and painting to buffing. It was really dope to see bats from such legends as Derek Jeter, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Ken Griffey Jr. Even the newer youngbloods like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were representing.
The museum caters to families and children of all ages as well as every major league team. I highly recommend it even if you aren’t a baseball fan. Batter up.
Jeff Ruby Steak House
A Louisville staple, we made our way over to Jeff Ruby’s for our final dinner of the trip. Top rated and easily one of Louisville’s best steakhouses, be prepared to pay top dollar for their amazing cuts of beef. The service is impeccable and if you name it, they’ve got it. Even the tough to find Hatchet cut was available for consumption.
Match Cigar Bar
I’m not into cigars as much as I was my younger days, but again, the theme here is if you want it, this place has got it. Just a 10 minute Uber ride from the steak house, this smokehouse is actually across the river in Indiana! Crazy right? The patron was super knowledgeable about all of his smokes and was able to make many recommendations to the members of the group. All in all, a great end to a fun day.
So if you’re looking for a sunny and vibrant destination, Louisville is most likely not the place for you. But if you’re looking to find the best bourbons in the world, they plan your trip asap. No, the locale isn’t super exciting, but the people are genuine and friendly. There’s a ton to do if you think outside the box and if you’re ready to change things up, you just might like it.
2019 is finally at an end. We’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs, but we survived. Before we jump into the next year We wanted to share our top “things of the year. Here’s mine in no particular order.
“When They See Us”
If you somehow haven’t seen the series, it was written and directed by Ava Duvernay about the sequence of events that led to the wrongful conviction of five young black boys in 1990. I was two years old at the time they were convicted and sent to jail, but I was 14 years old when they were finally exonerated, so I remember reading about what took place 12 years prior. But reading it at 14 didn’t do what happened to those boys any justice. Watching it all these years later gave me, and I’m sure many others like me confirmation of what we knew the justice system was capable of. I say confirmation because growing up as a black man in New York you are introduced to this kind of profiling early. I’m glad my parents were there to protect me from it, but as we saw, not every black child is so lucky. I won’t get into what happened, you can read that in several places online, instead, I just want to highlight that stories, shows and movies like “When They See Us” have a lot offer all communities because they challenge our perception of government, law enforcement and “criminals”. Shout out to all the actors and especially Jharrel Jerome with a Emmy winning performance.
All Major Pageant Winners are Black
Did you know that all the major pageant winners in 2019 are women of color? Yes miss Universe, Miss World, Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Black Awareness are all black. And let me just say… That we don’t objectify women here at objectively black no matter where you’re from… But if we did! Look at this melanated goodness. GOODNESS! Of course, these ladies are more than just pretty faces with great skin, and amazing bodies, which are perfectly toned…erhm. Yes, they are also aspiring doctor men rights activists and talented artists. And I hate to add that as an afterthought because what they do is probably more important than what they look like right? This is the type of thing that young black girls never see. I know some will say that pageants like this are outdated. They pit women against each other, and they can send the wrong message to young women about beauty standards but we also have to take a look at where pageants like this started. Black women weren’t even allowed to participate. And look how far we’ve come. I say it’s okay to celebrate their successes. Let us have this one.
The Impeachment of Donald Trump perhaps
I know it’s too soon to celebrate, but this impeachment thing has got to be on the list. Yeah, I’m the last person to acknowledge anything positive that happens in politics nowadays. I’m still holding out hope that they’ll be some law that makes buying a gun harder than opening a store credit card, but I won’t hold my breath. Thanks to shows and news outlets like “Last Week Tonight” and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”, we all get a glimpse into how fucked up the world is. Every political leader, CEO and billionaire is under some type of scrutiny. Whether it be for how much they pay in taxes or whether or not they own a media platform that has the ability to upend governments, (we’re looking at you Mark Zuckerberg). But Donald Trump just owns every mistake and deflects like his girlfriend is asking him for his cell phone password. Seriously this guy is like the second coming of Teflon motherfuking don.
Naija stand up. Izzy Adesanya is your UFC middleweight champion of the world! And in my opinion the fighter of the year. Some of you will want to mention Jorge Masvidal and the type of year that he’s had. Beating both Darren Till & Ben Askren with vicious KO’s before winning a made up belt after beating washed up Nate Diaz(forgive me Nate my love for Africa is Strong). But to you guys, I say check the record again. Adesanya is undefeated. He beat Kelvin Gastelum in an all-out war just to get the belt and then defended it against a healthy Robert Whittaker, giving his chin up to the Gods. All while doing getting style my friends. Israel adesanya is who we all wish to be. A killer Nigerian dancing Machine. It really doesn’t get any better than the last two years that Izzy had but even if you’re just looking at 2019 you have to give it up for the style Bender.
Just look at this face…
The NBA is Back
2019 is the year that the Toronto Raptors wonder first NBA title. It’s also the year that the finals MVP of that Raptors left Canada and signed with the LA Clippers. It’s the same year that KD and Kyrie Irving signed to the Brooklyn Nets. And the same year Anthony Davis signed up to join LeBron James on the LA Lakers. And that’s just some of the moves that happened which effectively rebalanced the talent in the NBA. The Warriors dynasty is finally over, and basketball became interesting again. I know that this is a broad event to add to the list. But after suffering through those years of very little parity between the best and the worst NBA teams, this next decade of the NBA feels like a massive turning point. And next year’s playoffs is looking like one of the most competitive in a very long time. The race is between about four/five teams in the east and pretty much one through eight that make it in the West. It also feels like a turning point for the league. LeBron James time as the most dominant force in basketball is coming to an end and names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and yes even Luka Doncic will eventually replace him at the top. I know I’ll be watching.
“Game Of Thrones” Season 8
Game of Thrones is over. The show that brought us to all together back in 2011 with a little kid witnessing incest and then immediately being thrown from a window. And carried our interest for 8 years with witches, battles, dragons, and tits is no more. We all had our favorite characters, and we all hated Cersei. There was some backlash was season 8 because of how everything ended, but after taking some time to think about the ending… I’m still annoyed. I mean after all that Jon Snow goes back to the Night Watch? Seriously what the fuck? There were several instances of “Why is this happening?” so yes I am annoyed but not annoyed enough to ignore how great the show was overall. And to be fair season 8 had its moments. Mainly when Arya surprised us all with that knife thingy. I’ll say no more…
The Chernobyl miniseries was definitely one of the most compelling shows of the year. In my opinion, HBO always does a good job on their shows. Outside of the aforementioned game of Thrones season finale, we saw the ending of silicon Valley, the beginning of Watchmen, His Dark Materials, and euphoria. And I know we’re all still waiting for Insecure to come back. Much like Netflix’s one they see us, HBO’s Chernobyl gave us a behind-the-scenes look into the events that took place during a disastrous moment in a country’s history. I will concede that most of what’s in this the show has been dramatized to make for good television. And that the events that occurred in real life probably weren’t as closely represented in the show, but it was still a compelling series. I also really like the miniseries approach to shows… HBO knows I can’t be wrapped up for 8 years waiting to see what happened to little Vladimir. My attention span is way too short for that.
I know you thought I’d forget “Us”, and I almost did thanks to my recency bias. This came out back in March of this year, so i’ll admit I forgot about it. This is a horror film yes HORROR by Jordan Peele. His follow-up after the very successful “Get out” another HORROR film. This one stared Lupita Nyong’o as the lead. Needless to say, Lupita did a great job in the role. And by the end, I was as shocked as anyone to find out that… No spoilers! But of course Jordan Peele doesn’t put on a movie without some underlying heavy ass meaning. The meaning for this film wasn’t extremely easy to understand at first glance but that’s part of why I really loved this movie. I went to see this movie with the kid F. Dougie, and of course right after the film ended. We started to discuss what everything meant over some beers. Even though the movie was intricate I think the meaning was pretty straightforward. “Us” represents first and second class america and even the world. And you don’t have to be part of the 1% to be in the first class, all you need is the opportunity to live comfortably which not everyone has. So while many of us may enjoy the perks of being American, for everyone who is thriving there’s another who is suffering.
“Avengers End Game”
And of course, you know this movie would make the list, it made all of our lists. Avengers: Endgame! Now available disneyplus.com (Which also could have made the list please see “baby Yoda”). Avengers Endgame is a culmination of all the Marvel movies of the past decade-plus. There were a lot of expectations that this movie has to live up to because of all the success the Marvel franchise has had in the past. Just think about all the movies. The Iron Mans, the Captain Americas, Thor Ragnarok, Black Panther, and of course Ghost Rider. I know for a fact that on April 26th 2019 we all went to that movie theater at 10 p.m. On a work night I might add, and we had high expectations. And when we left that theater at 3 a.m. The next morning we were not disappointed. Marvel films do a great job of providing elements of thriller drama in adventure into all their action films. This film was no different and the effective visuals matched the story. I know you guys have already seen this. It was the most popular film of the year. And that’s why it makes the list.
The verdict is still out on 2019, but while we contemplate on if the last chapter in this decade was fire or was a flop, let’s take a look back at some of the most fun and poignant parts of 2019. In no particular order, here are your boy F. Dougie’s favorite events from 2019.
10.) Avengers: Endgame
Highest-grossing movie of all time ($2.75B). We laughed, we cried, we saw it in theaters 3 times AND we bought the digital copy. Marvel pulled off probably the greatest feat in cinematic history; a definitive ending to the Infinity Saga: a storyline spanning 23 movies with a 90% rotten tomatoes average and $870M per movie, with 5 films in the Top Ten Worldwide ALL time. Honestly, nothing will ever impress me ever again. The bar is set VERY high. The haters will ignorantly ask, “Aren’t we sick of superhero movies yet?“No, bitch. The answer is apparently, No. The world has answered. Sure there will be other superhero movies. And some may not be as good as some of these modern classics. The genre is full of amazing stories yet to be told, but this one was special and I’ll be watching it with my kid’s kids. Avengers, Assemble.
Get paid black man. Get paid. When Lil Nas X first dropped his online sensation, “Old Town Road”, the folks over at country radio deemed that it wasn’t “country enough” for their tastes and refused to put it on the country charts. Well, they started a firestorm that has turned Lil Nas into a global sensation with over 1B streams, A diamond record, and a #1 single that stayed at the top of the charts for 15 weeks (unseating Eminem for the longest reign by a Hip-Hop artist). Sure, the song is silly and its not even very good, but it is damn catchy and in a time where nothing really makes sense, a country trap song is just the kind of levity we needed injected into society to remind us to have fun and not to take everything so seriously. Get your money black man. We ain’t madatchu.
Educator Robin DiAngelo been running diversity-training and cultural-competency workshops for American companies for at least twenty years. Her experience has shown her that white people are chronically bad at discussing racism. Stop me if you’ve heard these before.
“I treat everyone the same”
“I don’t see color”
“I have ____ friends”.
“What about x,y,z gender, sexual orientation or other issues?”
THIS is white fragility and this is why the author created the book. Not to insult, but to give all of us a way to talk about race more effectively and efficiently. Hell, white fragility is one of the reasons that we started this blog.
“DiAngelo coined the term “white fragility” to describe the disbelieving defensiveness that white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged—and particularly when they feel implicated in white supremacy.“
Reading this book will definitely leave you feeling armed to have these discussions with your friends and co-workers. Hopefully, they’re ready to hear you out. And if not, at least you’ll know what’s going on.
7.) Beyonce’s Homecoming
Written, directed, produced by the singer, and filmed over eight months, the Netflix special is part concert/documentary with a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to put on a performance of this caliber. two broke boys, we weren’t able to fly to Cali to attend her performance last year, but even after watching this on film, Queen B has a way of leaving you feeling inspired. This was Black Excellence. Unadulterated Blackness. Pride. College Marching Bands. Culture. The embodiment of the Black College experience on full display. For me personally, having attended an HBCU, this truly felt like coming home. Ms. Knowles-Carter nailed it. From incorporating Black southern classics like Juvenile and Pimp C to performing a powerful rendition of the black national anthem (Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing), all this comes together to cement this performance into Coachella history. Not only because she was the first black woman to ever headline Coachella (mind boggling), but also because she transformed a historically white and corporate festival into an HBCU homecoming.
6.) Spider-Man: Far From Home
If Endgame was the last chapter in Marvel’s 23 movies Infinity Saga, Far From Home was its Epilogue. Reeling over the loss of his mentor, the illustrious Tony Stark, Peter Parker leaves his friendly neighborhood to find his place in a world-spanning adventure to get back on his feet and figure out how to go on.
Any Spider-Man fan or Comic reader worth his salt knows Mysterio and could guess at how this movie would play out, but Marvel found a way to turn this story on its head with crazy twists and turns. The 1st and 2nd half of the film almost feel like 2 different movies where a young man’s class trip is upended, forcing him to make very tough decisions and grow up insanely fast in a post truth world. In today’s world, this story hits super close to home and makes me think about we’re leaving behind for my nieces and nephews. With a 90% tomato meter and making $1B worldwide, Spidey showed that after 7 films, he’s still got plenty of stories to tell and much adventuring left to do.
If you think the menace of Mysterio was a nail-biter, we almost lost Spidey’s presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for good! Sony temporarily threatened to pull the character’s movie rights away from Marvel/Disney (it’s a long story) until a drunken Tom Holland stepped in and begged the two mega-corporations to play nice in order to give the fans what they wanted. It was a whirlwind but it really wouldn’t be Spidey if it wasn’t crazy dramatic, right? Don’t miss the first post-credits epilogue. Yikes.
5.) Soulja Boooooyyyyyy???!!!
In one of the first Breakfast Club interviews of the year, DeAndre Cortez Way, aka Soulja Boy willed himself back into the cultural zeitgeist and re-engineered his own comeback. I’m certain that for the first few months on 2019, the only words out of people’s mouths were: “Drraaaaaakkkkkeeee?!”
Egged on by Charlemagne tha God, who no doubt was on to exactly what Soulja Boy was doing, DeAndre jokingly roasted, Drake, Kanye, and Tyga. Not only did he show us that still understands how the game works, he helped make Breakfast Club interviews a must listen. This one will go down in history as an internet classic. If by some chance you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor.
4.) Impeachment Inquiry
For the 3rd time in 200 years, an American President has been Impeached. We all knew it was coming. We all knew this guy just couldn’t help himself. I mean seriously, he was in the clear! The Mueller report came out and his AG all but amended the report to make it look in Trumps favor. Still, he couldn’t help but go on national tv and admit to the very thing that he was being investigated for! You’d have to be an absolute moron not to understand the stakes at which you’re playing. Like our man Obama says, “The Donald is not exactly a plans guy”. The question is, how will this change America if at all? Only time will tell, but regardless, I will now be addressing dude as “Impeached President Donald Trump”.
3.) “Made in America” Michael Eric Dyson – Jay Z
Rags to Riches, that’s the litmus test for the true American dream, right? Well if that’s true, Hov’s story is as American as apple pie. Professor Michael Eric Dyson in such an eloquent manner as only he could, details the life story, struggles, and triumphs of Hip-Hop’s first true Black Billionaire. In the presence of Hov’s legacy, Dyson argues that Jay-Z’s lyrics not only as an artist and a poet reflect something larger about America itself, and as a black man in America, I’d be hard-pressed to disagree.
Not only was Cole on damn near every feature from January – July, he murdered every track he was on and let the game know he was taking no prisoners. Dreamville’s music festival “Dreamvillefest” cemented itself as a mainstay on the festival circuit, and with a certified Grammy nomination and a smash hit in “Down Bad”, Dreamville records proved they were more than just the new kids on the block. Your boy didn’t even drop a solo album and still shut it down, if 2019 is any indication of what’s to come, I feel sorry for the rest of these dudes in 2020.
1.) Queen & Slim
A black story by black collaborators, with a black cast and crew? I could get used to this. Queen & Slim is a 2019 romantic drama film directed by Emmy Winner’s Melina Matsoukas and written Lena Waithe. It stars up and coming young actors Daniel Kaluuya & Jodie Turner-Smith. What can only be described as a modern-day take on Bonnie and Clyde, the story follows two young black Americans who must go on the run after killing a police officer in self-defense during a traffic stop gone wrong. Knowing full well the tragedy that follows them given the stakes in America, we cheer them on as heroes. After all, it may be difficult to take on an institution with as much power as the American police, but its a true act of bravery and courage to do so in today’s political climate to make as daring a movie as Queen & Slim.
So I’ve been hearing that you guys, the people, want us to pull back the curtain a bit. You wanna hear more bout your boys Idris Gray and F. Dougie. Sure, we go on crazy adventures and give you the info about whats going on in the world, but you want to know more about US, right?
Well, say less. We’re taking some time out of our very busy lives to give a little of that personal world view we call perspective. More and more our readers have been asking us to give more travel recommendations and to share some of that worldly knowledge we’ve been picking up in our travels. Say no more people. The man, the legend, your mans F. Dougie is giving you a little more about how he likes to live. Listen up. You just might learn something.
Idris Gray:It seems like we’ve been everywhere lately. You gotta tell me though,What’s your all-time favorite travel destination?
F. Dougie: Japan. Easily.
Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are all amazing cities. Tokyo and Osaka are an insomniac’s dream, and Kyoto has so much beauty and history, it’s hard not to get lost in everything they have to offer. Its funny, I find myself day-dreaming of my adventures in Japan quite often and I guarantee that I’ll be flying over there on the next chance that presents itself.
Of the countries you’ve been to, can you tell the people which were the most fun, challenging, or inspiring?
Most Fun – Aruba. Aside from being an island paradise, Aruba has so much to do. You can kick back and do nothing or go swimming in crystal clear water. If you want to get active, I actually recommend an ATV tour of the entire island. Its small and you can see most of it in half a day. Also, definitely go Jet Skiing at least once.
Most Challenging – Paris, France. Paris is incredible but it can be a lot if you don’t have a good grasp on the language. Honestly? My best recommendation? Go on a bike tour and learn as much as you can that way. You’d be surprised how much history you can pick up just riding around with a guide for a few hours.
Most Inspiring – Positano, Italy. Wow. Easily one of the most beautiful locations on earth. All of the food is freshly gown on the island. The people are unrealistically nice, and I’m not even sure that the word “stress” exists here. Taking private boats and swimming to hidden grottos, dipping in the ocean on a moonlit night, grabbing a bottle of wine and just sipping it while the cool Mediterranean breeze blows over you. Heaven.
So where we goin next? What’s on the bucket list? If you could name your top 5, where would you like to go next?
The list is long and it is distinguished, but if I have to do a top 5, lets spread out the love a bit. We’re hitting at least 3 continents, people:
Zimbabwe – Gotta hit Victoria Falls, one of the 7 wonders of the world, right?
Austria – I just bought some new hiking boots that need breaking in.
Switzerland – You ever been hang gliding? Neither have I. We going.
Argentina – All dat meat. Patagonia is cool too I guess.
South Africa – Mandela wen through too much for me to not get over there and acknowledge his contribution to the world.
Ok, I see you. No chillin on these trips. Straight Adventures, huh? Well what’s your typical travel attire?
I’m more chill. Give me some joggers, Nikes, and a long-sleeve t-shirt. Maybe a packable light down depending on where I’m going and my Yankees fitted. When I’m in the airport or on the plane, I wanna feel like I’m at home on the couch. Comfort is key and you wanna make sure to layer as well because these planes be -10 degrees.
Window or Aisle?
I like to stare out of the window and see what’s down there. I’m long, but I’m not really cognizant of what the flight attendants are doing so if I doze off (which is rare), best believe I’m hitting hit with the cart.
What’s the survival kit look like?Name 3 items you NEVER travel without.
Sunglasses – Gotta lay low, you know? Plus I like my destinations sunny.
Watch – I always travel with some sort of diver or sport watch because I typically need something multifunctional that works well if I’m swimming, hiking, or if I wanna look good when I’m out on the town. Not to mention, you never know how long you’ll typically go without a phone charge. If I don’t have a phone on me, I always like to know what time it is.
Noise Cancelling Headphones – Because no. Just. Just, no.
Music is everything when you travel.Name 5 Albums you don’t travel without.
Yeah, I hear you. Music is a big part of travel and getting hype for a new adventure. Not to mention, who knows how long you’ll get stranded in the airport, right? I typically keep the same albums in heavy rotation on a trip:
American Gangster – Jay Z
Illmatic – Nas
Stadium Arcadium – Red Hot Chili Peppers
AM – Arctic Monkeys
The Blueprint – Jay Z
How would you describe your style of travel? Are you a planner or do you like to freestyle?
I plan EVERYTHING in advance. That’s typically because I’m usually travelling with a group and there is nothing worse than a group of grown-ass men standing around with no idea what they want to do after spending thousands of dollars on a vacation.
Dude 1: “Ay man, what’s the move?”
Dude 2: “You asking me?! I booked the flights!”
Dude 1: “I’m sayin, I got that last taxi tho…”
Dude 3: “So, we gon eat or….?”
Dude 4: “……aight, I’mma head out”.
If I’m traveling alone, I’m more apt to go off the cuff. Just wander around and see what’s what, you know? Some of the best adventures come from things that weren’t planned.
Lastly, do you have any advice for first-time travelers abroad?
You really have to get outside of your comfort-zone. Find new things to do and just get out there and get crazy. Bare in mind, you are in a foreign country, so be respectful and keep your head on a swivel, but don’t be afraid to try new things and really shake things up.
Traveling is always easier with a great international credit card. Those foreign transaction fees add up quickly, and when you’re on a budget, there is nothing worse than shelling out extra money that you didn’t originally account for.
Honestly, be easy on the electronics. Vacation is for relaxation or exploration. Its hard to get inspired and experience new things when you’re plugged in and worried about what @janice_4he_un1corn is doing on IG.
Again, I stress trying new things and having fun, but be safe out there but trust your gut and keep your head on a swivel. Theres a sucker born every minute. Don’t let it be you.
Learn how to tie a Weaver’s knot. It may save your life…
Bring extra cash and don’t fake on the travel insurance! You don’t wanna be out here waiting on transfers from your checkings to your savings, back to your checking….
Try to learn at least some basic language for the country you’re visiting. Theres nothing worse than an arrogant American yelling at the top of their lungs: “CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO GET TO THE LOUURRRRVVVEEEE?” *makes rocafella sign*
We know we know, the summer is winding down. The fun is over right? Wrong! The weather might start cooling down here but it’s nice and warm in Brazil. Vitoria Brazil to be exact. And yes, while my Objectively Black brother was wining and dining in Turks and Caicos, I was partying it up in Brazil of all places. Do yourself a favor and forget everything you heard about Brazil. Allow me to briefly fill you in on how amazing this not so touristy piece of paradise is like. I know you’ve heard of Rio and favelas and the crime and blah blah blah. “Leave that one my friend”.
Ok, so first I need to be completely transparent, I went there for the wedding of an old friend. I was only there for 4 full days but after some quick maths I was able to determine that the fun per day metrics were right up there with my other trips in South America this year. Comment if you need that formula. Anyway, in that short time I was able to hit a few spots downtown in an area called “Triangulo das Bermudas” where I danced, ate and ate some more. Normally what we like to do is give you a play by play of our time at whatever spot we were lucky enough to travel too. This time I’m gonna try and distill the whole experience down to 7 reasons you need to hit up Vitoria.
1. The People
This is by far the biggest and best reason to go here. And it’s the same reason I almost didn’t come back to NYC. I’m not trying to shit on my fellow New Yorker’s, but we can be a lot sometimes. But I’m not gonna focus on our flaws right now, let’s focus on the beautiful people in this great city. This wasn’t my first time in South America this year but there’s always some nervousness when I land in a new city. But as soon as I landed, I was greeted by friendly faces. Yes one of them was my long time friend, but even strangers seemed to be invested in making me feel as “at home” as possible. Seriously everyone was nice. From the staff at the hotel, the waiters at the various restaurants, and too the several friends I made during my time there. And yes the language barrier was tough to get over, but everyone I met made a strong effort to try and connect with me. I felt like I was in the midst of family after only a few hours there. So in the words of the Terminator I’ll be back y’all.
2. The BBQ
In the 4 nights I spent in Brazil I had Brazilian style BBQ 5 times. The times I didn’t have BBQ for dinner, I had it for lunch. And the other times I just put fruit on it and called it dessert. Remember I told you about the skewers? Yeah so I’ve been back in the states for sometime now and still refuse to eat anything that isn’t served via big metal stick. I’ve lost 15lbs. Let me give you a recommendation. GET THE CHICKEN HEARTS. Don’t argue with me just do it. Matter of fact get everything and anything that they serve on a skewer dammit. The sausage, the “Filet Mignon”. Fuck it if they have humming birds on that damn stick you eat it and you enjoy it. It’s good for your heart and for your soul. I’m pretty sure.
3. The Hotel
Ok… So I can’t speak to the other lodging areas in the city, but I can speak to Hotel Senac Ilha do Boi. Hotel Senac is about 45 minutes away from Vitoria Airport, located on top of a hill that has the most amazing views of the city. More on the views in a moment. Among the hotel amenities are a steam shower, sauna, poolside bar, tennis court etc. The list goes on. And the best part is the hotel is right on the beach. Yes with just a short 5 minute walk down a tree lined staircase you can be on the beach soaking up the sun. If that’s your thing. Personally that poolside bar got more use out of me. But “cada um na sua” (to each their own).
If you’re like me and love to dance and party a bit ‘after hours’ then don’t worry, Vitoria has you covered. And you don’t need to worry about whether or not you’ll be safe. I was able to walk the streets at night with a friend in search of bars and clubs to go to on a Sunday night without any trouble. There were plenty of people on the streets and no one bothered us. In fact, most people were friendly. Now you do have a variety of scenes to choose from, you can do quiet bars, bars with live music, and legit clubs for those of you who need a laser show to get it in. I’d suggest Triangulo das Bermudas. It’s the bar district in Vitória. It’s got all those things I’ve just mentioned and also plenty of food spots to fuel your night out. More on that later.
I can not front. As far as the views of a beachfront city.. This has got to be up there with the best. Lima’s huge shopping famous shopping complex was built right into a cliff overlooking the beach but Vitoria itself sat less than a mile from the beach. It was like being in paradise fam. No wonder everyone there is so happy. They get to see the most amazing sunsets year round. And those aren’t the only natural wonders you’ll see while you’re there…
Listen, I know. I don’t like malls, you may not either. But Vitoria has several places to shop and I found myself at one of them – “Shopping Vitoria”. Now How did I find myself in a shopping mall? Well, like I said I went for a wedding, and while the fit I brought was dope, I forgot to bring a belt. So I marched down to the mall which wasn’t too far from the hotel and picked one up. I noticed during the walk down that there weren’t many folks on the street minus the runners and dog walkers. But when I entered the mall. It was clear where all those people were. The mall seemed brand new and pretty big even by our standards here in the states. In fact it exceeded the malls I’ve been too in many ways. There you can find several places to eat and relax to refuel you after some heavy shopping. You can also catch a movie if you want. But please note, this place aint exactly cheap.
Now it might be overkill to mention restaurants after already mentioning BBQ. But I do think that BBQ and restaurants each deserve their own section. I think my new Brazilian friends would all agree. From fast food to high quality dining, you can find it all here. Trust me, during my time here I ate way more than I slept. But I want to shout out some places that you need to check out. And feel free to drop my name at any of these places for to get a “What the fuck are you talking about” look from the waiter. Tapiocaria Nordeste Capixaba, Bilac Bar E Restaurante and Figata Pizza & Birra were just a few of the places I was able to hit while I was there. All had great service and even better food. Figata even let me and a friend stick around late to finish our dinner way past closing time. Check them out for sure.
Ok that’s seven reasons. There are several more that I could go into more specifically but this should be enough to get you started. I know the trip is long and I know the flight is expensive. But do yourself a favor and go see Brazil like a local. Eat, dance, go to the beach and have chicken hearts. Sure, you can go to a resort and be hand fed grapes and shit. And while that does sound nice, I’d say you’d have a much better time getting an authentic experience in Vitoria. Like I said, I was only there for a few days, but I certainly intend to go back.
Last week, we were in Nashville for business, but we still found many opportunities to eat and drink well in one of America’s fastest growing cities. We mainly stayed around Downtown and Broadway for this entry and when you’re traveling for work, you need to be on your A-game twenty four-seven lest you show up home from work early and have to explain to your wife why you’ve put in an application as an Uber driver…
So, not too many crazy adventures or anecdotes this go-round, but if you’ll allow us some latitude, we’ll drop a couple pearls on where to eat, drink, and party it up. (We’re 2-stepping only tho. Business casual out here, you feel me?)
Located in Rutledge Hill in the heart of Downtown Nashville resides the new classic, Husk. “A celebration of Southern Cooking”, Husk is headed by Executive Chef Katie Coss who uses fresh and local ingredients from local farms to create amazing dishes.
Given the central role that African Americans and other Immigrant cooks that lent to traditional Southern cooking, its important to note that when we talk about “traditional” southern cooking, we need to go all the way back to the beginning to pay homage to those that literally slaved in kitchens across the south creating and curating these dishes.
Husk has done a great service to what I deem to be classic traditional southern dishes. With both of my parents being born and raised in South Carolina, my family grew up on southern recipes passed down for generations. You know the classics: Fried Chicken, Mac and Cheese, Collard Greens, Grits, Biscuits, Cornbread, you name it. Just thinking of some of these foods brings back great emotions from my childhood and reminds me of simpler times.
I also heard the Cheeseburger described as “perfect”, but alas, it was not on the menu for the night.
They have a large wine cellar in the basement and the cocktail menu is on point as well. You really can’t miss with anything on the menu. Our table ordered a smorgasborg of menu items and shared a little bit of everything. I won’t review everything individually but I’ll say with certainty that this is the best meal I’ve ever had in Nashville over multiple visits. Here are the standouts:
Bear Creek Farm Beef with Smoked Tomatoes, Butterbeans, Embered Beef Fat and Basil
Field of Dreams Chicken, Sweeter Days Shishitos, Schmaltz Red Potato, Miso Butter, Benne
A Plate of Southern Vegetables
Shrimp and Grits
Again, Husk did an amazing job but in the end, they ain’t got nothin on my Grannie’s home cookin. Guess I’ll need to make sure to get down south for the next family reunion.
When we first booked this restaurant, I gotta admit that I was a little skeptical at first. Sushi? In Tennessee? Gotta say, I was pleasantly surprised. They did a really great job. Sushi Chef Himmi continues a sixteen year stand of creating amazing Makimono and Nigirizushi dishes.
The menu was intelligently split into several different columns:
Temaki (Hand rolled sushi)
Nigiri-Zushi (Slice of fish atop of compacted rice)
Sashimi & Nigiri (Thinly sliced fish)
& Makimono (Sushi rolls)
The restaurant had recently moved to a brand new space and had rebuilt the restaurant from the ground up. The new ambiance really worked for them and evoked a traditional Japanese Sushi restaurant vibe. It was very relaxing. It felt like I was back in Tokyo again and had stumbled on to a ritzy sushi spot in Ginza.
Similar to Husk, Kitchen Notes is a Farm to Table Southern Cooking experience located at the Omni Hotel. The Omni is probably (definitely) the most expensive hotel in all of Nashville. It has a gorgeous lobby and really leans into the the country and blue grass roots of the region. It’s located right across the street from the Nashville Convention Center (Which if seen from above, looks like a giant guitar. Pretty dope).
I ventured over for breakfast one morning and realized that I’d eaten here once before on a previous work trip to Nashville. The food was just as good but the service as a little slow (I’m not gonna name names. We’ll just call dude Frederico for now). The waiter forgot to bring me A1 for my Steak and Eggs a couple of times. Also, I found the seating arrangements and dining room setup a little strange. There were square tables for four flanking either side of the room, but in the middle of the room, were big benched tables with seating for about 6 each. Now, I was there pretty early, so the restaurant wasn’t anywhere close to full yet for breakfast. They sat me dead center of the room at a bench….and then sat an incoming couple right next to me! Come on people, I know you Tennesseans are super friendly and hospitable, but after a long night and an early morning, sometimes a guys just wants to eat breakfast and catch up on the news on his own.
We had reservations on the rooftop, and it was really nice with the weather being around 75 degrees and breezy. The rooftop bar overlooks the river and has great views of Nissan Stadium and the Walking bridge (if that’s what you’re into. You can actually see down the entirety of broadway on the left side of the bar.
The drinks were all comp’ed, but they seemed to be decently priced with a pretty good selection of local beers and IPAs.
Now, this place is interesting. Its split right down the middle by two different bars with a live band none side and a DJ on the other. The crazy thing is, you aren’t able to hear the other from either side. We kicked it on the DJ side where he spun some current and classic tracks. Had to roll out tho, when the ladies started shotgunning Red Bulls.
Yikes. This place was huge. The DJ on the 2nd floor was doin the damn thing with all the latest Hip-Hop cuts. Don’t think I didn’t notice you played a few songs multiple times tho, my G. You gotta freshen up the MP3s on that MacBook Pro.
I’ve been to Nashville more than a few times now and its always finds ways to surprise me. You’ll find live music of all kinds, good and bad. There are your typical nine-to-fivers in the classic Honky Tonk’s, like Tootsies or Robert’s Western World, and there are some amazing local artists just trying to become “the next Taylor Swift”. The town is growing and with growth comes different perspectives. I’ve never had any issues with rowdy crowds (tho they do get rowdy), fuckery, or redneckery. People in Nashville will really surprise you and that doesn’t seem to be what they are about. People seem to be there just to have a great time. Black or White, Red or Blue, Country or Hip-Hop, people treat each other with respect and that’s the mark of a truly progressive city.
Sure, there are some areas that could use a little more work. Much like Denver, Colorado, the homeless population has not really been addressed. People don’t harass you at all like they do in NYC but when cities grow this quickly, local businesses and legislators focus on new attractions, hotels, shopping malls, bars, sports arenas, etc. People that need help tend to get the short end of the stick and to me that really keeps a city from reaching its true potential.
The city is growing enormously and with people coming in from all over the world, it seems like Nashville is trying to create more opportunities to cater to people from everywhere. Yes, the country music culture will always be intrinsically tied to Nashville. That will always be their unique identifier and claim to fame.
But there are a lot of other really cool things going on in Nashville right now as well.
“Scheduled to open in Downtown Nashville in early 2020, the National museum of African American Music will be a 56,000-square-foot facility that will encourage visitors to discover the many connections and influences that composers have had on all genres of music. From classical to country to jazz and hip hop, NMAAM will integrate history and interactive technology to share the untold story of more than 50 music genres and subgenres. It will be an unparalleled institution, not confined by record label, genre or recording artist, but instead will tell a unique narrative through the lens of black music”. – NMAAM
On Broadway in particular, there are a lot of different options in a small area. All the “touristy” bars are on Broadway and can be in a lot of fun, but it really depends on what you’re in the mood for. Many of the bars are multi-level and have something different going on each floor. You could be singing “Friends in Low Places” with a live band on Level 1, Twerking it out to Old Town Road and Cardi B on Level 2, Yee-Hawing to Dierks Bentley and Keith Urban on Level 3, and Vogueing to Madonna and Lizzo on Level 4. Theres a lot going on and you’re anything like me, you’re going to need to buckle down and figure out what you really want to do for the night.
I will say though, that going out with large groups makes it even more difficult for people because of all the jumping from floor to floor and across the streets from bar to bar. Somehow tho, it all evens out and you have the time of your life. You’ll hit the sack around 3:00am but not before you stop at a local diner to get some Hot Chicken and Biscuits.
Traveling is important. 2019 has been one for the record books for us and we continue our globe-trotting, perspective finding journey. This year we’ve been to Denver, Philly, Montreal, Peru, Colombia, and now Turks and Caicos (with Brazil up next!).
We’ve been drinking, hiking, partying and all other imaginable states of being, but a tropical setting was just what we needed to end the summer and truly relax and unwind. My wife and I recently ventured down to the beautiful island of Turks and Caicos in the British Virgin Islands for some clear water and white sand at Grace Bay Beach.
Using our credit card points (I can’t stress the importance of a great travel credit card and making your purchases work for you enough) we stayed at the beautiful Palm Hotel and Resort on Grace Bay Beach. High on luxury, the Palms has consistently scored in the top 100 hotels in the world. Impressive, right? The 72-suite luxury condo hotel is directly in the heart of Grace Bay (also named one of the top 5 beaches in the world), right on the waterfront.
We flew JetBlue and had no problems getting through checkpoints due to our TSA Pre-Check. Again, if you are traveling often, the “luxury” of not taking off your shoes, rummage through your 3oz or less toiletries and stand in a much longer line saves you some much needed time and stress when you are heading off for a relaxing vacation.
I will however note, that the trip was almost ruined when I got to customs in T&C and realized that I had forgotten my Givenchy slippers.
Young H-O, Pitch the yea faithful Even if they patrol, I make payroll Benz paid for, Friends they roll Private jets down to Turks and Caicos
The Palms was a short 15-minute car ride from the airport on beautiful Grace Bay Beach. The weather was a perfect 85 degree average everyday with wonderful breezes and no rain.
Upon recommendations from many friends and co-workers who had been to Grace Bay Beach before, we were told that the Thursday night Fish Fry was a must and also dinner at Coco Bistro would be a great way to end our trip. We planned to do both… but more on that later.
Wifey: “Ugh, its so beautiful here. I never want to leave. I’m so glad they don’t allow kids at this property becau…
Who the fuck allowed these kids in here?!
Me: Babe, I don’t think this is an adults only property…
Wifey: This trip is ruined! I didn’t spend all this money to hear screaming kids!
(I’m mainly kidding. My wife is a teacher and loves children)
Everything was fine.
Of the properties that allow children, The Palms was still very serene and all the kids and families were very respectful and were there to enjoy their time on the resort as well. After all, if you are paying good money for a vacation, you typically aren’t putting up with your kids bullshit lest you leave them tied up in the hotel closets. There were a few families with kids of all ages but again, everyone was nice and respectful of each others stay and experience.
Another point of note, is that we walked to Beaches Resort one day and I’ve gotta say that if you are a family bringing children with you to T&C, I don’t think there is a better property for you. They have a fun DJ that engages the kids, live entertainment, water games, Sesame Street characters, and daycare to entertain your kids while you hit the spa or relax at the pool. Not to mention, its all-inclusive.
The Palms property is immaculate. Everything about it is perfectly well kept and well-manicured. The staff only refer to you as Sir or Ma’am and go out of their way to make you feel like you are true royalty.
The hotel had a full-service breakfast included daily from 7am to 10am and the bed in the rooms could only be described as gigantic. A California King maybe? I don’t ever think I’ve slept that well in years. I’ll have to invest in a new mattress at the very least. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful the pool at the hotel was. The water was heated to a perfect 84 degrees. Now, that sounds hot, but when the sun is blazing at 91 degrees, slipping into a perfectly temperature controlled pool is pure heaven.
For our first night, we stayed on the property and had drinks and dinner at Paralell23, which was one of the property’s restaurants. We made a great decision. The service, drinks, and food were all amazing. I had seared Ahi Tuna and it was perfectly cooked. Usually when you order fish, you get a small piece with some bullshit garnish on the side. I’m guessing that the fish they caught that day was as big as a shark because the serving that I had was probably more tuna than I’ve had in my last 5 order s combined. And it was delicious. We ate outside in the hotel’s open courtyard. It was beautiful and romantic to sit amongst the stars in warm breezy weather.
Sidenote: Many of the other travel blogs and forums warn visitors to the island about the terrible mosquito population. I even read some weird things about sand fleas and water bugs in the ocean…
I’m not sure if any of that is true, or maybe it was just the time of year that we went, but we were out all hours of the day and night for 5 nights and didn’t see “not a near nutta” goddamn mosquito! Its propaganda! Zika my ass.
We ventured offsite to a local restaurant call Kalooki’s. The taxi driver picked us up and was clearly high as fuck. He even had the Even had the Cheetos ready on the floor for later. We see you, Rasta.
If you love Caribbean food, T&C is your heaven. Many of the restaurants are either Caribbean or Seafood and given where the island is in the world, you are getting the best of the best most authentic dishes. Dinner was solid and of course I had to get my first taste of Jerk Chicken, Coconut Rice and Plantains.
We booked a half-day snorkeling trip with Dream Tours Turks and Caicos. The whole thing was really well planned. Its a 4-hour trip with drinks, food, and tour included for $95.00 each. They take you about an hour offshore into the ocean, give you a life preserver, flippers, and a snorkel and lead you out into the ocean to see sea creatures and coral reef.
This is where I have to be a bit of a downer. If you’ve ever seen what the Coral Reef looked like before mankind destroyed it, you remember seeing creatures and vegetation every color of the rainbow.
The damage that we’ve done to the ozone, oceans, and planet has burned the reefs and turned them brown and desolate. It’s still a sight to behold and there is still plenty of life out there, but knowing what it used to be like is a little saddening considering what we know and what we could have done to improve the situation.
With that said, the experience was still incredible and a lot of fun. I personally have never snorkeled before and had to learn how fairly quickly with no land around and no real places to rest save for the boat we rode in on. I’m happy to say that I did fairly well. Swimming in the ocean with a mask covering your nose and nothing to breathe out but a plastic tube can be panic-inducing. Especially when the waves get high and fill up the only apparatus you are breathing from. But you adapt quickly and pretty soon you just start to trust your swimming skills and just have fun. I had a blast.
About halfway through the excursion, they dropped us off on a mini island in the middle of the ocean inhabited by nothing but iguanas. It was beautiful but also crazy. I love adventure and typically read a lot of fun fiction and fantasy stories. Its wild to think about washing up on an uninhabited island with nothing to eat but iguana and coconuts, and nothing but your wits to keep you alive.
After an hour of exploring the island, we set sail for home.
Everyone on the island, and even friends from back home told us that we couldn’t come to T&C and not go to the fish fry. After many many recommendations from the islanders, we figured out that its basically a large gathering of food trucks and vendors from around the island. You are on the island to spend money and have a good time so it’s a great way to support local businesses and their families, and also experience more of the islands culture than a hotel or resort can offer. It’s definitely a must-go.
The different foods were great. You had everything from Jerk Chicken to Homemade Ice Cream and Coconut Rum drinks fresh off the trees. Also, it was the first day of Lobster season so many of the vendors were grilling up freshly caught lobsters. Jerk Lobster. Boiled Lobster. Fried Lobster. It was incredible.
There was also a live DJ and MC that sang and entertained the crowd. People danced like fools and later on in the night, a Caribbean band made their way through the crowd and really got things going. You’re guaranteed to have a good time. Just ask anyone where the fish fry is. They’ll point you in the exact direction.
Another spot that was recommended to us was a lunch spot called Something Else. It was about a 15 minute walk from our resort down the beach, so we walked down the coast and arrived just in time for an outdoor lunch under shady umbrellas.
The burger was surprisingly good but the real surprise was that there was FREE snorkeling just along the beach in front of another resort. We borrowed some snorkels and swam about 150 yards out to see a beautiful display of reef and fish just by the beach! As opposed to the middle of the ocean, we are only about 15-30 feet up in some spots but to our surprise, we ran into a few Sea Turtles grazing on some vegetation along the reefs. It was the one time during the trip where I wish I had a waterproof Go Pro to film the moment.
My takeaway here is, you don’t always have to spend a ton of money to have fun on vacation. We paid about $250.00 during our first snorkeling outing. It was still amazing experience, but the free snorkeling trip was just as good or better. Keep your eyes open and weigh your options carefully but don’t be afraid to pull the trigger when new opportunities arise.
So this was the big one. The restaurant that we had heard so much about and planned around our last night on the trip. Before dinner, we decided to chill at the pool and have a few drinks before getting ready to leave to the restaurant.
Being the friendly New Yorkers that we are, we struck up some conversation with a group of people that were at the resort on a work-trip. Their company Edward Jones, comped their entire stay and all their food and drinks! Pretty nice setup, huh? So, them being friendly and hospitable, decided to extend their free and comp’ed drink status to us! Thoughtful, right?
We stayed in the pool and drank and laughed while we got to know them and traded stories of living in different parts of the country. I’m even sure there were a few shots in there somewhere. We said our goodbyes and went back to our room to get ready for dinner.
…We made it the 30 yard walk back to the room before both of us started tripping over our feet and falling into the walls.
You should know: When you are drinking on solid ground, you’ll know fairly quickly if your body has had too much alcohol because you may lose your balance and equilibrium and will instantly know if you need to slow it down or stop altogether.
When you’re drinking in a pool however, you aren’t holding your full body weight and thus its harder for your brain and body to compensate and fully understand the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed.
We both jumped in the shower and tried to quickly get ready for dinner but it was too damn late. My wife fell OUT of the goddamn shower and I ended up face down in the bed with nothing but a hotel robe on. I can’t tell you if it was opened or closed so don’t ask. It wasn’t one of my prouder moments.
I spent 4 hours vomiting into the room’s ice bucket while my wife rocked back and forth on the hotel couch trying not to pass out.
Me: Babe. Babe. I’m dying. I feel so sick. I’ve never been this drunk in my lifffffeeeee!
Wifey: Do you need to go to the hospital?!
Me: YES! Please call an ambulance! I need an IV!
Wifey: Fuck you! I’m not calling 911! We aren’t even in America! Tough it out!
Me: Please, help me!
Wifey: I’m sick too! I’m going to order room service…
I don’t remember eating, but we both woke up around 2:00am to a trashed hotel room covered in fries, a half-eaten burger, chipotle mayo on the floor and two unworn outfits meant for a classy dinner for two.
Me: …I think we missed our reservation.
Aside from our… indiscretion with the drinks and shots in the hotel pool, our vacation was incredible. We’ll definitely be back and we highly recommend Turks and Caicos. Let us know if you ever have any questions or need any recommendations.
Bob Marley was everywhere on the island. He’ll truly live forever through these cultures. His music is EVERYWHERE and it’s almost like he’s a member of your vacation party. I grew up on his music and learnings and its truly beautiful to see his legacy respected and carried on so well all over the island.
Here are a few selections that speak well to our vacation and overall vibe:
For our mid-summer classic, we wanted to escape America but didn’t want to travel too far. Europe is in the midst of one the hottest heat wave in recorded history, and as for tropical locations, we’re not really beach bums. So Montréal, Quebec Canada was our winner. We rolled 4 deep with a strong crew of no-nonsense gents who will forever from this day forth be known as “The Shuttlecock Boyz” (more on that later).
Montréal is a beautiful town with a chill vibe and Parisian sensibilities. We’ll let you know how our trip went, what the people are like, where to eat, and where (or where not) to party. Let’s get into it.
Air Canada Flight
The flight was quick, and no-stress. (Pro-tip: At LGA Terminal B, priority pass select is complimentary for Chase Sapphire Reserve holders). Including taxi, take-off, and landing, you’re looking at about an hour and fifteen minutes all in. That’s light work. There was one small child on the flight but he wasn’t a problem. He spoke at a decibel louder than should be allowed for a child of his age only once and the homie Idris Grey was all over it:
Idris: “PUT THAT BABY ON VIBRATE!”
Customs is pretty much non-existent in Canada. Being Americans, we were prepared for hell on earth.
Full cell phone data uploads.
But we got off easy. We punched a few buttons on a computer console, and proceeded to the nice girl at customs.
Customs Girl: “So. What brings you to Canada?”
OB: “Well, we are here to-”
Customs Girl:“A Bachelor party. You’re here for a bachelor party. I get it”*winks*
OB: “What? No. No, no, there’s no bache-”
Customs Girl:“No, its fine. You boys have a good time.”
*winks with the other eye*
OB:“…..Ok, thank you…”
We caught our first Uber of the trip and it was 5 mins in the car before the driver started confessing his undying love for Celine Dion. Stay Candaian, Canada.
Arriving at the hotel, our accommodations can be described as a boutique hotel, but it was the location that stood out. Seeing as how we were likely going to be out until 3:00am every night, we essentially just needed a place to sleep. We ain’t broke boys out here. We could have stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, but again, the hotel was in the perfect location. Right at the beginning of Rue Saint-Laurent; Hotel 10 is on one of the most poppin streets in the city. We got situated in our rooms and then hit the streets to officially get some drinks and start this vacation right.
In Montreal, the winters are long and brutal, so people generally take advantage of the summer time. It seems like everyone in Montreal is in amazing shape (America, lay off the cheese fries) and the women are just flat out beautiful. It not just their physical looks either, it’s their energy as well. Everyone is walking around smiling and generally in a good mood. Coming from NYC and LA where everyone has a hustle and will only deal with you if you can help them out in some fucked up way, it was refreshing to see people just enjoying their lives. You ask us, the sexiest thing a person can do is smile. Well, that and bussdown.
Toddry: “The women here are beautiful! I’m here for these bad bitches!”
Dougie:“Settle down fam, we haven’t even had a drink or anything to eat yet.”
THE Joe Dressel: “Hold up. You guys came all the way here to play BADMINTON?”
Toddry: “What?! No! Bad BITCHES.”
THE Joe Dressel: “Ohhhhhh”
Toddry: “I’m trying to serve that ShuttleCOCK!”
St. Laurent Blvd has an amazing art scene. It’s almost like an outdoor museum. There are galleries, street art, and murals everywhere. From what we’ve heard, new art pieces are commissioned yearly to bring new energy and culture to the community.
Going back to our comparisons about what we see in Canada vs. America, Canada doesn’t seem to have the same inhibitions or social stigmas about many parts of life. Men and Women are covered in beautiful tattoos. Sex isn’t looked at as some evil societal burden, and graffiti isn’t stashed away in dark corners of the city. It’s displayed proudly as a legitimate expressive art form.
Lunch was dope. Shaker specializes in Cocktails and Gourmet Burgers. The selection for each were on point and we also got our first taste of poutine. The waiter was gracious enough to teach some of us a few phrases to get along during the week and also interact with the fairer sex. We should note though, that damn near everyone we spoke with has both French AND English on lock. Again, America you’re slacking.
We chilled up here for a while. The rooftop opened at 2pm and was decorated nicely in a chill garden vibe. At this point we had a nice day drinking buzz going so the rest of the details are a little hazy to us right now.
For dinner, we went to Taverne Midway. Apparently, its been around since 1927 and it definitely had an old town feel. The food was solid and there was a free pool table in the back that was clutch albeit in poor condition.
As we bar hopped up and down SLB, we stumbled into a divey as fuck club called TRH Bar. It had a dance floor and a quarter pipe?! The people here were more interested in their turn on the bowl than actually doing any dancing. The shit was straight up entertaining to say the least. It looked like a scene out of Ninja Turtles or the Lost Boys from Hook. Bangarang.
Another interesting (but divey) spot on SLB. The DJ was INCREDIBLE and really knew his stuff. He was hittin us from all angles with classic cut after classic cut. The crowd was moving and we probably had more fun at this place than many others. The only caveat about this spot (and most of Montreal) is that the drinking age is 18. Because of this, many bars and clubs have really young crowds. Some of these kids looked like they were seeing dance for the first time.
This place is on damn near every “must visit” list for Montreal. So we had to do it right? Maybe we just did it wrong because we just were not impressed. Again, we were all hung over so maybe we were expecting something more robust. Either way, we got to the front of the line (side note: all lines in montreal, no matter how long they are, move very quickly and efficiently) and made our order:
Bagel Bro:“How many bagel you want?”
Idris: *Looks at menu* Yeah so, we –
Bagel Bro: “My friend. How many bagel you want?”
THE Joe Dressel: “Don’t rush us. You’re making us panic, dude.”
Bagel Bro: “How. Many. Bagel. You. Want?!”
Idris: “Fam,Just give us 6 random bagels with cream cheese…”
Toddry:Fuck, that was stressful. I feel like we are in an episode of Seinfeld.
The William Grey Hotel is a 4-5 star property that has a gorgeous rooftop bar with what we deemed was the best view in all of Montreal. Its located in the Old Port and for that reason it really gives you an old paris feel. The hostesses and waitresses are lovely and friendly. The vibe was chill and we kicked it here for most of the morning while we nursed various stages of hangovers.
Later in the afternoon we randomly stumbled upon an African/Latin music festival. We heard the conga drums from afar and couldn’t resist checking it out. When your culture calls, you answer. This completely free festival had food, amazing music, and vendor selling local art and clothing.
It was really beautiful to see people of all shades just living it up and enjoying the music. People were camped out on blankets and kids of all ages were out dancing with their parents. It was a great experience.
This highly rated and recommended restaurant was booked months before our trip. It was popular and thus difficult to get a reservation. Joe Beef was easily the best meal of our trip. We liken the experience to visiting Paris without going. We recommend that you get a few appetizers and share the entrees to get a full sampling of all the different flavors this restaurant has to offer.
We went here to have some drinks before officially going out for the night, but the vibe was so great that we probably should have stayed here…. Like typical millennials, we wanted more than what we had, and so since we had a list of 2-3 other places to try out that night, we left and shot ourselves in the foot because none of the other places we went that night were as poppin. Bird in the hand, I guess. Lesson learned.
By the way, to the customs agent who made wild accusations about why we were in Montreal, there were waaaaaayyyyyyyy more bachelorette parties than bachelor parties in Montreal. So you need to re-evaluate your biases my dear lady.
La Voute aka “The Vault, is a nightclub that was built into an old bank vault. Cool idea, I guess. Many of the ladies we spoke to recommended that we go here to avoid the younger crowds. It was supposed to be a “real nightclub” which usually means real money.
Dougie: “Hey my man, we’ve got 4.”
bouncer turns around and consults some wannabe Instagram model. IG model, while smacking on a piece of gum, without even looking up from her phone whispers something to the bouncer.
….The bouncer turns back to us.
We re-enacted this scene about 10 different times throughout the rest of the trip. If nothing else, this was a great reminder that laughter is always the best medicine because you have to be on some SUCKA SHIT to pay $800.00 to get into a “club”.
We went back to this spot because we had such a great time the first go round. Since it was Saturday, there were many more people out and the whole city was ready to party. We saw some of the gents that we met in line at La Voute the night before who actually paid the “cover”. Apparently we dodged a bullet and saved $800.00 because the club was a straight sausage fest! Nothing but groups of dudes who’d been suckered. Always trust your gut people.
Bord’elle is a “Supper Club”. Basically means you eat dinner, and then they clear out the tables and it turns into a nightclub. Supposedly there are burlesque dancers and cirque du soleil type shit modeled after The Great Gatsby. Not our bag, but it was highly recommended, “you see, old sport?”
The catch is, if you want to stay for the club, you’ve got to drop $800.00 on bottle service for the night. We had a prior reservation but cancelled because the food is supposed to be trash. I know a hustle when I see one, so we cancelled the rez.
We dropped by later in the night to see what the energy was looking like. The crowd was sexy and it looked like the place to be, so we went to the doorman and had a quick convo.
Dougie: “Hey my guy, we were here earlier with a reservation. Can you get the 4 of us in?”
Bouncer: “4 guys. $600.00”
People, there may be some suckas out there, but we ain’t them. I don’t care where you are in life or what your level of income is …DO NOT PAY $800.00 TO GET INTO A ROOM.
Also, “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”
This club is attached to Hotel 10 and since we were guests, there’d be no cover and no hassle. Seems like it would have been fun. 2 floors of Hip-Hop with a local famous DJ on the 1s and 2s…But we were exhausted and flights were early so we just kicked it for the rest of the trip.
Overall, we’d highly recommend Montreal. The people are nice, laid back, and no drama. Sure, the nightlife is a hustle if you want to do the fuckboy shit but there are way too many options to have a miserable night. There are a ton of different bars, clubs, lounges, and vibes. You can’t always look things up online, and you shouldn’t just take recommendations either. Feel it out and figure out what YOUR comfort zone will allow for. Chances are there is a scene that’s perfect for you. Figure things out for yourself and just go with the flow.
Epilogue: When we arrived at the airport, we were surprised to find out that 3 out of the 4 of us had the same AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage. We honestly can’t stress to you how sturdy, durable, compact, and affordable this luggage is. Why would you drop $225.00 on Away luggage that has the same utility when you could pay $49.99 for something that will be reliable all over the world? The 20″ luggage fits perfectly in an overhead and is the perfect size for a quick 3-day weekend. Let’s shop smart people. Save that $175.00 on something that you really want.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running. Thank you for your support!
And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the second part of our South America trip in Cartagena de Indias more commonly known as ‘Cartagena’ Colombia. When most of us hear Colombia, we immediately think about “Narcos”. And while that show is one of the best series that Netflix has ever produced, we knew that the show was not at all an accurate representation of the current state of Colombia. Still, we made sure to do our research before we went. But we found out it was that Cartegena is very safe and makes for a great stop during your trip across South America. There are no special visas required for either Peru or Columbia and although it helps to speak espanol, many of the local people speak English.
Once again we took Avianca Airlines into Columbia. Now I don’t know if this is normal for flying into Columbia from Peru or if this was just a rare occurrence, but our flight was turbulent. I’m pretty sure the entire plane was making their peace with God at a certain point. Thankfully we made it to our first stop in Cali. We had a quick layover where we enjoyed a hamburger made with actual ham. They also provided a pre-mixed mayonnaise and ketchup condiment usually in the States you have to make that by yourself. We appreciate that touch.
The very first thing we noticed was how HOT it was. When we left Peru it was 36 degrees. We were wearing coats, but just a few hours later we were in 90-degree weather. Our next goal was to find a cab. And to answer your question, yes Uber works down here. Our Uber driver showed up in a completely tinted out Honda Civic with a ridiculous spoiler, Tokyo Drift style. At that moment we looked at each other and questioned whether or not we should enter this car. We’ve heard some horror stories about taxis and even Uber’s so so we were jokingly a little weary. Nevertheless, we are men. So without question, we got in that car wondering if we would ever see the states again. Needless to say, our Uber driver was awesome and gave our Spanish-speaking friend some tips about where to the best food was, the tourist locations, and even some unsolicited tips on picking the right hooker… I swear it was unsolicited. Having been in South America for several days now, driving through another city was no big deal. I mean seriously, at this point we felt like locals. I was even speaking some Spanish via osmosis. I guess that if I had stayed or a good month or so, I’d be fluent in the language.
Anyway, after the two flights from Peru, we were pretty exhausted so when we got to our hotel within the walled city. (Hotel Casa de la Trinidad) Note: Make sure that when you do travel to Cartegena you stay in the walled city. We did wander out by mistake, nothing happened, but you want to stay within the confines. It’s just safer. We crashed for a few hours and by the time we got up, it was night time in Cartegena so we began to explore the city. When you are within the walled City you can’t go wrong. Our hotel room was right next to several restaurants and Nightclubs in the “Old Town” and we felt safe in every spot. We passed by a spot called Restaurante Coroncoro and decided to have some food before we drank. The carne asada hit and become our dish of choice for the remainder of the trip. Once we had eaten we decided to walk avoid for a bit and get a feel for the vibe. The streets were packed with tourists and locals. Salsa music was blasting through seemingly every doorway. It seemed like everyone in the city was partying. The very first spot we hit was a small bar called the “Tipsy deer”. We grabbed a few ‘cervezas’ and had a nice conversation with the 2 bartenders there. If you ever find your way to the tipsy deer, tell them that we sent you. We also noticed a club across the street called Cafe Havana. We heard the live music playing while we passed by and asked about the cover which was 30k Columbian with is about $10. We decided that we would come back on a different night since the band was already in full swing and we didn’t want to miss any of the show.
So we continued our night and headed towards ‘Plaza de los Coches’. Fair warning, if you come here at night time you will be surrounded by escorts and savages trying to broker deals. Seriously it was like wall street up in there. Needless to say, we don’t pay for it. Sex is better free(ish) yall know what I mean? So we continued. I’m kind of angry at myself for not taking more pictures of the nightlife but we didn’t want to stick even further out. Pulling out my phone while the block is lit just never occurred to me. The streets taught us better than that. But the streets were really packed and so were the clubs. There were lines to get into a few of them and in everyone, the music was hittin’ and the drinks were cheap (by our standards) The dollar is strong yall. Thanks, Trump! One of the clubs that stuck out was Alquimico Bar. If there is one thing regarding the nightlife in Cartegena you need to trust me on, its this place. The drink menu was large and the staff was awesome and skilled. There are 3 levels in the bar. The ground and 2nd level play a combination of hip hop and dance music, while the top-level rooftop plays a mix of Spanish, Brazilian, and even African music. It was easy mingling with the people out there. Everyone was easy going, and positive. You could sense the love out there for real. Just be sure to ask any girl you hit on if she’s an escort before you fall for her. Learn from our mistakes. We hopped around several different bars the first night. Some had covers but the bouncers were nice enough to let 1 person in your crew check the place out before you paid to see if it was packed enough for your liking. We got back to our hotel that night feeling pretty excited about the rest of the trip.
The next day in Objectively Black fashion, we decided to have a workout and walk around Cartagena. The city is beautiful. The streets are lined with colorful colonial-style buildings. There are beautiful murals painted all across the city and plenty of historic statues and squares to visit. The markets are worth walking through as well. Even for those of you who hate shopping like me, you’ll want to pick up some souvenirs. The markets offer some authentic handmade crafts. One of the many spots we explored was Castillo San Felipe de Barajas / Fortress of San Felipe. Now did we mention the heat? The day we decided to summit this fortress it was well into the 90s and humid as all fuck. Still, we climbed. Our short trip to Peru may have come in handy, because next to the climbing that we did in Peru, climbing this castle was nothing. Next, we hit La Paletteria a Popsicle dessert shop in the middle of the old town. There are several different flavors divided by ‘base’ yogurt, water or cream. On a hot day of walking, one of these really hits the spot.
By chance, we were in Columbia during Copa America and we were able to catch the Columbia game against Argentina. We watched the game at Mister Babilla, a night club that was showing the game on several projectors in the venue. As you would expect the atmosphere inside was crazy. Futbol is bigger than religion out there so we were very lucky to be in Columbia during this even. This ranked up there with the most authentic experiences we had in the city. We just got lucky, but if you can, try planning your trip around a similar event to experience futbol in South America.
One of the most important things for us to do what to see an authentic live salsa band in Columbia. And to do that we went right back to Cafe Havana. If you remember we stopped by earlier in our trip but decided that it would be best to arrive early one night. And we were right. We arrived at Cafe Havana around 10 pm. By that point, most of the tables had already been taken. Luckily we found a table right next to the stage which was also close to the bar. The band played for about an hour and needless to say they were amazing. The entire place was lit. And this was my favorite part of the trip. It wasn’t even close.
South America has a million different things to offer. If you have the opportunity I will suggest taking way more than just two weeks to travel the continent. But if you do just have a few days to travel you could do much worse than Peru and Colombia. Both offer vastly different experiences yet they’re only hours apart. Listen, Objectively Black is traveling a lot this year. If you want to stay up-to-date on what we’re doing and get a good idea of what these different places have to offer, keep following. And also let us know what you think. Where do you want us to travel to next?
It’s been several months since your uncles at OB have traveled. Our last trip to Denver was “lit” as the kids are saying, but we were long overdue for “another one”. In picking a place to travel there were several things that we had to consider. For us it was important to travel someplace that we had never been before. Somewhere with a different culture entirely. And most importantly somewhere with extraordinary views for Instagram. Bitches love views.
Some other things that we needed to consider was our less than extended time off. Sadly our swagger-less day jobs don’t allow us to take that much time for vacation. We thought about doing South America because we could hit several countries. Europe has a similar draw, but everybody goes to Europe. Here at objectively black we are different… and we also like salsa. Initially the plan was to hit Brazil, Columbia and Peru. But at the time of booking, Brazil was too hot. There were ridiculous stories coming out about Brazil and we didn’t want to fuck with that since Spanish was already a struggle and we knew zero Portuguese whatsoever. We did meet several people during the journey who didn’t speak Spanish and got along just fine. But I suggest that if you can, learn some of the language of your destinations or fly with someone who knows it. It just makes everything easier.
I should mention now that we traveled with a buddy who was from the Dominican Republic and was fluent in ‘Spanish’. He really was responsible for what we thought was an authentic experience. We didn’t want to be some gringos in SA. So we finally decided on Peru for 4 nights and Cartagena, Columbia for another 4 nights. We’re going to break each stop on the trip into 2 separate articles. This is part 1.
Our first stop was in Lima Peru. The plan was to stay one night in Lima and fly out to Cusco the next day. We flew Avianca Airlines which was pretty dope. The flight was broken in 2 with a layover in Bogota. The connecting flight to Lima was delayed for 5 hours but that kind of thing happens when you travel overseas. Expect it and go with the flow. After we landed in Lima we took an airport Taxi to an Airbnb we booked that was 15 minutes away from the airport. Our plan being to see some sites around the area and still be very close to the airport in case we got drunk and need to sleep in. Driving through the city of Lima right outside of the airport was a bit surreal but also familiar. The born-and-bred in New York City side of me found it a bit foreign naturally. The streets were dark and the buildings or houses all looked a little run down. There were huge piles of trash on the median’s, and the driver had me nervous. These drivers were aggressive to say the least. The Nigerian American in me, the guy who’s been to West Africa a few times, to me this felt familiar as fuck. We were officially in the 3rd world. And I was nervously loving it already.
The nervousness got real once we arrived at our Airbnb. To say the least we weren’t in as comfortable a location as I would have liked. I had to reach out to some friends back in the States to point me in the right direction. They instructed me to change my Airbnb from a place in San Amadeo De Garagay to a hostel in Miraflores. So that’s what we did. After a 40 minute Uber it was like we were in a completely different country. Miraflores was “gorgeous gorgeous”. It’s also where all the tourists were in Lima. I should be clear though that these tourists weren’t just American. We met Brits, Spaniards, Brazilians and Dutch peoples in just in a couple of hours at the hostel.
We stayed at two hostels during our time in South America. Depending on what kind of trip you are looking for, your noise tolerance, and your age you may want to stay clear of certain hostels. You don’t have to worry about Selina hostel in Miraflores, which was safe for all. Even though we booked it that same night we were able to secure a private room for cheap (by US standards). It was quiet, they had a nice bar with good food, and the bartender was super helpful. We asked him if there was anything to do on Sunday night and he pointed us in the direction of Calle de los Pizza. Sadly, because it was a Sunday night this strip wasn’t popping. Do we say popping anymore? Still we were able to find a couple of clubs that are open. We decided on Son de Cuba after a little encouragement by what seemed like the manager of the spot. The next day we walked the streets of Miraflores. The weather in Lima was pretty comfortable at about 60 degrees, with constant cloud cover, so we just walked around in t-shirts. The streets are filled with beautiful artwork and the architecture reminded us of the Art Deco structures in Miami. The people stared a bit but I may have been the blackest tallest person they had ever seen in life. We made sure to eat a good meal of Lomo Saltado and see a few nearby sights like Larcomar and Huaca Pucllana before our flight to Cusco.
Cusco was a different beast all together. Firstly, the flight up there was only an hour but we were warned about the turbulence. So in natural fashion for me I made peace with my God and prepared for whatever might come next. I also left specific instructions with my family that if the worst should happen, i’d like to be buried with all $523.24 of my checking + savings account (Shout out Drake). Needless to say the flight went fine with very little turbulence. When we landed we called and Uber to take us to our 2nd hostel. Wild Rover. Remember that short warning about hostels? Well Wild Rover is one that you may want to research a bit before booking. It honestly wasn’t that bad, but I am a very light sleeper so it just wasn’t for your boy. Still the people were very nice and we did have some fun at the onsite bar for the 1 night we stayed there.
Cusco is an amazing city just visually. The streets are cobblestone and the entire city is on a hills/mountains sides. Not only that, but the city itself is surrounded by mountains. So anywhere you look you see breathtaking views. Be sure to have some of that coca leaves tea because you will want to walk, and that altitude will get your ass. After our first night we hit the ground running with Laguna Humante which we booked through one of the several tour companies with offices across the city.
We had to get up 4:00am to get on a bus that stopped right outside of Wild Rover’s gates. We got on the bus and finished our sleep but awoke to some next level views of the sun rise. Seriously the back of your neck is gonna get toned from looking up all the damn time during this trip. But it will all be worth it. Now if the sun doesn’t wake you up, then the driver whipping that bus around those tight turns to the base of that mountain will. Anyway, after a meal and a bit more driving you are face to face with the base of the mountain looking up at what will be a 1.5-2 hour trek up at 4,200 meters in elevation. Don’t worry though. If you aren’t in shape and aren’t willing to suffer a heart attack on the side of a mountain in Peru, you can take a horse. I am not in shape but I am certainly willing to stress my own heart instead of these senoritas doing it for a change. So we climbed…
And it sucked.
But it was worth it.
On the last day in Peru we took a train to Machu Picchu on the PeruRail. If you aren’t doing the 4-day hike to Machu Picchu, then this has to be the 2nd best option. The train is equipped with huge windows on the sides and the top of cars allowing you to see the whole 360 view of all the surrounding mountains. The conductor stopped the train at certain points and on the loudspeaker you can hear an explanation of historical significance of the spots along the way. Also they serve beer. This was also the point when we realized how shitty our work-life balance is. On the trip up to Machu Picchu sat across from 2 young Australian ladies. They were both on the tail end of a 5-week trip across South America. We were lucky we got a week!
Anyway, they were cool and wanted to hang out after the tour so we never talked to them again. More on the train though. After the tour we got in one of the first class train cabins and were treated to a fashion show as well as what can only be described as Peru’s version of a Jester. A dude dressed up in masks and danced around the train for our amusement. I just wonder what other first class experiences I’ve been missing my whole life. In short Machu Picchu was dope. I’m not a historian and I couldn’t do our tour guide Percy any justice, but I hope this pictures will suffice.
By the end of Peru, we did not want to leave. The experience we had was definitely life changing. Seeing how other people live and being around so much beauty everyday is something I could definitely get used to. But sadly it was time to hit the next spot on our journey, Columbia. I can guarantee that I’ll be back to Peru. I’ma try to do that 4-day hike to Machu Picchu and I’ma eat all the Lomo Saltado I possibly can until I go back.
“The Dean Collection, founded by legendary music artists Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Alicia Keys, is a contemporary, family art collection focused on the support of living artists. In addition to being custodians of great artworks, TDC develops platforms that encourage progress in all facets of artistic practice.”
Thursday night’s gallery was presented by local NYC artists, Faile and Bast. Deluxx Fluxx obscures the lines between artist and consumer, and viewer and participant in an attempt to recapture the recent history of the Lower East Side as a haven for anti-elitist art practices such as graffiti and punk rock. It blends elements from the golden age of arcades, 80s-era basements, and the visual culture of nightclubs. It features the arcade’s signature day-glo palette and ten custom video game installations. Its simultaneously an interactive art project and an active performance venue.
The entire venue was an interactive visual delight. People were encouraged to dress in black-light accentuated clothing. People were dressed in neon’s with neon hair and danced like fools all night. It was a magical place. A place where the beer flowed like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talkin’ bout a little place called… Deluxx Fluxx.
One lady (CLEARLY married and out for the night) wanted a piece of anything with a Y chromosome. We even found her in a crowded men’s bathroom at one point trying to prove she’s still got it. Slow down Ma. Chill.
Our homie Swizz was dressed to impress and started a lively DJ set right on time. He spun old school two step classics, NY staples like HOV, Nas, and Biggie, and a few choice tracks from his legendary catalog of hits. Swizz was more than gracious and allowed fans to take pictures and videos with him before encouraging people to put away their phones and really enjoy the experience. But that was short lived because all hell broke loose when his boo Alicia Keys hit the booth.
Looking effortlessly gorgeous, Alicia danced and encouraged the people to have fun. Phones and cameras are nice, but its not often that you get a chance to party with legends as gracious and humble as Swizz Beats and Alicia Keys. People really started to dance and make use of the entire space. Swizz’s pops even hit the floor and joined in the fun. It was a family affair for sure.
This event was one in a million. Keep your eyes open because there are always amazing events like this if you know where to look. DJ set or not, we encourage everyone to experience more of NYC’s art scene. You never really know what you’ll run into.
Ava Duvernay’s “When They See Us” tells the story of the Central Park Five. In 1989, a heinous crime shook New York City to its core. A white banker who would become known in the media as the “Central Park Jogger”, was raped and beaten almost to death during an evening jog in central park. Falsely accused, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, and Antron McCray, kids ages 14, 15, and 16, who were wrongfully convicted Despite no DNA evidence, fingerprints, blood, or semen linking any of the boys to the crime, would grow up grew up in prison, each one spending between six and 13 years behind bars before the real perpetrator was found. Their lives are the basis for Ava DuVernay’s Netflix miniseries.
The miniseries does an amazing job of showing the kids as typical teenagers with normal lives. This is exactly what they were before they were wrongly accused. New York in the 80’s was crazy. Especially at night in Central Park. The aftermath tho, and it’s painful comparisons, parallels how black children are treated to this very day. Its UNCANNY. It seems like not much has changed.
The whole series is well done, but the second episode in particular was especially captivating. It very clearly showed how public opinion, and the justice system turned against the five youths. It makes it clear that the arrests and the events following never should have happened at all. (If you are at all uncertain, please watch the documentary “The Central Park Five“) The main facts? These kids barely knew one another. Their “confessions” (coerced by cops using brutal tactics on underaged teens) were inconsistent with one another. DNA found near the scene did not match ANY of the boys. Didn’t matter. The brutal fact: A white woman had been brutalized, and America wanted blood. We see the media really sink their hooks into the circus surrounding the accusation of this crime.
In addition, his insane tv interview proclaiming that he understood the mind of “a black” in America:
When They See Us is primarily focused on the racist logic of NYC policing, court, and prison systems that cost the five defendants their childhood and humanity. As masterful storyteller Ava DuVernay has done this before. She wants to make sure that we really see the Central Park Five this time. And we do, Ava. We really do.
The film masterfully sheds light on the inherent problems in American criminal justice system, the perspective of the families involved, as well as from others working in the law. Viewers get an intimate glimpse of mothers, fathers, and siblings fighting for the freedom of their loved ones; law-enforcement authorities classifying these same boys as “animals”. Again, to us it’s all too familiar.
You typically watch films like this to gain a better understanding of the past so that we can avoid a bleak future. But given the current direction of our country and leadership, its evident that the same mistakes and injustices are being repeated ad nauseam with no real solutions or progress.
The question is and always has been, “What do they see when they see us?”
Judging how things have played out since the late 80s…not much.
It’s graduation season and I’m sure you all remember the pride that you and your loved ones felt as you walked across that stage. Some of y’all are still struggling in that Accounting 101 class, don’t stress, you’ll figure it out.
4 years of blood, sweat, tears, and money went into that degree of yours and now it’s time to enter society and make a living for yourself. But that ain’t the end of the story, because some of y’all will be paying Uncle Sam or Sallie Mae until you retire. You might not be able to afford a car so you’ll name your daughter Alexis.
If you don’t know who he is, Robert F. Smith is an entrepreneur and founder of the investment firm, Vista Equity Partners. He’s worth about $5 billion, according to Forbes and is the richest black person in America. The 56-year-old Smith was a chemical engineer for Goodyear and Kraft before attending business school. He worked for Goldman Sachs, specializing in tech investments before starting his firm Vista Equity in 2000. According to the company website, Vista Equity invests solely in software, data, and technology companies and boasts capital commitments of $46 billion.
While giving the commencement at HBCU Morehouse College’s 2019 graduation, he surprised the crowd by declaring that he’d created a grant to pay off all of the debt of each member of the graduating class.
“On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re going to put a little fuel in your bus. Now, I know my class will make sure they pay this forward. I want my class to look at these these beautiful Morehouse brothers and let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure we have all the opportunities of the American dream.”
Now, we at OB often talk about creating black wealth. We have conversations about what we need to do in order to make a dent in the wealth gap that black Americans are beholden to.
F. Dougie: This reached out and touched my heart. It really did. Not too long ago, we wrote an article about how fed up we were with all of the negativity and killing out there in society. Given that many of us are always taught that we should lift each other up as brothers and sisters, It hurts even more when we as black people are doing it to each other. But when we see people like Mr. Smith lifting up young black men, it really makes us feel like there’s hope. It’s really true, When you have to service debt, the choices about what you can go do in the world are constrained. Now, hopefully these young men can use their gift as an advantage to make intelligent decisions and do even better than their parents before them. The possibilities are endless.
Idris Gray: This is truly touching. As someone who is still paying for loans, I can’t help but to wish that I too was apart of this class. Or better yet, that my sister was a part of this class so that perhaps her loans could be taken care of. DO NOT CO-SIGN LOANS, PEOPLE!
Anyway this is really amazing for these young people and I envy them and applaud the selfless act of Mr. Smith. I don’t care how much money you make, you don’t want to spend $40 Million of it on an investment you’ll probably never see monetary gains on. That being said, the homie was sitting on 5 BILLY! I digress, but even if he never gave those students that loan forgiveness, he gave them something special. Inspiration. When we talk about the 1% we picture old white dudes, not black ones. So just seeing that this kind of thing is possible for black people to attain is dope.
It’s too easy for black men relegate themselves to being happy with any kind of employment when the stereotype is “broke black man”, or just straight up “criminal”. When thoughts like that run through your head you tend to accept the bare minimum instead of pushing yourself to get all the things you want out of life. Sometimes you forget that anything is possible with hard work and dedication regardless of skin tone. The list of great black business people, medical professionals, artists etc isn’t short. Still, we are depicted in a negative light on the news and in the media.
It’s time we stop feeding into this narrative. There are too many successful black male figures outside of sports and music. We are CEOs, entrepreneurs, writers, directors, engineers, and doctors, lawyers, and everything else. It’s over for all that. We need young black boys to know that they have more options than ball or rap.
Last week, Tiger Woods completed one the greatest comebacks in sports as he won The Masters Golf Tournament after an 14 year hiatus and several knee & back surgeries. Many in the sports world told Woods to hang it up. Many said he’d never win ever again and that he was washed. Woods proved everyone wrong by reconstructing his golf game from the ground up. The result was an epic and historic win at the biggest tournament in the sport.
Today, Woods will visit his good friend Donald Trump at the White House to receive the highest honor that a civilian can be awarded, The Presidential Medal of Freedom. People are understandably upset that Woods is going and isn’t using this as a chance to take a stand against all the fucked up shit that Trump has done in his 2 years in office, but looking at the bigger picture, Woods has never stood up for big issues (in the black community or otherwise). This isn’t surprising considering he’s good friends with Michael “Republicans buy Jordans too” Jordan.
Why do we even care? We’ve always known who Tiger Woods is (even if Elin Nordgren didn’t). Do we expect too much of athletes? Black athletes especially?
F. Dougie: Look, people can do whatever they want. I don’t think that we should be propping people up as heroes and telling them how to live or engage with the black community….But when you have Colin Kaepernick out here giving up his career to speak up for black people, when you Have LeBron James out here always speaking up for the black community and trying to empower us and emulating the example of Ali….. Visiting the biggest catalyst for the rise in white nationalism and hate crimes this century makes you look like an Uncle Tom.
Considering how many championship sports team have declined to go to the White House citing Trump’s racism, this presents itself as an opportunity for Trump to align himself with a popular athlete. I just see this as a lost opportunity and shame that Trump can once again use a black prop to show himself as a champion for black people when all the while he’s been winking and nodding at white supremacists.
Idris Gray: You’re right. People should be able to do whatever they please. I’m actually not mad at all about the honor I think it recognises the impact that Tiger has had on Sports. He’s basically the MJ of golf right? But I’m just being consistent. I didn’t want to see NFL or NBA champs in the White house because of the Don, and I don’t want to see Tiger in there either. You’ve stated the reasons already. He is a clearly the representation of hate for minorities. He’s also a misogynist. I don’t really see how anyone could want to associate themselves with him knowing his opinion of people who look like us. Perhaps this honor is too big an honor to boycott? But that’s exactly why I think that refusing to participate in the ceremony would send waves.
I often wonder about the idea of selflessness when things like this come up. Perhaps Tiger doesn’t feel at all slighted about the various things that Donald Trump has said and done in the past. Maybe he doesn’t identify with the various groups that have been impacted by the hate his presidency has encouraged. But at some point you still need acknowledge the problem even if you don’t feel them directly yourself. That’s why that O.J quote you mentioned is very problematic. The fame and wealth that you’ve created as an athlete shields you from the plight of average black man. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans Mark Ruffalo Chris Hemsworth Scarlett Johansson Jeremy Renner Don Cheadle Paul Rudd Brie Larson Karen Gillan Danai Gurira Bradley Cooper Josh Brolin
We finally made it. We reached the end ofMarvel’s Infinity Saga. The most ambitious and successful cinematic universe ever created on film.The reviews are glowing(96% Positive Reviews with a 94% Audience Rating as of this article’s writing) and the film broke damn-near every record imaginable by making $1.2 Billion in its opening weekend. You guys know the story by now.
When Marvel Studios launched Iron Man in 2008, they did so in the Marvel comic book style of storytelling beginning a 12-year epic saga (Imagine Game of Thrones or Harry Potter for comic movies). The creators and producers wanted to create a world in the movies that mirrored the Marvel Comics. Not a world where new characters would just appear in sequel after sequel, but a cinematic experience where those stories would work was as their own tales but also work towards a larger goal. A world where Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man, and Captain Marvel could just drop by unannounced. In the comic world, these characters and stories were often tied together into larger overarching stories to tell a massive publishing wide epics.
Their first goal was to introduce the world to several stand-alone superheroes and bring them together as the world’s greatest superhero team. The Avengers. The film was the biggest movie of its time and began Phase 2 of the next 8 years of storytelling. We came to grow with and love these characters. We watched their journeys and immersed ourselves in one of the most unique movie-going experiences ever created.
Years of character growth and development, seeding plot, easter eggs, hints, reveals, and meticulous planning has gone into this finale. The main actors contracts are up and it’s time for someone else to begin a new story. At this point, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Evans as Captain America are as iconic as Christopher Reeves was as Superman. As fans, we’ve been loyal and patient. We’ve wanted an ending and some closure, but we’ve also been on the edge of our seats waiting to find out if the good guys can save the day.
Without spoilers, what did we think of the film and experience?
F. Dougie: You already know how I feel.
There were soooo many amazing moments. I feel very rewarded for being a true fan of this experience. We’ve been rewarded for our loyalty. The cast and crew got a great send-off, and the characters were all put in what I think were the right places. We laughed, we cried (I cried), we cheered.
I honestly don’t think something on this scale will ever be pulled off again. The bar has been set. I’ll share this experience with my grandkids. Yes, I’m sure they will make more movies. There is too much money at stake for them not to, but as far as this saga? For me, it was perfect, and nothing will ever take this away from me.
I’d consider myself a fan of the genre and a big fan of action movies in general, I’m nowhere near the size fan that Dougie is, but I’ve enjoyed all of the Marvel films and like everyone I have my favorites. Remember that scene in Winter Soldier where bucky rips the steering wheel off and Falcon just has that “I’m fucked” look on his face? How about Killmonger yell and point is this your king after handling T’challa? Listen there are a million scenes in the past 20+ films that we’ll remember forever, and Endgame just adds a whole lot more to that list.
Without getting into any specifics, there’s just never been a final movie in a series quite like Endgame. It stays true to the spirit of all the prior movies that came before it, while offering up a brand new element that had previously only been touched in a prior movie. They really dove into some new territory here, and it worked. They really did Stan Lee proud with this one.
The Infinity Saga is over and we’re more than satisfied with its conclusion, but we also can’t wait to see what the next generation of filmmakers does with these amazing characters. Here’s to another decade of Marvel movie magic.
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Here’s how the story usually goes. Someone (usually a celebrity) says something racist, bigoted, sexist, or problematic and ends up offending a certain demographic or group of people. Cancel culture takes place and a bloodthirsty mob descends like a plague of locusts to drag, humiliate, and disown the person. Sure, some folks got us fucked up (Roseanne, any one who works for Trump, and our one time hero Kanye West). But are we really jettisoning these people into the sun without further analysis and introspection? Exile them forever for a shortsighted statement?
The problem with cancel culture
Cancel culture perpetuates the idea that one uneducated or wrong opinion invalidates ones entire existence. It assumes that any other contributions you may have are now negated forever.
But there is a huge problem with that method of thinking. If someone does something wrong, and we don’t have a conversation about what they said or why they did something, we are losing an opportunity to educate and potentially improve that person’s viewpoint. And even improve our own. If a racist or sexist person says some outlandish shit and we just cancel them without trying to engage with them, they aren’t learning anything and we’ve likely lost an opportunity to change their minds. Don’t believe us?
Basketball player Kyle Korver is a brilliant example of this. The Utah Jazz guard recently wrote an article for The Player’s Tribune called “Privileged”. Korver’s article has gone viral for stating that white members of society need to have more empathy and should better better allies for people of color. He did a wonderful job of unpacking his white privilege and coming to grips with the fact that his black friends and co-workers are treated differently and thus differently in the same society.
One of the main examples that he exhibited was an interaction that he had with teammate Thabo Sefolosha after he was arrested and beaten by the police at a club outing:
By all internet standards, Kyle Korver should have been cancelled by his teammates right then. But if we cancelled his for his ignorant and unwoke words, he probably would not have learned, and would not have reached greater consciousness by diving into these attitudes with his friends and teammates.
Cancel Culture and the Criminal Justice System
For us cancel culture is too similar to the criminal justice system. When we throw men and women in jail (often for minor infractions) aren’t we essentially cancelling them?
Often, there is no rehabilitation. When people come out, more often than not, they are worse off then when they went in.
We are giving up on these people and essentially saying, “Hey, you fucked up and we just aren’t going to deal with you any longer. We aren’t going to devote time or energy to you“. Now, prison is prison, but out here we should be trying to educate each other and live together, right? In a nutshell, you’ve given up on that person and you aren’t even going to try to help or rehabilitate them.
We’re all for boycotting for the right causes and not supporting people that are a blight on our society…But to cancel someone completely, to say that they no longer matter as a human being? We don’t know if we’re with that. Let’s draw a line between folks who have committed actual crimes and atrocities, and peers or celebrities who may commit what we deem as problematic infractions. It just devolves turns into bullying and shaming people.
Remember Civility? People treat each other like trash for having differences of opinion instead of engaging in discussion and trying to find common ground or educate each other. If anything, we should be cancelling social media.
Last night, Beyoncé dropped her Netflix Movie and Live-Album of the same name, “Homecoming”. Both are recordings of her legendary 2018 Coachella performance. Written, directed, produced by the singer, and filmed over eight months, the Netflix special is part concert/documentary with a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to put on a performance of this caliber.
Just in time for Summer cookout season (please check to make sure you’re invited first), make sure you peep B’s rendition of Frankie Beverly’s “Before I Let Go“.
Being two broke boys, we weren’t able to fly to Cali to attend her performance last year, but even after watching this on film, Queen B has a way of leaving you feeling inspired. This was Black Excellence. Unadulterated Blackness. Pride. College Marching Bands. Culture. The embodiment of the Black College experience on full display. For me personally, having attended an HBCU, this truly felt like coming home. Ms. Knowles-Carter nailed it. To give you a sense of why this portion of the show is so important to black people in general, let me give you a quick primer on HBCUs.
Brief History of Black Colleges and Universities
Before the Civil War (yes, we are going that far back) higher education for black people was not a thing. After the war ended, freed slaves were not granted admission to colleges and universities. But, we struggled and we fought, and we found ways to educate ourselves regardless. Black clergy and white allies helped to start smaller schools around the South to educate freed slaves. Howard. Hampton. Fisk. Morehouse. Spellman. More than 100 of these schools are still open to this day (thanks in part to federal funding starting in 1964) and they are known as Historically Black Colleges or Universities, or HBCUs
Why are these schools still important? Well, the United States is still dealing with institutional racism in higher education. Historically, not being admitted to attend segregated colleges and universities, HBCUs were our saving grace during these times. HBCUs are still necessary today because they have been the mainstay of educating African Americans at the college and university levels. Black communities throughout our nation are still being devastated by economic polarization and by racial discrimination endemic to higher education at white institutions and black universities help to educate our people and give us a more level playing field.
Well. That was a lot. So let’s get to the fun stuff.
For those that “don’t understand the big deal about Beyoncé” , and the hero worship shown by her followers, let us break down the shit for you. People love Beyoncé not only because she is an amazing singer and performer, she’s also pure Black Excellence personified. She is unapologetically black and our community feels pride in what she has been able to accomplish. She has ALWAYS put her and our blackness front and center:
Formation – A black child dances in front of a line of cops wearing SWAT gear, bringing attention to the inequalities that we see in the media and on our streets. Young black children, men and women are gunned down and brutalized on a regular basis. Her message? We see you. And we will stand defiant.
Super Bowl Halftime Show (x2) – Where she paid homage to the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, and Michael Jackson.
Lemonade visual album – in which she recreated images of American wealth and power with black women at the forefront giving us all something to aspire to.
“Beychella” was another direct example of black culture on full display. The music. The style. The marching bands. The black college experience. All of it is uniquely ours and to see it on display at the biggest music festival in the world is something special in and of itself.
From incorporating Black southern classics like Juvenile and Pimp C to performing a powerful rendition of the black national anthem (Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing), all this comes together to cement this performance into Coachella history. Not only because she was the first black woman to ever headline Coachella (mind boggling), but also because she transformed a historically white and corporate festival into an HBCU homecoming.
This past weekend we witnessed the UFC fight that has a good chance of going down in history as the best interim title fight of all time. Perhaps even the best title fight period. On a night where the main event included 1 of the top 5 pound for pound fighters in the world and a mixed martial artist with over 20 fight under his belt in the UFC alone, you’d think I was talking about the Holloway and Poirier bout. But you’d be wrong. That greatest of all time title fight was actually the Middleweight fight between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum.
We are huge fans of the UFC, and when any match up is announced that includes Israel Adesanya, we are extremely excited (Especially Idris). This is because Adesanya is a tactician on the feet, the likes of Jon Jones and Conor (whether you like it or not). Adesanya always delivers a compelling match. His last fight with Anderson Silva was originally slated to be a co-main event fight but was changed to a main event after Robert Whittaker vs Kelvin Gastelum was pulled after a life threatening injury to Whittaker. Needless to say Adesanya delivered.
He managed to out strike Anderson Silva, who is regarded by many to be the best striker to ever fight in the UFC. And sure Silva was past his prime when these two fought, but Adesanya and Silva put on a great fight. Which at the end of the day is what the fans wanted to see. That fight set up this past weekend’s fight with Israel Adesanya facing off against Kelvin Gastelum. And again Adesanya delivered.
In round 1 Kelvin comes out swinging hard, throwing bombs and actually surprises Israel in round one. Nothing too serious but he planted him with a couple shots and put him on notice with how close he gets to Landing a few Haymakers. It’s at this point I realized that this isn’t going to be such an easy fight for Adesanya. Gastelum is faster and stronger than I thought.
In round 2 Israel Adesanya gets comfortable. He attempts several head kicks and sets up his combos a lot better. This is Israel that we’re used to. Really dynamic striking and great head movement.
Round 3 is a bit more of the same for Adesanya, he’s mixing up his striking well going to the legs and the abdomen a Kelvin Gastelum. But that’s mom’s not sleeping either his job is reaching Israel and you can tell that Israel is feeling them. Still, I think at this point I’d Adesanya is winning the match.
Round 4 is it where it gets really interesting! Towards the end of the round, Gastelum catches his opponent with a clean left kick. Israel right under his chin and wobbles him. Calvin has a chance to take real Advantage here but instead of moving forward with more punches he looks for the clinch?! This is probably where Kelvin lost the match, as this was his biggest opening to take his Israel out.
In round 5 is where Israel Adesanya cemented himself as a star! After some forward pressure from Kelvin, Israel to the surprise of most everyone in the bar traps Gastelum in a guillotine. Calvin slips out but is forced to the ground where Israel puts him into another submission attempt, a triangle! Didn’t know Israel had that in his bag… Kelvin escapes and they both end up on the feet. And that’s where the fight stays (for the most part). At this point is real has found his Mark and continues to rock Calvin with punch after punch. It turns out that Kelvin Gastelum is The Terminator and cannot be stopped in a match. He survives but this is a clear victory for Israel Adesanya
This fight is just one of the many great fights that we’ve seen from the UFC this year. The fights and cards keep getting better. I don’t know how long they can keep up this pace, but I hope they do. As for Israel, we’ll be looking forward to his next match to unify the championship with Robert.
Like most of Glover’s projects, Guava Island is hard to pin down or classify. Glover and his Director, (Hiro Murai of Atlanta fame) almost seem to delight in the fact that they have almost no obligation to follow any kind of tv or movie making rules. The film is shot entirely in Cuba in the atypical 4:3 aspect ratio, giving the sense that it’s older than it really is.
The film incorporates the most recent songs from Childish Gambino‘s (Glover’s musical alias) most recent catalogue. We’re feeling some real MJ/Thriller vibes as the film seamlessly switches from movie to music video. At only an hour so its an easy watch.
Given the rabid fan anticipation over Rihanna’s upcoming album, fans my be slightly disappointed that her role (especially musically) isn’t as pronounced in this film, but make nor mistake, her presence is felt. Ms. Fenty is still coming into her own as an actress and this project was a brilliant way for her to flex some of those chops on a smaller scale before taking on another more prominent role.
Plot: Kofi (Rihanna) narrates the animated opening sequences, telling the tale of Guava Island as a folk and fairy tale that all children on the island know. Her friend Deni (Glover) would come to her window every night to sing her songs and make her feel like living on the island wasn’t so mundane.
Fast forward to present day, and Deni is now a musician, dock worker, and radio station DJ where he plays live music to the people of the island while they work their difficult jobs. He dreams of writing a song so amazing that it will bring together the entire island and defy the evil ruler of the island, Red Cargo (Nonso Anozie). To reach this end, Deni plans a secret all-night music festival (this film was released during Coachella weekend. Wink wink) which angers the boss of the island because people will miss work the next day… I get it. Not terribly intricate but this film is more about the music so you might have to give them a little latitude.
Glover and Murai seamlessly tie Childish Gambino’s music into the story and that is where I think the film excels. Without giving too much away, our favorite scene takes place at one of Deni’s jobs. While at work, a co-worker wonders aloud how great it would be to leave the island and go to America. In typical Deni fashion, he makes light of the man’s naïveté and ignorance taunting him with the lyrics to “This is America“:
These last couple of weeks have been pretty tough. With another lackluster attempt to Rock-Bottom President Donald Trump out of office, another mass shooting, and the death a prominent figure in the hip-hop community. We have too many thoughts rattling around our heads and not enough words to fully express the outrage we have with everything. We know that many of these issues warrant a larger discussion and we plan to address some of them again, but we thought it would be good to get our thoughts out. It’s cathartic and we need this. So get ready, it’s time to vent.
And here, in no particular order are the things that “we mad about right now”…
Black Community – Nipsey
Idris Gray: Why? Just why? Why is it that when a positive force is moving, there’s always another random energy ready to stuff it out? This is self-hate in a nutshell. Why do we hate the come up? Why are we jealous of our fellow man? Why do we hate to see people who look like us winning? Nipsey was that positive energy. Say what you want about hip-hop and the larger entertainment industry, but sometimes there are individuals who use their voice and influence for the good of the common man. Nipsey Hussle was one of those people. And on March 31, 2019, he was taken from us. A silver lining here is that his death did spark some good, but we also imagine what he could have done if he was still here to inspire us.
F. Dougie: I hear you fam. This shit hurts my heart. Sure, I follow some other artists much more closely, but when I heard that Nipsey was murdered in front of his own business that he built in his own community, my faith was shattered. For all the things that we are fighting against, for all the progress that we are fighting to get back… One of our own guns down his brother in the streets? For What?! Here we have a young man that for all intents and purposes, made it out of a historically dangerous and tough neighborhood and then turned around to invest money back into the same community that gave him hardship as a youth. Most people wouldn’t do that. I don’t know if I myself could go back. He devoted himself as a partner and as a father only to be gunned down by the same people he was trying to empower. Nah son. I can’t take it.
Music – Why can’t a black man write a country song?
Idris: By now you’ve all heard about the Old town road. If you haven’t I guess you can consider yourself lucky. Not because it’s a bad song, rather because it’s too damn catchy. It’s all I hear when I close my eyes now. It’s like 2015 all over again, when that damn “Sorry” song came out (JB my boy tho). Anyway, the song was taken of the Billboard country charts because let’s face it, it was by a black kid. Billboard can use any words they’d like to justify this as a less than racist action, but we know what it is. Y’all ain’t fooling us. Plus, this ain’t the first time they’ve done shit like this. And while we are happy to report that a Cyrus stepped in to “save the day”, we can’t ignore how fucked the situation is that puts us here. It’s 2019 Y’ALL, wake the fuck up.
Dougie: First of all. We created country music. Shit, we created damn near every form of popular music! To me this seems like one of those, “we love black culture, but not black people” situations. Y’all can steal our dances, music, vibe, our speak, and the way we wear our clothes, but the second that we come back to country music, “it ain’t country enough”.
For all the damage that his progeny has done to our culture and community, it took country music artist Billy Ray Cyrus to co-sign the homie Lil Nas X. Sure, Cyrus will get paid and will possibly have his first #1 single in decades, but the point is the same, If y’all are inviting y’all selves to the cookout, then we damn gon show up to the square dance with Timbs and Du-rags on.
New Zealand massacre
Idris: That’s right, Just when you start to forget about the last mass shooting, some crazy bigot swoops in to confirm your suspicions that the world is going to shit. Quick recap – Some crazy person opened fire at 2 different mosques… holy places… on men women and children, killing 50. In one day this terrorist, monster, crazy asshole killed 50 people and affected a larger group of families and freinds. How can you not feel for the families here? Entire generations of families gathered together for fellowship and met with pure hatred and evil.
Let’s not lie to ourselves, this is kind of thing is becoming more and more prevalent. Not just the mass killings but the rise of hatred for minorities across the globe. White supremacy is seeing a resurgence. And while Donald Trump may not have been the start of it, he is certainly given other bigots like him the boldness to enact their hatred.
Dougie: Hate crimes are up almost 300% in this country in the last 2 years. Swastikas are brandishing our schools. Black Churches are burning. Mosques are being vandalized and shot-up. We have a “leader” who panders to racists, bigots, and religious zealots and then denies an increase in white supremacy. These psychopaths are literally citing him directly as a reason for many of their actions. Nationalism is being rampant across the globe and these sickos are truly convinced that they are the victims. They are convinced by outlets like Fox News (from whom Trump gets his information) that brown people are coming here to steal their jobs, rape their women, and commit white genocide.
Thank god New Zealand has a true leader in Jacinda Ardern. If not for her compassionate words, quick action on gun control, and empathetic reassurance that racism and bigotry have no place in her country, things could have spiraled even more so out of control. Must be nice to have real leadership, huh?
Relationships – Ghosting
Idris: Ok so in the grand scheme of things this is pretty ‘lite’. But it still annoys the shit out of me. What ever happened to common courtesy y’all? The whole game is fucked up! Ghosting is becoming a way too common practice now-a-days. And while disappearing after a couple dates still counts as ghosting and is shameful, I’m speaking more at those of us who carry on for weeks only to disappear like a hood David Copperfield. And I know it goes both ways so I’m calling us all out. Guys and girls.
A piece of advice for my people on the receiving end. Honestly, that person is doing you a favor. That dude or chick who got snapped up by Thanos never to be seen again is helping you… Do you really want to be in a relationship with someone that inconsiderate?
Dougie: If you are actively communicating with someone, you have a relationship with them. Period. This ghosting shit has gotten out of hand. People begin relationships, and then flat out disappear with no warning or notice. I’ve even read about people who have ghosted marriages and even their jobs with no explanations! When did this shit become acceptable?! Has social media made us this disjointed from each other and this uncaring for other people’s feelings that we’ll literally just stop pretending they exist after developing a relationship? Everyone hates dating. It’s not fun. No one wants to put themselves out there and get hurt. Honestly, ghosting is partly why. How can we trust one another when we are afraid that the person we’ve invested time in is just going to disappear like David fucking Blaine or the Great Goddamn Houdini?! This ain’t The Prestige. Fuck outta here.
I don’t care who you are. If you ghost someone, you are a coward plain and simple. The bad karma that you have been putting out into the world shall be visited upon you 100 fold. Shame on you. Shame, and a curse upon your house!
Politics – Mueller Report and Trump’s Tax Returns
Idris: Once again we are a witnessing the magic that is Donald Trump – the teflon don. Honestly will anything stick to this man? Should we just focus on the next race and pretend like we’re ok with the fact that the leader of the free world is a complete moron? A misogynist? A bigot? A racist? I sometimes pretend like my girlfriend is Rihanna. But this is a stretch. (Don’t worry she pretends that my last name was Elba. It’s really a win win for everyone.)
Dougie: You know what….I can’t. I won’t. I don’t have the energy. See y’all in November 2020.
The American Prison System
Idris: Last week, a report came out detailing the terrible conditions of Alabama prisons. In the report guards and other authority figures of the prison were said to be ignoring extreme cases of assault, rape and even covering up murders as deaths by natural causes. This shit is straight up despicable. We already know that the prison system in this country is a joke, we recommend reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander if you really want to understand the depths of the problem – but this article was a reminder of all the bullshit happening today in this country that we are so far removed from. “Criminals” are often treated like animals and reform is not the object of these prisons.
Dougie:The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The 13th by Ava DuVernay. The truth is out there, and that shit hurts. One major step would be to remove all private prisons but only a few Presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders have even entertained the discussion. Don’t get me started on detention in schools being used as a weapon to criminalize black children and get them ready for the American prison systems via the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
We need something positive, Y’all. We need some Ws in the win column and we need them yesterday. Can someone show us some real progress? Something really beautiful going on in the world to counterbalance the state of our country, the planet, and the way we treat each other around the world? Because right now, we just ain’t seeing it.We feel like Captain America and Iron Man at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Please. Someone show us the light.
We recently took the plunge and participated in our first class at Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy here in New York City. If you don’t know who Renzo is (pronounced Hen–zo), as a 6th degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he’s from the legendary Gracie family of BJJ and has titles, awards, and trophies in every major Martial Arts prestige from the UFC to the Pride Fighting Championships.
The beginners class includes a 30-minute tutorial from one of the school’s many talented instructors, a practice Gi, and 2 additional classes (either BJJ or Muay Thai). All of this is free! They don’t try to hustle or harass you into joining. There are no questions asked and they really give you the opportunity to learn and see for yourself if you like the academy and martial art before discussing any kind of pricing or packages.
After learning the basics in the 30-minute intro class (Stance, Falling, Rolling, Half Guard) we joined the hour-long white belt class. The class was full of people of all shapes, sizes, color, ethnicity, and gender. Even though we were clearly new to all this, everyone was welcoming and accommodating.
We started with the warm-up (if you want to call it that). We’re typically pretty active ourselves. Dougie Boxes at Gleason’s twice a week and Idris lifts and crosses fools over at the Y on Thursdays. He’s nice with the fadeaway (RAINDROPS!). But the warm-up was still enough to get a good sweat going. I can only really describe it as a lighter version of circuit training designed to work every part of your body and get the muscles that you’ll be doing while practicing BJJ engaged. We can’t lie, we were both a little gassed afterward. Honestly, that shouldn’t scare you off. The warm-up and full program are very accommodating and although it designed to give you a full-body workout, you can go at your own pace without any meatheads screaming in your face.
Warm-Up — Several rounds of jogging, push-ups, rolling, sit-ups, side crawls, knee highs, squats, shrimp , etc.
Idris Grey: Yo, this is the warm up? How many laps we doing?!
F. Dougie: Stick with me fam! Don’t leave me behind!
Idris Grey: I need some milk!
F. Dougie: You’re fine fam.
Idris Grey: I think I pulled something. Yup definitely pulled my groin.
F. Dougie: Damn, you won’t be fucking for 2 weeks at least!
10 minutes later…
Idris: I’m done. I don’t know if I can do anymore…
Dougie: I’m drenched in sweat…I thought I was in decent shape. Hold’up, there’s more class left?! How long were we warming up?!
Idris: It’s all good. Everyone else is sweating too. We got this.
The basic principle of having a strong base is key here. This is so the opponent is less likely to be able to move or control your body. Keeping good posture is also paramount. This is done by keeping your head up, so your opponent cannot easily break your head down and control your body. Where the head goes, the body must follow. Strong frames keep your opponent at a fixed position and enable you to move in a fashion which will after proper positioning, allow you to escape the typical schoolyard bully strategy of headlock.
Keep your chin down to hinder their grips from reaching your neck. (You don’t want to get choked out. Your shoulders are up, making it harder for the opponent from choking you from behind. Your elbows are tight to your body and your hands are protecting your neck. We’re fairly certain that all members of the Wu-Tang Clan have mastered this technique. (“Protect ya neck!” ) Your head goes to the ground, your back moves to the ground. Here is where we look to escape. As soon as someone gets their hooks in, your head should be going down to the mat. Early prevention is best.
Better yet…never let anyone take your back. It’s the most dominant position in all of combat.
This one is more advanced but still worth a close look. Delariva is an old-school, new-school guard, named after BJJ legend Ricardo De La Riva. No guard is a real guard without the principle of kuzushi. A Japanese term which means to unbalance one’s opponent. Simply, no guard is a guard if it does not have a push AND a pull.
Overall, we highly recommend at least giving Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy a shot. It’s an amazing way to stay in shape. It’s a lot of fun too, once you get past that burning in your chest. It tests your cardio, flexibility, strength, and even your creativity. Like we mentioned, even the warm up had us looking for the nearest water fountain. But even more importantly, learning to defend yourself these days is paramount. Hate crimes are at record highs and people are more hostile than ever. People get into altercations on the subways and on the streets for as doing as little as accidentally bumping into one another.
We are not saying that you need to become a ninja or assassin or anything like that, but learning what you don’t know could help save you from bodily harm or worse. Do you know how to escape a basic headlock? These guys can teach you to reverse and control someone twice your size and strength with 2 easy motions. Learning not to panic in a difficult situation or knowing that the most simple technique can help diffuse a bad situation can give you greater peace of mind while you navigate through these mean streets.
We saw men women and even children with the confidence and determination to know that they were in control, and that is real power. Give ‘em a shot, and tell em OB sent ya.
We also noticed many of the students wearing what were called Rash Guards and Spats. These are base compression layer of protective wear that eliminate friction, rubbing, bruises, and are also antimicrobial & anti-fungal! They are like a layer of high-tech armor to eliminate damage and help you recover faster. Honestly, they are stylish and comfortable as well and are a great buy around $19.99 each.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running. Thank you for your support!
Jordan Peele’s newest film dropped this March, 2019. Since winning an Oscar for the thought provoking Get Out, he’s been one of Hollywood’s most sought after Director/Producers. Not only is he producing several upcoming projects, he’s been hired by CBS to relaunch “The Twilight Zone” this fall on CBS.
Ever since we heard the unmistakable low tones of “I Got 5 On It” during the trailer for Us last fall, audiences have been eagerly awaiting Peele’s 2nd feature film with anticipation. Get Out was not only horrifying and starting, it also delivered in making audiences socially and politically uncomfortable by commenting directly on how black and white Americans interact with one another socially, romantically, and politically.
Part of the anticipation for Us was the nervous wondering aloud: “Can Peele do it again, or was Get Out just a once in a lifetime film”?
The answer for us is a resounding “Yes”.
Idris Gray: Going into the movie I had high hopes and preconceived notions about what I was about to see. I figured Jordan Peele was going to flip the typical scary movie/thriller on its head and give us something new and thought provoking. Something that made somewhat of a social or political statement. Here at Objectively Black we are not about spoilers or robbing our readers of any surprises so I’m not going to tell you if those expectations were met. But what I will say is that I came out of the movie thoroughly satisfied with what I had seen.
The movie scored high for me on the storyline alone. The plot and subsequent plot twist was so well written and led you on a journey that had you questioning what the fuck was going on for the better part of two hours. The movie gently grabs your curiosity and pulls you in more as you continue watching eventually you start trying to put all the clues together as you watch. Do yourself a favor and don’t try and figure it out, just watch the film.
As far as the cast goes, they all did an amazing job. If you’ve seen the trailers then you know at the very least that the main characters are confronted by antagonists that look exactly like them. No spoiler there. So essentially each actor played 2 separate roles through the course of the movie. And oh, lets not forget Lupita Nyong’o. She really went in on this role. If it wasn’t for the ominous music providing a constant reminder, you’d end up wondering if Us is a horror, thriller or drama. And that’s mostly because of her performance.
I don’t want to give away anything more than this. I know I’m not telling you much besides “It’s great”. But you really won’t be disappointed here. Whether you are a casual or die hard fan of the horror genre or more so someone who doesn’t watch scary movies but just liked how poignant “Get Out” was, you’ll enjoy this film. I’ll definitely be watching again.
F. Dougie: So first of all, I thought that the concept was incredibly interesting. The duality of playing people against evil versions of themselves has always been one of my favorite fantasy tropes. This iteration of that idea was expertly written and executed. The movie is very heavy on setup, but even though the first 20 minutes or so are big on exposition, the payoff (if you are paying attention) is huge. It has a way of keeping you on the edge of your seat because you just want to understand what the hell is going on.
This is a flat out horrifying movie in a genre that has a tendency to get kind of cheesy. I thought that Lupita Nyong’o did an amazing job leading the cast in a role that called for her to essentially play 2 different characters. She hit every emotion that you could hit as an actor and if this is the kind of performance that warrants an Oscar, she should definitely be in consideration.
Winston Duke bought the funny as the goofy, boat-loving and loveable patriarch of the family. Without giving too much away, his corny dad jokes are so on point, that by the time we actually need him to toughen up, it’s hard to believe that he could actually hurt a fly.
All of the characters were very developed and the new young actors did their thing as well. Especially the young daughter.
All in all, I’ll definitely be seeing this one again. Unlike Get Out, it’s not political per se, but there are possibly some heavy ideas here for you to chew on while Jordan peele is scaring the hell out of you. Aside from the above, I can’t help but shake the feeling that Peele is making some pointed comments about America and the way that we deal with others. We love to “point fingers”, but most of the damage to our country has been done from within. Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemies.
Recently, celebrities like R. Kelly and Michael Jackson (RIP) have come into the spotlight because of allegations of child molestation. These conversations have prompted people to stop playing their music. Some companies and media outlets have taken themselves out of the conversation by removing their content altogether. With all the recent conversations about not supporting problematic figures, we want to see what people think. Our question is:
Is it ok appreciate the art or contributions of allegedly or convicted ‘problematic’ artists?
The list of pop-culture icons who have been accused is becoming endless. These people were basically considered gods in their respective fields:
Bill Cosby (Convicted of rape)
Woody Allen (Alleged pedophelia and staurtory rape of his daughter)
Michael Jackson (Alleged molestation of children)
Harvey Weinstein (On trial for sexual assault)
For the sake of argument, considering those that have been accused and are alleged troublemakers, if we assume all of the allegations are true, (we have our doubts about MJ specifically) do we stop consuming the contributions these people have made to art and popular culture? Considering the issues with mass-shootings and white nationalism, the timing of these topics and coverage by the media seems odd at best.
Your President denies collusion with a foreign power and also denies the rise of white nationalism despite all evidence to the contrary. Black people are shot down like animals in the streets on what seems like a regular basis. The media barely shines a light on the subject and then the next week it’s on to the new Kardashian love triangle. It all seems like a distraction, but we digress.
So, if we are cancelling the contribution for one artist in a medium, why aren’t we doing this for every problematic contributor across the spectrum? These are the questions that we want people to discuss.
Also, as black men, we want to let you know that we see things differently. Listen, we aren’t defending the acts of any criminals but one of the main questions that we have about people ‘cancelling’ these men is, why is the media taking the microscope to black artists and not anyone who has ever committed an alleged atrocity?
Where are the crusades against the catalog’s of Elvis Presley, Woody Allen, and David Bowie for their supposed actions? It’s seems to us that acts by white artists or counterparts are not held to the same standards or scrutiny. If you do that for one you have to do that for everybody, right? Our point is if you want to get self-righteous and indigent for one artists issues, keep that same energy when they come for your Elvis collection.
Additionally, is this how we want to live? The sad thing is, if you look closely enough at anyone they probably have some dark secrets. That goes double for artists and politicians now in today’s digital age.
Again, our point is this, let’s not be hypocrites. Let’s dive in a little bit more to give you a few examples of problematic shit that has gone untouched by the media for years:
Our “Founding Fathers” — On our legal U.S. Tender we celebrate the pictures of U.S. heroes who were also oppressors. Think about that. We have Slave owners on our currency.
Catholic Church — These sickos are caught in controversy after controversy, year after year involving abuse against underaged boys. But sure, your scheduled vacation to Rome to see the Vatican ain’t sus. In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.
National Anthem —The anthem that we are told to stand for and support was written for Americans before slavery ended and even had a verse at the time that referenced slavery directly.
Don’t let us get started on tech companies like Apple and Facebook selling your data. And apparel companies like Nike that employ problematic labor practices.
To get you thinking about how life is affected when we start removing art from our lives, we’ve created a playlist of artists who people say you shouldn’t listen to because of the alleged crimes they have committed.
This past week I attended what is to be the first of many moderated discussions on diversity in the workplace. I was grateful to be invited by an old colleague/mentor. And to be honest, at first, I didn’t really understand what was the event was really about. But having gone, it was a necessary exercise in self-affirmation and self-love that all black people need.
I feel like it recharged my batteries and allowed me to refocus on building my career and our brand here at Objectivelyblack.com. The event was a speaker panel called “Going Beyond Diversity and Inclusion: Real Discussions about Race” and was hosted by the folks at Patients & Purpose for OmnicomHealthGroup. The name of the panel pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the subject matter of the event. The panel of speakers included some very dope and very accomplished black professionals that have worked their way to becoming industry leaders in the area of finance Advertising/Marketing, Media & Communications:
Danny Wright (Moderator) – Chief Brand Officer – Adweek
Romel Lherisson – VP, Graphic Design Director – Hyphen Digital
Lauren Pattani-Wright – President – The Scienomics Group
Claudia Sampson – Chief Diversity Officer – NYC Department of Finance
Calvin Butts, Jr. – VP, Agency Partnerships – BioPharm Communications
Make sure you look up these brilliant individuals. But tell ’em your boys at OB sent ya!
Now before I get into some of the topics we spoke on, I want to quickly comment on the makeup of the room. Now, I’m guilty of this as much as anyone else, but sometimes when we have discussions about diversity or the unique struggles with being apart of a minority, we leave out the majority group. This is natural, but sometimes in order to see change, we need to share our experience with other groups that may not fully understand our plight. That wasn’t the case here. The room was mixed with all types of people, so big ups to @OHGVoices for practicing the inclusion that they preach.
Now for the good part. Over the course of about 2 hours we went into deep conversation about topics that are very common to you if you are like us; black in predominantly white industries… So all of them, I guess?
“The penalty for not being diverse on both measures persists.Now, as previously, companies in the fourth quartile on both gender and ethnic diversity are more likely to underperform their industry peers on profitability: 29 percent in our 2017 data set.” – Delivering through diversity January 2018 | Report | www.mckinsey.com
Here’s a little on what we touched on:
How many times have you heard:
“You sound white?” Or “You’re so articulate?”
How many times have you wanted to keep it real at work, but then remember that Dave Chapelle sketch (When keeping it real goes wrong)? Yeah, code-switching is something that we all have experience with. But the panel had some interesting views on this. Their feeling in general was that the ability to adjust to the conversations you have at work, vs. the conversations you have in other areas of your life is like having a 2nd language. You may as well use that “articulate”“white talk” to your benefit. But also know that this isn’t a practice unique to us blacks. There are are many different reasons why someone may play a part at work and not feel completely comfortable revealing their “real” selves in the office. So Go ‘head switch the style up, and if they hate then let ’em hate and watch the money pile up. – Buddha… I’m buggin, this was 50 of course.
The “Angry Black Women” Stereotype:
Why is it that when a male is unwavering, or headstrong he is praised, but when a female does it she’s labeled as a B****? Hmm. Seems problematic. But the situation is so much worse for our sistas. And judging by the nods in the room, this situation is a common one. The two esteemed ladies of the panel were able to shed light on this and share their experiences. One of them even told a story of being approached by a male counterpart with a balled fist during a heated exchange… That’s fucking unacceptable. We treat our sisters this way? Yeah I said WE. Lets not pretend that as black men we don’t participate in this behavior. We have to be better. Shout out to Gillette! – Although we’re Bevel brothas over here. The ladies were able to offer an approach to deal with things like this. They acknowledged how often they feel a sense of un-belonging, and even a feeling of imposter syndrome, but advised us to allow our expertise, knowledge, and our work speak for us. No one can argue with results. We probably haven’t seen the last of the stereotypes, but we can’t allow ourselves to be silenced just so others feel more comfortable. FUCK ALL THAT NOISE.
First Time in Corporate Spaces – Feeling Uncomfortable:
Each of the panelists took the time to explain their initial experiences with sexism and racism. I think this was important, but instead of summarizing each story, I’ll tell you that we all have these moments where we realize that we are either the only one that looks like us in the room or that we are one of few. I think its difficult to imagine reaching the goals you have set for yourself in place where you don’t see anyone else that looks like you. Especially if you’ve ever had discussions with other black people about how that world isn’t for you. But it was nice, no important to see all these successful black people on the panel as proof that your goals are not out of reach. That’s the takeaway.
Mentorship in the Workplace – Reaching Out.
I can personally speak to why mentorship is important. Even though my mentors don’t always look like me or share my culture, they push me to really take my career into my own hands. And that’s what this is about. We want to see you out here in these executive meetings killing it. You have a voice that needs to be heard. You have a unique perspective on the world that any company would be lucky to have. So how do you find a mentor? Well, if you are towards the beginning of your career, hopefully, someone in your company is out there looking for and reaching out to young people. If you’re not in a company like this, apply somewhere else NOW! If you are a more seasoned professional, black or otherwise, you should be reaching out, sharing stories, and bringing value to the minorities in your companies. Remember, mentorship prevents churn! Its good business.
So now, circling back to why we need discussions on inclusion on diversity in the workplace, with the racial tension in the country making people afraid to have even the most basic conversations about race and diversity, there’s something really special about seeing black professionals who are leaders in their industry doing so well and shining in their respective fields. This is the same reason representation is so important in TV, movies, and media in general. It serves as an inspiration. The same way seeing Michael B. Jordan, Serena Williams, and Barack Obama on TV inspires us, speaker panels like this can offer the same empowering message to today’s young professionals.
I dropped a few names above, but I’d be so wrong if I didn’t mention Ed Frankel who was the brains behind this gathering. Thank you Ed for everything you’re doing, we appreciate you fam. You the real MVP.
We encourage you to find or create your own discussions on these topics. And of course, share the article, subscribe to Objectively Black and follow us on social media for more topics like this.
First things first, Shout out to writer April Reign (creator of #OscarsSoWhite) because without her starting the aptly named hashtag, most of the recent progress made around the Academy Awards would not have been possible. Not only would we still be passively complaining about how little diversity is spread throughout the Oscar nominees and films, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also would not have paid attention to the noise and finally changed their voting process.
We’re sure many people think that things like movies and movie awards are trivial (and maybe in the grand scheme of things they are) but since people spend so much of their lives consuming media, we actually think that films are pretty important. Movies are one of the ways for people to learn new things, encounter other cultures, and be represented in the world.
If ‘the black guy’ dies first in every movie, what does that subconsciously tell you? It tell you that the black characters are ultimately not important and disposable. It’s not a far cry for people to start to adopt these attitudes in real life.
If all the Latinx characters in movies are criminals and ignorant buffoons, how do cultures that do not encounter these people start to think about these groups?
If all the Asian characters in a movie are racial caricatures and stereotypes, it becomes harder and harder for people in those groups to be seen and treated as anything but by people who may not be as educated. You get our point.
Big budget films have been more popular than ever. Marvel and Disney films have been topping the box office for the better part of the last decade. It stands to reason that given their critical as well as commercial success, that one day they’d finally start to get some much-deserved Best Picture buzz.
Let’s not be cute about it, the Oscars have always been fairly bougie and pretentious. When fans, bloggers, and columnists started to make noise online about their desire to have the cultural powerhouse and phenomenon, Black Panther nominated for Best Picture, the academy’s response was to announce a new award for “Popular Films”. Funny that a film with a predominantly African-American cast, considering its standing in American culture would receive a “separate but equal” Best Picture award, fans revolted and called the move a total cop-out. It was a public relations nightmare for the already beleaguered academy. The academy relented and announced they’d reversed their decision.
As early as February 2019, the same month as the Academy Awards, the Academy also announced that they were not going to televise crucial film categories like Editing and Cinematography. Let’s think about this for a second…The Cinematographer or Director of Photography is the artist who ACTUALLY films the movie. The Director has the vision, but without a DP, execution is literally impossible. Let’s put it this way… If filmmaking is all about storytelling through the vision of the director, it’s the cinematographer who brings their vision to life.
Don’t get us started on Film Editing. How do you expect to put the vision together after all the footage is shot without the editor? We know the award show is long, but either do it right, or don’t do it at all. How does an academy that prides itself on artistic integrity decide to cut two of the most artistic categories in film? So after another PR backlash and subsequent nightmare, the academy announced that it will air the categories after all.
“In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors and without music. No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.” – Alfonso Cuaron
That brings us to tonight. We both love films of all types and 2018 was a record year for the box office as well as for critically acclaimed movies. The categories are stacked and our glasses are full. Let’s get into it:
F. Dougie: Ok, so the show is already starting off on the wrong foot. Kendrick is overseas and can’t perform at the awards tonight.
Idris Gray: Who’s replacing him?
Dougie: No one. They had all the ‘Best Song’ nominees performing but he couldn’t make it back in time and still put on a dope performance. But I’m off that Sancerre! So we’ll need to inject some much needed blackness into this ceremony!
Idris Gray: DAMN
PERFORMANCE – Queen feat. Adam Lambert
Dougie: Aight, here we go. Pour one out for Freddie.
….They shoulda just had these three ladies host! (Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey).
AWARD – OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS (REGINA KING)
Dougie: Pulling for Regina King here…
Idris: Regina for the win. It’s a celebration. Also, Chris Evans really out here being Captain America. Chivalry is alive and well, sort of.
Dougie: Ayyyyyyyyyyy!!!! REGINA! What an amazing actress. Its about time she got her due. How long she been out here doing this?! How many tv shows? How many movies?
Idris: Yeah it’s a long time coming for sure. She wearing that dress too.
Dougie: It’s her moment, Idris but I’mma let you have it too.
Idris: Damn. Now Helen (Mirren) out here. Still looking fine.
Dougie: Helen Mirren. That’s another legendary actress.
Wooooo, I can’t fake homie. Been trying to surf that wave for a loooonnnggg time.
Idris: I haven’t seen any of these tbh, I should watch more documentaries.
Dougie: RBG and Free Solo were dope.Hope she lives forever tho forreal.
Idris: Looks like the free climbing one would be cool.
Dougie: Son. In 4K? Forget about it.
Also, you’ll never see no brothas up there…. Sorry, I had to do it.
Idris: LOL. Well, real life is extreme enough ain’t it? These dudes looking for more “thrills”. I feel a thrill every time I see the po-po.
Dougie: LOL, “Oh look, the police. What is that, $0.25 across the street? Just gonna walk into oncoming traffic instead of possibly dealing with these dudes”.
Idris: Everything I do is extreme. Extreme living. Extreme taking this elevator. Extreme cashing this check.
Dougie: They call Idris “POINT BREAK”.
Commercial – Google Assistant
Idris: These google commercials are really good. They really opened the checkbook to sell that ‘OK Google’ functionality.
Dougie: You can do that when you don’t have to pay taxes.
Idris: Hate the game Dougie… Hate the game
Tom Morello. Great guitar player.
Dougie: Legend, mate. He’s going in on Dick Cheney tho. Didn’t see that coming. Just be glad Zack DelaRoca ain’t out here keeping it 100 as well.
Idris: Yeah… Didn’t watch this (Vice). Looks really good though. We should check it out.
Dougie: I heard it was good. These guys did “The Big Short”? I really liked that one.
AWARD – BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING (VICE)
Idris: They really made Bale look like Dick Cheney. Scary what they can do with makeup.
Dougie: Then they definitely deserve this award. Christian Bale is too good. Dude can straight act.
Idris: Makes me wonder, what would you say is the most impressive makeup job you’ve seen? No CGI.
Dougie: Robert Downey, Jr. Tropic Thunder. lolol
Idris: Damn… He really got away with black face though.
AWARD – COSTUME DESIGN (BLACK PANTHER)
Idris: What are these fools doing? LOL (Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry)
Dougie: Clownin! Lol
Idris: DUH! Like how could it not be Black Panther? Wakanda Forever. This is a moment.
Dougie: Fam, Ruth Carther is a FUCKING. LEGEND.
Idris: Yes you got it fam!
Dougie: We did it. WE, IDRIS. ME AND YOU! YOU AND I.
AWARD – PRODUCTION DESIGN (BLACK PANTHER)
Idris: Another one in the bag here. This film was a moment.
Dougie: Black Panther just won again. I can’t do this….. I’m weak
Idris: I told you! I said it, haha. We all knew this was ours though? Right?
Dougie: *Cries into sweater* Don’t talk to me right now.
Idris: There, there. LOL. Honestly, this is the type of shit is what we need.
Dougie: For soooo many reasons.
AWARD – CINEMATOGRAPHY (ROMA)
Dougie: Can’t believe they almost didn’t televise this. Roma was a beautiful film.
Idris: Yeah. Really well done. We “Objectively Latin” right now.
Dougie: Arriba la Raza!
Idris: HAHA Emilia Clarke with a little funny.
Dougie: Imagine RGB with Khaleesi’s Dragons tho.
Performance – ”I’ll Fight” – Jennifer Hudson
Dougie: Her performance from Dreamgirls still gets me in my feelings. “And I am telllinnnggg you!”
Idris: Damn she was a little flat there though. Am I hating? It was still an amazing performance.
I need to turn on my VPN to the midwest and see what commercials they showing down there. I guarantee you there are no black dudes selling Cadillac Escalades.
Dougie: Hakeem Olajuwon ain’t got a dealership in Houston?
Idris: Houston got a strong Nigerian presence actually. The brand is strong out there.
Dougie: Nigerians been on that take over for a minute. Let me be down.
Idris: Oh nigga you in. Trust that.
AWARD – SOUND EDITING (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Dougie: Damn. This is a tough category.
Idris: Nah, this is a sleeper cat for sure.
Dougie: Wow. Bohemian Rhapsody coming in strong for Rock music. I’m trying to see a renaissance.
Idris: Wow. Well, I feel like that was the easy choice though.
Dougie: I mean, A Quiet Place was masterful. I haven’t seen a horror movie that took so full advantage of sound like that before. But then again, First Man went in as well. But that last 30 minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody, I thought I was IN the stadium.
Idris: Yeah I would have thought A Quiet Place for sure. But you have a movie full of some of the greatest rock songs ever written. Tough to beat.
AWARD – SOUND MIXING (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Idris: I have no clue. I guess Bohemian Rhapsody again?
Dougie: Yeah, it would have to be, right? Those teams work so closely together it would be crazy to not give them both awards.
Idris: Yup! This makes sense. Honestly, this is all off the strength of QUEEN. The music is too fire. “Fat bottom girls” is my anthem. That’s what I listen to when I’m feeling down.
Dougie: Also, your favorite IG hashtag.
Idris: Hey now, I see those likes on our handle. Those ain’t all from me.
Dougie: You know this is a team effort! I’m trying to gain us followers! We are partners! My likes are your likes!
Idris: I mean. Yes those are all me…….cough
AWARD – BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM (Roma)
Idris: ANGELA!! do we follow her on Insta? Damn, she speaks Spanish too?
Dougie: We do now. Has she aged? Seriously.
This is crazy. Roma is nominated here and for Best Picture?
Idris: Yeah, well deserved though.
Dougie: It really is a gorgeous movie. And Cuaron is a genius filmmaker.
Netflix gonna be feeling themselves if they win a Best Picture.
Idris: HAHAHAHA. Keegan Michael Key a fool.
Dougie: Yo, get your mans.
I’m saying tho, do we really need a host? These presenters are killing it.
Performance – “The Place Where Lost Things Go” – Bette Midler
Idris: Ok… Hmm. Thoughts…. Lol
Dougie: She’s a legend in many communities. I’m not touching this one.
Also, I heard Mary Poppins was good.
Idris: Nah you misunderstand. Helen Mirren or Bette Midler?
Dougie: I gotta rock with my girl Helen, but Bette still got some milkshake left.
Idris: Haha! I’m saying though.
Dougie: Trevor Noah. The future. Did you know he’s actually in the movie?
Out here speaking Xhosa.
Idris: Yeah, Africa stand up!
AWARD – FILM EDITING (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Dougie: Low Key, this is one of my favorite categories.
Idris: Of course Bohemian Rhapsody. Honestly thinking back on the film… They deserve this.
Dougie: I find it interesting that BR is winning many of these technical awards, considering all the controversy behind Brian Singer as Director. I mean, he’s not even nominated and its due to all the fuckery he bought upon his cast and crew. He’s probably be a shoe-in tonight if it wasn’t for his personal fuck ups.
Idris: Hmm yeah. Can’t always separate the person from the art I guess.
Charlize Theron. Loved her in, everything she’s ever done haha.
Dougie: LOL, Testify.
AWARD – OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR (Mahershala Ali)
Idris: DUDE this is gonna be a good one. Great performances here. Who you got?
Dougie: My man Mahershala. Every time he hits the screen he’s fucking GOLD.
Sam Rockwell has always been one of my favorites too. He’s always great. But he just won last year so…
Idris: Yeah, Sam as ‘Dubya’ is fucking amazing.
Dougie: WOW. This is an incredible night.
Idris: Hey! This too is a fucking moment. And he, like me, likes to wear beanies inside. I think that’s what that is.
Dougie: That’s 2 for him, tho! In 3 years! I know this is the Academy Awards and I shouldn’t bring up TV, but whenever this dude steps on screen in True Detective he’s giving a master class on acting. The choices he makes on screen are brilliant.
Idris: Damn, going to the Academy museum would be lit. Future review coming soon!
Dougie: Holy shit. “I want to go to there”.
AWARD – ANIMATED FEATURE FILM (Sider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)
Dougie: This is Spider-Verse or I’m out.
Idris: I’m with you.
Dougie: If any of you haven’t yet seen this film. It’s a swing through years and years of comic stories and characters, aimed at those who know everything about Spider-man and those who know absolutely nothing about him. It’s got heart, its funny, and it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s also groundbreaking from a technical standpoint.
It’s not only the best animated movie of 2018, but it’s also one of the best animated movies ever made. Comic book or not.
Idris: This was really an experience. A beautiful film and a great story. Also it’s a great example about why representation is so important in film. Seeing people or characters that look like you is important for any kid.
Dougie: You said it, fam.
Performance – “When a cowboy trades his spurs for wings” – Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
Idris: No no, no, no. What is Kacey Musgraves wearing bro?
Dougie: I mean, if you just won AOTY at the Grammy’s, you’d wear whatever the fuck you wanted.
…..Also, her outfit matches this song.
Idris: Not gonna lie… The legend of Buster Scruggs was actually kind of dope.
Dougie: Was it? I guess I gotta put it on the Netflix Queue.
Commercial – The Irishman
Dougie: Oh shit…
Idris: YOOOO. That title sequence though. With the bullet? Ok… Netflix has it’s big boy pants on
Dougie: I’m sold. Sold. Goodfellas is my favorite movie of all time.
Idris: HAHA Waynes World!
Dougie: “Party on Wayne”
Rami Malek DEFINITELY wins Best Actor later tonight. I don’t see how he doesn’t.
AWARD – ANIMATED SHORT (Bao)
F. Dougie: Bao wins this. People were crying in the damn theater before the main feature actually started.
Idris: Sorry didn’t see any of these. I was busy watching NBA youtube videos.
Dougie: Lol.They played this one before Incredibles 2. I see your point tho.
AWARD – DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT (Period. End of Sentence.)
Idris: OH I heard about a night at the garden. But again, I didn’t watch any of these. I think I need to watch more shit.
Dougie: I tried to watch as many films as possible….but I can’t lie…. I didn’t see ANY of these.
The short films are harder to come by tho. But a movie about menstruation just won an Academy Award. The ladies not giving a single fuck out here.
Idris: Yeah these aren’t on the radar as much I guess.
Dougie: They should play more of these short films before movies instead of bombarding us with 30,000 trailers before a feature.
Idris: Oh there’s a concept. But you know you like the trailers.
Dougie: I actually don’t watch them as much anymore. Too many spoilers.
Idris: Yeah they pretty much tell you exactly what happens in the movie now. Remember that dog trailer we saw before Spider-Verse?
Dougie: LOL, They showed all 3 acts of the movie!
They showed the kid losing the dog, the dog’s journey, and then the dog returning to the kid all grown up. WTF?!
Dougie: Diego Luna got that swag tho. That’s a smooth muthafucker.
Idris: Yeah, he did very well in the last season of Narcos. You catch that?
Dougie: Oh for sure. Great season. Like him in “Rogue One” as well.
Idris: Oh yeah true.
AWARD – VISUAL EFFECTS (First Man)
Idris: OK, who you got?
Dougie: This is tough. It’s a toss-up between Ready Player One and Infinity War
Idris: I LOVED READY PLAYER ONE but Infinity War was great too.
Dougie: Ok, First Man looked incredible. No 8-foot tall purple villain, but they made it look like they were really landing on the moon in the ‘60s.
Idris: Damn I’m missing on everything. Yea… but that shit ain’t exciting though. HAHA.
Dougie: The devil is in the details. It’s way more subtle, I guess.
Infinity War had the most special effects shots of all time. I’ll fall back, for now.
Performance – “Shallow” – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
Dougie: Ok, let’s see what Bradley Cooper do. We know what Gaga working wit.
Idris: He don’t don’t have a bad voice. But he’s gonna look bad beside a pro like Gaga.
Dougie: He’s doing his thing for a regular dude. Love this song tho.
I heard that’s a $50MM diamond around her neck. Where are the snipers at? Is that a red dot I see?
Idris: Nah, that red light means we’re live, dog. Cameras recording. Man. The hood has really done a number on you.
Dougie: My hand is shaking, fam. I’m afraid for anyone that moves to quickly. *grabs a whiskey*
Idris: We gon’ pray for you fam. Leave it to Jesus. Good performance though.
Dougie: I’mma need all denominations tho… “In Nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti”
Idris: Damn look at these ladies… (Krysten Ritter & Kiki Layne). Kiki Do you love me!?
AWARD – LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM (Skin)
Idris: Congrats to them.
Dougie: Yeah, they seem ecstatic.
AWARD – ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY (Green Book)
Idris: Ouch. Sam Jackson going at the Knicks hard.
Dougie: I mean, he ain’t wrong. Trash. They are trash
Green Book, cool.
Idris: Very nice. It really was an interesting look at an old subject.
Dougie: Yeah, for sure. People are tired of these movies, but if they are told correctly and with care, it’s always worth a look.
AWARD – ADAPTED SCREENPLAY (Blackkklansman)
Idris: We owning this category. Lots of good black films.
Dougie: This is another tough one. Blackkklansman and Beale Street were both heavy-hitters.
DAMMMNNNN, Spike got one!
Idris: Wow. Congratulations to Spike Lee. You can tell that this means a great deal to him. Even shouts out the 2020 presidential election? He was prepared for this – “Let’s do the right thing”
Dougie: 20 years since Do the Right Thing. He’s been out here making films, trying to keep people “woke” since before it was fashionable.My man got NOTES up there. So happy for him.
AWARD – Original Score (Black Panther)
Dougie: Oh shit. It’s the Prom King and Queen. Michael B. and Tessa T.
Idris: Oh God, Tessa Thompson is a spirit. I don’t think she’s a real person.
Dougie: No, she’s beyond all of us. We are truly not worthy. I see Michael B. bought his mother to the Oscars. Rocking the crushed Blue Velvet tux. Fly.
Idris: I think Mary Poppins might have it. LOL
Dougie: Black Panther could win this one…
Idris: Wrong again. Well fuck. I’m glad I’m wrong at least. This dude just won a Grammy actually. (Ludwig Gorranson)
Dougie: ANOTHER ONE. That’s 3 for Black Panther!
Idris: Chadwick think he’s filming Black Panther 2 with that suit on.
Dougie: Lol, let him live in this moment.
AWARD – ORIGINAL SCORE (A Star is Born)
Idris: Easy Win. I’m not getting this one wrong.
Dougie: Yeah, it’s no contest.
Low key tho. Mark Ronson is racking up Awards behind the scenes.
Idris: What the fuck? I thought this was All the stars to win. Ronson is a great producer though so I’m not really that mad.
Dougie: Oh, Nah. Gaga been out here. People love this song.
I’m still singing “All the Stars”. It’s a classic. But I think we saw this from the Grammys.
Idris: RIP STAN LEE. And also Jussie Smollett’s career.
Dougie: LOL, Ugh. It just got dark. Kanye looks like a saint by comparison.
Idris: Well Kanye ain’t a criminal.
Dougie: Isn’t he tho, Idris? Isn’t he?
Idris: You talking about Yeezus? Yeah, I want my money back on that album as well.
Dougie: We’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled.
Commercial – Elton John Biopic
Idris: So this Elton John movie is a must see.
Dougie: Yeah man, keep the biopics coming.
Idris: Barbara Streisand is royalty fam. And she came with the Jokes.
Dougie: Barbara Streisand a classy lady. NY icon.
AWARD – OUTSTANDING ACTOR (Rami Malek)
Dougie: This gotta be Rami.
Idris: Yes. But another stacked category
Dougie: Yeah, Rami is too good. That man is on another level.
Idris: Well deserved. The Oscars belong to Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody. This is a moment, Rami said so. Another great example of representation in movies as well. This is really great on many levels.
Dougie: It has been a great ceremony so far. I really could not have predicted all this. Since they changed the voting process so many great things have happened. It makes me look forward to the future of films. I’d really love to see more female representation in the Best Director category. I’d like to see the studios put more women behind the camera, but if tonight is any indication, I think we’ll see more of that inspiring progress soon.
Idris: Yeah it’s an ongoing process. The work of inclusion needs to continue. We need to see different colors, sexes, genders you name it. Diversity only makes these films better.
Idris: That girl Amanda Stenberg. Super talented. Among another things.
Dougie: Hahaha, I see you.Yeah man, she is something else. I really think she’ll be a force to be reckoned with at the box offices for years to come.
AWARD – OUTSTANDING ACTRESS (Olivia Coleman)
Idris: I’ve been wrong so many times tonight. But I’mma go with Gaga. Nah, McCarthy.
Dougie: Fuck. Another tough category.
Idris: Ok. Not mad at this. This is why I need to vote on these things. I don’t.
Dougie: Yeah, Coleman has been sweeping the awards circuit. I’d like to see more of her, tho. Melissa McCarthy looked like she really wanted that one.
Idris: Yeah you’d want an Oscar if you had to be seen on TV like that too.
Dougie: You gotta know the competition tho. In some categories, depending on awards season, you know if you have a chance or not. At least you get the swag bag tho.
Idris: Representation. Do it for the ladies, girl.
Dougie: 2 to go! Best Director and Best Picture.
Idris: Good. I’m ready for bed.
Dougie: How much money has Childish Gambino made tonight off this Cadillac commercial?
Idris: That dude stay winning. “Turn all the lights off”! That weird energy winning.
Dougie: Where was that “weird energy winning” shit in middle school? Huh?!
I ain’t mad at him. It’s great for all of us.
AWARD – BEST DIRECTOR (Alfonso Cuaron/Roma)
Idris: It would be CRAZY if this went to Spike!
Dougie: Rooting for Spike again but this will be a tough one.
Idris: Wow! Ok, you know what? Alfonso deserved it.
Dougie: Cuaron is legit tho. That dude is a visionary.
Idris: I agree. Also we here for our Latin brothers and sisters too.
Dougie: Damn right.
AWARD – BEST PICTURE (Green Book)
Dougie: This has got to go to Roma, right? It always weirds me out when they don’t pair Best Director and Best Picture.
Idris: Damn… it would make sense to give it to Roma I guess. But we can consider impact as well. No film had more impact than Black Panther.
Dougie: You are absolutely right. The Black community and American Cinema, in general hasn’t seen anything the level of Black Panther. It was a phenomenon. Roma is a sleeper tho.
Consider all the fuckery the current administration has been levying against Mexico. Another win for Cuaron here would be a huge statement.
Idris: I see what you’re saying fam.
All of the nominations are black it seems like. Just black black black… Very cool. I
Dougie: WHHATT??!!! I literally just yelled out loud.
Holy shit. Fam, I did NOT see that coming.
Idris: We are in here! It’s a celebration bitches. I am happy for this film. I think the point was clear. Not because of this win, but because of the nominations man.
Dougie: Yeah, so I want to have a positive take, here… Many people were more critical of this film because audiences are typically sick of the “white savior” trope and the black friend teaches a white friend about racism thing….but we can’t get where we want to be alone. These stories if told correctly are still very necessary. Mahershala and Viggo did an amazing job.
Idris: So when we talk about black people being tired of certain stories, I think we mean we are tired of being portrayed as just one thing. Usually negatively. Maids. Slaves, etc. But every movie in this category showed black people as people. Black and latin people are layered, like every other group. We aren’t a monolith, we are complex. You can’t just stereotype us all as one single thing. Each black film showed a level of creativity and boldness by telling a piece of the very large and complex story of black culture.
Dougie: Correct. We are not a monolith and that’s kind of the point of this blog, isn’t it? We try to be objective. We genuinely love films and I think that this year’s Academy Awards was something special. We have a long way to go but I think the future will be bright. When given an equal platform and an opportunity to tell our stories we will always shine.
Idris: Yeah man. That’s exactly why we write. We want to share our unique way of thinking. We love to see our people win, but more so we love to see our people having the chance to win. So shout out to the Oscars. And ALL the winners. Well done
OB: Ok, See you guys next year! Please leave us your comments, feedback, and share the blog if you like what you read.
“Wooooooo that man clean!” President Barack Obama recently turned up at the UNC/Duke game dripped out in a custom embroidered ’44’ Bomber Jacket from Rag and Bone. Sure, $595 is pricey for a Bomber, but when you successfully led the free world for 8 years and helped to navigate the United States through all kinds of perils in the birth of the digital era, you can pretty much wear whatever you want.
F. Dougie: Not only is this man embodying casual style, but he’s also doing it effortlessly. This look exemplifies a smart-casual sensibility and he’s also hitting us with unnecessary ‘44’ flex embroidered on the sleeve.
Idris Gray: Obama is the leader we need but not the one we deserve. You know for a fact that Trump could never in his life pull this look off. Stay beautiful Barack.
The good news is, you don’t have to drop $600 to look as stylish as ‘O’. Here are a few of our favorite Bombers that’ll keep you looking clean this spring or fall:
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running. Thank you for your support!
“Black Safe” – A discussion and review of restaurants and bars that we’ve visited. The point of these reviews is to give people of color a sense of how we felt or were treated when patroning these establishments. We’ll each give our take on what we experienced, then we’ll give a score out of 5 on the below criteria:
Madame Vo BBQ
For this week’s iteration of “Black Safe”, we visited Madame Vo BBQ in the East Village. If you don’t know, MVB is a joint venture by Chef’s Jimmy Ly and Yen Vo. Frustrated with the sameness of many Vietnamese restaurants in NYC, they decided to open a new concept and bring some unique new flavors to their traditional cuisine. On a good night, you might run into personalities like Aziz Ansari, Miss Vietnam, or fashion legend Calvin Klein.
The menu has many amazing flavors and options, but we went for the “Beef 7 Ways”. It’s a multi-course tasting of 7 different cuts of beef. Probably the best way to try Vietnamese BBQ, right? You get unlimited rice paper, greens, and accompanying fruits to accentuate the flavors of each special dish. We highly recommend going this route because it’s a really fun and interactive way to taste Vietnamese BBQ.
Our servers were very knowledgeable about everything on the menu. They recommended how to prepare and eat each and what paired well with what.
The ambiance was chill. It felt like you were at a pool party in the heat of summer. The playlist definitely helped to cater to this mood.
F. Dougie – So I loved the concept and I thought that the food was really good. The servers did a really good job of helping to navigate us through all of the different dishes. The smoke from the BBQ was a little much but I guess don’t cook your own meat at the table if you ain’t ready for a little fire, right?
I wasn’t a huge fan of the seaweed wrapped dish and I also thought that the steak was kind of bland but maybe we were supposed to be using the accompanying sauces they gave us? To be honest, I really wasn’t in the mood to drink because I been in the gym making sure I keep my rock hard abs, but if I was I’d be pretty disappointed that MVB doesn’t have their liquor license yet. They should have it very soon, but if you’re looking to get lit, you’re going to need to wait another week or two.
Black Safeness: 4.4/5
Idris Gray – I think it was very typical of a Vietnamese BBQ restaurant. The assortment of meats was good. It was a great suggestion to do the Beef 7 ways, although I feel like they can name it something different.
What was unique about this spot was the vibe and scenery. It was like being in a Miami Vice movie. The walls are covered with rainforest wallpaper and everything in the restaurant is either green or pink. And I can’t overstate how helpful and nice the servers were. Our server saw me struggling with chopsticks and immediately brought over the fork. He a real one.
Black Safeness: 4/5
We both liked this joint. The ambiance was dope but in order to capitalize on it and really keep people engaged with the vibe they have going on, they’ll definitely need to get that liquor license (they should have it before the end of the month). Overall, its a solid recommendation from the both of us but if you wait a week or two, I think this spot will really grab you. With that, “May mắn nhé”.
I live by the notion that most people are garbage. It’s safer to assume the worst and then work backward. I know deep down you feel that shit too. Don’t trust anyone and then be pleasantly surprised when they show you that they aren’t trash.
Now, I don’t want to shit all over your Valentines day. I really don’t. But in order to get to the light, sometimes you have to go through the darkness, right? I promise I’mma get you there, but first I gotta kick some game.
I’m not saying that you have to or should live your life as I do. I’m doing alright. But this ain’t about me. This is about you.
Before you jump headfirst into long-term relationships before you go and get all boo’ed up…Before you drop hundreds of dollars on flowers and dinners and hotel rooms. Before you start asking for that ring…I really do believe that it’s smarter and saferto LOVE YOURSELF FIRST.
I’m not advocating to be completely and utterly selfish or to treat people like garbage. I’m not advocating to live a lonely, lonesome life because you “shouldn’t trust people” (you shouldn’t). I’m saying that once you really do show love for yourself, you start to understand that you don’t need another person to complete you. You’ll realize that although a partner can be a big part of your life, you shouldn’t need them to validate your existence. After all, you are your first priority and once your confidence is in place, only then should you focus on building deep relationships with others.
“Love yourself, girl, or nobody will. Oh, you a woman? I don’t know how you deal. With all the pressure to look impressive and go out in heels. I feel for you. Killing yourself to find a man that’ll kill for you
– J. Cole (Crooked Smile)
You set the standard for how you should be treated and others will follow by your example. Treat yourself like garbage, and I guarantee people will treat you like garbage. I know it isn’t easy. Our whole lives, we are bombarded with images and messages that tell you one thing…“You ain’t shit”:
You’re too dark.
Your nose is too big.
You’re too fat.
Your hair isn’t straight.
We’re taught that if we find Prince Charming or Princess Jasmine, everything else will fall into place. We’re taught that we need to find our “soul mate” and that we need someone to “complete” us. Magazine covers show us what we SHOULD look like. Movies and TV shows bombard us with images of what they consider beauty and desirability to actually be.
People of color, I know I’m preaching to the choir. We’ll get into this more another time, but for us, it’s even more frustrating. Black women are the least desirable and avoided ethnic group on all dating apps. The Bachelor has been on for what, 20 fucking years? How many Bachelor or Bachelorettes of color have there ever been? THE show about finding love is literally telling people of color “….this love shit ain’t for yall. Beautiful women? Yeah, they are all waif thin with long silky hair and pale skin”. ABC/Disney has branded happy endings and guess what. They ain’t for Y’all.
Sure, we can all have fun. Life should be about meeting new people and sharing experiences. But if you are really thinking about getting serious with someone, I’m saying that until you truly know who you are and what you want out of life, all this “bae” shit…. Look, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and to them.
Let’s get back on track. I’m trying to drag y’all through the bullshit to get you to the promised land. How do we get you there? Let’s start with 2 simple practices:
Know yourself/Be yourself – We’re all grown, right? Who are you still trying to impress? If you can’t even be yourself at your most comfortable, do you even really exist? Are you trying to impress your friends? Are you trying to impress your parents? Are you trying to show out for that person you met at the club? If this is the case, aren’t you just pretending to be something that doesn’t really exist? If you don’t know who you are, you better find out quick, fast, and in a hurry. You need to search your soul and get back to basics.
Know your boundaries – You know how much bullshit you are willing to take. Ask yourself? Are the people in my life treating me the way I wish to be treated? Do they have good intentions? Do they respect me? My thoughts? My wishes? If not, cut them out of your life. Period. Surround yourself with positive people. All that negativity will kill your drive and make you second guess everything you do.
So great. Now that your true self has awakened and you’re made of 100% positive energy and confidence, go lockdown a real one and go fornicate. Your close ratio will skyrocket. You’ll start pulling 8s and 9s. I guarantee you’ll even start putting it down better in the bedroom.
You’re not going to always make the best decisions, but hey, at least now you love yourself, right?
Need some inspiration? These are several songs that we think can help spark some confidence.
The Grammy Awards are upon us once again. An annual tradition where the Recording Academy historically shits all over Hip-Hop and music in general. The Grammys are supposed to be the most prestigious awards in all of music, but they are notorious for making epically controversial, questionable, and horrible decisions.
The award nominations process is slowly improving. It’s by no surprise that back in 2017 when they changed to an online voting process, the result was the most diverse field ever. Many fans are still not happy with the diversity and gender makeup of the Album Of The Year nominees. We can point to 2018’s Lorde, being the only female artist up for the award, and even then she was the only AOTY artist that did not get a chance to perform live.
Now, in 2019, the Grammys are still fucking up. The two biggest artists in Hip-Hop (or music in general) aren’t performing and reportedly aren’t even bothering to show up. Not sure what’s going on there, but if its anything like the restrictions that they are trying to place on the artist with the current #1 song in the world, Ariana Grande, they really fucked this up. She’s reportedly so upset at the show trying to censor and control her art, she’s declined to perform entirely.
With that said, is this show even relevant any longer? If this really is the biggest night of the year for music? Why aren’t the 3 biggest artists in the world performing? You probably didn’t even watch the Grammys, did you? Well, we did. Someone had to…
F. Dougie: Yo, I’m FADED. Who’s up first?
Performance – Camila Cabello, Young Thug, J Balvin, and Ricky Martin – “Havana”
Dougie: I do like this song tho. If she don’t do the Spanish version, I’m out….
Idris: Actually amazing performance fam. Camila Cabello tho… I ain’t mad at her
Dougie: Ok, I see youRicky Martin rocking the El Chapo mustache. Yeah fam, they killin it. Latin America taking back the charts.
Host – Alicia Keys
Dougie: Alicia Keys looking good as always…
Idris: Right now, Alicia looks like your auntie when you pop in on her unexpectedly. It’s working though.
Dougie: LOL, no shade.
Yo, is J. Lo wearing a Sombrero?
Idris: First Lady Michelle Obama out here looking like a queen.
….and that’s racist fam. Why it got to be a sombrero?
Dougie: *shrugs* MICHELLLLLLLLEEEEE! South Side!
Idris: Alicia asking who runs the world? Donald Trump, Alicia… Donald Trump currently runs the world. We should be ashamed of ourselves.
Dougie: They bout to get Donald Jr. tho. These ladies ain’t worried about no Donald tonight.
Performance – Shawn Mendes – “In My Blood”
Dougie: I think his piano is on fire…
Idris: Trash. Canceled. Lol. Where are the homies sleeves? Where’s Miley’s Shirt? I’m confused.
Dougie: Miley Cyrus? Oh, she’s done pretending to be black now? No more twerking? This bitch can sit the fuck down. Yeah, I said it. Take a seat. Take several.
Award – Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Idris: Edelman won the MVP? Wow that actually kind of interesting.
Dougie: News to me…. I’m saying tho, how you feel being the MVP of the worst Superbowl game of all time. Score was like 6 to 3, right?
Idris: Backstreet boys have a new song out? What year is it? I’m not qualified to comment on this award.
Dougie: 2019. This is America.
Where the fuck is Cardi? I need her to come out and drag somebody.
Dougie: Oh shit, there goes Gaga. I fox wit her.
Idris: Yeah I was down with Paparazzi back in the day. That was my shiiiit.
Dougie: I’ll be back. I’m going to get some popcorn…
Performance – Kacey Musgraves – “Rainbow”
Dougie: …..who is this?
Idris: Oh this is Kim Kardashian’s little niece I think. This is the kind of music you listen to after your parents forbid you from seeing that boy from down the block. And they refuse to buy you the red Porsche you wanted. “It’ll be okay, little Jamie”.
Dougie: Quick Google search tells me shes a Country singer. Doesn’t sound like country… Looks like she’s playing it safe tonight. I wonder if she’ll have Kanye come out.
Performance – Janelle Monae – “Make Me Feel”
Idris: Oh Dear God. Thank You.
Dougie: Settle down fam. Neither one of us has a chance (shout out to the LGBTQ community).
Idris: Damn I don’t have DVR either.
Dougie: Too much pink for you anyway
Idris: I’m not sure what that means. I like pink.
Dougie: Ok, we moonwalking now?! I’ve never seen 10 people moonwalk before….
Idris: Well I’m starting to feel something too Janelle. Great performance!
If you’ve never been to Denver, it’s actually a pretty small city. You can hit a fair amount of sights and tourist attractions in just one day if you really try. The buildings aren’t very tall, so the city seems very intimate. There are a ton of locally owned businesses all serving a similar purpose…The purpose, you guessed it; Beer.
It’s super easy to get around, but we recommend using the Lyft or Bird Apps to rent scooters. They are everywhere and they’re pretty dope. The utility of reaching in your pocket, grabbing your phone, then scanning a random scooter from off the curb is incredibly novel. They aren’t strewn all about either, The scooters are fairly well maintained and easy to use. Scan the scooter, kick, push, and coast. Throttle is on the right. Brake is on the left. It’s that simple. They are pretty fast, so it’s a fun way to move around the city. Just be sure you aren’t drunk or high while riding.
As soon as we landed, we were starving. So we asked around for a recommendation that was still pretty close to where we were staying. We were also in the mood for burgers. It’s no secret that the cattle in this area of the country is choice so we ended up going to Cherry Cricket. The service was slow (I’m starting to think that anything outside NYC is) but the staff was crazy nice and their manners made up for it. The food was delicious. And no surprise, the beer selection was good as well.
Next, we shot on over to The Great Divide for our first taste of the Denver Craft Beer scene. The brewery has some interesting art on the walls. A painting of Hov and Ye in full cowboy garb caught our eye. It perfectly captured their personalities and we almost copped before we talked ourselves out of it. The artwork in Denver would continue to catch our eye during the trip.
Black Safe Score 4/5
After a few more beers, we hit our first dispensary. They are everywhere and you can’t really miss em. Obviously, bring cash. At least until the rest of the country gets their act together. These places have something for everybody. From your hardcore weed enthusiasts to your newbies and Ganga virgins. The staff is knowledgeable and will give you the rundown on anything you have questions about. After some perusing, we opted to go for the fast melting gummies. Like two kids looking at a playboy for the first time, we rushed outside, ripped opened the shiny packaging (no golden ticket tho) and ingested our first legal round of oh so masterfully manufactured THC. Since we had about an hour before liftoff, we took an extra slow stroll back to the BnB before we left for the Pepsi Center. We were told that the gummies wouldn’t hit us for an hour. So we took our suggested doses, 1 for Dougie and half for Idris, and waited. Of course, we got impatient and doubled up after an hour of waiting with no real effects…
Since the high was starting to kick in, we opted for a Lyft. Our driver, a French woman named Elaine, arrived pretty promptly in a shiny new Ford Fusion:
Driver:You boys from out of town? (yeah, they are chatty down here. Get your talking points ready)
F. Dougie:Yeah, we’re from New York. Brooklyn and Queens. We wanted to see what Denver is all about.
Driver:Oh, so you guys are just here for fun? No special occasion?
Idris Gray:It’s funny you mention that. We’re actually celebrating the launch of our blog.
Driver:Ohhhhh, very interesting. What is the blog about?
Dougie: We are writing about pop-culture, politics, music, movies, and other things from our own unique perspective. We really think that people can identify with some of the ways that we view things.
Idris: It’s called “ Objectively Black”.
Her face turns to stone*
Are you going to educate black people? Or is this just black people complaining about SLAVERY AND BLAH BLAH BLAH?
Dougie: “Bitch, what?!”
Fam did she just say slavery and blah blah blah?! My nigga, I’m too high for this shit!! I can’t even process it!”
Idris:Hold up man. Don’t turn up. Let’s see what she has to say.
Driver:“I have many black friends. They complain a lot and….”
Dougie:This is the first day of black history month! I cannot sit here and listen to this.
Driver:I’m trying to say that I try to be a good person and help my friends see a different perspective than complaining. How can someone like me help?
Idris:I’m trying to process what she’s saying, and in a weird way it reminds me of that time, that white college student approached Malcolm X and said that she was an ally and wanted to know what she could do to help… He milly rocked her to the side and said “NOTHING”.
Dougie: Right?! Now you asking how you can help?! Let me out this Lyft…
Dougie:Well that was fun…By the way, It’s 7:00 pm and We are STILL the only 2 black People in Denver!!!! I ain’t seen one of us, YET! (Day 2 got better). The Pepsi Center is adequately mediocre. Where is the house that Melo built?
Idris:Where are the lobsters?! Where is the filet mignon?!
Dougie:Where the fuck is Shake Shack?! Where am I right now?!
Hold up, we gotta take a little intermission to talk about the National Anthem. You wanna talk about spiritual? Fam, I thought I was in church. Yeah, the dude on the saxophone was good, but I’ll be damned if that wasn’t a spiritual experience. People really love the flag out here. I swear the dude next to us was catching the holy ghost. Also pretty sure we saw a lady have an orgasm.
But then immediately after, they started playing Lil Dickie’s frat anthem, “I dreamed I was black so now I can say nigga” so we were a little offended….Anyway. Onward.
Idris:My man, there are NO single women ANYwhere in this town. Everybody is Boo’ed up.
Dougie:They’ve all been betrothed since age 15. You know how it is in the midwest. This is technically the midwest, right?
Idris:Yeah, I’m pretty sure. I’m also pretty sure they are playing Ice Ice Baby right now.
Dougie:Holy shit, I’m high as fuck. I almost kicked that lady’s drink out of her hand for no reason. Other than the fact that it would have been hilarious. Why did we get seats all the way up here?!
Idris:….Dougie, we are in the 12th row from the floor.
Dougie:Yo, did that little kid just say “You can’t stop yo bitch?! Where are his parents?!”
Idris:I think he said You can’t stop Jokic.
Hold up…Who the fuck are Bonnie and Clyde?!
Dougie:They look like a brother and sister pop group or some shit. Let’s boo them.
Both:Boooooooooooooooo! Y’all are trash!
Dougie:“Yoooooo! That girl just got hit in the face with a beachball!
If you did day 1 correct, you are probably stupid hungry and in need of sustenance. You’re probably still in pain from the hour of straight laughing from that joke you and your people were laughing about, but you can’t quite remember what the subject of the joke was. Your throat is probably hella dry, and you can’t really find a pharmacy close by to grab a Gatorade because Denver is basically all micro-breweries. You’re definitely exhausted and still need to sleep. But trust us, Denver’s got much more to offer.
Snooze came highly recommended and we were not disappointed. We arrived around 9:00 am and the line was already around the door. The wait wasn’t too crazy, but you can tell that this place always does crazy business because they have games like cornhole outside the restaurant and give anyone waiting for a table, free coffee. Their specialty seems to be a section on the menu called “the art of hollandaise”. We both got two different orders of poached eggs and there was an option to replace one of the sides with a pancake. We were all over that!
The drinks were pretty dope as well. I definitely recommend the bacon-infused bloody mary, with Bacon.
Black Safe Score 4/5
F. Dougie:Yo man, you’ve been quiet all morning. You aight?
Idris Gray: I think I’m still smacked. I’m never doing this shit again.
*A bum walks in*
Bum: Ay Youngblood, let me hold a few dollars.
Dougie:Damnnit! Can’t I enjoy this come down in peace?!
Bum:Hey man, I’ll take yo teeth!
Dougie: Look fam, I’m sorry. I can’t help right now.
*Waitress escorts the homeless fellow out*
We actually stayed at an Airbnb a few blocks from a rescue mission during our time in Denver. It’s not completely new to see a few blocks of a city sectioned off for the homeless, but it doesn’t get any easier to see things like this either. We definitely encourage you to take a look at the mission and do what you can to help.
Looking for a change of cultural pace, we ventured to 5 Points, a historically African American neighborhood in Central Denver. According to the neighborhood’s history, it became a predominantly black neighborhood in Denver because discriminatory housing laws in other neighborhoods forbade black people from settling in them. Think of it as your typical housing discrimination policies in Long Island but much more serious.
Today, Five Points is much more gentrified and no longer predominately black, but we do have to say that it was much more diverse than the parts of town we’d seen so far. The part of town hosting the annual Juneteenth celebration, African-American history museum, and beautiful murals of black historians was a must visit.
This micro-brewery came highly recommended by some craft beer OGs back home in NYC. Ratio definitely had some class and seemed to be a staple in the community. Like almost everyone else we’d met in Denver, the staff was genuine and friendly (a foreign concept, we know). They were highly knowledgeable of their product and I could say with 100% certainty that they could find something for you, even if you aren’t a frequent beer drinker.
There’s an outdoor patio so you can soak in that Vitamin D. Since Denver has over 300+ days of sun per year, you’re definitely going to want to head outside and grab a table. AND FOR CHRISTS SAKE, BRING SUNGLASSES YOU FOOLS!
Ratio is even dog-friendly. Definitely hit this spot if you’re a dog lover. I’m actually certain at one point there might have been more dogs than people.
Black Safe Score 4.5/5
Taking in the neighborhood and the gorgeous murals bringing the buildings to life, we ran into a beautiful rainbow colored mural of Nina Simone and another homage to professor and activist Angela Davis.
The Denver street art was really inspiring. The neighborhood was no longer predominately black but still paid homage to its past heritage. What also comes to mind when taking in all of this art, is the fact that in many major cities it just wouldn’t be possible. The respect and love for the art are what keep these displays in perfect condition. Keeping anything in one piece back home in NYC seems to take an act of god.
This place is a must visit. It’s a small family owned Argentinian restaurant with a few tables, but what they lack for in size, they more than make up for in taste and soul.
With 14 different flavors of Empanadas, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. They use dough from Argentina and the result is a flaky, crunchy but soft shell. They are great as a snack, but 3 empanadas seem to be the magic number for a hearty lunch.
If you’re looking for a cocktail bar with delicious drinks, that also stays historically accurate to the mid-1900s, then you’re in luck. Why you’d be looking for this specifically this is interesting, but we’ll stay objective. And in case you were wondering they don’t keep it all the way 1920 if you know what I mean.
Anyway, the staff was very friendly, and the service was great. The menu is large so if you don’t know exactly what to order, just ask one of the bartenders for a recommendation. They’ll set you up nicely. Now, don’t be surprised if you see a few people in the back dressed like Al Capone, or if your bartender begins to violently crush ice with a mallet. It’s all apart of the ambiance here.
After hitting up this spot for the first time, late in day 2, I was disappointed we didn’t have more time to explore all the various retailers, restaurants, and art pieces at The Source Motel and Market Hall. The hotel itself was a cool-looking modern building with a panoramic rooftop for those views of the rocky mountains. While the market had over 25 food and retail vendors and 2 breweries.
We decided that we wanted more drinks to offset the weed gummies I vowed to never do again but did anyway. Once again, the service was fire. The bartenders were nice and the drinks were hitting.
We were able to check out some of the art at the source as well, and just like the rest of the city, the art was beautiful and with only a few exceptions, was a bargain. If I hadn’t spent all my money on weed, alcohol, and burgers, perhaps I could have purchased an elephant with AK-47s as tusks.
Black Safe Score 4.5/5
Denver is not the place to come if you are looking for diverse types of people or if you are looking to turn up or party. It’s pretty obvious that when the plane lands you are going to get a different type of American experience. We really recommend that you put it on your travel list in the near future. Sure, you may run into a few hiccups, but overall Denver is a great place to visit. The food is great and the people are cool. You can’t beat the breweries, and if you really want to chill you’ve got dispensaries every other block.
Coming from a big city like New York, it’s easy to forget that people live so much different in other parts of the country. People have different values. They have different ways of looking at things and different things that they consider important in life. We found it very inspiring that the local breweries each partnered with local artists to promote art and culture in the various neighborhoods. In a big city like New York, we don’t even say hello or acknowledge each other most of the time. Someone will accidentally bump into you in the street or on the subway and it’s like the whole world is unfair. In Denver, you won’t get away with walking by someone and not saying hello or at least giving a smile. No one is going to run into you in the street and not apologize. If you keep an open mind, Denver has a lot to offer. If you love great food, beer, and art, its at least worth visiting over a long weekend. Chances are, given an extended stay, you could even come to love it.
Full disclosure, we’re both pretty simple when it comes to fashion. Less is more, you know? Since work attire has become more and more casual, we both typically fluctuate between more flexible and adaptable attire. You want to look good at work, and you want to be able to hop over to Soho or Harlem for a drink after work as well right?
F. Dougie: Growing up, basketball sneakers were always that holy grail. My family couldn’t really afford expensive basketball shoes. And when we finally could, it was never really an option. “You want some Jordans? Jordans?! Boy, you better go find a friend named Jordan! What do you think this is?”
So now that I’m grown, I’ve got a great sneaker collection… (probably should have invested that money) but the funny thing is, the more affordable and basic shoes are now more in style than your average $200 basketball shoes. Crazy, right?
Idris Gray: Right. I just try to stay simple. I’m always trying to find something that can pair with as many outfits as possible. And I don’t get crazy with colors. Black, white, gray, navy. That’s pretty much everything you need to know.
This is one of my favorite sneakers of all time. I love them so much, I’ve actually got 2 pairs. J. Crew re-released them a few years ago and they’ve been pretty popular ever since. An actual Tennis shoe, the Killshot goes with almost any outfit and gives you enough basic structure to rock with jeans, joggers, or dress pants.
Not usually one to ride trends, I was a little hesitant to try these out since I’ve never really been a Vans guy. I’ve always been more of a Nike stan, but Vans has been resurging as of late. You see them everywhere and sometimes without even knowing it. At their great price point, you can own multiple pairs in different styles. These are definitely more casual and give off the impression that you don’t take things too seriously.
Ahh, the new classic. Your basic all-white tennis shoe with a little bit of color flair on the back heel. This is certainly a more preppy look but you’d surprised at its versatility. Personally, I wear a size 12 shoe, and I feel like these don’t look as good on bigger feet…but maybe that’s just me being self-conscious. We can’t be out here looking like Ronald McDonald, right? I really also believe that this is the sneaker that almost single-handedly brought Adidas back into the sneaker conversation. You’ll want a pair of these in your closet for those preppy outings to Montauk or for your brunch date with the potential publisher of your Avocado Toast cookbook.
4.) Nike – Blazer Mid ‘77
I really love the simplicity in design for this sneaker. Mids are under-appreciated and with all those close tapered jeans and pants we see, I’m surprised people don’t wear them more. The 2019 reissue came with 3 very vibrant colorways on your basic white canvas sneaker. I’m taking a chance on this one, but I really do think they’ll be big this spring.
5.) Nike – Air Jordan I
I’m actually getting a little emotional as I write this. The Air Jordan I (Red/Black/White) is my favorite sneaker of all time. There is so much history behind this shoe and its one of the reasons that sneaker culture is so prevalent in Hip-Hop and Streetwear communities today. I always wanted a pair as a kid but could never have them. No shade to my parents either. I thank them for keeping me focused on the things in life that truly matter, but now that I’m my own man, I can revel in the past and live vicariously through the greatest basketball player of all time (minus the gambling and deafening silence on black issues). Since the recent releases of the early 2000s, ‘ones’ have been at the forefront of many yearly calendar releases for Nike in a number of various colorways. I’ll admit that the colors and styles of this sneaker have gotten a little out of control over the past couple of years, but that also means you can get these in almost any colorway that you desire. Visiting your crew in Brooklyn? Throw on some ‘Ones’, Joggers, and a T-shirt and you’re all set.
Looking at the bigger picture, my closing point is true for all of these sneakers. They are all unisex and look good on both women and men. You wanna get your his and hers on, be my guest. Just make sure you tell the people over at Nike, Vans, and Adidas that Dougie sent you.
First things first I fuck-ing like comfortable shoes. If you’re like me then you probably already know all about these. These are one of the many shoes that have taken advantage of the boost tech from Adidas. There are a number of styles and colors that you can choose to rock here. But I think the silhouette lends itself to white. I understand its not quite the correct weather for you to pop these guys on just yet. But do your feet a favor and get yourself a pair of these.
Coming in at a strong #2 for me is Vans Old School. Yes, call me a hypebeast. Call me corny. I don’t care. I was out here wearing Vans long before it was popular. I’m basically the Soulja boy of Vans. JOOORDANNS?!?! To be completely honest I always liked converse a bit more than vans, but they are a bit narrow for my big ass feet ;). So they edge out the Chuck Taylors on my list. Listen, they are clean, durable, you can wear them to work, and they come in at a great price point. You really can’t go wrong.
Give me two pairs. I need 2 pairs. Yup Air Force 1. The classic. I really don’t have to advocate too hard for these do I? You know you love these. They are comfortable. There’s a colorway for every possible occasion. They make you look taller. The only downside is all head nods you’ll have to give to random brothas as you walk down the street and they see you rocking these all white joints. Live your dreams gentlemen.
Ok, I still have to show love to the all-star hightops. They do run a bit narrow, but they look amazing on feet. I actually think that these work better for an office sneaker for those casual Fridays than the vans if you want to look a bit more stylish. So, if you have normal, small penis feet, go ahead and do your thing.
5.) Nike – Internationalist Low
Last but not least for me is the Internationalist. If there was ever a concern that I wouldn’t give you at least one more super comfortable sneaker to end this list off with, you were dead wrong. I already told you I love comfortable shoes. That’s my fucking problem. These classic sneakers from Nike really fit the bill there. And they are actually pretty stylish, to me. You don’t have to love them. I do. I love them enough for all of us. But really, they have a great look and come in multiple colorways. You can even ID them if you want to give Nike more of your hard earned cash.
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What can I say about Black Panther that hasn’t already been said? This film was a movement and has changed Hollywood forever. Industry producers and filmmakers have long leaned on the racist notion that “black films don’t travel“. We were told that “black films don’t make money with foreign audiences”. Not only did the movie go on to make $1.3+ Billion. It has passed every other film in American history to become the highest grossing domestic superhero film EVER. Let that settle in.
While that marinates, let’s also remember that growing up, we were told that we couldn’t be superheroes. “You can’t be Superman, Superman is white. You can’t be Batman, Batman is white.” Pick any action-adventure, fantasy, or superhero movie in the last 50 years and throw a dart at the list of films. I can almost guarantee you that the main characters are white. Black Panther is important to American society not only because it shows us as kings, geniuses, and leaders. It also shows black children of the world that they too can also be heroes. Black Panther isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This wasn’t just a flash in the pan. Ain’t you hear? It ain’t Wakanda 2018. It’s, Wakanda. FOREVER.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Thank you, Donald Glover. “Why?” On the NBC show ‘Community’ (season 2 episode “Anthropology 101)”. Actor/Singer/Rapper/Director/Comedian Donald Glover wore a Spider-Man t-shirt during the episode’s opening. Some of the show’s fans went online and expressed their excitement! “Donald Glover should be the next Spider-Man!” Then came the comments: “Donald Glover can’t be Spider-Man. Spider-Man is white”. You see a pattern here? Spider-Man comic writer Brian Michael Bendis took notice and made a decision that would change comics and entertainment forever. 1 year later, Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli gave birth to new character Miles Morales. An Afro-Latino teen from Brooklyn, NY. Miles would become Spider-Man in his own alternate universe and would go on to join the regular Marvel Comics continuity.
An animated feature film (based on writer Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse comic and Bendis and Pichelli’s Spider-Men) was released in December 2018 to critical acclaim (97% Positive Reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and a 95% Audience score). For the movie, the creators implemented a new style of animation to bring Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends to life. Watching the movie is like walking inside an actual comic book. It implements everything from words bubbles to the ‘Ben-Day’ comic print look of comic pages from the early ’60s and ’70s. The critical consensus is that the film is the best animated movie of the year (and maybe of all time), is beautiful, funny, heart-warming, diverse, progressive, and expertly written.
Wrapping up our theme of black children finally getting representation as heroes on screen, spoiler alert; “Anyone can wear the mask“. Anyone can be a hero. Even a black kid from Brooklyn.
Avengers: Infinity War
In the early 2000s, Marvel comics licensed many of their characters to several movie studios (Fantastic Four, and the X-men to Fox & Spider-Man to Sony) in hopes of generating some revenue in order to keep their comics division going and to put some of their world-renowned characters on the big screen. (We’ll get to Infinity War, I promise) They kept many of their most popular heroes and in 2007 formed Marvel Studios, their own in-house movie studio.
They started with an idea, to create a movie franchise that linked all of their characters and stories together, just like the comics. The goal would be to introduce each character in their own respective movies individually and then bring them all together (The Avengers – 2012).
Not only was this a lofty goal, it had never been done before. In order for this to work, the majority of the movies would have to be accepted by audiences all over the world, perform well financially, and speak to critics and fans alike…The plan worked.
The Marvel films have been a critical and commercial success. Infinity War (told you we’d get to it) knocked fans sideways. Not only was the movie another critical and commercial success, but Marvel also gave fans what so many filmmakers have tried to emulate; the feeling that fans felt back in 1980 when they walked out of The Empire Strikes Back. Being the penultimate chapter in Marvel’s 12-year long, interconnected story arc, fans were expecting big things. What they did not expect was to see the characters and heroes that they’d spent over a decade building relationships with decimated, left dangling over a cliff until the final chapter (Avengers: Endgame) hits theaters in April of 2019. Many fans still have trouble hearing someone ‘snap’ their fingers together without having emotional PTSD of sorts. If nothing else, we’ve learned a valuable lesson. The good guys don’t always win. Sometimes negativity and evil overcome the best of us….but only temporarily. The best of us will pick ourselves up, step forward and fight back. We’ll look to each other for strength and when we utter that rally cry: “Avengers Assemble”.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
I know what most of you are thinking….”Tom Cruise? Really?”. So let’s get into it. I get it. Many people don’t like this dude, and rightfully so. Mormonism is weird….
“What’s that? He’s a Scientologist?” Oh shit, my bad.
Scientology is weird, allegedly abusive, and reportedly dangerous. But since movie critics (I’m not one) judge actors and filmmakers on their abilities, and since the dude hasn’t killed anyone (that we know of) or committed any atrocities (See: Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Harvey Weinstein) let’s talk about how fucking awesome this movie was.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (or Mission Impossible 6) was one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year. Reviewers called it “one of the best action movies ever made”. I usually don’t deal in superlatives, but I’m inclined to agree. Objectively, Tom Cruise can act. As a 56-year-old man that does his own stunts, rides motorcycles with no double and also flies his own planes and helicopters, you can’t help but be impressed by his dedication to the craft. While Marvel Studios is wow’ing you with CG feats of superheroism, Thomas Cruise Mapother the Fourth is jumping out of a goddamned cargo plane with his film crew for a Halo Jump at 25,000 fucking feet to impress you. He brings a level of authenticity that makes the movie look and feel more legitimate. There are no weird cuts and pauses in the action because the actor doesn’t to be pulled from the scene and replaced with a stunt or digital double. If you haven’t seen many of these films, the Mission: Impossible series has always relied heavily on misdirection and fakeouts to keep the viewer entertained. While that’s true to an extent with Fallout, even if you can see some of the twists coming, it doesn’t matter as much to you because you don’t have time to process all the changes. The movie moves from action scene to action scene at such a seamless and fast pace that by the time the movie is over you feel like you’ve just run a marathon. The movie feels expertly executed from beginning to end and you’d be hard pressed to find a better action film.
Michelle Obama: Becoming
I’m going to put it out there. For me, talking about the Obamas without becoming an absolute fanboy is an arduous task. Being objective, I still believe that First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoir is a must read. It’s almost like the life story and perspectives of the first African American First Lady of the United States of America is required reading. Who would have thought?
This is a woman who held black people’s hopes and dreams on her shoulders for 8 years going with style, grace, and humility. Michelle and Barack are the closest to actual royalty that black folks have (not counting Hov and B & George and Weezy). Need I remind you that this is a woman who grew up from humble beginnings on the South Side of Chicago, got herself admitted to a Princeton education, and then went on to graduate from a little institution called Harvard Law? Small potatoes, right?
‘Becoming’ is a relaxing read and fleshes out the upbringing, perspectives, temperaments, and philosophies of one of the most important figures of the 21st Century. Michelle Obama does not suffer fools and we could all learn a thing or two from her intellect. The book is written with such grace and witticism that you’ll wonder why Barack ever hired a speechwriter in the first place. For someone who has been in the public eye for so long and has played such an important role in shaping young people’s lives, you can’t help but agree that Ms. Obama deserves some time to rest and recuperate. After all, how much was asked of her? The Obamas didn’t get 2nd chances. They didn’t get to have embarrassing scandal after embarrassing scandal. Had Michelle or Barack committed even one of the current national embarrassments (tax returns, helping a foreign government hack a national election, payment to adult actresses as payment for silence, travel bans for foreigners, family separations at the border, children in internment camps, etc.) that the current bum has, they’d have been dragged out of the white house and shown as the reason that “you can’t give them a chance”. To be perfect? Yeah, we asked that of them. Ms. Obama has inspired an entire generation of children to not only stay active and work hard but not to take shortcuts. She’s inspired them to give back to a world that may not always love you in return. That said, we’re happy to see her back in the public eye. It’s quite clear that we’ll need her intellect and leadership in the near future.
James Clear:Atomic Habits
Many people make excuses for why they can’t achieve the goals that they want in life. We’ve all read self-improvement books. I’m looking at 3 such books on my shelf right now. With James Clear’s ‘Atomic Habits’, the author spells out some very simple and effective strategies that can be employed in order to attain incremental change. Building good habits and breaking bad ones. That’s all it is.
Without giving away too much, the strategy is to get 1% better every day. The author tells us that bad habits repeat over and over “not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change and that habits are essentially the compound interest of self-improvement.” Change can go either way, in the direction you want, or in the direction you don’t. Change your mechanism and change your approach, otherwise, you’ll be stuck on that hamster wheel forever.
Atlanta: Robbin’ Season
Atlanta is still the best show on TV. Creators Donald and Stephen Glover continue their focus on writing a black show from the black experience with an all-black writing staff; something that until now was unheard-of in Hollywood.
Season 2 of Atlanta is dubbed Robbin’ Season after a period of time (typically before Christmas and after New Years) where lower-income neighborhoods will commit more crime to provide their families for the holidays. Its meant to be a metaphor for the main characters of the show and give the viewers a sense of the changes that each is going through. The title gives you an understanding of how desperate they have become to change their individual situations. Some highlights:
Van begins to grow sick of Earn’s fuckboy bullshit.
Al comes to terms with either being a good person OR leaning into his rapper persona ‘Paperboy.
Earn learns that if he wants to manage a rapper or a family member, he’s going to have to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Darius goes through hell to get a rainbow keyed piano.
Atlanta’s episode and narrative variety shines to give us more spontaneity. I’ve heard the show called “Black Seinfeld mixed with Twin Peaks”, and that actually may be fairly accurate. In this season we meet:
‘The Alligator Man’ (Played by comedian Katt Williams, who won an Emmy for his performance),
Teddy Perkins (Donald Glover in a haunting Michael Jackson-esque whiteface performance, and my personal favorite episode of TV of the year).
Paperboi’s barber, ‘Bibby’.
Clark County, (who may be the embodiment of many current rappers in the music industry)
Can’t wait to see where these characters go in season 3. I’d try to figure out where the show is headed next, but with Atlanta, that would just be foolish.
Black Panther: The Album
When was the last time you purchased or listened to a movie soundtrack? I’ll wait… Probably middle school, right? Suicide Squad? You can miss me with that bullshit. When TDE announced in 2017 that Pulitzer and Grammy-winning King Kendrick Lamar was commissioned to curate and EP the sounds for Black Panther, fans collectively lost their minds. Not only was the album amazing, it undoubtedly helped push the film’s financial performance to new heights. Kendrick called on some of the best artists in the game to help give the soundtrack an authentic and multicultural feel. Aside from TDE labelmates Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q, the album includes The Weeknd, James Blake, SZA, Jorja Smith, Future, Khalid, Swae Lee, and Travis Scott to name a few.
Album standouts include:
“ALL THE STARS” (performed by Kendrick Lamar and SZA)
“KING’S DEAD” (performed by Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future and James Blake)
The album not only cemented Lamar’s musical artistry across different styles of Hip-Hop and R&B, but he’s also shown that he can curate and draw quality art from some of the best artists in the game. Up and coming stars SZA, Swae Lee, and Khalid are becoming household names and I for one am excited for their futures as young black artists.
The Carters: Everything is Love
Black royalty, Homecoming King and Queen. Whatever you wanna call them, in the summer of 2018, Beyoncé and Jay Z released the first joint album in their tenured careers. We’ve all heard many of their joint tracks, but this album couldn’t have come at a better time. With all of the gossip and rumors circling their partnership over the last several years, you’d think they’d want to take control of the narrative right? With rumors of infidelity swirling, it’s almost like Beyoncé and Jay Z released solo albums baring their own individual emotions and then finally culminated in a joint album to confess their dedication to one another… It’s almost like it was all coincidence.
Anyway, I’m on board. After listening to Beyoncé bare her soul on Lemonade, and after listening to Jay Z man up on ‘4:44’ and apologize to his family for the embarrassment he’d caused and for the mistakes he’d made, on Everything is Love The Carters haven’t missed a step.
The project was introduced to us with the video for Apeshit. A project that notoriously shut down the entire Louvre in Paris. The juxtaposition and subtle symbolism of Beyoncé next to the Mona Lisa is too beautiful for words.
Everything they do together is intelligently planned out. Hov releases a song, and Beyoncé has writing credits. Money. B releases a song and Jay is featured. Money. She releases another song and Blue has vocal credits. Money. This family is a billion dollar business and if people want to know every detail of their personal life, they’ve made damn sure that they’ll profit from it.
The Carters don’t hold back and give you all the details you were clamoring for over the last 4 years. Yes, Hov cheated. Yes, Beyoncé almost left him. And Yes, they got back together and made it work not only for their family but for their business. Here are some of my favorite lines from the album:
APESHIT “I said no to the Super Bowl: You need me, I don’t need you/Every night we in the endzone, tell the NFL we in stadiums, too/Last night was a fuckin’ zoo, stagedivin’ in a pool of people/Ran through Liverpool like a fuckin’ Beatle/Smoke gorilla glue like it’s fuckin’ legal/Tell the Grammy’s fuck that 0-for-eight shit/Have you ever seen the crowd goin’ apeshit?” —Jay Z
BOSS “100 million crib, 3 million watch, all facts/No cap, false, nigga, you not a boss, you got a boss/Niggas getting jerked, that shit hurts, I take it personally/Niggas rather work for the man than to work with me/Just so they can pretend they on my level, that shit is irkin’ to me/Pride always goeth before the fall, almost certainly” —Jay Z
BOSS “Ain’t nothing to it, I boss so I bought my momma a whip/My great-great-grandchildren already rich/That’s a lot of brown chi’r’en on your Forbes list/Probably looking around my compound on my fortress/I be ridin’ around with my seat reclining/Droppin’ my daughter off at school every morning/We slammin’ car doors/I be true balling on these bum whores” —Beyoncé
NICE “Yeah, fuck your subpoenas/And your misdemeanors/Was too busy touring out all your arenas/My passport is tatted, it look like it’s active/I play on these planes, y’all catch me in traffic/Y’all drag me in court for that shit, y’all backwards/After all these years of drug trafficking, huh/Time to remind me I’m Black again, huh?/All this talking back, I’m too arrogant, huh?” —Jay Z
NICE “Patiently waiting for my demise/’Cause my success can’t be quantified/If I gave two fucks—two fucks about streaming numbers/Would have put Lemonade up on Spotify/Fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool, fuck you, I’m out/I ain’t never seen a ceiling in my whole life, that’s word to Blue/Freestyling live, blueprint from my Jigga who never bribes” —Beyoncé
713 “Cash, hit deposit, 24-carat faucets/Louis V and Goyard trunks all in the closet/Ain’t shit change, the streets is still watchin’/And my little baby Blue is like, ‘Who gon’ stop us, huh?'” – Jay Z
BLACK EFFECT “I’m good any way I go, any way I go/I pull up like the Freedom Riders, hop out on Rodeo/Stunt with your curls, your lips, Sarah Baartman hips/Gotta hop into my jeans, like I hop into my whip/Mobbin’ in a hoodie like Melo/Come up out that pretty motherfucker like ‘Hello, hello’/I will never let you shoot the nose off my pharaoh” —Beyoncé
LOVEHAPPY “Y’all know how I met her/We broke up and got back together/To get her back, I had to sweat her/Y’all could make up with a bag, I had to change the weather/Move the whole family West, but it’s whatever/In a glass house still throwing stones/Hova, Beysus, watch the thrones” —Beyoncé and Jay Z
There are levels to this shit, Y’all. I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to the next Carter Trilogy. The theme of black excellence continues and 2019 couldn’t come and faster. If they can make it through all this bullshit and still find some peace can’t we all?
Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer
Janelle Monae has been taking folks to Wakanda since before many even knew it existed. Black Girl Magic has been the mantra for for little black girls everywhere since they realized they could be Mae Jemison’s or Michelle Obama’s.
In a year that saw the confirmation of Monae’s long-term partnership with actress Tessa Thompson (sorry fellas, y’all never stood a chance), we listen to this amazing woman talk about her life experience and what she calls her womanhood: “remember when they used to say I looked too mannish”?
Aside from also standing out in critically acclaimed films like Moonlight and Hidden Figures, Ms. Monae is finally being recognized by the recording academy via an Album of the Year nomination. She’s at her absolute best here with Dirty Computer. Even though this is primarily an R&B album, I had to throw Django Jane on my best of 2018 Hip-Hop playlist. Her flow would put even some of the dopest male MCs to shame. She lets the listeners know about her experiences in life, as a member of the LGBTQ community, and also about her experiences in the recording industry where (surprise) they don’t celebrate and appreciate Black Girl Magic like we do. Continuing 2018’s theme of honesty, Ms. Monale sets a new precedent for the genre. She’s not going back and hopefully neither are we.
Album standouts include:
I LIKE THAT “Uh, I remember when you laughed when I cut my perm off/And you rated me a six/I was like, “Damn”/But even back then with the tears in my eyes/I always knew I was the shit.
“I GOT THE JUICE”
DJANGO JANE “Yeah this is my palace/champagne in my chalice I got it all covered like a wedding band/Wondaland, so my alias is Alice And we gon’ start a motherfuckin’ pussy riot/Or we gon’ have to put ’em on a pussy diet. Look at that, I guarantee I got ’em quiet/Look at that, I guarantee they all inspired.
So you’ll notice pretty quickly there isn’t really any consistent structure to this list, but don’t worry I’ll try to keep it classy. You won’t see any top Kim Kardashian moments of 2018 here. I promise.
For me, the number one source of entertainment and learning came in the form of an app. For the past 2 years, Pocket has been a mainstay in any list of top 10 things for me. In that time I’ve had I’ve read more than I’ve ever read in my life. Those who know me, know I only read for knowledge. I don’t read fiction and I don’t really read for fun. I do want to read more, and the more I do the more therapeutic it has become. But it’s still hard to get over that 10 book a year mark. There’s just too much Netflix out there. Luckily for people like me, pocket provides an alternative to the traditional book reading format. I can read complete stories in 15 minutes and be done with that story forever. Or I can save it, reread it and share with friends so I we can have further conversations later on. If there’s one thing on the top 10 list that you can immediately implement into your day/life, its pocket. So if you need something to read to hold you over on that 30 – 60 minute ride on the F train here you go.
The Brilliant Idiots – Podcast
The Brilliant Idiots podcast with Andrew Schulz and Charlamagne Tha God is a hilarious podcast worth looking into. If you’re the kind of person who needs to hear your opinions represented to confirm your ideals, then the brilliant idiots podcast is not for you. You should probably stick Fox or CNN depending on where you lean politically. if you are an objectively minded thinker who actually wants to hear both sides, who appreciates discourse, and who actually appreciates unique ideas or perspectives then you’re in luck.
If I’m being completely honest the brilliant idiots are a big reason why I’ve chosen to do this blog and an even bigger reason why I chose to do it with one of my best friends. Because even though we are lot alike in many ways, there are several more things we do not agree on. I should also mention that these guys may come off as insensitive, harsh, and even inappropriate. This is your official warning. Don’t say I didn’t tell you. Don’t say Idris didn’t tell you!
Listen, the podcast is made up of one half comedian and one half radio personality. Ones a white dude from NY while the others a black dude from the south. They see a lot of things differently and often crack on each other at how absurd their views seem. So while their opinions are often veiled in comedy, their ideas are worth hearing. At the end of the day, it’s up to each of us to decide what we want to think, and what we believe is right vs. what we believe is wrong.
But “you go gotta hear both sides”.
Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury
I’m a fight guy so I had to leave a spot open for the Wilder/Fury fight. Not only was it a brilliant fight, filled with competitive back and forth, completely different styles of fighting, a great show of heart, power, and technical proficiency. But what was really enjoyable about this fight was that each fighter had completely opposite backgrounds.
Tyson Fury, coming into the fight, was a redemption story. He had battled his way out of a drug addiction and depression. Even turning into an advocate of mental health, and promising to donate all of his winnings to the less fortunate. Wilder in his own right had always been an underdog. Although never loosing in the ring he has always been outweighed by his opponents. This time was no different.
There was a level of tension between Wilder and Fury that had been missing from heavyweight fights for sometime. That’s what made this fight so great to me. And then you add in the fact that I watched it inside of a LeFrak City bar filled to the brim with black and Latinos hooting and hollering 4 Wilder to knock the s*** out of Fury! Haha it was a helluva night!
The high point of the match came late in the 12th round. Wilder does exactly what we were all asking for and knocks the s*** out of Fury. But what does Fury do? He gets up like he’s the Undertaker, you know before he was the American bad boy… He survives the round and out lasts Wilders onslaught. He even managed to get in a few good hits before the final bell. Then comes time for the decision. DRAW! What?! Even I have to admit I was shocked at that outcome, but when I really thought about it, It was the perfect ending to a great fight. Both gentlemen showed great respect after the decision and now we get to anticipate the next fight.
WAKANDA FOREVER! Talk about an impactful movie! black Panther first made his on-screen debut in the Avengers Civil War movie. And let me tell you, he showed out! After that movie, the anticipation for the Black Panther film was ever-present in every single comic book comic book, black & African circle I found myself in. Yeah, I separated the two… I’ll get back to that in a moment but, suffice it to say, we was hype. And boy did that movie deliver. But first I want to talk about the reception to the movie. In today’s New York, I notice a separation of identity between blacks and Africans. Africans don’t quite see themselves as the same as someone who isn’t as in touch with their ancestry. I think I know why.
For as long as I know being African in New York was a bad thing. I think things are different now, and much better because of BP. But I used to get “teased/bullied” because of my name all the way up through High School. My parents had me wear a shirt and slacks everyday of middle school. And It wasn’t till high school till I had some freedom to wear jeans to school. My parents, being immigrants, didn’t have the money to afford Nikes let alone Jordans, so I walked around in them Shaqs! I felt different to say the least. It was rough at times but I never truly minded it because I was proud of my heritage and still am. I think as a result of similar and maybe even worse experiences, many Africans see themselves different than African Americans. This is why black panther makes my list. Sure the movie had great action sequences, great fight scenes and an amazing performance by Michael B Jordan. I loved all of it. But for me, seeing all skin colors rally around a film about Africa was a beautiful thing. So many parts of our society and our culture shows evidence of self-hate. This was an example of the love that continues to build for one another in our communities across America and in Africa.
Ready Player One
I don’t know how Steven Spielberg does it. But he always seems to figure out a way to expose the human element inside his movies no matter what the scenario is, or how fictitious a story might be. Of course the original source material, a book of the same name by “Ernest Cline” has a lot to do with this. Spielberg does this masterfully in Ready Player One. Let me start by saying I did not read the book because I don’t read fiction. I just watch it. Don’t try to convince me that the Harry Potter books are better than the movies. I’ll just counter by saying that the movies are more efficient uses of time. Maybe that’s why I don’t read comic books? Anyway, ready Player one takes place in a dystopian future, where reality has become so hard people mainly live inside of a video game. To me, that didn’t seem very different from the world that I and my friends lived in growing up and still live in “Till this day”. Why are video games so powerful and so loved? I think it’s because it gives people a chance to escape their realities to some degree. To live in a fantasy just for a moment of time. The various pop culture references, amazing visual graphics, and a solid storyline ended up being complimentary for me. What was really important and what brought it home was the understanding that life, although it can be hard, can only be lived in reality. After all, “… it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.
Marvel’s Avengers Infinity War
This movie makes the top 10 list of every action movie fan. Although I’ll admit I’m not the biggest comic in fact I’m not a comic book nerd at all I have enjoyed every single Marvel films that came out in the last decade. This one was no different. This is probably one of my favorites up there with Winter Soldier, Thor Ragnarok, and the very first Avengers movie. Somehow the directors of the show manage to incorporate a whole plethora of Heroes, two seemingly separate storylines, 3 main battle sequences, and one scary motherfuker actual movie that was funny, dramatic, insightful, and sad. In case you are among the very few that live underneath a rock and still have not seen this film I won’t provide any spoilers. But I will say, even if you’re not a comic book or action movie fan, you’ll probably still enjoy the layered motives and surprising emotions that the antagonist elicits. Happy wondering why certain other Marvel film being left off my list. Well, this is a list of things. I already have two movies on here, I wanted to keep the list diverse. Sue me.
The War of Art – Book
2018 for me was a year of realization and growth. I was challenged in several ways and I think and I like to believe that I grew because of those challenges. The start of those realizations came in the form of a book recommendation from The Joe Rogan podcast. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a book about overcoming the things in life that hold us back. Pressfield calls it resistance. I found the book to be extremely powerful and inspiring. What resonated with me the most was how much credence Pressfield gave to the individuals power to create change. He called out the internal forces that we allow to control us. And the detrimental behaviors that make it tough for us to break out of our limits. I don’t think the book teaches as much as it reveals things that we’ve already seen, felt and experienced. I only read the book once but I plan to read it several times over. In fact, this book is part of the reason I’m even writing this blog.
Furthermore, it’s important to tell yourself and remind yourself that having high expectations for yourself and challenging yourself to be greater than you currently are is completely okay. It’s okay to want more, it’s okay to demand more but we have to be willing to do the work and we can’t allow fear or resistance as Steven Pressfield calls it, to stand in our way.
One of the many compelling quotes from the book that stuck with me was this one. “Fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.” This is basically Steven Pressfield telling us that following our dreams is much like a balled that we need to suit up for everyday. This resonated with me, but I’m sure you’ll find something unique in the book that will resonate with you.
Afro Punk Fest
There are several music/art related festivals that occur every year across the United States. Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Summer Jam & Governors Ball just to name a few. And while Summer Jam is a very popular hip-hop music festival, it only represents a small portion of black music. The black influence spreads so much further than just hip-hop. And while the hip-hop genre is probably the most popular product of the black experience. It does not accurately represent the immense diversity of the culture. Afro-Punk in a way attempts to fill that void, presenting black music in its many forms. From jazz to rock, RnB, Afrobeat, and every unique stop in between, Afro-Punk is a showcase for everything the diaspora has to offer. I went for the first time in 2018, to the Brooklyn show. I have been to several other music festivals and I was shocked, to say the least. I’m not sure why, but I was expecting to see… more white people. Every Festival I had been to up until that point had always been 80% white, at least? Seeing a sea people who look like me singing along to the internet and Miguel was really amazing. I’m mad I waited so long to attend one. And I plan on going again this year.
Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson – UFC 232
Jon Jones the man the myth the legend. He’s back ladies and gentlemen. The one true UFC light heavyweight champion of the world. Leaving absolutely no doubt in the mind of his naysayers. Well, maybe just a picogram of a doubt. Of course everywhere that Jon Jones goes, controversy is not far behind. UFC 232 different. Before either of the two fighters even stepped in the ring, it was revealed that Jon Jones still had banned substances in his blood. It was later revealed that those substances with the remainder of a previous failed drug test gave Jones no competitive advantage. Of course news like that led most believe that the UFC president Dana White and USADA were somehow cheating the system. The result of the drug test Jon Jones wasn’t permitted to fight in Las Vegas and the entire event was moved to Los Angeles. While UFC 232 was a phenomenal night of fights, including Jon Jones’ main event, it was in a way marred by the drug test. In typical John Jones fashion, his fight with Gustafson, what’s a Showcase of his tactical approach to fighting. He allowed his opponent to press forward, it’s simply chopped away at him for 2 1/2 rounds, till in the third, he took him down and beat him unconscious. As you probably guessed by the start of this, I’m a bit partial to Jon Jones. His shortcomings outside the ring aside, he is one of the greatest UFC champions to ever live. Hopefully, he can stay on track and maybe even defend his title against the man who held it in his absence, Daniel Cormier. 2019 looks to be an exciting year in the UFC. I’ll definitely be watching, and paying special attention to my countrymen Israel Adesanya.
Okay, I’m not much of a politics buff, but here me out. Donald Trump’s presidency has been constant entertainment. It’s like we are living in one of those TNT dramas. You know that saying, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry”? this is basically how I feel every time any update about Donald Trump pops up on my Facebook or YouTube feed. Some of the wildest plot twists and unbelievable moments have come from our very own government this year. And somehow we made it out. Thank the Lord Jesus. From allegations that our president is in bed with the Russians to confirmations that our president has been in bed with porn-stars. This year has been a storytellers/porn parody writers wet dream. And don’t let me get started on the tweets. I never tweet, but I do follow the president on twitter. I need to know what state of mind my world leaders are in. Like when he tweeted that his nuclear button was bigger that Kim Jong Un’s. I made sure to stay inside and work from home that day.
Objectively Black exists because we believe that the world needs a unique perspective on how African-Americans consume news, media, and entertainment. The interactions that we have in the world and in the workplace are different for the vast majority of our peers. For a demographic that is the epicenter of global popular culture, we feel that there aren’t enough critics, reviewers, opinions, or voices that comment from the black point of view.
We intend to objectively speak with sincerity, humor, and intensity because that’s just who we are as people. We believe that our worldview is special, and we intend to speak from our hearts.
You may not always agree with the way we think, and that’s ok. We are just doing things the way that WE know how. Painting a picture of the world the way WE see it. We encourage intelligent discussion and critique if that’s where it leads.
Through this blog, we hope to learn and grow with you. Want to know how two black men from NYC think? Keep reading…