What's New With Cultures Clothing - May 2012
Interview Feature - Ginger Coyle (May 2012)
Hello everyone! Welcome to the 43rd (May 2012) issue of Cultures Clothing Co: The Online Magazine! Let me start you guys off with some absolutely amazing news: The Cultures Clothing Kickstarter campaign for mass production was successful:
Over $5,000 was raised in just 59 days! It was one of the best feelings that I've ever had in my entire life. Have you guys ever had that winning feeling...where all of the blood, sweat and tears that you've shed to push towards your goals finally seem worth it? Man, I felt such a beautiful bliss that day. I was beaming so bright that you probably needed sunglasses just to look at me LOL! It was an amazing feeling! I just have to thank everyone who supported the campaign before I do anything else in this article...because I could not have done this without all of you.
THANK YOU TO THE CULTURES CLOTHING KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN DONORS:
Mom, Dad, Rizz, Mom-Mom & Pop-Pop, Aunt Shirell, Aunt Angie, Stanley, Saramichele, Aunt Lo, Yvonne & Taisy, Jericka Duncan, Mike Jerrick, Richard Salter, Jessica Tamayo, Sylvia, Mariana Stramiello, Badir McCleary, Rodel Brown & Maureen, Steve Scott, Meg Swansen, Jonathan Cox, Bob Cotter, Chelsea Biggs, Aunt Val & John Feather, Clara Waloff, Kathleen Fenning, Nicole Burke, Lina, Jackie Bacchia, Stephanie Foster, Greta Russo, John, Ray & David Mcilwaine, Bill Morlok, The Huffmans, Donna Scott, John, Troy Bouie, Caron Nikole, Cinvee K., Deborah Agostino, Livia, Kobie, Raquel Bernier, Geri D'Fyniz, Ed Ragin, Ricc Rollins, Christy Rossowski, Nicole Agostino, Envy McKee, Steph Velez, Lynn Newsome, Jessie Lawrence, Courtney Smith, Daniella Baltimore, Dominique London, Jen Abrams, Rita S., Tali Schinnar Mazzola, BMT, Ray & Kristin Rozanski, Montana Marks, Chen Li, Marcel Bassett, Brian Welte, Redphone Records, Carolee Houser Dunn, Danielle Stanley, Bertrance Devon Triche, Joseph Bazley, Stuart Land, Christian Ramirez-Coll, Ronald & Marian Weber, Jason & Hava, Tygh Powell, Veronica Walters, Viola, Ms. Aida. Shout out to all of my college roommates, everyone who supported me at Neumann & FSS and all of the RT'ers!
As promised, I also did a Cultures Clothing Celebration Video!!! I got together with my family and a bunch of my college roommates and we did a dancing, lip-syncing video to "5 Minutes of Funk" of funk by Whodini! This is more than likely the silliest thing that you will see today (as you can probably tell from the screenshot LOL). ENJOY!
Cultures Clothing THANK YOU/CELEBRATION Video:
A lot of people were asking me what the next step was now that the money was raised. Well, now it's time to get the clothing mass produced!!! I had to wait 14 days after the campaign ended for all of the Amazon transactions to actually go through, but on May 23rd I went to NYC to meet with GSEA Fashion Group (the manufacturing company that I'm working with). Here's a view of NYC that I took on my phone while I was in the GSEA office waiting for my meeting to start:
Once the meeting started, we began to map out what I was going to do for my first run of mass production, and what I planned to do in the future. My original plan was to get samples of everything in my catalog made...from the dresses to the polos to the T-shirts. I would then use the samples to pitch the line to various different clothing retailers (to see if they would like to sell Cultures Clothing in their stores). I soon realized that this might not be the best course of action. Samples can cost upward of $100, which means that I could only get 40-50 samples made with $5,000 (and I still wouldn't have anything to sell). If I did things that way, it would mean that I would have to bank on one of the clothing retailers picking up the products to sell in their stores. If none of the retailers picked the clothing for their stores, then I would be stuck with $5,000 worth of samples. I'm confident in my product, but I decided that there was a better course of action. So, I decided to start out by getting 4 t-shirts mass produced...complete with professional tags, labels, and taping (as seen on the right in the picture below):
This way, I can pitch these 4 designs to the clothing retailers to start out with, and if no one picks them up, I can still move the product, and bring money back into the company. What this does is it brings in revenue, builds up the customer base, and it also gives the line more visibility (as people would be wearing the clothing around). I can then use the money that comes in from the T-shirt sales to get the samples made. That sounds like a much smarter plan, doesn't it LOL? Here are the four T-shirts that I am getting produced (to start out with). Please excuse the copyright lines going through the pictures. Of course, those lines will not be on the actual T-shirts haha, but I had to put them there to make sure that people know that these designs are copywritten so no one tries to steal my intellectual property:
CULTURES CLOTHING'S "ELEVATE" T-SHIRT DESIGN
CULTURES CLOTHING'S "THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX" T-SHIRT DESIGN
CULTURES CLOTHING'S "GUY FAWKES: REVOLUTION" T-SHIRT DESIGN
I recently came across an image from the post-production of the SADIE WEB SERIES (episode 7), where
To See More From The Sadie Web Series Please Check Out The Links Below:
CULTURES CLOTHING'S "MULTI-LINGUAL" T-SHIRT DESIGN
So those are the first four shirts that I'm getting mass produced...with the tags, clothing labels, and taping. I'm taking pre-orders for the shirts now, so if you're interested in getting one of these designs, please contact me at the information provided at the bottom of this feature. Speaking of tags, here's a sneak peek at what the official Cultures Clothing tags are going to look like (complete with "CULTURES FACTS"):
They look good, right? I'm so excited to see the finished product! Oh, before I forget, this is the next shirt that I'm putting into production, and I'm taking pre-orders on this as well so contact me if you need one in your life!
Before I move on, I just have to thank my girl Laura Riano from GSEA for all of her help during this whole process. She's been an absolute angel, and I truly appreciate everything that she's done so far to help me to make my dreams come true!
Last month I talked a little bit about the photoshoot that I did in Daytona with Alyssa Everk:
I didn't get to post any pictures last issue because I had to publish the magazine before I finished editing them...but I have the pictures finished now, so here they are:
Daytona was absolutely amazing. I miss that place terribly and I can't wait to go back!
This month was also exciting because I got to hang out with my girl Sandy Avelar at the NY PRO (bodybuilding and fitness competition)! I was running around NY doing fashion stuff when I saw Sandy tweet that she was flying from Vancouver, B.C. to NY to participate in the NY PRO (Bikini segment in 5 days)! Sandy lives in B.C., and she's almost never on the East Coast, so I HAD to come up and cheer her on while she was only a few hours away!
I was so proud of Sandy. She really went up there and did her thing during the Bikini competition! The woman works a full-time job and still has enough time, will, and energy to train and look like this:
The whole NY PRO competition was an interesting experience for me! I had never been to a bodybuilding competition before, so it was fun! There was this one guy in the competition who was literally like the largest human I'd ever seen in my life LOL. He looked like something out of a comic book. Speaking of comic books, I must say that my eyes were in for a real treat this day. I had never been in an environment before with 75+ beautiful women with Wonder Woman bodies walking around in bikinis. It was insane. Heather Dees walked by me before the competition in a tank top and jean shorts and I think I said "Sweet Baby Jesus" out loud LOL. There was this also this woman there named Rebecca Vera there that was so pretty that it was like looking at a deer in the wild or something LOL! It really was amazing!
I also bumped into my Twitter friend Adriana Cesar at the NY PRO. Now, she's my real life friend LOL! And I met up with one of my college roommates (Marc Torreiro) afterwards for some drinks!
Next up was the Skai Blue Media Grand Opening Event. Rakia moved Skai Blue Media to a new location, and she wanted to give everyone a glimpse of her new division (Skai Blue Show)...so she threw this event to kill two birds with one stone (metaphorically speaking, of course)! They had blue cotton candy at this event, which excited me greatly...especially when a complete stranger offered me some of hers. Needless to say we're friends now LOL! Here are some pics from the event:
Alloyius Mcilwaine with Diane Godlewski (A Styld Life), Kharisma (my sister - CW Philly), Rakia Reynolds (middle frame - Skai Blue Media), Tali Schinnar Mazzola (Urban Roots), & Hacina Saadi.
Alloyius Mcilwaine with Kharisma, Adam Hymans (The Philadelphia Foundation), Tali Schinnar Mazzola (Urban Roots), & Crystal Weinrick (in the purple). Photography by AL B For.
It's funny...AL B put me and Crystal in this picture together (frame on the right) before we had even been introduced lol! I was walking out of the room and she was walking in and he just put us together and said "you two take this picture"...and it came out cute! Then we were tight like 15 minutes later and were goofing off in that picture on the bottom left haha. This was a fun night!
I also ran into Crystal again like three days later at the "Legends & Locals" event. Here's the pic that we took at this event:
Crystal's such a beautiful girl...we're going to do a shoot soon! The awesome thing about it is that she's an amazing make-up artist...so she can do her own make-up for the shoot haha! This event took place at Yakitori Boy. The main attraction was the unveiling of the "J-Roll". The "J-Roll" is a sushi roll inspired by Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies...and a portion of the proceeds from each roll sold benefits the Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation. The Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation is an organization that raises awareness for and offers assistance to youths living with arthritis. They also offer assistance to families that are struggling financially by providing extracurricular activities for children. You can learn more about the organization at www.jrfamilyfoundation.org.
The picture below shows the unveiling of the J-Roll:
Jimmy actually had to leave the event early because his wife was in labor, and we found out
a bit later that Jimmy and his wife had a new baby girl that they named Camryn Drew Rollins! Congrats Jimmy!
This event had live performances, which is where I was first introduced to Ginger Coyle's music. Ginger, of course, is the interview feature for this magazine issue...but I'll talk about that a little bit later in the feature. She has a very soulful voice. I really enjoyed her performance...and she's cool as hell!
Shortly after, I got to meet and hang out with some of Ginger's friends, including the beautiful Christina Sanchez of Queen Diva Radio (Radio Personality/Television Host - www.QueenDivaRadio.com) who I was already cool with:
Christina and I have been trying to coordinate schedules for the longest so that I can drop by her show. I promise I'm coming on the show very soon girl...I'm clearing my schedule just for you! You have it in writing right here LOL! By the way, I caught Christina getting busy on the dance floor when she wasn't looking hahaha...I love this pic!!!
I had a lot of fun hanging out with the girls. I mean, who doesn't like hanging out with beautiful women...but they all have such fun personalities!
The lovely lady on left in the picture above and in the picture below is Denise Toledo:
Gorgeous, isn't she? I actually just momentarily forgot what I was typing because this picture took my undivided attention for a good 20 seconds LOL. I approached Denise at the event because I couldn't shake the feeling that I had seen her before. Then, I realized what it was...and I started teasing her by saying that if Nicole Brewer and Kristin Bitting somehow had a lovechild with each other...she would be that baby LOL! Denise is going to be modeling for me soon as well...and she's also a make-up artist just like Crystal! What's with all of these gorgeous, talented make-up artists that I've been meeting lately haha? Denise is the founder and head make-up artist of Miss Mascara. Be sure to check out the website provided below and contact Denise if you're looking for a make-up artist! She does amazing work!
I also ran into my boy Scotty Lauman at the event (seen below hanging out with the lovely ladies):
Scotty's a dope photographer who just launched his new website: (www.laumanphotoink.com). Here's some of his work:
Scotty and I are planning to do a big collaboration shoot at Eastern State Penitentiary, and we need a lot of models for it, so if you're interested, hit me up!
Last but certainly not least, we have my sister Kharisma and Antoine Johnson laughing it up and having fun.
This was a big night for Antoine. He announced that he was filming a reality show for the Bravo Network based around his talent management company called @ House of Talent PA! Antoine's a really good guy so it's great to see him doing big things! I'm telling you guys...the Philly scene is on the come-up! People are saying that within 5-10 years Philly is going to have the same status in the entertainment industry as NY!
Wow...looking back, this month was incredibly busy! Even after all of the other stuff that I already talked about, I still did two more photoshoots! One of these was a photoshoot/video shoot that I did for Rodel Brown and Accents United 7! Accents United 7 is an indie film company, so we did this shoot to give people an intro to the company and to promote the brand. In the picture below, we have the CEO/Founder of Accents United 7 (Rodel Brown), the model for the shoot (up-and-coming singer Juliana Marchei), and Cinvee K., who acted as the make-up artist.
Here are some of the promotional shots that I took during this shoot:
And here are some shots that were taken of me during the down time at the shoot:
The shoot started at Penns Landing, but we wound up driving all the way to Longwood Gardens to finish the shoot. It was absolutely beautiful there. I took a lot of scenery shots as we were walking to the different locations to find the best spots to shoot:
Flowers at Longwood Gardens:
The last thing that I did this month was my shoot with Ginger Coyle!
We shot at Tatooed Mom on South St. This place was an absolute EYEGASM! The top floor was filled with art and graffiti...so it was like my happy place lol. For a while there, I just had to sit down and take it all in.
I just want to give a shout out to Robert at Tattoed Mom for the hospitality. Thanks so much for letting us use the place for the shoot! To check out the interview feature on Ginger Coyle, click on the link below!
Well, that's it for this month. Be sure to tune back in next month, where I undoubtedly will have another thousand things to talk about lol!
Until then, check out:
Cultures Clothing Tumblr Page:
Alloyius McIlwaine, Cultures Clothing Co.
Alloyius: Who is GINGER COYLE?
GINGER: Ginger Coyle is a creator. I'm a musician, a singer/songwriter...an artist. I like to make music for your earholes...and send out positive vibes and messages with my music.
Alloyius: How long have you been creating music?
GINGER: I started making music when I was about 5 years old when I picked up the piano. At age 11 or so, I began to write my own words and my own songs. I was taking Beethoven and improvising, and I wasn't reading the music in front of me. I was, like, cheating at my lessons...and my music teacher was driven nuts by the fact that I was improvising on Beethoven. She didn't push me away from it or crack the whip on me. She kind of encouraged me to keep on exploring that because I was hearing other things...and that led to songwriting. When I was in 8th grade, my father gave me (as a graduation gift) some studio time...where I took 2 of my original songs and recorded them. Within a couple months, XPN played one of them. I mean, I was 14 years old...but that was like the spark that ignited this whole fiasco. Just getting the call in high school that my songs were being played on the radio....that made me want it even more...and it just escalated ever since!
Alloyius: What are your Top 5 Favorite Songs Of All-Time?
GINGER: Ok ummmmm.....let's see...I have to put a John Lennon song on there. Number one is John Lennon - "Imagine" (of course). Number two would be "She's Gone" - Hall & Oats. Then we'll put Phil in there...Phil Collins - "Against All Odds". Billie Holliday - "The Very Thought of You"...and number five would be...ooooh I dunno I love Zero 7 - "Destiny"...that's a good one. But, you know, this top five is interchangeable throughout my day to day life. I love so much music. Tori Amos - "Crucify", "Purple Rain" - Prince...The Police - "Everything That She Does Is Magic"...I dunno LOL.
Alloyius: What is your favorite song from your own catalog?
GINGER: Hmmm...my favorite song from my own catalog. I'll narrow it down to my record...because at least you'll be able to buy it if you feel so inclined. I would say "To The Moon And Back" on "Homeward Bound"...my newly released record. "To The Moon And Back" is my favorite, because when I was coming out of my last project, which was like a Hip-Hop/Dance thing...that was the first song that was like me coming back into myself as an artist. "What do I want to say this time around?", and I was just looking at the world around me and I wanted to share a message. And that's basically it.
Alloyius: Besides singing (and writing songs), do you have any hidden talents?
GINGER: Do I have any hidden talents? Besides my sweet dance moves? I have an etsy shop where I take vintage items (mostly purses) and and recreate them into something new. Being a lover of all things vintage I have an obsession with thrift stores and flee markets. Because of this my friends say I'm a grandma.... which is where the name Recycled Grandma comes from. Here is the link: http://www.etsy.com/shop/RECYCLEDGRANDMA
Alloyius: What has been your most memorable gig so far?
GINGER: My most memorable gig so far...was at the Kimmel Center. It wasn't in the actual, y'know, Kimmel Center grandeur...it was actually in the lobby. But, it was the most memorable gig because of the sound in the place...and just the vibrations and the feeling and the echoing. It was just amazing. I literally started to cry on stage because it was just so over-whelming being in that building.
Alloyius: If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive who would it be?
GINGER: If I had the opportunity to collaborate with someone dead it would be Jim Morrison. Alive...Old School - Phil Collins...or Ben Folds...or Thom Yorke...or Annie Defranco. New School - Bruno Mars, Travie McCoy, or somebody like that.
Alloyius: If you could give some advice to young up-coming artists what would it be?
GINGER: If I was going to give any advice to any young artist coming out I would say to absolutely follow your path. Don't let anybody tell you what to sing, what to do, who to be. Do you...because there's only one you. I know that sounds really cliche and stuff, but just going through all of the experiences that I've been through, I finally back to where I started. You can try to do what somebody else wants, but at the end of the day, you're not going to be happy. So just do you and be true to yourself.
Alloyius: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
GINGER: In the future you can expect to see more music for sure. I just released an EP called "Homeward Bound", but there's a full-length album on the way. Give me like a year to pump that out. But I'll be on tour playing around Philly and NJ...so stay tuned! There's more where that came from...positive messages and positive vibes.
"HOMEWARD BOUND" BY GINGER COYLE
ON SALE NOW ON iTUNES
***A special Shout Out goes out to Robert at Tattoed Mom on South St. for letting us use his amazing spot for the shoot! Thanks for the hospitality!***
Random With Rizz - May 2012Hello ladies and Gents welcome to this edition of Random with Rizz! I can't believe that we are already in May but summer is definitely my favorite time of year. Around this time of year I feel like I'm a little happier... the sun tends to have that effect. The other day it was really warm and quite humid. I decided to head indoors, kick back and watch some television while visiting my grandparents. As I'm watching the television I found myself getting angry. Out of ten commercials during an hour of watching television I saw only ONE black family. If that weren't bad enough the commercial where I saw the black family was for Crown's Fried chicken... Really?!? So the only representation of the black family on television is that we like fried chicken? I saw commercials for Pizza Hut, no black faces, insurance and car companies, no black faces and I started to wonder why is it that in 2012 we are still aren't included?
I took my feelings of dismay to Twitter where I continued the conversation with some friends. I mentioned the commercial I saw and the fact that there were so many missed opportunities to include people in advertisements without stereotypical undertones that were missed. A few of my friends made mention of McDonald's with their Neosoul campaign. It also made me think about Mary J Blidge's endorsement deal with Burger King where she sang about crispy fried chicken and fresh lettuce, also equally upsetting. Again I felt like we are dealing with additional stereotypes that black people have to be cool and hip we can't just BE!
The biggest problem I have is that black families are constantly looked at as black families opposed to just families. There are certain products on the market that appeal to everyone regardless of ethnic backgrounds. I understand the concept of targeting the demographic that you think will buy certain products but I just don't condone using stereotypes to do it! I want to see us represented in a more diverse manner, doing everyday things. I hope whoever is reading this isn't viewing it as me just ranting and instead views this as a call for us to do better. Well that's all for this addition of Random with Rizz until next time... Good day!
Social Commentary: (MAY 2012)
Today's Comic Book Match-Up: "One Million Moms" VS. EQUALITY
Ok I haven't written (in this magazine) about any Gay Rights issues before because it's such a touchy subject, but things are getting a little ridiculous. Recently, Marvel announced that in X-Men #51, Northstar (the first character openly gay character in comics) will be marrying his long-time boyfriend. Apparently, a group called "One Million Moms" (a conservative Christian organization whose number is nowhere near 1 million) is targeting Marvel (and DC) over their story lines featuring gay characters:
Before I get to any of the main points, I just have to say that I don't know why this group is even wasting the effort to try to get these books pulled from the shelves. For one, Marvel and DC can do whatever they want with their intellectual properties. They're not doing anything illegal. It's well within their rights to publish whatever they want. Also, the X-men have a large gay following, so why wouldn't they add something to their books that relates to a large portion of their fan base? On top of anything else, it just makes good business sense. Two, the Gay community has a substantial amount of power, and there's just no way in hell that OMM is ever going to get those books pulled from the shelves. Let's say that Wal-Mart (just as an example) pulls the book from the shelves do to the petitions and outcry of OMM. Wal-Mart would lose SOOOO much money from this, because the gay community (and many people who support gay rights) would then boycott Wal-Mart. There's no way in hell that Wal-Mart (or any other company for that matter) would ever do anything that stupid. It would be a terrible business move. So, there's just no way that the OMM movement is going to affect anything in any major way.
On a more personal note though, I just don't understand the bigotry and hate. I have never understood why people care so much about what other people (that they don't even know) are doing with their lives. As a heterosexual male, do I like to see two men kiss? No...it's not my thing...I like girls lol. However, do I look down on or persecute another man because he likes to kiss men? Of course not...because I'm not a hypocrite or a bigot. What if the state of society was different and homosexual relationships were considered the "norm"? Would I want someone looking down on me or persecuting me because I wanted to date women? Would it be ok for someone to tell me that I shouldn't marry the woman I love? Hell no...and don't give me the "homosexuality isn't natural" speech because it happens in nature all the time. Just because it doesn't lead to pro-creation doesn't mean it isn't natural.
What makes me laugh about these conservative Bible-quoting groups is that they like to pick and choose certain Bible verses and conveniently forget the others. "Do unto others..." is a pretty big one, but these people conveniently forget about things like that. Look, it's hard enough to find love in this world without "holier-than-thou" people telling you how you should and should not being living. And I'm positive that these same people do not have their own lives 100% in order...so they should probably get their own lives together before they start throwing shade at other people. Also, I'm pretty sure that bigotry goes against everything that Jesus ever taught...so stop quoting scripture to justify your own prejudices. Maybe your God is different, but the God that I love doesn't support bigotry in any way, shape or form.
My main point is, either rise above the hate or just keep it to yourself...because spreading it certainly does not make the world a better place. Mind your own damn business and do what makes YOU happy. If two men or two women want to get married, in science-fiction or in real life...so the F@#k what (excuse my French). You have nothing to do with that. They have their own problems to deal with without you adding to it. If you focus on making your relationship or marriage stronger, I'm sure that you won't have any time to worry about other peoples...cause that's a full-time job in itself.
Now, if we're talking about protecting younger children from something that might be a little bit more mature in content, then I can understand that. I can understand keeping children away from anything that may have a sexual connotation to it at a younger age...because they might not be ready for certain concepts. Something like that is different for each child, and I think it's up to each parent to decide when their child is mentally ready to be introduced to mature concepts. Let's face it, in the society that we live in, the majority of the media portrays heterosexual relationships as the norm, so when a child comes across a homosexual relationship for the first time, it may be somewhat of a culture shock. However, there's a good chance that a child will see a homosexual relationship by just walking down the street, so that's not always something that you can control. As a parent, I think that people need to be prepared to talk to their kids about any questions that might unexpectedly arise in their lives...and guide them towards finding their own truths.
When I was 10 in 1992, Northstar came out in Alpha Flight #106, and became the first openly gay hero in comic books. It was allllllll over the news, and since I was eventually going to see it anyway (since I was and still am a collector), my mother bought it for me. She had a conversation with me about the whole thing and told me what her beliefs were. But ultimately, I had to come to my own decision on what to believe. When I read the comic, the character spoke about how he had to keep who he really was a secret because of fear of persecution...and even back then I knew it was wrong to persecute someone because they were different. Reading this comic book did not "make me want to be gay". I think that's what this OMM group fears. They don't want their kids to be homosexual, so they try to get everything that is homosexual in nature banned from mass media. Well, I hate to break it to you, but if your kid becomes gay after reading a comic book, it's because your kid already had those types of feelings and didn't know how to put them into context. When I read the book at the age of 10, the only thing it did to me was expose me to a different aspect of what was going on in society. And for me, that was the right age to learn about something like that. It's different for each person...so as a parent, instead of shielding a child from something they're going to eventually learn about anyway, try to determine when the age is right to talk to them about it.
Conversly, Marvel and DC need to stop using gay characters as a publicity stunt. Introduce the characters organically, and stop making such a big deal about it to sell issues. Sometimes, it comes off as very forced when they turn a heterosexual character with long-standing heterosexual relationships into a gay character. It worked with Northstar and didn't seem forced because we rarely saw anything about Northstar's personal life prior to him coming out. DC is currently preparing to revamp one of their characters with previously existing heterosexual relationships into a gay hero...and to me, it just looks like a way to keep up with Northstar's wedding over at Marvel. The whole thing is a little off-putting. If you want a new gay hero, either choose a character whose sexuality hasn't really been explored yet, or create a new character. At least for me, it comes off more natural, and doesn't seem like as much of a publicity stunt. It's 2012...it really shouldn't even be that big of a deal by now to have a gay superhero anyway.
This is just my two cents. I'm sure there are some people that will agree and some people who won't...but it's just my personal opinion...and we all know what they say about opinions. However, for some of the people that read this that are harboring some sort of prejudice towards gay people, I hope that you read my words and listen to the heart behind them. It's just plain wrong to hate and persecute someone because they are different than you are. I would go as far as to say that 90% of the problems that we have in the world today stem from that very thing. Acceptance and understanding is the key to making this world a better place. Peace
Hip-Hop Commentary (May 2012)
SAIGON'S WORDS ABOUT THE INDUSTRY RING TRUE
The rapper Saigon has been receiving a lot of heat recently, because he openly criticized the messages that many rappers (including Rick Ross) are giving to the community. Here is the first quote that got the Hip-Hop community riled up:
"[Rick Ross] is rapping about selling kilos of cocaine and selling drugs. This is what he’s about, this whole lifestyle saying he’s so rich and he eats shrimp every night, and y'all support this shit? Y'all broke and poor and your family’s about to get kicked out."
Saigon also spoke about how the state of Hip-Hop is affecting the youth. He went on to say this:
"This is no disrespect to Nicki Minaj or whateva, but it's the fact that it's so sad that in America, through Hip Hop - something we created through our struggle as Black people, my three-year-old daughter is inquisitive about what a 'menage' is or what it means. Because mainstream America is making a lot of money off of sellin' sex."
Rappers like Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj have very large fan bases, so when the general public heard Saigon's comments, they bashed him for it. While reading through some of the comments that were posted on sites like HipHopDX.com, I saw that most of the people were attacking Saigon's music career instead of actually addressing the points that he was making (about the state of the industry). Now I don't listen to Rick Ross or Saigon, so I'm 100% unbiased about the situation, but what Saigon is saying here is 100% truth. In this situation, Rick Ross was just an example that Saigon was using to express his point. Yes, if you look through Rick Ross' catalog, you may find a couple of tracks that actually have some positive content to them. However, the vast majority of the music that Rick Ross puts out is actually promoting a very negative lifestyle. And let's face it...the music about sex, drugs, and money is pushed harder than the up-lifting, socially conscious music. Anyone who says otherwise is either clueless or completely brainwashed. There are plenty of dope songs that are radio-ready that never see the light of day because they're too positive. People Under the Stairs have a large underground following, and an entire catalog of songs in the same vein as "Summertime" by Will Smith...but the industry would rather push songs like "Every Girl" by Young Money (which objectifies women).
Canibus had this line in a song "Poet Laureate II" (that came out in 2003) that is perfect commentary on the state of Hip-Hop today in 2012. Canibus said "Hip-Hop has never been the same since '88. Since it became a lucrative profession there's a misconception that a movement in any direction is progression". Instead of moving forward, and finding better ways to reach the masses with positive, uplifting, socially conscious messages, we're moving backwards. Just look at the state of Hip-Hop before Hip-Hop became big business. You had groups like Public Enemy that were HUGE...and they actually had a message that uplifted the urban community. Now look at the state of Hip-Hop today. Who are the biggest artists? Common? Mos Def (Yasiin Bey)? Talib Kweli? The Roots? Zion I? Blue Scholars? Common Market? CYNE? No...most people have never even heard of CYNE (which is sad in itself). The biggest "Hip-Hop" artists are Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Drake, & Nicki Minaj. Jeezy and Rick Ross are all about the drug game and hustling. Outside of a few songs (like the one he did with Robin Thicke about Katrina), Lil Wayne RARELY has any positive content. The only positive African-American Hip-Hop role model that gets any MAJOR radio play nowadays (outside of Common, occasionally) is Lupe Fiasco...and Lupe has to fight with Atlantic Records to try to make the music that he wants to make.
Let's face it, the majority of the Hip-Hop music circulating nowadays IS damaging to the urban community in general. What's worse is that a lot of artists don't want to take responsibility for the things coming out of their mouths. They equate being a rapper to being an actor. I once heard Jadakiss compare what he was doing to a movie like "Terminator 2". This seemed completely ridiculous to me, because I'm sure most kids above a second grade level can tell you that a movie about a robot from the future is fiction-based. There's a vast difference between obvious science-fiction, and a guy from the hood talking about selling drugs and killing people. The latter actually happens somewhere in the country DAILY. And the difference is, with movies, people can SEE that they are actors. They can visually see the credits rolling and know for a fact that these people are being paid to act out a story. With rappers, it's becoming increasingly harder to tell whether or not someone is speaking the truth. Honest expression is really becoming a lost art in Hip-Hop.
I have a newsflash for the folks that place the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the parents: it takes a village to raise a child. Of course, the main responsibility should fall on the parents to make sure that their kids have their heads on straight...but these kids DO look up to successful rappers as role models (despite the fact that most rappers don't want to be).
Some of these kids see these guys with all of their money, and say "maybe if I do what he's doing or talk about what he's talking about then I can be rich too". The MCs with the biggest spotlights nowadays are artists like 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross...which is why most verses from up-and-coming hip-hop artists consist of them talking about how many people they've shot (or will shoot), how many kilos they've moved (or will move). Or they're objectifying women. Please...I DEFY someone to tell me that I'm wrong. If you don't believe me, ask the average kid walking down the street in the urban communities to freestyle for you, and listen to what comes out.
The environment that the kids are growing up in has as much to do with the kids growth as what the parents are teaching them...and many artists are flooding the urban environment with negative ideas and imagery. Either people can accept that their words have power, or they can continue to do what they're doing, blame shift, and wonder why the state of the urban community isn't getting any better. To the MC's out there, if you're promoting something negative in your music, then you ARE playing a part in the degradation of the community. Some people may be ok with that as long as they're making money, but for those of you who aren't, you need to take a long look in the mirror and think about the legacy that you're leaving behind.
By Alloyius McIlwaine
Cultures Facts - MAY 2012
1. In ancient Tahiti, archery was a sacred sport, practiced only by people of high rank. And while they were expert marksmen, bows and arrows were never used as weapons of war.
2. Cargo cults are a complex religious phenomena linked to the exploitation of the islands by the Japanese and American armies during and after the Second World War. Awed by the amount of industrial, manufactured goods dropped on the islands by the military, some villages have developed religious rites surrounding individuals (such as John Frum or Prince Phillip) or around the idea that praying for a plane or imitating military behavior will bring back the deliveries. Villages have been known to build landing strips in the hopes of one day seeing a cargo plane land.
3. Missionaries still abound Christian missions to the “cannibalistic savages” of the Pacific Islands are not a thing of the past: they still happen today, albeit on a smaller scale. Whenever some anthropologist or explorer finds remote villages with a hint of a cannibalistic past (it’s not really practiced anymore), missionaries come in droves to “convert” the “savages” to Christianity. The colonialist impulse of Westerners has not cooled one bit, even in this day of cultural relativism.
4. You can read outside at night And we don’t mean with a lamp here—actual starlight reading. No kidding. There is so little light pollution in certain spots, and the air is so clear, that it’s possible to read only by the light of the stars. Amazing, no?
5. They eat a lot of canned food Tinned food is a staple of the Pacific Island diet—they won’t serve it to tourists usually, but they will eat it themselves. From South American versions of Spam to tinned fish imported from Japan, the groceries are filled with them. Canned foods are also helpful because of the long lasting nature of the product. These are only five of the less known cultural habits of the Pacific Islanders. Of course, it changes from island to island since none of them have the same cultural and ethnic makeup. But no matter whether you’re planning to stay in luxury hotels or somewhere a bit simpler, it’s always good to research the culture a little bit.
6. In Tahiti, the Chinese population (about 10 percent) monopolizes the retail trade, so when Tahitians talk about going shopping, they say they are going to "la Chine" or to the Chinese.
7. The letter "B" does not exist in the Tahitian language. Bora Bora is actually Pora Pora, meaning first born, but early visitors heard it as Bora Bora.
8. The word tattoo originated in Tahiti. The legend of Tohu, the god of tattoo, describes painting all the oceans' fish in beautiful colors and patterns. In Polynesian culture, tattoos have long been considered signs of beauty, and in earlier times were ceremoniously applied when reaching adolescence.
9. Those things that look like mail boxes outside the homes of Tahitian residents are not for mail, but for French bread delivery. Residents get a fresh loaf dropped off twice a day. But alas, they must go to the post office to retrieve their mail!
10. The Pearl Museum on Tahiti is the only museum in the world devoted entirely to pearls. The unique presentations about Tahitian Cultured Pearls describe and demonstrate the history and practice of cultivating pearls as well as their place in art, history, mythology, and religion.