Long Live X !

Lately, I’ve been doing my best to ensure that I  practice what I preach; keeping in mind to reciprocate the same energy unto myself I exude to others.

It always seem to amaze me how the death or birth of one person could shake the world up and evoke universal emotions, causing people to put their differences aside. So, when you hear people say music is their life, believe them it’s no joke. XXXTentacion’s influence on his cult-like fanbase is proof.

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The name XXXTentacion might be unfamiliar to most and up until his death that was probably your first introduction to him. For other people, just hearing his name brings tears to their eyes. I have a confession, when I received the news of his death, it took me a minute to put a face to the name. Even then I still had some difficulty and immediately did what most people do when we need a visual reminder, googled him.  I had never personally went out of my way to search his music and listen to it.  I told myself I wouldn’t listen to the hip-hop freshman of this generation and cancelled him out before even giving him a try.

Well, look at me now. I spent the last few days since XXXTentacion’s transition (06.18.2018) obsessively listening to his music on streaming sites such as sound cloud and apple music. I have to admit his talent exceeds far beyond intense messages of his troubled life and turnt up riot music. He presents his real life experiences, pains, and inspirational messages to fans, then etches them into his musically inclined talents.

His musical style is an infusion of diverse genres including: alternative rock, heavy metal, and of course, hip hop/rap. My eyes have been glued to youtube searching for any answers to reveal the truth about his untimely death-others may arguably say, it was a publicity stunt and he’s still very much alive.

This is why the cliche “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” quote continuously resurfaces in my life. Before listening to his music, I remember seeing images of XXXTentacion: dreadlocks wildly protruding from his head, dark squinted eyes, tatted body from face to torso and a grim, unsmiling face.

0621-xxxtentacion-insta-3I saw the images and instantly judged him. I’m usually not one to judge, but let’s be honest everyone judges to some extent, whether it’s intentional or unintentional.  I’m in no position to judge, but his pictures gave me a eerie vibe. My first thoughts were, he’s either on some heavy drugs; a demon worshipper in the industry; or just another trap rapper, with nonsensical rhymes who will end up having a short lived career.

I guess in some instances my judgement was true, indeed his career was short lived but to my knowledge all of my other assumptions held no truth.

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From what I read in articles, heard in his lyrics, watched on youtube interviews and his social media videos, his life wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t perfect.  Based on the alleged assaults and incidents he seemed self destructive; constantly getting into fights and harming others. Yet, he was mindful of becoming a better man and he used his music as a cathartic method to express his personal pains, while voicing his opinions about the injustices of the world. He served as a catalyst for the youth to promote love (on all levels), and speak positivity; always reminding his supporters (mostly adolescents) to not cheat themselves of living to their greatest potential.

XXXTenatacion was categorized as a  “black sheep” “troubled”  whatever other adjectives the media and the general population have listed him underneath are welcome to this list. It truly saddens me to write this post because we all have a purpose-maybe his was fulfilled or only getting started. What so ever it was, each of our experiences are different for a reason and no one leads a perfect life. By the way, what is perfect? if you’re perfect then you’ll have no room to grow or learn. Ask yourself this, would you rather be perfect than flawed?  The human race has fallen into the dark pit of desensitization. We are quick to label, judge, scrutinize and condemn without having  full awareness of ourselves and confronting our own demons.

I didn’t know him on a personal level or even reached a pinnacle to converse with him. From my personal research, I’ve only seen the media depict a distorted perception of him. Yet, i decided to perceive him in my own light and not based on someone else’s opinion of him. I always try to remind myself:

Keep an open

Research

Know the facts

& Bring them to the table with YOUR perspective

In the days, months, years to come, I hope the novelty of XXXTentacion’s death doesn’t wear off instantly. We live in an age where gun and gang violence are normalized, we mourn for a few seconds then quickly forget and move on with our lives.

Yeah, you might read this and call me a “fake supporter” but sometimes it takes death for someone to live eternally. I don’t mean live in the sense of physicality but spiritual and lyrically. I’ll admit, I’m not a day one but from now on I’m a forever.

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Rest easy Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy,  the world will NEVER forget you.

LONG. LIVE. X.

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The AfroPunk Experience: Live in your truth

IMG_2464Leikeli47 performing at AfroPunk17

This post is long overdue, but it’s better now than never, right?

When it comes to AfroPunk, a few things come to mind:

Eclectic fashion

Black culture

Music

Afros

Natural hair/braids

Unity

Platfroms

Free spirits

Diversity

Punk rockers

& Of course a whole lot of “BK love”

Personally,  after experiencing AfroPunk for myself what comes to mind is love for ALL people. Yes, white supremacists you read correctly, I said all people. So that includes your Negro lovin’ white brethren.

Amidst all the hatred that has occurred and is transpiring, it warmed my heart to see people of different cultures, ages, and various backgrounds congregate together. Events like AfroPunk show that no matter how disparate, inferior or superior, society attempts to make us feel, in the grand scheme of things we’re actually all just human beings.  AfroPunk is more than just a fashion runway for attendees , a concert lineup of dope artists (both mainstream and upcoming) it’s an open forum for individuals to freely be their self in their most truest and purest form. In this space of Afrocentric love and appreciation; people are able to be Black and proud + say it out loud! With no discrimination to any other cultures.

Is it fake of me for initially wanting to see three main performers: The sultry Solange, fearless Willow Smith, and carefree SZA.

Yea, I guess it is a little fake of me for wanting to support only three artists among the array of talented acts. Well guess what AfroPunk organizers caught the drift and I was swindled into paying for a weekend pass. Yup they got me. Oh and By the way, Solange, SZA and Willow you’re welcome.

All in all, the AfroPunk experience is one of the major highlights of summer 2017 and it’s also my first official summer returning home to reclaim my place as a New Yorker after years of traveling to and from Buffalo, residing there for a year as a post-graduate (Phew) that was a mouth full. Let me just say it’s bittersweet readjusting to living in NYC with my parents in my childhood home. any who, that’s another story for a different day.

Back to the main topic, AfroPunk! There isn’t a more satisfying feeling in the world than having the opportunity to wholeheartedly live in an experience you’ve always wanted to do. Most of us (yes, i’m including myself) pile a ton of things on our to-do lists, but never actually live to see the day that particular seeded dream manifests into a living breathing reality.

The feelings of love and good vibes immersed me, almost suffocated me both physically and emotionally. I felt a sense of relief being in a place where people weren’t overtly judging others for their clothes, hairstyle or musical choice. We embraced and celebrated all of our differences and similarities through the love of music.

For those New Yorkers who have not gone to AfroPunk, I say this you should be ashamed of yourself and even if it’s not your thing you shouldn’t knock it before you try it. Check out the line up and give it a shot, you might just discover some new music to add to your playlistI, I know I did. Besides my three must-see artists, I’m now feeling the Afrocentric, feminist vibe of the HWIC Princess Nokia, the fast paced, get-up-outyour-seat hip hop dance music of Leikeli 47 and hardcore, British rapper Little Simz made Nicki Minaj and Remy Martin look like mere nursery rhymes.

Looking back at the AfroPunk Saturday lineup, there was some serious female empowerment vibes.

The most important aspect of AfroPunk is that it’s not a place to proliferate ideologies of sexism, racism, xenophobia and/or cruel intentions. Leave your violence and negativity at the door, as the great, rap trio Migos once said “Yea that way”—> For those of you who don’t know what that means let me clarify: Leave. The. BS. At the door. It’s not welcome in this space.

Self expression comes in multiple forms, love of music, fashion, and artistry. Thank you AfroPunk for allowing us to freely incorporate all three.

And my Amigos here a few fun pictures for you to scroll through. Enjoy!

IMG_2489What can I say, I have a thing for murals.

IMG_2472 .    Little Simz

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“Hoping my 20-somethings don’t end, hoping to keep the rest of my friends” -SZA

 

 

 -S.Yolee