Music: Featured Spotify Playlist, “Funkysexydownnow.” By @andreakcastillo

Funkysexydownnow

Hello friends!

Yes, it has been a minute and a half since I have updated the blog. In my pursuit for racking dough and musical playlist perfection, I have not updated in a few weeks. Now that I am back, I have a little treat for you. I am delving more deeply into playlist making as for me, it is one of life’s great joys after eating a delicious meal, and jumping into the sea on a scorching day.

I originally created the Funkysexydownnow. playlist a few months back, inspired by the heavy Disco and Funk stylings of LA-based Gavin Turek’s track, “The Distance.” It was literally a one-song “playlist” for weeks. After playing on repeat, I figured out where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to include. My whole vibe is sexy music, so I knew that had to be there. Funk pushes me forward, so I had to include that. Cooler autumn weather translates to downtempo beats (for me), and I wanted all of the tracks to sound fresh and current.

After  many weeks of adding, deleting, and rearranging tracks, I present to you, Funkysexydownnow. Eighteen sexy, funky tunes that you will have in constant rotation all season.

Press play above to wind it down with a funky groove! Be sure to follow as I more than likely will add a few more tracks to extend the chill vibes.

 

*Photo & Graphic by Andrea K. Castillo

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What I’m Reading: “A New Model” by Ashley Graham

Ashley Graham- A New Model

Supermodel Ashley Graham is a public figure that I have been digging for some time now. From her standing relationship as a spokesmodel for Lane Bryant to her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover, I have always been able to see her confidence through her images. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a copy of her memoir, “A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty & Power Really Look Like”, in the mail back in May. Written with Rebecca Paley (the same co-author as Nadia Lopez’s “The Bridge To Brilliance”, which I reviewed here) the book is published by Dey Street Books, an imprint of Harper Collins.

As soon as I opened the book, I enjoyed the no-nonsense tone, similar to how you would speak to a good friend. It’s not condescending or high-brow, just super down-to-earth, and incredibly informative. We learn the story of a young curvy girl who was discovered in a mall in Nebraska, and her bumpy road to stardom. Having developed womanly curves and her tall stature by the age of 12, Ashley dealt with much frustration and confusion from family, classmates, and society alike. How is a young girl with the body of a woman supposed to dress? In what manner does a small-town, Christian girl deal with success in the big city of New York? What is dating life like? Who can she trust with her finances?

These types of questions, and more, are answered in this easy-to-read memoir by Graham. Aside from learning about her road to supermodeldom (is this a word?), I really enjoy the story of how she met her husband, cinematographer Justin Ervin, on a chance moment at church. She does not hold back in regards to her personal life, struggles, and successes alike, which I believe is helpful for the many young women who may read this book. She reminds you that despite all the glitz and glam, and collections with Dressbarn and Canadian retailer Addition Elle, she is just like us.

I would recommend this book to any young woman who aspires to model regardless of their size, race, or identity. I would also recommend this book to people a little bit further in their careers who need a bit of inspiration in the story of a woman who has found success in truly being herself.

Purchase here: A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like

For Proper Tequila Cocktails & Healthy Mexican Bites, Visit Cítrico In Brooklyn

Citrico Bday

L-R: Luis & Noor (Owners of Cítrico), Me, Kortnee, Erica, Jason

This Monday, July 24th, was and always is, a special day. For one, it is my birthday, and secondly, it is #NationalTequilaDay. Last year I brought in year 30 with a huge brunch courtesy of Patron, and for this year, I brought in 31 with some close friends, and the team at Cítrico.

Cítrico is a fresh Mexican restaurant & bar in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, opened in 2014. Owners (and married couple) Luis & Noor modeled the menu off of some of Luis’s family recipes, as well as the cuisine of the southern states of Mexico. As the topic of conversation was tequila, I spoke to Noor about margarita alternatives that Cítrico offers, as well as testing a few out with the help of my girls Kortnee and Erica.

citricosalsas

Salsa Platter. Photo courtesy of Cítrico

To help soak up the drinks, we started with the salsa platter, which included house-made tortilla chips, pico de gallo, guajillo salsa, salsa de arbol, and tomatillo salsa. In addition, we snacked on chicharrines, not to be confused with pork chicharrones, which is made from a flour base and has a similar consistency to Funions.

Our feature cocktails were the following:

  • Citrico Tropical: Tequila (or mezcal); pineapple and mango
  • Tlaxcalita Bella: Tequila, cranberry juice, lime and fresh mint

  • Guerrero: Espadin mezcal, tequila, hibiscus, lime, orange and agave

 

Dive into our live session, and see how we rated the cocktails and snacks in the video below!

 

Be sure to LIKE our Facebook page here-> A Life In The Day of Andrea.

Saturday Sounds: “Tyrant” Kali Uchis Feat. Jorja Smith (Music Video)

Kali Uchis Screenshot

Kali Uchis in the “Tyrant” Music video

Kali Uchis has been a favorite rising star of mine for the past few years. Her 2015 release, Por Vida, which I covered on the blog, really put the Colombiana via Alexandria, Virginia on the map, via her unique vocal stylings evoking doo-wop, soul, and indie stylings, at the same time. Since then, she has toured, co-directed the majority of her music videos, and served up some fashionable looks to get the people going.

Her latest single, “Tyrant” featuring soul songstress from the UK, Jorja Smith was released in late May, with the gorgeous music video offering which dropped late June. I would have posted this earlier, but life get busy sometimes, you know? The song is giving me proper slow whine/reggae vibes, and if you are really into this music thing, you can hear that it would perfectly blend into “Clubbin” by Marques Houston feat. Joe Budden (because guitar licks).

Visually, I see lots of Missy Elliott references in the music video, specifically “The Rain.” Super-saturated coloring and late ’90s styling (bikini tops, plaid, bigger hair) along with a good amount of sunflowers. Press play up top to get into the vid, and slow whine proper! A must for your summer playlist!

Remember My Jord Watch? Snag One on Amazon Prime Day!

JORD Surprise

Seriously, you need to get this watch!

Remember my JORD Watch? Back around the holiday 2016 season, I shared a sponsored campaign I created around my awesome JORD Frankie 35mm women’s wooden watch featured in the photo above. It is a great classic style that can be dressed up or down with your favorite wardrobe staples. I personally wear it everyday, and get tons of compliments from friends and strangers alike.

JORD Time

You know what time it is? Time for a new watch!

As today is Amazon Prime Day (7/11), YOU my friend are in for a treat! All JORD watches are 30% off today on Amazon, with the sale ending this evening at 11:59 PM EST. Do not fret, there are styles for the fellas too! Follow my links below to get in on the big sale. Happy shopping!

JORD Wooden Wrist Watches for Women – Frankie 35mm Series / Wood Watch Band / Wood Bezel / Analog Quartz Movement – Includes Wood Watch Box

JORD Wooden Wrist Watches for Men – Delmar Sport Series / Wood Watch Band / Wood Bezel / Analog Quartz Movement – Includes Wood Watch Box

 

*I received a complimentary JORD watch for my post, and receive commission on purchases as an Amazon Affiliate

Saturday Sounds: “Boo Boo” Toro y Moi (Album Stream + Short Film)

Toro y Moi "Boo Boo"

Boo Boo album cover

My favorite awkward, musical, Blasian boo Chazwick Bundick AKA Toro y Moihas blessed us with a new album on 7/7/17 entitled Boo Boo. It is his first studio album since 2015’s What For?, and is perfectly sunny and summer-ready. Me being me thinks this album was made for me (bad English, but this is how I FEEL).

For one, it is released in July, my birthday month (7/24 HOLLA!), and secondly, the name of the album is Boo Boo. You know what else is named Boo Boo? My iPhone. See exhibit A below.

Boo Boo - iPhone

My hype escalated on Thursday evening when I found the album stream on YouTube. As Chaz is for the people, the stream isn’t your basic flat album art with a continuous play of music, it’s a full on short film, set for the most part during a road trip. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you dig a nice chillwave compilation for your summer days and nights, you gotta put this album in rotation.

Press play above to hear it for yourself, and let me know what you think. Happy listening!

The Many Faces of Andrea

Good News

We’re getting ice cream after this?

When the week ends, and the night falls, what is on your mind? Do you want to log off and unwind? Do you want to hang out with your homies that you didn’t have a chance to see during the week? Or do you break free and run the streets? Summer nights are always my favorite as they tend to have the most expansive range of being super chill, or filled with adventure. A few weeks back, I had one of those nights.

Hair Flip 1

Unleashing the curls

On an unseasonably cool evening in June, I met up with some homies on the fly to hang out. We started the evening having burgers at a spot in Park Slope, and then deliberations began of where we would go to next. Off to the movies? To a rooftop party in Williamsburg? To a house party in Bed Stuy? Despite the weather, I suggested going to Coney Island. It always evokes a feeling of nostalgia, and if we were to get hungry again, there are a plethora of options on and near the boardwalk.

Hair Flip 2

In mid-air

As the majority of us happen to be photographers (I unfortunately left my camera at home this evening, but had back up) we decided to go on a photo walk of sorts. We began at Nathan’s Famous on Surf Ave, snapping the Brooklyn landmark and its iconic lights. While gazing down the block a bit more, I noticed the Coney Art Walls, an outdoor exhibit of street art from various well-known visual artists, were a few feet over, so we scoped it out.

Hair Flip 3

In action

We took a load of photos, though a bit limited as the viewing hours of the walls end at 10 PM and we were in the area at approximately 11 PM. I personally wanted a few new photos for the blog, so I asked my buddy Antoine to snap me. My creative direction? Capturing me letting my hair down. I feel a lot of my photos on the blog or my social media show a more stoic gaze, with my hair pulled back in a bun. With these photos, I really wanted to capture me letting loose, and my many faces.

Pensive

In a pensive mood

Here we have my general thinking face. This is the face I make when I am trying to solve a problem, thinking of how I should go about writing a new post or piece, or the look of daydreaming. This is also one of the first photos where I have been able to show off my new matte black-framed specs from Mó Eyewear.

Something In My Eye?

HOLD UP! There’s something in my eye!

This is one of my more extreme expressions when something is in my eye, or on my face. Although it may not be the most flattering look, it is me in my natural state. As my curls were down, I am pretty sure a strand of hair grazed my eyeball, and I was eagerly trying to get it out of the way.

I'm Trying To Be Serious!

Stop making me laugh!

This is the, “I’m trying to take a serious photo, but you keep making me laugh!” face. My friends are hilarious, and oftentimes when I try to create a serious or sexy pose, that all goes out the window because of laughter. My laughter is quite physical, and usually involves moving my hair and shaking my entire torso.

I love to laugh, and love to show my true faces in the company of friends. I hope now you can see a little bit more into my life.

 

*Photos by Antoine Bennett

My Summer Hydration & Sun Care Tips To Have You Glowing!

CAYECAULKER_4

Caye Caulker

Welcome to the first week of July friends! Have you made it out to the beach or park yet to relax and catch some rays? After a pretty miserable winter and gray spring, our bodies our eager to soak in all the Vitamin D we have lost over the months. I personally prematurely did this in March, when I took a weeklong trip to Belize solo. I was so excited to get in the sun that I forgot a few things along the way, and ended up sunburned a la Sebastian from The Little Mermaid. I peeled terribly for weeks, and since I have learned my lesson, I want to give you some tips on how to stay hydrated and protect your skin from the harsh rays of the sun!

 

1. Drink Water!

Essentia Water

Essential Alkaline Water

At any point in your life, your Mom, your doctor, your friend, or basically anyone you have probably come into contact with has probably mentioned that you should drink water, or drink more water. Water seems to be having a moment right now as at any point on social media, you can come across a post that reads “I drink more water, and mind my business”.  That is a slightly snarky variation, but rightfully so. When we are hot, or are in direct sunlight, our body’s natural reaction is to sweat to cool down. When you are in sustained sunlight, you sweat more, losing more water. To keep balanced, it is so necessary to stay hydrated by drinking your H2O. Dehydration can catch up quick, in the form of headaches, lethargy, or dizziness. I generally have a 32 oz bottle of water wherever I go, like this Eddie Bauer Freezer bottle I may have permanently borrowed from my Mom. If I forgot my bottle, I usually prefer to drink an alkaline water like Essentia or 1907 in the liter size.

 

2. Sunscreen!

EiR_SURF_MUD_01_RGB_2048x2048

EIR NYC Surf Mud SPF 30

Let us start by letting it be known that the sun’s rays can wreak havoc on individuals of all complexions. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays, and are the primary cause of skin wrinkling, and in more extreme cases, skin cancers. UVB rays are shorter, and cause skin reddening and sunburn, and tend to damage the skin’s superficial layers. With so many sun protection products on the market, it can be very difficult to discern which products are actually useful. As I have been on a bit of a health kick lately, I personally have been fixated on all-natural hair and body products, with sunscreen being high on the list. When looking for your next sunscreen, be sure to look out for zinc oxide on the ingredient list. The white powder compound blocks UVA & UVB rays of ultraviolet light.

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Music: Featured Spotify Playlist, “SunsetLab” by @Safari647

SunsetLab

Jahmal Sang AKA Safari647, has been a friend of mine for many years now. Along with Fire4Hire Soundsystem (shout out Regent Street and DJ Pete Funk!), he has introduced me to a slew of international tunes, originating in Canada, the UK, France, West Africa, and the Caribbean. It is with his ear that I was hip to a lot of British, Caribbean, and African artists years before Drake decided to exploit them.

SunsetLab, a selection of tunes from both sides of the Atlantic, is inspired by the party of the same name that Safari hosts along with guest selectors in Lausanne, Switzerland. Musically, it combines the genres of Afro, Dancehall, Urban, and Remixes. As the playlist description says, “We experiment when the sun goes down.”

Press play to get into the chunks dem, and make sure to whine it up as the songs are proper for a dancefloor (or kitchen) near you!

 

Jahmal on Twitter -> @Safari647

Jahmal on Instagram -> @Safari647

 

*Photo & Graphic by Andrea K. Castillo

What I’m Reading: “Neon Soul” by Alexandra Elle

Neon Soul_Hand
Please excuse the coconut oil fingerprints.

As we round out the month of June and the weather has properly heated up in NYC, it is time to share another book with you beautiful souls! Summer reading is one of those things I HATED in school; remember those awful summer reading lists and the test you would have to take as soon as you got back in class? It seems like the joke is on me now, as I find myself purchasing and reading new books frequently, which has deepened my desire of one day writing a book. More on that later.

So, for this edition of What I’m Readingwe have Neon Soul: A Collection of Poetry & Prose by Alexandra (Alex) Elle. Earlier this month I attended one of my La Brujas Club meetings at Bluestockings, an independent feminist bookstore in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and had a lovely time with the super-inspiring group of women that attend. Upon the meeting wrapping, I took a gander at all the lovely titles in the shop and Neon Soul just stood out to me. Whenever I am in a bookstore I have this thing where I feel that the right book will find me at the right time. Perhaps it was the lo-fi book jacket with bright green accents that initially caught me, but once I opened the book randomly to a page, I felt as though it was speaking to me. The layout of the poems in the book looked extremely familiar to the last book I reviewed, Milk and Honey, and after a quick scour it all made sense as I saw they have the same publisher, Andrews McMeel.

Self-love and discovery have been a constant theme for me in these past few months, and I have noticed that in addition to attending therapy sessions, meditation, and physical fitness, reading titles by fellow women of color who have or are currently experiencing what I am going through, is helping me heal. Yes, I was happy when upon further reading, I realized Alex Elle was a Black girl. Why wouldn’t I be? Representation matters, and when you read the work of someone that looks like you, it is a reminder that your current experience is valid, and a glimmer of hope emerges from the darkness.

when you’re a giver

it’s hard to remember

that you must contribute

and pour into your

well-being, too.

“fill”

The above poem is one that really knocked the nail on its head of my current experience. I am a giver, and not giving to myself for so long is truly what led to a breakdown of sorts. Finding comfort in words and in my downtime have been so necessary in my process of picking up the pieces. In the book, there are pieces about love, heartache, self-doubt, relationships, and the overall experience of womanhood. It is an easy read given poem length and structure. I personally finished it in 24 hours. I would highly recommend it to women who sometimes feel they are misunderstood for being too much or not enough, letting them know that their journey is not exclusive, but inclusive to us all.

You can purchase here -> Neon Soul: A Collection of Poetry and Prose

Music: Featured Spotify Playlist, “Vibes” by @RayIsSoul

Summa summa time is officially upon us, and you know what that means? Time to kick back and kick it to some new tunes! If you have been reading for a minute, you know how much I love music, especially highlighting new artists and hot tracks. I admit I have slacked a bit on the playlists (be patient with me!), but my ears are always open to the playlists of my homies. My girl Rachel (@RayIsSoul on Twitter) shared her Spotify playlist entitled “Vibes” with me the other day, and it’s literally all I want to hear to start off the summer season! There are tracks to slow whine to, to unwind with your boo (or potential boo, bc summer), and not to be trite, but over three hours of tracks to vibe out to.

Press play to get into the list’s 57 tracks, and stay tuned for more featured playlists!

Rachel L. on Twitter -> @RayIsSoul

Rachel L. on Instagram – > @ray_la

Summer Solstice 2017: How Will You Spend The Longest Day Of The Year?

Sun shining on the Caribbean Sea at Caye Caulker

June 21, 2017 (today) is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, where the sun is at the highest point in the sky. It is officially the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year as it is the day we have the most sunlight. In different parts of the world in a multitude of cultural traditions, the day marks a time of renewal and healing; a time to let go of/burn things of the past that no longer serve you. It is a time where self-care and self-love is extremely important.

I, along with many of my friends, have been going through a major shift. It can have many names, but simply put, we are at a time where we have found that we need to make many changes, whether they be very small or monumental, to move forward. Personally, I have been exhausted. I know a part of it has to do with my lack of establishing proper boundaries in my work and personal life, along with anxiety about my life path and future. Add in spreading myself too thin and not affirming my strengths to the mix, and you get one exhausted/confused/drained Andrea.

It can be extremely frustrating to work toward many goals just to have the rug ripped from beneath your feet, reverting you back to stage one. To be honest, at this point I have lost count of how many times the hypothetical rug has been pulled from beneath me, but what I am realizing now is that it was probably pulled for a reason. Maybe what I thought was the right path, wasn’t. Maybe I had to start again because if I went down my intended path, I would be greeted with unsavory individuals who do not have my best interest at hand. As a self-identified control freak (I am working on this), it would feel like my world stopped when something wouldn’t go my way. I would turn off from the world, fall into a depression, and ruminate on my shortcomings, negatively affecting those around me.

In shutting off from the world and finding almost too much comfort in solitude, you don’t hear what the outside world thinks. Yes, in the case of the outside world being negative, it is great to take time to yourself to renew and refresh, but how about when they have great things to say, and you are unavailable to hear them? An event that mirrors this sentiment just came up in my life last week, and it really opened my eyes.

Sunset at Caye Caulker

For maybe the thousandth time since I began the blog, I considered shutting it down, again. I have had trouble writing as I have been going through a lot in my personal life, and the act of just starting a post was quite debilitating. I would go through moments of skimming back on blog archives as well as my social media, trying to pinpoint when & where things went downhill. I couldn’t find an exact spot, but I did notice the places where my posts did not occur for months on end. During another wallowing in my sorrows moments, when I was simultaneously decluttering my space, I received a message on Facebook from a friend from college. I was actually surprised to hear from her, as we had not spoken in some time.

My friend, Damaris Vasquez-King, is a teacher at Soundview Academy for Culture & Scholarship, a middle school in the Soundview section of the South Bronx. She reached out as she had been following the blog, and wanted to gauge my interest in speaking to her students for a career day. I immediately said yes after I was told the date. Prior to this, I had never spoken to youth about my career path because I never felt sure about it, and thought I would not have enough information to speak on. I admit, I had to psych myself out a bit for the speaking gig, which was on June 15th, because I thought I would fail. To my surprise on that day, I did astronomically better than I expected.

I spoke to a group of about 24 girls in her class about blogging and freelance writing, a bit about myself, and what types of topics I cover. I was slightly nervous, but calm as the girls were very inviting, and genuinely seemed interested in what I was saying, despite being the last speaker of the day. Throughout my talk, Ms. Vazquez (Damaris) added how she used my blog as an example to her class of how you can use a blog/online platform as a place of positivity as opposed to malice. I almost shed a thug tear. I had no idea, and it really made me feel really proud as in that moment, I knew my words were positively affecting the next generation.

It is so easy in the realm of blogging to get caught up on numbers, especially when you want to work with big brands. Partnership deals are great and all, but if what I am doing cannot be a place of positivity or teach someone something new, why even do it? It shifted my focus completely, and since I have been thinking more deeply about my vocation that I believe was written way before I got here; to teach.

So on this Summer Solstice, I will be kind to my mind, body, and soul, and really dig deeper into what my next move is. Perhaps, I can teach you something.

 

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

Get DATASS To Class! #SweatSessions in the Meatpacking District all Summer ’17!

The Sweat Sessions at 14th Street Park

Summer is quickly approaching, and for most of us, there is still some work we still  want to do with our bodies. Whether it be to drop a few pounds  to fit in that curve-hugging dress for your best friend’s wedding, tightening up your gluten so you look slamming in that teeny bikini, or just getting active to feel better about ourselves, working out gets us there in many ways. For those who live in NYC, we are a little spoiled when it comes to free activities, and the summertime is FULL of free fitness sessions for all.

Back for another go is the Sweat Sessions. Presented by the Meatpacking Business Improvement District in collaboration with the Wellth Collective, the Sweat Sessions holds three 45 minute varied style fitness classes every Tuesday at 6, 7, and 8 PM through August 29th. Classes include yoga, pilates, HIIT, dance-inspired, and bootcamp style workouts from some of the most popular trainers and studios in the city.

Here is a peek of upcoming classes:

5/30

6PM : Uplift Studios

7PM : The Class by Taryn Toomey led by Courtney Deri

8PM : Body by Emily with Emily Samuel of DogPound

Joined by special host @emilia_bechrakis

 

6/6

6PM : Body Space Fitness

7PM : Nike Master Trainer – Benjamin Monk

8PM : ModelFit

 

6/13

6PM : NY Pilates

7PM : Dancebody

8PM : Body Space Fitness

Classes are absolutely FREE, but fill up quick, so be sure to register for sessions ASAP here. Mats will be provided on a first come, first serve basis, and athletic apparel must be worn. See you in class!

 

HUDSON RIVER PARK’S 14TH ST PARK

MEATPACKING

10TH AVE BETWEEN

14TH & 15TH

Hanging With Mack Wilds At Canal Street Market

Chilling with Mack at the Market

Since December, I have been moonlighting, or I guess in this circumstance “daylighting” at the Canal Street Market. Located at 261-267 Canal Street in Chinatown, the space is a massive multi-vendor marketplace, housing various small businesses, designers, and makers, most that are local to New York. The market opened in December 2016 to the public, just in time for the holidays, and just this month, opened a Food Hall on May 15th. I have worked sales booths for EIR NYC, Upstate Stock, Kindred Black, as well as the market’s Design Shop, and even on my days off, I find myself coming right back to the market.

In addition to all the shopping and food offerings, the market hosts a multitude of multidisciplinary events (product launches, magazine parties, talks, etc.), and it becoming a hot spot to shoot content, giving its clean design and Instagram-worthy murals by Alex Proba.

Look at these kids! LOL

A few weeks back on one of my days off, my boy Jason asked if I wanted to be second camera for a VIBE Magazine shoot with Mack Wilds at Canal Street Market. I have known Mack and the VIBE team since 2013, back when I was at Concrete Loop and I interviewed him for the site (still one of my favorite artist interviews to date that you can view here), so of course I said yes. I walked in that Friday afternoon to the market and my peeps there were a bit confused. They knew I was not scheduled to  work that day, so as I walked further back into the lounge, they knew I was there for the shoot. We had a full team, Mikey Fresh interviewing, Jason L. Chandler filming, and Karl Ferguson Jr. shooting behind-the-scenes photos. In my words, “Black Eyed Peas with Fergie.”

As we had to wait on Mack for a little bit, I was the light tester for Karl, meaning it was like a mini fake photoshoot for me, which I am totally cool with. More content! We set up the lounge area that was curated by West Elm, to evoke maximum cozy + cool factor for the shoot, and I think we did a pretty good job.

Album cover or nah?

Once he arrived, I received the biggest hug in the world, and we got down to it. I helped mic him up and make sure no wires were visible on camera. Once he was ready, I got behind the second camera to ensure we got a clean second angle while Jason was on the main camera, and Mikey interviewed. It was really awesome to see how much Mack has grown as an artist, just having released his second album, After Hours, with the accompanying mini-series on TIDAL, and starring in not one, but two television series, VH1’s The Breaks and FOX’s Shots Fired, respectively.

After the conclusion of the interview, we chopped it up a bit and Karl took all the super-fun photos of us together that you see above. It was an awesome afternoon, and a reminder that no matter how crazy life can be, I always end up in the right place at the right time.

Portrait by Karl Ferguson Jr.

Watch a clip from his interview with VIBE’s Mikey Fresh below, and stay tuned for new tings and collabs from yours truly!

*Photos by Karl Ferguson Jr.

#WorldBookDay Reads: “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur

Since as long as I could remember, I have been a bibliophile. I would love (and still love) to be surrounded by beautifully bound books, spending lots of time in libraries, and skimming through the collections of family and friends. I am quite old school in the sense that I do love to purchase physical books, a pastime of mine since college. As of late, I make time to wander about in local bookstores to find new and old works from my favorite authors and friends. On a recent jaunt to the McNally Jackson bookstore at the top of the year in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, I found myself searching specifically for a friend’s book, as well as a few more titles to tickle my fancy. My budget is nowhere near endless, so along with the title I was there for specifically, I wanted to keep my spend under $40 if possible. I walked each bookshelf looking for something that would speak to me, and as I got closer to checkout, I decided to pick up Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I had heard great things about the book of poetry, and with a 20% off ticket on the cover, I was sold.

I was super happy with my purchases, including a beautifully illustrated wall calendar and daily planner, and was pumped to dig into the book. I don’t know if you are anything like me, but I kind of psych myself up to read new books, but often delay. Perhaps it is my anxiety, but for some reason with books, I know I will be moved to read them at just the right time. Fast forward a few months, and I am preparing for my first solo trip to Belize. My intent for the trip (aside from nabbing a super-cheap flight) was to learn more about the stories of my family, specifically the women, and reach out to certain members of the community for work-related articles. I have flown to Belize solo in the past, but never travelled completely on my own as trips prior were with my parents or entire immediate family. I decided to bring Milk and Honey in tow as I knew I would have a bit more downtime to just read and be.

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