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I’m not ashamed that I look up to a 14-year-old girl: Marsai Martin exemplifies that you’re never too “Little” to accomplish big dreams

By Jordan Harris

Before I get into why I look up to and admire a 14-year-old girl, let’s all take a moment to stop and think about what we were doing and accomplishing at the age of 14.

…Now, after putting deep thought into such old child memories, I’m pretty sure you were not nearly as successful as this young talented African-American queen.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t either, but if you were, LUCKY YOU.

However, for the other 90% of us who were not getting to the bag and taking over Hollywood, you were probably like myself — going to school, doing all the extracurricular activities you could to stay out the house as much as possible, hoping and praying for the day you could get a job and work for your own money, ending the cycle of you crossing your fingers and toes (for extra good luck) every time you needed money to buy or do anything.

Thank God I had parents who were lenient, but not everyone was as lucky as I was.

Anyway, no matter how lucky you or your parents were, no one I can think of has topped 14-year-old Marsai Martin.

Originally from Texas, Marsai started off in the entertainment business at such a young age.

Marsai was grinding before she could fully talk. But when I heard about the premiere of “Little” and read that she executive produced the film herself, I was geeked and wanted to learn more about the other great things she has done and what else she is working on.

At just five years old, Marsai landed a national commercial for Choice Hotels, later moving to LA to pursue her acting career, according to her bio.

This is where the magic happens.

After moving to LA, she immediately landed a role as Diane Johnson in the ABC comedy series “Black-ish.”

“Black-ish.” is based on a black family living in a “classy neighborhood” where most African Americans never make it to. Throughout the series, the audience goes through life with the Johnson family, really focusing on what it’s like to be a black family in today’s world, all while Rainbow and Dre (mom and dad) teach their kids to always honor and remember their background and where they came from.

(LexxxTalkAboutIt.com does not own the rights to this image)

Of course, the show is filmed with a boat load of comedic relief.

Marsai plays one of the children in the show, a role that won her the Young Artist Award for her role as Diane.

That’s not all. Young Marsai has won not one but TWO NAACP Image Awards and was nominated for six NAACP image awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performances by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series nomination.

She was also named one of TIME Magazine’s Most Influential Teens of 2018.

Remember she is 14!!

But wait, there’s more.

Marsai Martin’s latest accomplishment is something HUGE, but ironically also “Little”! It’s something that has just, never been done before.

She’s become the youngest executive producer in Hollywood, coming up with the idea and producing the movie Littlestarring herself, Regina Hall and Issa Rae.

(LexxxTalkAboutIt.com does not own the rights to this image)

In an inteview on the day-time talkshow “The View,” Marsai was of course asked about her latest movie “Little,” the ideas behind it and how it made it to the big screen.

“One of my mom’s favorite movies growing up was “Big” starring Tom Hanks so I saw Big and I was like well what if we do this in like,  a different perspective, more of a modern take on what’s going on now and make it a female empowerment, all black women cast. So that’s really how it came to be and we started talking about it and my parents  were really into it and we talked to Kenya Barris — which is the creator of “Black-ish”– we talked to him about it, he loved it, and then we went to Will Packer and then Universal, and now where here,” she told the panel.

 

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Just listening to Marsai and hearing the vision of someone so young, with dreams so big, and turning them into reality as a minority is just so empowering.

She then explained how she grew up watching TV where she did not see a lot of young black girls that looked like her in the industry who she could look up to and wanted to change that and create something where everyone felt comfortable.

That is exactly what she did. And people are supporting and celebrating her through it all, many hosted free screenings of the movie throughout the country.

Kandi Burruss, singer and Real Housewives of Atlanta star, sponsored a free screening of “Little” in Atlanta on Easter Sunday, giving people enough time to make it to church then the show.

Kandi did not stop there however, as she also challenged Cynthia Bailey, Porsha Williams, Nene Leakes and Eva Marcille to the same task in spreading this…

Black Girl Magic.

If you ever see this Marsai, just know that I STAN!

Me and all the other Black Queens who are rooting on the success of our fellow sisters and brothers.

You are doing US ALL justice, so continue to shine your light, making this world a better place.

 

Sorry Jermaine Dupri: Nipsey Hussle should be remembered as the king that he was – but, not Jesus

By Jordan Harris

First, I would like to start off by saying rest in paradise to the late rap legend, Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom.

Not only was Nipsey influential in the world of rap but in his hometown, Los Angeles, California and around the globe.

Born on August 15, 1985, his life was quickly taken away from him and everyone who loved and cared for Nipsey at the age of 33 on March 31, to a senseless act of violence.

Throughout Nipsey Hussle’s life, he touched so many souls, and inspired so many people, including other artists.

Most artist, fans and family remembered Nipsey’s legacy by painting their cars “Nipsey Blue” or sending love and compassion as he took his last victory lap after his memorial service.

His soul-mate Lauren London honored him by getting Nipsey’s face permanently tattooed on her, and even some fans have done the same.

However, there was one person who I felt went about honoring him the wrong way, when Jermaine Dupri took to Twitter saying, “I believe nip was Jesus.”

A lot of people believe his comment was a bit much and quite a reach, including myself.

Yes, I can see where Jermaine Durpri could compare similarities, including the age of death, and the cause of death (murder) between the two, but that does NOT give him the right to compare a human to Jesus!

@BeBe2Beautiful on Instagram replied back to Jermaine’s statement saying “The idolatry is real …he was a man …a great one at that…but JESUS NO! …Jesus is perfection and he wasn’t ‘perfect’ …and he wasn’t out here giving NOBODY eternal life or forgiving sins…PERIODT”

I agree 100%

There are so many ways to honor, remember and respect Nipsey Hussle without naming him Jesus, many of those examples found in the way he was laid to rest.

The legacy Ermias left behind was so powerful that the only way to accommodate everyone who wished to attend the funeral service was to have it at the Staples Center in LA and film it live on BET!

HUGE!

Tickets sold out within 10 minutes of being released to the public, while only allowing four tickets per household and limited to LA residents.

The only other entertainer that I can think of that had a funeral at this scale was Michael Jackson, which shows the impact this human being had on the world.

Again, not Jesus or some spiritual being, but a human being.

A human so exceptional that he had a letter personally written and sent to his memorial service by Barack Obama to be read at the funeral.

Again, because of Nipsey’s significant life and passing, the beliefs and rumors made by Jermaine and others on social media, that Nipsey Hussle was more than a man, are understandable.

However, when Jermaine was constantly questioned and interrogated by fans,  he responded saying “I’m not comparing, I’m saying I think he was, how strong is your belief?” and then said “How many signs do we need as people to believe he’s in our presence?”

The thing about naming Nipsey Hussle Jesus, is that it takes people’s focus off of the tremendous things Ermias did while still alive and puts it on his title of being Jesus instead.

There are many other ways to honor Nipsey and continue his legacy. Take Nick Cannon, for example.

Nick Cannon hinted on social media that he will be picking up where Nipsey left off and continue the documentary on Dr. Sebi, an African American man who claimed to have the cure for AIDS and other terminal diseases but was put on trial and later found dead under police custody.

That’s not all!

The new Nipsey Hussle Memorial basketball court recently opened at the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and 60th street, right around the area where Nipsey grew up.

There’s more!

South Los Angeles city councilman will name the intersection of Crenshaw boulevard and West Slauson avenue “Ermias ‘Nipsey Hussle’ Asghedom Square”

Every little thing helps to continue the Marathon and pay respects without Nipsey being named Jesus.

Meek Mill, T.I. and The Game also paid their respects to Nipsey by purchasing an abundance of items from The Marathon Clothing Store, owned by Nipsey Hussle.

Rapper Offset joined the movement by repainting all his cars “Nipsey Blue.”

Other artist including Ohio artist Machine Gun Kelly, TDE artist SchoolBoy Q, and Jhene Aiko even postponed the release of new music out of respect for Nipsey.

There are plenty of other examples you can find of people showing major respect and honoring him in the wake of his death that are all meaningful in their own way.

Nipsey Hussle was an amazing MAN who touched the souls of many with the power of his words and platform.

THAT, is the reason the world should remember, celebrate and continue the Marathon for Nip.

NOT because he was Jesus but because he was Ermias ‘Nipsey Hussle’ Asghedom and NO ONE ELSE.

An inside look at how she does it: Beyoncé shows us what it takes to hold the throne in ‘Homecoming’

By Gemaica Mitchell

If you did not already think her talent is endless and that she is a phenomenal entertainer; watching “Homecoming: A film by Beyoncé” will prove that.

It has been a year since Queen Bey hit the Coachella stage and the people are still raging over the world-renowned performance. Look no further to seeking small clips on YouTube because Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” film was released April 17th on Netflix.

The film, created and directed by Beyoncé, gave us a much closer, intimate look into an almost year-long preparation of the, now coined, “Beychella” performance. Throughout the film, you can watch the historic performance and footage of the rigorous training and planning of the show.

Beyoncé is the first black woman in history to headline Coachella. She did not take that title and honor lightly. As the first black woman to headline, her objective was to represent black culture in an outstanding, unforgettable way as she sang songs from her 22-year career; hence the headline name “Homecoming”.

She handpicked the best of the best (over 200 people) to create this memorable black excellence performance. With the inclusion of NPHC Greek life, bands and dancelines she paid tribute to HBCUs, black feminism, and prominent black influencers and voices like Malcolm X and Maya Angelou.

Beyoncé’s work ethic is insane but admirable. Her preparation for her Homecoming began shortly after giving birth to Rumi and Sir Carter and she spoke about having a difficult pregnancy and birth of the twins willingly. The way she tore up that stage, no one thought of the exhausting rehearsals, vigorous exercise and the diet she persevered through to give such a stellar performance.

Beyoncé worked tirelessly to make sure every tiny detail was correct, from the background sounds down to shoes and socks. She made sure everything was crisp so the audience, both live and digitally, could connect to the performance. She lets us know all about it in this film. It is a must watch.

Go watch “Homecoming” and check out the “Homecoming: The Live Album” that is available on all streaming services. She is spoiling y’all Bey-hivers, huh?

*As a closing note, I would like to add that after she crushed Beychella she kept it pushing right on to the On The Run 2 tour a few months later. Phenomenal Woman indeed.

WE tv’s Marriage Bootcamp is a ‘reality’ show with a lot more clout chasing than reality

By Jordan Harris

Let’s just start off with me openly admitting that I’m not the reality TV show type of gal, but when I heard about, season 14 of WE tv’s “Marriage Boot Camp: Hip-Hop Edition,” featuring hip hop stars Waka Flocka, Lil Fizz, Lil Mo, Soulja Boy, Jessica Dime and their “soul mates”…

I had to watch!

As a person who only watches WE tv’s dramatic reality shows when someone else is paying attention, I was quite impressed.

The show is based on five couples living in a mansion together for ten days, working on and building their relationships. On the tenth day, the couple chooses to continue the relationship with the person they walked in with or go their separate ways.

But boy was there drama! A lot of it if I may add!!

However, I can say it was entertaining. And the couples did get a lot off their chest and learned a lot about themselves and their partners and how to work through issues in the future.

My personal opinion? The two couples who had it together the most were Tammy Rivera and her husband rapper Waka Flocka, along with “Love and Hip-Hop” star Jessica Dime and her fiancé, pro-basketball player Shawne Williams. I feel like both couples came into the house already knowing their problems and issues with each other, and were in the process of moving past them but needed help accepting and moving forward.

Jessica’s problems with Shawne was that he was very controlling and that she wanted to set a date for their wedding, while Shawne’s only problem with Jessica was that she was too ratchet.

While this all seems real and believable, there were a few moments that made me question WE tv and how much of “reality” they actually altered throughout the course of the show.

CLOUT CHASING, exhibit A.

One scene did concern me during one of the challenges. Every person was told to come up with one question they have always wanted to ask their partner. Shawne asked Jessica has she ever cheated on him; Jessica confidently answered “no” but the lie detector test determined…that was a lie. Despite the results of the test Shawne believed Jessica told the truth and was ready to move on. Jessica on the other hand felt like WE tv changed the results of her test and was ready to pack up and leave the show.

There is no telling whether or not WE tv altered the results to stir up drama like Jessica claimed or if she just got caught up, but the situation drew a lot of questions.

 

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The lie detector test determined…that was a lie? 😲 #HipHopBootCamp

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CLOUT CHASING, exhibit B:

On one of the final nights of the show the men and the women were both told they had a night out without their partners, not knowing that they were being sent to the same club. After the women found out their partners were on the other side of the same club and  were about to leave, an argument sparked between Tammy and Waka when he was shown getting another female’s number right in front of Tammy.

“How is this clout chasing” you may ask?

…Well after the show aired, Tammy revealed on Instagram that that is not how the conversation went between her and her man at all! She says WE tv switched up her words and edited this scene to make it seem like she was yelling at Waka for getting another woman’s number, but in reality, she was yelling at production for having them out with no security.

 

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Tonight episode of #MBC was FULL OF SHIT!! The Whole episode!! I know y’all want to make a good show but not at the expense of our REAL LIVES!! We all felt it was some caping going on when @iamdimepiece test came back with “deception” yea ok…. But to know the obstacles me and my husband been through and edit a WHOLE FUCKING LIE IS playing with our whole life like Dime said!! I was arguing with production for having us out at a strip club in LA with No REAL security wide open! My husband wasn’t tripping but I was! Cause I have to watch his back as his wife so I went TF OFF! Streets don’t give a damn about no TV shit! I must say everything has been REAL and truthfully until this episode and I’m disappointed that our real personalities, arguments, laughter and struggles wasn’t enough for you guys that you had to spice it up by EDITING A STRAIGHT LIE! @thelilmoshow @niariley @therealtiffanycampbell @iamdimepiece @souljaboy @airfizzo @dynamitetko

A post shared by 🇳🇮 Tammy Rivera Malphurs (@charliesangelll) on

There’s no telling how mad Tammy really was with WE tv because her and Waka went on to air their vow renewal special “Waka and Tammy tie the knot” with the network. Who knows what to believe??

The final three couples were Soulja Boy and Nia Riley,  who argued almost every day then ended up engaged by the end of it. 

 

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Scream and shout and let it all out! 😠 #HipHopBootCamp

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There was also Lil Fizz and Tiffany Campbell. This “relationship” judging from the show was not even a relationship. The entire show Lil Fizz barely talked to Tiffany about their problems, and when he did, it was him saying he didn’t want to talk about it. They came to the house at two separate times and even slept in two separate beds.

Oh, and did I mention Tiffany was seeing someone before they came on the show?

Last but not least, the final couple, Lil Mo and her husband, boxer Karl Dargan.

Now this couple was… interesting as well. Karl had a problem with Lil Mo not respecting him and being named “Lil Mo’s husband” publicly. And Lil Mo had a problem with Karl not being faithful to her.

I’m not saying Karl does not have the right to be upset or have feelings but I would say Lil Mo’s problem was a little more severe being as though Karl was actually caught on the show and on 15+ cameras facetiming another woman and encouraging her to tell Karl she loved him.

When the host of the show asked Karl about it, he claimed it was his sister.

Yea, you read it right! His SISTER. Since when do you sneak out of your bedroom in the middle of the night whispering to encourage another woman to confess their love to you?

Anyway, it’s all good though, Lil Mo forgave him so I felt like as a viewer rooting for all women, I should forgive him too, but I hope and pray, he never does it again.

In the end, every couple pulled up to Marriage Boot Camp together and drove out together, except Lil Fizz and Tiffany Campbell, which I kind of already figured.

With all that being said, because networks like WE tv, add, change and influence certain events and behaviors in their cast, YES, I do believe networks like this, Vh1, MTV etc. are clout chasers. On the bright side, Marriage Boot Camp succeeded in the purpose of the show and gave couples the tools they need and to work on their relationships.

At least that’s what they want you to believe.

How social media is triggering us all in the wake of Nipsey Hussle’s death

By Alexis J

Sunday evening, I was watching Duke lose to Michigan State in the elite eight round of the NCAA tournament. I was also actively scrolling on Twitter, participating in the game’s commentary on my timeline. That’s when the rumors began to swirl online that LA rapper Nipsey Hussle had been shot.

When tragic news like this breaks on the internet, my first thoughts, just like a lot of people on my TL, is to confirm it. I look for articles, tweets, and credible sources to confirm — or hopefully discredit — the rumors, especially when it comes to celebrities and deaths, as we’ve seen the internet falsely kill celebrities in the past.

The first detail to come out was that Nipsey was shot 6 times…and we were all hoping that it was a lie.

After the news was confirmed that he was gunned down in South Los Angeles in front of the Marathon Clothing store Sunday afternoon, more and more disturbing images began popping up online: Surveillance video of the shooting, videos of Nipsey on the ground from different camera angles, his longtime love Lauren London rushing into the hospital in a panic.

All these images were circulated online within 2 days. And as disturbed as I was, I could not look away. 

Not to mention the outpouring of support, sad statements, and grief-filled posts from fans and celebrities alike.

The consistent sentiment was that THIS particular death felt different. Nipsey’s death made people feel sadness even if they weren’t a fan of his music. I am 100 percent sure that some of that was due to who Nipsey was as a person: a philanthropic activist who worked to give back to his community and uplift those who came from his environment.

But I couldn’t help but question how much of this pain we all felt was triggered by what I deemed ‘social media grief.’

“When you’re constantly looking at the same trauma it becomes vicarious trauma,” said Sharise Nance, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional at Hand in Hand Counseling in Pittsburgh.

Ms. Nance, who has been in the profession of psychology for 20 years, said when news breaks that a public figure died or a tragic national event happens, it’s important to be self-aware of what you can and cannot handle when navigating social media.

“If we consume too much grief online, it often replays in our minds and we’re continuing to re-feed the grief. It’s like having a wound in the brain and re-injuring it. You have to give it time to process and heal,” she said.

So I asked her what were some ways we could deal with social media grief in a way that wasn’t triggering and without creating trauma for ourselves.

The first thing she assured me was that shying away from the information may not work and that it was OK to grieve.

“It’s important for us to be up on current events especially when news affects the black community, and it is also okay to be grieving.”

I assumed the answer was to simply not look. Don’t go on social media when tragic events happen. Log off. That should be easy, right?

Ms. Nance said that isn’t always the way to go about it.

“I wouldn’t advise someone to completely disconnect from social media. It can be a helpful tool. I would suggest taking a social media diet or social media detox.”

Ms. Nance suggested that if the information you consume online becomes too triggering, set a timer for yourself. After 20 minutes passes, for example, and you’ve gathered all the information you need, ask yourself are you becoming obsessed with the incident?

If you choose to delete your apps for a couple of days, be mindful of how you feel when you don’t have access to the traumatic information and learn how much you can handle, she said.

“When we are on social media, we can mindlessly scroll and not realize how much time has passed. Be intentional when checking your apps. Get the information you were looking for and when it comes to anything beyond that, ask yourself do you need to see these comments people are making or these photos being posted?”

Another aspect I noticed of social media grief is being exposed to how so many people in the world handle the grieving process. A fan criticized 50 Cent on Instagram for posting about a car show before posting about Nipsey’s death— to which 50 replied that he would say something when he was ready (in a very 50 Cent kinda way).

It seems as though when someone dies, social media puts pressure on you to say something. As if the rule is “if you don’t post your sadness, then you don’t really feel it.”

“We can’t put rules around grief,” Ms. Nance said. “In today’s world, we have more access to people so people are keeping score- ‘Are you posting your grief? Are you protesting? Are you speaking out?’ If someone has trauma, their role is to take care of themselves first. Everyone is in different stages of grief at different times.”

I saw a lot of older hip-hop heads comparing Nipsey’s death to Tupac’s, for reasons beyond the obvious West Coast affiliations. Both men preached a message, spoke with a purpose, and made music that moved people to action.

Ms. Nance was about 16 when Tupac died, and she said she found out listening to WAMO radio station on her way to school. She and her friends discussed it when they got to class, but they didn’t have the same immediate access to information as we do today. So they just kind of moved on from it.

It doesn’t feel like we’ll be able to move on from Nipsey’s passing quite the same.

So I hope we all learn to take care of ourselves, on and offline. Grieve how you want for as long as you want. Step away from your phone if you need to. Be intentional with your screen time. Ms. Nance says you can’t control what images are posted online by others, but you can control your response to it.

“If there is a person sharing images that are triggering or things you don’t want to see, you can mute it or simply unfollow them.”

***My opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the company I am employed by.

LexxxTalkAboutIt’s 2018 wrap up: best song, best album, best movie, favorite moments

Alexis J and Jay wrapped up 2018 on episode 18 of LexxxTalkAboutIt by recapping some of the craziest moments of the year — both personally and in pop culture. We also picked our faves for album of the year, best song of the year, and best movie of the year, while setting some personal goals to kick off 2019!

Here’s what we came up with:

Best album of 2018:

Alexis J | Cardi B- Invasion of Privacy (Runner up: Meek Mill- Championships)

Jay | Nipsey Hustle- Victory Lap (Runner up: Jay Rock- Redemption)

Best song of 2018:

Alexis J | Sicko Mode- Travis Scott ft. Drake & Swae Lee

Jay | Tie between Sicko Mode- Travis Scott ft. Drake & Swae Lee and Boo’d up – Ella Mai

Best movie of 2018:

Alexis J | Black Panther (Wakanda forever)

Jay | Black Panther

Favorite person to watch in 2018:

Alexis J | Cardi B

Jay | Joe Budden

Craziest moment in hip-hop culture in 2018:

Alexis J | The beefs! Drake vs Pusha T & Cardi B vs Nicki Minaj

Jay | Drake vs Pusha T beef

Craziest personal experience of 2018:

Alexis J | Attending my first National Association of Black Journalist conference in Detroit

Jay | Moving back home from Philly to Pittsburgh

Biggest personal lesson you learned in 2018:

Alexis J | This year was so much patience and having to just trust. One step has to lead to your next step and you can’t skip any steps no matter how bumpy the road gets. There was a lot of “Why God?”s and questioning why I was there in that circumstance, but learning that there is a reason and it’s to get to whatever is coming next.

Jay | 2018 was a lot of patience. I was very ungrateful of a lot of blessings I had. I was doubting myself and then you get blessed and you’re like “what was I worried about in the first place?” So it’s just time and patience and learning just to calm down and everything will work out for the most part.

Catch the full final episode of #LexxxTalkAboutIt for 2018 here:

***My opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the company I am employed by.

Episode 18 Credits:

Music: Yung Kartz- Bensound.com

Cohost/Co-producer: Jaylen Jordan @_Itolnlyjay

Special thanks to StudioME

‘Gimmie Roses Now’ Review: We need to highlight local talent in Pittsburgh more often

“To me, this is going to be the most culturally relevant event the city has ever seen.”

Blaire C., founder of Document My Day production company, said that with conviction a few weeks before her event “Gimmie Roses Now” came to fruition.

Spoiler alert: she was right.

Gimmie Roses Now, a hip-hop cypher and spoken word showcase that highlighted local talent from Pittsburgh, was not only relevant to what our generation deems to be “the culture,” but it also advanced it.

From the time you walked in the doors of Senseless, the venue for Gimmie Roses Now which is in actuality a sneaker store that sells urban apparel and hip-hop paraphernalia, the intimate vibe made you realize that this event was not just meant for you to spectate.

You had to feel it.

“The 90s hip-hop vibe that Senseless has really set the mood from jump, (and the rap snacks),” said Shantale Davis, a local photographer (@shanshoots2) and poet who performed at the event.

“I liked the intimate setting because on a stage you can’t always hear the crowd reaction until a big punchline, but in the cypher you can hear it all the way through.”

Yes, like she said, there were old-school rap snacks as refreshments, the perfect addition to an environment that was already reminiscent of the 90s when rappers would freestyle on street corners.  

The red lighting accentuated the theme and the name of the show, a play on words for the phrase “give a man his flowers while he’s still here.” When I interviewed Blaire as a guest on the LexxxTalkAboutIt podcast a few weeks back (episode 11), she described the inspiration behind the title.


“I really wanted to have this cypher because I feel like we wait, as people, for bad things to happen to celebrate each other. It’s a celebration of life once somebody’s gone.”

I immediately blurted out the phrase that correlates with exactly what Blaire described, and to that she said “The title of the event is Gimmie Roses Now.”

“I want people who’ve been grinding, really trying to change the trajectory of their life and really rap out of this stuff… I want them to understand, ‘You’re valued. We fuck with you.’”

That message was made loud and clear.

“It was just incredibly refreshing to get together in the city and vibe out. No huge bells and whistles or production. Black people just being themselves and living the culture,” Shantale said.

 

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Let’t meet one of our Performing Artist @shanshoots2 🌹

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Dozens of us gathered around and witnessed rounds of freestyles, poetry, and continuous rhymes in battle style, all sparked by a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” better known as the black national anthem by Pittsburgh’s own Cameron Chambers.

The cypher was hosted by Fu Underwood (@imjustfu), who himself has put on poetry events in Pittsburgh.

In an interview after the event, Blaire said she was happy to see the reaction from all who came.

“Everyone was enjoying themselves. I didn’t see one person leave looking displeased. Not one. I loved the vibe. It was a positive place to be,” she said.

Eric Cruse, a comedic rapper building a name for himself through social media (@everybodyknows_e) and stand up comedy, described the cypher as “raw creativity at it’s best.”

“Top 10 events I ever took part of,” he said of the showcase. “The feeling of hearing somebody go before you and knowing that you gotta top that , you know, that pure competition is an unmatched feeling, especially when you’re a random wild card they ain’t know about.”


As an audience member and not a participant, I left there saying “Pittsburgh needs more spaces like these for creatives.”

Although the numbers may be fewer than those of a bigger market, Gimmie Roses Now showed that the passion for self expression is just as vibrant in this city.

“I have been fortunate enough in my life to have been exposed to all sorts of things, all sorts of people and and all sorts of places. I know that Pittsburgh and a lot of the people in Pittsburgh haven’t had those same opportunities,” Blaire said.

“I know because I put on this event in Pittsburgh and exposed people to something new, that someone’s gears started turning. Maybe now they have an idea for something else because they were exposed to Gimmie Roses Now.”

That’s exactly what I hope happens. I too was exposed to creative spaces outside of Pittsburgh during my time away from the city. So when Blaire said “culturally relevant,” it made me think what exactly the culture is here and who contributes to it.

When most people think of Pittsburgh artists, you think of names like Hardo or the late Jimmy Wopo (whose younger brother, Baby Jway  age 13, performed at Gimmie Roses Now) and a certain trap sound is connected to the city.

Gimmie Roses Now showed that the talent here is more diverse than meets the eye.

“Getting the event together was a lot of work. I was in a city were things like this just don’t happen. No one had ever saw an event like what I was trying to put on. I spent a lot of time just getting people to trust me enough to participate,” Blaire said.

To that point- I’m not surprised.

I’m not mad at the party promoters who bring Young Dolph, Shy Glizzy, Lil Baby, Lil Boosie or other mainstream rappers to Pittsburgh for shows. It takes an artist with a particular sound to bring a major crowd out in this city.

But Blaire C. showed us we need not forget about the talent we have right here. Especially those with a different sound like Jvggy Hendrix, MyFavoriteColor, or BangaCyss who all performed at the event.

Even when it takes a little bit of work to do so. The promo for the event alone, mini video clips previewing each artist posted to social media with flyers and information about the performers- all created by Blaire with some help from her team, showed it pays to be thorough.

One recurring theme here in Pittsburgh is that there is somewhat of a lack of support for hometown creatives and entrepreneurs.

I think I can agree with that, and this event showed how much the artists here are hungry for it.

We need to give out more roses.

***My opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the company I am employed by.

Catch a recap of LexxxTalkAboutIt Ep. 11 ft. Blaire C.- Being honest with yourself here.

Special thanks to Blaire C. @bleeeezo

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