Shacar. He’s Up Next.

 

AFROPUNK’s Battle of the Bands is a major move for the indie artist and Shacar is battling for the top spot.

A chance to play at 2017 AFROPUNK BROOKLYN is a game changer.

Afropunk Battle of the Bands 2017

 

The competition is real because each band is dope, but Shacar is magical.  Magical AF.


Ghost is on repeat in my playlist right now.  Listen and see why.

Shacar
Shacar (ft. Santos) Courtesy of Paradice Records

If you’re in Brooklyn, make sure you check out AFROPUNK’s Battle of the Bands at the Knitting Factory.

 


I Am Gayima

Individuality CC: New York City

I spent four years in denial.

“I will never live in New York City.  Stop asking me to move there.  It is not for me. It’s for you.”

Well so much for that.  I currently live, eat, and breathe the mean streets of NYC all day.

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Work by Design ~ Amyang Fashun Courtesy of Dior Davis Photography

Although it has taken some time to grow on me, I am starting to understand the magic that is New York City.  This is one of the only places in the world that allows me to be who I am without having to make the person next to me feel comfortable with who they are sitting next to.

African. American. Culture Curator. Hula Hoop Fanatic. Beauty. Cigar Lover. Woke AF.

New York City encourages my individuality.  It encourages me to be who I actually am without apology.  Someone in this overcrowded metropolis looks at me, sees me for who I am, and embraces me.  Every. Day. They embrace my fashion sense, my work purpose and my energy.  I can’t help but pay it forward.  I too embrace the individuality of others.  It’s a beautiful cycle of love.

They say that New York City is the loneliest city in the world.

Whatever.

You can have the most amazing conversation with a stranger in any bar in this city or while walking down the street.

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New York City is for THE INDIVIDUAL.

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From New York, With Love,

I AM… Gayima

Images Courtesy of Richard Nwaoko Photography + Retouching by Capture Classic Media

 

 

 

 

HASHTAG CURLFEST

#Curlfest.

Sounds pretty strange, right? However, to a large group of people, in particular, women from various countries around the world, it makes perfect sense and sounds pretty amazing.  And it was. Amazing.

It was awesome meeting bloggers and influencers in person that you see online, but meeting beauties from around the world like Bruna Vieira, a Curly Beauty and Business Woman who traveled from Brazil to attend shocked me.  How serious is the bond of curly women?  Super serious!   I briefly chatted with my Instagram Bae, emerging Supermodel Khoudia Diop, a Senegalese Beauty with the brightest smile and personality and realized that I love #Curlfest!  Then we saw OwnbyFemme! Curl Vibes!


My guess is that every curly person who attended #Curlfest has a “Curly Struggle” story.

Mine is as follows:

I went through a life-changing breakup and made the mistake of ending a 3-year streak of natural hair care.  The break-up was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made, but that relaxer and big chop… not so much.  Since then, I found my niche of personal style in the natural hair world and I am marching forward with a band of natural sisters, including my besties, one who is a certified Natural Hair Advocate, and Influencer.

Koku Gonza is “The Plug”.

Public Service Announcement: If your hair texture is in the range of 4, go follow her today.  Get your curl life together.  You’re welcome.

kokugonza for mydna curls
Courtesy of Koku Gonza on Instagram

As a 4C curl pattern lady with roots from Sierra Leone, West Africa, I can indulge in a variety of hairstyles, and I prefer extensions.  My style of choice is Big. Hair. Don’t. Care. Crotchet.   However, have you ever walked into a boardroom in Corporate White America Straight Hair America with a hairstyle like mine and received this welcome?

the scary boardroom
The Scary Boardroom Courtesy of The Googles

Better yet, are you guilty of staring at me when I walked into Corporate White America Straight Hair America boardroom to do my job? Because my hair style is bigger and better than yours?

Imagine. After the longest, most awkward silence, and/or annoying questions about my hair, I am required to smile and carry on, instead of going the fuck off, throwing a chair in the air, and walking out and sucking my teeth at The Scary Boardroom.

My. God.

Why is #Curlfest so important?  It is a safe haven for Curly Folks.

#Curlfest is a festival that I needed a decade ago.  Thanks to The Curly Girl Collective and their corporate partners, it’s a part of my new reality and a breath of fresh air.

~I AM GAYIMA~

I am Gayima at #curlfest
Big. Hair. Don’t. Care. Crotchet.   Courtesy of Dior Davis Photography

2017 was #Curlfest’s fourth year and it was held at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York.

Curlfest 2017 at Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY
Curlfest 2017     Photography by Dior Davis

Highlights from my #Curlfest 2017 experience:

  • A lot of beautiful curly-haired people dressed stylishly.  Mostly women. Some children. A few fine as wine Gentlemen. (ijs)
  • Apparel & Accessories Vendors | Food Vendors | Hair & Beauty Vendors (offering deals!)
  • An energetic host and crowd that can dance well to the beat of the music played… and great DJs to keep everyone entertained
  • The selfie culture in full effect (And why not? It was great natural lighting all day.)
  • Saw/Met/Listened to a down-to-earth Icon that I grew up admiring.   He handed me a “She’s Gotta Have It” Fan (Currently nailed to my wall. True. Story. Sis.)
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Film Director Spike Lee at Curlfest 2017 and I AM GAYIMA

If you love to be stopped for photo ops, have an appreciation for curls and the diverse beauty associated with curly folks, and enjoy festive music, #Curlfest is the festival for you. Bring your squad. Be beautiful. Be curly. Be unapologetic.


Koku Gonza. Vicrina En Vogue. I Am Gayima. Afua Boni.

 

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Squad. #CURLFEST Courtesy of Dior Davis Photography

 

Did you attend #Curlfest too?  What did you think?  Leave a question or comment below.

~I AM GAYIMA~

 

 

Resentment.

As a Daughter of Sierra Leone, I am compelled to share my thoughts on a topic that seems to be the big white elephant standing in the middle of the room, being ignored by many. It is time to discuss a real issue that is plaguing the Sierra Leonean community.

Resentment.

The first escalator in the country went live at Lungi International Airport in Spring 2017, even though escalators have existed around the world since 1896.

I resent this fact. Sierra Leone is so behind in technology that my stomach turns when I think about it. When will Sierra Leoneans come together to improve the country? Are we waiting for charity?

Whether you are in Sierra Leone or in the Diaspora, this is a call to action. We have to unite and work together… with the government. And the government needs to create initiatives that are inclusive of those that want to do the work.  Whether we are abroad or in Sierra Leone, we need a unified platform to contribute our talent. Yes.  I said it. Regardless of your party affiliation, location, or whatever, we must be willing to put aside differences (especially the petty ones) and do our part to help the process of rebuilding the country. We need to support the business owners like Vickie Remoe and others taking risks and sacrificing to help improve the country. So many of us are giving our energy, education and natural gifts away when we could be giving them to our beloved homeland. This is a call to action.

However… we need to address the elephant in the room.

Resentment.

Example #1

“They make it difficult for you because they can. If you don’t show up with extra cash, forget about getting paperwork you need. Scheduled appointments don’t matter unless you’re connected. It’s frustrating as hell. I am home, but I feel like an outsider.” ~Potential Business Owner, Returned from the United Kingdom to Settle in Sierra Leone-Age 34

Example #2

“So… you think that just because you have come from Germany or the U.S., you can just enter and tell us what to do? Just like that? Hmmm. Where were you when we were surviving the war? Running from Ebola? Eh? Hiding abroad. We dealt with everything and we are still here. Surviving. We are fine. Now that things are fine, you want to come and dictate to us? Go sit down.” ~ Sierra Leone Member of Parliament, Age 37

Resentment. These are real comments from real people under the age of 40.   I am guilty of resentment too.

Will resentment among Sierra Leoneans under 40 be the reason that Sierra Leone remains behind?

There are no more excuses.  No war.  No plagues.  No more excuses.  Let’s work together. I don’t have all of the answers, but I am willing to do my part.  It begins with setting aside feelings of resentment towards one another.  How do we unite and work together effectively?

Drop your ideas below or email me.  Let’s get to work.

 

Wishing you all a Happy 56th Independence Day!  God Bless Salone!

Deniro Farrar: A Dinner Conversation with the Leader of Cult Trap

The universe has a strange way of connecting people. About a year after first hearing about Deniro Farrar (a rapper being compared to Tupac Shakur), I was introduced to him at a private album listening party in Brooklyn, New York. He seemed pretty chill, but I didn’t hold a long conversation with him. The next day while reviewing pictures on my phone, I found a selfie of guy with locs and a beaming smile, much like a 5-year old kid.

Deniro Farrar Selfies
Deniro Farrar: Selfie King

I sent it to my sister immediately. “You must have used my phone at the party. Who is this dude’s face in my phone with huge locs?” She replied, “Oh… that’s the rapper guy, Deniro. You met him last night.” I wanted to have an attitude, but I just laughed. At least he has a sense of humor. Selfie culture strikes again. About a week later, I ran into him at a lounge in Bed-Stuy. I sipped on a glass of red while he inhaled a bottle of water. I was in the middle of a pretty stressful day, but after sitting with him and his manager exchanging a few laughs, I realized that he might be interesting to talk to. His spirit is magnetic.


GK: Before we get into the music, I want to talk about you.

 DF: Let’s do this!

 GK: Are you a Dog or Cat person?

 DF: Neither. I don’t fuck with animals.

GK: What is your shoe brand of choice?

DF: Nike but I like Chucks and Birkenstocks. Gotta have some good Birkies!

[As I shake my head in confusion…]

DF: I’ve got pretty feet too…so um… yeah.

GK: Outside of music, do you do anything else?

 DF: I’m a father. I have two kids. That’s a real deal job.

GK: That’s what I hear.

 DF: It is. Ain’t no off shit. I have days where I don’t work on music, but I can never not talk to my kids. That shit’s every day. I am a father. Also, I got a boys group. Me and my boys volunteer at the Bruns Academy down in Charlotte with the kids and shit. We attend basketball games and spelling bees and then we do random pop ups, but it’s no curriculum. We try to teach character building skills, because I think it’s important that these kids have character building skills.

GK: Nice… What grades are the boys in that you all work with?

 DF: 3rd through 8th grade

GK: Dope. Ok… let’s talk travel. You travel a lot. What’s the most disappointing city that you’ve ever been to and why?

DF: Hmmm. I can’t really say. Anywhere I’ve travelled to and stayed for a significant amount of time, I’ve enjoyed.

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Deniro Farrar in Dubai

GK: Really?

DF: Yeah, because I’m in my own world. Even when I was in LA. I don’t do LA shit. I be with my people and do what I like to do. I go to the beach. Exercise. I’m in my own world.

 GK: So basically, you do you, regardless of the city?

DF: Facts.

GK: What is the last city that you couch-surfed in and why?

 DF: I just couch surfed in Philly…mmm well more so I couch surfed through LA…through and through.

GK: Have you traveled to a city for business or pleasure that you would pick up and move to in a heartbeat? If so, why that city?

 DF: LA… wait… and live? No. Colorado Springs! They’ve got reservoirs in their backyard. Like natural spring water and shit. And they have weed-infused restaurants there. That shit is levels up. Even though I didn’t try anything there.

GK: Wait. What? Why?

 DF: Because I don’t smoke or drink. I feel paranoid when I smoke so I don’t do it.

GK: Really! I don’t smoke weed either. I feel dumb when I smoke it.

[Slight bonding took place in that moment. Imagine a fist bump between us.]

GK: What’s your take on marriage?

 DF: Mmmm… I was just talking about getting married yesterday. I’m about to get married.

[The look he gave me made me realize that he was being sarcastic AF.]

GK: Ok. Polygamy or Monogamy?

 DF: Is this a rhetorical question? You want me to answer…

LISTEN TO HIS RESPONSE…

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GK: Hmmm…You may be a little bit more African than you think!

 DF: Well… I do have a little African in me. Hysterically laughing he roars… ”Mandingo!”

[Hysterical laughter takes over as Deniro’s manager just shakes his head]

GK: What do you know about the tribes?

DF: I come from them.

 GK: Oh my God! You are wild!

[But…he’s right.  He comes from one of those tribes.  After I catch my breath from laughing I realize, this guy is crazy AF]

GK: Do you think you can have your career and marriage simultaneously?

 DF: Yeah. I’m not marrying any woman who doesn’t align with what I got going on. If she ain’t supportive, I can’t fuck with it. That’s like a guy marrying a stripper then telling her, “ You can’t strip no more.” The stripper is probably thinkin’, when you met me I was strippin’. Just ‘cause we got married, doesn’t mean I don’t strip no more. That means that our marriage comes with conditions.

GK: What do you do to have fun | unwind?

DF: It depends. Hanging with my kids. That’s fun. Doing nothin’ is fun to me. I enjoy being by myself.

GK: Are you an introvert?

 DF: Sometimes. I enjoy when I can be.

GK: How does it affect your creative flow?

 DF: It doesn’t. I’m such a people person and I am always around people’s energy. I need time to myself. Being around people can be drainin’. I’ll sit in the room and watch Netflix, or read. Yeah. I need that shit.

GK: What book are you reading right now?

 DF: The Leader of the Dojo and 66 Days of Drift

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Deniro Farrar Reads Books

GK: Would you recommend these books to other people?

 DF: I would recommend The Leader of the Dojo.

GK: Let’s talk music. I heard that you are back in the studio. Outside of New York, where are you currently recording?

DF: Philly! The City of Brotherly Love.

GK: Can you tell me who you are recording with?

 DF: A bunch of young bulls!

(Laughter Erupts)

DF: Nah… I’m in the studio with YaMean All World, Scott Stallone, & Samori Coles

GK: Name at least 3 Artists that you have collaborated with on previous projects?

 DF: (Manager whispers Gucci)… Yeah… no. I mean… Gucci and I have that song together, but I don’t consider it to be collaboration. Denzel Curry, Ryan Hemsworth… Trinidad James. These are people that I… like… sat down with.

GK: Where do you foresee your music endeavors within the next 6 months?

DF: Well… I’m in the studio. We are going to release this album and then be on the road. I consider SXSW on the road, so it’s coming to fruition.

GK: When is SXSW again?

DF: March

 GK: What do you think defines an Indie Artist? What do you consider yourself?

DF: A signed artist. I mean I still make independent moves. We’re moving independently, but what would define an independent artist is (having) no major support.

 Because it seems weird. There’s a lot of ‘Independent (Artists)’ with big-wig connections. You’re not really independent. Independent is like a nigga in the city in the trenches on some Master P out the trunk shit, really getting it off the ground. You got niggas that upload their own shit, put their own shows on, sell their own music, that’s independent. I used to be independent, but I’m not independent no more. I was independent before I got with Warner. But we still move independently.

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Deniro Farrar is signed to Warner Bros.

GK: Do you believe that you have maximized the potential to earn income from your craft?

 DF: No. I’ve begun to scratch the surface…in a way. In 2016, I started to understand that I could be a real brand. I can be more than just a rapper. Once the music gets really big, I can venture off and go do other things. That’s why I’m with the fitness and the books. Q & As at schools and shit. I want to go to schools to talk about life. Like Lauren Hill … Jungle Pussy. Jungle Pussy did a Q & A recently at Yale and Harvard. I was like…wow… that’s crazy. I think I can do that.

GK: What would you want people to know about you?

[With a slight lean back in his chair, his nose pointed up at the sky and his eyes closed, he gives his gigantic free-form locs a slight shake like he’s in a Pantene Shampoo Commercial. Seriously.]

 DF: I’m fabulous. I’m an amazing person, you know. I’m very honest. I’m super honest with women.

[I stop typing…look him in the retina… and stare with a smirk of skepticism…thinking… “What is this ‘rapper’ talking about?”]

DF: Over the past year, I’ve developed an appreciation for being honest with women.

[Hey Reader, imagine that I just texted you. You just received the iPhone Eyes emoji. Is this dude serious?]

GK: Oh yeah?  

[My tone is testy.  Testy AF.  But I am a professional.]

GK: How has your life changed now that you are super honest with women? Since you felt compelled to say that, please explain.

DF: Because I was always honest with women I didn’t care too much about, but women that I fucked with I would lie to. I felt a lot of women couldn’t deal with the truth. I was always honest, but when they start feeling a certain type of way about me, I would feel like I needed to omit certain shit. Like, if I tell you everything, you take it differently now and stay in your feelings because we are at a different level versus when we weren’t at this level yet. I used to tell half-truths. Then just full lies. The more I would get invested, the less I would want to hurt them. But then I would lie to them, which ended up hurting them more. So now, I’m just like fuck it. I’m not lying to nobody. No more. If I have to tell you the truth and you are in your feelings about it…ok. So what? Fine. But you can’t say that I lied to you.

GK: Hmmm.  Do you feel liberated?

DF: I already felt liberated. Now I feel like the weight of lying is now off of my shoulders.

GK: What motivated this?

DF: Parting ways with my ex-girlfriend was the motivation to change.

[The room goes silent. Is he going to talk about an ex with me?]

DF: Um…yeah. So… Can I get some of that Peanut Butter Stew for the road or what?


The most controversial music video of 2017 came from the Creative named Deniro Farrar.

” I feel like this is necessary for the times we are in right now. Gentrification is everywhere — from the boroughs of NYC to the inner city streets of the Carolinas and beyond.
It’s time we realize what’s happening and start investing back into our communities so we can own buildings and businesses. Even though the government will keep raising property taxes we still have to keep up — I know we can… we just got to do it.
Shout out to Moonlight but this right here is the real best film.” – Deniro Farrar
Deniro Farrar- Gentrification
Watch The Controversial Video Gentrification

Follow Deniro on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER.  

He is the Leader of Cult Rap, and he drinks water.


Deniro Farrar does dinner with THE CHORD  Writer | Designer Gayima

Sam Trump’s Love Notes is Sophisticated Soul

Listening to LOVE NOTES is as if I had coffee with an old soul named Love and he shared his thoughts with me before beginning his day. Giving listeners a beautiful range of vocals in the form of sophisticated soul, Recording Artist Sam Trump delivers again. Calvin Valentine’s delivers excellent production, allowing the listener to enjoy the sensual instrumentation, while highlighting Sam Trump’s versatility on the trumpet. The feeling of fondness for that special someone is wrapped into LOVE NOTES, the perfect gift, especially on Valentine’s Day.screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-10-36-13-am

In 2016, I attended a video premier series that featured work by Sam Trump who is currently based in Chicago, Illinois. His energy struck a chord with me when I first watched the video for his hit single BROTHER. I had the pleasure of catching up with the Creative days before the release of the project LOVE NOTES. As you download and listen to LOVE NOTES, enjoy my conversation with Sam, aka Mr. Love Note.


 

GK: I appreciate you taking a moment out of your hectic schedule to catch up. Let’s get into it! How would you like to be classified?

ST: Recording Artist/Entrepreneur

 GK: Where are you from?

ST: Houston, TX

GK: What Art/Music School did you attend (if any)?

ST: Columbia College Chicago

GK: How many music projects have you released?

ST: 2 EP’s (Making Music Like It’s Love Vol.1 – 2009 & Sam Trump Plays The Uke – 2013) – Next EP (LOVE NOTES – EP) Feb 14th

GK: Name at least 3 artists that you have collaborated on songs |music projects with?

ST: I’ve released a good amount of my catalogue with Calvin Valentine (LA Producer).  I’ve also collaborated with Thelonious Martin (Chicago Producer) & recorded trumpet on a song with Add-2 and Grammy Award Winner, Rapsody.

GK: Nice! Have you been on tour?  If so, where?

ST: My band Sidewalk Chalk has been touring throughout North America for the last three years. We are about to release our fourth album.

GK: I loved seeing Sidewalk Chalk perform at AFROPUNK Brooklyn a few years ago. Speaking of… New York is an epic city to perform in as a Recording Artist. What venues in NYC have you headlined at or do you headline at? 

ST: My band Sidewalk Chalk has played at The Knitting Factory, Santos Party House, Brooklyn Bowl

GK: What venue in NYC would you like to headline at? 

ST: Brooklyn Bowl!

GK: When in The City, have you ever performed on public trains/platforms?

ST: No…


Please note: I, Gayima, predict that Sam Trump will perform in a NYC platform before the end of 2017. My two cents.


 GK: What city was the most disappointing and why? 

ST: Once Sidewalk Chalk visited Tulsa, OK and there were four people in the audience. Four. The room was a decent size, too. It was disappointing to travel all day from the previous city to perform for an empty venue! Before the show, the band agreed to go full out despite the lack of people, and we had a whole lot of fun. Those four people were turnt too!


I love that Sam Trump and his band made lemonade out of lemons. Don’t you?


GK: Are you a Dog or Cat person? 

ST: I’m cool with either and I have no preference. I’d actually prefer to the be the one petted often, but in the form of a massage lol.

(iPhone eyes Ladies!)

GK: What is the last city that you couch-surfed in and why? 

ST: Minnesota. Sidewalk Chalk taught a master class at BSM School.

GK: As we approach your release date for your new project, which “happens” to be Valentine’s Day, what’s your take on marriage? Polygamy or Monogamy? 

ST: I’m naturally drawn to monogamy when in a relationship, and I believe in marriage. That’s just my take on it, my preference.

GK: Do you think your career and marriage simultaneously is possible? 

ST: Yes, anything is possible with strong will, and favor.

GK: Who do you think you were in a past life?

ST: I think that life is now. I am Sam Trump.

GK: Since music is your life, what do you do to have fun | unwind? 

ST: Well, life is already fun because I’m doing what I love, however I do like to check out artistic events around Chicago and gain inspiration from others. I like to hang out with folks in a chill atmosphere and converse/interact. There are some folks I like to hang with in a group setting, and there are others that I enjoy one on one. Some of the one on one convos evolve into brainstorming sessions where we end up collaborating on an idea. That’s how #productionCOLORS and #ChiBrations formed – I am the co-founder of both of these new, Chicago-based organizations.

GK: Have you travelled to a city for your craft that you would pick up and move to in a heartbeat? 

ST: Detroit shows me MAD LOVE! I don’t think I would necessarily pick up and move there though because Chicago is where I’ve been building, and things are just starting to pick up. Besides, when I’m only in town for one big show, people come out, and that strategy is important when establishing a buzz within another city’s scene – creating a demand for your presence. Bigs ups to Darnell Kendricks for bringing me out there!

GK: Where do you foresee your music endeavors within the next 6 months? 

ST: Wow, I don’t know. Anything’s possible at this moment with the many irons I have in the fire. Sidewalk Chalk is planning to tour sometime this year when our fourth album drops, so I’m sure within the next six months we will be on the road somewhere performing the new ish! I can only guarantee that within that timeframe, there will be more music created, and that I will improve at executing my art and establishing my brand because I do this daily.

GK: What do you think defines an Indie Artist? 

ST: I would say that an Indie Artist is one who, along with writing and recording music, carries out label duties to further establish the artist’s brand and presence on a given scene. An Indie Artist does many or all of these things: promotion, design, booking, branding, band operations, finances, publicity, managing.

GK: Do you believe that you have maximized the potential to earn income from your art?

ST: No, I think there is a lot of room to maximize my earning potential from my art. Recently, a fan took me under his wing to offer up advice on writing business plans for my ideas and get funding to support them. This is the first step towards increasing my earning potential.

GK:  Thank you for your energy.  I imagine LOVE NOTES will strike a chord in many.

ST:  Thank you!  This was dope.


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LOVE NOTES

Now available for streaming and download on iTunes & Bandcamp.

 

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Sam Trump by Nijole Shuberg Photography

 

The 6th Annual African Diaspora Awards: Celebrating the Achievements of Africans

The Honorees

They Inspire. They Motivate. They Break New Ground.

From global community service to innovative initiatives; literary accomplishments to mass media presence, interwoven with musical geniuses, Applause Africa’s African Diaspora Awards celebrates the accomplishments of each honoree for their outstanding achievements and contributions to our global community.


 

On a chilly evening in early December, I left my cozy tiny space in Brooklyn, New York to join my good friend, one of the founders of the music genre Hiplife , Legendary DJ Producer Rab Bakari, and attend the 2016 African Diaspora Awards in Manhattan. I had never attended so I was not sure what to expect. However, when a true Renaissance Man like Rab says you should attend an event, you attend the event.

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Hiplife Co-Founder Rab Bakari

The event was held at the Florence Gould Hall in Manhattan, New York City. With early arrival, each guest experienced the red carpet and cocktail hour followed by the main event. As we transitioned to the auditorium for the main event, the event host, the infamous Comedian, Dulo, welcomed us. After complimenting the audience on their attire, a mixture of style and elegance that showcased classic European looks as well as African-Inspired fabrics and designs; he quickly captivated the audience with his high-energy punch lines and hilarious stories throughout the program.

Side Note: If you are not following Dulo on Instagram for a daily dose of his African Fada shenanigans, you are depriving yourself. Don’t you like to laugh?


Five Highlights that Made the ADA A Bit Magical

Each person honored was undoubtedly deserving of his or her honor. However, I had my favorite moments throughout the show.

1) When the Award Presenters for Advocate of the Year Award Made Us Shout Laugh

With the recent results of the presidential election in the US, the presenters entered the stage dramatically with traveling bags and suitcases. Why? One word. Trump. The crowd erupted in laughter! All jokes aside, it was wonderful to learn about the work that Mamadou Samba is doing in Washington, DC. He is a true civil rights advocate for the African Diaspora.

2) When the Person of the Year Award is nothing but Luvvable

From hilarious television show recaps to Open Memorandums that address the foul behavior of racist law enforcement officials, Luvvie Ajayi tells you what she thinks, unapologetically and with a side-eye that surpasses all side-eyes. Cheering her on as she won Person of the Year Award was one of my favorite moments, because I can actually say we are friends. A Nigerian-born, American-raised Black Woman, Luvvie oozes #blackgirlmagic, recently celebrating her new book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, becoming a New York Times Best Seller! If you don’t have your copy yet, treat yourself or someone that you judge to this book. It is one of the best!

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3) Because the Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient was the Wisest Person in the Building

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin has accomplished so much over the course of 40 years as a medical doctor, but when he spoke to the crowd, he shared his commitment to help every one of his fellow honorees achieve their goals and missions. He said that it is up to him and people like him to help ensure that the new leaders have the proper connections and resources to lead and be successful, and that he will do his part to help. What if all of our elders held that frame of mind?  What a class act.

4) Owen Says, “A Talking Drum Player Must Introduce Me”

The Musical Performances were great all night, but when Owen Egharevba played that talking drum & his dancers entered stage left, they gave me something for my soul! Click here to see what I mean!

 

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Afrobeats Superstar Sarkodie

 

5) Sarkodie! What Else?

At the end of a beautiful night of celebration, many were excited to head to the after-party. Then Sarkodie enters from stage left and it was epic!  He had the crowd up out of their seats and dancing.  I never would have guessed that he was such a quiet gentleman.  If you aren’t familiar with Sarkodie, now is the time.  He is one of the most talented rappers alive, not just in Africa.

 

 


A Message from Applause Africa Founder| CEO Dabo Folorunsho

As the founder extended his vote of thanks to attendees for their support, he made sure that he shared the credit of curating such a well-organized event by calling key members of his team to the stage.

His team delivered a message that left the audience in reflection: Consider getting involved in your local politics instead of just focusing on politics in your home country. Shouldn’t you advocate for your rights where you actually live? A quiet gasp erupted, but the audience listened… intrigued. Then the audience was introduced to Charles Cooper, and we all sat up a little straighter in our chairs and paid attention.

Charles Cooper is an active candidate for City Council District 9 in Harlem New York, and is getting involved. Originally from Liberia, West Africa, Cooper is a businessman and community leader ready to serve Harlem New York as their next City Councilman.

“Our forefathers were taught that education would create parity with those that once ruled them. They had us, and indoctrinated us with the same beliefs, but decades later not much has changed-the rulers are still the rulers and Africa is still being exploited. However… there are those of us who are awakened and realize that parity doesn’t happen without economic liberties, and sustained by active civic engagement.”

– Charles Cooper, 2017 Candidate, City Council District 9, New York, New York

To learn more about Cooper and support his campaign, click here.


 

I must admit, the African Diaspora Awards was more than a little bit.  Supporting the Annual African Diaspora Awards means that you support high excellence and achievements of Africans in the Diaspora.

So my question to you is, “What are you wearing to the 7th Annual African Diaspora Awards?”

Gayima

Eliki: A Songstress for Your Soul

Eliki, a Chicago native and world-traveling artist is known for her sweet and soulful tone. A Chicago native, Eliki grew up in a home filled with Greek culture and musical inspiration. After attending Columbia College & DePaul University where she studied Jazz and Acting, she moved to New York City to pursue her vision of success, sharing her gift of singing with the world. She has released at least 20 projects, collaborating with artists such as Ski Beatz, Nitty Scott MC, and DJ Amore. Her projects have garnered the attention of producers in New York City and as far as Johannesburg, South Africa. She has toured in Europe, providing lead background vocals for the Lakecia Benjamin European Tour in 2016 and has performed in New York on stages headlining at SOB’s, LPR, and Jazz at Lincoln Center to name a few.

With all of those accolades, one would think that she would be famous… regularly on your T.V. screen, opening for your favorite music performer or something? Right? Amazingly enough, Eliki has become best known for serenading New York City on the Transit Lines. Yep. She has garnered the attention of millions of tourists, residents and aliens passing through New York City over the course of 6 years, performing on the platforms and trains of the subways, serenading them with her soulful sounds.


I met Eliki about a year after she started doing her thing on the train, and couldn’t stop thinking, “She is crazy AF”. As we shared chips and guacamole over dinner with mutual friends, I was in awe. She is such a natural beauty, inside and out, yet she is incredibly humble and wise, constantly praising others and acknowledging their greatness, sharing amazing stories and her quiet wisdom… listening with intensity to every word that she hears. She might be crazy AF, but she’s so dope. I am constantly learning something from Eliki every time we hang out, but at times before it is truly visible. Her spirit overflows with love and gratitude, despite the daily struggles of living in New York City as a Creative.


She struck a chord with me, so I invited her to share her energy with you.


Gayima: Let’s get into it!  What kind of drugs do you like?

Eliki: Ha! Green. All day.

Gayima: Dog or Cat?

Eliki: I love Dogs. My Dog’s name is Vega. She’s a spaniel and you can find her in my videos.

Gayima: Shoe brand of choice?

Eliki: I’ve been wearing Chucks lately, but I will always love Converse & Adidas.

Gayima: The last city you couch surfed in and why?

Eliki: Oh. Detroit with my homegril Erica Peeples. We met at Columbia and I always end up on someone’s couch when we drive back Midwest. She and I have had some fun times. We attract fun moments. Shout out to E who will be starring in the feature film True to the Game.

Gayima: The wildest thing you’ve ever done to make money?

Eliki: Playing on the Trains of New York. I get this rush every time, but I love it!

Gayima: Now the fun stuff.  What’s your take on marriage?

Eliki: It’s possible. (Long stare…deep sigh).

Gayima: Do you think music and marriage go together?

Eliki: Yes, but you need a partner and friend who can be a fierce lover. Not as easy as it seems but possible.

Gayima: Polygamous or Monogamy?

Eliki: Ask me in a year… Yeah lol

Gayima: What is the most interesting way that you have met someone that inspired your music?

Eliki: I was walking home from a long shift at Birdland it was August 2008. I was their youngest manager. It was Monday because I came from Cast Party that night. The owner Gianni let me sing. When I finished I was high off life. We closed. I made my way out but something told me to walk it so  I bought myself a daisy and walked to Union Square from 45th. I bought a loose, a nasty habit NYC gifted me with. I took off my shoes to rub my feet on a what seemed to be an empty set of stairs in front of Whole Foods on 14th. I was so damned tired before heading back on the train to Bensundhurst. But I lit the cigarette and looked up at the sky. I wanted to zone out. Feel free. I started thinking about my life and it’s direction, I was unwinding. All of the sudden I heard “What are you doing?” I said thinking. Then we locked eyes, this handsome mohawk stylin’ NYC skateboarder said stop thinking so much and come with me we’ll watch the sunrise at Coney Island! I don’t know how to explain it but I saw his soul and it was like we picked up where we left off another life perhaps. So I said sure, and so we did. The ride I hated became filled with chemistry and movie word exchanges. It was synchronicity at it’s finest. When we got to the water it was as if that beach had been waiting for us since it was made. We kissed on the rocks there. Sandpipers were chasing waves. It was surreal.  The Wonder Wheel was right behind us. It didn’t seem real. Never have I ever or will I ever be so taken as I was by him and that beautiful night.  When I write about love he’s always so obviously there. He was beautiful.  He was my muse for a few years and will always be an inspiration in one way or another as he died tragically in 2015. But I’m grateful because he taught me love and now he lives in my songs! RIP Travis Daniel Beckwith thanks for your undying inspiration.

(This gave me chills.  This struck a chord.  Ya’ll should hear one of her new songs inspired by him… sigh).

Gayima: Since music is your life, what do you do to have fun | unwind?

Eliki: I like to go chill out at Soul In the Horn. DProsper and Natasha Diggs create a magical place. It’s still music, but I usually just chill and dance and enjoy the energy of the people there. It’s dope.

Gayima: Have you travelled to a city for your craft that you would pick up and move to in a heartbeat?

Eliki: Yes! Brussles. It’s amazing! It’s a city filled with people like us. Creatives. And their art is embraced and respected. The city is beautiful and historic, and rich in history and personality. It’s charming. I love it. I was so sad when they bombed that airport. That place is so beautiful.

Gayima: What city was the most disappointing and why?

Eliki: Paris. Everyone outside of music venues were not cool. They weren’t “Smurfy” (lol). They were extremely rude and snobbish if you didn’t speak French. I had heard that they were like this, but I didn’t want to believe it. However, I experienced myself and was extremely disappointed.

Gayima: Where do you foresee your music endeavors within the next 6 months?

Eliki: Releasing new music and traveling to perform.

Gayima: What do you think defines an Indie Artist?

Eliki: A muthafuckin’ hustla that can earn money from their talent.

Gayima: Do you believe that you have maximized the potential to earn income from your art?

Eliki: No.  I’m scratching the surface. It’s a hustle. I lived off my art for 6 years but recently took on a part time to help push my music.

Gayima: What advice would you share with other Indie Artists?

Eliki: Listen this is a hard business. Take care of your voice. Never give up on yourself. Invest in your music because nobody will do it for you. Work and collab with anyone you see fit. You never know where it can take you. Keep an open mind. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! Don’t give it away… as my homie Leah Beabout would say!

Gayima: Thank you for your energy. You have always struck a chord with me.

Eliki: Awwww. You’re so great. I love you man. You’re so dope!


Eliki shares her gift on Instagram and Facebook. Follow her and receive your dose of Eliki Energy every day. If you’re in NYC, keep your eyes up and ears open. You may see her performing around a city subway station near you… if not a stage in your city.

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Trenchcoat Gang

Eliki is also a founding member of the Leather Trench Coat Mafia.

21

It was as if God grabbed the back of my neck and pushed me to feel every possible emotion that I encountered at peak level, then forced me to look at myself in the mirror and reflect on each emotion. It was so intense and revealing that I almost had a breakdown. Almost. Instead, love held me up. Self-love and the love of family and friends held me up… and I don’t take any of it for granted. Although I ordered “The Seat of the Soul” by Gary Zukav in March of this year, I finally picked it and started reading it as a birthday gift to myself. Thanks to the forewords written by Oprah Winfrey and the Late Maya Angelou, I now know how important this body of work is that I am about to read; how important it to allow my personality to serve my soul, unapologetically. What is refreshing thus far is that this book completely validates some of the huge changes that I have made in my life. It also is showing me how much I don’t know about my potential and myself.


Each day I learned the following:

Day 1: True loves exists and when it is witnessed, it evokes an array of emotions. Did you miss the #foreverduncan story? People love a good love story. People also hate a good love story. It was fascinating to watch it happen and all of the aftermath on the Internet. Do what you love with the right intentions. It may lead to viral exposure. It may not.

Day 2: The Internet is an external power with the ability to alter your life and the lives of people around you, if you allow it. However going viral doesn’t mean going wealthy. Create a plan to build and acquire wealth. The Internet should be a resource in your plan, not the plan.

Day 3: I want to be wealthy and live and work in spaces where my personality serves my soul and I fulfill my purpose(s). This is my definition of happiness and I am in the pursuit of it. It will take time, but I will accomplish it. Learn what your personal philosophy is. Then live by it.

Day 4: My fear of fame is rooted in the fear to fail and be shamed for failing. I know that I will fail at something relative to what I do and who I am, and I know that someone will shame me for it. I will get through my fear of fame though. Identify your fears. Then work at overcoming them.

Day 5: The people who consistently love me despite my failures are the people who get to provide me with feedback and commentary when a failure occurs. They know who they are. Everyone else… the strongest “Nope” is what you will receive from me when you try me. Be mindful of who deserves to live in your inner circle. They should not be ‘yes men’. ‘Yes men’ will lead you to failure.

Day 6: If you need help, do not be afraid to ask for help. Feeling ashamed to ask for help is stupid. If your intention when asking for help is good and genuine, you will be sent the right person(s) that can help you to become successful.

Day 7: As I continue to build this company with my siblings, we move forward knowing that we must work with people who believe in the brand and our evolving vision for it. Involving people who solely believe in your ability to put money in their pockets is detrimental.   As tempting as it can be, say “Nope” to collaborators and investors that are sharks, regardless of what they offer.

Day 8: You need love to feed your soul, so that when hate appears, your love armor will stop the hate from taking over. Allow love to manifest in your life. Understand that real love is about giving love abundantly, not just receiving it.

Day 9: Never stop appreciating your friends and family. Ever. Make time for them and give them your undivided attention while you communicate with them. Also, your friends can be your family and your family can be your friends.

Day 10: As a leader in business, you must have a team of subject matter experts that are fulfilling their purpose when they are doing work for you. {Refer to Day 3} Otherwise things will fall apart and you will be left to clean up their mess.

Day 11: Value the goods and services you offer the way that you value yourself. Don’t compromise yourself. Don’t compromise your offerings.

Day 12: Practice good habits that will strengthen your spirit, personality and body… in that order. Begin with listening to positive affirmations when you start your day. Do not underestimate how powerful words can be, especially when you don’t hear them.

Day 13: If you need more time to meet someone’s expectation, communicate that as quickly as you can. You create more disappointment than you probably anticipated if you wait to communicate, or do not communicate at all.

Day 14: Make yourself physically available when it is necessary. When it is not, spend time with yourself. You deserve “you” time, and you don’t have to justify it to anyone.

Day 15: #Blackgirlmagic is more than a hashtag; it is a powerful way of thinking that can curate movements, events, and overall success of people… when it is used for good. I have the pleasure of being apart of collectives like The SABA Collective, MindHERBusiness, and Barter Babes curated by beautiful, wonderful women that I am in partnership with. I overflow with #blackgirlmagic and commit to only use it for good. Respect #blackgirlmagic.

Day 16: As an entrepreneur, your spirit is constantly being tested by distractions that could lead to failure. Be mindful that multiple opportunities to earn income may not be a distraction if the opportunities align with your purpose. {Revisit my Day 3 folks…}

Day 17: If you can communicate with someone with a method that allows you to see them while you speak with them, do so. Google Hangout and FaceTime are an enhancement to my life. It makes it a little easier on me, because I miss being in the physical presence of so many people in my life. I love a lot of folks.

Day 18: Along the same vein of Day 17, do not depend solely on Facebook to let you know when someone who you care about has a birthday coming up. Sit down at some point of the year and add important birthdays to your personal calendar. Then contact them on their birthday. You never know… it could be the last time that you both communicate.

Day 19: Visit a hospital and watch someone lay still, connected to life support machines with little hope of recovery. As you stare in awe at the concert of machines and tubes working to keep this person alive, you will wonder if they applied Day 3 to their life. Also, if you love that person that is on life support, you will probably cry the most tears you have ever cried in your life and think about your own mortality. Next level: take all of this anguish and call a parent to express your sadness only to find out that they are also in the hospital. When I say you will fall into a kick-in-the-gut crying spell! Unless you are a robot. It is okay to ugly cry and be afraid. You are entitled to be in the moment and express your emotions, even the sad ones. Besides, you already know not to take people in your life for granted… especially your parents…right?

Day 20: The spirit is immortal. Allow your spirit to dictate how you live. It will keep you close to God and far from foolery. Don’t forget that you will die though, so consider living a life that involves Day 3. Feeling like a broken record right about now… but oh well. It is what it is.

Day 21: Adulting is HARD AF. There is quite a bit to navigate through and figure out. Sometimes you’re going to fail. Other times, you are going to achieve. Sometimes people who you love stop loving you. Sometimes you will stop loving someone. Life can suck. When you fail, be real with yourself about the failure, but get back up. That way, when you achieve, you celebrate without hesitation, because you know that you worked for it and it is well deserved.


My October smacked me in the face with 21 lessons in the most amazing way. All of the emotions you can think of were felt, but on the 21st day, I felt nothing but love. I traveled; I was treated extremely well by strangers as well as by my loved ones. I even was loved on by some new loves. Yep, it is what it is! I meditated. I put on make-up and dressed in a fancy vintage dress. I drank, and danced. I was filmed and pictured. I read some of the best text messages. I was hugged and kissed, and was hugged and kissed again. I woke up to love notes from sisters in my life and I finally cried a joyous cry again. I watched videos sent to me and read every message left on my Facebook wall. I was showered with love in various ways and I am so thankful. As I sit, overflowing with love, my intention is to pass this love on to whoever is ready to receive it. Cheers to the pursuit of happiness and the infusion of love while doing it.

Live. Love. Laugh.  ~Miss GK~

Featured Image: Courtesy of Dior Davis Photography

I’m Judging You: A Fashionable Side-Eye that Provides a Dose of Good for the Soul

Would it kill labels and retailers to make clothes for women of all shapes and sizes? The afterthought of “curvy” collections at most retailers is insulting; the lines lack inspiration and fit.

~Luvvie Ajayi, Author | Side-Eye Curator~

Luvvie Ajayi is the author of I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual that I am celebrating! She describes herself as a Nigerian-born, American-raised Black woman and she has a lot to say about what is going on in today’s world.  As a United States-born, Sierra Leonean-raised Black woman, the moment I read her blog, I instantly got pulled into her quick wit and wordplay on real issues and real foolishness on the internet.  Luvvie needs a standing ovation for her courage to deliver her opinion in a comedic, turn-paging, side eyeing, much needed rant about the daily shenanigans of the world we live in.

Luvvie discusses a lot of issues in her book that many call ‘real talk’. The sickness that plagues “’Murica” called racism; The amazement of watching a friend work through dating a horrible man that offers amazing penile pleasure; Self-awareness about being late and the importance of your shoe game. Important issues. In between all of these issues, she took a moment to address the fashion industry and it’s inability to do the right thing by consistent inclusion of all body types when releasing new collections at the most important presentations like New York Fashion Week. Like ra-aaaaaaa-in,  I was reading this chapter while sitting on the train heading to New York Fashion Week.  In between events and shoots, I’m still reading too. Judge me.

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In between looks at a shoot, I read, and my photographer caught me! #shrugs

 Couture

Definition: The design and manufacture of fashionable clothes to a client’s specific requirements and measurements. Fashionable made-to-measure clothes.


See what Google said?  By definition, couture is fashionable clothing created based on the client’s measurements, and words mean things. Yet, unless you dig deeply, fashion is limited to a particular size and body type. Our brand has not yet joined the ranks of those that present regularly at NYFW, but when we do, our presentation will include designs that will be modeled by women and men with various body types and they will look fashionable and amazing in each design. The fact is: fashion belongs to everyone, not just those who fit a certain size and body structure. Everyone deserves to look good and feel good in what they wear. Everyone.

Style does not have to go on vacation just because designers need to use more material and a modicum of tailoring skill. Sheesh.

~Luvvie Ajayi, Author | Side-Eye Curator~

Shout out to Luvvie for addressing this in her first book, and shout out to the universe for ensuring that her book’s launch date aligned with New York Fashion Week. I hope more designers read this book. We all need to do better, especially when it comes to fashion and the perception of body image.  Imagine what the fashion world would look like if inclusion was a priority to the decision makers and trendsetters in the fashion industry.

Start doing better by ordering your copy of her book.  Also, if you need something couture to wear that looks fly, check us out. We know what the definition of Couture means and we are expanding our offerings because of it.

Order your copy today!  Don’t make me judge you.

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~Miss GK~