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Skip the the bar bar and Skip and drink at drink at home home

BOMBSHELL #3 inside BOMBSHELL #3 inside


Compact Compact SUVs SUVs built built for for any any terrain terrain

COLOR COLORFADE FADE The Therise riseofof Black Blackmale male skin skinbleaching bleaching

B. o.B B.o.B

THE GRE THE GREAT Yup, we said it.) (Yup,





FEATURES 50 B.o.B The ATL Rapper Carves His Own Path

70 BOMBSHELL Just a Pinch of Sugar

10 IT’S ME, IT’S YOU… The Jackets and Captain Phillips

12 THE 20 Up your game with these books


46 FASHION On trend

60 SPOTLIGHT New beginnings

62 OP-ED Don't hate your skin

Game on

16 ride The perfect fit

20 BODY Flu remedies

22 GROOMING Winter scents

24 FUEL Holiday happy hour

30 TRAVEL A walk through history

34 FEATURE: Eric west Style with a smile

36 ARTFUL LIVING The art movement

78 FEATURE: RO JAMES From the Pulpit to the Stage

80 PROFILES Education game changers

86 SCORE: Footwear MVP

88 ON THE RISE Who got next?

90 MAN CAVE Not your corner bar

93 ICON: RUN DMC Three striped bandits

40 TREND AVE. Winter fashion

cover story: B.o.B


bleu magazine @bleumagazine

fashion health culture entertainment interviews


TEAM BLEU Publisher & Creative Director DĂŠVon Christopher Johnson Editor Rae Holliday Managing Editor Reginald Larkin Art Directors Raphael Davison, Nia Blackmon Online Managing Editor Erica Vain Grooming Editor Cataanda J Copy Editor Namisha Joiner On the cover: B.oB. Photography by Elton Anderson Styled by Apuje Kalu Grooming by AJ Crimson Barber Raphael lavon

Assistant to the Publisher Gary Dickson Contributing Editors Terrell Allen, Regi Booker, Larrsye Brown, Owen Duckett, Dorielle Jackson, Kwasi Kessie, Patrick Neree, Rich Philip, Dex Rob, Shawn Thomas Contributing Writers Kiarra Gillette, Amber Kennedy, Kirsten Lewis, Ryan Lyons, Janine Mitchell, Kent Olden, Priscilla Ward Contributing Photographers Elton Anderson, Desmond Faison, Sierra Prescott, Naj Wareham

BLEULIFE MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT CEO & President DĂŠVon Christopher Johnson Legal & Business Affairs Thomas J. Wilson, Esq. Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe LLP Accounting Aaron T. Smyle Smyle & Associates, LLC Account Managers Todd Evans Rivendell Media 908-232-2021 Kenyon Clemons 917.500.1331 Integrated Brand Partnerships Kim J. Ford Brand Whisperer 973.580.4476 Newsstand Distribution Kable Distribution Services 14 Wall Street, Suite 4C New York, NY 10005 Phone: (212) 705-4627 Submissions BleuLife Media & Entertainment 262 West 38th Street, suite 1206 New York, NY 10018

Interns Miyori Alexis, Janelle Allen, Antonio Jackson, Yisreal Richardson, Edric Robinson

Bleulife Media & Entertainment Inc. | 262 West 38th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10018 | E-Mail: | Online: Printed in the USA. Opinions expressed by advertisers, columnists, feature writers or other contributors are not necessarily the opinions of Bleu Magazine or its staff. All advertisements, photographs, text or illustrations are published with the understanding that the advertisers are fully authorized to have secured proper consent for the use thereof. Bleu Magazine shall not be held responsible for any errors, loss, expense or liabilities on advertisements accepted after the deadline. Publication of the name or photograph of any person or advertisement in Bleu Magazine is not to be constructed as an indication of sexual orientation of such persons, advertiser or organization. Partial or complete reproduction of an advertisement, news article, feature or photograph from Bleu Magazine is strictly prohibited as Bleu Magazine is a registered trademark. A $25 or 1.5% (whichever is greater) fee will be charged for all NSF checks. All rights reserved.

Publisher's Letter

Photo by Elton Anderson

“Airplanes” by B.o.B. Yeah, I could use a dream or a genie or a wish/ To go back to a place much simpler than this/ 'Cause after all the partyin' and smashin' and crashin'/ And all the glitz and the glam and the fashion/ And all the pandemonium and all the madness/ There comes a time where you fade to the blackness/ And when you starin' at that phone in your lap/ And you're hopin' but them people never call you back/ But that's just how the story unfolds/ You get another hand soon after

There comes a time in life to assess your surroundings. In the best-case scenario everything is fine and needs no adjusting. But, more realistically, there are going to be a few changes. There will be people occupying spaces better suited for others. The wrong business partner, disloyal friend or underperforming employee may require immediately dismissal and/or replacement. It is okay to let go and move on. Why waste time in a toxic environment. Don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. If they were truly meant to be in your life, then there wouldn’t be a reason to dismiss them. But if the survey says no, then out the door they must go. 2013 was much better than 2012 for most of us. It looks like 2014 will be even better. So don’t carry over unnecessary baggage into a new and exciting year. If you need a little help getting started, take a moment and read through this issue of Bleu. We have books you can read, drinks you can sip, furniture to buy and plenty of fashion options. Plus everything else you love about us. Thank you for being a loyal reader. We accept the challenge of fighting against stereotypes and old definitions of who we are. Stay awesome! And be BLEU!

you fold/ And when your plans unravel in the sand/ What would you wish for if you had one chance?

DéVon Christopher Johnson @devonisbleu


Editor's letter

Photo by Naj wareham

Sometimes we find ourselves on the wrong road. Sometimes we figure this out after traveling a few feet and sometimes we figure it out after a few grueling miles. In both events, we have the power to either turn and go back to square one, or pave a new road and follow our hearts. As the year comes to a close we must start to analyze the road we are on and insure that it's the right one, because the new year won't start a new road, it will only add new miles to the one we are currently on. Don't wait for a new year to do what you can do today. This issue is full of innovators who have re-energized and come back stronger than ever, from our cover artist, B.O.B. to our Spotlight, Leigh Bush, these talented artists have found their respective roads and are driving in their own lane. Pull up a seat as we take you on their journey, we promise not to drive too fast!

Rae Holliday @raeholliday



kirsten lewis, writer

kwasi kessie, stylist

janine mitchell, writer

Kirsten Lewis is a Howard University John H. Johnson School of Communications alumna. She uses her sassy and personable writing style to engage readers. "My interview with Jeremy Luke was very pleasant he was having a great morning and was in a joyful mood." Lewis caught up with Mob City star to discuss a varity of topics from Luke’s role in Don Jon to what the future holds for the budding actor.

His name resonates in the fashion industry. Serving as the resident men’s stylist for BET’s 106 and Park, Kwasi has styled everyone from Bow Wow to Terrence J. Not limited to the realm of television, Kessie’s work can be seen in campaigns for Sabit and Rocksmith. A multifaceted stylist, Kessie has permeated the upper echelon with his eye. Check out his contribution in this issue’s Fashion spread on page 78.

Janine Mitchell graduated in 2011 from Emerson College in Boston with a Broadcast Journalism degree. Her first position as an Editor at Foster’s Daily Democrat where she became a finalist for the New England News and Press Association’s Best Entertainment Video in 2013. Following a passion for people, Janine is now Communications Coordinator at NH Children’s Trust, a child abuse prevention nonprofit. In June, she was named one of Concord’s “young professionals to watch” by the Concord Monitor.

Ryan Lyons writer

Priscilla Ward writer


Ryan Lyons is a Maryland native with a passion for the unadulterated fun of the 80’s. A freelance writer, whom enjoys providing coverage of music and fashion. His love for all things hiphop is highlighted in his interview with Rapper, B.o.B. Lyons’ explores the Atlanta native’s creative direction and process on his new album, Underground Luxury.

Priscilla Ward is a D.C. native keeping an active pulse on art and culture, as a means of celebrating the African American experience. She is a contributing writer for, ESSENCE and AMMO Magazine. She works for, as a web editorial assistant. In her free time she enjoys exploring her Brooklyn neighborhood.

Elton Anderson is a LA based photographer who loves to travel for the perfect picture! Anderson is a Nikon user, an Apple lover and Nike fanatic! "There is beauty in everyone and everything.... my goal is to capture it." Anderson shoots captures the eclectic sensibilities of B.o.B.


Its me, its you, its bleu

The Jackets and friends

Stacy Barthe

Ro James and Friends Jam Session Highline Ballroom November 4, 2013

Ro James

Bridget Kelly and Ro James


bleu magazine

Melanie Fiona

L-r, Barkhad Abdi, Mahat Ali, Tom Hanks and Faysal Ahmed

Tom Hanks

Captain Phillips Premiere New York Film Festival, Lincoln Center September 27, 2013

Producer Michael De Luca

Producers Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca

Joanna and Director Paul Greengrass

Andrea Phillips, Captain Richard Phillips and Director Paul Greengrass


the 20

READ THESE to Get Your Life Together Knowledge is power; there is no doubt about that. Whether you attend class or learn from the street, a knowledge base is key to your survival. The literary works compiled in this issue are sure to provide you with a cultural foundation that will allow you participate in the most diverse conversations. Its getting cold, so why not crack open a book. After all its in a book, take look it’s the Bleu book club!

On this page (left to right) How to Be a Man by Glenn O'Brien; Letters to a Young Brother by Hill Harper; Black Boy by Richard Wright; Another Country by James Baldwin. On the next page: (clockwise) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho; The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson; Nigger by Dick Gregory; The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm Hale and Alex Haley; The Zahir by Paulo Coelho; The Life of Pi by Yann Martel; The Lord of the Flies by William Golding; How to Get Out Your Own Way by Tyrese Gibson; Tears for Water by Alicia Keys; Make It Happen by Kevin Liles; The Colorado Kid by Stephen King; Buck by MK Asante; The Moments, the Minutes, the Hours by Jill Scott; The Ways of White Folks by Langston Hughes


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Playstation4 $399.99

iPad Air $499.99

AME TIME Nintendo U $299.99

Work hard and play twice as hard is a motto we cling to dearly at the Bleu office. Whether its popping bottles at 40/40 or making rain at the strip club the Bleu guy has to blow off some steam. For the more introverted man why not release your inner child with these consoles and games that are featured below.

Xbox One $499.99


bleu magazine






Must Have Games: 5

1. Grand Theft Auto Online X P 2. Call of Duty: Ghosts X P C 3. Need For Speed: Rivals X P C 4. Angry Birds: Star Wars C 5. NFL Madden 25 X P 6. NBA 2K14 X P C

Key: X: Xbox P: Playstation C: PC




Being in the middle has never been better than these new mid-size SUVs. Usually bought for efficiency and affordability, the mid-size SUV is getting major face-lifts! Jam-packed with standard options that could only be found in luxury Tonka trucks, these smaller, yet larger than life vehicles are making it hard for the gas-guzzlers out there. So struggle no more & ride in the middle lane.

2014 Acura


Starting at $42,290 28 est mpg Features 路GPS Linked Climate Control 路Lane Keepind Assist System 路Multi-View Rear Camera Safety 路4 wheel disc break with anti-lock brake system (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBS) and Brake Assist


bleu magazine

2013 Toyota


Starting at $23,300 24/31 est. MPG Features ·Reclining Rear Seat ·Dual zone Climate Control ·Steering Wheel Mounted Controls Safety ·Enhance Vehicle Stability Control with an Anti-lock break system (ABS) Break assists (BA) Smart Stop Technology.

2014 Cadillac


Starting at $37,505 17/24 est. MPG Features ·Ultraview Sunroof ·Heated and Ventilated Front Seats ·Adaptive Cruise Control Safety ·Side Blind Zone Alert, when changing lanes radar sweeps both sides of SRX. When vehicles approaches close a red light will flash on your rear view mirror.



Fight the Flu! Catching a cold sucks! Point! Blank! Period! When the temperatures fall we all at some point or another catch the flu. Dealing with the runny nose, scratchy eyes, and throbbing heads may sound like natural progression, but there are ways to fight the flu. The fight against germs may sound futile, but Influenza is a tyrant that you can combat with these five tips.


Washing Your Hands

Manners are not a universal concept, proof of that can be found in the subways of New York City. Often times peoples hands have been in places you dare not imagine. Avoid the missteps by carrying hand sanitizers and washing your hands when you can.


Drinking Orange Juice The body is only but so strong and can fight but for so long. Give your immune system a boost by drinking some OJ. The vitamin C is what the doctor ordered.


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Mom’s recipe is the homie! Warm soup is the key to opening up your sinus palette and liberating your senses. Any flavor will do as long as the soup is warm.


Gargling With Salt Water

Sore throat? No problem. Gargling warm salt water will sooth your sore throat and clean your pearly whites. To be clear I just made the part about the teeth cleaning up.


Vapor Rub When throats get scratchy, the Vapor Rub gets handy. Struggling to communicate with a chronic cough is not sexy. Why not tame the beast by applying a little Vapor Rub.

The influenza virus is extremely hardy. The flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. During the flu season, 59% of surfaces in home can be contaminated with the flu virus. The Flu virus can travel up to twelve feet through the air at 100 mph. Sources Vital Statistics: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Surface statistics: The Occurrence of Influenza A virus on Household and Day Care Center Fomites�; S.A. Boone, C.P. Gerba, Journal of Infection, 2004



The Scent of Black There is nothing like great smelling cologne. You know the kind that lingers as you exit the room? Usually making heads turn and prompting questions such as, " What is that dude wearing and where can I pick up a bottle?" Your cologne is a telling sign of the kind of man you are. Are you the dapper dude with the Tupac mantra, All Eyes on Me? Maybe you're the man who enjoys a simple and fresh look. Are you the ladykiller whose intelligence is coupled with innate swag? If any of these personas resonate with you - I’ve got good news, finding the perfect cologne for any occasion will put the “I” in your image.

Burberry Brit Rythym A sexy, provocative scent inspired by the exhilarating adrenaline rush of live music and the electric energy of the crowd. $32-$80


bleu magazine

I Love New York for All by Bond No. 9 An easy-to-wear; easy to love fragrance. A velvety smooth java infusion where full bodied geranium meets sandalwood with street smarts. $105-$175

Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Fresh, intriguing and understated- BVPH enchants with woody and aromantic notes woven into a sensuous scent that evokes the brand’s signature leather creations. $80-$110

Nordstrom Atomizer An empty spritzing container tiny enough to fit in your suit jacket or hidden pocket when you need to refresh. $5

Tom Ford Noir An Oriental, sensual fragrance that captures the twin facets of the Tom Ford-man. The refined, urbane sophisticate who everyone gets to see and the intriguingly sensuous, private man they don’t. $90-$125



Winter Ales

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale ABV 6.6%


bleu magazine

Widner Brother Brewing Company ‘Pitch Black IPA” ABV 6.5%

Allagash Black ABV 7.5%

Innis & Gunn “Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer” ABV 7.4%

Deschutes Jubelale ABV 6.7%

Inebriation is good for the soul, well at least that is the philosophy of #teamBleu around the holidays. What better way to warm up than to chug a beer! Forget that fancy shit and get turnt!

Odell Isolation Ale ABV 6.1%

Brooklyn Winter Ale ABV 6.1%

Uinta “Labyrinth Black Ale” ABV 13.2%

Kona Koko Brown ABV 5.5%

North Coast Brewing Company “pranQster” ABV 7.6%





bleu magazine

little rock, ar


he South is not all the same. However, there is a common deep sense of pride and desire for progression that I have found while traveling south of the Mason-Dixon Line. From rolling hills of lush green to smiling faces from full stomachs, Arkansas, the land and it’s people, are charming and inviting.

Where History Runs Deep And Culture Abounds Words by DéVon Johnson

To be fair, there was some hesitation to attempt this journey. After all, (Arkansas was a Confederate State) this is a place that many have fled from in search for freedoms and liberties once denied. There is no way I, the son of school principal and descendent of slaves, could deny the scars placed on my ancestral legacy as I boarded the plane at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. In the week leading up to my trip, I shared with many friends and family that I was headed to Arkansas and my first stop was going to be in Little Rock. “Why on Earth would you go there” was often the response. Some didn’t even bother to utter a word, just eye rolls and shoulder shrugs. Regardless of what they said or didn’t say, I was not going to cancel my trip. The chance to walk in the footsteps of history was far too enticing. The added frequent flyer miles didn’t hurt either. I slept most of the flight. That always happens when luck provides an empty row and a window seat. With a few eye blinks before I knew it we had landed in Little Rock. The heat greeted my exit from the plane with a faint breeze. I hit the ground running. There was a lot of ground to cover and very little time in my 3-day visit to cover all on my to-do list. My first destination was Little Rock Central High School. Talk about heavy! This is the place that on September 30th 1957, nine African-Americans, known to history as the "Little Rock Nine", were denied entrance to the school by an angry mob and school officials. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had to order troops in to escort the students safely inside the school. The structure is beautiful and looks just as grand as it does in all the pictures and documentaries I have seen. What is also inspiring is that the school is still an active school. The students are full of passion and desire to learn. I had a chance to sit and speak to a few of them about being in this atmosphere and learning in such a significant place in American history. Education is something that is taken for granted in this country. However, seeing the students of all races and ethnic backgrounds working together and filling the halls with laughter and friendship cements why it was so important for those nine children to enter. Next up on my journey was the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Quantia Fletcher, Assistant Director and Jennelle Primm, Director of Public Programs, gave me a tour of the space and an oral history of the Mosaic Templars. The organization was founded in 1882 and played a significant role in African-American culture in Little Rock. From life insurance to economic support the organization helped the community grow and prosper until the Great Depression. Day one was rounded out at the Clinton Presidential Center. Though, not necessarily a place of African-American history, President Clinton has deep roots in Arkansas as well as the Black community. The

Little Rock Central High School



structure is awesome and sits on over 30 acres of land. There is even a replica of the Oval Office from the Clinton Years in the White House on the third floor. There are photos on the President and many of the world leaders he met while in office cascading every wall. Gifts from foreign dignitaries are on display also. My visit flew by faster than I expected. I fell in love with Arkansas in just three days. With my personal destinations checked off my list, I spent the rest of the days crisscrossing between Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Bentonville. There were so many amazing people that I met that helped affirm that Arkansas has moved forward. History is still respected. However rather than a crutch, it is the fuel to move forward. Without moving forward the cultural advances would be overshadowed and unnoticed. From art to fine dining, Arkansas has it all. Following are a few places to eat, visit and lodge while planning your trip to this amazing place. ★

WHO TO CONTACT BEFORE YOU GO: Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism Tourism Division 1 Capitol Mall Little Rock, AR (402) 471 1558

Bentonville Convention & Visitor Bureau 104 E. Central Bentonville, AR 72712 (479) 271- 9153

Starving Artist CafĂŠ

The Hive

411 Main Street

21c Museum Hotel Bentonville

WHERE TO EAT- Little Rock

Argenta Arts District

200 NE A Street

Crush Wine Bar

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Bentonville, AR 72712

318 N. Main Street

(501) 372- 7976

(479) 286-6500

North little Rock, AR 72114

(501) 374-9463

WHERE TO EAT- Bentonville

Tusk & Trotter

Ristorante Capeo


110 SE A Street

425 Main Street

Crystal Bridges Museum of America Art

Bentonville, AR 72712

North little Rock, AR 72114

600 Museum Way

(479) 268-4494

(501) 376-3463

Bentonville, AR 72712

(479) 418- 5700


Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

bleu magazine

ATTRACTIONS- Little Rock Clinton Presidential Center William J. Clinton Foundation 1200 Presidential Clinton Ave Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 374- 4242

Hearne Fine Art 1001 Wright Avenue, Suite C Little Rock, AR 72201

William J. Clinton Presidential Center

WHERE TO STAY- Little Rock

WHERE TO STAY- North Little Rock

The Capitol Hotel

Holiday Inn North Little Rock

111 W. Markham Street

120 W Pershing Blvd

Little Rock, AR 72201

North little Rock, AR 72114

(501) 374-7474

(501) 758-1851

Holiday Inn Express

Little Rock, AR 72202

Double Tree Hotel Little Rock

4306 McCain Blvd

(501) 374- 1957

424 W. Markham Street

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center Department of Arkansas Heritage

Little Rock, AR 72201

501 W. Ninth Street

Wyndham Riverfront

Little Rock, AR 72201

Embassy Suites Little Rock

2 Riverfront Drive

(501) 683- 3593

11301 Financial Centre Parkway

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Little Rock, AR 72201

ATTRACTIONS- Bentonville

(501) 312- 9000

WHERE TO STAY- Bentonville

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

21c Museum Hotel

Holiday Inn Presidential

200 NE A Street

600 Interstate 30

Bentonville, AR 72712

Little Rock, AR 72202

(479) 286-6500

(501) 375-2100

(501) 372- 6822

Little Rock Center High School National Historic Site National Park Service 2120 Daisy Gatson Bates Drive

600 Museum Way Bentonville, AR 72712 (479) 418- 5700

(501) 372- 4371

North Little Rock, AR 72117 (501) 945-4800

Walmart Visitor Center

Little Rock Marriott

105 North Main Street

3 Statehouse Plaza

Bentonville, AR 72712

Little Rock, AR 72201

(479) 204- 6565

(501) 906-4000



Photo by


bleu magazine


Skin bleaching is becoming more prevalent among black men. What’s the cause?


his past August, the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of famed Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech and the March On Washington. Many used the time to reflect on King's words and how far the country has come. While the election of Barack Obama is indicative of that progress, we are still a long way from race not being an issue. Rapper J. Cole made that apparent in an interview published by the Huffington Post, expressing his thoughts on colorism in the United States. Cole argued, "Barack Obama would not be President if he were dark skin... I might not be as successful as I am now if I was dark skin. I’m not saying that for sure, I’m still as talented as I am and Obama is still as smart as he is, but it’s just a sad truth." A sad truth it is. While not racism, colorism is still prevalent, prompting many within and without the black community to ask which skin is the right skin. Colorism is a form of discrimination in which a person is discriminated against based on the color of their skin. Oftentimes, this discrimination occurs on a subconscious level. During slavery, lighter skin was bridled over dark. Having lighter skin equated a better chance of survival as slaves of a fair complexion were less likely to be forced into hard labor as they lived and served in the master's house. Since the time of slavery, there exists an unspoken hierarchy of sorts within the black community as a result of colorism many blacks continue to believe that life is better when one's skin is lighter. Studies would seem to confirm this as, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among Black Americans for August of this year was 13.5 percent, while White Americans experienced an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent; and according to CNN, Black men continue to suffer a 10 to 12 percent difference in income when compared to their White counterparts. This isn't just the case within the job market; the same inequality exists within the penal system. A 2011 study conducted by Villanova University, published in The Social Science Journal found that among

Words by: Kiara Gillette

black prisoners, those considered to be of a lighter skin tone received more lenient prison sentences and served less time behind bars. These ineffectuals prompt many dark skin blacks to resort to drastic measures to improve their social standing. Enter skin bleaching. Commonly considered to be an issue that solely affects black women, skin bleaching is becoming popular among black men too. The most notable black men to partake in this trend are baseball player, Sammy Sosa and Reggae artist, Vybz Kartel. The latter produces a line of skin bleaching creams, called Vybz Skin and Body Brightener. Men tend to engage in skin bleaching for many of the same reasons as women, believing lighter skin to be socially acceptable, as well as accepted aesthetically by the opposite sex. Many Blacks liken the trend to tanning among Whites; but just as tanning has harmful effects so does skin bleaching. Skin bleaching products reduce melanin, the main determinant of pigment, in skin. Most skin brighteners and fade creams contain corticosteroids and hydroquinone, a skin bleaching agent often used to treat some skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, and to fade dark marks caused by scarring from acne, age spots, or sun damage. However, too much of these agents can lead to permanent skin bleaching, skin thinning (making it difficult for skin to repair itself and heal), redness, irritation, and even acne. So in the end, the quest for what's socially acceptable becomes more trouble than it's worth. It's been 50 years since King's iconic speech. While we continue to make strides in certain areas of race relations in the nation, colorism is a deep wound that continues to affect black and brown communities and the nation as a whole. Most wounds require air and a little time to heal. By exposing these societal ills, we begin the healing process. How long will it take? Only time can tell. ★


Artful living



bleu magazine


e Print


of dreams

With notebook in hand, filled with inspirations, artist John-Paul is painting the town the way he sees it. Words by Janine Mitchell Photography by Owen Duckett

At a run down tattoo shop in a small New Hampshire town, a hopeful kid sat without a fear. The clients waiting next to him shook and fidgeted in their seats, imagining a tiny needle stabbing their skin thousands of times. He held a wrinkled piece of scrap paper and it didn’t take a forensic handwriting specialist to know a different person wrote each word in the two-word phrase. From behind a thick, dark curtain, a bearded man called the confident, kind of “Bro-ey”-looking kid into a tiny, closet-like room. The fidgeting of waiting clients kicked into high gear as the buzzing began. When the buzzing stopped, John-Paul Zarba left the tattoo shop with a life-long token never to sell his dreams short. “I got tattoos on my middle fingers - “Nothings” in my mother’s handwriting, and “Impossible” in my father’s - as a constant reminder to keep on giving it everything you have,” the self-proclaimed “culdisac kid” explains. Now, an engineer in The Big Apple with a serious knack for artistic expression, John-Paul admits life is a little rushed in his new surroundings, “I love the tenacity and persistence in the air, but in order to be sustainably successful I have to apply the lessons learned from [New Hampshire] and blend them with the pace I find my self surrounded with.” Taking the leap to live by New York City never intimidated John-Paul. From the age of 16-years-old he knew he wanted to pursue an art career but refused to live a struggling artist’s lifestyle. His undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and Business was merely a stepping-stone to put food in his mouth and pay the nagging landlord. After a few years staggering through the modeling industry and upholding a personal standard of “all-natural” body building, his pace changed. Now, JohnPaul has notebooks stuffed with inspiration for future works of art, a living space cluttered with nearly 50 finished pieces and room corners with remnants of inspirations lost. John-Paul lives in a one-bedroom apartment – but sleeps in the living room, “I needed a studio,” he laughs, “You gotta have your priorities in check.” This shouldn’t be a problem given John-Paul’s non-committal relationship status and linen closet full of Disney bath towels he claims his mom bought so he wouldn’t lose them. But, don’t bash the no-girlfriend, Disney Prince, workaholic just yet. He’s got some gentlemanly defenses behind the lady-less lifestyle.


artful living

He claims, “I have been in serious relationship in the past … I know what a girl deserves and while trying to secure a future my self, present and future loved ones it’s just not the right time.” And, to provide his future dream girl the life she deserves, he envisions an art gallery rolling cohesively from one piece to the other. John-Paul’s artwork has no boundaries. He paints murals and large-scale wall pieces and sculpts using wood and stone. To him the medium of art is not as important as the expression behind it. “I classify myself as an expressionist … I’d love to do more custom pieces. Clients can come to me with a thought, image or color scheme and we’ll talk about it, about the feelings. From there I’d pull different pieces and create based off of that,” John-Paul says. He envisions his extravagant work in lobbies of grandiose hotels, Madison Square Garden or public gardens. Of his future artistic displays, the young artist says, “I want people to look once to judge it and come back and look again to feel it.” John-Paul pushes through days and nights, literally, without a doubt in his mind, “A dream to me is not a fantasy, it is an obtainable idea.” It’s evident the young man has creativity shooting through his bone marrow as he explains, “Every piece I bring to life had a specific intention or inspiration. Having the ability to communicate through images is beautiful. Stating something with complete silence allows for the viewer or the client to create their own opinions and attachment.” For most of us, an uncertain goal is hard to stick to. But, in John-Paul’s mind, which is sculpted by an ideal combination of analysis and creativity, the dream is the blue print. The artist concludes, “As an engineer looking at a set of blue prints it is a path to completion, no matter how tall the building is. These blue prints are directions to see that the building starts and finishes.” ★

To contact John-Paul, look him up on Facebook or Instagram by the name of CuldisacKid. Check out his portfolio at or shoot him an email at


bleu magazine


A dream to me is not a fantasy, it is an obtainable idea.


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cover story

B.O.B raps without limits B.o.B isn’t setting out to change the way we listen music, instead he is expressing himself through experimentation.

Words by Ryan Lyons Photography by Elton Anderson Styled by Apuje Kalu 42

bleu magazine

hat by New Era; bomber jacket by G-Star RAW; shirt by Hugo Boss; tie by H&M; tie bar by The Tie Bar; watch by Silvano Apparel; jeans by Topman

hat by New Era; jacket by Blauer; crew neck by Parish-Nation; watch by Adidas; jeans by Zara



’m thinking about doing a rock album next; I really don’t give a fuck what the rules are, but I’m finna pull out the guitar on y’all niggas,” responds Bobby Ray Simmons Jr. The rapper also known as B.o.B. seems to have slipped into a few of the boxes the industry has created for his art. Nevertheless, he appears to be eager to escape them after his most recent and most mainstream project. After listening to a selection of songs from his upcoming LP, Underground Luxury, it’s clear where he has found inspirationsomewhere below the Southern belt where the pole reigns supreme. Few may recognize the one time collaborator with Bruno Mars as his music makes him sound more like a Magic City regular than the love sick lyricist he portrayed in his mainstream debut.

find solace in The A’s well-known strip clubs. Atlanta’s classic LP’s like Outkast’s Stankonia and Ludacris’s Back For The First Time have clear influences. But this reliance on gentleman’s club culture is unexpected from an artist like B.o.B. who was once regarded for his poignant cultural observations. Anyone who tuned in for his earlier work like “Generation Lost” and know his eloquent thoughts about the plight of American youth would question what’s changed him.

The demanding bass line of his hit single “Headband” could easily convince Miley to assault Robin Thicke with twerk yet again. “Headband” leans on mainstream radio’s current fixation with 2 Chainz-esque frequent 808 claps and consistent whistles. It’s reminiscent of Bubba Sparxx’s “Miss New Booty” and Trillville’s “Some Cut.” In other words, it’s projected to be a hit.

Fans enthralled with his previous sound compared him to legendary ATLien, Andre 3000. It’s a fair comparison considering their shared hometown of Atlanta, penchant for the guitar, and a way of nonchalantly spitting cold truths. But day-one fans caught a tough break with the release of his debut album, The Adventures Of Bobby Ray. The album sounded more pop than the mixtapes that contributed to his initial fame- an all too familiar narrative repeated time and again over these past few years in hip hop. Despite the criticism, B.o.B. went on to sell more than 84,000 copies during the album’s first week and nab a Grammy nomination. Apparently, he was doing something right with collaborative singles like “Nuthin’ On You” with Bruno Mars and “Airplanes” with Hayley Williams.

B.o.B acknowledges his current club scene inspirations and remarks that he’s been letting his current work marinate before it hits shelves. It’s not unheard of for Atlanta rappers to

It’s clear a lot has changed since T.I. brought the conscious artist into his Hustle Gang empire. B.o.B has toured the world only to return to Atlanta’s signature sound. When asked about

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Southern music’s influence abroad, B.o.B mentions Australia’s love for trap music. “I think it’s funny how Atlanta influences people around the world, and no one realizes it. I ran into these white girls, and they were like we’re just getting on to Future and 2 Chainz.” Despite this, B.o.B has always avoided a de facto alignment with black radio. Ray describes his musical expression when he says, “Music is entertainment. A lot of what’s on Underground Luxury is unfiltered thoughts. I got the more cerebral records. I like to go the strip club and I like to do research. It’s all on there.” His attempt to defend his lyrical ability on his retort to Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s “Control,” took an interesting twist when the rapper was on a guitar before the two minute mark. Moments such as these showcase the artist’s diverse musical sensibilities. The ATL bred rapper continues when he says, “It’s a competitive sport, and that was me getting on the court and letting them know what I can put on the scoreboard.”

"A lot of what’s on Underground Luxury are unfiltered thoughts. I got the more cerebral records."

His new tunes reflect a smorgasbord of things he’s learned from collaborations with pop stars and rappers. It’s not quite street anthem music, but it’s not pop’s Top 40 either. The variation is evident during a live performance of his single “Ready” at Fader’s Vitamin Water Uncapped, a concert collaborative series that turns ordinary places into music halls. This time, at the New York City General Society Library, Grand Hustle label mates, Future and B.o.B relish in the bass-ridden, hook driven format that’s hot internationally. A crowd of Brooklyn hipsters nod their heads in agreement. This single is both an affirmation of Future’s popularity despite his low key personality and how street music has expanded beyond a strictly street fan base. B.o.B embraces the balancing act that his music has created. Following his performance with Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg and Ebro, B.o.B stated, “I’m glad rappers are starting to realize we’re rock stars.” He’s dressed the part in all black

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attire, leather pants with zippers, a beanie and Jordans (6black and gold edition). He follows up saying, “I don’t really care anymore because I just want to make something that’s jamming.” His casual remark speaks volumes about where rap is headed and echoes Kanye West’s recent sentiments about his

"I like to go the strip club and I like to do research." own limits within rap culture. During a recent interview with Zane Lowe, West was doubtful that hip-hop artists would ever realize the genre’s full potential to change the world. Artists have to choose to either hold on to the concrete substance or begin to make music that makes black people more socially accepted in the public eye. Is Jay-Z’s yelling, “Twerk Miley, Twerk” truly the entirety of our culture’s substance? Artists are constantly juggling their responsibilities to stimulate wealth and keep it real. As a result, an iPod shuffle playlist of recent rap hits demonstrates a genre in a constant state of evolution. The ebb and flow makes it difficult to predict future directions or sounds. It would appear that B.o.B is the musical personification of the current state of hip-hop. “I never aspired to be a pop star, but it kind of just happened that way because of the music I got into when I got older. As a kid, I didn’t have the palette for it. Now, I think it’s like no matter what the music is perceived as, it’s still going to have my signature. It’s still going to have that Bobby Ray sound on it.” After a few seconds he proceeds to say, “When you grow as an artist, you’re always going to have a wide perspective. I can’t say the way that I make my records has changed, but the place that my records have come from has evolved. I don’t really make music from a judgmental place like when I first started. I was really opinionated, and I still am, but now in a more free spirited way I think.” As the interview drew to a close, I left understanding that B.o.B is expressing himself as an artist. Since his music comes from a place of exploration, it provides the listeners with a chance to grow with the rapper. Maybe B.o.B has a lot more in common with fellow rapper Andre 3000 than we thought. Only time can confirm if our suspicions are true. ★

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Photography by Vince Chase Styling by @DexRob


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Be sure to follow Eric West on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @EricXWest. For more info, check out

Photo by Click Click by Georgia : Elizabeth Georgia Jury


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How the West Was Won

Rising Style Icon Eric West Stars in MTV's Hey Girl Words by Kent Olden


hen he was cut from his high school basketball team, Michael Jordan locked himself in his room and cried. Walt Disney was fired from a local newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no original ideas.” After being turned down by a recording company that said, “we don’t like their sound,” the Beatles went on to become one of the greatest music acts of all time. What do all these celebrities have in common? They let absolutely nothing stop them from pursuing their dreams, and they all achieved greatness just by being themselves. Now, in a world where everyone is trying to be the next big thing, one Brooklynite is assuming that throne quite naturally…simply by being himself.

ON YOUR MARK… Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Eric West (born Eric Rosa) has been invested in the industry since he was just 13. Delving into the music world, West found out quick what all it took to stay afloat. “I started doing music around 13 or 14,” says West. “I had to take time away from it [though] because I was missing a lot of school, and my life and schedule were just crazy.” Understanding the importance of education to any career field, Eric took a step back from finding his place in the spotlight until after he finished high school. Slightly wavering from his first love of music, Eric began to develop an attraction to another art form. “Around 18 or 19 I thought about acting. It wasn’t my first my love, but the more I researched and rehearsed, the more I got into it [and] loved it,” says West. “I work so long every day [with acting], but each day is better than the last because of the new experiences I constantly encounter.”



In between rehearsals and tapings and costume fittings, Eric West makes sure to find time to just be himself. Be it a stroll around Central Park or a saunter down Time Square, Eric takes in every day and just uses it. With his everyday life being a direct reflection of his personal style, Eric has caught the highly respected eyes of the fashion gods, as they cosign his threads and throw him into an arena of classic, coveted style. “I’ll wear anything,” says Eric. “I grew up in New York City. You see so many people wearing so many things…I just get inspired by everyone.” Inspired by what he sees on the street, Eric is self-sufficient with his style. “I don’t really have a stylist, so it always works out because what you see is actually me. It’s a good representation of what I like.”

“It’s like the SNL for the MTV generation, mixed with a little bit of Girl Code.” Giving a good one-liner for his newest project, Eric West is now a part of the cast of MTV’s new sketch comedy show Hey Girl. Giving a modern millennial twist on talking head comedy, Hey Girl takes ammo from social platforms and current web culture, and fires shots at topics like dating, friendship, fashion, body issues, and embarrassing moments (among others) through musical parodies, animated shorts, sketches, and man-on-the-street segments. Premiering the same night as the 2013 VMAs, the show’s four-episode sneak peak gives way to regular weekly airing starting October 2013.

With his personal, stylist-less style set, Eric West has been awarded a number of accolades in fashion and entertainment. This year alone, Eric was ranked one of Cosmopolitan’s Hot Actors of 2013, and he was named one of MTV’s Top Five Breakout Stars of 2013. In 2012, he was named a Style Innovator by Conde Nast, the Mount Olympus of fashion publishing (that’s GQ, Vogue, and DETAILS, to be specific). With plenty of television and movie appearances already under his belt, Eric remains humble in every opportunity that comes his way. “Everyone sees me as the next big thing, but there’s so much more I need to do,” says West, touching on his rapidly rising star. “I don’t even feel like I’m halfway there.” His next project, however, can certainly send Eric into orbit…


eric west

Not wanting to give too much away before the official premier, Eric West shared a few tidbits to look forward to with Bleu Magazine. “There’s this one funny skit where I play an American Idol / X-factor-esque judge. That episode has to be my favorite episode of the season.” Pair that with an ensemble cast of comedians, bloggers, and online personalities, and toss in a slew of celebrity guest appearances, Eric says “It’s just really fun, and I think people will like it.”

PHOTO FINISH Just a kid from Brooklyn living a good life, Eric West’s story can be that of any and every up-and-comer. Whether he’s relaxing at home as Eric Rosa, or strutting his stuff on the red carpet as Eric West, his journey to where he is now serves as inspiration to many. In a world where everyone is trying to be the next best thing, all Eric West wants people to see is him for who he is. Mission: Accomplished. ★



leigh bush

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Words by Amber Kennedy

Who is Leigh Bush? If you’ve been a fan of R&B music his voice should sound familiar. Leigh is an industry vet who has seen his share of up and downs. Though he’s been in the industry all of his life, he has this humbleness about him that is refreshing to hear especially with today’s celebrity culture. “I’m just a normal dude blessed with extraordinary gifts.”

With excitement in his voice he described to me how he and Leigh are one in the same. As Leigh, he sings about falling in love for one night, and finally opening up about the challenges he faced in the music industry. Bush presents an opportunity to release “beautiful music with no gimmicks,” as of late the R&B formula consists of heavily produced tracks and rap features.

At the start of our interview I couldn’t get over my initial excitement about his new project. After all, how brave is it to shed the only identity that your fans have come to love over the years for someone they won’t know at all? “Leigh Bush is an expansion of myself,” says the black molasses vocalist. Once again we ask...Who is Leigh Bush?

Leigh wants to return to smooth melodic sounds which he enjoyed as a child. His musical Yoda’s Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder inspired the smooth and simple approach to his EP.

Leigh is the middle name and Bush is the last name of Sammie, R&B crooner who rose to popularity in 1999. Millions of teenage girls grew up singing his songs. Leigh is poised to take his career to the new heights by experimenting with a new sound, look and even NAME! When I asked him what inspired the change , Bush responded “I want my fans to hear the new side of me, one who is more transparent on this album than he was on the last. transparency is important. I believe all artists should be transparent.”

Photo by Sean Howard


The Evolution of Sammie

The new EP Leigh Bush boasts singles “Dancer” and “Free Falling.” “Dancer” finds the Florida born singer exploring the paths that leads women to become exotic dancers. “Some do it for the money, others for the lifestyle. Some receive the attention as a form of love or reassurance,” croons Bush over a sultry beat. Leigh probes the subject further when he inquired about why she enjoys the attention. He follows up with “does she ever get nervous? I thought it would be dope to write a record that was thought provoking as opposed to the typical stripper records that consume the airwaves today.”

Free Falling is a record with Bush really gets into the spirit of idol Stevie Wonder. He carols about a man falling in love first in the relationship. It happens often, the subject is not often discussed from man’s prospective. “Free Falling is derived by a conversation I was having with a friend of mine, it is rare that a man falls harder and first in relationships. I found it refreshing.” Leigh’s sound isn’t the only thing maturing. His look is also getting revamped as well. “I want to go back to the days when men sang R&B in a suit and tie.” Leigh is a business man who understands the business and loves his fans. Hopefully his fans who sang with him as a pre-teen will now sing with him as a man. Leigh is also taking his knowledge of relationships and putting them into a book called “Good to know.” He wants to write from the point of view of a younger guy. “I’ve read [Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey and Manology by Tyrese and Rev Run, they are awesome books, I feel we need a book for our generation.” It’s obvious that Leigh with his new look and sound is looking to take his fans on a new journey. One question remains though, is the name Leigh Bush here to stay? “It is up to the fans, I’ll let them decide.” ★


Arriving at your moment. That moment you waited for patiently, worked for relentlessly and imagined endlessly finally arrives. All of that and more can be said for the multi-talented, Staten Island native, actor Jeremy Luke. Co-starring in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut film Don Jon, and snatching up the starring role in the new TNT drama Mob City, it is safe to say that Luke is quickly becoming a breakout star for 2014. “It’s really a great feeling; this is the place in my career that I prepared for five years ago,” says Luke about his recent major roles. Assuring me that although nothing has changed drastically in his life in the way of material things, he has definitely taken notice and appreciates his recent career success. Luke ‘s indie film Don Jon begins as what seems to be a movie about a very superficial and surface group of friends, Don, Danny and Bobby, yet it actually blossoms into a hilarious, risqué, coming of age love story for lead character Don, played by writer and director Joseph Gordon Levitt. Luke plays Danny, best friend to Don. Danny’s character can be easily described as a man on a mission, the ultimate wingman; always down to party and content with Don’s leftovers. If you’ve heard of the term “taking one for the team,” Danny is the type of guy that would just take

A Man On A Mission Words by Kirsten Lewis

one for himself. “Danny is a weekend warrior, partying and picking up girls. I’ve prepared for this type of role from the time that I was 15.” Having worked as a club promoter in New York City for most of his early adult life, Luke found it easy to relate to Danny’s character. “Definitely a movie anyone 17 and older could enjoy, it has a lot of heart and a great message, and it’s hilarious.” The 2013 Sundance Festival film premiered to arousing approval. Holding off and making this his first appearance at the festival, Luke talked up the great time he had with fellow actors but admitted the reaction the film received from the festival-goers was the most fulfilling. “Being at Sundance and watching everyone react and laugh hysterically was awesome. It really felt good to witness that first hand,” says Luke. The early success of Don Jon could only be matched by ending the year with another career high. Thirteen years in the acting business and a laundry list of television show appearances later, Luke will be depicting 1940’s gangster, Mickey Cohen in his first lead television role. Mob City, set to premiere December 2013, written by Academy Award winner Frank Darabont is based on the true crime events of the 1940’s and the rift between mobsters and the L.A.P.D. under the leadership of Chief William Parker.

Luke describes his character, Mickey Cohen, as a 5’3” poorly educated ex-boxer turned crime boss, obsessed with being in the spotlight. Not the easiest to relate to but there was one quality about Mickey that Luke could attach himself to. “In researching Mickey,, I realized that he was a likeable guy with good intentions. He did his dirt, but he didn’t really mess with anyone unless they needed to be messed with.” “Not to get too method, but something just happens to me when I change into my wardrobe. It’s kind of strange. I just transform a little bit, and I’ve never had that experience with costume,” says Jeremy Luke. Approaching the end of a busy year and accomplishing such great career success, you would think one would be overwhelmed, but Luke still has his personal project Turbo and Joey in the works. Loosely based around his life in LA with fellow actor and close friend Joey Russo, the YouTube web series has caused quite a stir. There is no sign of stopping for Jeremy Luke. To become involved and support his success, be sure to watch Don Jon and tune in this December to the TNT drama Mob City. You can also subscribe to the Turbo and Joey YouTube channel to get a taste of the independent genius of Jeremy Luke. ★

Photo by Mark Cartwright




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The Son of A Preacher Man RnB’s Devout Disciple Words by Priscilla Ward


onnie “Ro” James is the son of a preacher man. However, you will not find him cloaked in a robe nor seated in a pulpit. The R&B rebel, prefers to exude “bad boy” with his staple motorcycle jacket and cowboy hat as he insightfully delves deep to prove he is not just another R&B singer on the come-up. A New York- based crooner, James uses life as a resource, pulls from his travels, and romantic relationships to generate emotions that fuel his ballads. Ro’s musicianship stemmed from the yearning to voice his emotions after a failed relationship with his girlfriend. The result is his newest three-part EP, Coke, Jack and Cadillacs. The EP, takes us on an unabridged journey of nostalgic experiences which reveal his thoughts on relationships and personal growth. It also contains a few elements of symbolism. “Coke stands for the woman, Jack stands for myself and Cadillac is about my first car- an El Dorado Cadillac, my father gave me,” he reveals. Ro gave us a teaser this summer with the drop of Pledge Allegiance, the debut single from Coke, Jack and Cadillacs. The song is a promise to his woman as well as his fans. James’ sound is a coming of age soliloquy. He artistically gives listeners a blueprint for listners to understand his growth, where he has been, and where he aspires to go. He has been compared to the likes of D’Angelo and Miguel. Despite the epic chatter surrounding the artist, James shares “I was a little fearful of my voice. I had to grow. I had to evolve.” Growing up Ro had no aspirations to be a singer. He just knew he wanted to leave Indianapolis, Indiana and move back to New York, where he spent the majority of his childhood.


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Teaching or social work was Ro’s original plan, not singing. It appears that you can’t fight your nature as the urban goth soon yeilded to his love of music. His father, a military man and non-denominational preacher, could sing. Ro’s upbringing played a tremendous role in helping him to forging his artistry. He knew he had the sensibilities of a musician, picking up the drums at the age of 9 for a short time. But motivation to use his natural instrument was lacking. Ro recounts, “It was more so a thing where I felt like I was being forced to do it.” Ro’s father would have him sing in church. “My parents weren’t really strict, but they were firm in their decisions about the type of music we listened to.” Despite the musical restrictions growing up his father supports his aspirations to become an artist. “He never said don’t do R&B music.” Although the relationship had its give and takes, he was always encouraging. “I was shy because it’s what made me most vulnerable. He would put me on the spot in church,” he admits. Nevertheless James always felt he could sing and stuck to his guns in pursuit of his ambitions. “I set out to prove them wrong and prove them that I can be original.” James’ approach to music is rooted in storytelling. “Sometimes I’ll write a song without a track and build around it. Sometimes I can hear something and it puts me in a particular mood.” James explains that his newest album is about ‘the journey.’ “It has allowed me to interact with different people from different places and different

states. I was exposed to…different genres of music. It has helped me to adapt.” Of course being a pastor’s kid, prompted rebellion. “I always did what I wanted to do. It gave me balance, because it allowed me to know the difference between right and wrong. I’m bad but I’m good.” The embrace of his instincts encouraged the singer to pickup the drums, while attending a church in Hawaii. His Dad then went out and bought him his first Pearl drum set. The encouragement from his family let the dance to a beat of his own drum. Living in New York one encounters many different people. You are lucky if you encounter people who “Get you.” James has found such a bond through building a collaborative relationship with a group of other artists; their union is called “The Jackets.” Comprised of RnB upstarts Luke James, Bridget Kelly, Wynter Gorden, Leah Labelle, and Olamide Fasion the collective was birthed by Ro’s insperation of his motorcycle, he started the collective. “I am inspired by every single person in this journey, it hasn’t been an easy one.” Although James is apart of the Jackets, he remained unaffiliated with a record label. He currently is the only Jacket to boast and independent lifestyle. “I think in the beginning it was very important to be independent artist and set the tone for how my art should form. I think being independent really allows artist to be artist,” says James of his current label status. It would appear that singing and being flipping cool are all in a days work for Ro James. Whether he is pushing out hot tracks or blazing the stage in a city near one thing is clear. Whatever Ro is selling, we are buying. ★


ro james




new cool of

School Words by Larryse Brown

Whoever came up with the term, “Those who can’t do, teach” have never been more ridiculously wrong. I’d like introduce to you the professors who have sparked and shaped the minds of the youth in their respective colleges and universities for years. They continue to teach subjects that impact our culture and continue in their quest to change world. These are the innovators, the writers, the teachers, the speakers, the philosophers and the modern day greatthinkers of our generation. Oh yeah, and they are oh so damn cool. >>


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the teacher of media vs. man

Dr. Jared Ball He’s an author, a radio show host, a father, a community leader, a husband and he attempted to run as a nominee for the 2007 presidential election. All that he has done is just a humble day’s work for Morgan State University Professor, Dr. Jared Ball. Chatting with Dr. Ball and listening to him-really hearing him speak, (that if you’re not listening to carefully, could bare a dangerous resemblance to the sound of intellectual jargon) reminds me that I’m speaking with a revolutionary mind. He’s a whole hearted believer in the African American community living up to its potential. Everything that he does is in service to a kind of enlightenment, one that upsets and threatens American traditions. Dr. Ball is a living symbol of enlightenment chalked full of nerve and audacity. Dr. Jared Ball began his journey to becoming a professor after his own college experience proved vital to him. “It was what I thought I could do as a career. It was my contribution to do for other students what had been done for me. Today, education is not something designed to inspire but to impose norms and I’m redefining what education looks like.” Professor Ball believes that hip hop is just one of many essential tools for the face lift of education but preaches that before fellow educators begin teaching hip hop whether that be in the form of the ideas and concepts or lyricism, we have to get back to the basics. “Hip hop for me has demonstrated that it can be a part of a process that encourages people to think and

behave. It should be used in educational practices for young black and brown individuals who already interpret hip hop. But if we really want the youth to be properly educated then we need- we have to ensure that they have a decent place to live and sleep, that there are small amounts of students in the classroom and that students are trained and educated by teachers who are genuinely invested in the community. We need to see to it that teachers have the skills and knowledge about the subject. I struggle with this idea of hip hop being the special solution for dealing with black kids, or some oppressed group without facing the environment that created the problem in the first place.” A crash course to some of the ideas breeched in Dr. Ball’s classes cover the general topic of the media’s control over the mass population and the population’s ignorance to this. The Doctor speaks with conviction as he gives us a verbal excerpt to a college lecture. “Media today is more pervasive with very rich, very white, and very male individuals determining the world view of projection that comes across. The ones featured usually have Eurocentric features and that is what is considered beauty. Within the media, there is a grand promotion of money and over consumption, it is the weapon to secure ideological victories over targeted populations. Free will is erased and replaced. Let me tell you, it’s not just a movie, a song, a commercial, an advertisement. It is the world view of people in the business of producing these things, a world view that we are buying into. For a brief moment, Ball had his sights on becoming the President of the United States in the 2007 Election as a representative of the Green Party. “I would never vote for a democrat or a republican”, says the professor who chastises Obama for traveling to Africa, telling them that if they’re looking for someone to blame for their disparities blame their own African government instead of European colonialism.

Ball continues, “What we’ve seen from him (Obama) is good from what we might expect from any democratic president. The truth is, much of what Barack is doing is worse than George Bush. He spent more on the military than Bush did, his affordable care act doesn’t cover most of the African American working class and he’s hiring the people who created the debt problem in the first place.” He sums up his earnest concerns in the guise of a rant, to say boldly, almost too boldy, “Obama represents a false politics of what multiracial existence in this country has meant.” With the creation of his book “I Mix What I Like (A Mix tape Manifesto)” Dr. Jared provides a broader range of what he calls the black radical tradition. What is the black radical tradition you ask? Anything to the left of the Republican Party. “I promote afrocentricity.” Ball speaks in such a way that the listener feels dared to challenge him. The fact that you agree with his statement is of little consequence. “I promote the militancy of Malcolm X. I promote anti-capitalist, anti-white supremacy and self-defense.” Ball credits the Black panthers for their role in advancing the struggle within African American history. “I’m not saying that I agree with the mindset, I am saying that its history needs to be acknowledged. Our community is getting worse. I say, let’s study these histories as we look to figure out how we are going to improve our world.” When asked about ways to promote improving our world the mass media theory Professor calls Instagram, Twitter, Facebook a means of alienating ourselves from each other regardless of its intentions. “Studies have shown that we are only really engaging in email, porn and search engines. We use Twitter to broadcast every thought that we have and make other people billionaires while we learn very little about each other. For his wit; for his intelligence, and mastering the perfect combination of grit, brashness and sense, Dr. Jared Ball has gained our esteem.



A Mentor to many The Diversity Factor. More than her published work, what makes Blake-Beard’s our profile pick is her focus on the role of gender and leadership. For her project “Exploring the Impact of Mentoring on the Career Experiences of Indian Women” Blake-Beard challenges age old dynamics between men and women in a place where women still face the suppression of a glass ceiling in the workplace and their environment. Blake-Beard reinforces her beliefs in her graduate course, Gender, Diversity & Leadership in Organizations.

Stacy Blake-Beard This tenured Professor’s resume includes Harvard’s Graduate School of Education Professor and forerunner in Social Policy, and Visiting Faculty member at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India. Dr. Blake-Beard has match her accomplishments with top notch education that includes a hefty accumulation of a BS in Psychology, an MA and a Ph. D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan. Since 2002, she’s maintained her spot as Professor in the Simmons College School of Management where in her classes she lectures on organizational behavior and cultural diversity in organizations. “I examine mentoring relationships in the context of gender and workforce diversity.” Her research has been published in the Journal of Career Development, the Academy of Management Executive, the Psychology of Women Quarterly, Journal of Management Development, the Journal of Business Ethics, Human Resource Management Journal and


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“I see the work that I do as critical to helping people to connect with one another in ways that expand business opportunities and increase organizational effectiveness. Working in organizations today requires a level of connection and interdependence in order to be effective. Yet if one looks at how organizations are constructed, employees are socialized and the status quo is tolerated, we can see that there is much about how we work today that fractures relationships and undermines connections.” Blake-Beard is candid in her philosophy that success, in some ways, is more about the connections you establish and the people skills you acquire, than the hard work put in for success. Whether you agree with her or not, Blake-Beard makes no apologies about specializing in the politics of people. She’d much rather provide her students with frameworks and competencies that build bridges between people for what she calls “connection and inclusion.” Her ideas of inclusion are directed towards, African Americans, Women and groups that might be looked at as separate from white American society so that they can flourish in the professional world.

Putting her inclusion into motion she uses the always classic but never outdated, mentoring technique. “Mentoring is a critical developmental relationship that has impacted multiple levels of interaction. It has the potential to provide a path for people across different groups to find a path to one another.” Blake-Beard continues, “Oftentimes, when we are working across dimensions of differences, we are not sure what to expect and we sometimes rely on stereotypes and other common (mis)information to help us navigate relationships. Mentoring can be a powerful tool to give people across different groups a roadmap to find one another, to create meaningful relationships, to delve beneath the surface to understand your mentoring partner. In fact, the case for mentoring is built on that one point – this is a relationship that can impact individuals at multiple levels.” According to Blake-Beard the first step to chasing your dreams (a step universally applied to anyone and everyone) is picking out the perfect mentor. Splashed on Blake-Beard’s website is a reiteration of what she teaches. According to her research individuals who have been mentored are more likely to report greater satisfaction, higher organizational commitment, more promotions and higher salaries. Have you found your mentor today? Professor Blake-Beard teaches her students to establish the courage to do what is necessary to create a culture that allows for all to be included. This commitment allows her students to maintain their most valuable resource, what she calls “human talent.”

sticking to his literay roots ping students fawning over a star writer’s war stories.” Although his “war stories” scream out in protest and insist that they be revered, we’ll do our best to keep the hero worshipping at a minimal. Truthfully, Freedman’s sample bibliography followed by his credentials don’t begin to portray the success of his deeds and get to the soul of the writer and teacher that he is.

Professor Sam Freedman “Don’t expect me to concern myself much with what is trendy (in journalism) at this moment in time. I’ve lived through eight-track tapes, Beta recorders, and laser discs; I’ve heard how infidelity can keep a marriage lively and cocaine isn’t an addictive drug. Trendiness is overrated when it isn’t outright wrong. My concern is with tradition,” says Freedman. As a veteran to the power of the proverbial pen, Freedman is an award-winning author many times over, a columnist for The New York Times (where he writes the column, “On Religion”), and a tenured Columbia Journalism School Professor. He is all these things, and yet it takes a careful kind of acknowledgement to bring tribute to a man who professes that some of what makes journalistic education fail, is when it “settles for being a bunch of hero-worship-

What makes Dr. Freedman our profile pick is precisely this: he is tragically human and makes no apology that he should be anything else. From the success of what is now his seventh book tour and the maintenance of a steady and heightened career, he doesn’t pretend his accomplishments are an impervious feat to all. In fact, he pretends at nothing. Growing up as a Jewish American his passion is race in a historical context which he advocates in his books “Upon This Rock: The Miracles of a Black Church”, “Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry” and his latest work, “Goal To Go: Black College Football and the Struggle for Civil Rights” (which highlights American football as an important attribute for the buildup of black Colleges. This book is Freedman’s take on how black colleges became engines of intellectual and athletic achievement as well as black advancement). Freedman realized a simple truth at the age of 13 that he wanted to be a writer and this

has been his truth ever since. Since then, Professor Freedman has built up a rapport that instilled in him a mentality unlike many of his students have ever seen before. “I remember the weakest student in my first Columbia class asking if he could skip a session so that he could hear a speech by David Halberstam. “If you go to hear Halberstam,” I told him, “you’ll never be Halberstam. I'm interested in excellence and I'm only teaching those who aspire to excellence.” How Freedman materialized his success is simple. "I was affirmed in my belief that intellectual curiosity and a relentless work ethic matter infinitely more than a natural ability in achieving excellence." While Freedman doesn’t believe in hero worshipping, and would rather pride himself on his ability to disillusion than dazzle, with his in work ethic, moral ethos, integrity, intellectual curiosity, and concern with the human condition he has gained our esteem and admiration. “If I speak to you about painting or music or drama, and I’m certain that I will, then I want to introduce you to art that will elevate your cultural literacy and, if I may be so bold, enhance your life. The greatest journalists never settled for only reading or watching or listening to journalism; they looked for their models and catalysts in literature, film, jazz, every great art.”


GOTHAM CITY fashion Photography by Naj Wareham Styled by Kwasi Kessie and NAKIM for GFCnewyork Face Art by Renee Sanganoo

(left) coat by General Idea; necklace by Lucas Plus; pants by BluRoz (right) top by PARKCHOONMOO; jeans by Black Label Ralph Lauren; boots by Timberland; jewelry by Ne’


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eyewear by Ultra Dynamic; blazer by Toure Designs; shirt by Hugo Boss; ring by Rome And Tale


(left) hat by Ne’; shirt by Boyz New York; pants by BluRoz; sneakers by Converse (right) shirt and shorts by Boyz New York; sneakers by Jordan


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(left) jacket by Burberry; shirt and pants by BluRoz; jewelry by Lucas Plus (right) red leather dashiki by Homme Land; jeans by Black Label Ralph Lauren; watch by Nixon



(left) shirt and pants by Savant New York; boots by Timberland; watch by Nixon; ring and bracelet by Rome and Tale. (right) hat by Ne’; jewelry by Lucas Plus; shirt and apron by General Idea; pants by BluRoz; sneakers by Converse.


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top by PARKCHOONMOO; jewelry by Ne’

(left) hat by Ne’; shirt by Boyz New York; pants by BluRoz (right) shirt and shorts by Boyz New York;


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(left) leather holster by Vintage; shirt by Burberry; pants by Y-3; sneakers by Converse; rings by Lucas Plus; leather wrap by Homme Land (right) eyewear by Ultra Dynamic; blazer by Toure Designs; pants by Gucci; shirt by Hugo Boss; shoes by Brooks Brothers; ring by Rome And Tale



(left) red leather dashiki by Homme Land; jeans by Black Label Ralph Lauren (right) hat by Boyz New York; shirt by BluRoz; pants by BluRoz; jewelry by Lucas Plus


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Photograph by Sierra Prescott

International Man of Style Traveling the world and switching teams has left quiet the impression the Lakers new addition Nick Young. The NBA player is injecting style in everything he does.

Words by Lamont Wilson

Young turns heads on and off the court with his wide array of clothes from Versace to Nike. Young says, “I see other guys wearing their clothes and I always wanted to try something and I wanted to kill it with my outfits. Every time I go to the mall I can point out an outfit I know other guys can wear. I see shirts that Russell Westbrook would wear in the mall.” The Swaggy P persona isn’t just for his offcourt lifestyle, Young has quickly become a pop-culture sensation for his on-court footwear. Rapper Trinidad James has said Nick “Swaggy P” Young is a guy that he would most likely be like if he had to be in the league as far as style goes, Young takes James’ attention to his style as a compliment, “I’m cool with Trinidad James and I’ve met him. He got some style to him.” As for what we can expect on the court this season from the rising star Young says, “The league likes how we dress and they see our own style. I know they have

a little show about what we wear and being a Laker it’s hard to match the purple and gold, but I got a few surprises this year. I got some Nike Air Foamposites that will match our jersey and some other things I’ll wear, but for now it’s a secret.” With the NBA season in full-swing, Nick Young has shown us that he knows what’s at stake. Teaming with Kobe Bryant and reuniting with former high school rival Jordan Farmer, Young explains, “Jordan reminds me that they won and he beat me but I’ll remind him of how many points I scored on him. And Kobe is a cool guy he takes his craft serious and he loves basketball, but he has a cool personality laughs and jokes with us. I love it.” Young’s athletic talent and expert taste in fly footwear have already made him an exciting player to watch this season. ★


on the rise

lylas The Ultimate Sister Act Words by Amber Kennedy


he race for the top girl is on! The Hawaii bred LYLAS are the next group to put their bid in. The group’s mantra is all in the name LYLAS stands for “Love You Like a Sister” and sisters is what they are. Presly, Tiara, Tahiti and Jamie are the sisters who are related to pop maestro, Bruno Mars. The LYLAS’ want prove that their brother Bruno is not the only member of the family who can make it in music. The musically gifted sisters grew up together with their mother who was a singer and their father who is a percussionist. The music in their veins makes the career choice seem more instinct driven. “We love you Bruno

but it is our turn” Tahiti can be heard saying to the intro of the LYLAS’ new reality show on We TV. Obviously having an older brother in the industry is helpful but it also means that the ladies have to prove their talent. When asked if they’d ever considered coming out without mention of their famous brother and the question was met with silence, then a collective “no.” “We love our brother and are very proud of all that he has accomplished, people would have found out anyway” says Tiara. The challenge to breakout of their brother’s shadow is one they accept gleefully. Their reality show on We TV is the first step in that

direction. Reality TV has launched many a career and the he sisters are hoping for a similar experience. During the show’s run the ladies allow us to peer inside their lives as they cope with transitioning to the mainland and well as their day-to-day experiences as new artists. When asked about the difference between Hawaii and California? The sisters respond with haste “The speed limit! In Hawaii, the speed limit is 35 mph and in California it is 55 mph. If you see a little woman driving at 40 mph on the highway you know it’s me!” Tahiti laughs. So they’ve made the big move, and started their reality series. Where’s the music and what’s their sound? “Our sound is fun feel good music with an island flavor,” says Jaime. Their newest single "Comeback" and its accompanying video can be found on Youtube.

Left to right: Tahiti, Tiara, Presley & Jaimie

Team Bleu is curious to hear what other songs these ladies will release given their diverse individual taste in music. Lyla’s inspirations include Pink, Gwen Stefani, Beyoncé, Celine Dion and Lauryn Hill. All of these styles together with a bit of island flavor sounds like a good cocktail to us. Their brother has already proven he can transcend traditional genre rules. Maybe the Lyla’s can too. Either way we are looking forward to it. ★

Currently airing on We tv.


bleu magazine

J. Drew His Music, His Truth, His Destiny Words by Namisha L. Joiner


ith biceps that shouted, “what up yall,” before he uttered a syllable, J. Drew walked into Bleu’s office in his camouflaged get-up, shades, and his crew alongside him. A warm smile and introductions later, he took his seat, center stage so to speak, and began to engage in farfrom-idle chatter. The son of Karen Clark Sheards of the Sheards gospel dynasty, J. Drew has shaped his artistry atypical to expectations of some industry followers. With R&B and hip-hop as his definitive target, J emphasizes he is not a freshman to rhythmic soul. “A lot of people have been saying transition. It’s never been a transition for me. I have always did R&B, but I was more known for my work in gospel.” His ear for music and lyrical merit rebukes confinement and the mass’s genre limitations, as he is a die-hard follower of beats from the street “I have always been a fan of super hardcore rap. Rap has always influenced me, and it’s a unique way of expressing yourself. But you can’t express yourself and be as creative in R&B as you can in rap. I plan to kind of merge the two.”

Photo by Elton Anderson

In addition to bringing a new flavor to his family’s name, J told Bleu that he definitely wanted to bring a change to the current state of R&B. He describes how he flexes between the genres, and the office burst with laughter as he professes, “When you hear my R&B stuff you won’t think ‘this same nigga do gospel music! And when you hear my gospel music, you won’t think ‘this same nigga do R&B!” Despite gospel industry pressure, the 23-year old college student maintains his stance and remains firm in his career decisions. “I am not a defiant type. I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation, and I don’t respond to critics,” he stated.

What J. Drew will do is show you better than he can tell you. The man of action allows his natural competitive energy, discernment for the positive, and loved ones guide his wisdom. “I’m gon’ give you something to talk about. I constantly spend time on the phone with my team to come up with ways to make things work. I never feed into what the people say.” He pauses momentarily, then continues. “I just lost my best friend, and when you stumble on these stumbling blocks you try to figure out ways to get through, to look for answers, to out think the average person. If you get caught up, you start to lose your own identity in this industry. Mad people got stuff to say, but I know who I am. I stay true and I continue to move forward.” ★



Cheers to the Freakin’ Weekend In the famous words of the legendary Ron Burgundy, “I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly.” Who wouldn’t enjoy a nice glass of this fine spirit at home? Happy hour can get a little crowded, so invite some colleagues over to wind down at your place. A home bar is the best bar; if you don’t have one, here is a little inspiration.

Italian Globe Server $259.95

Clive Bar Cabinet $2,499.00

1920s German Light Bulb Voltage Tester Bar $1,995.00


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Curved Front Bar $599.00

Swig Mini Bar $399.00

One Fifth Server $15,585.00 Lafayette Expandable Bar $429.00


bleu list


Boy Meets World


DreamWorks Animation

Grand Central Station

Orange Is the New Black

The Container Store

Jay Z

The Wolverine

Google, Inc.


Jamie Foxx



Teen Wolf

Quicken Loans Inc.


Andre 3000

Devon Energy



Camden Property Trust

Paper planes

S'mac (restaurant)


Walter Whitman

Trayvon Martin



Kobe Bryant

Mattel, Inc.

Big Brother

Erykah Badu

Henry MCcoy

Real World: The Challenge

Monsters University

Warren Worthington

Sevyn Streeter


Scott Summers

Mellow Yellow


Robert Drake

Red Velvet


Jean Grey



Lorna Dane

Poland Spring

Michael B Jordan

Alex Summers



Kurt Wagner

Couples Therapy


Sean Cassidy

Vanilla Parfait

Ray Ban

Ceceila Reyes

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RUN DMC Words by Kiara Gillette

Born in Hollis, Queens, Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell formed Run-D.M.C. in 1981. With their street-savvy fashion and hard-hitting rhymes that matched the hard timbre of rock music, Run-D.M.C. is credited with hip-hop's crossover success and global influence today. Breaking down barriers, Run-D.M.C.'s career is distinguished by a succession of firsts. They were the first hip-hop group to have a gold album with their self-title in 1984, becoming the first to gain a Grammy nomination. In 1985 and 1986, the group became the first to earn platinum and multiplatinum distinctions with King of Rock and Raising Hell, respectively. Solidifying their crossover appeal, Run-D.M.C. became the first hip hop group to have videos played on- then predominantly rockMTV, and to grace the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. Their iconic b-boy style, donning fedoras, tracksuits, and unlaced Adidas gave hip-hop a new identity that was grounded in the streets. With their single "My Adidas," the group garnered the attention of the Adidas brand, inking a $1.6 million endorsement deal. However, it was their cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" that elevated the group to their legendary status. The song and video became one of the biggest hits of the '80s, reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. In 2002, the group experienced a great loss over the murder of Jam Master Jay. Allowing faith to see them through, Run and D.M.C. shifted gears to more philanthropic efforts. Run adopted the moniker "Rev. Run" to show his religious conversion. In 2007, the group launched the J.A.M. Awards, which focuses on Jam Master Jay's vision of bringing social justice, art and music to his community and the world. ★


Profile for Bleu Magazine

Bleu Magazine Issue 28- B.o.B  


Bleu Magazine Issue 28- B.o.B