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By: Shapri McKinney



ONTENTS Features Power Of Carter Ride or Die

Departments Editorial Let ter Issue Theme Whats Poppin? What’s Good? Spotlight Music Challenge Homage 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY ISSUE


Editorial Letter

Ceo/Founder Ceo/Founder

Datwon Thomas



t was February 9th 2011, I just turned 23 and it was the wackest day ever. I sat in my room thinking, “This can’t be life, this can’t be love, this can’t be right, there’s gotta be more.” So I just allowed myself to be swallowed in the thought that I wasn’t where I wanted to be at 23 and I cried listening to the Jennifer Holiday edition of “Giving Up” for, I too, had decided that was the thing to do; then I went to sleep. As I reflect back on last year I am happy that I didn’t allow the beginning of my birth year to define what the rest of 2011 would look like. Please don’t get it twisted; it was indeed a year full of trials, failures, successes and gratitude. I helped 16 young people figure out their passion, purpose & strengths in The SWT Life Convo, I started a campaign called For All The Winters with an amazing team, broke down too many times to count, learned a ton by going to Skillshare classes, fell in love, sent out over 30 thank you cards, received a D+ in Leadership, Motivation & Power, joined #teamiphone, interviewed my grandmother’s best friend for my Urbanization of African Americans class, went to the Black Girls Rock Awards show and decided that I want one, got my own segment on NYC’s WBAI Wake Up Call called History Meets Hip-Hop and last but not least, I became the Editor In Chief for CARTER Magazine. This is my very 1st issue and the theme is Stand Up! Movements start when people collectively come together and stand up for what they believe in. That’s how this issue was put together. Some on the front lines and some in the background making sure the movement that we stood for were still in tack. Without it, or the bridge that brings people and cultures together, there is no CARTER Magazine. In order to know where you’re going you must know where you came from. That’s why we at CARTER are committed to demonstrate what it looks like when History Meets Hip-Hop. Our cover stories The Evo-Act and Towing the Lineage reveals just that. I remember my mentor Erica Ford always telling me, “Syreeta, you can’t do this alone,” as I had tried countless times with other projects. Her words run into my ears as if I was on a Nextel walkie in 2006. Throughout history we have seen how social movements have done a series of things culturally. People have found out their purpose in life, created dream teams, while others have found the magic formula for being able to let their dreams pay the bills, no matter how difficult that may be. When different time periods meet, it allows us to be told stories that weren’t previously told. It allows us to hear from the great storytellers, such as Lemon Anderson and Queen GodIS, stories that we all share in some way, whether it’s chopping it up with our grandmother about The Great Migration or Slick Rick & Doug E Fresh Children Story. We are privileged that these beautiful people in this One Year Anniversary issue have shared with us their story. Somehow by the grace of all things good; this issue came together by going back and forth with young people at 1:00 am to make sure their voice was heard in their pieces. To our dedicated editors who made sure every piece were right and our creative guru making sure it was visually fly. I challenge everyone reading this issue to be fearless in your quest for change and share your story in which Adrian Franks has so profoundly exhibited. The mantra for this issue is “Young Carter. Go farther. Go further, Go harder. Is that not why we came? And if not, then why bother?” Thank You & You’re Welcome! Culture Creator™,

Syreeta Gates Editor-in-Chief, @SyreetaGates @Syreetagates


Queon Martin Martin Queon


Datwon Thomas

Co-Founder/Spokesperson Brian Christion Operations

Syreeta Gates

Syreeta Gates Editor-in-Chief Editor-in-Chief

Pixod Sundree Art Direction

Danielle RandolphRoberson Carty Managing Editor Designer

Alexander Allen Fashion Director

Dwayne Marsh Art Rayon Direction Richards Photographer

Amelia Rawlins

Copy Editor Amelia Rawlins

Copy Editor Alex Alsup Copy Editor

Chimene Teixeira Chris Wise Public Relations/ Community Manager

Amada Entertainment

Sherniece & Darnell

Smith Mui Ashley Contributor

Creative Consultant

Marvin Scott Contributor

Adrian Franks Art Consultant

Phillip Shung Art Contributor

Alfred Obiesie Contributor



Alfred Obiesie A finance consultant by trade, music producer by passion and writer by destiny, Alf has lent his expertise to many companies: Def Jam, Bad Boy Entertainment, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, and PlanIt Brooklyn. Between corporate responsibilities and studio sessions, he can be found offering his perspective on

Ashley Mui is the co-founder of PlanIt Brooklyn, a creative consulting company in New York City that specializes in social engineering – committed to growing start-ups, emerging leaders, and small institutions. Recently crowned the Gratitude Guru by her Brooklyn community, she is also the creator of Gratuity Included, a gourmet paper goods company dedicated to putting the ease into daily gratitude. As a power giver, she continues to support people create fuller, richer, more abundant lives. Follow her on twitter @ashleythebalm or read her musings on photo by Wesley Thompson

Brian “Dirk” Johnson

Ikea Williams

Brianna Walker

Christopher “Hack” Williams

Epyana “Epy” Smith


Jacssel Carter

Jadayah Spencer

Naima Arbaoui

Malik Shabazz

Rasmakonnen Taylor

Shapri McKinney

Randy Lewis

They Got Next!!! 6




By: Ikea Williams


oyota, Wal-Mart, Verizon; you go into these stores, see the advertisements that draw you in and attracts you to their company, but do you ever wonder who’s responsible for this? With over 14 years of experience in the field of design, advertising and fine arts, Adrian Franks has worked with a number of prestigious companies including those mentioned above. I’ve had the pleasure of getting inside the mind of someone so creative, allowing him to take me on a journey in an interview as we discussed where he came from and how he evolved into this accredited “Master of Skills.”

Ikea: How did you become interested in Graphic Design? AF: Good question. Umm, this is kind of like something that started from early childhood. I had a big interest in comic books, graphic novels, cartoons, and things of that nature. I ran across this magazine that talks about commercial artists and graphic designers and I said, “That would be kind of cool to actually make a living off of being creative.” Ikea: I noticed on your website you mentioned that when people ask “Where are you, what are you doing?” and you respond “I’m in the studio,” but for you the studio isn’t necessarily you physically being in a studio, you can be out on the streets driving, so when you’re out there what exactly do you see that inspires your ideas for designs? AF: That’s a good analogy. A lot of times I can be inspired by are billboards, signs, T-shirts, things that are just graphical in its nature; buildings, life, nature, and people because design and art is really reflective of life. For me, being stuck in a room trying to come up with a concept doesn’t really work well for me, being out; an idea can literally come from anywhere. Ikea: Of all the things you’ve done, what are you most proud of? AF: That’s a hard question. Recently, would be the “Fearless” series, I must say, only because it’s taken me my whole life to come to this point. The current “Fearless” series, I like it and I’m proud of it now, because I feel like it’s one of the best things I’ve created so far where I’ve utilized all of my experiences and creativity to execute these things. It’s one of the simplest lines of work that I’ve been working on for the last year and a half. Prior to that, a lot of my work was really complex, really deep and this execution is so simple. I feel like that to me is life itself and that is what art should do, take a design and convey it in a good way. Ikea: What’s challenging for you when developing ideas for your work? AF: I think the most challenging part to me is making sure that the concept makes sense. The concept has to be really tight. I have to make sure that whatever I’m thinking is conveyed really well. I think it’s the concept more than the execution. 8

Ikea: How did you get hooked up with companies such as Macy’s, Wal-Mart and Toyota? AF: Well that’s kind of the perks of being a commercial artist as well as a fine artist. A lot of the time these companies find creative individuals to create things for them such as point of sale, advertising pieces, websites and flyers. Working for various advertisement agencies throughout my career has allowed me to hook up with these different brands [and] to grow as an artist. It allowed me to understand that even with my own pieces I can take at least some of this knowledge and apply it to my work and it makes it a little more refined as opposed to randomly throwing things on canvas and hope people will like it. Ikea: What is the significance of your “Fearless in BK” series being in profile? AF: Well think about the medium of photography. Even when photography first started out, most people always looked at the camera. But prior to photography people actually got profiles traced up because they couldn’t afford regular paintings. But even in today’s world, most people don’t look away from the camera. It’s almost like to really get into the inside of a person and understand who they truly are, you have to look at them from a different angle and I think the profile, the side profile specifically, can convey that a little better. Ikea: How do you think your artwork relates to the hip-hop culture? AF: Hip-hop, that’s the music that I grew up on. The beautiful thing about hip-hop and how it relates back to my art is that [it] allowed me to dissect music itself, being that hip-hop is so dissected and chopped up from other genres of music to make a whole new genre. It’s the same thing with art. A lot of the time artists, we go off of our experiences and the things that we know. So in this day and age of art, artists are more than just people who paint on a canvas, artists are people who use a lot of different mediums to convey a thought. That means if you’re pulling something from a newspaper clipping or magazine clipping or pictures that you make and you bring that all together to make one piece then that’s essentially hip-hop!





COOL By: Epyana “Epy” Smith


shmael “Ish” Islam is probably one of the “dopest” people I have spoken to in my life. When I think talented, intelligent, and down to earth - Ish pops into my head. He is a poet, MC, filmmaker, graphic artist, cookie loving Brooklyn boy who everyone should be interested in knowing. He is the perfect model for following your dreams and landing on the road to success.



Epy: What made you pick up your pen for the first time?

impact on the work that you do?

Ish: I wrote out of necessity.

I was the only child for seven years until my sister was born. A seven-year difference can make you feel like the only child sometimes. I would draw and make up stories in my head when I wanted to. I was mischievous I would write on the wood on the side of my bed until I got in trouble for it and then I decided to write and draw in books. I had a very vivid imagination as a child.

Ish: Most definitely.

Epy: You’re a poet, MC, graphic artist, filmmaker… what

Epy: What has been one of your greatest challenges in

Brooklyn has everything to do with me as an artist. You just have a certain moxy being from Brooklyn because of the environment, because of the people, because of the culture it’s in you, wherever you go. The book that I am writing has a lot to do with my upbringing in Brooklyn and how it has affected me as a person. There just really isn’t another place like Brooklyn.

is the connecting thread?


Ish: The challenge of making them seamless and relevant to

Ish: Being open with people. While I feel safe and open doing

each other is the connecting thread. It’s a big challenge, but I’m up for it I love each thing.

Epy: Explain what HumUni is. What does it stand for? Ish: HumUni is a hip-hop duo with my best friend Mega who is also a multi-disciplinary artist. We started in 2008 in High School, because of our friendship and strong love for hip-hop. HumUni is an idea, it is an entity that anyone can be a part of, and it stands for Humble Understanding Money Making, Uniquely New Individuals.

Epy: People might not know that you love Earth, Wind and Fire; if you could ask them one question as a group, what would you ask?

Ish: Let me think…. I would just want to know

my art, it is hard for me to do that in regular conversations with people. I am very shy; it takes me awhile to open up to people and sometimes that drives people away or makes people think I’m not sociable. It’s just that I’m a tough cookie to crack. I’m working on opening up, at a certain point you just have to realize people are just people.

Epy: Do you think performing has helped you? Ish: It has and it has not.

It puts me in a position where I have to own up to my truths, I end up talking about it because through my art I am telling the story of my life and people get curious. It hasn’t helped because I am a low-key guy and I have just started being in the public’s eye and I am trying to keep my cool and stay humble.

Epy: What is your biggest fear in being

what their whole process was when they made Brazilian Rhyme. I would ask how that song in particular came about.


Ish: My biggest fear is not loving my art

Epy: Who else do you look up to? Ish: Musically, aside from Earth, Wind and Fire, my dad. Jay-Z is that next example of the type of man I would want to be in life. Stevie Wonder, along with a lot of contemporary artists makes me want to step my game up. Some poets I look up to are Yusef Komunyakaa and Sonia Sanchez as well as my mentors John Sands, Mahogany Brown and all the poets I worked with at Urban Word.

Epy: Where do you want to go next? Ish: Because I am the youth poet laureate for New York City, I have to write a collection of poetry and publish it in November of 2012. I am really excited about it; I worked hard for this opportunity. My ultimate goal is to run a creative agency that starts in Brooklyn. Other than that, just really pushing forward with HumUni, I want to make sure we are reaching out to as many people as possible and stay fresh with our music. I love my crafts; I just want to be the best at all of them.

anymore. I don’t want to focus on how much money I make or how much recognition I gain because at the end, it’s about how much I love my crafts. I also just want to be a normal guy, I don’t want to have to hide or be in the media all the time.

Epy: What would you say to other hungry artists on the come-up?

Ish: On a technical front be organized especially if you are doing more than one thing. If you’re a photographer who also plays the trumpet figure out how they can work together. This may be the typical answer but make sure your art is true to you. There are so many people into art, these days the lines are so blurred it’s hard to separate the enthusiast and the people that are actually about it. If you know in your heart that you are about it as long as you stay focused things will fall into place. Don’t compare yourself to others either because that will push you away from loving your art. Be true to yourself.

Epy: Do you think that growing up in Brooklyn has had an 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY ISSUE




ver wondered who had a key role in cultivating the most popular Get Lite Movement? Well, for those of you who don’t know, it was DJ G$Money. In a recent interview, DJ G$Money explains how DJ’ing was actually a mistake. “It was kind of was an accident; I saw the movie Juice and wanted turntables for Christmas when I was like 12 or 13 and my parents bought it for me,” he explained. G$Money never planned on becoming a DJ, he picked up the skill as a recreational hobby and used it as a way to impress friends. He was asked to DJ at events starting with teen parties and on the radio. “I was young; I couldn’t work, so I kind of like just went with the flow. They told me they were going to pay me and feed me so I went along with it,” he starts. “Then I started to like what was going on. I started getting good feedback and a good buzz so I took myself seriously.” According to G$Money, it was also beneficial that his father, who inspired him, was a DJ back in the days. From where he started, he has switched his motive and now DJ’ing is more than a hobby; for him it has become a lifestyle. It’s “so 8000” (a phrase coined by G$Money) when you can take your passion and create your own lane as this Queens native did; when he took it upon himself to play “Get Lite” songs in the clubs. This reason single handedly helped to get him no-


ticed throughout the tri-state area. Urban youth culture has evolved since G$Money popped up on the scene. “I was always told from young that I’ll be doing something with entertainment and you know I’ll be good at it and get far but I never thought it would be the way it is now,” DJ G$Money says. Five years ago he didn’t expect to be where he is now, which is currently working on rapping, producing and DJ’ing with over 400,000 views on YouTube. One of his latest singles Queens and its Crazy recently aired on HOT 97.1 & POWER 105.1 (both of the NY, NJ, CT tri-state area). In the next five years G$Money looks forward to touring as a DJ or being a DJ on a mainstream radio station. When asked what he wants his legacy to be he states: “I just want my name to be well known as a well-rounded person. I want people to see me as a good role model in the game not just as a DJ.” What makes G$Money different you might ask is that he is committed to helping up and coming artists and DJs. He also stresses that he wants to be known as a “real DJ.” In his own words, “I really want people to realize that I started DJ’ing back in the day. I was carrying crates, speakers, amps and all that. I did the vinyl original DJ type of thing; I want everybody to know I came up the original way. I didn’t cheat the game and just buy CD’s and a laptop and just rocking out.”




By: Alfred Obiesie


ithin the past 25 years, a majority of the most influential, respected and just plain ole funkiest hip hop artists have emerged from one iconic record label, Def Jam Recordings. For any aficionado that has ever digested, dissected, hated or revered any form of hip hop music in the past quarter century, chances are, the manuscripts that manufactured those emotions were Def Jam certified. Be it Public Enemy’s brazenly rebellious taunts at a nation of millions, Jay-Z reasonably doubting what truly constitutes the American dream, EPMD engaging in business as usual, or Kanye contemplating college curriculums, all social concerns relevant to the diaspora have been questioned and most often answered by Rick’s and Russell’s roster. Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, co-founders of Def Jam, can easily be likened to Steve Jobs and Steve Woziniak, co-founders of Apple computers; while Jobs and Woziniak slaved over Apple’s operating system in an effort to accommodate our entertainment needs, Rick and Russell slaved in the Big Apple in an effort to operate within a system that had no care or demand for its own entertainment needs (or at least at the time thought it didn’t). As true visionaries however, Russell and Rick were certain that what ailed the current market place was theirs to diagnose and provide a prescription for. One of the few times self-diagnosis proved to be beneficial. From partying to politics and everything else in between, Def Jam Records has always fought for our rights: the right to be heard, the right to be seen and the right to be. In addition, all initial attempts were made way before it was


fashionable to do so. Way before white rappers were nouveau, thongs had their own songs, and those younger than the youngest Jeezy. Forever omnipresent, Def Jam not only provided a platform for artists to wax poetic on social issues, the label never lost sight of the mission: providing provocative entertainment. Much like Motown Records administered the sonic backdrop for the civil rights movement and other sociopolitical uprisings of the 1960s and 1970s, Def Jam in the early 1980s throughout today has facilitated the score for the struggles and achievements of the inner city which were firmly aligned with the American immigrant, which most often represent America itself. It’s no secret then that the messages in hip hop music propagated by Russell and Co. resonated with so many worldwide. Def Jam, we are forever grateful.





t’s a small world, but the world only gets smaller for the up and coming group of 15, BiG City BiG City. “We honestly came up with BiG City, BiG City in a meeting joking around,” Justin from BiG City explains, when asked how did the name come to play. “It was kind of crazy because that’s probably the best branding technique we’ve had thus far involving Big City Big City, saying it twice. That’s been what we’ve been known for off bat; its catchy, it grabs you and its crazy the best ideas are made having fun.” BiG City BiG City is more like a brotherhood amongst the group, yet a movement to the public. “I get my support from within the BiG City team and I get my support from the fans I accumulated from when I started until now, you know of course family, friends,” Justin states. “[It’s] people that believe whole heartedly in what I’m doing and willing to do whatever to see me make it. I get my support from supporting people, it comes back full circle.” Taking care of his family and giving his music 100% has been one of the biggest obstacles for Justin. “When you’re married with two kids and you’re trying to pursue a full time music career, you definitely have to be 100% on top of your time management and that probably has been thus far my biggest obstacle,” he says. Although balancing family and work is challenging, Justin’s main motivation is his kids. There have been moments where he felt like he had to choose between his marriage and the music, which was the only time he felt like giving up. “Failure has been my best teacher thus far in life; the scars I got from falling helped me prepare for the journey ahead. They also remind me of potentially how things could be so I take that with me.” Justin chose entertainment after being involved in the Hip Hop


Project. According to him, this is how he is supposed to reach people and fulfill his purpose that God had planned for him. “90% of every waking moment, as soon as I wake up I’m doing music and most of the things I do in my life, in my spare time relate to music,” he says. Justin states that the main message he tries to get across through his music is “be 100% honest with yourself before you choose any path or journey in life”. He also mentions that in the army they have PCIs and PCCs , pre-combat inspections and pre -combat checks. “Life is war, life is combat,” he says. “The decisions you struggle with, that’s a war within yourself. It’s about being at peace with these wars and making sure you’re ready to approach each and every situation. The pre-combat inspection is letting someone you trust look at you and give you advice, some type of feedback on what you are doing so you know how you looking.” In his spare time, Justin goes to the gym and works on his music, he hangs out with the rest of “BiG City BiG City” making sure everything is good and the relationships are intact. He once thought he was going to be a break dancer for the rest of his life before rapping, heavy into art and drawing before he was into writing and making music. “The thing that grabs me in more than the music is the art, the dancing and the movements. The supporting elements that make hip-hop what it is so if you ask me, a B-Boy and a graffiti artist are Hip Hop artists.” Justin is thankful for all the support he has gotten and has high hopes for BiG City BiG City in the future. While some may look at hip-hop as another genre of music, Justin makes his passion for music & hip hop clear when he says, “Hip Hop is a culture, B-Boys & Graffiti artists are artists of that culture.”






CLA graduate, Ava DuVernay is the founder of the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) and the founder of The DVA Media + Marketing Company, which she formed in 1999. This company has helped to provide craft for more than 120 film and television productions for well-known directors such as Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg. DuVernay also wrote and directed I Will Follow, a narrative feature and film and Faith through the Storm, a television documentary. But it doesn’t end there! DuVernay extends her directing skills to making music documentaries such as her debut feature This is the Life, which won her a host of awards at a number of different film festivals. This is the Life is a hip-hop documentary about the Good Life Café located in Los Angeles, CA where DuVernay began her own hip-hop career. Although this wasn’t the career path she chose to pursue, DuVernay states, “Once a female emcee, always a female emcee”. To prove this statement to be true the success of her documentary and her personal involvement in the matter led her to directing and producing BET Networks first original music documentary My Mic Sounds Nice: A Truth about Women in Hip-Hop. The hip-hop industry is and has always been viewed as male dominated and DuVernay’s intent of the documentary was to discuss gender-specific differences in



the world of musical art. The short but straightforward film takes you on a journey through the history and tradition of the women who helped create and mold the Hip-Hop genre. To help navigate the hiphop expedition are female artists such as Missy Elliot, MC Lyte, Salt


n’ Pepa and Eve, to name a few. Ava DuVernay lets us in on her conversations with the emcees in their interviews as they travel down memory lane and discuss how much hip-hop has changed. DuVernay’s intention of the documentary wasn’t meant to pity the emcee’s but to continue embracing those that seem to have fell in the shadows and to remind us of those who’s footprints are in the sand. Born and raised during the arrival of female emcees, DuVernay is a primary witness of the impact women had on hip-hop and understands the importance of giving them recognition. Although many can agree that hip-hop as a whole has changed drastically and there are very few artist carrying on the legacy, DuVernay doesn’t neglect to acknowledge two undoubtedly triumphant artists: Jay-Z and Kanye West. She calls their latest collaborated album Watch the Throne a “militant masterpiece.”

As a hip-hop love, she feels that the culture should have always been “feeding our collective ego” and firing us up. Many artists flaunt their wealth and scream “you can’t do it like me” leaving their fans feeling discouraged while Jay-Z can mention in a song how much he spent on a private jet followed by “power to the people; when you see me, see you.” Ava DuVernay is all about empowering her people no matter what aspect of life, whether it’s through films or music. What’s important is that you take your history and continue to make your history.

Ava indeed made history at Sundance Film Festival as the first black woman to win best director. What will you pioneer?



By: Malik Shabazz


ut of several indie films that have been released as of late, the movie Pariah was one that to me stood out amongst them all. The film is about a 17 year old African-American girl from FortGreene, Brooklyn named Alike (Adepero Oduye), pronounced AH-LEE-KAY, who is identifying her sexuality as a lesbian. The plot was interesting from the start because not often do we see movies about a gay African-American teenager’s struggles making the film an instant attraction. Alike lives at home with her mother Audrey (Kim Wayans) who is religious and against her choice of lifestyle, her father Arthur (Charles Parnell), a cop who is oblivious to his daughters true sexuality and her sister Sharonda (Sahra Mellesse). Ironically the mother introduces her to a girl named Bina (Aasha Davis) that she thinks is more feminine and the girl ends up being more insecure about her sexuality than Alike is. Because Alike is passionate about poetry, her teacher tries to get her to express herself more in her writing but in process shows how insecure and troubled she is with expressing who she truly is. The movie is a thrill and relatable to all despite their sexual preference. Definitely a must see.






majority of well-known African Americans are recognized through either music or sports. It’s not often that you know someone through both occupations. As a matter of fact, there are many athletes that have, in one time of their life, attempted to release either a hip-hop album or hip-hop hit. Unfortunately, little to no success was made. Some of the athletes that gained credibility for their rap career include basketball player Shaquille O’Neal and wrestler John Cena. Athletes such as Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Deion Sanders, Metta World Peace (Ron Artest), Jason Kidd, and Floyd Mayweather, also tried their hand at rapping, but unfortunately were not renowned.

such as Shaquille O’Neal, Jason Kidd, Dennis Scott, and Dana Barros. This album also featured the production of Warren G, Clark Kent, Diamond D, and other greats in the music industry. Although the album never achieved gold status or topped the Billboard charts, it was a significant achievement in the hip hop and sports industry.

Many would say that the most successful athlete turned rapper was Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal decided to start rapping in 1993, around the beginning of his 19 year career releasing a total of five studio albums. Even though his lyricism was often mocked, his debut album Shaq Diesel was certified platinum on March 21, 1994. He also appeared alongside Michael Jackson on his song “2 Bad,” a single off of Jackson’s 1995 album HIStory. Shaq was among one of the most active athletes, also trying out his acting career, appearing in several video games, and even being involved in law enforcement. On November 15, 1994, the compilation album BBall’s Best Kept Secret was released. This featured players






clectic, innovative, and ready to conquer, Dani Nicole is the newest, freshest fashion designer and fashonista to hit the urban couture scene. Hailing from Memphis, Dani decided to transition to New York City to follow her dreams and pursue her love for design and fabric. She knows curves; and with her feminine, stylish, eye grabbing pieces, she makes sure ladies embrace them.

Jacssel: What fuels your vision for your brand?

few; but my experience with Toya was completely different.

Dani: I love to enhance a woman’s curves. I love to design things for women to keep it sexy, yet still flirty. Showing a woman’s curves is what my brand is about.

Jacssel: Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

Jacssel: As a designer how do you define style? Dani: This is going to sound kind of crazy but “classy without showing all the ashy”; style isn’t only clothing, it’s your personality. You can be naked and still have style. Style is your character, what makes you who you are without you trying to be someone else. Clothes just add to it. It could be your hair [or] your shape. Style doesn’t really have one definite definition, not in my opinion anyway. Your style is your swag! Jacssel: How has working with Diddy-Dirty Money and Toya Wright been for you? Dani: It’s been really good. It was a lot from Diddy because we didn’t have to approve things with the girls, we had to approve things with Diddy himself; and if he wasn’t feeling it, we had to go back to scratch and start all over. It was definitely an experience and it made me step my game up because back home you could write “a - b- c” on a t-shirt and it would be considered fly. Here, things needed to tell a story and have significance. Over all, it was a great experience! Toya was a whole different experience because I really had to sell myself. I met her, pitched her, told her my story in a nutshell and where I was from, showed her my portfolio and she loved everything in it. It went from making her one piece to having pieces in her boutique. It was a blessing. I had made things for people before, like Diddy-Dirty Money, DJ Cassidy, Hamilton Park to name a


Dani: Ten years from now I see myself with an established clothing line, Dani Nicole. I want to specialize in a few things. I want a line for corsets and a denim line; hopefully married with two kids-just happy. I hope to have stores like my private label and also to be exclusive to a few boutiques as well. I would also like to do motivational speaking to young girls because I feel like my story is inspiring. Jacssel: What are some fashion tips you would like to share with our readers? Dani: Always have a pair of black pumps and a pair of nude pumps and always wear what you feel comfortable in. So if you think something is fly, just rock it. You were born to stand out! Jacssel: What do you want your legacy to be? Dani: That I was this overachieving southern girl that moved to New York and followed her dreams. That’s what people know me for. I want to be known for fabulous clothes. I want to be known as a great, inspiring black girl, [for teaching] some girls how to sew and as a motivational speaker. Jacssel: For a girl who has the same dreams as you, what words of encouragement do you have? Dani: Do your research yourself and don’t stop no matter what. If someone says anything negative to you don’t say anything back, just keep going and want it more than what you fear it!





SELF-IS-STEAM “The unexamined life is not worth living” -Socrates BY BRIAN BARRETT


f you didn’t know by now, The Wagon is a boutique that bridges the gap from classic freshness to today’s latest swag for males and females. One may find them different because of what they sell, their personal aura, or just by the way they work across the board, engaging and promoting aspiring models, videographers and bartenders. Hailing from East New York is Ju, one of the owners of The Wagon. He has been a part of the fashion scene since he was young, but at that time it was just a lifestyle. Being dressed in pricey clothing was the thing to do and even served as a source of unconscious networking. Ju described to me that lifestyle, of kids just getting “fly” and trading clothes as a hobby, a hobby he later made a career out of. Music, parties and fashion all go hand in hand and Ju was in the midst of it. Besides being in an “Underground Culture of Freshness,” he was involved in the party scene by being a promoter and host. The crowd he accumulated from the parties mixed with comrades in the fashion scene, served as the foundation towards getting into the


clothing business. Though it may sound effortless, Ju insists that it’s all about your work ethic. They say it’s not about what you know, but who know and Ju just thinks it’s about how you work. “If you can’t perform then the people you know are useless.” Ju remains humble about his position and believes that anyone can do what he did and become whatever he or she wants to be. The most important factor to following your dream is to work for it because there are no handouts. Fe, who is the only female represented owner of The Wagon, doesn’t feel the pressure from the guys, but realizes that she has to “go a little harder because it’s more men than women.” According to Fe, being in this position has made her attitude grow and has made her stronger. What was once a work life and personal life ended up becoming one, as the partnership became a family. The gender role isn’t heavily focused on because of this bond, but when it comes to the women, she has it all covered with her clothing line Simply Intricate. The designs are made with a sultry and chic creativity, suit-


able for all women from casual times to stylish club attire. Fe has a strong conscience that women always want to feel sexy. The styling and making of clothes may have been a hobby, but she admits that she wasn’t so deeply rooted in the fashion world until she decided that she would open a boutique, even though a previous store she had didn’t work out. Once she realized the route she chose for herself she began working hard at her craft and embodying her work. Last but not least is Spag-Lo, the last member of The Wagon trio. He and Ju are longtime friends, both being a part of the underground fashion lifestyle. Spag-Lo thinks that people who “live and breathe their surroundings create culture”. Culture is a way of life so all the things around you are elements to create it. Things he learned from that lifestyle such as being an innovator, “trend forecaster”, tastemaker, proved to be useful in the store because he can think like a costumer, cater to them, and be ahead of the competition. He views longevity as one of the problems in small businesses so he thrives on versatile to keep the consumer as interested as possible in their

products. The fresh old school look with today’s swag would surely fascinate shopper’s eyes. Spag-Lo credits his street art with giving him the raw energy he puts into some of the designs. He knows how to keep it “street,” but at the same time he knows how to make it acceptable for the public and be professional. Translating knowledge is important in life and you may never know what utensils you have that may prove useful in the future. Reinventing, staying positive, keeping balance, and working hard are keys to success to fulfill your needs and dreams. You may now have an idea of the crew, but being there personally is the key. Although they are currently relocating, you can keep updated by following them on Twitter @WagonBoutique. Fe, Ju, and Spag-Lo welcome you to their culture and lifestyle.




VIOLENCE OF THE LAMBS The History of Violence may be our future BY RASMAKONNEN TAYLOR







lthough the role models of today’s youth have shaped our community in a way that will impact our future, some haven’t discussed and educated others on teen violence as needed. That’s where Erica Ford comes in. Erica Ford has participated in multiple activities to better young teenagers, as well as adults in our community. Her passion for helping others is unexplainable as she has influenced many young people to stay out of trouble and away from violence, and has taught them the significance of being active, and productive, rather than committing “black on black crime.” Ford is devoted to the growth of young people through her organization Life Camp Inc. and she has engaged others in the cause by founding NY Peace Week; this past January 15th – 22nd marked the 3rd annual NY Peace Week, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of non-violence. The collective goal is to generate a culture of peace throughout New York City for 7 days by hosting an event, performing an activity or simply taking one personal action toward creating inner peace and setting a positive example for youth. During my chance to speak with Erica Ford, I asked her, “Do you want to remain helping the youth for the rest of your career?” She replied, “I don’t consider this a career, this is my life.” At that point

I was more than convinced that Ms. Ford was all about making sure that our youth stays out trouble and become more involved in their futures. According to Ms. Ford, some of her historical influences are, Malcolm X, Tupac Shakur, Viola Plummer and her mother, which explains why she is so passionate about working with the youth and improving her environment. “Where did you grow up and do you think it has to do with who you’re today?” She responded, “Yes it has a lot to do with who I am today. I grew up in the South East Queens, a place where violence was always around.” I found her answer to hold so much truth. Many people say where you live has nothing to do with who you are. I believe, it does, and Ms. Ford is a prime example, as she was able to survive that type of environment and find a way to solve a problem of youth violence. Besides Erica Ford’s outstanding aura, she is a strong black woman who was capable of changing the lives of many. She wasn’t scared to take her organization into certain neighborhoods that were claimed to be “the worst” and speak out to the community. Erica Ford is, and will always be recognized as a human being who made a difference in the Black & Latino community.




Evolution of Activism By: Christopher “Hack” Williams




or centuries, citizens of the United States have utilized their freedom of speech and expression to bring about change in different aspects of society that are displeasing in their opinion. Activism sums up all of the methods that are used in general to achieve these goals. Back in the 1900s, negotiations, petitions, and events like political campaigns, and rallies defined the work of an activist. In present day America, with the rapid rise of social networks and innovative ideas for connecting and communicating, activism has taken on a whole new definition. During the civil rights movement of the 20th century, African Americans and some Caucasian citizens took action against racial inequality with a nonviolent but strenuous approach. After a long procession of boycotts, sit-ins, court cases, and other passive efforts, racial equality between blacks and whites was, for the most part, achieved. However, the word of these events had to be spread by word of mouth, correspondence, promotional events within the community, television, and radio. Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka is a particularly well-known case that brought about the desegregation of schools throughout the nation. That was a legal process that was filed by the NAACP. The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, which took place after the incident of Rosa Parks’ arrest, was a passive resistance that African Americans participated in by means of slowly realizing what happened to Parks. The voting rights of African Americans were finally established after an unsuccessful voting drive caught the attention of politicians and leaders. The Black Panthers were a group that was created primarily to protect black neighborhoods from police brutality. Founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, the organization used writing and their famous newspaper Black Panther, to communicate and extend the Black Power Movement. The Young Lords started out as a turf gang during the 1960s, but later established themselves as a human rights movement and they too held rallies, marches and recruited other activist through word of mouth as well as community gatherings. Present day we are in the age where technology reigns supreme in almost every aspect of our lives, even activism. Websites like allow organizations on the rise to lie out and pitch their ideas online to potential investors, which can be a great mechanism to use for the birth of new activist associations. Further from sites like, most of the world is logged into some kind of social network, whether it is Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. These sites allow activist organizations who resources are scarce to mass communicate.

Organizations such as “Occupy Wall Street” have used these Medias to their benefit by promoting their cause, encouraging efforts to support with funding, providing information and recruiting. Another way technology can be an aid in this modern day makeover of “Activism” is text messaging. With text messaging on every phone and most portable devices these days you can inform anyone about anything at any time. This can be a very useful tool is changing the world as we know it. We live in a great society, to say the least. Change has made us this great and change will make us even greater. Admittedly there are plenty of loopholes in our culture that may need patching and what other way to get the message around then “blasting it”. Posting projects and events to walls (Facebook), following and interacting with dedicated leaders (Twitter), investing in ideas, and BBM’ing or I Messaging business is the future of activism and change in our lifetime. It’s time to get “Tech-nical” so let’s have a “blast” doing it. After all, we may discover there’s a thin line between wall post and world peace.



Check out History MEETS Hip-Hop with Syreeta Gates Every Thursday on WBAI 99.5FM Wake Up Call Between 7:30 & 8AM 32


As we bridge generations and set the stage for where history and hip-hop meet. 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY ISSUE


TowingLegacy the Lineage Costs By: Shapri McKinney



Gil: Born in 1952. Tyra: Born in 1971.
 Syreeta: Born in 1988.
 Mojo: Born in 1992. 
Brian: Born in 1992.
 Shapri: Born in 1992. Brianna: Born in 1994.


n December 30th, 2011 a round table discussion took place including the people mentioned above, along with a few others. Gil spoke to the rest of us about his experiences growing up as a fair skinned Latino in America during the 60’s and 70’s. He was curious to know how his generation’s plight effected the generations that came after him, so we told him. Below is a summary of the conversation that took place. Hippie Movement. Women’s Rights. African American Rights. The 70s was an era of THE fight. An era that got lost once crack cocaine and HIV/AIDS hit and when black people got way too comfortable settling with city jobs (I guess they felt that everything was okay since they would be receiving benefits). What they didn’t realize was that there would be a generation after them that wanted more than just health care, and a pension plan but to be seen. In the 1970s life was about the gatherings of the most conscious people working to make the world easier to live in. Everyone had a purpose and they were willing to fight and go to jail and possibly die for what they believed was real. Colored people were making it their business to be seen and heard. Afros, peace signs, bell-bottoms and leather vests all stood for something; it was a unity. The Black Panthers and the Young Lords traveled the country, speaking and working with young people who viewed life the same way they did. These organizations were making an impact beyond belief because they were passionate and committed to change. Of course they were hated on, the government was not going to allow them to successfully make moves and inspire other blacks to be
heard. Like any hater would, the government sent rumors throughout these organizations, saying things like one member of an organization slept with another member’s wife creating friction amongst one another-and it worked. That is always the problem; people allow themselves to be easily manipulated, instead of trusting the people that they’ve built with. So they settled. Giving up, no more fight, just settling. Accepting the job with the benefits, and having children that would not carry their legacy. 
 There have been so many conspiracies about HIV and crack being put into black communities during the 80s in order to quiet our voices. But you never want to believe that there are people in this world evil enough to do things like that, so you overlook it. In the 80s there was way too much overlooking. Content as can be, rockin’ those shell toes, beepers and kangols, blasting Mama Said Knock You Out; out of the boom box on their shoulder, black people allowed these distractions to silence them. They found ways to fight with one another instead of uniting. Though skin tone was the way we were separated during the times of slavery, which is something that should have never been adopted by black people themselves. In the 70s James

Brown sang, “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” for those who rocked their Afro comfortably and loved their melanin, but in the 80s being light skin with wavy hair was a trend. Gangs also became a big problem amongst blacks; instead of all fighting for liberation, they decided to fight one another for territory. They joined together to throw tantrums when major events happened, like the Rodney King situation, but nothing compared to what the generation before them was doing. Instead of being upset for a few days, people should have stayed upset until racist cops couldn’t get away with discrimination, but they couldn’t because the revolution didn’t pay the bills. Born in 1992, the era of the cabbage patch, overalls and pagers, care free living and Hot 97 everyday that’s my word. We were so cute with our pig tails, DKNY, GAP outfits, 40 below’s and 8 ball jackets; never paying homage to those who made it so easy for us to live. Diddy was one of the first black men I’d seen running things in the media when I was growing up. I knew Biggie was the star, but I saw that Diddy was the man making the moves. I’m sure all the kids around my age saw that, and I’m also sure that the boys wanted to be bosses just like him. My generation has had so much influence from the television that parents haven’t even raised their children, MTV has. 90s babies are all aspiring actors, singers, rappers, and models, because that’s what power has been represented to them as. They don’t know how to tell the difference between reality and what the celebrities do; there’s a lack of kids who have their own minds. What we don’t lack are voices. My generation unlike our parents’ always initiates what they want. We are the grandchildren of the fighters, but the children of the crack heads, drug dealers and HIV positives. A lot of people call us disrespectful, but I believe it comes from the lack of respect that we’ve been shown. 
 Communication is fundamental. Maybe if the 70s fighters had spoken to their 80s born children, black men in 2012 would be able to walk down the street without being racially profiled. The fact that slavery was 400 years ago and race is still an issue means that there is work to be done, which should have never been stopped. The conversation Gil had with us youth was one of the most important conversations of my upbringing, and maybe if 60, 70 or 80 year olds all over the country dedicated time, the future of black people in America would look promising. Pointing fingers to blame is a waste of time when you can point fingers and say who’s to help.





incere Armani is a breath of fresh air to the fashion industry. She is extremely down to earth and passionate about fashion something that one might find lacking in the industry nowadays. While interviewing her, she quoted Coco Chanel: “Fashion fades but style stays the same”. Simply, when it comes to your own style you should never be afraid to be different. Even if you look different, at least you can say that you’re an individual. Armani started at F.I.T., The Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the top fashion schools in the world. Although she was very talented, Armani was a little intimidated when entering the school. Not only because of F.I.T.’s notability, but because she didn’t get accepted at first and she didn’t know why. Still, she remained determined to get into the school because she “couldn’t see herself doing anything else”. Despite lack of support from her family that she wanted, Armani didn’t let that break her stride. Her mother was “all the support she needed” as she knew exactly what she was going through. “She has had times where she has been insulted and had bad back-


lash coming up,” Armani explains about her mother. “But she never gave up on her dreams”. When it comes to staying true to her fashion roots, Sincere Armani does it by doing her homework and studying the styles from the past and reintroducing them to the world with her own little twist. She creates culture by putting her creativity in the fashion industry so that when people look back they can say, “that’s a piece from Sincere Armani.” Years ago, Armani didn’t know that she would be the successful stylist she is today, especially at the young age of 23. Success to her is loving what you’re doing, being acknowledged for it and being compensated. “It’s best to not have a job, but a career, something you could see your yourself waking up to, doing every day and not being miserable doing it”, she says. Armani may not have had it easy being a young black woman in the fashion industry because of her age, but she didn’t let the negativity give it power over her goals.











Photo Credit: Andrew Wilson




to rig ht) :: oto Cred it (Left

1. Wa nji ku Mw

au rah & 2.t hr

Wils u 4. Andrew


Shapri: If you had the chance to create the future of hip-hop, what traits would


s I explained to Queen GodIs how difficult it was for me to sit down and simply write a poem or a rhyme for that matter, she explained that when it’s truly a part of you, it’s in your heart. It is your destiny; it just happens with or without your intention. A lot of people never tap into their true talent; because they are so busy trying to do what they think is cool. They allow others like their friends or their favorite celebrity to influence their decisions. Being a person passionate about lyrics and hip-hop, I’ve been eager to speak with someone who I believe is a superior lyricist, and Queen GodIs blessed me with that amazing opportunity. Queen: I learned to write when I was two years old. When some people think about the average two year old, that’s not pretty standard. To even learn how to hold a pen or a pencil properly at that age is one thing, but to learn how to carve distinct letters from those utensils is another. It didn’t take long for me to get into the flow of writing. That’s why I say poetry started early for me. I already had a relationship with words and shape. I was always a big talker, but my relationship with spoken word poetry however, didn’t really start to take form until I was about 7 years old. [At that age], I knew that I needed to be vocal with what I was feeling, and that I needed to be creative with my words as often as possible. 7 years old is when I knew that something having to do with music, dance and theater was going to have to be a part of my life. Poetry has taken on so many different forms for me. Some years, I was real heavy into dancing; for me, that was just the poetry of my body. Some years I created a lot of visual art; for me, that was the poetry of my hands… And some years all I did was sing, and that was [in part] the poetry of my voice. When I turned 15 years old, that’s when all of these poetic worlds started to come together.

that person hold? Queen: I would prefer to answer this question in terms of myself, because I find that more genuine & effective. First of all, I think that Hip-Hop is a super power. Not everyone can handle it well. Not everyone can use words, make them rhyme and tell a well-rounded story all at the same time. So if you do have a knack for it, you’ve tapped into a super power that makes you gifted … special. As I mold myself to be the ideal Hip Hop artist [according to my own personal standard and vision], I work on handling this gift without selfdestructing or destroying anyone else. I practice telling stories about my communities as they are, but I also challenge myself to create stories about my communities, as I would like for them to be. I develop the courage not to be afraid of truth, (my truth) and to share it. I embrace the fact that it’s okay and necessary for people to dance freely and to think simultaneously. I work on remembering that there is a lightheartedness that MUST be preserved in Hip-Hop. My goal is to be super creative and “be-girl my way” out of boxes - the one’s I’ve created and the ones set up for me. I can grow, change and add color to my work while trying out different things, so as long as I do not lose myself, my integrity or sell off pieces of me in the process. I humbly acknowledge the power of words, and know that as an emcee, my words have force and weight. Sometimes I fail at achieving these goals, but overall, I win, because at the very least, I have set them. To me, all of these things…is the super-future of Hip-Hop. Shapri: What kind of culture do you think your words will or have created? What is it that you want to create? Queen: My work creates space. In this small world, it creates space big enough to house all that I am - the spirit of me, the women that I am, the black woman that I am, the young girl born in a rough part of Brooklyn

Shapri: What exactly goes through your mind when you look at today’s culture?

that I am - the intellectual woman who has seen many continents. It cre-

The music youth listen to, the way they act, the way the dress, the way that they

ates space for imagination and an opportunity not to have to compromise

respond to people like you; how do you feel about them?

myself to fit into something that can’t hold me. The average human being

Queen: Well I have a special connection to youth. I feel that as much as I’m an old soul, there is a silly / youthful side to me, so I have respect, honor and appreciation for young people. Most of the young people I work with are 13 and up. This work extends itself to adults by way of performance art therapy and poetry workshops. My interaction with people younger than 13 however, evokes a different energy. This age group is most enlightening to me. They help me keep things basic, clear and fun. I actually feel like a lot of really young people have a lot to teach. Some of my favorite teachers have been toddlers. That said, sometimes a lot of what I see and hear coming from contemporary youth culture can be deeply annoying, but it is always helpful. The wounds of youth help decipher what kind of changes the world needs … what kinds of changes I need …. and what ways I may need to just stand my ground.

has so many layers; I am not an exception this. As a lyricist, a poet, an emcee and a bunch of other things, I need space to share my story, space to create a new story, space to be honored and respected, and space to honor and respect others. I need space to know that I am just right as I am and in all that I’m becoming and that I don’t have to make excuses, or apologize or manicure my truth just because the world tells me that there is not enough room for me. And in making space for myself by way of my art, I help make space for a lot of people to say “Look!, I’m here. Not only am I here, but I’m going to be here, leaving a legacy and this is what this legacy is saying”… And that’s big. So take a deep breath…and watch out.





Photo Credit: Matt Suroff

Lemon Anderson brings a fresh honest aura to the world of

poetry and theater. He brings awareness to the inner workings of growing up in an urban community, writing not only of the bad but the good as well, allowing outsiders to see how life in the city really is, at the same time bringing respect, knowledge and power back to the streets of New York. Lemon: Carter Magazine reminds me of my clothes. I look at the site and I’m like that’s kind of like my wardrobe!

Naima: What makes you say that? Lemon: My wardrobe is culturally fly. I’m a poet and actor but I don’t dress the type. I’m also from a culture of people who fashion is everything. Our parents raised us to be fly even though we were broke at one time. That’s just how we guarded ourselves.

teaching as an actor but the guys I look up to they run theaters. I’m far from that world. I play in the world where we’re all round artists.

Naima: How do you bring together your acting and your poetry? What is the link?

Lemon: Poetry is everything to me. As an actor the choices I make I hope are poetic. Because poetry is a great outlook on things I’ll see text in my head and be like ok this is where I can bounce the words… I think we all do that as actors.

Naima: In your own words what do you write about? What are your trying to show America?

Lemon: No costume design I don’t really think about; but when it comes to costume, because of lighting we have to make it so that when the light hits the clothes it’s not upstaging the work.

Lemon: We live in this country that has a history of great writers. I just want to be one of those guys; I want to carry on the torch, as a great American writer and showing America that my world in the last 30 years fits into that line up. But my job is to transcend and to make it clear to that world because I know what my audience looks like. They don’t look like me, they’re not urban, and they’re not hip hop. I take the characters in my world and make it clear to them. That’s my job and that’s what I want to do in this country if not in this world. I hope that after a while my body of work will have its own audience and create its own market.

Naima: When did you first decide to write poetry?

Naima: Winning a Tony Award how did that feel?

Lemon: I was incarcerated when I was really young; I lost my parents at 15 years old to AIDS, so after that I became reckless. When I was in jail, I would read these books that were given to us because I wasn’t trying to get comfortable with jail time. I would read these books but like every young person, especially in inner city worlds, reading books isn’t necessarily our thing; it’s like a physical lack for us. Poetry came very easy to me because it was very short. Poems would tell me things that I would want to say but didn’t know how to put into words so I carried that on in my career. [Leaving jail] I was well disciplined and educated but just couldn’t get a job; it’s hard when you have a criminal record. So one day I ended up in a poetry reading. One time, it took me one time. That one time gave me a job at a theater troop, doing plays that poetry would always be the underlying tone. Next thing you know it only took a year for my name to get on the scene. I invested into my art because it was paying me next thing you know the opportunities came, Russell Simmons came. A commercial adventure like Def Poetry, I was prepared by the time it came. I was there ready to go and Russell hired me.

Lemon: Winning a Tony Award for me was a dream come true. I dreamed about that moment ever since I started performing on stage. I knew I would go to Broadway and I did. Lie to people and say I’m going to Broadway one day and I did it. I’ll always be known as a Tony Award winning poet. It will hold weight forever!

Naima: How does fashion affect your work? Do you think

about what you’re going to wear on stage when you’re writing a play?

Naima: What goals do you see yourself reaching? Lemon: Well I think I am going to be that guy that helps bring some clarity to a culture that we’re from and make it intellectual on stage. I come from a generation that I think is really smart and a culture that I think has great humanity but unfortunately in our music we don’t showcase it enough; but I’m not a rapper so although I write rhymes lyrically I think of them more poetically and dramatically. People have questions about who you are and what happened to the last 25 years of the American people because we don’t see it too much in the theater and I have a knack for making that clear to the audience. Transcending is what I love to call it; that’s what I love transcend culture. I want to take my world and make it clear to everybody. One day I’ll open up a conservatory here in Brooklyn for new artist, which is my ultimate goal. I started teaching so I could train for that one day.

Naima: You’re working on a new project called Toast; can you tell us about it?

Lemon: I started a campaign and we’re working with the Sundance Institute. We started collaborating with them and developing this play about these old folk lore characters from the “toast world” like Dolomite. We’re finding a place for them in the theater world. The story is like urban American history so I get to do my Smithsonian work.

Naima: What advice would you give any upcoming artist that came up to you and told you they wanted to be just like you?

Lemon: Brutally? I wouldn’t recommend it but I wouldn’t shut down no one’s dreams so I would want to know, are you chasing glory or are you chasing heart? Because if you’re chasing glory and you saw my work and what I’ve accomplished that’s not called heart that’s called accomplishing something and doing it well and the benefit you get out of it is a great feeling that you’ve done something with your life, but you can do that with anything not just heart.

Naima: What made you decide to start teaching? Lemon: It’s part of your job as a poet you can’t escape it. I’m not 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY ISSUE




Lights, Camera, Ali!



nterviewing Rahman Ail Bugg founder of PopStar Media Inc was an inspiring experience, portraying what success should really look like. Bugg doesn’t feel that he has gained complete success. To him all his accomplishments are just proof of his talents, but not his greatest accomplishments. According to him, these achievements that would be extremely life altering to some are just stepping-stones so that he can reach his full potential. Success didn’t come easy for this clever producer/director, whose credits include but not limited to: VH1’s Hip Hop Honors, Making The Band II, Run’s House and Shades of Brooklyn, Vol. 1. “Everything is work and everything is a challenge. The only thing I had no partake in all my life was coming out of the womb, that was all my mother’s work,” he says. Bugg believes that success really is being able to say that his family is taken care of, as well as not having them stress about anything such as money when he knows he’s in a position to help them with whatever they need. It’s considered to be an accomplishment, being able to say that you can give back and take care of those who helped you along the way and made you the man you are today, for many

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don’t think about the people of their past when they make it big and Bugg is truly taking the world by storm is an example of the opposite. If he wasn’t defining media by his own lens, Bugg said that he would either be a teacher or active in politics. “I love children and how influential they are,” he says. “I’ve had amazing influences in my life at a young age so I would love to give them something I had so that the world could be broadened for them. Politics would have been another option because I would like to be able to come up with strategies to get this world out of the suffering it is in.” Some of Bugg’s Hip-Hop influences include Russell Simmons, Jay-Z, Ultra Magnetic MC, Big Daddy Cane, Black Thought and Heavy D. He states, “Heavy D inspires him because of his song, We Got Our Own Thing; it’s about being your own man, something I take much pride in.” When it comes to historical figures, Bugg says that WEB Dubois inspired him because he was “smart, uplifting and had a plan for making a better way for his people”. Inspiration and success is extremely important to Rahman Ali Bugg. He reaches for the stars and doesn’t take no for an answer, true qualities of a role model.





n 1961, the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) sought out to publicly address the inequities of segregation in the south. Amidst blistering condemnation for their efforts to abide by constitutional law and countless physical and psychological attacks from the very governing bodies sworn to preserve those laws, the members of CORE, later dubbed the “Freedom Riders”, would eventually prevail as a vehicle for change. The Freedom Riders risked their literal lives to call into question the morality of a nation whose federal mandates were in stark contrast to statutory practices. Frustrated with the newly appointed Kennedy administration’s dismal efforts to enforce interstate desegregation laws (amongst other civil liberties), the leaders of CORE devised provocative strategies highlighting southern business’s refusal to accept African Americans as patrons. CORE, seeking to establish a reputable presence in the civil rights movement on par with the NAACP and other civil rights organizations, realized that whatever tactics they adopted would have to be demonstrative as well as newsworthy. The plan called for integrated groups of African American and Caucasian Freedom Riders to venture through the Deep South (Virginia, The Carolinas, Alabama and Mississippi) via interstate bus transport, frequenting rest stops, waiting areas and other establishments reluctant to abolish Jim Crow policies. Policies declared illegal and unconstitutional 15 years prior in the landmark case of Morgan vs. the Commonwealth of Virginia (of which Thurgood


Marshall was co-counsel). Policies enacted solely to preserve antiquated, traditional southern values. Policies that would have no place in America were it ever to fulfill on its own doctrines of equality. The Freedom Riders presumed that since status quo had gone unchallenged for so long, any attempts at integration would be met with resounding resistance. They were correct. Several Freedom Riders were beaten by mobs and imprisoned on countless occasions. There was even an attempt to burn them alive. Begrudging political leadership would eventually succumb to the out cries of the domestic and international communities, once these shocking images of enraged mobs attacking citizens were made public. Were it not for the heroism of these men and women, both black and white, the luxuries we take for granted present day would still be glaring reminders of civil injustice. Amenities that were once necessity and denied on the basis of color have been relegated to choice through the Freedom Riders actions. It is merely a matter of choice as to which establishments we frequent on the way to homecomings, family visits and random excursions across the Gulf States. Be thankful that your governing determinant will most often hinge on cost of product and not the literal cost of living. Be mindful there is actually someone to thank for that.




Sam I AM By: Epyana “Epy” Smith



Photo Credit: Lil Cheiff Danquah


t almost seems like people think if we test kids enough they will get smarter, but as my mentor Charlie Mojo points out: “Testing kids until they get smarter is like saying if you take a sick person’s temperature all the time they will get healthy. You don’t test people into getting smarter.”

ist? Why don’t we teach young people the skills that they actually need to survive?

Epyana: How much of a difference do you think schooling would have on a child if it were more geared to learning lessons that they would actually need to know in life?

Sam: I think it would make a huge difference. Sam Seidel is a teacher, author, mentor, national speaker and a super “dope” dude. He works with teens who have been affected by incarceration and believes in fighting for all children’s rights to be treated equally in the school system. “Having being brought up in an alternative school and being raised by two educators, I really had the social justice lens on my entire life,” Sam says.

What I don’t want to see happen is for people to start thinking things like, “Oh these kids aren’t going to be the next Nobel Prize winning physicist, let’s just teach them how to balance their check book. Let’s just teach them math and science that they will use.” That would end up limiting opportunities. I think the challenge is making sure everything is relevant.

He has worked on two books with Professor Joy James; Imprisoned Intellectuals and The New Abolitionists which are both anthologies of writing by political prisoners. He is also the author of Hip Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education. Sam believes that culture is constantly recreating itself and he has recreated culture through his work, will you?

Epyana: How long do you think it is going to take for the public

Epyana: What makes you want to help those who most people have

Sam: First of all I think students need to show up, stay involved,

given up on?

Sam: I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts which is a racially, economically, and a culturally diverse city. I saw what young people’s school experiences could be like if they are really cared for, allowed to be creative and positive stuff is being done by the adults in their lives. On a political level, when I was learning about the 13th amendment at a younger age I actually believed that the 13th amendment abolished slavery in this country. The 13th amendment abolished slavery except for when people are incarcerated and that is something I didn’t understand until college. Having grown up and being asked in my social justice middle school classes, “What would you do if you where alive when slavery was happening in this country, what would be your roll?” The question became different for me. Okay it is illegal right now and I am alive so it’s not like this is hypothetical, what would I have done, it’s what am I going to do.

Epyana: Besides the school systems not paying enough attention to its students, what else do you think is wrong with the school system?

Sam: The school system right now is not designed for everyone to succeed. This is not always the case; but when you look at the differences between the opportunities that the wealthy white students have and the opportunities that people who have low income or people of color have, it is not even close to equal. Some students are attending schools that have no arts programs, no access to AP courses, no trips to interesting places, no opportunities to have internships and many of the students in those situations are being policed, literally by police officers in the schools who are willing to arrest them. I have data in my book to show the suspension and arrest rates are not the same for white students as they are for Latino and black students. Also, the model of education most prevalent in this country is outdated. Think about it: why is it that the school day starts at 8 am? Why does it run five days a week and not run in the summer? A lot of this is based around when our country was a major agricultural industry; we still follow a lot of these things. Why do we force everyone to be general-

school system to change for the betterment of the students?

Sam: I don’t know when it will happen, but that is definitely what myself and others are working on.

Epyana: What do you think students can do to help themselves? think critically about everything, including what those of us who are in the rolls of educators are doing and saying. Challenge us. I think young people need to start their own [goals] whether its youth programs or running for office. I think it’s important to follow your hearts and minds; interaction, building networks and pushing each other. “Steel sharpens steel.”

Epyana: How do you express your gratitude to people that have come before you in your field?

Sam: I try to shout them out every chance I get.

I also connected with several of them while I was writing the book Hip Hop Genius. I feel like I’ve never stopped learning from them.

Epyana: Do you plan to teach others to do what you do so they can help you complete your mission?

Sam: That’s one of the main reasons I went into education.

I have had MPs and interns that I’ve worked with; really brilliant, beautiful people. I’ve learned a lot from them, maybe as much as they’ve learned from me. I’m really proud and excited about what they’re doing, the catch is, I don’t want them to just do what I’ve been doing. I want them to find their own voice and mission. I’m not training them to take my spot, I’m sort of trail blazing and letting them do their own thing.

Epyana: If you could sit down with Biggie Smalls, Rakim and Malcolm X what would you talk to them about?

Sam: That’s an interesting combination of people.

Honestly if I could sit down with those three individuals I don’t think I would be speaking much, I would definitely want to listen. I had the opportunity to meet Rakim a couple of years ago and he is a living legend, still doing his thing. I would love to hear how Biggie and Malcolm X thinks the world has or has not changed.



Black on Both Sides By: Christopher “H.A.C.K” Williams

Photo Credit: Robby Entrekin




rom Pyramids to pop culture, human growth and industry is built on series of historical events and phenomena that we label our “past.” This “past”, more than often, hasn’t been broken down to a standard where its importance in building an efficient “future” is understood. Bridging the gap is very possible, though complex. Connecting history and hip-hop may be an effective method. This method brings us to Toni Blackman, an internationally awarded MC, activist, mentor and youth educator. As an African American woman, Blackman developed audacity at a tender age of 9, knowing she wanted to leave her hometown of Pittsburg, California to broaden her horizons. Even as a minority, Blackman knew she was destined to achieve greatness and she felt hip-hop would be the gateway for her. Her incredible mind, teamed with the suggestion of her dentist at the time, lead her to the campus of Howard University where she excelled as a scholar and also began creating her vision. According to Blackman, college re-instilled her “white boy arrogance” (having the audacity to bring ideas to life and in a sense “do what thou wilt”) while studying at a Historically Black College/ University (HBCU). This experience enhanced her vision, but also exposed her to other talented driven intellectuals of her ethnicity, which was previously foreign to her. Blackman, being the visionary she is, founded The Hip -Hop Arts Movement (HHAM) in which she gathered other talents around the campus to build an identity as performers. This movement hosted many talents, who went on to achieve some kind of media success after, before they blossomed. Some names included children’s author, Kwame Alexander (360 Degrees a Revolution Of Black Poets), Pr. John Lester Jackson Jr. (Racial Paranoia), TV Personality, Ananda Lewis (The Ananda Lewis Show), and Brian Williams, the founder of award-winning dance company, Step Afrika!; these talents collaborated on multiple projects surrounding hip-hop, poetry, and theatre. These projects set the stage, literally, for what we now know as, “HipHop Theatre.” The movement went on to tour internationally. Though a great achievement, the organization ended shortly after forming due to conflict of interest. Although Blackman received a lot of support, due to her execution and organization, some scrutinized the culture Blackman chose to use her brilliant skills for, hip-hop. Blackman had too much passion for the culture to allow it to be rejected, so she remained persistent in her efforts of converting the world to seeing the beauty in her vision. With a desire to “use the art in changing people’s lives,” she founded Freestyle Union (A Cipher Workshop, presently successful.) a year after HHAM parted way. Freestyle Union was founded on the premise that “Hip-hop can

change the world” and was becoming a pioneer of hip-hop activism. Since Howard, Blackman has performed with many talents, collaborating on projects ranging from songs to workshops to stages. An important energy she reflects on in our interview is Erykah Badu, who she says she was inspired by her eccentric personality, knowledge of self- identity, and ability to express herself as a black woman. Another great individual we discussed was Chen Lo (International MC/Performer/Youth educator), who she collaborated with on the project, The Lyrical Embassy, courses dedicated to the task of helping young creative lyricist understand the true power they possess as performers. Blackman encourages the youth to broaden their horizons, insisting college isn’t necessarily for everyone. But for those who haven’t had the opportunity to expand, the artist development diva, she suggests you go, preferably to a HBCU because it may help build your identity. Blackman also believes that hip- hop may be a great way to educate the youth of today about their past and may one day even be a mainstream form of education but insist, that the healing that the culture and the people need doesn’t lie in building curriculum but spiritual enlightenment. Toni Blackman has figuratively received her “PH.D in Hip-hop” and is dedicated to the betterment of the world’s communities through the art as well as the promotion of peace through locating true identity and confidence. Presently, Blackman is a mentor around the world. Her determination and purposeful work has landed her the role of “Female Ambassador of Hip Hop”. With this title she has juggled many responsibilities and this year she will be scouting for the best bands in the United States to join her on an international tour. She also is planning to host workshops in Kenya, Africa and Tokyo, Japan continuing to show “Hip-hop can change the world”.


century’s philosophy

is common sense

for the next.”







he French Revolution. The American Revolution. The Civil Rights Movement. The Egyptian Revolution. The Occupy Movement. What do these things have in common? The answer is simple: majorly dissatisfied people who came together and made a change. Throughout time, we have seen that most major social changes were resultant of strong dissatisfaction amongst the general populace. When the people say “we’ve had enough of this”, “this has got to stop”,” we just can’t take it anymore”; that’s when the changes happen, when the movement begins, when the world shakes. At what point do people become unable to accept society as it is? At what point do they decide to “fight the power?” The aptly named anthem of revolution Fight the Power was released as a single on September 17th, 1989 and was heavily featured in the Spike Lee Joint Do the Right Thing. It was released during a time in New York when racial tensions between black people and police officers and white civilians reached a height not seen since the Civil Rights Era. The film, shot entirely on Stuyvesant Avenue between Quincy and Lexington Avenues in Brooklyn, features a character known only as Radio Raheem. He blasts the song on his boom box wherever he goes, and it ultimately leads to his death when he is strangled by a police officer after an argument with Pizzeria owner Sal about turning off the boom box in his establishment. It is interesting to note that Raheem is a name of Arabic origin meaning merciful, and that Raheem is the only character to die in the film, due the lack of mercy displayed by the police whose duty it was to keep order. The people of the neighborhood, angry at Radio Raheem’s murder, and fed up with the corrupt authority represented by the corrupt police; direct their anger towards Sal’s pizzeria. It is the death of Raheem, the death of mercy, which causes uproar on that street in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, thus culminating in a riot that leads to a fire that burns Sal’s Pizzeria to the ground.

If we look back in time, we notice that the notion of “fighting the power” has existed for thousands of years, dating back to uprisings of the Children of Israel against Pharaoh. In fact, this ideal is the very fabric that created the nation in which we live today. The American colonies existed for 169 years (from 1697 to 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed) before they decided it was time for a change. In this anthem for revolution, the great Chuck D says: “Our freedom of speech, it’s freedom or death, we got to fight the powers that be” in a reference the 1st amendment and Patrick Henry’s statement “Give me liberty or Give me Death”; thus implying that the power being fought is more than the mere norms of society. In the music video for Fight the Power, hundreds of people flood the streets of Brooklyn, protesting with signs of great revolutionaries of the past such as Paul Robeson, Marcus Garvey, Chuck Berry and Martin Luther King, Jr. Songs like Fight the Power reflect the mindsets of such leaders. Songs like this are revolutionary. According to the dictionary, a revolution is: an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed, (2) sociology: a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence, (3) a sudden, complete or marked change in something or (4) a procedure or course, as if in a circuit, back to a starting point. By using a new style of music to express the sentiments of an entire people, Public Enemy becomes our Founding Fathers, with Fight the Power as our Declaration of Independence, and hip-hop as our new land, our new country, our new culture, arisen from the ashes of oppression and abuse of authority.




1. Download instrumental here:

2. Look at the theme page of the Anniversary Issue and create a song that is a reflection of those themes 3. Record a really dope track over the beat you downloaded 4. Send final track as an MP3 to Deadline: APRIL 20th, 2012 Sit Back and Take Notes (The Rules): •

You must be 30yrs and under to submit a track with your vocals

Create a completely original song

No cursing

Song no longer than the instrumental length

Title the song

The Winner will be featured in the next issue of CARTER Magazine

For all producers that want to submit a beat send to:







CARTER™ Magazine One Year Anniversary Issue  

Thank you for viewing the Anniversary Issue for CARTER Magazine we are now ONE years old. The overall theme is STAND UP! And every person in...

CARTER™ Magazine One Year Anniversary Issue  

Thank you for viewing the Anniversary Issue for CARTER Magazine we are now ONE years old. The overall theme is STAND UP! And every person in...