What I’m Reading: Citizen: An American Lyric

I’m not exactly sure how to describe Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, but I can say that I can’t put the book down.  I’m a few pages away from finishing it (devoured it in 3 days) and it resonated deeply with my being as a black woman.  Her combination of poetry, essays and what I would call think pieces weave together to form an intricate and important collection of timely work in a society undoubtedly fueled by race. 


Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.


What I’m Listening To

I must admit, I was SO against these music streaming platforms but I love having access to thousands of new music selections daily.  

Lalah Hathaway Honestly

I love this album.  One word that I can use to describe the sound of the entire album is digital.  Lalah is known for her sultry soulful melodies but this project seems to take a new direction that is definitely welcomed.  Standouts for myself include “change ya life”, “what u need” “y o y” and “let it go”.

Rhyon Pretty Girl

I don’t know how I stumbled upon Rhyon’s “California” but as soon as I watched the video I remembered her from the highly rated yet short lived tv series Lincoln Heights.  She also recently starred in Surviving Compton as Michel’le.  I had no idea that she was a singer in real life!  I instantly feel in love with “California” and decided to give her album a try and it did not disappoint. 


Jhene Aiko Trip

I love Jhene Aiko.  Some people are on the fence about her but I’m here for her music so I was pleasantly surprised when she dropped her latest album Trip a few weeks back. Her honesty in her music is one of the main reasons why I can relate to it and her as an artist.  Dealing with the recent deaths of two family members back to back, I can relate to the concept and overall vibe of this album.  Along with the new album, there’s also a short film and book of poetry that can be pre ordered here.    Standouts: the whole album is one giant standout however she’s talking that good ‘ole SHIT on “Never Call Me”.  Give it a listen.   


What I’m Listening To: H.E.R. & Zonnique

I don’t claim to keep up with any of the music that the young folk are bumping, at least not the rap music.  I couldn’t tell you who Lil Uzi Vert is, what Lil Yachy sings (raps…whatever) or what Future or Migos latest hits are and I’m OKAY with that.  It’s not for me, that is until I’ve had a few drinks or am at a club listening to their music at obnoxious levels because everything sounds AMAZING in the club at 2am.  I do however seem to appreciate some of the r&b that’s being created by a couple of young ladies.

I recently discovered the sounds of an artist named H.E.R (twitter is good for something).  What initially attracted me to the artist was the mystique of H.E.R.’s Vol. 1 ep cover, a simple silhouette of a woman against a blue background.  I quickly discovered that the artwork added to the mysterious story of the woman behind it.  Upon the release of her ep, her record label (RCA) sent out her promotional package with no information or photos of the artist.  She dropped her ep, shook up the world and had everyone from Alicia Keys to Wyclef Jean talking about H.E.R. but no one knew who she was!  Well, not exactly.  A few Google searches and I found who most believe the mystery woman is *spoiler alert, this isn’t her first rodeo*.  I spent the past weekend absorbing the 6 song EP and I love it!  Her music is smooth, sensual and addictive.  I’m no music journalist, so I’ll skip further trying to explain why I enjoy the ep, I just do.  It sounds good to me and left me wanting more.  Luckily, Vol. 2 is set to be released June 2nd and can be pre ordered here.  Give it a listen.  

Ever since I began my Tidal subscription I’ve been more open to trying new music that I probably wouldn’t have had it not been for its availability through the app.  Occasionally, I make my way to the “Tidal Rising” section which features young up and coming musical talent and a young lady by the name of Zonnique caught my attention.  What really caught my eye was the name of her ep: Love Jones.  “What this girl know about Love Jones?” is what I was really thinking.   The title alone seems like enough to generate interest from an older crowd and I fell for it hook, line and sinker.  While listening, I discovered that she’s the 21 year old daughter of Tameka “Tiny” Cottle of the r&b group Xscape and step daughter of rapper T.I.  Love Jones is the opposite of H.E.R.’s Vol. 1.  It’s fast paced, catchy and has just the right balance of energy and melody.  There’s no doubt that having the talent of her parental unit added to the sonic success of the project.  After learning who she was, I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that I couldn’t get enough of the ep.  Purchase or stream the project and let me know what you think.  Happy listening 🙂

What I’m listening to: NAO “For All We Know”

I’m a little tardy to the party on this one but better late than never.  NAO hails from East London and might not be a new name to many but she is to me and her debut album For All We Know which dropped back in 2016 has been in heavy rotation in my household.  I was first introduced to the artist, who for some reason I assumed was a band and not a solo artist, via a playlist on Tidal.  NAO’s song “Girlfriend” was on the playlist and I instantly fell in love with her high pitched melodic tone.  I really thought (and still do think) her voice was the product of a producer or engineer going a little too heavy on the effects, but it worked and I loved it. Whether it’s all her or a creative enhancement on her vocals, that unique sound that she seems to be well on her way to mastering is what works throughout For All We Know.  Other standouts for me include Bad Blood, In The Morning, Blue Wine and (Feels Like) Perfume.  As always, you be the judge and check out NAO for yourself.   

What I’m Listening To: My Power UP Playlist

This is my favorite playlist to date!  Music to inspire, make you dance and keep you going.  Enjoy! 



Optimistic – Sounds of Blackness

Ghetto Heaven – The Family Stand

Back II Life (However Do You Want Me) – Soul II Soul

Keep on Movin’ – Soul II Soul

The Power – SNAP!

Don’t Make Me Over – Sybil

Don’t Walk Away – Jade

If You Love Me – Brownstone

Tennessee – Arrested Development

Mr. Wendal – Arrested Development

Revolution – Arrested Development

Fight The Power – Public Enemy

Finally – CeCe Peniston

Keep on Walkin’ – CeCe Peniston

Sending My Love – Zhane

Hey Mr. DJ – Zhane

Tell Me – Groove Theory

All Around The World – Lisa Stansfield

I Will Survive – Chantay Savage

People Everyday (Metamorphosis Mix) – Arrested Development


Nas Launches Ugly Xmas Sweater in Support of Prison Reform

If you’re going to an ugly Christmas sweater party this year, do it with purpose!  Nas is selling his “Kneeling Santa” sweaters through his HSTRY clothing brand.  According to the site:

“A portion of proceeds will go to The Center for Court Innovation, which seeks to help create a more effective and humane justice system, reducing both crime and incarceration.”

You can read more about the initiative over at Huff Post and pick up a sweater via HSTRY’s website.



Spoiler alert: I purchased the red one.


What I’m listening to: Dave East, Solange and Christian Scott

2016 has been a great year musically.  Over the summer I caved in and got a Tidal subscription with my wonderful student discount (yay school) and it actually has allowed me to discover music from artists that I never even knew existed.  

deMost recently, I discovered Harlem rapper Dave East.  I appreciate his mixtape Kairi Chanel because it’s that good ole’ New York rappity rap RAP that I’ve been missing.  Never mind the almost comical fact that this is his 10th mixtape and I didn’t have a clue about this guy until a few weeks ago (I stopped keeping up with the rap Joneses a LONG time ago) or the fact that this mixtape plays like a solid debut album, but he’s gotten the attention of Mr. Illmatic himself, Nas, and is signed to his label Mass Appeal Records.  That should be a solid enough co-sign to give this mixtape a listen.  







 Solange’s A Seat At The Table is FOR US!  Seriously, just listen.














I love when clients put me on to new music!  If you don’t know by now, I have a love affair with New Orleans.  Everything from the people to the culture to the history to the music…I love it all!  A client suggested that I listen to New Orleans native Christian Scott’s Christian aTunde Adjuah after a recent photo shoot and I was not disappointed.  This isn’t his latest jazz project, this album was released in 2012 and is labeled as a 2 disc album so I am still digesting it (over 20 songs) but feel free to get lost in his many other bodies of work, you won’t be sorry.  


What I’m listening to: Laura Mvula “The Dreaming Room”

As I enter month #2 of my Tidal subscription, I have to admit that I’ve happily consumed an enormous amount of new music in various genres.  My latest gem is an artist by the name of Laura Mvula, a British soul singer whose latest album The Dreaming Room was one of the featured albums on my Tidal home page.  I decided to give it a listen and was pleasantly surprised by this body of work.  Check out the video for one of my favorites from the album “Overcome” featuring Nile Rodgers.