When I Write Rhymes, I Go Blind and Let the Lord Do His Thing

“I don’t do shit until I meditate.” – Russell Simmons

I was at a friends house one night when he turned off all the lights, set up a black light, and then put large pieces of paper on the wall and gave us markers. He was working for Revolt at the time and was always talking about creating and catching vibes. I immediately felt like a little kid and began drawing and writing. I wrote about all the things we have to be grateful for, how incredible it is that we get to create our lives and choose anything we would like, and included all my favorite song lyrics and quotes. This guy Rob had just gotten there and began admiring my work and remarking how dope it was. We were having drinks and every time we went to cheers, he asked me to make a toast. I expanded on what I was writing about, just publicly appreciating the moment and reflecting on how incredible it was to be surrounded by great people in Los Angeles who are all following their dreams. I pointed out some obvious blessings that we often take for granted. He kept asking me to give toasts and I could see his vibration rising as well the more grateful he felt, reflecting on the things I was speaking about. It’s so accepted for people to complain all day, but it’s rare to speak about all our blessings out loud. It’s funny how that works and you can see evidence of this everywhere, from the news to the workplace. I normally speak about these things around my friends, but to do it in a room full of strangers was something new to me. I realized that the confidence in that moment came from the encouragement of Rob.

We left my boys spot and headed to the studio. There were four of us, Rob, a girl he was dealing with, a friend of his, and me. Rob is a producer and was complaining that he had turned in five songs to Puffy, but that Puff had only like three of them. Feeding off our conversation earlier, I confidently stopped him in his tracks. I reminded him of how incredible it was that Puffy not only messes with his music, but that he believes in him so much to tell him the truth and expect the absolute best from him. Puffy has built his brand on excellence, and by being allowed into his world, you must consistently rise and exceed his expectations. It reminds me of his feature on Rick Ross’s song, “Nobody,”

“You wanted to fuckin’ walk around these roaches?These n***** is roaches. These n***** is mere motherfuckin’ mortals. I’m tryna push you to supreme being. You don’t wanna motherfuckin’, you don’t wanna embrace your destiny. You wanna get by. You don’t wanna go into the motherfuckin’ dark, where it’s lonely. You can’t handle the motherfuckin’, the pain of the motherfuckin’ not knowin’ when the shit is gonna stop. You fuckin’ wanna walk around with these n*****? What the fuck is their culture? Where the fuck is their souls at? What defines you? These n***** with these fuckin’ silly looks on their faces.You wanna walk around with them or you wanna walk with God, n****? Make up your got damn mind!”

This resonated with me so much, because I see this happen all the time. People get so sucked in to being cool and keeping up that they don’t create at even 1/10th of their potential. There are so many ways to tap into God and create from a place that feels like pure joy. Since many people don’t consciously do this, creating can feel like a lot of work. They may experience writers block or they may be creating at a level that is subpar. However, all it takes is a simple shift to get aligned. The more I’ve tapped into my spirituality, the more techniques have been revealed to me. Since being at a high vibration is essential for my creative process and overall happiness, I know how to raise mine in minutes. From dancing around rapping my favorite songs to thanking God for individual blessings out loud, there are unlimited ways to bring my vibration up. One of the most powerful techniques for raising vibration and unleashing creativity is meditation. Our minds are often going a million miles a minute, and even 5 minutes of stillness and a clear mind can produce miracles. In “Ghetto Gospel,” Tupac raps, “I feel his hand on my brain. When I write rhymes, I go blind and let The Lord do his thing.” This is what meditation does. It allows your ego mind to stop and allows Divinity to flow through you. It is often said that we talk to God through prayer and that God speaks to us through meditation. It’s during or following this stillness that incredible ideas, creations, and actions spring forth. We are so overstimulated in this world, and this simple practice allows us to clear out all the clutter and focus on the things that matter. A calm, clear, relaxed, happy spirit is a magnet for all good things.

With my creative confidence so high because of Rob’s encouragement earlier, I made a bold promise to him that if he were to meditate with me, that he would create all the songs Puffy could ever hope for and more. It was a big promise, but I knew I could deliver. I sent him the link for my “Desire and Destiny” meditation that Deepak Chopra did with Oprah. After I explained what to do, he played it aloud through the sound system. After about five minutes, I peeked one eye open to see all three of them peacefully meditating. I looked to my right and smiled at the large Biggie painting that hung on the wall next to me. I’ve always believed that the combination of hip hop principles and spiritual principles is an incredible blueprint to follow. After about fifteen minutes, the meditation came to an end. I wasn’t sure how everyone would react, as this was their first time trying it. Rob slowly got out of his seat and was like, “Yooooo that was crazy! I feel amazing.” It was so incredible because he had had such an open mind, and was able to totally submit to the moment without the fear of judgment that we so often feel in today’s culture.

A few weeks later, my friend invited me out for brunch. Rob was there and when I sat down he started drawing imaginary halos around my head. He kept saying, “This girl is an angel.” I started laughing and asked him what that was all about. He explained that the day after we meditated, he had created the most amazing music he had ever made. I was shocked. I knew how incredible meditation was, but to see such immediate results got my mind spinning. I realized that I use these tools and principles all the time, but I’m not always open to sharing them with confidence, because a lot of people are not open to receiving them. Rob’s openness and encouragement increased my creative confidence, and in turn, allowed me to share this gift with him. His immediate results encouraged me to continue to practice these techniques myself and to share them with others with confidence. I’ve sent them to many people since that day and all of those whom have listened have experienced incredible positive changes. I even shared them with the A&R I interviewed with at Interscope, expressing how all artists would benefit from meditation. After my exchange with Rob, I’ve come to look at my spiritual principles as tools to create magic. I now share them freely without fear of judgment, because the look on someone’s face when they have a breakthrough and begin to live a higher quality life and create higher quality work in priceless.

Mr. Jones and Me

“Everything must eventually come to an end, so try to savor the moment, cuz time flies don’t it? The beauty of life, you gotta make it last for the better, cuz nothin’ lasts forever” -Nasir Jones

It was the Fall of my freshman year in college. After two and a half short weeks of attending Fordham University in the Bronx and living across the hall from a nun, I transferred to my state school. I felt so lost and alone, and to make matters worse, the only housing available so late in the semester was in a sorority house. My sister had also transferred, so she arranged for me to come live as a boarder in the same house she was staying in. In total, there were four girls living in our room. I was in the bottom bunk of a bunk bed that was so low that I hit my head every morning when I tried to get out of bed. My sister enrolled me in the only classes available so late into the semester, including an 8am literature class that I dreaded getting up for. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it turned out to be one of the biggest blessings.

One day our teacher assigned us an oral report on a form of literature. People chose poetry, short stories, biographies, etc. One of the students got up to do his report and said, “the form of literature I’d like to talk about today is Nas.” I was waiting for the teacher to tell him he misunderstood the assignment, but she didn’t say a word. And thank God for my sake, she didn’t. The student went on to give an impressive presentation on Nas, dissecting his lyrics, his metaphors, and his message. His dissection of “Dr. Knockboot” stands out to me the most, as I was shocked to hear someone break down a song about sex in a freshman lit class.

I had always been a huge fan of hip hop, especially east coast hip hop, since the music that trickled down to us was mainly from New York. I grew up big on Biggie, Jay, Big L, Big Pun, The Lox, Mobb Deep, Dipset, etc. , and was a fan of Nas, but had yet to delve deep into his music. Feeling alone on a campus of thousands, I turned to the one constant I had had in my life that always made me happy, hip hop. This student had given me the gift of Nas and my curiosity led me back through all of his albums. From that moment on, he was in my ears daily. I had always loved Foxy, but got heavy in to AZ around this time as well. I couldn’t believe how incredible these artists were, and I was so surprised they didn’t get more mainstream recognition. I remember when Street’s Disciple came out and I bumped it for months straight. Every guy that got in my car  was so hyped on it, and would ask me to burn them CD’s. The cool thing about falling in love with an artist later in their career is that you have a whole catalogue to go back through, similar to catching on to a hot show in it’s last season, you’re able to get a marathon session in.

There were so many things I learned and so many verses I held onto when I was pursuing my dreams after school. In the intro to  “Nothing Lasts Forever,” Nas encourages, “A lot of times it seems like you ain’t gon’ make it where you wanna be in life. But yo, if you got a plan, believe me, you gon’ get there. You gon’ get everything you ever wanted baby, that’s my word.” I played this over and over and I believed him. Years later, I even recorded the intro and would play it dozens of times a day. There was something in those words that resonated with me and because I knew they were truthful, I trusted other things I heard from him as well.  When he told me  the world was mine, I knew it could be if I had the courage to go after what I wanted. When I listened to NY State of Mind, I felt this hustle arising in me. He starts off, “I don’t know how to start this, yo,” and then goes into one of the sickest rhymes I’ve ever heard. I saw an interview saying that he truly had no idea what he was going to say at that moment and free-styled that whole verse. In “The Message,” he makes even the simplest activities sound so fly. He raps, “I peeped you frontin, I was in the Jeep, sunk in the seat, tinted with heat, beats bumpin.” Everything he spoke about resonated with me. Even songs that weren’t “meant for me” had meaning in them. Every time I listened to him, he gave me so much game. In “Black Girl Lost,” he tells a story of girls getting caught up trying to live the fast life. He perfectly articulates the pressures we all feel and it’s evident from his songs that he truly cares. I think that may be what attracted me to him so much in the first place. Nas has always had a sense of purpose in what he raps about. Even though some of his efforts haven’t been well received in the media (ie. The N***** album promo), his intentions are always good. Sometimes I think that he is just way ahead of his time, and some people have a hard time receiving his harsh honesty.

The way Nas lives his life and conducts his business speak volumes about his character. Considering his level of genius, he is incredibly humble and always gives credit to God and his mentors. He is authentic in every way, from his rhymes to his relationships to his partnerships. His involvement with Hennessy was such a natural partnership and another reminder of the value of staying real in this game. In an interview with Anthony DeCurtis, Nas breaks down the reason he’s successful. He says, “You can’t lose. How can you lose when you’re doing you?” He always reminds us that authenticity is the path to success.

This past weekend, I was cruising down the PCH in Malibu listening to “Stay” off of “Life is Good.”  The top was down, the sun was setting, and the palm trees were getting smaller and smaller in my rearview mirror. I couldn’t help but smile thinking back to the thousands of times I had faithfully listened to “You gon’ get everything you ever wanted baby, that’s my word.” I’m glad I listened, because he was right.

The Greatest Blessing In The Whole World Is To Be A Blessing

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

I had a realization somewhere in the last year. I took a pause from asking God for the things I wanted and started asking what (S)He wanted from me. I declared daily, “God, use me for Your highest purpose! Show me how I can use my unique gifts and talents to be of service to the world.” It was at this point that I became uber-aware of the miracles occurring all around me.

In the past, if I had an inkling to say or do something, oftentimes I would ignore it for fear of judgment. After I prayed this prayer, however, I acted on my intuition, knowing that God was answering my prayer. There have been so many instances since that day where God has used me to be a blessing, and has blessed me in return.

One day, I was walking to meet my friend Caitlin to go hiking. I confused the cross street we were meeting at, and ended up sitting and waiting for her on a stone wall outside of a popular plaza. After a few minutes, the parking attendant, an older Indian man, came over and began speaking with me. We made some small talk about his job before he blurted out to me that he didn’t like black people. I was shocked. Why would he think it was okay to say something like that to me? I remembered my prayer and decided that cursing him out would do no good and decided to try another method. I asked him why he disliked black people so much. He told me that all the people that park in his lot are respectful, except black people who often yell at him and try to physically assault him. I told him I was sorry to hear that he had had this experience, but reasoned with him that these were just a few people, and not reflective of the entire race. He wouldn’t listen. He had had so many bad experiences that nothing I could say would change his mind. I explained to him that he was having these experiences because he expected to have them and that my experiences were quite the opposite. I explained that he could change the way he experienced people and events by changing his thinking. I told him verbatim, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  At that moment my friend texted me clarifying the correct street she was on. As I went to get up to leave, a beautiful black family in an SUV slowly pulled into the parking space directly in front of us. The black man looked directly at the Indian man, bowed his head, and put his hands up in the prayer pose, respectfully thanking him for doing his job. The indian man looked at me with the widest eyes I’ve ever seen. Once again, I looked at him and repeated, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” and happily walked off.

Another day I was walking down the street when I saw a young boy who was filthy and disheveled. Once again, I felt the intuition to speak to him so I began asking him questions. He told me how long he had been on the streets and admitted that he was addicted to meth. He told me of his paranoia, hallucinations, and his hope to one day be clean. I’ve never done meth, but I’ve done my fair share of experimenting. I was addicted to Adderall for the better part of college, and most stimulants have the same side effects. I related to him on so many levels and shared my own personal experience with him. I told him how I got clean and that it was a personal decision he would have to make when he was ready. I sent him love and prayers and before I left I grabbed his hand. It was so filthy that the conscious part of me never would have done that, but the action stemmed from something greater. I could tell he hadn’t been touched in that way in a long time, and the look in his eyes nearly melted my heart. I walked away filled with love.

On another occasion, I was flying back to the east coast and got the overwhelming feeling to write to Necole Bitchie, one of my favorite bloggers and a woman whom I had been so inspired by. I hadn’t even been on her blog in months, but the urge was so strong, I followed it. I sent her the following email:

 

“Dear Necole,

As I was flying back to LA after the holidays yesterday, I got this very strong intuition to write to you. I have been reading your blog since a friend introduced to me to it in 2009, back when I lived in ATL. Back then, I read
several blogs, many of which were quite negative. An avid believer in the law of attraction, I slowly stopped reading all the others, but continued to follow you. I remember seeing your posts about Will Smith and his way of thinking, and  it made sense why you had become so successful. You knew the way the universe worked, and with hard work, dedication, and most importantly faith, you made your dreams come true.

A while back, I caught the speech you made, speaking about difficulties, legal issues, and your lack of real relationships within the industry. As someone I really look up to and admire, I wanted to share something with you. I too, am a girl from a small town with big dreams of being successful in the music industry. I’ve lived in Miami, NYC, ATL, and LA, so I’ve definitely experienced many of the things you’ve spoken about. I know what it feels like to be in aroom and wonder if I even deserve to be there. I’ve encountered jealousy, hatred, and embarrassment. When you speak of your experiences, I truly feel you.

The reason I felt so compelled to write to you is because I wanted to remind you of how you came to be here in the first place. We are constant creators and YOU (and GOD) did this, YOU created NecoleBitchie.com, YOU became a respected name in the industry, YOU are an urban influencer. I know that at times it seems hard and maybe even hopeless, but I want to remind you of how many lives your work touches. You are not just a blogger, you are an angel for God. You are someone who inspires others every day, someone who definitely inspires me.

When I have had feelings of doubt or negativity, there is something I tell myself that always helps. The dream we have inside of us is of God, it is what we are called to do, our service to the world. When we look at our dream from an
ego perspective, it is easy to become overwhelmed with insecurity and the opinions of others. When you see your dream as fulfilling your God-given purpose, as your expression of Divinity,it is much easier not to be concerned with the opinions of others.

Sometimes I feel myself getting caught up in this world and I remember that the most important thing is to function on the highest vibration possible. Whether it’s singing and dancing in my apartment or buying a meal for a homeless person or even smiling at a stranger, I remember that this emotion is the place I want to be creating from. When I’m feeling down, I remember this message I was given from my grandfather through a medium, “Open your eyes and look at the life you have manifested for yourself!” I encourage you to do the same. Necole, this is just the beginning for you. You truly are an angel for God and He sees what you are doing. You have inspired countless people and I know you have even greater dreams inside of you. Please don’t let the fear of twitter trolls and others stop you from expressing what is inside of you.

Whatever life you can dream of, you can have. There are NO LIMITS to what you can create. I urge you to visualize for 5 minutes a day and truly allow yourself to envision exactly what you would like. You can have it. I promise.

Necole, I want to thank you for inspiring me every day. Let go of the fear, it is not real. Ask God to use you in service for his highest good, and you will start to see opportunities opening up everywhere. I am so grateful to you and
can’t wait to see what 2014 holds in store for you.

‘If you admire somebody, go head n tell em. People never get the flowers while
they can still smell em.’ -Ye

Peace and Blessings,

Laura”

I completely forgot about writing this until a few weeks later when I was at work and received the following email from Necole:

“All I have to say is ‘Thank you’. When I left LA for Europe last week, my spirit was broken. I wasn’t even sure if I was gonna return to blogging. I cried many times while reading your message as it was right on time and something I needed to hear. Thank you so much for your kind words and having me in your thoughts and prayers!  It really means the world to me.”

I was shocked. I went home and told my friend who was staying with me for the night about what had happened. A few hours later, at 3 in the morning, my phone went off. It was a friend of my sister’s from NYC who was stranded for the night and needed a place to stay. I didn’t know him very well, but told him he could stay on my couch. When I woke up the next morning, I checked Necole’s website, and saw the following post:

“Happy New Year!

I hope all is well and that your new year is filled with happiness, love and good health. I wanted to write a quick message because I believe that a few of you guys may have been under the impression that I abandoned my blog or that I quit blogging. I haven’t. I apologize for not leaving a vacation notice, because it was truly accidental. Due to a lack of planning on my part, after booking a trip to Europe, I ended up not having much phone service, spotty wi-fi and one electrical outlet to share between two people and four electronics that needed to be charged. My laptop lost the power battle but the lack of resources really became a blessing from God.

This is my first time logging onto a computer in 7 days. I never thought in a million years I could do that. Especially having a business that is entirely online, however being unplugged from the Matrix really gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about myself. It taught me to be adventurous, to live in my moments and to take a step back and analyze what is important to me.

When I first started blogging I had real PASSION for this. I was going through the most troubling time in my life but although I didn’t have a place to stay, and didn’t know where my next check was coming from, I got great joy out of logging online every day, and blogging my thoughts and then reading what my commenters had to say. I shared a lot about my life in the infant stage. I remember joking that I couldn’t blog about the top reality shows that were on back then because I couldn’t afford cable and damnit, it was a huge celebration when I finally got some cable! [LOL!] A lot of you guys grew with me, you were here when I had nothing, emailed me the first time you heard my blog referenced on the radio, cheered me on when I challenged my fear of public speaking, cried with me when I accepted my first award. A few of you have even seen me on the street and come up to me and said, “I read your personal blog. I am inspired by your story!” and that is a reminder every day of what I do this for. Most of all, when some of you see me straying away from my original vision, or blogging something that’s not the best representation of this site or brand, you tell me,  and I appreciate that tough love.

I also appreciate your encouraging emails.


I say all of this to say, I appreciate you.  All of you. I don’t know if I say it enough.

Every day, I wake up at 4am, stretch, drink a glass of water, and log on to my computer, and start researching and picking out stories that I hope you guys find entertaining.  My day normally ends around midnight and I do it all over again. There really isn’t a such thing as time off when you run a site of this magnitude. Even when you are on a date, having family time, a girl’s night, etc., subconsciously as you scroll through your Twitter timeline or Instagram, you are still working. But when you love what you do, it doesn’t matter how many hours you work because it doesn’t feel like work. It’s when you lose joy and passion for what you do that you start clocking the hours.

This site is still 100% owned by me. I never sold it. I haven’t taken a check to sell off a piece of it yet. I haven’t bought traffic to increase the pageviews, I haven’t advertised, I haven’t engaged in any SEO tricks to get a higher Google ranking, I’ve literally just woke up every day and blogged and it was you guys who helped this site grow, by telling all of your friends and spreading the word. It’s because of you that this site is much bigger than I can barely keep up with. Your loyalty to the brand is why I am here.

It is why we are here.

But I also want to remind you that this is my baby. And when you have a baby, and you nurture it and watch it grow, it’s hard to let go and let someone babysit for you, even if it’s for a few days while you are on vacation. This is why the site hasn’t been updated in 7 days.

In 2014, I hope to learn to stop babying my baby.

That brings me back to my vacation. The greatest thing that I’ve learned from my blogging peers Angel Laws (Concrete Loop) and Fresh (Crunktastical) is that you have to put the same energy in yourself that you are putting into your career. It takes a lot to wake up every day and blog about other people who are living their lives, when you aren’t really living yours to the fullest extent. There has to be some sort of balance and sometimes you do have to take a break to gain some perspective. That’s with any path you choose to follow career-wise.

It all comes down to: Are you living life or are you only watching others live their lives?

Last year, I attempted to launch many projects, some worked, some didn’t but for every success, you’ll have many failures. That’s just the way life works. If I have learned anything in the last few years, it’s that you can’ttruly know what it means to win unless you know how it feels to lose. Ordinary can’t possibly be extraordinary without taking risks. You have to learn to be uncomfortable with being comfortable to truly reach your highest potential.

With celeb gossip and entertainment news being such a competitive space, it’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race. I would compare it to a hamster on a wheel, running with the pack, but not quite getting anywhere. It’s all about who gets the story up first whether all the details are there or not, and of course, the integrity is lost. While trying to please everybody, you can get caught up in the numbers game, and suddenly you will find yourself blogging about people and things that bring a lot of hits and comments, and less about stories that are inspirational and that can possibly change someone’s life. That was me, late this year. So in 2014, I have dedicated myself to trying to bring a little more balance to the black blogosphere. A little more positivity. To not lose sight of my overall vision and why I started blogging in the first place. To not lose sight of what my brand represented.

Sidenote: Thank you Beyoncé. Your latest business move really taught me what it means to reclaim your power. Do things on your own terms and not everyone else’s. Sometimes we get so caught up in hits,  Facebook and Instagram likes, pageviews, headlines, Twitter followers, chart positions, and “Best of” lists that you can lose your soul and yourself in the process.

Always remember that you can choose what you want your legacy to be, and once you figure that out, whether it’s tomorrow or 10 years from now, you will start to move a little differently and live in your legacy.  I always ask myself, “How do you want people to feel about you when you leave the room?” I do care whether or not the site is respected. But in climbing the mountain of my personal journey, I’ve learned it’s not all about the money and advertising dollars either.   It’s so much more fulfilling when you are following your heart and reaching the destination is that much more exciting.

In 2005, Kris Kelley (the music director at WJLB Radio Station in Detroit at the time) wrote me a check. I hadn’t eaten in days, and my rent was past due, but I had been in that radio station every day interning hoping that my hard work would be recognized and I would gain employment there.  At the time, she told me, “I’m writing this check because I am investing in you. I believe in you. All I ask is that when you get on, you continue to help other young women.”

That taught me that all it takes is for someone to believe in your dream. And even when they don’t, you got to keep pushing until they do. [No one believed that this blog would be marketable or gain a large audience because of the name, but I kept right on pushing.]

Because of her words that day, my greatest accomplishment has been to employ, contract, partner and work with young women who were just like me over the years. Who truly believed in my brand, the vision and the journey.  I hope in continuing to blog and update this site, that women will find inspiration in not only my story but also the stories of others –like Beat Face Honey.  It is my duty in the New Year to continue to showcase young women and men who are out here doing the damn thing while beating the odds.

In 2014, I hope to build a deeper connection with you guys, but I also want you all to promise me that you’ll do a few things that you’ve never had the courage to do. Go hard for your dreams. Step outside of your comfort zone, leave the Land of Familiar, break down the wall of fear, and most importantly –LIVE. Imagine all of the things you would do if you were not afraid. Now do it! (and email meand tell me about it later!! **smile**)

This world is for the taking.

-Necole

P.S. I’ll be blogging again soon. I have a little more living and exploring to do before I return home in a few days and right now I don’t have much access to Internet.

P.P.S.  I haven’t taken many pictures. It’s hard to truly live in the moment when you are constantly stopping to snap a photo of the moment, but here’s the gist of what I got 

Talk to you soon.”
I was shocked. I had no logical reason to send her that email. I hadn’t been on her site in months, but I had learned to follow my intuition and not question it. I excitedly read the post to my friend Dominique who was laying next to me in bed. My sister’s (and now my) friend from NYC who was staying on my couch overheard me and asked, “Did you just say Necole Bitchie?” “Yeah, why?,” I replied. She’s a good friend of mine, I’m texting her right now. My jaw dropped because you couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. I told him I had a book called “Conversations with God,” that I wanted to give her and he agreed to be the messenger. Later that weekend, we attended a Grammy party together, and low and behold, Necole was there.  I spoke with her about the post and about following dreams despite all the industry BS that goes on. She was so unbelievably sweet and thanked me for my words. She expressed again that they had come right on time.

These experiences changed something in me. They restored my faith and solidified my trust in my intuition. I now follow that feeling in my gut, even when it doesn’t make conscious sense. You never know what is going on behind the scenes, but when you pray to be a blessings, you can most certainly believe that you will be used for one. What I’ve found from this shift is that there is no greater blessings on earth than to be used to bless someone else. Whenever I get caught up in my wants and desires, I think back to something I heard Oprah say and recite the same prayer, “As far back as I can recall, my prayer has been the same: ‘Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.'” There’s no greater gift in the world.

Don't Be A Hard Rock When You Really Are A Gem

“Sad, but one day our kids will have to visit museums to see what a lady looks like. So if you find one, I beg of you, hold her tight. Yes, if you spot one, good sir, treat her right.” -Andre 3000

A few months ago I attended a listening session for Ne-yo’s new album. There were about 40 industry professionals packed inside a tiny studio in North Hollywood rating each song between 1 and 5. I’m not big into R&B these days, but everything sounded pretty standard to me. He sang about sex, “love”, and money, and topped it off with a Juicy J feature to give it just the right amount of ratchet. It had everything 2000-something R&B albums are made of.

As we left, my girl Dominique asked me what I thought of the album. “It was cool,” I told her. “What about that song where he was trying to convince his girl to have a threesome?” she asked. “It was cool,” I replied for the second time. “Are you serious!?” she snapped back, “I thought it was disgusting. I mean seriously, who does he think he is?” I was confused and couldn’t understand why she was so upset. It wasn’t until I took a step back and really thought about it that I realized how valid her point was. I also realized how and why I had become so desensitized.

I have been around the “industry” in some way or another since I was 19. My first trip to Miami during BET’s Spring Bling Weekend was the first of many experiences into a world that most people will never witness firsthand. My love for hip hop, traveling, and for other cultures has landed me in the middle of a diverse array of environments and situations that have shaped the way I think and process the world today.

I’ve been in love with hip hop since the moment I first heard “Hypnotize” bumping out of my speakers in 97′ on the top 7 at 9. Even though back then hip hop was laced with misogyny, there were many other more prevalent themes. It was about rebellion, it was about hustle, and it was about having heart. Over the years, it’s transitioned into odes to money, drugs, and strippers. Having heart is now not nearly as important as having Instagram followers. Having respect is valued less than having naked girls shaking it for singles in videos. Creative content is less important than having a Tuesday night Supper Club smash. The music has transitioned, and subsequently, so have the women.

I recently saw a video Jada Pinkett Smith posted about human trafficking in America. A lot of the victims she spoke to had gotten their start in the strip club. This turned into other extracurricular activities with clients and before they knew it, many of these women were sold into the sex slave trade. She was shocked at how glorified stripping had become in our society, remarking that when she was a young girl, it was considered shameful. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment the shift occurred, but some time in the last ten years, stripping became a glamorized and coveted profession. Mainstream music has become more and more disrespectful towards women and Instagram has become a breeding ground for aspiring models who take their clothes off daily to gain “likes.” Bar tending in thongs and hosting parties have become desirable career paths for many young women who value red soles on their shoes more than college degrees.

While I’ve never stripped or posted nudes on the Gram, I have definitely felt the effects of this cultural shift. I’m reminded of this often when I tell stories to my friends who have had very traditional or religious upbringings. Because of a lot of the things I’ve seen or been around, certain things are “normal” to me that would leave my more traditional friends with their jaws on the floor. While I don’t participate in many of these questionable activities, I don’t flinch when I see or hear about them. From seeing girls prostitute themselves out for a few hundred dollars, to seeing rappers getting top in public, to hearing famous men blatantly and publicly bragging about cheating on their equally as famous wives, not too many things shock me these days.

Many women today seek attention and gratification the easiest way possible. We’re so insecure in this world where even some of the most successful people are living paycheck to paycheck. We no longer have a lot of the traditional options that were available to our parents and grandparents. We’re confused and we’re not sure where we fit in society. We want to be desired, but at what cost? We inflate our breasts and asses and talk in baby voices in our selfie videos in hopes that some baller will see it and come wife us up. We aspire to things that have no long term benefits. We are taught to be desirable above all other things, and a lot of us are sitting around waiting to be saved.

The bad news? No one is coming to save us. The good news? We can save ourselves. If there is anything we even need to be saved from, it’s the limits that we place on ourselves. It’s the belief that looking a certain way, dressing a certain way, and acting a certain way to appear attractive to the opposite sex is the purpose of our existence. It’s the belief that we have to “do the most” to compete with other females to snag some man that is going to trade us in for a newer model in a few months anyways.

My grandmother and mother always told me to “be a lady.” I used to laugh when they’d tell me this but one day it hit me, and it all started to make sense. I thought about my recent actions, all of which appeared harmless, and dissected each one of them on the “lady-like” scale. Not to sound like a housewife from the 1950’s, but I was curious what would happen if I took my mother’s advice. Going to the club? Not horrible, but not the most lady-like thing to do, especially if it’s often and not work-related. Drinking heavily? Not lady-like. Cursing? Not lady-like. Wearing tight, short clothes. Not the most lady-like, though I am all for wearing what makes you feel comfortable and confident. Letting guys who don’t deserve your time or attention into your bed or personal space, not lady-like. Even though I considered myself to be quite “lady-like,” I realized that there were definitely some areas in my life that I could clean up a bit.

I stopped going to the club for the most part and realized that I actually don’t enjoy it much at all. I cut way back on drinking and started waking up so much clearer and happier. I stopped letting guys that I had no intention of dating all up in my personal space. I felt empowered. I started experimenting with different cuts of clothing, and surprisingly felt very confident in clothes that didn’t hug every curve. I cut back on cursing as much as I could, and I started to feel so much classier. To the outside world, the physical changes may have been barely noticeable, but the way I began to feel about myself changed drastically. When you feel like a lady and feel like you deserve the respect a lady deserves, the energy you emit and the reactions you receive are in line with your intention.

The clearest example of this is the experiences I had at two different, yet similar events. The first was at a sports awards after party in Beverly Hills, before I had performed my “lady-like evaluation,” and adjusted my behavior accordingly. This event was shortly after I had quit my last job, when I was feeling insecure and unsure of my next move. I wore a tight, bandage dress and had more than a few cocktails. My energy was nervous and self-conscious. On the outside, I held my head high and made friendly conversation, but inside I was full of anxiety. The first half of the party was fine, but a turning point came when my friend was inside dancing, leaving me to roam the party solo.  Athlete after athlete approached me, each one’s motives appearing more sexually charged than the last. One of them even approached me with his wife standing right next to him, leering at me aggressively and commenting on my attractiveness. I felt beyond uncomfortable. I woke up the next day with a bad hangover and a horrible feeling. Even though nothing physically happened, I felt violated. I had had what many girls dream of, the attention and admiration of several professional athletes, and it felt like absolute shit (I know, no cursing!)

Several weeks later, I was in a much better place. My lady-like evaluation had caused me to reevaluate many of my actions and intentions. I had started a new job, and was feeling confident, secure, and powerful. I had been invited to a private ESPY’s party at the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Blvd, and I walked up to the red ropes in great spirits with peace in my heart. My flowing white dress hung nicely on my frame and I smiled at each person I walked by. A man outside kindly and respectively commented on my figure, which led to me giving him exercise tips. Our exchange was short, but I could tell that I was already being perceived differently than I had been at the last party. Once inside, I limited my alcohol intake, and spent my time having great conversations with several party goers. I was acting like a  lady and had the expectations of being treated as such, and I was. When I left the party a few hours later, I had received glowing reviews from 5 or 6 men I had spoken with. I got comments like “I can tell you’re so successful just from the way you carry yourself,” to texts like, “it’s so rare to meet a woman who is so kind and carries herself with such class, especially in LA.” The difference was astounding. I felt empowered, respected, and full of peace.

What started out as an inquisitive experiment, ended up being a life-changing realization. Yes, many of us may not measure up to the “lady” that 3Stacks is referring to, but maybe it’s because we’ve never tried. Maybe we’ve become so accustomed to being degraded in our culture that we just fall in line. Maybe we’ve become so comfortable with the cat calls and  ass grabs, that this is the only attention we know how to receive. Maybe because every female celebrity we see is on stage in a thong, just maybe, we feel like we need to do the same thing to get attention. Excuse my un-lady-likeness right now, but fuck that. Maybe what we really need is to step into our full potential and go after the things we really want in life. Maybe, if we knew what it felt like to be respected, we would demand that respect. Maybe if we saw how gratifying is was to be praised for our minds and our work rather than our bodies, we would blossom. Maybe we would become so addicted to the positive attention that we would stop worrying about snagging a baller and start focusing on becoming one ourselves. Because, as Miss Lauryn Hill reminds us, “babygirl, respect is just the minimum.”

Fear: Decoded

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I was just watching a clip from a Brene Brown speech. She was talking about formulating her speech and she mentioned that people want to hear 99% perspiration, not inspiration. People would rather hear the how-to’s than the airy-fairy, this is how it could be inspirational speeches. I feel like that’s why a lot of times we feel super motivated after watching a great speech, but if there’s no real life application, the excitement dissipates rather quickly. However, when a speaker gives tools and tangible action steps, the inspiration and motivation often carry us much further.

I’ve found this to be the case for a topic that I see play out again and again, fear of other people. It’s all well and good to tell someone to love other people, to be open-minded and compassionate, and to follow the golden rule. We’ve been told these things since childhood, yet how often do we see just the opposite occur. We go through life fearing people and in turn, end up missing out on countless opportunities. The #1 fear in the world is public speaking. That means that with all the scary things in the world; nuclear war, sharks, plane crashes, etc., nothing scares people more than other people. The fear of judgment, the fear of not measuring up, and the fear of looking stupid leave many people paralyzed in a small bubble of familiarity.

I spent a great deal of my life in this bubble. I remember being the “shy girl” as early as sixth grade. I had tons of friends that I was comfortable around, but I felt anxious in many social situations. I always excelled at school and sports and was friends with the “popular kids,” so I didn’t really realize how much of a problem my fear was until I left high school. I had told myself a story about how people liked me once they got to know me, but that I needed someone to vouch for me for this to be the case. I had always had the love and protection of my best friend, but when I left for college I was totally on my own and it wasn’t pretty. Over the next several years, in situation after situation, I experienced the same painful pattern. I would come into a new environment and feel fearful. My fear would cause me to behave in a shy manner, which was oftentimes interpreted by people as me being stuck up, weird, or some other undesirable adjective. As I grew into myself, I started feeling more and more eyes on me, the scariest thing imaginable for a shy person. Speaking in class gave me anxiety and I dreaded even having to say my name aloud at the beginning of the semester. I avoided the dining hall 99% of the time and I held back from speaking my truth in many relationships. Unable to forge new bonds, I held onto certain friendships that dimmed my light immeasurably. After college I moved from city to city, and my fear followed me to each new destination.

When I was living in San Diego a few years ago, I read Jay-Z’s book Decoded. At the end of the book, Jay talks about his first time meeting Oprah. He said they connected speaking about one of their favorite books, Seat of the Soul,  by Gary Zukav. Highly respecting both of their opinions, I immediately ordered Seat of the Soul. In it, Zukav speaks about the evolution of the soul and aligning our souls with our personalities. He explains that we have versions of the same event/circumstance happen over and over again until we decide to made a decision to change our part in it, the “role” we continually play. I decided to test this theory out. For years when I would see people, I would either smile meekly or quietly say hi, if I spoke at all. There was a member of management at my job that I often had this weird interaction with. I would quietly say hi and she would do the same, then we would awkwardly be in each other’s presence for the next ten minutes or so, before other co-workers arrived. While meditating on the words in Seat of the Soul, I recognized the huge potential for growth in this situation. I recognized my pattern of feeling shy, the action I was taking (meekly speaking or smiling, the same thing I’d done time and time again), and the stifled feeling I would feel after the interaction. I decided that if I could make one small change, as Zukav suggested, that I could change this pattern forever. The mere consciousness around the situation brought light to it. The decision to act differently had implications far beyond the realm of what I thought was possible at the time and led to me cutting chains that had entangled me for the majority of my life. The one small action I decided to change is what I call, “say one more thing.” I decided that I would apply this with every person I came in contact with. If I came across a person I would normally not speak to, I would say “hi.” Simple, right? If it was someone I would normally just awkwardly mumble “hi” to, I added something along the lines of, how’s your day going?” Things started changing immediately. I began feeling much more comfortable being myself and my relationships got deeper and stronger. “How’s your day going?” turned into conversations and my genuine interest in others led to connections and bonds I never thought possible.

 

A year later, while living in LA, I read the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. The title sounds corny but the book is incredible. Carnegie talks about gaining influence in ethical, soul-serving ways. He talks about the power of smiling at people, learning people’s names, and appealing to their interests and desires. I decided to once again experiment with the material I was learning. I wondered what would happen in my life if I smiled at every person I walked by. Once again, simple but magical. I didn’t realize the true power of a smile until one day when I was walking to the gym with my best friend who was visiting from Hawaii. She was on the phone and was lagging about ten feet behind me. When she got off, she asked me what I had been doing while I was walking. She said, “It’s incredible. Every person who walked by you looked totally different before and after they passed by you. They all had huge smiles on their faces. What were you doing?” I told her that I had smiled at each one of them. In that moment, I truly began comprehending my power. If my smile can make so many people smile, what else can I do? I developed this new confidence and began speaking and saying good morning to several people on my morning walk to the gym. I became cool with several homeless people, parking attendants, coffee baristas, and street acts. When I walked down the block then and to this day, I feel nothing but love.  The way I felt when I approached a group of men changed as well. Endowed with this newfound confidence, I no longer avoided eye contact with potential male admirers. I began looking them in the eye and smiling or saying good morning. The way people treated me started to change and I no longer felt like a target. I felt a newfound level of respect that I hadn’t experienced before.

The principles I learned and applied from these books have changed my life in countless ways. These, along with several other experiments I have taken on over the last few years have assisted me in becoming a calm, happy person that can live out my passions and purpose without the usual turmoil associated with the intense fear of other people and their judgments. I have a deeper understanding of why people act the way they do and how their fears manifest. I can now stand in a room and have several people look and whisper about me (which has happened on several occasions) and be absolutely fine. I was at a hotel lounge last month and several middle-aged women were staring at me while putting their hand up to their friends ear and whispering. So awkward, right? It didn’t even faze me. I looked at them, smiled, then politely received it as a compliment. I was on the elevator the other day for eight floors with three other people. Not one word was uttered. Two of the men got off and I looked at the man remaining and said, “how’s your day going?” Within seconds, we exchanged names and stories. He was actually quite friendly once I broke the ice. The next day he greeted me with a warm, “Hi Laura!” and we’ve been friendly ever since. What I’ve learned is that is it so important to live life offensively. If you are always on the defensive, being affected by every man that leers at you, every cashier that’s rude to you, every driver that cuts you off, you are living a life way below your potential. Once you begin to live offensively, you realize how much control you have over your life. Sure, there are always going to be some people who don’t smile back or speak to you, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. Repeating these behaviors until they become habits propels you into such a positive space.  Consistent communication dissolves fear and fosters connection. When you feel connected to everyone around you, whether through a smile, a kind word, or simply an understanding, you are endowed with a power that is beyond words. What areas of your life would benefit from small changes or experiments? What scares you? Where do you want to feel more confident? Whatever comes up for you, make a decision to make one small change, stay consistent in your pursuit, and prepare to be amazed.

“Remind yourself. Nobody built like you. You design yourself.” -Hov

London, England, South of France, And All Points Between They Know About Your Man

I spent the Spring of 2007 living in Florence, Italy. Besides iced coffee and hot American guys, the thing I really missed was hip hop. With a shaky internet connection and little to no knowledge of/access to music steaming sites, I was left with the few hundred songs stacked in my iPod to get me through my four months there. The time lag between American hip hop culture and European hip hop culture was around 6 years, at the very least. Coolio frequently played in the club, and international travelers got as excited about it as we did when Kendrick dropped his “Control” verse. I have a distinct memory of getting in a local promoter’s Audi with some friends where he had Get Rich Or Die Trying videos looping on his dash cam. He was very proud and even pointed it out to us like it was the most exclusive shit he’d ever gotten his hands on.

Fast forward to 2013. I was attending a Chris Brown x Reebok shoe giveaway for work and my boss asked me to give her brother a ride to the event. He was 17 years old and visiting for the week from London. I agreed, not quite sure what I would have in common with a teenager from the other side of the pond. Two minutes into the hour long ride to Crenshaw High School, I got my answer. J. Cole, Jay-Z, and Kanye had all recently dropped albums and were in heavy rotation in my car. As song after song played, I heard him rapping verse after verse. I was shocked. “How do you know all this music,” I asked him. “It literally just came out.” “Uhhhhh, we get music the same way you do,” he replied. “I’ve been listening to these for weeks now.” I switched it up and put in a Meek Mill mixtape. Again, he knew every song. No matter what I played, he knew.

 

My mind was blown. I knew that technology had made huge advancements but spending the day with this kid opened my eyes to so many things. From his perfectly manicured outfit to his spotless J’s to his on tempo raps and head nods, he seemed like he had been in the LA music scene his whole life. It became evident to me how much of an impact  iTunes, mixtape sites, YouTube, social media, and blogs had on the rest of the world. Not only is our music immediately and readily available, but our fashion, language, and trends are just an Instagram scroll away. It is easier than ever before to emulate your favorite artists, from their style to the way that they speak. This access creates demand and has really opened up foreign markets for newer artists. A friend of mine DJ’s for Ty$ and is currently touring throughout Europe. Six years ago, it would be damn near impossible for an artist with two radio singles to sell out arenas abroad, but today, it’s becoming more and more common. It’s incredible to witness first hand the impact of technology on music in America and abroad and to be a part of a culture that connects people thousands of miles apart. Hip hop has been a powerful force since it’s inception but with instant international accessibility, the opportunities and possibilities are endless. The “tanning of America,” as Steve Stoute calls it is slowly becoming the tanning of the world. Hip hop creates connection, fosters understanding, and brings people from different economic and social standings together. We’ve seen what it’s done to break down racial barriers in our youth and I’m excited to see what this could translate to on an international scale.

Who Do You Believe In?

One of the homies stopped by the office today while we were discussing the Ferguson riots. This led to a discussion about the LA riots where he was reminiscing about scoring his first Sega Genesis during the looting. He mentioned Tupac participating in the riots followed by a long story about how they met and the depth of their relationship. I asked him what the craziest thing he saw Pac do was, but after a brief pause switched my question to ask him about the most heartwarming thing he ever saw Tupac do. Both valid questions, but I feel like a lot of times Pac’s crazier moments make more highlight reels than his compassionate ones.

His face lit up when I asked this question. He told me about one day when he and Pac were riding down Sunset. Pac heard over the radio that there was a sick child whose dream it was to meet Janet Jackson. Apparently Janet couldn’t make it or could only spend a short period of time with the child because of scheduling. Pac made a few phone calls and ending up visiting the child personally. He spent the entire day with her and before her unfortunate passing, the girl had removed all her Janet posters and had plastered her wall with Pac. That’s just the kind of guy he was. This was never publicized because it was never about that for Tupac. His heart was so big and his intentions were so pure and positive.

 

When he met the homie I was having the conversation with, Pac asked him where his parents were. He told him he didn’t have parents. Pac asked him where he stayed. He shrugged and said, “around.” Truth is, he was fourteen years old and he was around because he was selling drugs to members of Pac’s crew. Pac took a liking to him and brought him in to live in a house with a few members of the Outlawz. In lieu of paying rent, Pac made him read books. “That was my rent,” he said. “If I didn’t read books, I couldn’t stay. Pac made me read a lot.” Pac was so in tune with life and with God. He felt like he had a big purpose and he fulfilled it, whether it was rapping on records or giving game to the youth. He explained, “I don’t see myself being special; I just see myself having more responsibilities than the next man. People look to me to do things for them, to have answers.” I love hearing stories like these because it shows just how real Pac was. He didn’t just rap about it. He was about it. He lived it. He was full of passion, full of purpose, and full of love. He wasn’t perfect, but he was real.

“I feel like role models today are not meant to be put on a pedestal. But more like angels with broken wings.” ~ 2Pac Shakur

West Coast Soul Vibe

I was scrolling through the Reckless Girls Instagram mentions at work one day when I stumbled upon a photo of a girl in our Thug Wife T-shirt captioned, “I swear I was Pac’s girl in a past life #TupacTuesdays”. Having a similar affinity/obsession for Tupac, I followed the link in her bio to her blog, HasWestCoastSoul.com. The about me section read, “Think Tupac, a WestCoastSoul isn’t necessarily someone who is Cali born x raised, but he/she is definitely a revolutionary with an open mind and a sharp tongue. They know the motto – hustle, create, inspire and build your empire. Impossible to stop. One hand always towards the sky, reach for your dreams, put up a fighting fist, one for the love, two for the peace or twist that shit and throw ya dubs up.” Boom. Who is this girl? I had to find out. I sent her a brief message admiring her blog and lamenting on all of our similarities including our love for culture, for hip hop, and in particular, for Tupac. I sent her some Y&R product and was pleasantly surprised a few weeks later when she posted a dope photo shoot she had styled and modeled for wearing our clothes. We made plans to meet up and the rest is history.

 

I had been praying for inspiration and praying, as I always do, to continue to meet and connect with incredible people who both inspire me and are inspired by me. When Has walked up to meet me, it was one of those God Winks, like, here you go honey. The similarities were almost comical; 5’9”, long blond hair, curvy, and Armenian, just to start with the physical. Once we began talking, it was evident how many deeper things we shared in common. We grew up 3,000 miles apart but it was like our souls had been cultivated in the same soil. You can tell a lot about a person by the people and things they are inspired by. I believe that God speaks to us through inspiration and leads us to our purpose through our passions. We talked for hours, endlessly discussing our passions and sources of inspiration, which were incredibly similar, if not identical. We discussed our love for Tupac, his philosophies, and the incredible impact he has had on both of our lives. We talked about our love for hip hop culture, for NYC and LA, and for living a life full of passion and love. We connected, dreamer to dreamer. Her writing and her creativity inspired me to begin writing again, after weeks of being “too busy,” which we all know is just an excuse. She also told me that she had been inspired to write after our conversation. That’s what I want to fill my life with, people and conversations that leave me inspired. People whose mere presence makes me want to create and authentically express myself. People who feel like life has a purpose and that feel a responsibility to share the best of themselves with the world. People that know that life is about so much more than money and possessions. People that appreciate art, culture, and value creativity above most things. People that ignore the naysayers and well-meaning people that try to steer them towards more practical pursuits. People that are moved so deeply by the teachers that came before them that they can’t help but to follow in their footsteps, blazing their own trails. People that have received so much spiritual confirmation that they are moving in the right direction, that nothing could dissuade them from their path. Or more simply, as Has puts it, people with a West Coast Soul Vibe.

MMG - Master Manifesting G's

“There is something you need to know about the mastermind. In order to understand the overall concept and apply it to achieve success in all that you do. You must know that you can borrow other people’s knowledge, achievements, life experiences, and even their personal resources in order to execute your own life goals. By adapting this one idea, you can achieve more in a short time than you could in a lifetime otherwise…I said boss and I live that!” – Rick Ross – Mastermind Intro


When I heard Rick Ross’s latest intro a few months ago, it hit me that this is exactly what I have been doing my whole life with hip hop. I have been soaking up stories, confidence, ambition, passion, and inspiration from my favorite artists and using them to fuel my own life goals. Growing up, I spent hours every day ingesting stories from 2Pac, Biggie, Nas, Jay, Big Pun, AZ, Big L, Kanye, Jada, Mobb Deep, and many more. I began to see a life for myself outside of the norm. I longed to experience the things I was hearing about every day in music and the music itself gave me the courage to pursue this dream. When you listen to someone overflowing with passion, courage, and charisma over and over you begin to adopt those qualities in yourself.

Before moving to LA, I was listening to MMG heavy every day when I worked out. The music made me feel a certain type of way. I was inspired. I was happy. I was ready. I was being injected with confidence, clarity, and purpose. Ross’s calm, cool delivery paired with his impeccable beat selection made me feel like success was eminent. Meek’s tenacity and ambition poured out of his lyrics and into my mind and heart. I literally felt changes in my body listening to this music. While I was watching an interview one day, I heard Ross say that when he met Wale at King of Diamonds, Wale was by himself. Ross remarked how he thought it was dope that he had rolled solo. Highly respecting his opinion, I decided that his was something I needed to adopt. When I moved to LA, I didn’t know a soul. I began going places alone and testing myself, first a nice restaurant, then a club, then several industry events. There were times when I was uncomfortable, but I pushed through it knowing how important it was to develop this skill. After being consistent with this for over a year, I can now confidently walk into any room, party, event, etc. alone and feel totally at ease. The opportunities that have presented themselves in many of these situations have been unbelievable. I’ve been able to experience life in a way I never had before because I don’t have to worry about relying on other people. I am eternally grateful for watching that interview and really taking to heart and applying what Ross said in my own life. Adopting Ross’s knowledge and Wale’s experience significantly changed my life.

Dreamchasers and Dreamchasers 2 contain many of my inspirational anthems I listened to heavy when I was moving to LA. I’ve listened to “Dreamchasers,” “Big Dreams,” and “On My Way” hundreds, if not thousands of times. Meek is a master manifester, as is Ross. Meek has literally spoken everything into existence from day one and I’ve watched closely as his words and beliefs have created the exact lifestyle he spoke about from jump. When Dreams & Nightmares came out, I bought the hard copy and rode around the Hollywood Hills until I had ingested the album from top to bottom. I was filled with gratitude listening to “Maybach Curtains,” reflecting on how far I had come in my journey and was motivated by “Young Kings,” to keep filling my circle with only the best. I felt like a queen listening to “Young Kings,” and often blasted it with the top down riding down Sunset. I’ve had guys roll up like, “I’ll be your young king”. LOL I used  to ride around incanting (saying over and over with feeling and emotion) “I’m a Boss,” at full volume. Within weeks, many of my behaviors changed. I started speaking up and demanding respect from people with whom I had let things slide in the past. I began, completely out of the blue, drinking Macallan 12 and thoroughly enjoying it. Many of my preferences changed and I began embodying what I had been incanting. When DC3 came out, I took it as a personal challenge when Meek asked, “The world is yours and everything in it. You gon’ go get it?” and happily reflected while agreeing that “I used to pray for times like this”. It’s an indescribable emotion to be in your dream city, dream industry, surrounded by people amazing beyond your wildest dreams and realize that you (and God) created this life. You had the courage to pursue something that you used to not even want to speak aloud because people would make fun of you for it. I truly don’t know if I would have had the courage to chase my dreams without the dreamchasing music I have been blessed with from my favorite artists.

When I heard Lil’ Snupe freestyle, “Mama and Daddy, they had a king for real. Man, I swear I’m living all my people’s dreams for real. I do my thing right now. My Daddy ain’t livin’ dreams. Mama ain’t livin’ dreams. Granny ain’t livin dreams. Cousins ain’t livin’ dreams, so you know what I’ma do? I’ma live out all through Snupe, we gonna rock,” I was moved to tears. I saw how Meek had given this young, super talented kid the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s one thing to live your dream, but the masters understand that sharing this with others is the greatest gift of all. After his passing, I was watching videos of them in the studio where another young kid came in to rap for Meek. There was such a positive energy in the room, an energy of love, passion, ambition, loyalty, and respect. I’ve been around so many negative environments and watching this video opened up a whole new possibility in my mind of how my experiences could be moving forward. Hip hop is laden with negativity, but there are so many positive aspects that are highly motivational. To come from nothing, achieve your goals, then give back to your community with resources, inspiration, and motivation is the ultimate fete.


“Mastermind” was a big influence in me leaving my last job. Listening to “Rich is Gangsta,” “Devil is a Lie,” and many other tracks, I felt a power arising in me. I caught Rozay’s performance live at the Revolt HQ’s and really got a glimpse of the true mastermind he is. He created a massive empire out of thin air, utilizing his thoughts, beliefs, and actions to create his deepest desires. I felt in that moment stronger than I ever had before that the same principles Ross had used were available and at work in my life as well. My possibilities expanded in my mind and I felt moved to take a look at my current situation to see if I was living up to my full potential. Music has a way of bringing out the best in me. Even though I moved to LA alone, I understood that in order for me to attract the best people into my life, I had to become the best, strongest, most courageous version of myself possible. Like attracts like and I understand that I only have to do my part by following my dreams, and the Universe will take care of the rest. This is what happened with Meek and Ross. Meek did his part to become the hungriest, most inspiring, and tenacious rapper he could be and the Universe (through fans and Twitter) connected the dots to bring Meek and Ross together.

Rappers are often the targets of constant criticism and scrutiny, and I think it’s time that they start being acknowledged for all the good they bring into this world. As Marianne Williamson writes, “We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” This is the gift I have received from many of my favorite artists. Letting their lights shine has liberated me and in turn allowed my light to shine. Facing their fears has encouraged me to do the same. The above photo is from my vision book that I often focus on before I visualize my dreams. Seeing my dreams play out in my mind while listening to artists  like Meek and Ross, I am endowed with a Godly power. Feeling is the dominant force in creating our lives. There is no stronger creative power than the way you use your feelings in conjunction with what you are thinking about. I literally take the energy from these artists and use it as motivation and inspiration. I have borrowed their courage over and over until it became my own. Holding on to the vision of Meek telling me to chase my dreams, I am reminded of Drama’s intro, “You see, we dreamchase cause that’s all we was given to start with. Then we realized that dream was attainable. Now look at us…” I hold this in my mind until I can feel throughout my being the feeling of my dreams manifested. And whenever fears and doubt start to creep in, I look over and see, “Yo L, chase ya dreams youngin,” and I know exactly what to do.


“I’m on a mission which requires a higher position. Desire and vision keep the fire inside of me glistening”. – Big Pun

Victory Lap

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for years. I didn’t do it because of fear: fear of being made fun of, fear of it not being perfect, fear of failure. As I was encouraging my best friend to document and share her life in Hawaii, I felt the strong urge to remind her to tell her truth and to just let it flow. When we try to make things perfect, we can try to force creation from the mind instead of letting it flow through us through our divine inspiration and intuition. Things can sound stiff and unnatural. Above all, the most important part is that you begin creating.

At the Nip$ey Hu$$le popup shop, I met a hip hop blogger named Tommy. He told me about his process starting his website in 2009 and he encouraged me to start my own. I saw the pieces falling into place and finally decided to take action. I had come up with the name, “Beats Rhymes N Life,” two days before while listening to the Tribe. It fits perfectly with my life experiences and passions: spirituality, hip hop, and personal growth. As I wrote my first post, I found the distracting thoughts passing through inquiring what my blog was about, what format it should be written in, who the audience should be, etc. All the things I learned in marketing about having a target audience and general direction to move in had me feeling a little trapped. So instead of closing the computer like I’d done several times in the past, I decided to just do my best. I wrote a few paragraphs on the popup shop and posted it. Although I’m happy I began the blog, looking back on that post, I was reminded of what I had encouraged my best friend to do, tell the truth and let it flow.

So here’s the truth about that day:

When I first moved to LA, a friend of mine who used to live here would drive up from San Diego to come visit me. She’s wild, British, and obsessed with Nip$ey Hu$$le. She lived down in the 60’s neighborhood where Nip$ey grew up for a few years and loved driving down Crenshaw and Slauson bumping her music. She could not stop talking about this rapper that was taking over the west coast and took to me to the liquor store down in the 60’s to buy his mixtapes. As we were leaving, she told me how the liquor store had been shot up several times while she had been living down there. We stopped by Nip$ey’s clothing store and witnessed a crazed lady run in and start knocking all the “Crenshaw” apparel of the shelves screaming at the top of her lungs until she was restrained. It was only a twenty minute drive from my apartment in Hollywood, but it felt like a different world.

I’ve always been interested in other cultures, particularly in urban culture, as I grew up heavily into hip hop. As a kid, I remember listening to Pac’s “Changes,” over and over again, wondering how such pain and poverty could exist in such a prosperous country. I’ve always been interested in the dichotomy between the extreme wealth and extreme poverty present in urban music and culture. Being down in the 60’s neighborhood that day gave me a glimpse into the surroundings Nip$ey came up in, a place laden with fear, poverty, and violence.

Over the next several months, I had Nip$ey’s mixtapes on repeat, soaking up every word, vibing with his confidence and intellect. While attending a charity shoe giveaway at Crenshaw High School, I met a few other people that had grown up in the neighborhood and been heavily involved in that life. I learned how minuscule their school’s funding was compared to other districts, with kids lacking basic necessities like books and school supplies. I got an up close and personal look at how the system is stacked in some people’s favor, while others are left to fend for themselves. The more I learned, the more intrigued I became with Nip$ey, a true outlier in a community where all the odds were stacked against him.

 

To have the vision, persistence, and faith to believe that he could make it as an independent rapper, takes the rarest form of confidence. To know his worth so intrinsically despite circumstances saying otherwise, is a gift few experience. In “Crenshaw and Slauson,” he talks about his vision and the process he took to see it through:

“I had a vision nobody else could see/Sold my shit to D-Mac, a little less than 10 Gs/Brought my grocery bag of cash back to Blacc Sam/He matched a n****, next day we went to Sam Ash/We bought a pro tools and a microphone/Studio was far from plush but the lights was on”

I was watching some of his interviews the other day and learned that he got his Proud2Pay $100 mixtape idea from this book someone had given him called “Contagious”. I ordered the book and within the first three pages read the story of a restaurant in Philly who sold $100 cheesesteaks. The novelty item matched with the absurd price tag brought in droves of business and publicity. Nip$ey ran with the concept for his “Crenshaw” mixtape, offering a free download on DatPiff in addition to a $100 signed copy including a live exclusive performance. No one in history had ever sold a $100 mixtape. He sold out all 1,000 copies the first day and was written up by Forbes.

This brings me back to day the at the pop-up shop and why it was so special. When you witness someone succeeding in such a big way with so much stacked against them, it’s a beautiful thing. There were people wrapped around the block for 6 hours, patiently waiting in the rain to meet Nip$ey. The pop up shop was showcasing his newest collaboration with Young&Reckless, another amazing feat considering Nip$ey’s background. A lot of labels and brands will not touch artists with gang affiliations, mainly out of fear. To have such an incredible collaboration with one of the most popular streetwear brands in LA is no small feat.

I know that even 10 years ago, the things Nip$ey has accomplished would have been damn near impossible. Breaking through in such a big way while remaining independent and creatively in control is a huge step forward for the culture. Seeing such a large and peaceful turnout at the popup shop really moved me. It’s these brave artists who have unwavering faith in themselves despite all odds that shape the culture. It’s the NWA’s, the Lupe Fiasco’s, the Kanye West’s that get people thinking outside the box and questioning societal norms. These are the people that pave the way for the future, that give a voice to the voiceless, and show people how far creativity and faith can take you. It’s a beautiful thing.