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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Beautiful disaster

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If you perceive beauty, the way I do; you’ll know beauty arises from  and is often hidden in some of the most tragic, depressing and ugliest moments in our lives.

It’s been nearly a month since my mini-getaway trip to PR. Which I have to admit turned out better than I initially anticipated. My best friend, Shayna, felt it was only right to celebrate her 25 years of life on a beautiful tropical island;  Me, being the tropic-lover I am, just had to say YOLO and agree to it.

I’m sure it sounds like we had our trip all planned out for weeks, but the truth is, we didn’t. Prior to the trip and the impending arrival of Shayna’s birthday we spent days indecisively choosing between California or Florida. I guess you can tell we just wanted to be somewhere warm. Then she finally asked, “what do you think about PR” At first, I was a little reluctant, since PR is only a few months shy of full recovery from the devastations of Hurricane Maria. I did some research and-without sounding insensitive-we both figured since San Juan is the capital, it should be in better shape as opposed to the other cities/towns and nonetheless, visitor friendly.

And, just like that our decision was finalized.

My parents being the worried wart’s they are, were concerned about my sudden expedition to Puerto Rico. They tried to come up with every plausible reason for me to cancel the trip. Here are a few examples, just so you get an idea (just add a Jamaican accent!)  Is it safe there? Didn’t PR just have a hurricane? Are people even traveling there?

Did you tell your job or request days off?

Are you sure you’ll have a job when you come back? 

Of course, being the stubborn and determined person I am, I still went on the trip.

Prior to embarking on this excursion, I knew this trip-regardless of where we went- meant more to me than posting sexy, thirst trap beach pics for ig/snapchat and posting my geo-location above my pictures (because of course everyone wants to see which hot spot you’re at). Taking a trip anywhere was important to me, simply because I would get a chance to not only celebrate one of my closest friend’s Quarter century, but it allowed me to get away from the mundane routine of work, home. eat, sleep (repeat). It gets depressing after awhile.

It reminded me that I come first, and money can’t always grant you happiness. I became exhausted of my obligations and the long awaited opportunity to break free finally arose.

For most people who aren’t from NYC or don’t reside here. Respect my honesty when I say, NYC is a cold place (literally and figuratively). Sure, snow is pretty for the first few minutes it falls, but once it sticks, it becomes a mountainous storage unit filled with dog feces and what NYC is infamously known for, its illustrious street trash. Still sounds like an extravagant winter wonderland? Nope! Haha, I thought so. PSA for all of the out-of-state people: if you ever come in the winter though, please do enjoy.

I had to plan an escape from this place even if it only meant a few days.

I’ve been rambling a lot, but now I’ll move on to the exciting part, “Ahh, Puerto Rico Ooooh”  (I’m corny, but if you just read that verse without singing it, then you won’t understand the intended joke. it’s a popular hook from Frankie Cutlass 1990s rap song,“Puerto Rico”. I’m sure every New Yorker has heard it as some point in their lives.

Thursday, March 1, 2018: I left NYC Thursday morning and arrived at PR in the evening (thanks to my one hour and half flight layover in North Carolina I arrived later. Still happy nonetheless, I made it safe and sound. Majority of my flight was spent with my eyelids closed and music in my ears; partly because of my persistent fear of flying and intent to contain all of my energy for PR festivities. Who wants to spend their vacation jet-lagged? I definitely don’t.

First Day in San Juan: I took a cab from  Luis Munoz Marin International Airport en route to my weekend home.

Shayna and I being the young and broke, working 20somethings we are, decided to take  Kendrick Lamar’s advice and be “Humble.” Instead of living beyond our means and Bow Wow’n for the gram, we took a low key approach by renting out an airBnB in the city of Carolina (not far from the airport, beach or night scene). There were local stores, endless dine-in/ takeout food spots, bars, hotels, and lounges. In a way I guess we lucked up by finding this area. It felt good not having to spend tons of money on Ubers or scrambling for change to take the bus.

When I arrived, I freshened my self up with a cold shower and brushed my teeth. Shortly after, Shayna and I touched the road! We both took advantage of the chance to show our legs and embraced the beautiful warmth the winter deprived us of. We spent a few hours walking the strip trying to decide on the perfect place for authentic Puerto Rican food and drinks. We set our eyes on a quiet-looking diner. Forgive me, but majority of the places we dined at I don’t remember the names of-I’m trying my best to retrace my memory by reliving the moment. Sadly I’m unsuccessful. I enjoyed a nice filling plate of mofongo ( mashed plantains) with chicken and a sangria. Shayna, took more of a vegetarian approach, white rice with beans and maduros mofongo (mashed sweet plantain) with a mojito. You should already know, two women with delicious food, comfy clothes and beautiful scenery only leads to one thing, a loooooong conversation and laughter. On the way back home we took note of which spots we would add to our To-Do list.

One of the best parts by far was the refreshing feeling of not being disturbed by my annoying alarm clock.  Nearly every morning, Shayna and I woke up either close to noon or at noon exactly. Somehow the days felt incredibly long, which permitted just enough time for spontaneous adventures.

March 2, 2018: Second day in PR the first thing we ventured out to do was of course our #1 priority, the beach! Fortunately, for us the Isla Verde Beach was within 10 minutes walking distance from us. Between us both walking really isn’t a issue, so we trotted our happy asses down to the beach.  Following the rejuvenating salt water baths, we had to see what a typical Friday night in PR entailed.  We dressed in our weekend’s best, ready to slay and headed out for sight-seeing in Old San Juan.

Old San Juan was about a 20 minute drive, if not less from Isla Verde. The architectural structures of the vibrantly painted buildings, cobble stone roads, narrow streets and historical monuments reminded me of scenes I’ve seen in movies. I could feel the essence of an island filled with deep rooted stories. There was this beautifully eerie feeling of Old San Juan. In some ways it felt like nostalgia to me.  I was enticed to absorb as much information the engraved plaques, signs and images provided. I felt at home in Old San Juan.

March 3, 2018 (Shayna’s Bday!): It was officially Shayna’s 25th birthday and everything was up to her. Shayna is such a chill person that she was content with going to the beach, a lounge and checking out the PR club scene. As she wished, was what we did. We went for another midday beach trip: tanned, received our salt water detox, posed for the camera and Shayna successfully hit a coconut off a palm tree. Later on that night we got dolled up, enjoyed dinner at a sushi restaurant and followed up after with a few drinks and hookah at a local hookah spot next door.  Around 2 a.m. we set out for the ultimate Puerto Rican club scene at La Placita!

March 4, 2018: Officially my last day and Shayna’s second to last day in PR. Reality of my impending departure slowly sank in, it was almost time for me to back up and head back to NYC. We decided to go out with a bang by conquering our fears of heights with hiking and zip lining through the forest. Honestly neither of us were aware caution waivers had to be signed before this life-threatening adventures. When the man brought out the paperwork, I started to seriously reconsider my decision. So much for YOLO. We were in too deep, neither of us could back out; our session was paid for and the Uber driver was nowhere in sight. So we signed the papers, strapped up, listened to the instructors advice and we were sent on our way.  Hiking up the trails wasn’t the scary part ( I confess, it had me a little winded, I told myself I need to be more diligent about exercising). It was when the zip-lining attendants strapped our harnesses on to the zip-lining cord that the surge of nervousness stung my body. The first two out of 6 zip-lines were a little intense, but after a while the routined strapped harnesses, sitting back and extended legs followed by a fierce push became second nature. I just prayed my zip-lining wouldn’t stop half way through zip-lining because I’d have to fend for myself.

As you can see I survived it, so for those of you who are thinking about zip-lining at some point in your lives. I’d say definitely go for it and take this from someone who is intensely afraid of heights. It’s an experience you’d love to check off your to-do list, rather than say I wish I could do that.  Why live vicariously through someone else when you can do it yourself?

Amidst all of the heart ache, trauma, devastation and fatalities Puerto Rico has endured during and after Hurricane Maria. This island remains vibrant welcoming, and resilient but most importantly beautiful.

I admire Carib people for seeing life as an endless celebration and being innovative with their limited tools. Although, I didn’t get to experience Puerto Rico in its entirety (that’ll be a little difficult to do in the space of 3-4 days) I felt the spirit of optimism and progression.

I’ll see you again PR.

Carpe diem!

I think I know the moment I became disconnected with myself.

While residing in Buffalo, I allowed myself to settle for any mediocre job opportunity that was at hand, for the sake of making ends meet. I hated every second of each temp job I attained. During this time I allowed other people-employers-to look at me and form their assumptions about what I needed. And that desperate need was settling for their low wages, ridiculous long hours and heavy labor. I allowed a string of employers to both indirectly and directly tell me that my concerns and future aspirations did not matter; what mattered the most was my commitment to clocking-in to their schedule and doing what they demanded.

I lost myself, I lost hope of my dreams and I was blinded by the negative, bitterness to break free. I began to agree with them and after a while I began showing up to work with the forced poker face, trying to convince myself “Ok yolee, just fake it until you make it, that’s all.” I was so caught up in the hype of having my own apartment and my own space, but in reality what I truly lacked was a sense of complete ownership. The ownership of my decisions, career, love-life, relationships with others, and my life in general. I was lost, struggling to hold on to everything, without realizing that nothing in Buffalo was ever really mine. I rented an apartment, I relied on public transportation, and I lost friends, so in retrospect I had not owned anything.  All I truly had was myself and I often questioned that.

I’m nearing my fifth month of unemployment.

Today, I decided to take a chance without second guessing or overthinking the possible outcomes. Lately, I began accepting rejection as a commonality in my life, but today my warrior spirit showed up and led me to seek out a long awaited opportunity. I was watching everyone around me- close friends, former school peers and even relatives attain their glorious success in the job market.  I even believed in the reassuring repetitive phrase, “Don’t worry your time will come, it’ll show up when you least expect it.”

So you know what I did, guess?

I waited…waited and waited. I’ve been waiting for almost 5 months for this wonderful, mind-blowing opportunity to miraculously appear in my emails or present itself in a voicemail.

The wonderful opportunity didn’t arrive, but you know what did, my good old reliable friend, rejection. For these past few moths she’s been a dependent one. Always ready to greet me with a welcoming smile and open arms. I hated her so much and the more my hate grew the more she swelled with pride.

Today,

I learned a few lessons about myself, 

I allow fear of the unknown to control me and potential progressive steps. I also accept the possibilities of defeat to prohibit my attempts,

I learned that for some people, the universe sends opportunity their way without restraint. As for me, well the Stewarts in general we have to walk out in to the world and pave our own way.

Today as my feet led me to my destination there wasn’t a speck of self doubt within my body.  I opened that door for myself and God opened it on a spiritual level.

If I had not left my mom’s apartment I would’ve remained comfortable in my daily duties of texting and  waiting for replies; waiting for calls I’ll probably never receive, flipping through channels and raiding the food pantry for my umpteenth snack or meal of the day.

My brother made a valid point yesterday. He said to me, we’re already at a disadvantage because we don’t have a foundation to build from and nothing was ever handed to us.

I’m proud of myself for seizing the day, and placing myself back out into the world to show them who I am and what I’m capable of. I somehow landed an instructor specialist job based on my degree and the qualifications on my resume.

I’m completely nervous about this new chapter I’m about to open in my developing adulting memoir.  It’s scary, kids are scary, but I trust God knows what he’s doing for me and with me. my story is just beginning, my life is just beginning and there’s so much more to go.

 

Angel in Disguise 

I don’t think I’ve ever considered this as possibility, but I’m truly convinced that sometimes God purposely sends real life guardian angels to protect and watch over us. Today, I had one of the most heartfelt and genuine conversations with my cab driver in Buffalo. She’s not my personal chaffeaur or anything, but I can tell you this, whenever I need to get somewhere or I just happen to miss the bus she is always one call away and ready to pick me up. Yea, I know she’s a cab driver and it’s kind of her job to pick up stranded, car less pedestrians, but for some reason our connection stems further than just a cab driver and a customer. As per usual in my daily broke chronicles, I had every intention to catch the bus today, I even left my house 45 minutes earlier than usual (that’s a record for me). You catch my drift though, I was that determined to catch the bus. Anyway, I left a little early to head over to the Postal office to return a package. The package ended up costing me my entire two days of bus fare-$12.00 to be exact, wth, since when did packages cost so much? I didn’t complain though or fuss too much, I handed over my 12 dollar coins to the guy in the postal office, headed outside and immediately called my cab driver. I told her where I was and she informed me she was 5 minutes away, just my luck. When she arrived I got in the car and we started up our conversation. She mentioned to the other passenger and myself that for some reason whenever I call she is coincidentally always close by. The other passenger suggested she’s probably here to watch over me and protect me whenever I need her. I’ve never considered our rapport as possibly being something purposely established. Overtime it just kind of developed. As soon as the passenger said that The cab driver agreed and began to list all of the moments I would call her and she would either be nearby to pick me up or just available. I then thought about those moments as well and realized that whenever I called for a ride, she was there. Maybe this is me over analyzing the situation, but I don’t think things like this happen repeatedly by happenstance or coincidence. I’ve been catching rides with her since last year (2016) and ever since then she’s always made me comfortable and safe. She’s almost like a Buffalo mom figure/Designated driver. Each time I get in that cab she encourages me to pursue my masters, establish my career so I can go out into the world and be financially stable. From a strangers point, someone who has just entered my life, she’s had a huge impact on my life. She sees so much potential in me and I’m appreciative of her advice. Once my journey concludes, I know she’ll be one of the most memorable figures and best memories I have of my time residing in Buffalo. God, sees and knows all that is best for us. He places certain people in our lives to heal us, hurt us, encourage us, love us, dislike us and protect us. After the conversation we held, I’m sure that our rapport and connection is not just by coincidence. Now she’s added to the list of people I can’t afford to disappoint.

Btw, I now owe her $60. It’ll get paid.

What’s the rush?

It’s been 4 months since I’ve officially returned home to the Bronx. As I spend countless days and nights updating my resumes; editing cover letters and refreshing my email only to face constant rejections. Life on a whole, meaning outside of my own personally developed bubble is passing me by. And now, looking 4/5 months ahead into the soon-to-be-here future, I’ll be approaching my quarter century of existence on earth. If you’ve asked the old Yolee where do you envision yourself at 24? I definitely wouldn’t have told you living at home with my mom as a dependent leech ,unemployed, and unmotivated.

After accompanying my dad to his eye surgery appointment, he brought to light the areas of my life a woman at my age is significantly lacking- a drivers license and career.

Here it is, I thought I live in NYC I don’t really need to drive, honestly after being a passenger-side driver and backseat driver I’m terrified to drive here. Now as  the inevitability of aging is becoming more apparent In my Dad’s physicality and health his urge for me obtaining my license is growing more impatient. Don’t get me wrong, I agree 100%, I just somehow kept failing the driving exam, 3 times to be exact. So much for three times a charm, huh? In my case, maybe it’ll be the 4th times a charm. I guess in a way you can say I accepted defeat, rather than dusting myself off and trying again (Aaliyah).

On one side of the spectrum, I’m advised this is New York City, you don’t need to drive. In opposition to that, I hear you’re 20-something and you don’t have your license, I’ve been driving since I was blah blah blah..

Well thanks assholes. I’m sorry my life is moving too slow for you. In the face of it all, I ask myself, what’s the rush? Apparently there ‘s a rush to get things done when you’re at a certain age, there’s a level of expectancy of where you should be in life and the things you should acquire by that point. Hence a driver’s license and a car.

On to another point in my current life where I seem to be struggling…still striving sounds better.

At the hospital  the nurse who apparently mistook me for a high school student made a comment about me not being in school. I didn’t perceive his statement as rude or offensive.  Matter a fact, I’ve actually grown accustomed to people making assumptions about my age. It either means I look younger than I am or it’s time for these damn braces to go. Yes, I’m 24 with braces-long story-but if you kept up with my blog posts, you’ll know why I’m the 24-year-old brace face. 

I simply replied with my usual response, “I’m finished with school”

“You’re done with school?”

“Yes, I graduated from college last year.”

He paused after my response, I guess he was either attempting to process the information given or he was trying to do a guestimation of my age.

And of course, the what-did- you-study question shortly followed. Per usual, I stated English.

The nurse suggested I enroll in a nursing program to obtain a nurse certificate in a year, I thanked him with a half enthusiastic smile which read: ‘thanks for trying to look out for my future, but I‘m good. No matter what you say won’t change my mind about my aspiration.’ Yes, I agree my process is slow maybe slower than others but who’s to say that or prove it. I‘m only walking in my size 7/ 7.5 shoes. I voiced my respectful decline, assuring him graduate school is part of my educational plan.  Yet, he insisted nursing is a high-demand job and of course my mom who’s a nurse sided with him, notifying him that she’s tried to convince me to do nursing. Being the stubborn individual I am, I became annoyed and rightfully defended my aspirations to show them I stood firm by my decision.

First of all, I would like to understand who the hell gave complete strangers the authority or the impression that it’s okay to dictate or try to deter someone from their passion. I get it, Yolee, you don’t have to take everything so serious and passion doesn’t always garner money, pay the bills or put food on the table. In the same instance, I know myself pretty well to know what is compatible for me.  If one thing doesn’t work then I can try something else. I remind myself of my current age, realizing that I don’t have all the time in the world to decide between what I want or don’t want to do.  Everyday I feel the pressure of time catching up on me and my biggest fear is ending up in a blue collar job- living paycheck to paycheck, clocking in, settling for benefits, scheduled days off and yearly vacations.

My Dad chimes in reminding me that time is passing and I need to find something.  I’m not going to lie, I was a little hurt by his comment becuase unlike my mom he’s always supported my career decision. His comment made me feel like I’m not even trying to alter or improve my current state. I want so much for myself and yes, occasionally I wake up angry with myself for not being where I’d like to be.

So what’s the Rush?

The rush is to align myself in a financially stable career, secure my future and prove to my parents that it’s possible for this dreamer to achieve the goals I’ve set. I’m not just a dreamer with unrealistic career aspirations, I know I have the drive to transform my dreams into realities.  Yea..I’m far-fetched, my head is in the clouds, but I trust myself and God/ the power of the universe, timing is everything.

We weren’t capable of planning our own births, so then tell me who has the power to control the timing of our success?

Questions to my readers/ blog supporters: Have you ever felt pressure from external sources to be something you don’t want to become? How did you overcome this situation?

Humanity rises above all

09/11

On a day like this it seems appropriate to write about, discuss, show or share Sympathy. 

Which ever medium you choose, it’s still a credible act.

In the midst of all the natural disasters our not-so-happy mother nature plagues upon us. She’s reminding us not just female/male, black/white, hispanic/asian but  (humankind) on a whole that throughout moments of our own personal lives we should strive to show sympathy. After all, it doesn’t cost you a dime to extend your hand and help someone beside you who has become unbalanced and fallen down.

Sympathy– doesn’t cost a thing. The slightest words, touch or gesture may bring a smile to another persons face and ignite a momentarily extinguished light that somehow  darkened their day.

Whether it may or may not have been you affected by the disasters of Harvey, Irma or Jose, remember there are people out there who felt their wrath and are now suffering the loss of homes, family members and personal items they’ve worked hard to attain. I know Life is worth more than materialistic possessions-although some of those things do bring a sense of temporary contentment- it’s about being present to witness and experience all life has to offer.

So on days preceding 09/11, on 09/11 and days following 09/11, remember to carry sympathy in your heart knowing that we all have an expiration date.

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

IMG_2480

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

 

 

 -S.Yolee