BornTooBlog Readers

December 22, 2011

White Celebs, Black Babies, Pt. 2

I previously posted a blog about White Celebrities Adopting Black Babies in March of this year.  I featured A-list celebrities that had biological children, as well as adopted children from other races, specifically, of African or African American descent.  Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Steven Spielberg are a few that graced the list.  Fast forward to the end of the year and there are new white celebs with black babies.

Mariska Hargitay, best known for her role on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is one of the most recent white celebs to adopt black babies.  She has a biological child that she birthed in 2006 and also adopted a baby girl in April of this year, as well as a baby boy in October.  Check out the pics of her beautiful new family below:

Next on the growing list of white celebs to adopt black babies is FX's American Horror Story star, Connie Britton (which is my favorite show on TV by the way).  Connie is best known for her roles on Friday Night Lights and Spin City and is most recently known for adopting a baby boy from Ethiopia in November of this year.  Below are pics of her and her son Eyob "Yoby" Britton:


As I said in the previous post White Celebs, Black Babies, I am not in a position to judge whether these adoptions are just a fad or ploy for publicity and attention.  My main concern is that another African or African American orphan now has a home and a loving family to provide and care for them.  Many people criticize actresses like Connie and Mariska for adopting children from other races, but I applaud them for being brave enough to adopt outside of their racial comfort zones by giving a needy child a loving home that they truly deserve and at the end of the day, that's all that matters!!!!

Are you personally against individuals adopting babies of a different racial/ethnic background than their own?
Do you think these celebs are adopting African children to help their image?
Would you ever consider adopting a child?
Would you ever adopt a child of another race/color/nationality than your own?

December 20, 2011

Concert Review: Were You Watching The Throne?!?!?! Jay-z and Kanye Watch The Throne Tour

First off, let me begin by saying that I have seen Jay-z in concert on many occasions, however, this was my first time seeing Kanye perform live and in person.  Besides his stellar award and televised concert performances, I could only anticipate the performance that Kanye would deliver at the Watch The Throne concert.  Unlike Kanye, Jay-z has had so many world tours its too many to name (Hard Knock Life, Roc The Mic, Jay-Z and Friends, etc.).  Contrary to Jay-z's previous performances, he and Kanye had no guest appearances, no dancers, and surprisingly, not even a visible band at the Watch The Throne concert at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

It seems as though the bulk of the budget went into pyrotechnics, smoke, high tech lasers and two digital cubed HD screens that elevated about 60 feet in the air showing video footage that was selected to accompany each song, with Jay-z and Kanye standing on top of the screens, no less.  Jay and 'Ye won the crowd over with hits from the album like No Church In The Wild, Lift Off, Otis, Who Gone Stop Me and Welcome To The Jungle to name a few, and also took us back with classic hits like Big Pimpin', Is That Your Chick and Hard Knock Life as well as Flashing Lights, Diamonds Are Forever and Gold Digger that kept the fans' diamond/roc signs up all night.

The Roc Nation affiliates mellowed the mood and turned down the flashing lights to focus on one of my favorite songs off the album, New Day.  As they both reflected on the future life of their unborn children and how they would make things better for them once they were born, Jay thanked the crowd for sharing the moment with them, as it was an emotional performance that the concertgoers could actually connect with.

No performance of Watch The Throne would be complete without Sweet Baby Jesus, a nostalgic track that boasts the melodic voice of Frank Ocean, as he proclaims, "we made it in America".  The American flag was a common theme throughout the concert, as Kanye and Jay-z exemplified what it means to live the American Dream.  Besides, isn't that what the album was all about?  The concert was not without its other deep moments, like when they performed Murder To Excellence, with Kanye declaring, "I feel the pain in my city wherever I go. 314 soldiers died in Iraq.  509 died in Chicago."  As the 60 foot screens rose to the ceiling, Kanye and Jay-z depicted historic and graphic footage of police brutality, political marches and speeches and this is where the crowd got a bit quiet and reflective.

I was also surprised to see that the majority of Kanye's and Jay-z's fans were not African American, and even further, that the crowd was overwhelmingly full with fans of Kanye.  Nevertheless, I held Hov down like the true fan that I am and recited every word to every song, just because I'm cool like that.  All in all, the concert was very enjoyable and I'm glad I sprung for the c-note (and them $ome) to attend such a monumental and epic tour.  Kanye and Jay-z gave us a performance we could be proud of and made a clear statement to the world that everyone should heed...."Watch The Throne".

Have you ever seen Jay-z or Kanye West perform live?
Did you attend the Watch The Throne concert in your city?
What did you like about the performances?
What did you think was missing, if anything, from the tour?
Would you pay to see Kanye and Jay-z on tour in the future?

December 14, 2011

T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle, Episode 3: America's Sweetheart

I usually don't do write ups on reality shows or even TV shows for that matter, but T.I. and Tiny's: The Family Hustle is quickly becoming my favorite reality show on TV.  The 3rd episode entitled "America's Sweetheart" shows T.I. contemplating performing with Taylor Swift on her tour stop in Atlanta at Phillips Arena.  T.I.'s dilemma lies in whether to perform with Taylor Swift and how his career will be effected, as he put it, either he would gain exposure based on "street cred" or his "Hollywood" status.  Again, I am proud of T.I.'s decision to choose his future in Hollywood over his "street cred".  T.I. has learned many lessons since his two jail stints and is clearly not concerned with reinforcing his tough guy role, and he would be correct in that assertion.

While Tiny is busy managing and producing for her daughter's girl group, The OMG Girls, T.I. is shown hustling hard, taking meetings and conjuring up business deals that could produce more cash for his family.  And as the show has already shown, T.I.'s life and business does not come without the reoccurring theme of family vs. business obligations.  While handling business, T.I. wonders if he will be able to support his step-daughter (Tiny's first born from a previous relationship) at her local performance in Atlanta before she heads out on the road for a tour.

In true T.I. fashion, he handles all of his business meetings and obligations and miraculously makes it in time to the performance to big her up while on stage.  A very endearing and comical moment happened when T.I. is shown at lunch with his children.  King, his first child with Tiny, apparently thinks he is white because of the fair color of his skin.  T.I. sincerely explains to him that he is a "black man" and always will be.  King, surprised at this new revelation as to his racial background wastes no time in asking, "Even though I am black, can I have a white girl?".  T.I. can't help but laugh as he affirms that he can have any woman he wants once he grows up.  This playful exchange between a father and his son warms my heart and tickles me on the inside all at the same time.

I honestly think that this show will do wonders to help rebuild his career and image, although it is pretty obvious that he is hotter now than before he left.  I am excited to witness his and his family's journey, equipped with bumps, potholes, laughter, disappointments and eventually, growth.

Have you been following T.I. & Tiny's The Family Hustle on Vh1?
What did you think about Episode 3?
Share your thoughts....

December 8, 2011

Fashion Spotlight: Karl Kani Turns His Urban Legend Into Live Life Love Denim Brand

While sitting in a cafe in downtown LA this week I ran into none other than Karl Kani, the man responsible for creating and elevating urban wear to what it is today.  Many young folks may not be hip to his legacy, but before there was a Sean Jean or AKOO, Karl Kani was branding urban wear with a level of class and sophistication never before seen in "street clothes".  Initially working for Cross Colours in 1991 with his line known as Karl Kani, he later bought the name from Cross Colours and took off on his own.

I can vividly remember the emergence of the Karl Kani brand in the 90s and how he took the baggy denim/t-shirt look to another level with gold (metal) accents, rich fabrics and colors and premium denim.  Thanks to Karl Kani urban fashion will never be the same and has seen billions in profits since the onslought of this unique fashion genre.

Once I confirmed that it was him, I asked if he had any new lines he was working on and he introduced me to his Live Life Love Denim brand, which he founded in 2004.  Live Life Love Denim is a contemporary premium denim line that retails for about $50-$250 with gear for men and women.  Kani's Live Life Love Denim can be seen on celebs like Eddie Murphy, Ryan Seacrest, Halle Berry and Melanie Fiona to mention a few, and features bold hues and unique washes that are sure to garner a slew of compliments and admiration from your peers.  "LLLD consists of sleeker, slimmer, more refined silhouettes; contemporary and couture; artistic and intricate-all while maintaining his signature stamp of quality and acute attention to detail."

Kani also mentioned the fact that he was currently shooting a fashion reality show at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) next door.  I'm definitely impressed with what he has been able to accomplish thus far and believe he has a great product in his new line.  Live Life Love Denim is sold exclusively at Nordstrom, Atrium NYC, Fred Segal, Madison's and Barney's, but you can also purchase pieces from his online store at  So if you're searching for cool gift ideas for your trendy and fashionable guy or gal, check out the brand online and in stores...HAPPY SHOPPING!!!!
Here are a few shots of the denim line:

Did you rock Karl Kani back in the day?
What do you think about his new line Live Life Love Denim?
Would you rock any of the pieces showcased above?

Share your thoughts!

December 6, 2011

T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle

Last night T.I. and Tiny debuted their new reality show on VH1, showcasing the tender side of T.I., prominently shown as the family man, husband and rap mogul, all after being released from his 2nd prison stint in a matter of years.  Although T.I.'s journey home out of federal custody was a difficult one (they made him stay an extra month for attempting to leave in a tricked out tour bus), it was beautiful to see him readjust to freedom and reclaim his household after finally being released.

T.I. and Tiny are quite possibly the cutest couple ever, not because of their physical features, but the way they care for each other.  T.I. is always shown showering his wife Tiny with diamonds, shoes and bags, while Tiny is portrayed as the loving mother and dedicated wife, struggling to keep her family together.

T.I. is met with another snafu along the road when he is forced to choose between a rehearsal for the BET Awards and his son's football game.  I love the maturity he shows when he puts everything on the back burner just to show his son the support he needs at his football game.  T.I. is trying to show the world what matters most to him, as he put it, "God, Family, then that order" as he struggles to stay on the straight and narrow and out of correctional facilities.

The love, admiration and teamwork is what makes The Family Hustle so fun and interesting to watch.  Although they have a whopping 6 kids (combined), the two never lose their zest and zeal for each other, always making room for quality time no matter how demanding their schedules are. 

What I love most about the show is that it shows his humane side as a father, husband, rapper and business man.  Juggling all of these acts can be challenging, but as T.I. draws from his friend Jay-z in quoting, "Difficult takes a day. Impossible takes a week", that's just how it goes down in the Harris household.  Equipped with lots of laughter and sincerity, T.I. and Tiny's The Family Hustle is definitely a show to watch.

Below are pics of T.I. and his beautiful family.

Did you catch T.I. & Tiny's The Family Hustle?
Do you think it was a positive portrayal of a black family in the south?
How do you think T.I. is managing his responsibilities?
Are you a fan of T.I.'s?
Do you think he deserves another chance from his fans and the public?

November 29, 2011

Video Spotlight: Don Trip feat. Cee-Lo "A Letter To My Son"

I recently heard this song on the radio and was taken aback by the honesty and realness of the lyrics.  This song is my first introduction to Don Trip, a street poet from Memphis, Tennessee, who's mission is to be the voice of the people in these difficult social and economic times.  Don Trip enlisted the voice of one of my favs, soulful Cee-Lo Green.  Cee-Lo is known for bringing deep emotions out of songs and elevating them to a platform that speaks of the struggle in a way that is not only socially conscious, but also pleasing to one's ears.

The song entitled A Letter To My Son displays a father speaking to his only son, expressing the difficulties of raising the son, when all his mother wants to do is use him as a bargaining tool due to their failed relationship.  I spoke about this occurrence when I initially started my blog in the post Where's Daddy?  Too often, young fathers find themselves struggling to build relationships with their children due to the mother being difficult, caddy, messy and down right selfish.  I never understood why a mother would want to keep her children from their father.  Most children in urban neighborhoods barely get a chance to see their fathers, let alone see them at all.  Naturally, when I see mothers keeping their children away from their fathers who want to be in their lives, it makes me angry and confused.

There are so many fathers out there that are going through this, which is why I wanted to highlight this song to give a voice to the proud fathers who will have to wait until their children get older in to explain their misunderstood absence.  Mothers might think they have all the power, but ultimately, once the children realize what's going on, they will now be subject to the inquiries and judgement of their children.  Who really is winning in this situation anyway?

I appreciate Don Trip for bringing this occurrence to the forefront, in the hopes that some mothers will recognize the error in their ways and finally put the child first.  As I said in my previous post on this subject, if the father is violent or a detriment to the child, by all means, restrict his access to his children.  However, I will never justify keeping a man from his children due to their lack of funds or even further, a failed relationship between the child's parents.  It is no excuse and these women need to stop it immediately before they ruin their relationship with their children altogether.

Take a listen to the song and check out the video:

What do you think about the song and video?
Did Cee-Lo make a nice addition to the song?
Do you relate to the issue Don Trip is addressing in this video?
Have you experienced a jealous/hurtful/selfish baby mother who won't let you see your children?
How does this song make you feel as a father in this situation?

November 8, 2011

My 31 Years On This Earth...

During My 31 Years On This Earth....

I've learned that money isn't everything; that love conquers all and true friends are hard to come by.
I've learned that success comes from hard work, focus and fortitude.  The ability to go the distance and do what you love and are good at.
I've learned that if you put God and your family first, you can't lose.
I've learned that actions speak louder than words and your word is your bond.
I've learned to tune out the naysayers.
I've learned to exclude negative people, thoughts and decisions from my life.
I've learned that true passion comes with a purpose!

During My 31 Years On This Earth....

I've learned to love myself more than I love anyone or anything.
I've learned that fear and self-doubt are the enemy to my progression and the antagonist to my goals.
I've learned to have an open heart, eyes, ears, and mind.
I've learned to laugh at myself and not take things too seriously.
I've learned to plan for the future, but live in the NOW!
I've learned that whatever you do in this life comes back to you, good or bad.
I've learned to keep fighting, even when I feel like giving up.
I've learned to forgive.

During My 31 Years On This Earth...

I've learned to trust the power of the universe and to seek beauty through any and everything.
I've learned that everything isn't black and white.
I've learned to stand on my convictions and speak my truth, no matter who disagrees.
I've learned to be me to the fullest extent, but to balance my personality traits around others.
I've learned that traveling to other places can expand your horizons and lift your spirit and teach you things you can't learn in a classroom or a book.
I've learned that treating people the way you want to be treated is indeed...THE GOLDEN RULE!!!
I've learned that at the end of the day, no one is stopping you, but YOU!

I have so much more to learn and am thankful for the opportunity to do so.  I pray that my words reach at least one person in a positive/progressive manner and that I leave a mark on this world, before it all is said and done.

Maya Nichelle

P.S. I've learned that I was BORN TO BLOG........Thanks for reading!

November 7, 2011

BET Presents: Black Girls Rock!!!!

Last night I had the pleasure of viewing the taping of the Black Girls Rock Award show that aired on the BET Network and was hosted by the beautiful duo, Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King, who both looked AMAZING!  Hell, everyone looked amazing as the big names and not so big names, as well as the young and old, graced the red carpet at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc. was founded in 2006 as a non-profit organization that "seeks to build the self-esteem and self-worth of young women of color by changing their outlook on life, broadening their horizons, and helping them to empower themselves."  In doing this, founder, DJ and former model, Beverly Bond, created an award show to honor and celebrate the brilliance of black women both with celebrity and without. 

Last night Black Girls Rock honored none other than political activist and Black Panther, Angela Davis, with the Icon Award.  I literally had tears in my eyes when I looked at Ms. Davis and realized that her struggle for freedom and civil rights was not too long ago, yet we still have so much to do.  Ms. Davis looked lovely and gave a riveting acceptance speech about the power that lies in every single black woman across the world.

Gospel great Shirley Ceaser was also honored with the Living Legend Award for her remarkable career in music as well as her spiritual work as a pastor in North Carolina.  Academy Award Nominee Taraji Henson was also one of the younger awardees who was highlighted with the Star Power award for her work on and off the big screen.  Other awardees included Laurel Richie, President of the WNBA who received the Shot Caller award and Tatyana Ali, who received the Young, Black & Gifted Award.

Performances were made by newcomer Elle Varner, Estelle, Melanie Fiona, Erykah Badu & Mary J. Blige, Mary Mary as well as a poignant poem rendered by the incomparable Ms. Jill Scott.  Overall the show was very enjoyable and enlightening as they highlighted the youth that were also making a difference in their communities.

Now, enough of the talk about the awardees, the performers and the true BornTooBlog fashion, lets get down to the red carpet:

Black Girls Rock Founder Beverly Bond looked classy in her all black sleeveless ensemble and peep-toe pumps.  The hair and makeup are beautiful.

Newcomer Elle Varner showed her funky/spunky side with a colorful, one-shoulder silk dress.  The up do adds a nice touch.

Jill Scott looked AMAZING after her significant weight loss in her all black fit with the curly fro to boot.  She looks great.

La La Vasquez looked STUNNING in her long-sleeve creme gown with the side slit, showing some leg.  The pink lip pops against the cream fabric.  This was my fav ensem of the night!!!!

Laurie Ann Gibson rocked in a gold and black Versace-esqe tank dress and peep-toe booties.

Mary J. also opted for an ALL BLACK ensemble.
Mary Mary

Melanie Fiona shined in a silk backless cocktail dress with pink pumps.  I'm loving the color and Ms. Fiona's new haircut.  She looks great!

Co-host Regina King showed off her ripped bod in a red strapless number. 
Shanell (Lil' Wayne's ex-boo) - NO WORDS except a *side eye*
Taraji Henson sort of disappointed me with this ensemble.  The makeup and hair ages her, but she is a true beauty nonetheless.
Tatyana Ali looked young and chic in this creme-colored beaded gown.

Tracee Ellis needs a bra on with this dress. o_O  She looks fresh faced and chic, but not glam enough in my opinion for the affair.  Her other outfits on stage were much more FAB!

To all those who saw the show, I would love to hear your feedback.\

To those who have not seen the show, you can catch footage, bios, pics and performances here:

For more information on the non-profit organization Black Girls Rock, click here:

November 4, 2011

Ok, I Take It Back: Revisit to Post: "Just How Much Does Money Affect Relationships?"

I previously wrote a post entitled "Just How Much Does Money Affect Relationships???"  I got lots of feedback on and offline, but it was mostly from the fellas who felt that I wasn't seeing the issue from their perspective.  Well, here I am two months later, contemplating and rethinking a lot of the things I wrote in the post.  In the post I questioned the validity of some men's excuse for not wanting a relationship due to their lack of discretionary funds aka because they're broke!  By no means was I downplaying men who are struggling in this current negative financial climate, nor was it my intention to put anyone down or "male-bash" as some would call it.  I was simply questioning if this common excuse that women hear was really the case, and not what I believed to be a cop out.

After weeks of thinking about this post, speaking to people and experiencing things on my own I am now ready to admit that I see what the fellas were saying.  NO! Money is not everything, but it does afford a certain comfort and lifestyle that is elusive without it.  What really helped me see the light was understanding what role money plays in a relationship, outside of special occasions like birthdays and holidays.  I thought to myself, "Since money can't buy love, what can it actually buy?"  While pondering this I realized that money, or the lack thereof, could be a deal breaker in a relationship.  Case in point.  Money affords men to take us on dates, vacations, etc.  We all know that romance is what keeps relationships that have been going for awhile fresh and exciting.

Spending quality time outside of the home with the one you love can bring another level of intimacy that cannot be gained from cuddling on the couch watching movies.  The spark you both get when you look into each other's eyes over dinner, or hold each other's hands in the movies can do wonders for the sex life, and as I said earlier, keep things fresh and new.  I also realized, sitting at home with nothing to do due to a lack of funds can cause tension and staleness in a relationship.  Getting out together, enjoying each other's company in public, etc. can do wonders for a relationship that was once sizzling, but now seems to be fizzing out.

So for the first time in BornTooBlog history, I will say that I take back what I said and now understand the other side to my previous post, Just How Much Does Money Affect Relationships???.  I'm sure many men will be happy to witness this turn of events.  I will never declare that my views cannot be challenged nor that I can not be persuaded to the other side of the fence.  One of the main reasons I created this blog was for everyone to be able to share their ideas and insight on a variety of topics that they felt passionate about.  I am learning new things everyday and today, I am happy to say I learned this!

Do you think my change of heart was warranted?
Did you agree or disagree with my previous post?
How much do you think money affects relationships?
Has a women broke up with you because a lack of funds?

November 1, 2011

Throwback Tuesday: Tyrese's "Signs Of Love Making" + New Album "Open Invitation" & Video for "Stay"

We all recall that beautiful chocolate specimen singing on the bus on the Coca-Cola commercial many years ago.  That beautiful black skin and those pearly whites exposing a raspy, yet strong vocal ability that no one had expected.  Although Tyrese first came on the scene singing, he is now more well known for his acting gigs on Hollywood blockbuster sequels like Fast & Furious and Transformers.  Fortunately, Tyrese is now getting back to his roots...R&B!

Tyrese has a few albums under his belt and some of his most noteworthy tracks like Sweet Lady and One have always been geared toward the ladies, whether it be apologizing for what he's done or saying he will do better.  I wanted to feature Tyrese's Signs Of Love Making for the Throwback Tuesday video for because it is definitely one of my favs from his body of work...check it out:

He gives a special shoutout to Scorpio females at the 1:34 mark:

"I met a Scorpio. *PAUSE* Damn! 
She had no limit to where she'd go.
And she was so damn sexual. 
She said, "Tyrese, are you ready for me?"
I'll do anything to fulfill your needs. 
Tell me what you want, and I got you baby. 
Whisper in my ear, while I'm driving you crazy". 
I'll smack it from the side. 
While I'm grabbin' them thighs. 
Now I know, what zodiac signs are all about"

Sorry...Its November, so you KNOW I had to do it!

Tyrese's new album Open Invitation hit stores and iTunes today and boasts some of his best work to date, according to the man himself.  I already love his new track Stay, which automatically takes me back to the ol' school vibe of R&B when a man would beg his woman to stay with him after he had done her wrong.  Tyrese has captured that ol' school feel and combined it with a new and fresh perspective, which I love.  He and his favorite co-star, Taraji Henson, are featured in the video for Stay.  Check it out below:

Here is the album cover and track listing for his new album Open Invitation:

1.  I’m Home (feat. Jay Rock)
2.  I Gotta Chick (feat. Rick Ross)
3.  Stay
4.  Best of Me
5.  Nothing On You
6.  One Night
7.  It’s All On Me
8.  Too Easy (feat. Ludacris)
9.  Takeover
10. I Miss That Girl
11. Interlude
12. Make Love
13. Angel (feat. Candice)
14. Walk
15. What Took You So Long
16. Do It

Are you a fan of Tyrese's?
Do you plan on purchasing the album?
How do you like the video for the first single Stay?
Do you think Tyrese can make a comeback?

October 26, 2011

Video Spotlight: J. Cole - Lost Ones

You all know I L-O-V-E J. Cole and his new album Cole World: The Sideline Story which debuted at #1 in its first week of release selling 217,000 copies.  Not bad for the North Carolina native who started this all off with a "dollar and a dream".  I'm very impressed by the subject matter, metaphors and lyrical content on the new album, especially on songs like Lights Please where he discusses a women's preoccupation with sex while he is only trying to get to know her, Breakdown where he talks about the pain of not having his father in his life, and Dollar And A Dream when he speaks of the hard times he experienced in his life. 

He keeps the balance with dance/club tracks like Can't Get Enough and Workout, but Lost Ones speaks to the experience that both a young man and women who are in love undergo once the girl finds out she is pregnant.  Cole personifies the thoughts and fears of a young man encountering this situation, as well as the abandonment a women feels when left to make the decision whether to keep their baby.

I've been pumping J. Cole for awhile so I'm happy to see the success that he is receiving after his debut release.  If you haven't heard the whole album yet I highly urge that you go out and get it and see what all the hype is about.  People are always saying that Hip Hop needs more diversity and intelligent topics, well here you go Hip Hip critics! Hopefully, this talented lyricist is here to stay.

Check out the emotional and profound Video Spotlight for Lost Ones:

Did you enjoy watching the video?
Was the subject matter on point and current with today's times?
Would you like to hear more music like this?
What are your thoughts on J. Cole as an artist?
Have you listened to the album, and if so, what are your thoughts?
What are your thoughts on abortion?

October 19, 2011

Can West Coast Hip Hop Music Make A Comeback?

I hope most of you caught The Cypher on BET's 2011 Hip Hop Awards that featured newcomers like Machine Gun Kelly and Lecrae, but what stood out most for me were the Hip Hop artists from the West Coast getting major shine.  Specifically, Kendrick Lamar, Dom Kennedy and Crooked I.  For those that don't know, Crooked I is a well known underground artist that is a vet on the West Coast Hip Hop scene, and quite possibly one of the most underrated MCs west of the Mississippi.  Kendrick Lamar has been deemed the Leader of The New School by West Coast greats Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, while collaborating with a plethora of artists from J. Cole to to Jay Rock all while toting Compton on his back. 

There are even more MCs that are making a name for themselves in the Hip Hop world that were not featured in the Cypher, but have been steadily building momentum, including Jay Rock from Watts, CA and Problem from Compton.  I could mention new artists like Tyler the Creator, who hails from Los Angeles, Lil B and Kreayshawn from Oakland, but I'd rather focus on artists like Jay Rock, Problem, and Dom Kennedy as these artists deserve more shine and attention.

Lets be honest, the West Coast Hip Hop scene hasn't been the same since Death Row was extinguished years ago.  Nowadays it seems the vets like Snoop Dogg, E-40 and Ice Cube run the game and local DJs don't give much play to West Coast artists, unless you're YG (ie. Toot It and Boot It).  With that being said, I want to highlight a few solo acts that are making a name for themselves straight from the underground to your speakers.

An Introduction To West Coast Hip Hop's Up And Comers:

Dom Kennedy
From: Leimert Park, Los Angeles, CA
Dom Kennedy was featured on BET's 2011 Cypher alongside Lady of Rage and Blind Fury.  While some critics say his "so-called" freestyle didn't cut the mustard, his name is steadily coming out of the mouths of Hip Hop enthusiasts and critics alike.  He is associated with Pacific Division AKA PacDiv, whom have been featured on MTV2 and tour the country performing and making appearances.  Kennedy has a strong mixtape following and is making waves, all with no major deal.  Kudos to him!  Here is a formal introduction, Kennedy's video Grind'n from the From The Westside With Love II mixtape:

From: Compton, CA
Problem is probably one of the most underrated rappers in the West, mainly because you've probably heard his music before, and danced to it in the club, but didn't know who he was.  He is known for club bangers like I'm Toe Up, Potion, Double Dip and I'm Burnt (a collaboration with Snoop Dogg and Kurupt).  And it doesn't stop there.  Problem is none for writing for various other artists and has worked with the likes of E-40, Too Short and DJ Quik.  His most recent body of work is featured on his mixtape Hotels that was released earlier this year.  Check out his video for Know What It Is"

Jay Rock
From: Watts, CA
Possibly best known for his recent collaboration with Kendrick Lamar on Hood Gone Love It, Jay Rock was named one of the top 13 most street artists by XXL and has worked with industry heavyweights Lil' Wayne and Will.I.Am.  His debut album Follow Me Home was released in the Summer of 2011 under Strange Music.  Check out his video for Hood Gone Love It:

I'm very excited about what these artists can possibly contribute to the West Coast Hip Hop legacy now and in the future.  Keep your eye out for artists like these and the West Coast will be back in no time.  WEST UP! lol

Have you heard of these artists from the West Coast?
Who stands out the most?
Do you think the West Coast can revive its Hip Hop scene on a major scale?
Are you a fan of West Coast music?

October 6, 2011

Video Spotlight - CJ Hilton - So Fresh

I was just recently put on to this R&B newcomer from Baltimore, MD who notes his musical influences as Usher, R. Kelly, Stevie Wonder & Marvin Gaye.  One listen to this song and you will see why.  The song has an upbeat tempo with a nice groove and Hip Hop vibe.  While R&B lovers are curious about the current state of R&B, you have newcomers like CJ Hilton, who is signed to J Records, answering the call.  CJ is 21, but has already worked with the likes of Raphael Saadiq and Marsha Ambrosius and is a talented musician and writer, writing most of his own material.  His voice is unique and I am excited to see/hear more from this cat. 

Check out the video:

For the life of me I cannot place where I have seen the main chick in the video, but I will figure it out sooner or later.  But until then, I want to know...Are you feeling this song?  Can you hear his musical influences in the track?  Do you think he can make a name for himself?  Share your thoughts!

More pics of CJ Hilton so you all can get better acquainted:

His official website:
Twitter: @iamcjofficial