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May 24, 2011

I Am Not My Hair

For centuries black women and women of color have struggled with their coarse locks that are either too curly (nappy) or euphemistically speaking, "unmanageable".  I loathe the word "nappy".  It carries such a negative undertone.  To say that black women's hair is a touchy subject would be an understatement.  The hair care industry is making billions annually, which affords black women more freedom and versatility in the hairstyles they can rock now more than ever.  Weaves, wigs, clip-ins, braids, sewed in, glued in, bonded, you name it, these ladies are doing it.  If a black woman is not straightening her hair with a hot comb, flat ironing or relaxing it, there is only one alternative...natural tresses.

If you want to know just how sticky the subject is, just ask a man who has dealt with a black woman and he will be the first to tell you all the Do's and Don'ts.  Moisture is Public Enemy #1 to a black woman's hairdo!  Yes, that's it, moisture!  Moisture can come in the form of sweat, or water or any other type of liquid, but it will instantly do one of two things: If the woman has natural hair with no chemicals on it, her hair will expand and the hair's natural curl pattern will form (afro/curly afro).  If she has a relaxer, the hair will just go limp.  I know, No bueno!  Now it makes much more sense why some black women will not swim or workout when there hair is in a specific style, right?

Not swimming and not working out can become a hinderance to your lifestyle and decrease physical activity.  There are two common remedies for this: a full weave or wig or braids or locks of some kind.  Not only do black women have to worry about Public Enemy #1, moisture, but they also have to fear another common enemy to black women's hair and that would be the black!  No, seriously! Black men love to touch their women's hair when it is fresh out the shop, sweat out her curls while engaging in physical activity ;-) and basically take a beautiful hairdo from 0-60 in 5 seconds.  To that I say, ladies, make him pay!$!$

On a more serious note, black men do not only mess up perfectly good hairdos, but they criticize them as well.  Nowadays, black men are very vocal about whether they like or dislike weaves, who should wear them and who shouldn't and what they feel your "best" look is.  I think I liked it more when men didn't care about fashion and grooming *smile*.  Either way, black women have some serious "roots" and "soul" searching to do.

So here comes the ultimate hair question.  Do black women ignore the negative "nappy" stereotypes and rock their natural hair...kinks and all? Or do they go for the easier and "manageable" route with a partial or full weave or wig?  Statistics show that more and more women are going with the latter.  Time, convenience and affordability play a big factor.  I say, if you are going to put anything on your head, just make sure it is quality, or at least looks like quality, otherwise, you are downgrading.  And it is also a good idea to pick curl patterns, styles, and colors that are flattering to your physical features.

I'm curious to know about the struggles black women have with their hair when it comes to braids, wigs, weaves and locks.  Do you find that you get attention from different people when you wear your natural hair?  Do you get criticized for wearing your weave?  I would also love to hear from the men who have something to say.....TIME TO WEIGH IN...

P.S. If you want to explore new NATURAL hairstyles, treatment, products, etc....check out this site: - "Celebrating the dopeness of natural hair."

More recently popular black celebs have been making it a "trend" to rock their natural hair and I'm lovin' it.  Check out some pics of celebs rocking natural looks:



May 21, 2011

Kelly Rowland: Motivation

I'm super proud of Kelly Rowland and her newfound confidence. The way she carries herself now with self esteem and sex appeal is a far cry from when she was living in Beyonce's shadow and promoting everything Bey; as she was a sometimes invisible member of Destiny's Child. I feel like a proud mama who has been silently urging Kelly to spread her wings, fire Matthew Knowles as her manager and fly. Most importantly, I insist that she try not to drop any singles around the same time as Beyonce! While the latter suggestion just may be a mission impossible, I still feel like God has answered my prayers.

I don't know about you, but I've always secretly routed for Kelly. She was definitely my fav in Destiny's Child. And she always seemed to support Beyonce in everything she ventured to do. That's why I wondered why Beyonce seemingly attempts to sabotage her career. The fact is that every time Kelly starts gearing up to drop a new album, here comes Beyonce and her team "leaking" new promo photos and tracks long before they are scheduled to be released, in some inadvertent way, detracting the buzz from Kelly's projects. Yeah I see you Queen Bey. Of course I could totally be wrong and Kelly could be the dumb one. Ultimately, Kelly finally showed how smart she is with her new single and video for Motivation.

Motivation is a slow and sensual track that features a sexy and seductive Kelly sauntering across the screen with the help of her sexy entourage of male dancers. Not only is the "group scene" hot and steamy, but Kelly looks choclatey smooth and better than ever as she reminds us all that she's still got it! The video is VERY edgy and explicit so if you're too prude, don't even bother watching lol. It's for the adventurous voyeur in you. So take a peak and enjoy. If this track is any indication of what's to come on the album, I'm motivated to hear more.

Check the video here:

May 18, 2011

Good Guys vs. Bad Boys

I would venture to say that in the area of love, we as individuals feel like we usually get the short end of the stick.  For some reason, as a recent friend put it, "we chase after the ones who aren't interested and shun the ones who actually love our dirty drawers."  I hear men complain about this to me all the time.

Women complain that they can't get a good man while all along there are good men on the side lines who are saying these same women that say they can't find a good man are the same women passing them over.  It's really enough to make your head spin.  How can these self proclaimed "good" men and women's wires be so crossed? One would think that these men and women would be matches made in heaven.

But here is a bit of not so common knowledge; Women seek stability, a protector and provider.  In realistic terms that means we want someone who can help us out financially from time to time, someone who can knock a nukka out and at the same time will make us feel happy and content...not complacent.  A good guy can usually be 1 or 2 of these things, but usually can't cover all 3 bases. 

If you're not already confused, let's put the "good man's" worst enemy the "thug" or the "bad boy" into the relationship mix.  The "thug" or "bad boy" is the "good man's" arch nemesis.  If the good man is Super Man then the thug is Lex Luther.  And the woman would of course be the cryptonite. When it comes to the "thug" who is actually what I like to call the new age "alpha male" they usually fit 1 of the female's core necessities in relationships, which often leave women disoriented and ultimately unable to achieve that "perfect man" she always envisioned in her dreams.  No wonder so many of us find ourselves single and on the wrong side of true love.

I am in no way a relationship expert, but it seems that the old adage is true; Opposites do attract.  The question is...are these opposites necessarily soul mates or shall we say it, built to last?  Statistics show thats probably not the case.  We as humans always seem to seek things outside ourselves. Fresh, new, and different people and experiences make us feel all giddy inside. Unfortunately, these experiences usually leave us beaten and battered in this game called love.

What I'm starting to realize is that both these "good men" and "good women" need to realize that there is no perfect man or woman out there waiting for them.  However, there is someone that is willing and able to provide at least 2 of our 3 core necessities in relationships and we need to be learn what it is more important in life and be happy with that.

So where is the happy medium? Where things aren't so black and white and opposites can live happily ever after? How can we find that grey area where we can have our cake and eat it too? ;-) I really wish I had the answer, but if I did I probably wouldn't be writing this here blog. What I can say is let's not be so picky people.  Lets prioritize what truly makes us happy before it's too late and we kiss our 75% of happiness away for 25% of complacency.  And to use two popular cliches about life, "the grass is not always greener on the other side" and "if it don't make dollas it don't make sense."

Now it's time for you to weigh in. Share your thoughts...

Toya Carter's A Family Affair

I watched the ever so highly regarded BET Network as Toya Carter's (Lil Wayne's ex-wife) version of Keyshia Cole's reality show projected on the tube.  What I saw was a far cry from the commonly seen strictly negative stereotypical ghetto portrayal of the trials and tribulations of another struggling and broken black family.  Toya's show mirrors that of Keyshia Cole's formerly successful show "Just Like You" where she featured the struggles of her family members that involved alcohol and drug abuse, abandonment, and financial hardships.  Like Keyshia Cole's mother Frankie, Toya's mother Anita has also been a drug addict for many years and has several children that she has neglected throughout the course of her disease.  The big difference is that all of Anita's children are all by the same father, the man whom intially introduced her to crack.  The family was originally living in New Orleans, but were encouraged by Toya to move to Atlanta so that they could all be together.

When I say I didn't see the stereotypical portrayal of a ghetto black family struggling through life's hardships, I didn't mean that the show does not portray extremely hood moments.  For instance, the show displays Toya's two youngest brothers fighting and one later ends up being hauled off in a police car.  Also, when Toya's youngest brother Rudy confronts his father in a disrespectful and aggressive tone it leaves Toya in tears in the wake of the aftermath. 

All families fight and all families have resentments and grudges to bear.  However, what I did witness was a young woman fighting ever so valliantly for the betterment of her family.  Not only has Toya written a book about her experiences throughout her life, but she is actively persuing an acting career and is opening up a boutique in her old stomping grounds in New Orleans.  I also saw a big brother, working to gain his brothers' respect, along with their ear, as he seeks to guide them through life's ups and downs and show them the right way to handle things.  Seeing this family trying to better itself and seek resolution despite their past is so admirable.

People always seem to bash reality series like this and judge BET for producing them, but what they fail to realize is that reality shows like this are touching millions of families across the nation that have either been through the same thing or are going through it now.  Reality shows like Toya's "A Family Affair" can shed light on the real struggles of real families behind the facade of entertainment and the glitz and the glamour.  Behind her pretty face and connection to rap superstar Lil' Wayne, Toya is a mother, a sister, and a daughter, doing her best to bring her family together in love and in progress.  If that is not positive I dont know what is. 

So before you judge these shows before you even see them and write them off as a stereotypical portrayal of black people in a negative light, try watching the show in a positive mindframe and maybe you will see the positive attributes that it can provide to those who need it most.  You never know, it just might motivate you to do something better with your life, to reunite your broken family, or to be a source of positive influence for your family members who need it most.  Becanse after all, Family Comes First!

May 11, 2011

RIP Bob Marley (February 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981)

I can recall sitting in the conference room at Universal Music and Video Production in Universal City as an intern, working in the music industry, as I sat and listened to the lineup of mentors they had selected to speak to us about the music industry.  One thing I will never forget was a trivia question that one speaker asked the crowd of interns.  "What is Universal Music's best selling album every year for the past ten years?".  We all thought long and hard, some blurted out answers but it didn't matter because we were all wrong and had no clue as to what the answer was.  Then it was finally uttered, Bob Marley's album Legend held the crown for the best selling album in all of Universal's (Island Records) catalogue, year after year.

I think we all were completely shocked to hear this bit of information.  But now that I know what I know about Bob Marley, I am not surprised.  Clearly, the biggest reggae artist to ever hit the scene (then and now), Marley was a pioneer and trailblazer in the genre of reggae, which he almost single-handedly put on the map and spread around the world.  Reggae, a genre that portrays the love, hurts, trials and triumphs of the people of Jamaica, speckled with ska and rocksteady influences, is now an international genre, played and recorded all over the world by people of various races, religions and backgrounds.

I also recall a good friend in college who spoke so eloquently and passionately about Marley, his music and his political contributions.  Still ignorant to the life and legacy of Bob Marley I sat and listened in awe as he told me about the day Bob tried to unite the political parties of Jamaica in a free political concert called One Love Peace concert.  This is the day that the stars aligned, the clouds separated and Bob Marley got two rival leaders of Jamaica's political parties to shake hands.  He did this, after being wounded at a previous political concert with the same unite the people of Jamaica.

Learning this and observing Marley's resolve opened my mind to the almost "saviour-like" figure that Bob was and still is for the people of Jamaica and his fans across the globe.  He combined his passion for music, politics and his love for the Rastafari Movement and created musical masterpieces that are outselling living artists to this day.  I sat back and thought had America seen a figure like this throughout its history of popular music?  An artist that would risk his life and/or his popularity to "get up and stand up for our rights"?  An artist who shunned popular thought and practices and declared his rightful place in the musical legend/icon category?

One listen to songs like "One Love", "Buffalo Soldier" "Get Up, Stand Up", "I Shot The Sheriff", "No Woman, No Cry", and "Jamming", and countless others and it is clear that these songs are indelibly imprinted on the minds and hearts of his fans around the world.

Marley had many children, some of who are still making music and are carrying out his legacy whether it be via fashion or activism.  The commercialization of Bob Marley's persona and his music is somewhat disappointing.  Whether his family profits or not, the marketing and branding of his image is almost disgraceful when you think about what he fought and struggled for through his life and music.  He was so much more than red, green and yellow ironed on logo tees, zippo lighters and beanies.  A Bob Marley festival does not do justice nor lend credit to what this man was able to accomplish in his short time here on earth.  Despite the commercialization of his music; his beliefs, his words and his legacy lives and thrives in the hearts of reggae enthusiasts around the world and finds itself as a major influence in the musical genres of Hip Hop, R&B, Rock, Pop, and so much more.

His Rebel Music will stand the test of time and we will forever be reverred and honored for his greatness through music and political activism. RIP Soldier!

What is your favorite Bob Marley song?
What does his life and legacy mean to you?

Movie Review: Jumping The Broom

I really wanted to support Bishop T.D. Jakes' film Jumping The Broom this past weekend in the box office.  I was concerned when I learned that it was competing with Fast & Furious 5 and Thor, two epic movies with huge box office potential.  I often hear black folks complain that there are no quality black films being produced anymore and all the movies seem to portray a gun-toting black man/comedian dressed up as a black woman, (think Madea, Big Momma's House, etc.).  I was curious to see if these people who constantly complain would actually go out and support a positive all black film with black producers, a black director and a pretty much all black cast.

I heard so many great things about the movie before I actually saw it.  I heard the movie would make you laugh and cry and even self reflect all within the matter of a couple hours.  The movie was directed by Salim Akil and produced by Tracey Edmonds (Babyface's ex-wife) and T.D. Jakes and the cast consisted of Paula Patton (Idelwild), Laz Alonso, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Meagan Good (The Game), Tasha Smith and DeRay Davis, Pooch Hall (The Game) and Mike Epps.

The title of the film is derived from the African American tradition of the bride and groom jumping over a ceremonial broom after being pronounced married.  The movie portrayed the trials and tribulations of bringing together two families from opposite sides of the tracks and how two lovers can get lost in the rigamarole of planning and carrying out a wedding.  The veteran cast displayed its talents and brought the script to life, while Mike Epps literally had me falling out of my seat.  He definitely stole the show from the rest of the cast.  Paula Patton looked goregous as usual and Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine both portrayed their strong black woman roles as the bride and groom's mothers.

I enjoyed the movie from start to finish and like I was told I would, I laughed, cried and even did some self reflecting.  When I saw T.D. Jakes was a part of the production I automatically thought it would be a "holy roller" movie that hit you over the head with weak religious undertones but I was pleasantly surprised to see a plot with "meat" and a cast that was willing to really dig deep to drive the message home to the viewers.  I highly recommend this movie to folks who liked The Best Man or just enjoy romantic comedies.  If you plan on getting married soon or not at all, this movie is still for you.

Jumping The Broom projected a reasonable $16 million box office ticket as it was a highly competitive weekend.  GO SEE IT!  If you have already seen it, did you enjoy it? Who was your favorite cast member?  Remember, just dont' spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet. *wink*

May 10, 2011

A Purple Party: Prince performs at the Great Western Forum

Who doesn't love Prince, the artist, the symbol, or whatever he's making us call him for the moment?  Fact is, he is an irreplaceable figure in the pantheon of R&B, Pop, Soul and Rock music....period!  Prince is clearly an undeniable icon and legend known not just for his music, but his persona and fashion sense *side eye at the booty cut out pants*.  So naturally, when I heard he would be performing at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood for 21 dates, to say I was elated would be an understatement.

I have friends who have attended his concerts in the recent past and their biggest complaints were that he did not perform the music that made him who he is.  Classics like Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, 1999, etc. were left out, I'm assuming because at that time he was in a bitter war with Columbia Records over the rights to said music.  This bit of information had me a little weary concerning the performance, but I had heard so many great things from friends whom had already attended that I wasn't too worried.

I was given a set of rules to follow from previous attendees, which consisted of:

1. Eat before you go.
2. Do NOT arrive on time.  Prince will not hit the stage until approximately 9 pm, even though tickets said the show starts at 7:30p
3. BYOB, if possible.
4. Parking could be a nightmare ao make plans accordingingly.
5. Do not leave after his performance; stay for the encore.

Needless to say, I followed the directions and everything went smoothly.  Prince features a special guest every night he performs that have included the likes of Gwen Stefani, Chaka Khan, Sheila E., Mint Condition and Alicia Keys just to name a few.  Chaka was the special guest of the night and she literally tore the house down.  She sounded and looked amazing and truly gave her all to the performance.  She performed hits like I Feel For You, Through The Wire, Aint Nobody, and Stay.  She is truly one of the original R&B divas who paved the way for female artists like Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, and Brandy and I was so happy to finally see her perform.

During her set she brought Whitney Houston on stage to sing *side eye*.  Whitney's voice is completely gone.  The crowd exploded once Whitney got on stage, but after she started singing, I think everyone was happy to see her go shortly thereafter.

The sound quality was dynamic and Prince's band was amazing.  The entire Great Western Forum partied the entire time and the energy was electric.  Prince performed songs like Little Red Corvette, 1999, When Doves Cry, I Would Die For You, Cream, Diamonds and Pearls and much more.  He still looks good and moves like he did on Purple Rain.

Ultimately, Prince is trying to raise the profile of the Great Western Forum which has seen a lack of top concerts and performances at the venue in recent years.  I believe this is a great way to bring back the legacy of this great venue that is a huge part of the fabric and history of Inglewood/Los Angeles County.

If you still have yet to see Prince in all of his purple majesty, don't worry, there is still time.  There are still concert dates that are forthcoming so be sure to get your tickets which start at $25 a pop.  Prince performs a different set each night so there is always something new to experience.  Make sure to follow the directions set above for an enjoyable time and last but not least, PARTY LIKE ITS 1999!

May 2, 2011

The Ladies Who Lunch, Soiree & Partay!: A Nobody Jones Fashion Show

I was invited to The Ladies Who Lunch, Soiree & Partay! Fashion Show by Odessa Bowden, owner of Nobody Jones Boutique, this past Friday at 4703 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90043 to view the Spring/Summer Collection.  I recently featured her boutique on my blog a little while ago Fab Spotlight: Nobody Jones Boutique, For The Fashionista On A Budget.  To say that I was impressed would be an understatement.  Not only did Odessa switch it up like she always does, by having an outdoor catwalk accompanied by a DJ that was mixin' all of my favorite songs, but she also presented a slideshow that featured a photgraphic history of her fashions from over the years from various fashion shows, celebrity clients, and Yours Truly, from my 30th birthday party last year.  Once I saw my picture projected up on the storefront I was uber excited (see below).

Maya Nichelle featured in Nobody Jones
As I sat front row, I got first glimpses of the looks that she had prepared for the season.  Nobody Jones always features local models to rock her stylish frocks and I was pleasantly surprised to see Krisin Dione, model/actress and Petal d' Avril, both whom are vets when it comes to her shows and good friends of mine.  These two definitely know how to work a runway.

Nobody Jones displayed a variety of dresses, tops, skirts, jumpsuits and swimwear in bold and solid colors as well as in varying patterns.  The most eye catching pattern was definitely her pieces made in the black/white F-U-C-K print.  I was talking to a few ladies next to me in the rows and we all agreed that one must be bold and daring to walk out the house with this on.  It is definitely a statement piece.


 Other looks went along with her popular theme of bold hues:

And of course, it wouldn't be Nobody Jones without her fun and flirty prints:

Odessa covered her bases on the swimwear as well:

Overall, I enjoyed the show, met some cool peeps and said hello to a few old friends.  I got some unique ideas for the Spring/Summer and I am dying to snag the colorful handbags she featured and a few choice accessories!!!!  For more pics and info. check her out on Facebook - Nobody Jones Boutique.

Please contact Maya Nichelle @Born Too Blog for fashion show, performance, music or venue reviews.