Black Safe, Dining, Drinks, Further Discussion, Let's get into It

Objectively Black in Louisville, Kentucky

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.

Day 1 

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.

Day 2 

Bourbon Tours 

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.

Bourbon Tour – 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.

Bourbon Tour – 3 Boys Distillery

3 Boys Distillery

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.

Bourbon Tour – Buffalo Trace

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.

RecBar

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?)

Day 3  

Escape the Room

Lola’s Kitchen

Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum

Jack Ruby Steak House 

Match Cigar Bar

Escape the Room

Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum

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

– HOV

Lola’s Kitchen

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. 

Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum

3

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

Jeff Ruby Steakhouse

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.

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Further Discussion, General, Let's get into It

Idris Gray’s Top Ten of 2019

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.

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“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.

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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.

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“Israel Adesanya”

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.

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“Baby Yoda”

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.

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“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…

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“Chernobyl”

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.

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“Us”

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. 

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“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.

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Further Discussion, General, Let's get into It

F. Dougie – Top Ten of 2019

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 

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.


9.) Lil Nas X – “Old Town Road”

Lil Nas X – Old Town Road

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.

8.) Book – “White Fragility”

White Fragility

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?” 

Screaming? Crying?Anxiety?

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

B

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???!!!

Draaaakkkkkeeee????!!!!!

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

3rd in History.

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

Made in America

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.


2.) J. Cole

If 2018 was the year of Kendrick Lamar, 2019 was most certainly J. Cole’s year. That’s right. “J. Cole. Jermaine. Cole. “The real is back, the Ville is back. Flow Bananas, here, peel this back.” 

Spotify Playlist – “This is J. Cole


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

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.

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Black Safe, General, Let's get into It

Travel Interview with your boys at Objectively Black – F. Dougie

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*

Catch y’all next time!

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Further Discussion, General, This B****

Art Collection Review — The Dean Collection Present’s: Deluxx Fluxx

SWIZZ BEATZ AND THE DEAN COLLECTION INVITE YOU TO EXPERIENCE DELUXX FLUXX – A SITE-SPECIFIC INTERACTIVE INSTALLATION THAT COLLAGES IMAGERY, SOUND, LO-FI GAMING, AND HIGH TECHNOLOGY CREATED BY THE BROOKLYN-BASED ARTIST DUO FAILE & BAST.

The Dean Collection

Tonight we went to Swizz Beatz‘ Deluxx Fluxx presented by The Dean Collection. For the uninitiated uncultured dilettante,

“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.”

Art by Faile

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.

A master at work

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.

If I Ain’t Got You…

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.

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Further Discussion, Let's get into It

Film Review — Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us”

Director: Ava Duveray

Format: Mini Series – 4 Episodes (60 Minutes)

Streaming: Netflix

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.

If you’ve never seen the documentary by Ken and Sarah Burns, or if by some chance you don’t know this American horror story, this may be the opportunity for you to see it through a new lens.

The film is flagged by an outstanding ensemble cast, but the young actors especially did an incredible job (Most notably, young actor Jharrel Jerome as gentle, scared, confused, but yet strong Korey Wise).

Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise

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.

“Animals”

“Thugs”

“Fits the description”

The lyrics and beats the media took almost exactly mirror the rhetoric that we see today when black children are shown as criminals. 15 year old boys get their faces slammed into the ground for standing around and Dylan Roof walks into a church, massacres 9 elderly adults after pretending to be their friend, and he’s offered burger king and a helicopter ride.

It’s also mind-boggling to go back again and see Trump taking ads out in the paper advocating for the death penalty for these kids. His winking and nudging of white supremacists of recent news seem familiar to you? It should be. As the case was headed to trial, then-real estate developer  Donald Trump spent about $85,000 placing a full-page ad in four newspapers, calling for the young boys accused of the crime to be executed.

“BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” I want to hate these murderers and I always will. I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them … I no longer want to understand their anger. I want them to understand our anger. I want them to be afraid.”

Donald Trump

Sound familiar? Make America Great Again?

In addition, his insane tv interview proclaiming that he understood the mind of “a black” in America:

“A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market. And, I think, sometimes a black may think that they don’t really have the advantage or this or that but in actuality today, currently, it’s, uh, it’s a, it’s a great. I’ve said on occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today I would love to be a well-educated black because I really believe they do have an actual advantage today.”

Donald Trump

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.

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General, Let's get into It

Black Billionaire drops $40M for the culture

           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.

Well guess what, the homie Robert F. Smith  came through for some members of the next generation.

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.

I will never forget that my path was paved by my parents, grandparents and generations of African-Americans whose names I will never know,” Smith said. “Their struggles, their courage, and their progress allowed me to strive and achieve. My story would only be possible in America, and it is incumbent on all of us to pay this inheritance forward.”

Robert F. Smith

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.

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