Kwanzaa Principle Of The Day – NIA

The Principle for today is NIA

Nia (Purpose)

To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

We all have to find our personal definition of purpose in this life. As you go thru your day, try to remind yourself of yours. Word, that’s enough of me droppin’ science this morning.

Kwanzaa Principle Of The Day – UJAMAA

Today’s Principle is an especially dope one, UJAMAA

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

And with that, I’m off to support some Local Black business in the wonderful world of Harlem!

Kwanzaa Principle Of The Day – UJIMA

Today’s principle is UJIMA

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

Kwanzaa Principle Of The Day – KUJICHAGULIA

Today’s Principle is one of my 3 favorites!


Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Kwanzaa Principle Of The Day – UMOJA

Ok Kiddies,

Today’s Principle is UMOJA

Umoja (Unity)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.


My Kwanzaa Story x The Black Candle Documentary Trailer


I’m trying to figure out the best way to make this post short but I have so much to say about this.

I resolved last year to try to make a collective effort to get all of my friends and family to embrace the celebration of Kwanzaa this time around. I was introduced to it in the 3rd grade, and then my family tried to initiate it into practice before the turn of the century courtesy of my brother Khalid’s ex-wife who thought it was a happy medium for my family that is part Islamic, part Christian, and part whatever.

Safe to say it didn’t stick, although my sister Veen and her children and husband picked it up a few years back and have been going strong now for a minute.

So I was determined to re-teach myself the values and rituals, but this time with a fuller understanding of why and how. As a child and the way it was presented to me in school, I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread that this even existed.

But as I grew older, I got severely turned off by Afrocentricity and the personalities of people who were engulfed in it. In my experience, the folk who are super in touch with their “Roots” have a tendency to be dramatic, overbearing and a little outdated. I never quite got the whole Pan -African thing. Africa is the Biggest continent in the world, with the most countries and nations, and what afrocentricity does is blend it all into a hodgepodge of oneness, mostly leaning towards the West African influences, as if each region shouldn’t be acknowledged for it’s individual identity and cultural distinction. Somalia is nothing like Togo. And Swaziland is nothing like Morrocco. I even had to ask if Swahili is a national language of any African country, and Iam still researching. Yet and still, it is the universal dialect of Africa-obsessed Americans.

So my experience has been a jaded one. I have spent a great amount of my lifetime around this lifestyle, and have rarely come across someone who is truly down to Earth and in touch with their African ancestry. It always just seems so sad to me that we as Black Americans will always be that people who will never really know our clear history, and only be able to tap into it by engaging in these neo – cultural, amalgamations of traditions scattered across The Continent. What’s even more saddening to me is that in my experience, Africans who I’ve met from the continent never seem to have such a sense of urgency as we do, and quickly differentiate themsleves from the African-American. Although, by technicality, they themselves are classified as such.

But what an amazing people we are for trying!, and always creating something from nothing.

I want to be as in touch with my ancestry as possible, but I don’t want to have to grow dreadlocks or wear a dashiki to exhibit this. I don’t need to have a bunch of statues of oblong breasted figures or giraffes around the house or do dances. What I need to do is just talk to my Grandmother who is a well of history herself and can tell me firsthand so many things about her life growing up as a Liberian woman. Lord knows my Mom sucks at it. She can only remember her life in Africa up to the age of 9. Which was quite an Americanized one, since most people contest that Liberia is a made up Country.

Nevertheless, I wanted to get into Kwanzaa for what it represents, and coincidentally, my homegirl Indigo put me on to this film that was done by a talented Young Man named M. K. Asante Jr. titled The Black Candle. It’s an award winning documentary on the black experience and the creation and foundation of the Kwanzaa celebration that features in depth commentary by the creator of the holiday(Maulana Karenga), as well as many famous Black leaders, and is narrated by the one of a kind Maya Angelou. You should really read the description on the youtube page, because it does it better than I can.

Now this film blew me away and I took my little nephew Winnie to see it with me. We watched it in a screening room of the Teachers’ College among a group of teenagers. Prior to this viewing, Winnie asked me what Kwanzaa was, and I was shocked to see that his school hadn’t yet made mention of this celebration that by now is so widely practiced that it should be given it’s own televised parade (but that would be too black). But even more than that, I was taken aback at how many of the teenagers themselves were in the dark about it, as their questions and comments after the viewing displayed a total lack of awareness.

This was an issue that was visited in the documentary itself. The quick clips from street interviews with local youth pointed at the fact that there is a lack of positive self awareness and crucial historical education.

I kept thinking, damn, how could something I learned back in the day in 3rd grade have regressed to a point of obscurity in the local education system instead of progressed??  I thought curriculum was supposed to advance! It’s not like I went to a special school where the aim was teaching Blackness.

This let me down a bit, but the film gave me such a reinforced and stronger motivation to take on the Kwanzaa festivities, with renewed determination to instill some of the principles into my nephew while he’s still young. I also want to see the togetherness of my friends and family all moving in unison for something that we may actually understand all of, as opposed to Christmas, where we just do without really thinking about why.

I’m also Hellbent on making this holiday Fly! It’s not meant to be commercialized, but still, it’s not all about hand woven baskets and books. We can have a 7 day extravaganza of dope gift-gving (homemade and store-bought) AND enlightenment.

So let the Celebration begin!

It all goes down on the 26th of December. I’ll be posting up each principle daily. I  just hope I can get my stuff in time…

Check this Blog; The Artistry Of Health

Yes indeed,

my cypher wouldn’t be complete without putting you on to me and TDJ‘s better third,

Our homegirl Indigo and her blog; The Artistry of Health

The blog centers around Dietary choices and alternative food recipes, health, wellness and will damn sure put you on to some tips and techniques you may have never known about that can save your life. Word, I’m not as vegetarian as I could be, but I’m about to kick a couple things in 2010.

You should also know that Indi is an Artist. No, a real Artist. Her paint game is sick and you may see her pop up on stage with me at a show near you doing her thing on the mic as well. Don’t say you weren’t educated…

Amerie & Fab Show off acting chops in New Vid

Here’s the New one from Amerie.

It’s called “More than Love” off of her new album and Def Jam debut, In Love & War and it features Fabulous, not only as the guest rapper, but the love interest.

Nevermind the now requisite struggling-R&B-artist?-place-some-Nuvo-in-your-video! thing at the beginning ala Mario, this is still a quality song and video. We haven’t seen this much of  a good fit of singer and rapper playing boyfriend and girlfriend since Meth & Alicia. We forget Amerie also acts – word to the monologue in the beginning that could have been cheesy, but worked just right. And sampling the non-popular and overused part of “Summer Madness” is quite Gangster might I add.

Not only are these 2 of my favorite Artists, they’re also 2 of the Flyest, and I’m really pushing for A! I know she gets a lot of flack for lacking an innate sense of soul and not having the best range, but I don’t think that’s what’s held her back. I think she just hasn’t found her niche. When she got close to having one, she slept on it and let Beyonce stumble across her mojo and take it to levels that she probably never could (peep B’s “Greenlight” video – sound/look familiar to anything?), but at least would have kept her a household name.

So I’m hoping this single does more than what her first 2 off of this album did, and here’s to hoping that they release her “Pretty Brown Eyes” song with Trey Songz as a single as well.

That would be a good look right about now. Not that I even own this album myself, but still,      I want her to win…and not just cause I have a huge crush on her…

Hot 16…Or More…”The Cross (Bringin it Back To NY Remix)””

Another one of the early tracks I recorded when I first arrived on the scene post Fall of 2006, this song arised out of an oppurtunity to appear on a Tapemasters Inc. Mixtape when mixtapes were still all the rage.

The myspace boom had helped me reconnect with alot of people (and damn near got me into serious beef with an old crush’s dude). One of these people was my boy Lavell “Vegas” Evans. We had linked up and started doing some R&B writing and collaborating as he introduced me to a slew of his creative team. Most of these people went to the famed Alma Mater of 5Towns College, where my homies ChellezBoogie, Krystle and Hasan Insane attended and rubbed elbows with the likes of Chrisette Michelle (who I had the pleasure of meeting along the way).

Another of these such peoples was a Photographer/producer who goes by the name of John Shotti. He was then apart of a production duo, Shotti and Lefty and had recently released a dope concept mixtape that mashed up Prince’s classic music with Cam’ron songs.

Since he and The Tapemasters were peoples, he reached out to me when he was working on a track for their Nas dedication tape that was slated to release to promote his Hip-Hop Is Dead album coming out (see; Tapemasters Presents Nas – The N; Resurrection). The track that resulted was a smoothed out version of the Eminem produced “The Cross” off of the God’s Son album, which I think is better than the original. Shotti added all kinds of sampled harmonious voices, light drum kicks, and even got a real saxophone player and spoken word artist to round things out. He went in as a producer! He told me he chose me because he wanted to reshape it to have that feeling like we were bringing New York City rap back to the forefront (back then, that was a major concern to most East Coasters) and I was a good choice for it. And so became my very first serious mixtape placement. Not like Tapemasters showed me love or remembered me when it was time for me to release my own mixtape later on…but I digress…

I was summoned down to the music lab in The New School, in a room to lay my verse right then and there on limited time. The boy Jesse Boykins the 3rd was in the room and I remember writing the verse on the spot and having to  do it in just a few takes. But it came out quite nice. I may even be so bold to say I gave Nas a run for his money, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. Remember these are ’06 lyrics;

“They say New York’s been soft since them buildings fell,

Nigga we are sick! – we ain’t feeling well,

put the apple on their heads like William Tell.

Re-animated, Shotti got Malik to Murk these punks,


Rihanna haters;

“I don’t wanna be a Murderer!”

The Cross Bearer – Iam permanent,

Ya’ll just temporary – my contemporaries got,

learner’s permits.

I been riding clean,

with the NYC plates since,

In my teens,


M-16, nigga he don’t play!

What he say is law like them Ricos – This Maliko’s Way,

Maricons keep reaching for my Chips and they get Frito-Layed!

Straight out of Harlem is the Secret Weapon

-we gon’ speak for skeptics, who been throwing Salt,

he just bring the Pepa!

(I’m Hot!)

Kriss Kross me,

can’t jump the King,

-Ain’t no checkers – this Cross means,

They not Punking me


Ashton Kutcher – I’m hooder than pumpkin seeds,

They try ta’,

Spit on New York like Pumpkin Please!

Citizens, consider Mr. 1,6 in this Bitch again as the Christening for all those who’ve been listening

To Rap at it’s worst,

The game keep gettin Fucked,

cause it’s no Birth Control, like the Catholic Church!

The Cross”.

Hope you learned something.

Here’s that song;

Will Smith Does Karate Kid revamp Justice

I recalled hearing about this upcoming remake about 2 years ago and making the sideways mouth at the notion. I even saw a quick comment from the original star Ralph Macchio where he expressed confusion over Hollywood’s motivation to touch the classic Karate Kid franchise. If you grew up on the original, like me, you know this movie need not be touched. Even though the masterpiece of  80’s movie magic was already tainted when they decided to make The Next Karate Kid, with Hilary Swank, I guess they figured, ‘hey! we did one with a chic, I guess we can do it with a black kid now!’

That ‘black kid’ being young Jaden Syre Smith, offspring of Jada Pinkett and Will Smith (whose birth unfortunately sparked a pandemic of  babies named Jaden in different varieties since the turn of the century, turning something that was a creative compromise between Will & Jada, into cute-boy-name fuckery).

This young man is growing up to be quite the actor. He’s definitely the product of  his background, complete with Jada’s facial expressions and Will’s penchant for charismatic presence. It might just take a minute for him to grow out of that such-a-cute -boy-almost -should-have-been-a-girl phase. It’s okay, Bow Wow went through it too…

This is also a good look for Taraji P. Henson, who needs more roles like this inbetween her let-me-remind-you-I’m-not-too-Hollywood roles that can easily put her right back in Nia Long Land. This diversifies the portfolio a little.

So I’m thoroughly surprised and a little relieved at how they put a new spin on this classic and found a way to pay it homage more so than redo it. It’ll be inspirational to non-white children, dope to children of all races just because the premise of the story is so universal, and visually refreshing due to dope choreographed scenes (Jackie Chan is the best at what he does!)

This is 3 Ninjas, Last Dragon and Karate Kid all wrapped up in one for the new Kiddies. And it should get the job done nicely.

Big ups to the new trend of mixing Blacks and Asians on screen in more action films recently.

And special nod to Will Smith’s Production company for being behind this.

Let’s see what my fellow film critic Ms. Jaded NYer has to say about it…