BornTooBlog Readers

November 5, 2012

Black Girls Rock 2012

Tracee Ellis-Ross and Regina King hosted this year's installment of Black Girls Rock on BET.  This program is always a touching one because I remember back to when I was younger and although we had a few positive black female role models in the media, I never was able to witness such an exemplary display of Black Star Power in one room on one night.  Its just a wonderful reminder of how far we've come and just how far we have to go, but in that I must give major kudos to Beverly Bond, founder of Black Girls Rock, Inc. and the wonderful Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET, for putting on such an amazing event.

The performances were stellar, including appearances by Alicia Keys, Brandy, Keyshia Cole, SWV, Ciara, Missy Elliot and India.Arie.  The ladies held it down as they performed recently released songs and showed why they are Black Girls who Rock! The night wouldn't have been complete without some love from the fellas.  Idris Elba came out looking like a bag of money as he introduced the gents that were going to honor the ladies of the night: Luke James (I recently featured him on BornTooBlog), alongside Eric Benet and Anthony Hamilton, literally tore the house down.  The trio sounded amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed their performance.

Black Girls Rock honored the likes of Janelle Monae, the new face of CoverGirl, Kerry Washington, who is now playing one of the most powerful women in the country on her hit series, "Scandal", living legend, Dionne Warwick, Susan Taylor, former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, Alicia Keys, who is a philanthropist in her own right with her successful charity and Humanitarian Dr. Hawa Abdi's and her daughters' work in poverty stricken Somalia.

This program is a testament to the beauty, strength and power in numbers when focused on uplifting the youth in an effort to prepare them for the future in a positive way that impacts us all.  Showing young black girls positive role models in this day and age is priceless and is so needed.

Below are some pictures from the red carpet and event:

Tracee Ellis Ross looked sleek and classy.

Eva Longoria's dress was cute but it wasn't very flattering

Gabby Union looked chic and sleek, but I'm not loving the wig.
I'm still on the fence on Laura Govan's frock.

Kerry Washington doesn't often disappoint, but tonight she did.
Keyshia Cole looked amazing in this figure hugging gown
Idris Elba...nuff said!

Smile Lala, you look great!!!!

Luke James getting his James Dean on!

Marsha Ambrosius seems to be keeping the weight off..good for her!
I wonder what the congregation had to say about the Preacher's Wife's fit for the night.
Mona Scott-Young and Kerry Washington
Taraji P. Henson giving a backshot ;-)

Did you see the program?
What did you think of the performances?
What were your thoughts on the fashion choices?
Were you touched by the work of any of the nominees?


October 23, 2012

Music Review: Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d city"

After dropping 3 critically acclaimed albums, "Kendrick Lamar EP", "O(verly)D(edicated)" and "Section.80" on the Top Dawg Entertainment indie imprint, the artist formerly known as K.Dot delivers his major label debut, a short film called, "Good Kid, m.A.A.d City". With so many artists conforming to the major label corporate agenda, dropping the typical radio single that sounds cookie cutter and manufactured in hopes of selling a lot of records only to recoup that advance back to the label; The great Dr. Dre gave Kendrick complete artistic control of this album that has no out of place songs or forced colabs. This album unfolds just like a movie. There are characters, good times, drama, thrillers, violence, a sex scene, redemption and some deep thought.

The film starts in the end. Pulp Fiction-esque. The album opens with a prayer in which he is asking Jesus to be his Lord and Savior. What is remarkable about Kendrick is his story telling ability. At the very beginning of the album he’s telling a story about how he met Sherane over the summer and then began to lust over her even though her family is tied into gangs. He then takes his mother's car to pay her a visit and is greeted by two guys in black hoodies. The song is interrupted by one of several skits that helps creates this album's cohesiveness. His mother calls asking him, “when are you bringing the car back?”, and his Dad is in the background irritated that Kendrick took his dominoes.  In the skit he states that Kendrick's mother is killing his vibe. Then the story really starts to take off with “Backseat Freestyle”. His homies come and pick him up and everybody is feeling good and carefree. Kendrick's friend pops in a beat CD and Kendrick lets off a barrage of aggressive rhymes with tales of being young and reckless over another banger produced by Hit Boy ("N’s in Paris", "Clique", "Theraflu").

The Art of Peer Pressure” enters with stating that he is actually a sober soul, but he’s with the homies so he’ll indulge in their mischief of weed smoking, liquor drinking and hollering at girls.  His crew also gets involved with jumping guys from the wrong neighborhood and doing home invasions. The album takes a turn after he gets jumped by the guys in the black hoodies after he pulls up to Sherane's house. He finds himself in the role of Trey from "Boyz in the Hood", upset with the violence and police corruption that he is surrounded by with the Pharrell produced track, “Good Kid”. The MC Eiht assisted “m.A.A.d City” finds and his friends retaliating for the fight and ends up with K.dots friend Dave killed in the battle.

In “Sing About Me /I'm Dying of Thirst”, Kendrick finds hope in Jesus and holy water as he feels as though he’s dying of thirst and truly needs some type of guidance. The album ends with “Real” and “Compton”. His father explains to him that “real is in responsibility/real is in taking care of your family/real is God nigga” and “Compton” is the victory lap in which he is giving homage to the city that made him.

The lyrics, the beats, the cohesiveness, the introspective view and the concept of this album are all what’s missing in mainstream/radio Hip Hop today. Instead of throwing random songs together with the typical "flavor of the month" features, Kendrick took matters into his own hands. This debut album is a body of work and a rare commodity in gaudy mainstream Hip Hop. He’s definitely the “Good Kid in a m.A.A.d. city”. Certified classic debut.

By Shannon Page

Are you a fan of Kendrick Lamar?
Have you heard his mixtapes?
What do you think about his debut album?
What is your favorite track on the album?

October 22, 2012

Why Do Men Have Kids By Women They Don't Like?

Men having children by women they can't stand is no new occurrence or phenomenon.  Sure there are plenty of parents that were in love when they conceived their children, and later, due to unforeseen circumstances, fell out of love.  But what about the men who were never in love with the mothers of their children, yet consistently had unprotected sex with these women, knowing they would not get along in a parenting situation, or even worse, that they would be unfit mothers?  Who is holding these men responsible for planting seeds in women that they knew beyond the shadow of a doubt would make things hard when it came to seeing their child or would use the child as bait to get the things they want from the man?

I will give some the benefit of the doubt in saying that maybe the woman flipped once she found out she was pregnant or that the man didn't want to be with her, but many men knew the temperament and personality of the women they were having unprotected sex with and instead of "pulling out" or even better, wearing a condom, they chose to go all in.  Scratch that, how about choosing not to deal with women whom you have nothing in common with other than sex so things like this don't happen at all?  Does something happen when a man is inside a woman that doesn't allow him to restrain himself from ejaculating in her?  Does the woman's vagina have some sort of timed vice grip that holds the man inside her until he fertilizes her egg? Somebody help me out here.

It may seem like I'm being silly or funny, but I'm dead serious!!!  Why do men continuously impregnate women that they can't stand and have no possibility of having a future with outside of child support cases and birthday parties?  It seems to me if said men took a little time to think past their penis, they would be smarter when dealing with women where signs of negativity are already present.  A child is a lifetime responsibility and I'm sure many men regret that one fatal time where they let the vagina get the best of them.  Men want to be seen as so strong and macho, yet can't fight off a woman that means them no earthly good.  What's the point of having muscles and endurance if you can't fight off a lifetime of heartache and regret?

I think men need to think twice when having sex with ANY WOMAN that they deem is not mother or wifey material.  That way, they can lessen the chances of impregnating a woman that will literally suck the life out of them throughout the duration of their co-parenting of the child.

September 19, 2012

Evelyn Lozada Breaks Her Silence on Iyanla Vanzant's "Fix My Life"

Oprah has faced some hardships since she shut down the Oprah Winfrey Talk Show and started her own network called OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) on cable TV, but she is slowly starting to build up steam for the relatively new network with exclusive interviews with the likes of Rihanna, Usher, Jennifer Hudson and more.  Her new show featuring life coach guru Iyanla Vanzant has also made major waves featuring the exclusive interview with Evelyn Lozada, Basketball Wives Miami reality star and estranged wife of Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson via Vanzant's show on OWN called "Fix My Life".

The irony of it all is that Lozada initially agreed to appear on the show to "fix her life" prior to her domestic violence incident with her husband, in an effort to shun her bad girl image that she not only gets paid to portray on Basketball Wives, but has garnered a book deal and hefty appearance fees for the reality star.  After receiving backlash from the public and well known celebrities like Star Jones, Lozada finally realized that she did not want to be seen as the angry Latina woman that had originally created her stardom and celebrity, citing that her "ah ha" moment was when her step daughters mocked and idolized her violent actions on Basketball Wives.  Lozada was determined to turn a corner and show the true her, get past her fears, pain and regret, and move forward to a healthier and more peaceful life.

In the first episode of the show, Iyanla delved deep into Evelyn's childhood and got to the core of her pain, rage and anger that often is seen played out on TV for all to see.  Iyanla wanted to help her find her inner child that was still hurting from being rejected by her father.  Iyanla was surprised to see that her husband, Chad Johnson, was not present for the interview although he had committed to being there.  This was a red flag for Iyanla and she quickly proclaimed that in regards to her marriage, that Lozada was, "in trouble".  With Vanzant somehow foreseeing the future, she later heard the news with the rest of the world that Evelyn and Chad had been involved in a domestic dispute which allegedly involved Evelyn being headbutted by Chad, requiring Evelyn to get stitches in her forehead.

After the alleged headbutting incident, Evelyn has since filed for divorce and says she has not spoken to Chad.  The second part of the segment was recorded after the incident and Iyanla had somewhat of a "I told you so" vibe, while letting Evelyn once again, dig deep into her inner self to determine how she got to this point.  I was so proud of Evelyn for her courage to want to change and her honesty throughout the process.  Evelyn showed her vulnerability as she constantly shed tears while consistently confronting her past, present and future.

Seeing Lozada in this light really changed my views on her and I have never seen her look more beautiful and endearing.  Lozada and Vanzant ultimately determined that her anger and rage stemmed from her abandonment as a child by her father and her dealings with men (promiscuity, low self esteem and teenage pregnancy) were also bi-products of this still open wound.  Vanzant urged Lozada to discover who she truly was without the high profile marriage, hit reality show and closet full of Louboutins and the exchange was incredibly moving and inspiring.

I wish Evelyn Lozada the best on her journey to set an example for young girls, as the truly strong and beautiful woman that she is and hope that she finds her true calling, as she acknowledged that, "its not to act a fool on TV".  To say that this show made me look into myself for similar answers to the ills that plague me would be an understatement.  The show is definitely something I'll watch in the future as I believe I can learn and grow from the courageous stories of others.

Here is some video footage of the exchange between Lozada and Vanzant on "Fix My Life":

Did you watch the two part segment of Lozada on Iyanla Vanzant's "Fix My Life"?
Do you now have a different perception of Evelyn Lozada, the "bad girl" on Basketball Wives?
Do you have "daddy issues" stemming from abandonment as a child?
Have you ever been a victim of domestic abuse?
Does her courage and honesty inspire you to tackle some heavy issues in your own life?

September 11, 2012

Who Is Luke James?

I know I'm a little on the late freight with featuring this R&B newcomer, but I'm pretty sure many of you have not heard of him or maybe, you heard his music and didn't know his name, nor his face.  Well, the wait is over!  I was blown away by this guy when he performed on "Verses & Flow," a new show on TVOne that features talented spoken word artists a la Def Poetry Jam.  James, originally from New Orleans, tore down the stage with his strong, yet silky smooth vocals and dynamic energy.  Little did I know that he was responsible for one of my favorite R&B songs on the radio right now, "I Want You," where he declares his love for his dream girl.

Below is a video of "I Want You":

Here is a video of James' performance on "Verses & Flow":

In "Guilty Pleasure," James sings about a love that is so wrong, yet so right and I love the energy he brought to the stage.  Luke James' pre-release album, "#Luke," will be released on Def Jam.  Besides his musical dealings, he has been featured as the leading man in several videos, such as, Melanie Fiona's, "4 A.M.," Beyonce's, "Run The World," and has penned songs for the likes of Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown and more.  I'm excited to see what this vibrant newcomer will bring to the R&B scene.

Here are a few more pictures of Mr. James:

You can find him on Twitter @WhoIsLukeJames
Luke James' Official Website:

What do you think of Luke James?
Have you ever heard of him?
Would you buy his album?
Would you like to see more from this new talent?

September 6, 2012

Video Spotlight: Lupe Fiasco - Bitch Bad

My BornTooBlog readers know I've spoken on this occurrence of the confusion between a man wanting a "bad bitch", but also wanting her to possess the qualities of a "good girl".  In my previous post, Men Say They Want A Good Woman, But Chase Bad Girls, I explained my confusion with men who think they can have both and laid out some general definitions of what these perceptions really mean.  Now lyricist/activist Lupe Fiasco has put it in a song called, "Bitch Bad". 

Lupe speaks on this reoccurring contradiction in Hip Hop music as he raps:

Now imagine there's a shawty, maybe five maybe four
Ridin' 'round with his mama listening to the radio
And a song comes on and not far off from being born
Doesn't know the difference between right and wrong
Now I ain't trying to make it too complex
But let's just say shawty has an undeveloped context
About the perception of women these days
His mama sings along and this what she says
"nigga I'm a bad bitch, and I'm bad bitch
Far above average"

First he's relatin' the word "bitch" with his mama, comma
And because she's relatin' to herself
his most important source of help
and mental health, he may skew respect for dishonor

Sure enough, in this little world
The little boy meets one of those little girls
And he thinks she a bad bitch and she thinks she a bad bitch
He thinks disrespectfully, she thinks of that sexually
She got the wrong idea, he don't wanna fuck her
He thinks she's bad at being a bitch like his mother
Just like that, you see the fruit of the confusion
He caught in a reality, she caught in an illusion
Bad mean good to her, she really nice and smart
But bad mean bad to him, bitch don't play your part
But bitch still bad to her if you say it the wrong way
But she think she a bitch, what a double entendre
Check out the video:

I'm glad Lupe has spoken up on this underlying contradiction that has become so popular in rap music these days.  He's received a lot of flack for the song, as well as, his anti-Obama views, but I am still a big fan of this young and talented artist and I'm glad he's sharing his perspective on the subject and various other subjects.

What did you think about the video?
Do you agree with what Lupe Fiasco is saying?
Do you feel its a contradiction for a man to want a "bad bitch" but also want a "good woman"?
What are your thoughts on the song and lyrics?

August 21, 2012

Helpful Tips on Redesigning Your Home

I've recently embarked on redesigining my apartment and it has been both a fulfilling and arduous process.  Although I have yet to fully complete the entire project, I wanted to share some helpful tips along the way to inspire and encourage others that may be contemplating redecorating or are currently in the process of doing so.

First things first! You must have a vision for how you want your place to look, feel and be perceived before you start.  You can browse through home design magazines, search for looks online or mirror a look/feel that you've seen in a friend's home or on TV.  Whichever way you go, make sure that the picture that you are trying to portray fits your personality and is functional for your lifestyle.

I believe a great starting point is to go for the colors/paint that will set your intended mood for each room of your home.  The functionality of each room will help you determine the colors you want to set forth.  For instance, if its your bedroom, you might want colors that will make you feel relaxed.  Painting your bedroom bright yellow may not fair well when its time to go to sleep so keep in mind what colors bring about what moods.

Selecting the perftect color for your room can help jumpstart ideas for furniture, accessories and accents.  Let the color be the driving force along with the style you would like to encompass the room.

They say style is everything so be sure to select a design style that fits your personality.  Are you a modern chick or a vintage guy?  Do you like classic art or cultural offerings?  The style of your room/house should flow throughout so if you have your mind set on having a Japanese style bedroom, you might not want to feature classic/victorian style furniture and pieces in the living room.  Every room doesn't have to be the same, but the themes in each room should complement each other, just as the colors you choose for each room should as well.

French style furniture

Victorian Style Bedroom Set

Modern Style Bedroom

Modern Living Room
Barbie Dream Home Style

Asian Style Bedroom
Be Patient.
Once you've decided on your colors and style/theme, next you have to choose the furniture pieces and accents that will bring this vision to fruition.  There are all sorts of DIY (Do it yourself) projects that can be accomplished with the help of Home Depot or Lowes, as well as, self help guides on how to turn old and outdated pieces into something fresh, new and all your own.  If you are a handy DIY type of person, this should be reflected throughout your home and will give you a great sense of pride once it is completed.

Also remember, your perfect home will not be completed overnight.  It will take time and focus to find the right pieces for each room.  Most importantly, don't settle!!!  Choosing pieces out of convenience and not because they match your dream/vision of your new home is not the way to go.  If you have a certain piece in mind and can't find it in stores, don't give up.  Search online on furniture stores, craigslist and at Goodwills/furniure depots.  Allow yourself the time to find the right pieces and don't rush the process.  Eventually everything will all come together.

Its All in the Details.
Making your home all your own can be one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do.  No piece, item or artifact is too small or insignificant to go unnoticed in the overall theme.  The trick to creating a beautiul style/decor in your home is focusing on the details.  There is no need to match everything to your wall color, but again, there must be continuity.  Accents like throws, pillows, picture frames, art, centerpieces, paintings, drapes, etc. are what brings the character into your space.  Contrasting colors that blend well, but also POP is what you want to focus on.  Be daring and brave and shun colors that are dull and boring.  Instead, let the color do the talking for you to create a look and feel all your own.  Your color pallettes should speak to your personality and style.  Let the color and details speak for you.


Ballin' on a Budget.
Redesigning/Decorating your home can be intimidating style wise and financially as well.  Don't let the price tags get you down or discouraged.  There are plenty of affordable furniture outlets that can give you the look and feel you want and not break the bank.  Besides, what's the point of sitting in a beautifully designed space and you're eating Top Ramen for a year.  Again, this is an issue of patience.  There is no rush to purchase all of your items at once.  Create a budget each month on what you have to spend on items and follow your plan.  It will take sacrifice, but the end result is all worth it.

Follow Your Heart.
In your excitement to celebrate your current progress, you might invite some family and friends over to take a look at the place.  Of course we want our guests to love our new space, but you shouldnt feel deterred if everyone isn't as geeked about your choices as you are.  Always remember, this is your space.  You will be the one living in the space so negative feedback should be taken with a grain of salt, unless of course, the feedback is coming from an interior design professional who's work you admire and trust.  This is your place, your vision and your hardwork...make it your own!!!!

Are you currently redecorating your home and found these tips helpful?
Do you have any design tips for the BornTooBlog readers?
Is there a design disaster story you would like to share?
Has this post influenced you to redecorate your home?